Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Illinois Air Guard doctor deployed to Antarctica takes on helicopter crash

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Staff Sgt. Lealan Buehrer
182nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

PEORIA, Ill. (2/19/14) - The commander of the 182nd Medical Group in Peoria, Ill., returned from a rare seven-week deployment to Antarctica Jan. 4, where he provided medical care at the McMurdo Station there.

Two weeks after arriving, Air National Guard Col. Steven S. Norris found himself in the middle of a mass-casualty event when a South Korean Kamov helicopter crash-landed and caught fire on the deck of a research ship.

The doctor deployed to Antarctica as a flight surgeon in support of Operation Deep Freeze's mission to provide airlift for the National Science Foundation. There, the Iraq and Afghanistan War veteran with almost two decades of military service experienced the most limited and remote working conditions of his career.

Norris, of Morton, Ill., had just returned to the station from an all-day mission to the South Pole on Dec. 4, 2013, when he received word that four helicopter crash victims were being transported to his clinic from 200 miles away at Terra Nova Bay. When they arrived, it would become Norris and his team's job to keep the critically wounded Koreans alive and fly them on an LC-130 Hercules to the nearest medical center in Christchurch, New Zealand.

At that point, Norris knew his duty day was far from over.

"I had to prepare the hospital, four different trauma bays, and get everyone together and assign teams, and do all the stuff you do in preparation for a mass casualty," he said.

His team that night was one Air Force flight medic and one flight nurse. The event became part of a 38-hour shift that resulted in saving those four lives.

The crash victims suffered burns, spine and pelvic fractures, and internal bleeding. The worst had burns on 40 percent of his body.

When the patient arrived, he was not doing well and his burns were so severe that his body had swollen, Norris said. "The key in those situations is to get them to establish a definitive airway, but with his face and head so swollen, that was very difficult," the doctor explained.

The crash victims survived, despite the limits and difficulties of practicing medicine in McMurdo Station's small, desolate arctic facility.

"It's kind of like an outpatient clinic, or a prompt care, and then some two or three hospital beds," said Norris. "It's really the only hospital on the continent."

Besides the clinic's size constraints, materials were also a commodity. It was a stark difference from Norris's experiences deployed in the Middle East.

"You have limited supplies. You can't be resupplied. You just have to be prepared to do everything and be able to stabilize any sort of situation. You have to be confident in your ability to do that, and be able to do it, because there's nobody else there," he said.

Norris, however, found dealing with stress to be similar to any other intense situation he had experienced in his medical career.

"The number one thing is stay calm," he said. "Support everyone around you so that they feel relaxed and calm, and just concentrate on the task you have in front of you. I think if the physician is calm and speaks calmly and doesn't appear to be rattled or in a hurry, then everyone else feels relaxed."

Norris has had 15 years to practice that philosophy. He received his doctorate of medicine in 1999 from the University of Illinois College of Medicine and received a commission in the Air Force the next year.

He also serves in the civilian sector as a hospital physician at Peoria's OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, having previously worked in family practice, emergency care and executive leadership positions. After serving as the 182nd Medical Group's chief of aerospace medicine, he was promoted to its commander in December 2010.

Norris now oversees 68 traditional and full-time medical specialists that service the more than 1,100 guardsmen responsible for the 182nd Airlift Wing's state and federal missions.

In a first, Maryland’s 231st Chemical Company joins with Air Guard in HAZMAT training

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Staff Sgt. Thaddeus Harrington
Maryland National Guard

MIDDLE RIVER, Md. (2/19/14) - On a cold, overcast weekend, the Maryland National Guard's 231st Chemical Company and 175th Civil Engineering Fire and Emergency Services Flight conducted joint HAZMAT training at Warfield Air National Guard Base in Middle River, Md., on Feb. 8-9, 2014.

"[This is] the first time that we've done any joint training with another branch," said Air Force Master Sgt. Joel McCroy, assistant chief of training for the 175th Civil Engineering Fire and Emergency Services Flight and a former Army infantryman. "Most of our members have deployed to joint bases and worked in a joint environment, so it just made sense to include joint training into what we do."
The 231st contacted the 175th fire department this past fall about training that could benefit both units. From the beginning, both organizations had to learn a little about each other–different acronyms, ranks and particular ways of doing things. Firefighters got firsthand experience working with the operations order supplied by 231st Chemical Company.

Each day of the weekend's training consisted of four stations: fixed-wing aircraft decontamination; Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System training; troop decontamination using Mission Oriented Protective Posture level 4; and familiarity with the Air Guard's equipment used to detect chemical, biological and radiological materials.

"The Air National Guard's fire department here has absolutely been fantastic in accommodating us and making sure that both the Army and the Air Guard get excellent training out of this," said Army 1st Lt. Kristofer Baumgartner, 231st commander. "This is something that the Soldiers are absolutely looking forward to. They hadn't had this kind of unique training before, and they're using this as an opportunity to learn new skills."

A retired A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft with a brand new paint job, slotted to be used as a static display, gave the Soldiers a full-sized aircraft to work with. This allowed them to conduct realistic training without taking an aircraft out of operation, freeing it up to do flights and minimizing potential damage.
Although it was a display model, Soldiers still received a safety brief on approaching the aircraft and avoiding its danger zones. Army Staff Sgt. Aaron Edwards, platoon sergeant for DECON Platoon, explained to his group of Soldiers the extreme importance of decontaminating the aircraft's wheels and areas that the pilots may touch, to allow the aircraft to return to and stay in the fight.

This period of training was also drill weekend for the Maryland Air National Guard. The mechanics were repairing, pilots were flying, the support staff was hard at work, and Airmen, Soldiers, and even the Civil Air Patrol filled the dining facility.

"I hope we can do some more [training] in the future," said McCroy. "Maybe we can expand it to some other things; we already discussed the possibility of a field exercise in the future."

After the joint training proposal received the green light through the respective chains of command, the two organizations moved forward to obtain training areas, schedule events, coordinate training with the 175th Emergency Management, and secure an aircraft from the 175th Maintenance Squadron.

Training in a joint environment allows Service members to build relationships, learn best practices, work with different equipment, and increase specific skills in an unfamiliar environment.

When asked what he considered the best part of the training, Sgt. Jonny Kincaid, a 4th Platoon section leader in the 231st and member of the chemical strike team for the International Monetary Fund, said, "Seeing some of my colleagues and some of the [junior] enlisted Soldiers get into the suits (JSLIST) and go through everything."

Team members don MOPP Level 4 or the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology (JSLIST) to carry out their mission. The proper wear of this equipment is vital for completing the mission safely, so team members constantly monitor each other and correct malfunctions.

"I'm pretty knowledgeable in what I do, and [I'm] always into learning other techniques. I'm willing to learn each and every technique I can," Kincaid added.

The 175th Civil Engineering Fire and Emergency Services Flight is considered a Prime BEEF civil engineer unit by the Air Force. Nothing to do with steaks, it means Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force, an organization that could be tasked with setting up a bare base.

"Next month we'll be doing a field training exercise with an active duty unit at Aberdeen Proving Ground," said Baumgartner. "The following month we'll be doing an aviation chemical reconnaissance and also a rotary-wing decontamination at the Edgewood Area of Aberdeen Proving Ground with the 29th Combat Aviation Brigade."

The unit is scheduled to conduct annual training at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Indiana, where they will train on a wide range of chemical activities such as decontamination, reconnaissance and working on forward operating bases.

"Whenever we deploy to a combat zone, it's never what you think it will be. We may be working with the Air Guard, Marine Corps, other units, [or] other countries even," said Baumgartner. "So, it's an invaluable asset for us to be able to come out here and join our friends at the Air National Guard and understand how other units do things."

The upgraded Expeditionary Medical Support System

by Staff Sgt. Steve Stanley
Air Combat Command Public Affairs

2/19/2014 - Langley Air Force Base, Va. -- Teams from the San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC) have partnered with the humanitarian Relief Team, Medical Group staff and War Reserve Materiel section on Langley AFB, to test new equipment for the Expeditionary Medical Support System (EMEDS) 13 - 17 February, 2014.

EMEDS is comprised of a variety of modular, medical response packages and equipment that can be used in multiple geographical operations and situations such as humanitarian relief, wartime contingencies and disaster response.

The EMEDS team is equipped and staffed to provide surgical, primary, dental, pediatric and radiological care as well as laboratory and pharmaceutical services and is continuously looking to improve their equipment and processes.

Recent equipment added to EMEDS is a new tent structure containing collective protection materials to protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear attacks. These are incorporated into the outer skin of the structure, making it easier for the overall set up. A new ventilator with built-in pressure support is also being added to the EMEDS equipment list.

"This is a proof of concept pilot to show the operational concept of the new collective protected tent system," said Col. Tom Erchinger, chief of general surgery, 59th Medical Wing, SAMMC. "It will prove it is a functional, efficient modular unit for mobile field surgical and critical care teams."

The larger tents are equipped with lighter frames requiring only four people to set up the structure in less than an hour. The tent's pressurization is activated by a blower system expanding the outer skin.

"The work flow is similar to the old process, so there is not much of a learning curve," said Maj. Michael Kryer, associate program director, 59th Medical Wing, SAMMC. "[We are] able to 'kick the tires' with the new equipment, and get out in the field and ensure that we are able to take care of folks."

The goals of the EMEDS Humanitarian Relief Teams are to be fully operational within 6 hours and be used in a forward Operating Base (FOB) or the highest medical readiness status of a level 3 center.

"It's good to have people that know how this goes when it's time to deploy," said Senior Airman Rebecca Barron, respiratory therapist at SAMMC.

She is training people on a new ventilator with pressure support while getting hands on experience with the new tent set up.

Barron is deploying soon and said she can take what she learned here and apply it to the new environment.

"It's better than any [computer based training] CBT because this is what you do in the real world," said Master Sgt. Alison Lambert, logistics team chief of Acquisition and Customer Service, medical logistics section, Langley AFB. "We need to be familiar with the equipment and interact with the other section team members to learn new skills."

Joint Service members and partners from Ft. Eustis and the Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, Va., visited the EMEDS location to get a chance to see if they can incorporate the modernization of the new tent systems and equipment into their expeditionary operations.

"Folks that are new to the exercise, get a chance to experience the austere environment and get hands on training," said col. Joann Frye, EMEDS Expeditionary Medical Group commander, Langley AFB. "It's of great value to replicate the deployed environment and prove that the tent structure and pressurized system works."

Giving blood on the flightline

by Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/19/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- According to the American Red Cross (ARC) website, more than 41,000 blood donations are needed every day. The 355th Maintenance Group had the chance to help fill these donation needs while working on the flightline, Feb. 14.

Master Sgt. Wayne Gibbs, 355th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aircraft section chief, and Senior Master Sgt. Jackie Pryor-Walters, 355th Dental Squadron superintendent, worked with the ARC to set up the opportunity for maintainers to give blood on the flightline, without having to take unnecessary time out of their day.

"I wanted to reach those individuals that want to give, but are unable to leave their duty section for an extended period of time to donate at the Fighter Wing blood drives," Pryor-Walters said.

The 355th Fighter Wing and the Medical Group alternate months hosting the ARC, which gives military members the chance to donate blood without having to travel far and take more time out of their day.

"It means less time away from the work center," Pryor-Walters said. "I feel as though leadership is more receptive to the idea knowing that a member can volunteer to give with little to no impact to the mission."

Thirty-five maintainers were able to give blood during the drive. This exceeded the group's goal of 20 donors.

Many Airmen who gave blood had donated before.

"I started donating blood when I was in high school," said Senior Airman William Ballard, 358th Aircraft Maintenance Unit aircraft electrician. "I do it because it only takes about 30 minutes and I know I am helping save a life."

During the donation, one pint of blood is collected, which can save up to three lives, according to the American Red Cross website. Blood donations are kept on-hand in case of an emergency when someone may need blood.

March Programming Aboard the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

WILMINGTON, NC – The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA announces the programming schedule for March, 2014.
Power Plant
March 15, 2014
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
$65 per person.  $60 for Friends members or active military.

Calling all Navy engineering enthusiasts! Join us for an in-depth program on the Battleship's power plant. Learn in detail about the ship's eight Babcock & Wilcox boilers, four sets of General Electric turbines and reduction gears, steam and diesel powered service turbo generators, along with electrical distribution, water distillation, and steering mechanisms. Our program features classroom presentations and behind-the-scenes tour of engineering spaces. North Carolina naval steam engine expert Gene Oakley demonstrates his working models of historic naval steam engines to place the Battleship’s engines in perspective. Discover what it took to propel a 36,000 ton heavily armored battlewagon bristling with massive firepower and 2,300 fighting men across the Pacific.

The program is for adults only (ages 16 and up) and is limited to 40 participants. It is not appropriate for those who have difficulty climbing narrow ladders or over knee-high hatches. Wear warm, comfortable, washable clothing, sturdy, rubber-soled shoes and bring a camera! Registration and payment are due by Thursday, March 13th.  Event is $65/$60 for Friends of the Battleship or active military. Call 910-251-5797 for reservations.

The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is self-supporting, not tax supported and relies primarily upon admissions to tour the Ship, sales in the Ship's Store, donations and investments. No funds for its administration and operation come from appropriations from governmental entities at the local, state or federal levels. Located at the junction of Highways 17/74/76/421 on the Cape Fear River.   Visit or follow us on and for more information. Relive with the crew on the Battleship Blog The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is an historic site within the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (

New AC-130J completes first test flight

by Samuel King Jr.
Team Eglin Public Affairs

2/7/2014 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- After more than a year of modification maintenance, the newly created AC-130J Ghostrider took to the skies for the first time as a gunship here Jan. 31.

In early Jan 2013, the Air Force Special Operations Command MC-130J arrived here to begin the modification process with the goal of creating a "best of both worlds" aircraft. The end result became a 'hybrid' C-130 model with the flying proficiencies of the MC-130J and the combat capabilities of an AC-130.

The modification was done here because the AC-130J test team and test program are located at Eglin.

"After the modification was completed, the aircraft could remain here where we could take it out for the first flight. That's why Eglin was the best choice," said Maj. Brian Taliaferro, the aircraft commander for the flight.

Converting a mobility aircraft into a strike aircraft meant adding some hardware. That came in the form of the Precision Strike Package, which was developed by USSOCOM to support ground forces in overseas contingency operations.

"These new weapon systems and small diameter bombs provide over watch and further standoff distance to cover a wider range of space for our warfighters on the ground," said Maj. Eric Ripple, U.S. Special Operations Command Detachment 1 commander.

The Precision Strike Package includes dual electro-optical infrared sensors, a 30-mm cannon, AGM-176A Griffin missiles, all-weather synthetic aperture radar and GBU-39 small diameter bomb capabilities. The sensors allow the gunship to visually or electronically identify friendly ground forces and targets at any time, even in adverse weather.

Pairing weapons with a networked battle management system, enhanced communications and situational awareness upgrades the J-Model's ability to deliver surgical firepower.

"We get the successes of the Precision Strike Package and marry it up with the advantages of the J-model bringing the best two C-130s together in a new weapons system," said Todd McGinnis, USSOCOM Det. 1 AC-130J modification manager.

The aircrew from Eglin's 413th Flight Test Squadron took the new aircraft out for its first official sortie. The 413th FLTS is the lead participating test organization for the developmental testing of the AC-130J.

"As with any new or highly modified aircraft, the initial goal is to ensure the aircraft design or modification does not adversely affect the flying and handling qualities," said Taliaferro. "We have dedicated six flights at the beginning of the test program to accomplish this task."

To be involved with a first flight is rare in the test pilot community, but they are trained to accomplish a mission like this, according to Taliaferro. "He said it's rewarding when the training leads to a successful, smooth flight like this one."

"The flight went excellent," said the major. "We met our primary objective, which was to clear the envelope sufficiently to allow for a safe landing."

To do this, after takeoff, the aircrew left the landing gear and flaps down until reaching a safe altitude. They incrementally slowed the aircraft to touchdown speed, checking the flying and handling qualities at each speed. The 413th crew also completed multiple swings of the landing gear to ensure it had proper clearance with the new modifications. They also performed flying and handling quality assurance tests during the three and a half hour flight.

"This is a big accomplishment not just for the AC-130J test team and the 413th FLTS, but also for the 96th Test Wing, who provided many pivotal support functions to make this flight a success," said Taliaferro.

A total of 32 MC-130J aircraft will be modified for AFSOC as part of a $2.4 billion AC-130J program to grow the future fleet, according to Capt. Greg Sullivan, USSOCOM Det. 1 AC-130J on-site program manager.

(Raquel Sanchez contributed to this article.)

MC-130P Combat Shadow takes final flight in UK

by Airman 1st Class Kyla Gifford
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/5/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The last MC-130P Combat Shadow assigned to the 67th Special Operations Squadron here took its final flight while based in the U.K. Jan. 24, 2014, visiting several locations the 67th SOS has called home in the past.

Its departure marks the final step of Special Operations Command Europe's transition from the Combat Shadow to the MC-130J Commando II, said Patrick Charles, 352nd Special Operations Group historian. The MC-130P, tail number 66-0215, is the last of its kind to leave the European theater.

While flown as a routine training mission, the sortie also served as a final farewell and the end of an era.

"We were able to take the airplane to all the fields that the 67th SOS has been stationed at in the United Kingdom," said Lt. Col. Scott Hartman, 67th SOS assistant director of operations and pilot for the historic flight.

Most of the airfields the Combat Shadow visited have long-since been closed - their runways grown over or used for storage and parking - but Hartman said they were able to complete flybys and low approaches of the 67th SOS's former homes.

"It was a great chance to get a feel for the long history that the 67th has had here in the U.K., and it was incredible to see where previous squadron members lived and flew out of," he said.

Locations the crew visited included RAF Sculthorpe, RAF Prestwick, RAF Woodbridge and RAF Alconbury. During the flight the MC-130P performed an aerial refueling with one of the 352nd SOG's newest aircraft, a CV-22 Osprey from the 7th Special Operations Squadron.

"We were also able to do a flyby of the town of Hunstanton on the Norfolk coast where Reis Leming rescued 27 people during flooding in 1953," Hartman said. "Reis Leming was a member of the 67th SOS (lineage unit) at the time, and Hunstanton is a supporter of the 67th SOS to this day."

Much like the 67th SOS, the MC-130P has a rich legacy.

"The Shadow has a long and proud history in both special operations and in the United States European Command theater," Hartman said. "The MC-130P's success is a product of the talented and dedicated aircrew who flew them and the professional and extremely hard-working maintenance personnel who maintained them through their long history."

Since the mid-1980s, the MC-130P has participated in special operations missions ranging from air refueling of the military's vertical lift platforms; precision airdrop of personnel and equipment; and the execution of night, long-range, transportation and resupply of military forces across the globe.

The MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft were originally designated HC-130s when they were first produced in the 1960s, and started out as a Combat Search and Rescue aircraft. The Air Force used them extensively in Vietnam to fulfill a number of specialized roles in addition to their primary CSAR function.

The Combat Shadow has deployed for Operation Just Cause in Panama, Operation Desert Storm in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Operation Deny Flight in Yugoslavia, Operations Restore Democracy and Uphold Democracy in Haiti, Operations Deliberate Force and Joint Endeavor in Bosnia, Operation Assured Response in Liberia, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn in Iraq and Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya.

Since the standup of Air Force Special Operations Command in the mid 1980s these aircraft have been an integral part of AFSOC's fixed wing fleet and have been used extensively in special operations since that time. Since 1970, the 67th SOS has operated the HC-130/MC-130P (the designation changed in 1996) participating in numerous operations since that time.

For Hartman, the Combat Shadow has been a pleasure to fly, but he said it's time to move on, specifically to the MC-130J Commando II.

"The MC-130J is a great airplane that brings new capabilities and improved performance that I think will serve the 67th SOS and the 352nd SOG very well," Hartman said.

Even as he looks to the future, Hartman was appreciative of his role in closing out the Combat Shadow's U.K. legacy.

"It was an honor to be the aircraft commander for the final flight of the MC-130P (while based) in the U.K."

Security forces members receive nuclear-focused breacher training

 By Tech. Sgt. Steve Grever, Air Force Public Affairs Agency / Published February 18, 2014

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. (AFNS) -- About 100 miles northeast of the base here, the Nuclear Security Combat Training Center at Camp Guernsey, Wyo., provides advanced tactics and marksmanship training for security forces members who guard and secure the Air Force’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile force.

While there are several types of tactical training courses available for security forces Airmen, the breacher course teaches them how to safely breach different types of structures they will encounter at their respective bases and missile complexes.

“The number one thing we do here is make sure that those security forces defenders who are specifically tasked with securing resources are trained primarily in marksmanship and tactics,” said Maj. Jay Parsons,  the 620th Ground Combat Training Squadron commander. “It’s remarkably similar to the training they get from a core standpoint, but to be able to add that nuclear focus is really important.”

Airmen from here and from Minot AFB, N.D., and Malmstrom AFB, Mont. spend 10 to 12 days learning new tactics, techniques and procedures for breaching nuclear-specific locations like weapons storage areas, launch facilities and missile alert facilities. This advanced training builds upon initial skills training they received at technical school and their home stations.

“We just break it down into crawl, walk and run phases,” said Staff Sgt. David Meadows, the 620th GCTS formal training instructor. “During mechanical breaching training, they learn to use the monoshock ram to breach doors. They also get hands-on training with a K-12 saw. The students learn the basics of breaching areas without using explosives at the beginning of the course.”

After the students are proficient using mechanical devices to breach into different areas, Meadows said they move on to instructing the students on explosive breaching techniques.

“We teach them how to use the Broco torch that cuts easily through thick metal doors,” Meadows said. “They also learn to use explosive devices like improvised door charges to take down doors.”

Several security forces members from the 90th Security Forces Group Tactical Response Force are currently attending the breacher course. Airman 1st Class William Schuld, a 90th SFG response force member, is on his third day of breacher training, and he said he’s learning every aspect of explosive safety.

 “We are also learning about being safe around the explosives and how to handle them properly,” Schuld said. “The first two days of training the class learned about mechanical and manual breaching techniques. We also were able to apply what we learned at the range too. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed it.”

Schuld said attending the breacher course with other response force members has helped bring the team closer together, which will increase their responsiveness as a whole when situations arise on duty at their home station.

“It’s working out well because when we go back, we will be able to share what we learned and further develop our breaching skills,” he said. “The camaraderie between the guys in TRF is amazing. We’re a close-knit team. We do a lot of activities outside of work together.”

The center is managed by the 620th GCTS who reports directly to Air Force Global Strike Command at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

Parsons said his squadron’s instructors and support personnel ensure the advanced training security forces Airmen receive gives them additional tools to secure the nation’s most important nuclear assets.

“We have to ensure these resources are secure and the one way you can ensure they are secure is to make sure that the Airmen who are charged on a day-to-day basis with guarding those resources have the highest level of training possible,” Parsons said.

Bands building bonds through brass

by Airman Dymekre Allen
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

2/19/2014 - Pont-A-Mousson, France -- The U.S. Air Force in Europe and Air Forces Africa Band along with the Luxemburg Military Brass players came together to conduct five concerts in five days across Europe.

The concerts were put together by members of both militaries to build camaraderie and friendly relations amongst NATO members and other European allies.

"Building international relations with our NATO partners through music is a great experience," said Senior Airman Will McCaray, USAFE-AFAFRICA Band regional band journeyman. "We travel all over representing our nations, its key that we show humility among nations."

The USAFE-AFAFRICA Brass Band is a large symphonic ensemble comprised of 11 brass players, two percussionists and one vocalist from the USAFE-AFAFRICA Band at Ramstein.

The bands bring the military tradition of brass and percussion to a wide variety of different countries and cultural backgrounds without losing the understanding.

"It's a universal language," said Master Sgt. Steven Schaughency, USAFE-AFAFRICA Band director of special projects and productions. "When we are playing there is no language barrier because we are all reading the same thing. We all understand it and that allows us to play perfectly together."

In a large concert hall or an outdoor festival, the bands showcase a diverse repertoire of traditional classical artistry, well-known jazz, as well as other favorites reflecting the group's American and Luxembourgers roots.

For most of the members it is an honor to work with musicians from around the world because it allows them to grow as musicians as well as a team.

"In the short time we've spent together, we have already created a bond amongst one another," Schaughency said. "The uniform is the only thing that sets us apart, if we all wore white shirts and blue jeans you'd never know we are from two different countries."

The two bands may have differences but according to both sides they want the same outcome.

"We both want to create art that brings people together," said Monique Bernotte Luxemburg Military Brass Band member. "There's no segregation, no division in music, there is only the sound of joint instruments playing in harmony for all."

The bands use the international language of music to foster cultural relations and promote international diplomacy wherever they perform.

More than $1 million saved, three units recognized

by Tech. Sgt. James M. Hodgman
U.S. Air Forces in Europe-Air Forces Africa Public Affairs

2/19/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Three U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa units earned the command's Pathfinder of the Year Award for implementing cost saving measures that will save the Air Force more than $1 million.

According to the USAFE-AFAFRICA Business Transformation Office, the Pathfinder of the Year Award recognizes outstanding teams of Airmen for significant achievement in process efficiency.

Lt. Col. Stephen C. Cristofori, USAFE-AFAFRICA BTO deputy chief, said he was impressed with this year's submissions.

The number of submissions for this year was up sharply from 2012, he said. The selection team had an extremely difficult time choosing the winners.

"In the end, the difference was proved by the clear use of the Air Force's 8-step model in defining the problem and process while obtaining actionable data and definitive results," he said.

One of the most impressive displays of definitive results, Cristorfoi said, was seen from the USAFE-AFAFRICA-United Kingdom International Relations Team and their efforts to reduce wait times and costs for visa extensions.

Prior to 2013, service members and their families stationed in the U.K. experienced lengthy wait times when they applied for a visa extension. Applicants often had to surrender their passports for up to six months or use the premium visa application process, which proved to be very costly.

The International Relations Team proposed a streamlined process for processing U.S. military applications. This new process reduced the wait time for a visa extension to 19 days and saved $1.065 million.

"The U.K. visa application process submission was a standout amongst all the submissions," Cristofori said. "What impressed me was the use of the 8-step problem solving model to break down the problem using objective data, identifying the total process time for visa extensions and determining the non-value added sorting process at one of the processing offices."

Those were the key steps in saving more than a million dollars, he said.

The work of the USAFE-AFAFRICA-UK International Relations Team will also have a profound impact on the quality of life for those who live and work at USAFE-AFAFRICA-UK bases, Cristofori added.

For family members in the U.K., the sheer impact is having the freedom to travel when they want to, he said.

The lieutenant colonel also said that USAFE-AFAFRICA will benefit from the efforts of all units who entered the Pathfinder competition.

For all the groups that submitted, there are several impacts; first, they all have the empowerment from their leadership to go out and fix something that makes their lives better, Cristofori said. Second, their actions will save Airmen and their families time and save USAFE-AFAFRICA money to devote to other mission critical needs.

The Pathfinder of the Year Award is given to units who best meet the award criteria in one of three categories.
The 2013 award winners are:
Tier 1: Savings less than $100,000: The 52nd Maintenance Group Aerospace Ground Equipment Flight at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany

Tier 2: Savings between $100,000 - $1,000,000: The 100th Maintenance Group Energy Reduction Team at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England

Tier 3: Savings of more than $1,000,000: The USAFE-AFAFRICA-UK Office at RAF Mildenhall.

Fairchild leadership recognizes Medal of Honor recipient

by Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/12/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash.  -- Team Fairchild leadership joined the students, staff and the Alumni Association of North Central High School at the annual Red and Black Convocation for U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Ty Carter, while he was recognized as this year's distinguished alumnus Feb. 7, 2014, at North Central High School in Spokane, Wash.

Carter, a graduate of the high school from the class of 1998, received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama at the White House in August 2013, for his valor and actions on the battle field in Afghanistan.

The school's principal, Steve Fisk, said he remembered Carter as a hard worker and a great kid. The students were grateful to meet him, as he reminisced about his days attending the school and gave a motivating speech.

"It is very common to look to your left and right and see a hero," Carter said to the crowd. "The real heroes are the people who work hard every day to help their community, brothers and sisters next to them. You should know you always have your family and friends right next to you who have your back, and with that you all have capabilities to do great things."

The students gave him a class ring and put together a shadow box honoring Carter to hang in the school. Carter said he was thrilled to have all the support from the students, staff and military leadership that welcomed him.

"It feels like coming home," Carter said. "Having the military leadership here is excellent. The students have role models to notice and hopefully there will be some military members in the crowd."

Team Fairchild leaders said they were grateful to be a part of the event.

"Thank you North Central High School for celebrating our military and celebrating a true American hero, Staff Sgt. Carter," said Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander. "Patriotism starts with our youth and I was overwhelmed by a school that clearly puts nation above self. His message to the students resonates with all of us...together, we can soar higher, and because we in the military are a unbeatable team, our country will continue to realize great things!"

Crash brings nations together

by Tech. Sgt. Michael L. Brown
141st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

2/13/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Jan. 13, marked the 15 year anniversary of a KC-135E Stratotanker crash just outside of Geilenkirchen NATO
Air Base, Germany. The crash was the deadliest in the 90 year history of the 141st Air Refueling Wing,
located at Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Four Air National Guard crew members, all assigned to the 141st
ARW, lost their lives in the crash.

They are:
Maj. David W. Fite, 41, pilot, born in Long Beach, Calif.
Maj. Matthew F. Laiho, 40, navigator, born in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Capt. Kenneth F. Thiele, 31, co-pilot, born in Poughkeepsie, NY.
Tech. Sgt. Richard G. Visintainer, 48, boom operator, born in Riverside, Mich.

Col. Daniel J. Swain, commander 141st ARW along with members of the 141st went to Germany to visit the crash
site for the 15th annual memorial ceremony. A select few 141st ARW members attended the ceremony to
represent all the men and women of the 141st ARW. "I don't just speak for myself," said Swain, "I speak on
behalf of the personnel from the wing." The members spent several days in Geilenkirchen touring the crash
site and memorials for the crew of "ESSO 77."

During the tour of the memorial, Swain met Else Kriska who has been providing care for the memorial for the
last 15 years. Kriska and her late partner Hans Carduck started caring for the memorial shortly after it was
erected. They started taking care of the memorial because Carkduck lost a family member in Russia, and a
Russian family took care of his family's memorial. This was their way to give something back.
"While a very sad event, we tried to focus on the positives that have come from this situation," said Swain.
"The incident has brought communities and whole nations together."

The memorial featured a group of German Wachbataillon, who are the German military's elite drill team. Their
primary mission is to perform military honors for the German president, the German Chancellor, the Federal
Minister of Defense and the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr or German military during state visits or on
comparable occasions. The group traveled more than 380 miles from Berlin to be a part of the ceremony
honoring the crew.

The ceremony also featured remarks by Col. Paul "Greg" Bell, E3-A Component wing commander, Maj. Gen. Andrew
M. Mueller, and Swain.

"The selfless dedication and unfortunate ultimate sacrifice resulting from a routine air refueling mission
as part of a NATO exercise ended the lives of four members, but has touched the lives of thousands forever,"
said Swain during his remarks. "Every KC-135 out there is safer now because of this incident."
Swain flew with Thiele prior to joining the Washington Air National Guard while they were on active duty

"He was a confident and competent pilot," said Swain. "It brings to light and reminds us that what we do is
a very dangerous profession."

Niagara Airmen receive active shooter response training

by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Caya
914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

2/18/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Airmen of the 914th Airlift Wing here attended active shooter training during the Jan. 30 - Feb 2 unit training assembly, .

The goal of the training is to provide members of the base a sense of awareness, as well as a tool to use should they ever find themselves in an active shooter situation.

The major points covered in the training were: evacuating the area where the shooter is, evade and hide from the shooter. If neither of the previous options are available, take physical action against the shooter.

Col. Mark Ables, of the Combat Readiness Office said this lecture was "to educate the base populace, both civilian and military on the importance of knowing what to do in the event of an active shooter. Taking action and committing to that action could prove invaluable and could save lives."

"It's not a tool that can only be used here on the installation; it can also be used throughout the course of their everyday lives," said Detective Vincent Downy, 914th AW Security Forces investigator. "Active Shooter events are happening all too frequently and all over the place, and the members of the base populous are without a doubt our greatest assets."

The lecture was the first part of the training session; there will be a practical "hands-on" portion coming sometime in February.

"Along with anything hands-on you must first learn the theory and how to before you apply it," said Downey. "This was part of the purpose for the lecture; the exercise will then be the test of the knowledge obtained from the lecture. As far as what I'd like to see it evolve into; I believe that we're on the right path as long as we continue to conduct the training."

This training is slated to become an annual requirement, much like many of the courses Airmen need to complete to stay current, qualified and ready to be war fighters, ready to defend themselves and each other.

"In light of the numerous and seemingly continual incidents in all walks of life, it's important that people are aware of what actions they could take to save their lives and possibly the lives of their coworkers," said Ables. "Also discussing warning signals and indicators of potential shooters could give people a chance to be proactive and prevent an incident."

Downey said this training has sparked conversations all over the base regarding potential active shooters entering the base.

"I've heard a positive response from everyone that I've come into contact with as I walk around different buildings that shows that people are at the very least taking the training seriously.... With that, it sparked conversation within their work centers to take those necessary steps to improve their areas and create plans within their groups to combat these unfortunate events," said Downey. "With future training it can only get better."

Grand Forks family highlights key issues during AMC leadership visit

by Staff Sgt. Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/13/2014 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The Warriors of the North were recently able to highlight the importance of pride, people and respect in the Air Force family when hosting a group of distinguished visitors this week.

Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. Paul Selva, his wife, Ricki, and AMC Command Chief Master Sgt. Victoria Gamble spent Feb. 11 and 12 here getting to know the Airmen and families of Grand Forks Air Force Base.

Mrs. Selva, one of the first women to ever graduate from the Air Force Academy in the class of 1980, focused her visit on the families' perspective of military service, dignity and respect in the ranks and force restructuring.

Breakout session

On Tuesday, Mrs. Selva attended a breakout session with Key Spouses, mentors and first sergeants at the Northern Lights Club Warrior Lounge. There, attendees discussed some trending Air Force topics, including force restructuring, sexual assault within the military and the Key Spouse program.

"Force restructuring is a huge deal in the Air Force and throughout the Department of Defense right now," she said. "When you see your name on that list, and you have to start making contingency plans, it's personal. Your life is completely changed."

She reassured listeners, saying that there is opportunity in every disappointment, and encouraged couples to attend the Airman & Family Readiness Center's Transition Assistance Program together and tap into every resource available to them.

When asked the best way to form a thriving, robust Key Spouse program, Mrs. Selva answered that communication and continuity are vital.

"Many times what we see is when someone moves away and someone else takes over for that person's position, some of the momentum gets lost," she said. "Do your best to communicate effectively and get that warm hand-off to keep things running smoothly."
She also advised that the best way for anyone to stay focused and effective is to take care of themselves first.

"When you fly on an airplane, and they give you the briefing about the oxygen masks, they always tell you to put one on yourself first before helping anyone else," she said. "It's the same in other aspects of life, when you take care of yourself and make time for yourself, it makes for a happier, healthier, stronger you and that's better for everyone around you."

What you focus on is what will grow

On Wednesday, Bonnie Bauman, spouse of Col. Paul Bauman, 319th Air Base Wing commander, and Becky Duncan, spouse of 319th ABW Command Chief Master Sgt. David Duncan, hosted a Deployed Spouses Breakfast at the Bauman residence on base where attendees focused on the triumphs and tragedies of being the spouse of a deployed active duty member.

Stories shared included personal anecdotes from about everything from driving in blizzard conditions, independently repairing the ventilation system at home, parenting multiple children under school age, being consistent with children in the other parent's absence, and keeping holiday and traditions during deployments.

"I'm a very positive person, and I like to remind myself that what you focus on is what will grow," Mrs. Selva said. "If you focus on the negative, you'll expand on the negative, but if you focus on the positive, the positive is what will expand."

She said that keeping busy is a key component of making the time go by faster, and remembering that every day that passes is one day closer to deployed spouses coming home.

"One thing deployments are good for is that they're a reset time," Mrs. Selva said. "They remind us why we got married in the first place and why we stay together."

Changing the culture

During her visit, Mrs. Selva also got to hear from several members of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team, including victim advocates, a judge advocate, an Office of Special Investigations detective, and more.

Each discussed his or her role in promoting a culture of dignity and respect within the Air Force, as well as how they fit into the sexual assault and domestic violence response effort.

Tech. Sgt. Althea Hunter, 319th Equal Opportunity NCO-in-charge, said her role in the Air Force culture change revolves largely around education and reaching out to individual units.

"I came into the Air Force thinking that everyone is trustworthy and upstanding, but we are really just a microcosm of the larger culture, and it's naive to think that way," she said. "What we see a lot of times when there are racial or sexual jokes or other inappropriate talk in the workplace, there is a fear of retaliation or ruffling feathers, and it's frowned upon to come forward."

Some panel members agreed, and even admitted guilt on their own part.

"I didn't really realize it when I was younger, but I used to be part of the problem," said Master Sgt. Jesse Maki, a sexual assault victim advocate. "Now I'm helping to advocate for the culture change we are pushing for in the Air Force."

Maki was able to reach out to the active duty husband of a civilian woman who was sexually assaulted in base housing last summer.

"I knew he needed help as much as she did, because the family members are always secondary victims in these types of crimes," he said. "I wanted to be there to offer my support."

Capt. Carman Leone, 319th Judge Advocate, highlighted the landmark case that was recently prosecuted here, where the Airman responsible for the rape was handed an adjudicated sentence of 34 years in prison.

Mrs. Selva, impressed with the case, also touched on a sexual assault statistic within the ranks, citing that one in every five women will be sexually assaulted at some point in their career.

"That number is very troubling to me," she said. "That number is no better than what college campuses are currently seeing. The military only takes the best and brightest--we are not a frat house. We should be better than that."

She explained that anyone with a loved one considering a career in military service should be able to feel confident and reassured about that choice, and though there has been much progress made over the years, there is still a long way to go.

Touring the Tunnel

One of the final stops on Mrs. Selva's visit to the base was the Tunnel of Oppression, an interactive sensitivity training tool where visitors enter a building with various rooms devoted to key Air Force resiliency issues, including drug and alcohol abuse, suicide and depression.

"The great thing about the tunnel is that anyone can benefit from this training," said Chief Master Sgt. Marlon Carcamo, 319th Logistics Readiness Squadron superintendent. "Those of us who have been around for a while and have been through a divorce or multiple divorces, suicidal thoughts or anything, could gain a lot from the experience."

Mrs. Bauman and Mrs. Duncan offered Mrs. Selva their thanks for the time spent with Grand Forks Air Force Base members and for the fellowship and mentorship she offered during her visit.

"I just want to thank Mrs. Selva for taking the time to come and be with us and share with us what she knows," Mrs. Bauman said. "This time for mentorship is priceless, and it really means a lot that she was able to come and share this time with us."

AMC Commander speaks to Warriors of the North

by Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/13/2014 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Gen. Paul J. Selva, commander of Air Mobility Command, his wife, Ricki, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Victoria Gamble arrived here Feb. 11 for a two-day glimpse at what the 319th Air Base Wing Warriors of the North bring to the fight.

The visitors toured the entire installation and spoke with Airmen, their spouses, and their leadership.

An important topic Selva spoke about was the current initiatives designed to "right-size" the Air Force.

"Be interested in these initiatives," Selva said to a gathering of squadron and group commanders, as he counseled them to ensure three things: Airmen under them are bringing their best performance every day, that performance is documented, and individuals know to keep their records up to date.

Selva said that Grand Forks is serving an important function in the remotely piloted aircraft field as support for the 69th Reconnaissance Group, currently flying the Block 40 Global Hawk in support of two combatant commands.

"You are here because there is a mission here," he said. "You should never feel like caretakers."

During an all call with 319th ABW personnel, Selva also spoke about his three priorities: mission, dignity and respect, and training. Providing those three things is "fundamentally why we're here," Selva said to the leaders in the audience.

When the floor opened to questions, Airmen asked about the future of RPA operator assignments, the possibility of an unmanned tanker, and the upcoming changes to the Enlisted Performance Report.

Gamble fielded the latter query, describing how the new system will move away from a numeric rating and toward a narrative description.

"We need this change," Gamble said, "and we need all of you to commit to making this right so we aren't retooling it again twenty years down the road."

During the visit, Selva and Gamble toured the 319th Medical Group, where Airmen showcased their disaster response capabilities, the High Frequency Global Communications System, the air traffic control tower and other locations. They also visited an innovation expo, where Airmen explained how the "Team Grand Forks" focus on innovation enables the exploitation for Global Vigilance, Global Reach and Global Power.

Selva reiterated to the wing the importance of Grand Forks Air Force Base and the professionalism of its personnel.

"I'm incredibly impressed by what I've seen," Selva said.

"You've shown that snow and cold and remote locations don't stop Airmen from being excellent."