Military News

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Youngstown welcomes WWII vet, family for Gift of a Day

by Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.
910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office


2/10/2014 - YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, Ohio -- The 910th Airlift Wing welcomed a World War II veteran and his family for a special tour here, Feb. 2. The event was conducted at the request of Crossroads Hospice in Green, Ohio, as part of their Gift of a Day program.

According to Krystal Beckelhimer, the hospice's Gift of a Day coordinator, the program is designed to ask their terminal patients "How do you envision your perfect day?" The hospice then strives to create that image and make it an extremely special and meaningful day for the patient and their family.

Beckelhimer reached out to the 910th AW Public Affairs Office to seek assistance in fulfilling one patient's vision of his perfect day.

Edward Hitesman, a veteran of the Army Air Corps, Air Force and Army served as a pilot in the Pacific theater. Beckelhimer hoped those serving at the air station could grant this man's wish.

"His perfect day, his gift, would be to come to your installation and view the display of aircraft there," said Beckelhimer.

In a short time, the necessary coordination was completed and Hitesman's special day was under way. Upon arriving at YARS, the veteran's 19-person group visited the wing's headquarters building where Hitesman and his family and friends were welcomed by Col. James Dignan, 910th AW commander.

"The 910th Airlift Wing is honored to host Mr. Hitesman and his family for this special tour of Youngstown Air Reserve Station," said Dignan. "We are humbled he would make visiting our Citizen Airmen and our facilities his wish and the ideal way to spend his perfect day."

Following the welcome and wing mission briefing, Dignan presented a certificate to the veteran, naming him an honorary member of the 910th AW. After the briefing, Chief Master Sgt. Troy K. Rhoades, the 910th's senior enlisted member, presented his challenge coin to the World War II veteran to recognize a job well done.

Hitesman and two of his sons spoke with members of the local media. Following the interviews, the 94-year-old veteran and his group, joined by members of the 910th, looked over a collection of Hitesman's military memorabilia. While looking over the yellowed artifacts, which included a picture of himself and his wife from 1944, Hitesman reflected on his service to his country.

"It was so vital to win World War II. Nobody enjoyed being there but they had to be," he said. "We did what had to be done."

Yet, he was pleased to be able to share his experiences with his family, friends and the Citizen Airmen of the 910th Airlift Wing.

"Everything is important and when you can share an important period (of time in your life) with a lot of good people who appreciate it that makes it better," said the World War II veteran.

After departing the wing headquarters, the group then visited a maintenance hangar where an honor cordon of more than 60 Citizen Airmen saluted Hitesman as he entered the building to tour one of the wing's C-130 Hercules tactical cargo aircraft.

During his visit to YARS, the veteran, father, grandfather and great-grandfather said he was impressed by those following in his footsteps today in defense of their country.

"I think they're doing a terrific job and they love what they're doing. That's the main thing because we're in the best country in the world," said Hitesman. "There's no better place on God's green earth than the United States of America."

Joint Task Force-Bravo delivers food,supplies to mountain village in Honduras

by U.S. Air Force Capt. Zach Anderson
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs


2/9/2014 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- More than 120 members of Joint Task Force-Bravo completed a seven-mile round trip hike to deliver more than 2,400 pounds of food and medical supplies to families in need in the mountain village of La Laguna, Honduras, Feb. 8, 2014.

The effort was part of the 52nd Joint Task Force Bravo "Chapel Hike," a long-standing tradition during which task force members donate funds to purchase food and medical supplies and hike through the mountains to deliver them to local underserviced communities.

"The Chapel Hikes are a unique opportunity for the Soto Cano population to get together and bring support to some of the local villages and help out those who are a little less fortunate," said U.S. Army Col. John Sena, Soto Cano Air Base Army Support Activity Commander. "It's a way for the Hondurans and U.S. personnel to build on our partnership and strengthen that relationship."

The hike was no easy stroll. During the more than three-mile trek up the mountain, each task force member made an elevation gain of 1,700 feet while carrying more than 20 pounds of supplies.

"It was a steep climb," said U.S. Army Col. Thomas Boccardi, Joint Task Force-Bravo Commander. "It doesn't matter if you're an infantryman, an aviator, or any other career field, it was a challenge. But then you get up to the village and you are just invigorated by the spirit of the people here. It's a population that doesn't have much, but they went out of their way to welcome us and put up decorations, and that really touches you. They have a grace and gratitude, with absolutely no sense of entitlement. It makes it all the worthwhile when you get up here and see how much they truly appreciate what we are doing."

Four special guests joined Task Force members on the hike. Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) professional fighters Kyle Kingsbury, Mike Pierce, Nate "Rock" Quarry and Steven Josephy were visiting Soto Cano to provide a mixed martial arts demonstration and participated in the hike, carrying their own packs of food and supplies to deliver.

"It's very rewarding to get a chance to be out here, to participate with Joint Task Force-Bravo to help out the people in this village," said Pierce. "It's great to be out here and be a part of this experience."

Those who participated in the hike said this type of operation is part of what is at the core Joint Task Force-Bravo.

"This is what it's all about," said U.S. Army Sgt. Maj. Thinh Huynh, Army Forces Battalion. "You see everyone out here, giving their weekend to help out others, and the way we are all working together. It doesn't matter if you are Air Force, Army, Marine Corps or Navy--it's all one team and that's what Joint Task Force Bravo is all about."

After delivering the food and supplies, task force members spent the afternoon interacting with the villagers and playing with the children, providing them with two piƱatas full of candy to break open.

Boccardi said taking the time to help out others and to interact with and get to know the local population is part of meeting the call to serve.

"It's about deeds, not words," said Boccardi. "Servicemembers are built to answer a calling, and it's a call to serve. In this case, it's not a call to stand guard duty on post or fly an aircraft. It's about doing something very simple. And this simple action is making someone else's life better."

All Hands Celebrates One Year Online



By Defense Media Activity

FORT MEADE, Md. -- (NNS) -- On the anniversary of All Hands Magazine launching its online publication, the All Hands staff has made several upgrades to improve the usability, design and visual appeal of the site.

All Hands Magazine is a web publication "For Sailors, by Sailors" with a goal of including articles, information, imagery and video that are relevant to Sailors and their families.

In order to further this goal, All Hands staff, in coordination with the Chief of Naval Personnel, has agreed to incorporate both news and resources into the magazine's website to further educate Sailors about career options and benefits they may be missing.

There will be nine departments of content available on the site including: Focus on Service, Around the Fleet, Health and Fitness, History and Heritage, Talking with Sailors, Training and Education, Your Career, Advancement and Promotions, and Uniform Matters.

The goal of this new design is to incorporate all the resources Sailors need to navigate their careers in easy to understand pages, placed in departments. We may also be adding a Pay and Benefits department in the near future.

The homepage will look slightly different and there will now be a landing page for each department; showing you at quick glance the most recent content posted. We are also developing the archives search function so you can find any story ever posted in All Hands Magazine with minimal effort.

All Hands Magazine will continue to highlight the Navy's culture and heritage and strive to be the number one source of information for Sailors about their Navy today.

Since going online, All Hands has published 191 articles. More than 100 of them have been produced by the Defense Media Activity's Sailors and 74 have been fleet submissions. The website has garnered more than 20 million page views since its inception in February of 2013.

The All Hands Magazine staff is always looking for feedback and fleet input on how we can better serve the needs of Sailors and their families. Please visit www.ah.mil for details on submitting stories and leaving feedback. We also post direct to Facebook content to further share what our Sailors are doing on our Facebook page. Please like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to keep up with the latest news and information for Sailors, by Sailors!

Air National Guard embraces “one Air Force” concept

by Tech. Sgt. David Eichaker
National Guard Bureau


2/11/2014 - ARLINGTON, Va.  -- Emphasizing the importance of embracing a "one Air Force" concept, Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling, command chief master sergeant of the Air National Guard, addressed newly minted Air Force chief master sergeants attending the Air Force District of Washington Chief's Orientation and Recognition Ceremony here to educate them about the Air Guard and to further build upon relationships between the active and reserve components.

As part of that, Hotaling, the 11th command chief master sergeant of the Air National Guard, talked about the National's Guard's 377-year history performing both state and federal missions. He then focused on three missions where he said the Air Guard excels: protecting the homeland, fighting America's wars and building global partnerships through the State Partnership Program.

The Air Guard is the first choice for homeland operations, said Hotaling, noting that Air Guard personnel were among the first to respond to the tornado that tore through Moore, Okla., in May. And, more recently, Airmen had boots on the ground when winter storms ravaged the Midwest and water contamination threatened areas of West Virginia.

"It's that link that we have," said Hotaling, adding the Air Guard is the tie between the community, state, local and federal levels.

"The Air National Guard provides that bridge where they can bounce between Title 32 (state active duty) and Title 10 (federal active duty)," he said.

And, the command chief noted, the Air National Guard has played a major part in fighting America's wars, particularly in the time since 2001.

"There are 16 Air National Guard bases around the United States that are providing air coverage (around the clock) for Operation Noble Eagle," he said, adding the Air Guard also runs the joint air defense operations center in the nation's capital and has deployed units worldwide.

Hotaling also praised Air Guard members for their long-term involvement in the SPP, where National Guard units conduct military and civilian engagements with foreign nations that help build stronger allies and support defense security goals.
"Every one of the 54 (states, territories and the District of Columbia) is partnered with at least one other country," Hotaling said, adding the program is run in conjunction with the State Department. "The State Department utilizes the National Guard to create those military-to-military relationships that are long term."

Quality training and real world experience is why today's more than 105,000 Air Guard members have been invaluable to governors and combatant commanders alike, said Hotaling.

"The status (of Guardmembers) may be different," said Hotaling, "but the standards will be the same. That's why they are a relevant choice to combatant commanders."

"We are all just American Airman," he said.

Missile chefs part of FSS

by Airmen 1st Class Jason Wiese
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs


2/10/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Twentieth Air Force missile chefs, formerly belonging to ICBM wings' missile squadrons, became force support squadron personnel Feb. 3.

A 20th AF study on missile field operations found food operations could be improved, resulting in the migration of missile chefs from missile squadrons to force support squadrons, said Master Sgt. Brian Cool, 20th Air Force manager of missile field feeding.

This entailed moving almost 200 personnel, including missile chefs, supervisors, trainers, evaluators and NCOICs, to FSSs at all three ICBM wings in the 20th AF, he said. The change is expected to improve the way missile chefs are evaluated, the quality standards for the services they provide and their potential for career progression.

Such a large undertaking required many organizations and individuals to accomplish, he said.

"A lot of contributing efforts are making this a success from leadership all the way down to the individual Airmen making this possible," he said.

The missile chefs, who were formerly part of missile squadrons, now belong to flights within their wing's FSS, said Airman 1st Class Austen Hively, 90th Force Support Squadron missile chef.

"It's been in talks for a while, but it finally came into effect," he said. "I'm actually excited about it."

Airmen in the services career field typically belong to force support squadrons throughout the Air Force, and now that missile chefs will be part of each missile wing's force support squadron, it will feel more like being full-fledged services Airmen, he said.

While he is excited, Hively said he will miss the close working relationship with the missile squadron personnel.

Also happy about the change, Master Sgt. James Breeden, 90th FSS Sustainment Flight superintendent and former missile chef, said the chefs will perform the same function in the field as before.

"They're still going to be chiefs of morale; they're still going to be site chefs," Breeden said.

There will be some minor changes, he said. For instance, missile chefs will get their own, separate pre-departure briefing including only information pertinent to their responsibilities.

"A lot of the pre-departure briefing is geared toward the missileer side of the house," he said.

Chefs do not need to know all of the information presented at the operations group briefings, he said.

One thing that will remain the same is the chain of command in the missile complex, he said. Ninetieth FSS leadership has administrative command over the missile chefs, but operational command at missile alert facilities remains with the combat crew commanders on site.

"In the future, I see a huge benefit for the food out in the missile field," he said.

In the FSSs, missile chefs will have access to more food options and be able to train more in the culinary arts, Breeden said.

"The main thing is career progression for these guys," he said. "That's really where I see the biggest impact."

Services Airmen responsibilities include providing food, lodging, fitness and readiness -- four functional areas -- to their organizations, Breeden said. In order to advance to the rank of staff sergeant, services Airmen must be certified proficient in two of the functional areas.

This presented an obstacle to career advancement for missile chefs when they were part of the missile squadrons, Breeden said. Their tours of duty in the missile complex could be long and by the time they became part of their base's FSS, they could be senior airmen (one rank below staff sergeant) but only certified in one functional area.

Being part of a FSS will allow more flexibility and mobility for services Airmen in 20th Air Force ICBM wings, and their leaders will be more familiar with their career field, he said.

"It's for their professional development," said Lt. Col. Chris Menuey, 90th Operations Group deputy commander. "Ultimately, they are still part of the team no matter what patch they wear. We expect it will be the same outstanding food service."

Now that the chefs will fall under FSS administratively, 90th OG leadership will be able to shift more of their focus to operations, Menuey said.

"There will be some time we'll get back," he said. "We'll be able to put that toward other duties, but that definitely wasn't a limiting factor when they were with us."

The change has been a long time coming, and is a welcome one for many, Breeden said.

"We anticipate there to be small hiccups on the way," Breeden said. "That'll happen any time there's change."

Locklear Kicks Off 33rd Cobra Gold Exercise in Thailand



By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2014 – In a ceremony at Camp Akatosarot in Thailand today, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, kicked off the 33rd iteration of Exercise Cobra Gold.

Cobra Gold 14 is designed to advance regional security and provide effective response to regional crises through a multinational force from nations that share common goals and security commitments in the Asia-Pacific region, officials said.

Noting that Thailand is the oldest U.S. ally in the region – the U.S.-Thai alliance is entering its 181st year -- Locklear called Cobra Gold the Pacific’s signature exercise and one of the largest and most important multilateral exercises in which the United States participates.

In 2012, U.S. and Thai defense leaders signed a joint vision statement to update the defense relationship between the two nations, which expanded the nations’ regional partnership to focus on challenges that include disaster relief and other global security contributions, Locklear said.

“Events like Cobra Gold allow us to work together multilaterally to exercise those commitments,” he added. “Since 1980, Cobra Gold has served to develop, better respect and understand all the participants. This 33rd annual event, with over 13,000 participants, is no different.”

But Cobra Gold 14 is more than just the United States and Thai forces, as myriad nations are represented in the exercise, he noted. “Whether you are a participant or an observer, whether you have been here from the beginning or this is your nation’s first Cobra Gold, your presence here demonstrates your country’s resolve to support peace and stability in the region,” Locklear told the kick-off ceremony’s audience.

This year’s exercise “will prepare us for a whole spectrum of challenges,” from field exercises and live firing events, the admiral said. Humanitarian civic assistance projects also are important to the event, he added.

“Cobra Gold truly replicates the dynamic security environment we find ourselves in today, and what we will face in the future,” Locklear said. “We must continue to build on the rich history of cooperation that events like Cobra Gold provide for us.”

Aspiring to work closely with all nations in the region to confront common challenges and continue peace and prosperity is critical, he added.

“Together, we can build a common view on security interests,” he said, adding that through such bilateral and multilateral engagements, participating nations will improve and share understanding, and enhance trust.

“I look forward to the opportunity when we can continue to work together to solve problems that each of our nations face,” the Pacom commander said, “and toward a brighter future for the entire region for ourselves, our children, and their children.”

U.S. Air Force aircraft on display at Singapore International Airshow

by Capt. Tamara Fischer-Carter
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


2/11/2014 - SINGAPORE  -- U.S. Air Force aircraft are on display as part of the Singapore International Airshow, one of the largest air and trade shows in the Asia-Pacific region, scheduled Feb. 11 through 16, at the Changi Exhibition Center.

The Airshow is a biennial international trade and airshow focused on building stronger relations between Singapore and other international communities including the U.S. The U.S. has its largest presence yet this year with more than 150 companies as well as a large contingent of U.S. government and private sector visitors and VIP guests.

"We are honored to participate in this year's Singapore International Airshow as it demonstrates our commitment to our partners and allies while furthering mutual training and cooperation between our military forces," said Gen. Hawk Carlisle, commander Pacific Air Forces.

A variety of U.S. military aircraft and equipment will be presented through static displays and aerial demonstrations, including the F-16 Fighting Falcon, MV-22 Osprey, KC-130J Hercules, P-8 Poseidon, and C-17 Globemaster III.

The U.S. continues to demonstrate its commitment to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region by participating events such as airshows and exercises with partner nations. The large U.S. presence at this year's airshow underscores the strong economic and security interests in the region and a focus on the U.S. rebalance to the region. It also provides the opportunity to promote interoperability and displays the flexible combat capabilities of the U.S. military.

Pope Field Airman represents Reserve on Air Force volleyball team

by Adam Luther
440th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


2/11/2014 - POPE FIELD, N.C. -- Staff Sgt. Melissa Deardorff has been an Air Force reservist for over four years and serves as a flight medic with the 36th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. The self-proclaimed military brat comes from a family of service members and her love of volleyball began while her family was stationed in Hawaii.

Deardorff has been playing volleyball for over 17 years; starting while her family lived in Hawaii, but it was not until her family moved to the District of Columbia that she began playing competitively. She competed at the collegiate level for the University of South Carolina in Aiken where she earned a degree in exercise science.

When she finished school and enlisted in the Air Force Reserve, she thought her time on the court was over and considered herself to be retired. It wasn't until her first deployment that she learned about the U. S. Air Force volleyball team.

"I was on my first deployment in Afghanistan, just playing pick-up volleyball," Deardorff said. "One of the guys on the team said that I needed to come and play for the Air Force."

Even though she had doubts that the Air Force would put her on orders to play volleyball she decided to submit the application. After she returned home from her deployment in Bagram, Afghanistan, Deardorff received a call from the Air Force volleyball team in Europe inviting her to come out and play.

Starting next month the U.S. Air Forces in Europe team will begin practice in Ramstein, Germany. The team will play against other Air Force teams from across Europe at the tournament in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The tournament concludes with a banquet with all of the other European teams, where it's common to trade medals, insignias and badges with the other players.

Once the European tournament is completed, the team will return to the U.S. and play the teams from the other services. From there, members from each of the services will be selected to form a combined services team to play against the European combined services teams.

"I love that I have been able to continue to play this sport at such a high level of competition," said Deardorff.

She has recently completed her nursing degree from Excelsior College and wants to become a trauma nurse in her civilian career. With her nursing degree completed, plans on submitting the paperwork to become a commissioned officer and a flight nurse in the Air Force Reserve.

When asked about what is next for her when it comes to volleyball, she explained that she is considering going professional, but went on to say that turning professional puts heavy restrictions on the amateur teams she will be able to play on in the future.

DOD to Mandate Documentation for Lost, Stolen CAC Cards



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2014 – Later this year, the Defense Department will begin fully enforcing a previously optional policy regarding the reissuance of lost or stolen common access cards, a defense official said here today.

Sam Yousef, a program manager for identity and benefits policy at the Defense Human Resources Activity, discussed an update to the current CAC issuance policy during an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel.

“Beginning in late March [or] early April of this year, we are going to begin fully enforcing current common access card policy, which will require individuals to bring supporting documentation if they have had their ID cards lost or stolen,” he said. “If you have your card lost or stolen, you should work with your local security office or the individual sponsoring you for that ID card.”

People requesting a replacement card will need to produce a document on component or agency letterhead that explains that the card has been lost or stolen, he added. Yousef noted the document should be signed, and individuals must bring it with them to have a new card issued.

“If the card has been stolen,” he said, “they may also bring in the police report that accounts for that,” he added. “This will not only get the department in full compliance with our policy, but it will also create better accountability for individuals who have had their cards lost or stolen.”

Though this has been a part of the current policy, Yousef noted, it was not mandated at CAC card-issuing locations.

“Previously, in the last couple of years, we have actually updated the system to capture this documentation on an optional basis,” he said. “So what will happen in late March [or] early April is it will be required as part of that reissuance to bring supporting documentation with you.” The supporting documentation will be scanned and stored in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System, he added.

This will affect all common access card-eligible individuals, both military and civilian, Yousef said.

In addition to being an additional security precaution, Yousef said this measure will help to prevent people from replacing their cards just as a matter of personal convenience.

“It creates better awareness with our local security offices [and] our individuals that are sponsoring our contractors for common access cards,” he said. “So this way, they have full oversight if someone is losing multiple ID cards.”

Following the update in requirements this spring, Yousef emphasized, it will be important for people to ensure they bring this documentation with them to have a card reissued, noting that most ID card-issuing sites already have been requiring it for quite some time.

Crew chief writes new chapter in jet's historical legacy

by Airman 1st Class Apryl Hall
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs


2/11/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- From World War I to Vietnam, nose art was a common sight on many military aircraft. But as the bombers and fighters of the past were replaced with their stealthier cousins of today, nose art became less and less common. For more than half a century, the venerable B-52H Stratofortress continues that legacy today. On the flight line or aprons of Minot Air Force Base, viewers can see nose art decorating a number of jets, but one in particular wears more than simple paint--it wears its history.

When he was assigned to aircraft 0018 over two years ago, Staff Sgt. John M. Silva, 5th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron dedicated crew chief, immediately started researching the history behind the B-52's nose art. Not only did Silva want to focus on the responsibility of how a dedicated crew chief interacts with his aircraft, but he also wanted to be able to take pride in his work, he said.

"We have to understand our past to look at our future," said Silva.

Through his research of the jet, which features the POW/MIA flag as its nose art, Silva found that throughout the B-52's history, more than 60 aircrew members have been prisoners of war or missing in action. Knowing the jet's history allows Silva to understand his part in the mission, and motivates him to do his job to the best of his abilities, he said.

"Sometimes you focus so much on training and the mission that you start thinking that you aren't doing anything," said Silva. "The fact is we have done stuff, and we have to keep going."

Not only did Silva want to make a personal connection to his jet, but he also wanted to include his fellow maintenance crewmembers and the aircrew as well.

"It helps out the pilots to know the history," said Silva. "You want to be able to take pride in your aircraft."

One of the jet's pilot, Capt. Joe Cangealose, of the 69th Bomb Squadron, wholeheartedly agrees with Silva, he said.

"It's important for people to step back and see that nose art and know what the guys that have been here before us have gone through," said Cangealose. "It puts your mind at a different place when you take off for that training sortie."

For Capt. Margaret Ingerslew, 69th BS navigator on 0018, the bond to the aircraft lies in its stories.

"There are so many different generations who have sat in the same cockpit," said Ingerslew. "Everybody is concerned with what we're doing today, but I think sometimes they forget what this aircraft has done."

Ingerslew said she thinks the work Silva did uncovering the jet's stories and helping forge the bond between the crewmembers and their aircraft is significant.

"I hope this starts a new trend," said Ingerslew. "Being able to honor what this jet has done and know its story is really meaningful when you fly it and do your day-to-day job."

Since discovering the aircraft's history, Silva has made several strides in becoming more connected to 0018. Recently, he and the pilots had their names printed on the jet. Having their names on the jet displays the pride they feel in the work they perform on the aircraft, said Silva. Whether the job is on the ground or in the air, the names show that they are a part of the jet.

Additionally, Silva is currently working on having a plaque installed inside the aircraft. The plaque, which is meant to honor the previous crewmembers' sacrifices, will be engraved with the first paragraph of the POW/MIA ceremony:

"Those who have served and those currently serving the uniformed services of the United States are ever mindful that the sweetness of enduring peace has always been tainted by the bitterness of personal sacrifice. We are compelled to never forget that while we enjoy our daily pleasures, there are others who have endured and may still be enduring the agonies of pain, deprivation and internment."

The installation of the plaque will be just one more indication that Silva, his fellow maintenance crewmembers and his aircrew have each left their personal stories as part of 0018's historical legacy.

Coast Guard Sector Anchorage moves to JBER

by David Bedard
JBER Public Affairs


2/6/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Coast Guardsmen of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Anchorage made their presence known at the outset of the Jan. 31 ceremony marking their arrival and inclusion at the Alaska Army National Guard Armory.

Attending Soldiers and Airmen knew they were welcoming a new service to the base when Cmdr. Shane Montoya, deputy sector commander and master of ceremonies, asked them to keep their headgear on during the indoor ceremony in keeping with Coast Guard tradition.

Maritime customs continued in the language of the ceremony with phrases like "call to quarters" and "man the rails" denoting the sequence of events.

Though the ceremony signified the sector's move into the armory's G-wing, the speakers said it marked more than a simple address change for the nearly 650 Coast Guardsmen and civilians. The ceremony was the culmination of an idea, years of work, and a drive to further increase cooperation between the Coast Guard and the Alaska National Guard.
Coast Guard Capt. Paul Mehler, sector commander, said the co-location allows closer coordination of search and rescue (SAR) operations across the state with quick deconfliction of marine-based SAR provided by the Coast Guard and terrestrial-based SAR provided by the National Guard.

"With an [area of operations] as vast and logistically challenging as we face, we cannot be successful without strong partnerships," Mehler said. "This addition to the Alaska National Guard building is fitting ... Through hard work and commitment, this building will bring to life an opportunity of unprecedented professional relationships with the best-trained staff to respond whenever the people of Alaska require us."

Lt. Cmdr. Greg Madalena, 17th Coast Guard District real property and planning for facilities, said the need for a new building to replace their 12,000 square-foot downtown Anchorage facility arose from a doubling of the sector's personnel. The sector required 28,000 square feet, which would contain a 4,000 square-foot command center, a small-arms armory and a medical detachment.

Realizing their current lease no longer met their needs, Madalena said the sector started looking for other options. Seeing the need could be met by a wing of the armory, Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Thomas Katkus, Alaska Adjutant General, approached Rear Adm. Thomas Ostebo, 17th Coast Guard District commander, with an offer of space at the National Guard facility.

Madalena said he surveyed the armory and found the standard wing was nearly identical to Coast Guard requirements for the sector.

He said finding the space was the easy part, the difficult part being the navigation of Air Force, National Guard and Coast Guard policies necessary to complete the relocation. The move meant the sector would have to secure a use agreement with the state of Alaska for the office space on Camp Denali, the camp being licensed to the state by the Air Force, custodian of the base.

After receiving approval from the Air Force Real Property Agency and the Pentagon, Madalena said the use agreement was approved by Congress in late 2011.

Ostebo said, despite the long process required to secure the agreement, the effort was worth it.

"The right thing to do is still the right thing to do," the admiral said. "That's what we did in this case here and as a result we have a wonderful new sector.

"We have a sector that can grow with the mission sets of the Coast Guard in Alaska. We have a sector that is inviting for all of our federal partners to work closer together ... We have a sector that will drive down the cost of ownership of the Coast Guard here by millions of dollars in perpetuity."

Katkus echoed Ostebo's sentiments, citing the need for innovative solutions in a fiscally-constrained budget environment.

"You can't do more with less," the general said. "You have to do more with something different, and that's what we did here."

Madalena said, beyond the benefits of interagency cooperation, the relocation is a great benefit to Coast Guardsmen who live on and now work at the base.

"The base infrastructure on JBER is second to none - wonderful housing, great child-development center, dining facilities and a state-of-the-art commissary," he said.

Mehler likened the move to the commissioning of a Coast Guard cutter. Consisting of glass, stone, cement and steel, he said it is the Coast Guardsmen who bring the building and the unit to life.

"Over the coming weeks, our crew will start to man the rails, energize the systems, and hoist the Coast Guard flag," the captain said. "We're honored to have the opportunity to come aboard and turn this amazing new building into a living, breathing sector."

Public Health Service officer pitches in at JBER

by David Bedard
JBER Public Affairs


1/31/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENODRF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- A man emerged from his car on a July day wearing a dress-white uniform. He strode across the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hospital parking lot, plotting a course to his office in the hospital's Lynx Wing.

An Airman, wearing his utility uniform, ambled on an intercept course with the doctor en route to his car.

The two locked eyes for a brief moment, before the Airman scanned the unfamiliar uniform for shiny brass. All he could spot were two dark shoulder boards with four yellow stripes each. Biting his lip, the Airman decided he had better cover his bases, and rendered a crisp salute. The doctor returned the courtesy.

The Navy-like uniform belongs to Public Health Service Capt. Kelton Oliver, medical director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic at the JBER hospital. As one of six uniformed services, the PHS Commissioned Corps uses a combination of Navy and Coast Guard uniforms with PHS insignia.

Oliver said his assignment to the JBER Hospital's TBI Clinic is part of an agreement between the Department of Defense and the PHS designed to address behavioral-health issues associated with combat deployments. According to the PHS website, the 2008 initiative ensures service members, their families and veterans receive the behavioral health care they need by increasing services such as psychiatric counseling, family and group therapy, and preventive services.

Years before becoming a part of this partnership, Oliver said he began his service in uniform as a Security Forces Airman, guarding missiles at Minot Air Force Base, N.D., before he volunteered for a special operations assignment. After six years of service, he left the Air Force and worked as a police officer at the University of Oklahoma for four years, where he earned a degree in chemistry.

During his studies, he decided to become a medical doctor. Oliver's vocational calling led him into medicine, but his time with the Air Force led him back to the uniform.

"A lot of it had to do with the fact that I could continue to work toward a [uniformed service] retirement, and I enjoyed being in the military," he said. "I liked the military lifestyle, and I liked wearing the uniform."

Oliver said he helped establish the TBI Clinic in 2009, when then 673d Medical Group commander, Air Force Col. Paul Friedrichs, asked him to institute the clinic with a holistic approach. This methodology contrasted with other TBI clinics, which are run by neurologists.

Oliver was the right doctor for the job.

He said he had a predominately primary care background, working in Indian Health Service hospitals in Oklahoma before transferring to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage.

It wasn't long before Oliver put his stamp on the fledgling TBI clinic.
"The first day I was here, I wrote on the white board, 'The patient is the mission.'" he said. "Of course, to the military, mission means something specific. It's your assignment, and you never quit on a mission. You go until the mission is completed."

As part of the holistic approach, Oliver said he and his staff see patients as complex people with varying backgrounds and challenges.

"From the very beginning, everyone who has been a part of this clinic has had the mindset of 'Let's find out what this patient needs and help them get it, even if it's really not in our court,'" he said.

Oliver offered the example of a TBI patient suffering from severe back pain. Such a patient won't get much out of cognitive rehabilitation until the back pain is cured or managed. Likewise, if a patient has debilitating post-traumatic stress disorder, treatment for TBI-related headaches may not be as effective. These considerations have prompted TBI clinic caregivers to work closely with their behavioral health and primary care colleagues to ensure treatment is administered in an effective, holistic manner.

"We look at the patient as a whole," the doctor said. "We don't treat traumatic brain injury, we treat people who have traumatic brain injuries."

Oliver said he was specially suited to help stand up and run the TBI clinic because of his status as a PHS officer, which made possible the continuity the clinic needed.

"When we are assigned to the Department of Defense, we are in essence functioning just like a military officer," he said. "But there are a couple of differences that make us desirable for certain types of positions - one of those is that we're not going to be transferred out from under them."

Oliver said that - while assigned to the JBER hospital - he can perform any function an Air Force doctor can, and he has worked in family medicine when the TBI caseload was slow.
The doctor said he is encouraged when patients benefit from the services provided at the TBI clinic.

"Because the patient is the mission, I feel that I have accomplished the mission when the patient recovers," he said. "That's the part that's really rewarding.

"These men and women, they've been through things," Oliver continued. "They put everything on the line because they were asked to, and they deserve nothing less than the very best we have. They deserve our very best effort. And because they deserve our very best effort, it feels so good when they get better."