Military News

Monday, February 10, 2014

McChord Reservist's 12th Man spirit changes child's life

by Senior Airman Madelyn McCullough
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


2/9/2014 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- The spirit of the 12th Man has thrilled and united everyone in the Pacific Northwest on the Seattle Seahawks' road to victory this year, so much so, that one 446th Airlift Wing reservist went out of his way to make a young "12" he had never met before feel like a part of the team.

Tech. Sgt. Shawn Walker, 446th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter, and his girlfriend, Jessica Kuehne, made a little boy's dream come true when they took his ordinary wheelchair and transformed it into a 12th Man masterpiece.

"It started with a Facebook page called, 'The Place Where ONLY 12's Hang with Mama Sherman'," said Walker.

Beverly Sherman, also known as "Mama Sherman" started the page to raise local spirit for her son's team.  Bevelry's son Richard Sherman, is the Seahawk's cornerback. 

Glenda Lee, from East Wenatchee, Wash., wrote a story about her son Karter, saying that he would someday have a wheelchair covered in Seahawks stickers and that he would go up and down the hallways yelling to everybody, 'Go Hawks!', said Kuehne, who is also an administrator on the Facebook page.

Karter Lee has cerebral palsy, a group of disorders that can involve brain and nervous system functions, such as movement, learning, hearing, seeing, and thinking, according to A.D.A.M. Education.

Because of this, he had been bullied and was struggling at school.

Kuehne and Walker took the opportunity to make the Karter's dream a reality. First, they pulled together a support team. Kuehne contacted Barry Clements in East Wenatchee, to powder coat the wheel chair. He agreed immediately, donating both his time and money. Walker also contacted a graphic artist in Puyallup, Wash., who made all of the stickers for the wheelchair for free. A man from Sacramento, Calif., even donated the paint for the new ride. Kuehne and Walker donated the upholstery and pieced the finished product together.

Before they could begin, they had to surprise Glenda with the news.

"We hadn't told the family that we were going to do it, so we had them come over and do a radio show with Beverly Sherman on KJR 950," said Kuehne. "At the end of it, we had Barry call in and present the family with, 'We're going to Hawk out your wheelchair!' From what I heard, there wasn't a dry eye in that entire audience."

Glenda told Karter that the wheelchair fell out of the truck so she had taken it in to be fixed, said Kuehne. This gave the team time to work and in just five days the wheelchair was completely Hawked-out.

Finally, it was time to return the wheelchair to its rightful owner.

"Karter is normally a very shy and reserved kid, but when he saw the wheel chair and the 12 on the back, and realized this was all about and for him, he had a smile from ear to ear and a new-found confidence about him," said Walker. "This is a kid who's had to feel different his whole life and finally he's looked at as different because of how special he is."

Kuehne agrees with Walker's assessment.

"We told him that he was now a part of the team, that he was one of the 12's," said Kuehne. "It's amazing how much things have changed for him since. He's become so confident from just a simple thing that a bunch of people did."

Walker, a Seahawks season ticket holder said, "It was rewarding knowing that we were making a little boy's dream come true, and it helped that he was a fellow '12'."

To end this season, Walker flew to New York City to watch the Seahawks win the NFL championship game. "It's the franchise's first Super Bowl win ever and to be a part of that was amazing."

Reservists from the 446th AW also shared this win as the team's official military unit for the season.

"Basically, it's the success of a football team that brought people together," said Walker. "And now we're going to use that avenue to do charity work."

Walker and Kuehne plan to continue their efforts by starting a charity in Karter's name.

"We've had lots of people who want to donate and want to do more wheelchairs," said Walker. "We've even looked into possibly doing something to incorporate the military side too because I know there are lots of Soldiers and Airmen, who are sports fans, who would love to have something like this happen."

The Karter Lee Project 12 charity's website, www.karterleeproject12.org, is scheduled to launch next week and will have information for those who want to get involved.

CNO Visits Naval Base Guam



By By Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert and his wife visited Naval Base Guam (NBG) and quality of life facilities during a brief visit to the island Feb. 10.

The CNO and his wife toured facilities that make a difference in the day to day lives of Guam Sailors and their families. They started their morning at the base's Fleet and Family Support Center and state-of-the-art Charles King Fitness Center. They also walked through the nearly completed U.S. Naval Hospital Guam.

Additionally, the CNO and his wife stopped by the Department of Defense Educational Activity Guam High School where they took the opportunity to meet with students and learn more about their future endeavors.

"Everything everybody does in the Navy today is important," Greenert said to a roomful of students and school officials.

While in Guam the CNO also filmed another episode of Conversation with a Shipmate. During the filming he fielded questions about recent misconduct incidents throughout the military where he emphasized the importance for service members to remain ethical regardless of the challenges they may face.

"You cannot give up your integrity," Greenert said. "It's so important in the Navy, but it's beyond the Navy, it's your life. It's the foundation of how our Navy through decades, through centuries, has operated. The ability to trust one another and that trust is founded on having integrity."

"I'd like to thank our Sailors, our civilians and the families that support them for serving our country, for serving our Navy and making it what it is today," Greenert said during the interview. "Our Navy is the best Navy in the world and it will be in the future."

Greenert is en route to Malaysia and the Philippine Islands where he will engage with military counterparts and defense leaders.

Security Forces commander awarded Bronze Star

by Tech. Sgt. Shane Ellis
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


2/9/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C.  -- The 315th Security Forces Squadron commander here was awarded the Bronze Star Feb. 9 for his leadership and involvement while engaged in ground operations in and around Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Maj. Shawn M. Swarz earnedt the fourth highest combat decoration a military member can receive for heroism, bravery or meritorious service.

Swarz served as the operations officer for the 455th Expeditionary Security Forces Group, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram from Sept. 1, 2012 to March 10, 2013.

Swarz lead Task Force 455's joint targeting cell, fusing intelligence from nine organizations into operations planning, which led to the capture or kill of 47 insurgents. He conducted 16 combat patrols, which disrupted insurgent activity in 13 named areas of interest throughout a 220 square mile battlespace, and his efforts resulted in a 53 percent decline in indirect fire attacks and a 60 percent decrease in surface to air fires.

Additionally, Swarz participated in weekly shuras and key leader engagements with Afghan provincial and district leaders. He planned and coordinated force protection operations supporting 36,000 base personnel and $3.5 billion in combat assets.

His leadership abilities were also displayed when he spearheaded a counter Improvised Explosive Device course for the Afghan National Police, which resulted in 12 graduates. Other accomplishments include the emplacement of $4.3 million in T-walls and 22 kilometers of razor wire, which resulted in zero perimeter breaches over a five-month period.

"It's a great honor," said Swarz of receiving the award. "I'm here because of all of the great people that work for me and the mentors who helped me get to where I am today. Being deployed always brings many challenges, obstacles and hazards. Coming together as a team, and knowing how to put all of the elements together, are major factors of success. I'm very fortunate to be in the position I'm in. I have great leaders, as well as great people that know how to execute missions and get things done."

When asked what advice he has for his fellow leaders and Airmen, Swarz had the following words of wisdom.

"Go with what you're trained to do," he said. "In our unit we train all the time. We have Airmen deployed right now, and they are doing exactly what they are trained to do. They are all over the AOR right now, and we're getting great feedback on them. I'm confident that the people in my squadron are up to do the mission whenever they are called upon, because you never know when that's going to be."

Reserve squadron augments PACAF during Keen Edge 2014

by Capt. David Tomiyama and Maj. Amy Hansen
713th Combat Operations Squadron


2/8/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICHAM, Hawaii -- Reservists from the 713th Combat Operations Squadron deployed here to support Headquarters Pacific Air Forces during Keen Edge 2014, Jan. 24-31.

KE14 is a joint/bilateral exercise designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability between the U.S. military and the Japan Self Defense Force. The joint chiefs of staff-directed exercise was held at multiple venues in Japan and Hawaii and focused on coordination, force protection, host nation support, ballistic missile defense and non-combatant evacuation operations.

The 52 reservists from Beale Air Force Base, Calif., along with 18 members of the unit's on-island detachment, were among the estimated 500-600 U.S. participants from all branches of service.

"The 713th augmented the PACAF staff during exercise KE14 while also accomplishing our unit's mission training and certification for the year," said Col. Thomas Klingensmith, 713th COS commander. "We are proud to deliver combat power for the U.S. Air Force while developing relationships with our active duty counterparts and fellow 713th members."

The squadron was the main augmentation force for KE14 at HQ PACAF, stepping right into their roles with the Air Force Forces staff. From operations to logistics, civil engineering, and personnel, the reservists had a role in every PACAF directorate, providing much needed support to their active duty counterparts in response to exercise scenarios.

As the only Air Force Reserve unit whose mission is to support an Air Force Forces staff, the 713 COS' presence at PACAF is continuing to expand and evolve. From past Terminal Fury command post exercises to Operations Tomodachi and Damayan and the annual Republic of Korea exercises, Key Resolve and Ulchi Freedom Guardian, the Reserve squadron routinely finds itself supporting the major exercises and real world events that impact the Pacific region.

"The 713th is intricately involved across the entire spectrum of U.S. Pacific Command/PACAF operations. Their depth and breadth of experience is critical to synergistic operations and execution of the AFFOR commander/joint force air component commander/area air defense commander roles and responsibilities," said Don Herring, PACAF A5X Strategy & Plans Division deputy.

Eight members of the 713 COS were selected by the PACAF staff as either outstanding or superior performers for their contributions to KE14. Reservists named as outstanding performers were Lt. Col. Rob Morrill, Lt. Col. John Majerle, Maj. Justin Giovannettone, Maj. Christopher Hetrick, Maj. Caleb Honsinger, and Staff Sgt. Timothy Priest.

Lt. Col. Mike Thomas and Lt. Col. Kristi Forino garnered recognition as superior performers, ranking in the top .4 percent of all exercise participants.

"713th personnel have amassed an unprecedented portfolio of accomplishments in a short period of time, and are a vital part of the PACAF commander's team," Herring said.

Guardian Angels keep rescue-ready with new training tower

by 2nd Lt. Leslie Forshaw
920th Rescue Wing Public Affairs


2/9/2014 - PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla -- Rescue Airmen at the 920th Rescue Wing used their new training tower for the first time Feb 9. The tower is specifically designed to prepare them for the battlefield by simulating a variety of rescue environments.

Although the Guardian Angel Training Tower was user-ready Jan. 1, the GAs had to develop standard operating and safety procedures for command approval, said Chief Master Sgt. Doug Kestranek, 308th Rescue Squadron chief enlisted manager.

From simulated elevator shafts to rappel stations off the top of the tower, reservists will train to rescue personnel in need. "It looks all clean and pretty now, but it's my intention to keep it dirty with boot marks," said Kestranek.

This is one more tool the rescue airmen will use to train to save lives, living by their motto, "That others may live."

Women’s Mentorship Program Empowers Service Members



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2014 – The Women’s Mentorship Network hosted a membership drive at Fort Hood, Texas, last week to broaden participation and send out updates for future meetings, a program spokeswoman said.

Army Maj. Heather Gunther of 3rd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, is one of the core cadre members for the network. She said the all-volunteer leader development organization began in February 2013 as a grassroots effort, with several women at Fort Hood conducting informal lunches to discuss relevant professional development topics.

Within six months, Gunther said, groups became active in units across the installation as word of the mentorship network’s success spread.

“The women decided to expand the concept and create a formal network,” Gunther said, and on Jan. 10 and 11, the Women’s Mentorship Network celebrated its official launch with a leadership clinic facilitated by author Ori Brafman.

“Sixty women of all ranks participated in the design structure and vision -- an organization for all individuals who support the mentorship of military women and aligned with profession-of-arms values: namely trust, respect, and empowerment.”

Brafman, who penned a leadership book titled “The Starfish and the Spider,” inspired the network’s dynamic mentoring objectives, which Gunther said can develop through periodic, highly structured mentorship meetings led by trained facilitators.

“Similar to classes at a gym, facilitators offer one-hour periodic meetings and follow an agenda of interactive exercises designed to engage participants as mentors and mentees,” she said. “And just like spin class or CrossFit, each session is a little different based on the mix of members, experience and energy.”

Trained facilitators will further refine objectives to establish mentorship circles as they are reassigned and deployed with a cadre of support to share resources, Gunther explained.

Though the program is still in its nascence, Gunther said, it continues to grow, with the ultimate goal being a core network of military women who provide a support system to enrich the armed forces with adaptive and resilient leaders.

She emphasized that the military will be well-served to seek out initiatives that provide adaptive leadership training.

“The membership drive promises to be a great event to further grow the network and to remain transparent about it,” Gunther said. “Its organizers and champions have enjoyed the support of their leadership throughout the formation of this organization.”

The Women’s Mentorship Network is open to all men and women -- civilian and military -- who support the cultivation of female military leadership through adaptive, resilient mentorship. Participation in the network is voluntary, and all events are self-resourced.

Team McChord C-17s deliver Army firepower

by Jake Chappelle
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


2/7/2014 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Reserve and active-duty C-17 Globemaster III aircrews from Team McChord provided strategic airlift for Soldiers from the 17th Fire Brigade to Fort Hunter-Liggett, Calif., to conduct live-fire exercises Jan. 31 to Feb. 5.

The 446th and 62nd Airlift Wing crewmembers transported the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment's High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and their operators to Hunter-Liggett, so the Soldiers could execute the field firing segments of Operation Thunderbolt II.

"As a wing, the biggest thing we took away from [the mission] was the opportunity to work with our sister service at [JBLM - Lewis Main]," said Capt. Patrick Hancock, 446th AW chief of Weapons and Tactics, who served as the operation's lead planner. "This training is crucial, as it's a part of our basic mission set, and provides continuity for future 446th Airmen."

Operation Thunderbolt II validated the C-17 aircraft as a delivery platform for 5-3 FA global operations, said Hancock, who's contributed to several joint-training missions with the Army.

Completing the operation was also imperative to an exercise the 75th Ranger Regiment conducted on the ground, Hancock said. The Rangers needed the 5-3 FA to complete the artillery firing portion of the mission, so the Rangers could accomplish theirs.

As lead planner, Hancock ensured as many possible details he could imagine were covered by organizing with leads from each participating agency, and making sure he had solutions for the potential contingencies, he said. A major piece of the coordination was figuring out ways to alleviate the issues or get rid of them completely.

"The biggest advantage the 446th brings to the fight is experience," Hancock, who joined the wing in 2005, said. "We have some of the most experienced pilots and loadmasters at JBLM, which allows them to be flexible in case the mission doesn't go according to plan."

Hancock also said the mission provided a great opportunity for some younger and newer 446th AW aircrew members to gain rare and valuable experience.

"This is as close to real world training as you get," he said. "Many aircrew members hadn't worked in this type of high-operations tempo with the fire brigade. Also, many of the aircrew had never conducted operations on a semi-prepared runway [dirt landing strip]."

Organizing inter-department exercises, like Operation Thunderbolt II, are like putting together a complex puzzle, Hancock said. Every piece has a specific and unique purpose, and it's up to the planners to know the capabilities each bring to the table--to optimize their effectiveness.

"This mission is probably one of the most joint missions we've accomplished as Joint Base Lewis-McChord," he said. "All together we had 24 JBLM units that participated--which further proved we're one team--one fight."

Malmstrom missile maintainers successfully install reentry system

by Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever
Air Force Public Affairs Agency


2/10/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Missile maintainers from the 341st Missile Maintenance Squadron successfully removed and installed a new reentry system at an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile launch facility here.

Staff Sgt. Damarr Jones, 341st MMXS missile maintenance team chief, led a five-person missile maintenance team that completed the installation of the new reentry system. He said his team prepared days in advance to ensure their equipment, vehicles and other mission requirements were on hand and ready to help complete their maintenance tasks at the LF.

"Our job today was to put a missile on alert," Jones said. "Before the mission, we studied our technical orders and put together the right equipment and parts to complete the job at the site."

Jones has only been stationed at Malmstrom AFB for about 18 months, but he has extensive experience on missile maintenance and missile handling teams over the course of his 12 years in the Air Force. He said he's proud of his team and the work they perform every day to keep Malmstrom missiles on alert.

"We worked as a cohesive unit, and we are well trained to complete maintenance tasks on the ICBM," he said. "I have the best job in the world, and being a team chief is like a quarterback who ensures everyone is working together to accomplish the mission."

First Lt. Michael Fraioli, 341st MMXS missile maintenance team officer in charge, said he relies on his noncommissioned officers who are highly experienced in every aspect of the missile maintenance career field.

"Our team chiefs and site superintendents have a wealth of knowledge. If there's a technical question, they know which technical orders to look at and sometimes they know off the top of their heads what the problem could be and how to fix it," Fraioli said.

The missile maintenance team didn't complete this task on their own as the 40th Helicopter Flight provided aerial surveillance and a Convoy Response Force from the 741st Missile Security Forces Squadron provided them with an armed escort from Malmstrom AFB to the LF. The CRF security forces members ensure the reentry system, Airmen and other resources attached to the convoy are safe and secure at all times.

First Lt. Michael Olson, 741st MSFS CRF convoy commander, said convoy training prepares them for almost every scenario they may see during an operational convoy mission. This training covers each movement the convoy makes to reach the LF safely so the missile maintainers can perform their mission at the site.

"I will control the convoy's movements, and if anything happens that's outside the norm, I will relay it to the base and communicate what's going on. While I'm doing that, our convoy flight chief, who's our tactical commander, will control where we position our forces," Olson said. "I will keep an eye on the big picture and help backfill forces relay everything to the base. I oversee the convoy and our tactical commander is more hands on."

Master Sgt. Christopher Clark, 741st MSFS CRF tactical commander, said he works hand-in-hand with Olson to manage the CRF, and relies on his convoy experience he gained from multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure their team operates at the highest level.

"When we go on a mission, everybody has a 'Get 'er done' mentality," Clark said. "Out of eight deployments, I ran convoys for six of them. This is like second nature to me. It's a rewarding job and it's a pleasure doing it."

First Lady: 100 Companies to Hire 100,000 Vets Over 5 Years



By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2014 – First Lady Michelle Obama announced today that more than 100 construction industry companies have committed to hiring more than 100,000 military veterans over the next five years.

Obama and Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez delivered remarks at the National Symposium on Veterans’ Employment in Construction, hosted at the Labor Department.

The event brought together construction industry officials, government leaders and education professionals to highlight hiring commitments throughout the industry, and it addressed employment challenges and opportunities for transitioning service members and veterans.

The first lady called the commitment to veterans “a huge deal,” adding, “It’s days like today that remind me why Dr. [Jill] Biden and I started Joining Forces in the first place.”

Joining Forces is a national initiative championed by the first lady and the vice president’s wife to engage all sectors of society to give service members and their family members opportunities and support.

“We did this because we wanted to inspire businesses and organizations across the country to ask themselves one simple question: … What more can we do to honor and support our veterans and military families?” the first lady said.

“And today all of you answered that question with this incredibly strong commitment,” Obama said. “I know that you all have made this commitment not just because it is the patriotic thing to do, … [but also] because you know that America’s military turns our some of the highest-skilled, hardest-working employees this country has ever seen.”

The kind of work men and women in uniform do every day includes building cities in the middle of deserts halfway around the world, building schools in remote villages, and repairing complex machinery in combat zones in the middle of the night, she said.

“Our troops have taken on some of the most challenging projects in some of the most inhospitable places under some of the toughest deadlines and constraints,” the first lady said. “So when it comes to the attitude and the experience needed to thrive in construction jobs, our men and women in uniform are second to none.”

As part of Joining Forces, the first lady and Dr. Biden issued a call to 50 U.S. governors to take executive or legislative action to streamline state licensing for service members, veterans and their spouses by the end of 2015. Today, 44 states have passed legislation that streamlines the process for service members and veterans to obtain civilian certification and licensure, according to a White House fact sheet.

In his remarks, Perez noted that the Labor Department’s latest employment report indicates the private sector has created 8.5 million jobs over the last 47 months. The construction industry showed one of the most dramatic growth rates, he said, adding more jobs in January than in any month since March 2007.

The construction industry is expected to create more than 1.5 million jobs by 2022, Perez said, adding that the industry has long maintained a proven training and employment infrastructure.

“Through apprenticeships, certification and credentialing programs provided by labor unions and individual employers, veterans can translate their skills into in-demand civilian occupations,” the secretary said.

“Nearly 8 percent of all registered apprentices are veterans,” he added, “while 23 percent of apprentices are active military members learning skills in over 120 occupations ranging from airframe mechanics to firefighters.”

The first lady said she and President Barack Obama believe the nation’s men and women in uniform should be able to start pursuing such careers the minute they hang up their uniforms but that the transition from military to civilian life can be difficult.

“Too many of our troops … get excellent training [but] they don’t always know how to translate that military experience into good civilian jobs,” she said. “That’s why in 2012 my husband launched the Department of Defense Military Credentialing and Licensing Task Force, and we’re already starting to see results.”

Today, she added, service members nationwide participate in apprenticeships and accredited civilian training programs near their bases, and the Defense Department is working to help them apply military training toward earning civilian credentials, particularly in high-demand fields like plumbing and heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

The president has assured that veterans can use their Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits to pay for career and technical training in construction and other industries, the first lady said, and veterans and companies can find jobs and qualified employees in 2,600 American job centers across the country.

Today’s commitment is about putting highly skilled individuals to work in high-paying careers and providing U.S. companies with the very best workers, but it’s also about “modeling a certain set of values for our communities and for our country,” she said.

“By making these kinds of commitments … you all are sending a clear message that in this country we honor those who’ve sacrificed for us,” the first lady said to company representatives in the audience.

And to service members and veterans in the audience and watching online, she said, “Please know that America has your back, and if you ever need to be reminded of how thankful we are for everything you’ve done for us, take a look around this room.

“You’ve got representatives from some of the leading companies in America,” the first lady added, “many of whom have traveled a very long way to be here. And they’re all here because they want to serve you as well as you’ve served this country.”

Secretary of the Navy Concludes Partnership Visit to Madrid


From Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs

MADRID, Spain (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus concluded a visit to Madrid, Spain, Feb. 10.

Mabus held a series of high-level meetings with Spanish leaders that highlighted the close defense cooperation between the United States and Spain as well as Spain's key role in NATO.

During his one-day visit to Madrid, Mabus met with the Crown Prince of Spain, His Royal Highness the Prince of Asturias; Minister of Defense Pedro Morenes, and Chief of Naval Operations Navy Adm. Munoz-Delgado.

During his meetings, Mabus noted the close collaborative working relationship between Spanish and U.S. military forces. Mabus emphasized the statement made by President Obama at last month's White House meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, that security cooperation between the two countries has never been stronger.

"For more than 200 years, the United States has enjoyed a strong partnership with our European friends, and our relationship with Spain has been one of our most vital," said Mabus. "Our two countries have served together in Afghanistan, sailed the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea to combat piracy, and worked to build greater capacity for our mutual friends around the world. Together we can continue to address those areas that threaten collective security and stability around the globe."

He also met with Marines and staff assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Madrid to thank them for their service.
Mabus will travel to Rota for the Feb. 11 arrival ceremony of USS Donald Cook (DDG 75), the first of four BMD-capable Aegis ships to be forward-deployed to Rota Naval Base, which will support NATO and U.S. missions, exercises and engagements, and represent a U.S. national contribution to the NATO European missile defense architecture.

Mabus' visit to Spain is part of a multi-country trip focused on building partnerships designed to help distribute the burden of securing the global maritime domain based on alliances, shared values and mutual trust.