Wednesday, March 12, 2014

931st Commander presents flag to family of Wichita Silver Star recipient

by Master Sgt. Brannen Parrish
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs

3/11/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The 931st Air Refueling Group commander presented a flag to the sister of a deceased World War II Silver Star recipient at the Joseph H. Herndon II Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion post in Derby, March 10.

The flag was flown over McConnell last winter and presented to Ginny Webb of Wichita. Webb was 16 when her brother, Ravon Thomas, was drafted into the Army. Thomas, who was attending Friends University, dutifully left to fight in World War II.  Thomas passed away last August.

Thomas was cited for bravery during Operation Dragoon. His squad leader was tasked with throwing a satchel charge into a German pillbox along the Siegfried Line but was unable to complete the mission due to injury. Thomas volunteered to throw the charge into the pillbox.

The explosion destroyed the fortification, killing three German soldiers and preventing the deaths of hundreds of Allied soldiers on their march east to Germany.

"Ginny, we're all here for you today," said  Col. Mark S. Larson, before he presented the flag. "We're here to honor your brother's memory and to honor the sacrifices you and your family made."

Thomas spoke rarely of his service in World War II. A soldier in the 45th Infantry Division, he witnessed the depths to which humans can sink when they liberated the concentration camp at Dachau.

"He talked about liberating Dachau once, and I could see how deeply it affected him and I could understand why it was probably better for him not to talk about it," said Webb.

But there were other things about Thomas' service his family never knew until the last couple of years of his life. After he passed away last August they discovered he was a recipient of the Silver Star.

"In his last few years some of the stories started to come out," said Barbara Rollings, Webb's daughter. "I asked him what he was thinking when he charged that pillbox and he said, 'I just did what I thought anyone else would do.'"

Still, Thomas didn't speak of the decorations he received for his heroic service.

"I never knew about all of the decorations until after he died. He never spoke about it," said Webb.

According to the Thomas Family, he moved to California after the war, attained an English degree at Pomona, and went to work as a teacher, and later the Superintendent of Secondary Education for Pomona, Calif.

He spent five years in retirement travelling to Mexico to teach English but returned to Wichita in the early 1980s and moved into what his family called "the bunkhouse" on the property of the family's former dairy.

"He said Wichita was home," said Rollings. "That's why he came back."

Missouri Guard's 131st Bomb Wing receives Jimmy Doolittle Award

by Staff Sgt. Sean Navarro
131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs

3/11/2014 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo.  -- In an award presented by General Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing was recognized as a Jimmy Doolittle Educational Fellow by the Central Florida Chapter of Air Force Association at the chapter's Air Force Gala banquet on February 20.

The Jimmy Doolittle award, which honors the men and women who have supported the Air Force and the Air Force Association since their inception, was awarded to the 131st for its work in power projection. The AFA also acknowledged the 131st's unique classic association with the active duty 509th Bomb Wing.

The Air Force Association chooses a different theme each year. This year's theme recognizes four units whose members are serving as Citizen-Airmen.

"We chose units that represent the best in their category: homeland protection and power projection," said Tim Brock, Air Force Gala chairman.

Maj. Michael Belardo of the 131st Operations Group represented the 131st at the ceremony.

"It was a great honor to represent the 131st Bomb Wing and accept the award for the men and women that worked hard to earn it," said Belardo, a B-2 weapons officer.

The Jimmy Doolittle Educational Fellowship was established in honor of Gen. Jimmy Doolittle, who actively promoted public understanding and support for aerospace power.

Also present for the award were Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, Chief Master Sgt. Gary Brown, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody, Air Force Association Central Florida Chapter President Bill Palmby, and Air Force Gala Chairman Tim Brock.

"This honor reflects the dedication and discipline of the 131st Bomb Wing's Airmen," said Col. Michael Francis, 131st Bomb Wing commander. "We did not do this alone, though, and share this honor with our active duty wingmen at the 509th Bomb Wing and the entire Missouri Air National Guard."

CMSAF Cody, wife tour Whiteman, visit B-2 total force

by 131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs

3/12/2014 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody and his wife, retired Chief Master Sgt. Athena Cody, visited Total Force Airmen and got a firsthand look at Whiteman's B-2 operations during their recent trip to the base.

The visit coincided with the March drill weekend for the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing, and highlighted the successful total force integration with the active duty 509th Bomb Wing.

"We're one Air Force and everything that we do as an Air Force, we do together. That's what makes us great," Cody told a group of junior enlisted Airmen at a weekend all call, one of a series of such forums the Air Force's top enlisted leader held while here.

A topic of keen interest to Airmen was proposed changes to the enlisted evaluation system, which Cody has previously discussed on his CHIEFChat program on BlueTube, the Air Force's social media video channel. Highlights of the new system include increased focus on job performance, a move away from numbered ratings, and an enhanced Airman-supervisor feedback program.

"We've been using the new feedback form in our office, just to get a feel for how long it takes, and to see if it's asking the right type of stuff, or if it is generating the right type of discussion," he said. "The feedback is the most important thing here, because that is where you establish their potential, where the opportunity is and what your expectations are."

Cody also addressed the need for force management programs in a fiscally constrained Air Force environment.

"Nobody wants to see Airmen leave our Air Force, because a lot of them are great Airmen who want to do nothing but serve," he said. "They've been supported by great families, and they want this to be what they do in life - and we're going to tell someone they can't.

"It breaks my heart," he continued. "I empathize with them in the most meaningful way you can, but it doesn't change the scenario. Our responsibility to the nation is to take the budget they give us and give them the absolute best military they can have - and in our case the best Air Force they could possibly want."

In addition to all calls, Cody toured Whiteman's flight, maintenance and support operations. He was particularly impressed by the successful integration of the B-2 mission shared by the active duty and guard wings at Whiteman.

"I look at each one of you, and I see a capability - a capability that's proven itself time and time, and time again," Cody told a Citizen Airman audience. "You do everything, every bit as good as every other Airman in the Air Force, because you are every other Airman in the Air Force.

"There is no distinction between airmen within the components, when it comes to how we do our jobs, how we live up to our Air Force standards and how we live up to Air Force Core Values," he said.

Patriot Wing delivers aid, happiness to Guatemala

by Staff Sgt. Kelly Goonan
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/12/2014 - GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA -- An 11-member Westover crew flew 20 tons of humanitarian aid to this Central American city March 9.

The cargo included an ambulance, a bus, two pallets of corn and other medical supplies which were picked up from Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio and Joint  Base Charleston, S.C.

Humanitarian aid missions, like these, are made possible by the Denton Amendment, a state department program that allows the Air Force to deliver donated humanitarian aid on a space-available basis worldwide.

After a four-hour flight and some language hurtles on the way between the aircrew and host nation, a very crowded city appeared in the mountainous Guatemalan terrain. High rise buildings appeared to hug each other. Houses seemed to be on top of one another. Clothes lines draped the porches.

The Westover Galaxy touched down on the 9,800-foot runway of La Aurora International Airport. Shortly after arrival, two large trucks, equipped with armed police, came to assist in the off-loading of the C-5's cargo. The Mission of Love volunteers shook hands and hugged each member of the Patriot Wing aircrew. Everyone broke out in applause.

"We were just so happy to see the crew and cargo," said Kathy Price, Mission of Love founder and director.

Price's foundation is the largest non-governmental organization user of the Denton Program in the United States. She said they have delivered aid to five continents throughout the world.
The cargo delivered by the Patriot Wing will be put to good use.

"I'll be delivering the wheel chairs to children with cerebral palsy, and washing and waxing the ambulance and bus for the presentation to the Mayan communities," she said. They'll go to Way-bi, a Children's Hospice in Tecpan, Guatemala, which serves terminally ill children.

The ambulance will service 80,000 Mayan Indians and will be the only one of its kind in the region while the school bus will provide transportation to 13,000 Mayan children for education.
The Denton Amendment mission brought a sense of accomplishment and pride to the entire aircrew.

"It's this kind of mission that makes everything that you have to do back at home station worth it," said Tech Sgt. Daniel Orcutt, 337th Airlift Squadron loadmaster.

Due to Guatemalan offload equipment limitations, about 800 pounds of corn had to be broken down from the two pallets and hand-carried off the C-5. The Westover crew and volunteers worked alongside each other, completing the task in less than 15 minutes.

"When we distribute the corn the Mayan Indians, mothers cry with gratitude," said Price. "Because the corn is so valuable we need a police escort 65 miles to their community." The corn will service thousands of Mayan Indian families, who use the vegetable as their only staple to make tortillas.

"Everybody in Tecpan will benefit from this Mission of Love cargo, no exceptions," she said.

"You are not here to save the world but to touch the hands that are within our reach." - Mission of Love Foundation, mission statement.

The Denton mission departed Guatemala March 9 for MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., before returning to Westover March 10.

Annual awards recognizes Reservists, honors history of excellence

by Senior Airman Madelyn McCullough
446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/12/2014 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Each year, the 446th Airlift Wing hosts an awards banquet to honor outstanding Reservists in the wing, along with the families and employers who support them every day. The 446th AW Annual Awards Banquet journeyed down a new road March 8, uniting Air Force heroes and legends from the past to share the evening with current and former members of the unit.

The Pacific Northwest rain didn't keep more than 550 guests away from celebrating the night at Boeing's Museum of Flight in Seattle. This venue holds one of the largest air and space collections in the United States, featuring over 150 aircraft and space vehicles, some suspended from the ceilings.

Lt. Gen. James Jackson, chief of Air Force Reserve, AFRC commander, and keynote speaker for the event, shared a message about the national commission on the structure of the Air Force and thanked the Reservists and awardees for all their hard work.

"In this wing, you are all warriors," he said.

Some of these warriors were recognized by the wing with quarterly, annual and MVP awards.

For the first time in the banquet's history, the competition for Company Grade Officer of the Year resulted in a tie between Capt. Carrianne Ekberg, 446th Force Support Squadron and Capt. Christopher Kaighen, 86th Aerial Port Squadron.

"When Capt. Ekberg was first called up I thought that I couldn't have lost to a better person," said Kaighen. "She does amazing things for the FSS, the (Mission Support Group) and the wing. When they made the announcement that there was a tie and that I was also going to be recognized, I was surprised and ecstatic."

Ekberg was also proud to share the award with Kaighen.

"I thought it was really great that they chose me and also Captain Kaighen," said Ekberg. "It's a pretty big honor. It makes you feel great about the work that you've been doing."

Raising the excellence bar, many Reservists and units took home command-level awards. Some examples include an outstanding unit award for the entire wing, outstanding chaplain corps, recruiting service public affairs award, recruiting service century club master badge, and civilian of the year.

Additionally, awards were presented to the spouse and the employer of the year.

Coleen Gause, who earned this year's award for Spouse of the Year, was nominated by her husband, 1st Lt. Gregory Gause, 313th Airlift Squadron pilot, because of the understanding and support she has shown for the past three years while he was in pilot training.

"For every spouse that goes through pilot training, it is definitely a sacrifice because of very long days for a sustained period of time," said Gause, who has been married to Coleen for eight years.

"When you go for a solid year straight of working 12 hour days, and you come home, eat, try to study, then go to sleep, and do it all over again, it's definitely taxing on the family time."

"She does this while juggling their three children," he said.  "It's a Herculean effort in and of itself."

The award for employer of the year was presented to Starbucks, for their constant support of Citizen Airmen. Cliff Burrows, group president of the U.S., Americas, and Teavana corporations accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

They promised to hire thousands of veterans this year.

The audience was introduced to the stories of Airmen who have made many contributions to the Air Force and are generally regarded by most as heroes.

They included Col. (Ret.) Joe Jackson, Medal of Honor recipient, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Ed Saylor, Doolittle Raider, and Staff Sgt. (Ret.) Keith "Bull" Sekora, Wounded Warrior and former member of the wing. The Airmen were honored as each extraordinary story was read aloud, resulting in a standing ovation and a crowd with tears in their eyes.

"I think their stories are always inspiring to everyone," said Ekberg. "On a day-to-day basis we don't do things like [what they did]. It motivates you when you hear the stories of what some of these people have done, that are beyond what you think you could ever do."

"Having such influential members from both the past and present Air Force meant a lot," said Kaighen. "Also, having the current AFRC Commander present made for a once in a lifetime experience."

With a combination of words of wisdom from wing leaders, inspiration from Air Force heroes, honored awardees, and the strength and support from families and employers, the night ended.

Centennial World War I Commemoration Effort Gears Up

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2014 – It was called The Great War even as it was going on. It engulfed the world, and the world is still feeling its effects.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, and U.S. officials are gearing up to mark the centennial.

In his day job, Robert J. Dalessandro is the director of the U.S. Army Center of Military History at Fort Lesley J. McNair here. He also is the acting chairman of the World War I Centennial Commission.

The Great War began in July 1914 with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand. This triggered an interconnecting network of alliances to spark mobilization, bringing in the empires of Europe. England, France and Russia lined up against Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

A generation of men died in battle on the fields of France. The Somme, Verdun, Ypres and Meuse-Argonne became killing grounds. On the Eastern Front, millions of Germans, Austrians and Russians battled. Overall, about 16.5 million people were killed in the war.

At first, the United States stayed out of it. In fact, when President Woodrow Wilson ran for re-election in 1916, his campaign slogan was “He kept us out of war.”

But on April 7, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany and the other Central Powers and raised a military force of more than 4 million men. The United States lost 116,516 service members in World War I. Another 205,690 were wounded.

While the United States didn’t enter the war until 1917, the U.S. commemoration commission is beginning its mission of education now to provide Americans some context for the epochal war.

“You can’t just drop into World War I in April of ’17 without understanding the road to war,” Dalessandro said in an interview. “It was complex politically and internationally, and Americans today need to know what Americans then thought about the war.”

This summer begins the centennial, Dalessandro said, calling the archduke’s assassination “the Fort Sumter of World War I,” referring to the site of the U.S. Civil War’s first engagement.

Congress chartered the commission to encourage private organizations and state and local governments to organize activities commemorating the centennial. The panel will coordinate activities throughout the United States tied to the centennial and will serve as a clearinghouse for the dissemination of plans and events, he said. While its charter covers the United States, the commission also is looking at international events, and will mark those appropriately, he added.

“We want to lead efforts that raise awareness, that encourage a spectrum of organizations to plan programs and develop an education program targeting America’s youth,” Dalessandro said.

The education aspect may be the commission’s most important challenge, he added. “We need to wake up the interest of a new generation of Americans on the effects of World War I,” he said.

Americans today need to know that World War I changed everything for America, Dalessandro said. In the short term, he explained, the experience of the slaughter of the Western Front turned America away from entangling alliances in Europe. But the lesson for leaders, he added, was 180 degrees from that. “They learned we have to be engaged in Europe and involved in business,” he said.

While the Civil War saw a draft, Dalessandro said, World War I saw the first universal draft.

“The first question is if you have a universal draft for men, what do you do with African-American men?” he said. African-American leaders were determined that black men fight as combat soldiers and fight in integrated units. They also pushed for black officers, Dalessandro said. “Part of that happened,” he added.

For many African-Americans, he noted, the experience in France was their first taste of an environment without Jim Crow laws. “There, they are looked on as equals and that is a revelatory experience,” he said.

World War I was the first time masses of American women entered the workforce, Dalessandro said. There were nurses, “yeomanettes,” telephone operators, Red Cross workers, “Doughnut Dollies” and women working in factories. And at the end of the war, women had the vote.

“In the Civil War, you have Irish and German immigrants in great numbers in the Army,” Dalessandro said. “But in World War I, you have Italian-Americans, Eastern Europeans, Jews, large numbers of Russians, Poles, Czechs, Slovaks -- soldiers from ethnic groups that have emigrated, and it’s a quick road to citizenship.”

The question was whether these men would fight together -- whether they would consider themselves Americans, he added. And the answer was yes, he said.

Some historians call The Great War just Act 1 of a greater war that includes World War II and the Cold War. Fascism grew out of the experiences in the war. Revolution took hold in Russia, and the Soviet Union was born. The Versailles Peace Treaty set the stage for Act 2 in 1939.

The Battle of Meuse-Argonne was the largest American battle up to that point. More than 500,000 doughboys and Marines fought, and many died, on the fields and forests of France. They faced not only bullets and artillery, but also poison gas, tanks and planes. And yet, the American impression of the war is “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron” or movies such as “All Quiet on the Western Front,” “Paths of Glory” or “Wings,” Dalessandro said.

“This is our biggest challenge,” he added, noting that a scene at the end of a recent British movie shows two soldiers going over the top in the Somme in 1916. “There isn’t a person in the United Kingdom who doesn’t know these guys are not coming back,” he said. “We [in America] don’t have a national consciousness like that.”

World War I set the stage for the rest of the 20th century. It destroyed four empires: the German Empire, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Russian Empire and the Ottoman Empire. It also set the stage for current conditions in the Middle East by the Balfour Declaration, which called for a Jewish homeland in the region and by the victors drawing the borders of new countries.

One hundred years on, World War I continues to cast a shadow, Dalessandro said. The nation needs to learn from it, he added, and the commemoration is a place to start.

Airman recognized for work in aviation

by Tech. Sgt. Mike Meares
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

3/12/2014 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- High across the heartland of the U.S., perfect white contrails crisscross a cloudless blue sky as more than 7,000 commercial airliners ferry passengers to and from coast to coast and all points in between.

From gate to gate, passengers embark on their journeys with many working behind the scenes to keep them safe and on time. As the cost of doing business continues to climb, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration are continually working to find more efficient ways to move people and goods from point to point.

As the U.S. airspace gets crowded, and the introduction of the Next Generation Air Transportation System, or NextGen, already in select airports, Airmen like 1st Lt. Kyle Smith, 80th Flying Training Wing, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, have made contributions to help save time and money for airlines and their passengers.

For his graduate level work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in Boston, to enhance the collision avoidance system during closely spaced parallel operations, he was awarded the RAISE Award. Each year, the DOT and FAA sponsor the Secretary's RAISE Award, which stands for Recognizing Aviation and Aerospace Innovation in Science and Engineering. The program encourages high school and college students to think creatively and develop innovative solutions to today's aviation challenges.

"I was blown away when they gave it to me," Smith said. "I looked at the winners from last year and they did great work. I know they received tons of applicants with great projects and innovations."

Smith, a native of Cross Point, Ind., felt he found his calling in aviation while on a trip to an air show in Gary, Ind., with his uncle. Seeing the airplanes, especially the military fighters, at the show gave the middle schooler visions of grandeur set to the Top Gun Anthem. Growing up watching Tom Cruise play "Maverick," a F-14 Tomcat fighter pilot, is the visions he had in his head when it came to military aviation.

"Sitting there and watching them really got me hooked in general on aviation," Smith said. "I didn't know what I wanted, whether military or commercial, but it piqued my interest."

He took to the skies as soon as he was of legal age to get his private license.

"I timed it out so I could solo just after my sixteenth birthday," he said. "I got my license and around the beginning of high school, I started looking to the military aviation for a career."

With his mind set on the Air Force, the only location for him to attend college was the U.S. Air Force Academy. He was resolute on flying as an Airman.
"The military lifestyle has always fit me," Smith said. "It also seemed very cool flying in general."

After graduation in 2011, he postponed attending the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard to attend MIT for his Master's Degree. While there, his thesis topic was to enhance collision avoidance on the Airborne Collision Avoidance System X, a next-generation system that will support new surveillance systems and air traffic control procedures at airports nationwide.

"I had pretty decent grades at the academy, so I had grad school on my mind as well," he said. "It was tough having the opportunity to go to grad school, but also knowing I had to put off pilot training for two years. Flying is my ultimate goal."

In the end, he decided to go to grad school because it was "way too good of an opportunity to pass up," he said. Working in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics attached to the Lincoln Laboratory at MIT, Smith decided to do his thesis work on the Airborne Collision and Avoidance System X logic, ACAS Xo.

"It was a pretty good match because they are already oriented in the direction my career was going," Smith said. "I got plugged in with this group and they let me feel out the different programs they were working on and get my hands dirty on a few different things."

With the ACAS X already in development, Smith recognized the current Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System's, or TCAS, current design limits support for certain closely spaced parallel runway operations. If aircraft attempt to land of takeoff on parallel runways, TCAS will alert the pilots, leading them to often respond to a resolution advisory and change course.

"You want to get started on your thesis as soon as possible," Smith said. "I did some tasks early on with ACAS X and I really enjoyed it. It is very applicable to my career. When I dove in, it was already a full-fledged program, funded and contracted by the FAA. They already had the logic, for the most part, in place, and had done some great work prior to me getting there."

His specific mode of logic initially aims to provide additional protection during simultaneous approaches to parallel runways, or closely spaced parallel operations. This logic would also allow for additional airspace protection and minimize the unnecessary alerts pilots deal with in the cockpit, especially critical during instrument meteorological conditions. Tying in with the NextGen goals, Smith's logic code is designed to potentially allow for fewer flight delays, greater cost savings for air transportation across the board, especially at high-volume airports.

"The ultimate goal is to produce a system that maintains or enhances the safety level of the current operational system while reducing unnecessary alerts, thereby decreasing pilot workload during parallel approaches," Smith wrote in his thesis executive summary.

According to the 2013 FAA press release, "Providing collision avoidance protection for aircraft arriving at and departing from parallel runways that are close together will increase efficiency and safety. Kyle's proposal would refine our own improvements through our satellite-based NextGen system, potentially leading to fewer flight delays, greater cost savings, and expanded capacity at high-volume airports.

"Extensive simulation studies have demonstrated the success of his approach, and a flight test to check out his work in real life took place at the FAA's Hughes Technical Center in August of this year. Research and Development efforts like Kyle's are critical to the future of aviation."

For Smith, he felt as at home working with this project as he does inside the cockpit . He submitted it without thinking he even had a shot in the dark because there were better projects out there. He was presented with his award March 7 in Washington D.C.

"It was great," he said. "I might be flying with this system one day, so I will need to trust the work I did."

Square knot's secret revealed in Air National Guard ceremonial sword

by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
I.G. Brown Training and Education Center

3/10/2014 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- An Air National Guard history document that features how the ceremonial Order of the Sword was forged has recently solved the mystery of why a stranded-wire square knot ended up on the handle, and more.

The questions came after the five foot long sword was moved last summer to the Air National Guard Readiness Center's lobby in Maryland after 17 years here at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center.

The ceremonial sword symbolizes the enlisted corps' top honor - The Order of the Sword - given to leaders of great influence, but officials said that some wondered about who produced the aluminum ceremonial piece now on display there and why the knot was affixed.

"Would someone take it off inadvertently?"

That's something that retired Chief Master Sgt. Lynn Alexander said he worried about, so he wrote a history of the ceremonial sword to help inform the Air National Guard's current Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. James Hotaling, and others.

Hotaling said in an email that "Alexander's research is invaluable."

"I wanted to pass on what I knew about the sword," said Alexander, who served as the Air National Guard's senior enlisted adviser to the Director from 1978 to 1983.

Alexander said in an email that he requested that square knot when the sword was forged in 1981 to honor Maj. Gen. I.G. Brown, former Director of the Air National Guard and TEC's founder.

"General Brown was the one who established our NCO academy and encouraged its graduates to 'be square,'" said Alexander. "He attend every graduation and would say, 'don't just be another supervisor when you get back to your unit, work hard to be the best leader you can be.'"

Alexander also revealed the swordsmith: Capt. Jon Christenson.

It was the first sword that Christenson made from aluminum after forging ceremonial swords for two other commands, said Alexander.

Some other factoids in the ceremonial sword's history:

- The ceremonial sword cost $200, which was paid for by selling Order of the Sword booster cards for $1.

- Twelve Air National Guard officers were inducted into the Order of the Sword by the noncommissioned officer corps; most recently, retired Lt. Gen. Harry "Bud" Wyatt in 2012; as well as the Air National Guard's only inducted field grade officer, retired Col. Edmund C. Morrisey, in 1990.

- The current Command Chief of the Air National Guard is tasked as the "keeper of the ceremonial sword" responsible for its location, display and maintenance.

- The ceremonial sword's Air National Guard symbols were cut out from two recruiter badges.

"The square knot is my favorite part about the sword," said Master Sgt. Kurt Skoglund, TEC's photographer.

Skoglund said he "felt like its safe keeper" too after the ceremonial sword was displayed outside his office for nearly a decade. He also attended two Orders of the Sword ceremonies as well as polished the sword for the latest.

"We miss having it here ... but others need to see it and learn about it," said Skoglund.

Self-defense for women

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
673d Air Base Wing Public Affairs

2/26/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Army Staff Sgt. Stephanie Kiser, 725th Brigade Support Battalion Motor Transport Operator, was nervous. Her eyes were closed and her world threatened. Someone was toying with her ponytail, teasing and bullying her.

The suspense of the moment built up around her. She didn't like the situation.

This creep is touching me, she thought. I need to get him off me somehow.

Her mind whirled around her optional reactions -- various ways to attack the groin, strikes to the nose or face, stomps and other moves. The ultimate goal: to get the guy off her so she could get to safety.

His arms wrapped around her then and tightened into a bear hug. She reacted reflexively, and soon her self-defense instructor was on the floor in his full body protective gear, praising her swift reactions as she simulated running to safety.

"It was really fun," Kiser said, "Your adrenaline's rushing and you're like 'oh man, I don't know when they're going to attack me' and it's actually really good. Once they do grab onto you, you feel a lot more confident once you've gotten that person off of you and you're running away from them. You feel this wave of confidence come over you. It was really fun."

The self-defense course is used to give women a set of tools to get away from a bad situation, said Sgt. 1st Class Virgil Allen, a certified self-defense instructor.

"It's not rape self-defense; it's defense against getting into a bad situation," the native of Fort Worth, Texas, said. "That's what it really is; teaching a female to get away."

The course is similar to an internationally recognized program called Rape Aggressor Defense. The mission of R.A.D. Systems is to establish an accessible, constantly improving and internationally respected alliance of dedicated instructors. The instructors provide educational opportunities for women, children, men and seniors to create a safer future for themselves. They challenge society to evolve into an existence where violence is not an acceptable part of daily life, their website says.

The self-defense course starts by educating women on how to avoid bad situations. This included avoiding texting or otherwise actively using a cell phone while walking through an isolated area like a parking garage at night, or dark alley, Kiser said.

"I think it's really important to be aware of your surroundings and to know what to do if somebody attacks you," she said.

One goal, Allen said, is to give females confidence so that any potential aggressors don't find them easy targets.

"This is my first time taking this class," said Angie Erickson, Sexual Harassment Assault Response Prevention victim advocate. "For me, I think it's really important to be vigilant in your surroundings. It gave me awareness that I'm not without options when I come up against someone trying to hurt me."

The course is offered free on base.

"I really enjoyed the self-defense course," Kiser said. "I've learned new things; it's really easy and it's fun."

Three to be awarded Medal of Honor have National Guard ties

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Tech. Sgt. David Eichaker
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., (3/11/2014) - President Barack Obama is scheduled to present 24 Army veterans with the Medal of Honor in one of the largest Medal of Honor ceremonies in history at the White House on March 18.

Three recipients are former members of National Guard units.
Pfc. Salvado Lara, Master Sgt. Juan E. Negron and Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Morris will have their Distinguished Service Crosses upgraded after a review of minority veteran war records determined they were denied the nation's highest military award because of their race.

Lara, of Riverside, Calif., served in World War II with the Oklahoma National Guard's 45th Infantry Division and will be recognized for his actions in Aprilia, Italy, in May 1944.

While engaged in fighting, he aggressively led his rifle squad in neutralizing multiple enemy strong points and inflicted large numbers of casualties on the enemy. The next morning, as his company resumed the attack, Lara sustained a severe leg wound, but did not stop to receive first aid. Lara continued his exemplary performance until he captured his objective.

Negron was born in Corozal, Puerto Rico, and during his 23-year military career he served with the Puerto Rico Army National Guard's 65th Infantry Regiment during the Korean War. At the time, the 65th was an active duty unit.

Negron distinguished himself on April 28, 1951, for actions near Kalma-Eri, Korea.

Negron held the most vulnerable position on his company's exposed right flank after an enemy force had overrun a section of the line. He held the position throughout the night, accurately hurling hand grenades at short range when hostile troops approached his position.

Following the war, Negron returned to the U.S. and remained on active duty, retiring at the rank of master sergeant.

Morris began his military service by enlisting in the Oklahoma Army National Guard in 1959 and later transitioned to the active component, where he served in the 5th Special Forces Group.

On Sept. 17, 1969, while with the 3rd Company, 3rd Battalion, IV Mobile Strike Force near Chi Lang, Vietnam, Morris led an advance across enemy lines to retrieve a fallen comrade and single-handedly destroyed an enemy force that had pinned down his battalion. Morris was shot three times as he ran back toward friendly lines with the American casualties, but did not stop until he reached safety.

Morris, who volunteered twice for deployments to Vietnam, will be one of three living recipients to be recognized during the award ceremony.

Georgia’s Army National Guard building security in the Americas

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Maj. Will Short
Georgia National Guard
MACON, Ga. (3/12/14) - The Georgia National Guard's 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is the first National Guard IBCT to execute missions under the regionally aligned forces program.

The 48th IBCT is working with U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Army South, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in an effort to forge strong regional partnerships across the Americas.

Nearly 20 Georgia Guard members will be in Guatemala, at any given time, between January and April to advise and train their military forces with best practices concerning: border control operations, command post operations, intelligence support operations and brigade sustainment operations.

Regionally aligned forces are prepared to support combatant command requirements, like SOUTHCOM, with mission-ready forces and capabilities that are further prepared with cultural, regional and language focused training.

Forces can be drawn from: the Army, Army National Guard, Army Reserve and Department of the Army civilians, in order to operate within the current Army budget and not require new funding.

"The Georgia National Guard's 48th IBCT is well-suited to promote partnership between U.S. Southern Command, Army South, and the government of Guatemala," said Lt. Col. Matt Smith, 48th IBCT deputy commander. "We believe Guard soldiers are uniquely qualified to partner with other nations due to the extensive civilian skill sets and experiences they bring to the process. Our partner nations gain from our guardsmen's military and civilian experiences, while our guardsmen sustain their expeditionary mindset and broaden their professional experiences."

National Guard members represent the nation's diversity and demographics and are the face of the military in their local community. Eighty-five percent of the National Guard serves part time in the military while working and living full time in almost every community around the country.

Bravo Company, 2-121 Infantry Regiment, headquartered out of Newnan, Ga., is the unit going to Guatemala. "As an employee of the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, I get to conduct advanced training for agencies such as the U.S. Marshals, Secret Service and Customs and Border Protection," said 1st Sgt. Timothy Sperry, senior enlisted adviser to Bravo Company, 2-121 Infantry Regiment.

"My 26 years of military experience, combined with 16 years of law enforcement experience as a police officer and defensive tactics and arrest techniques instructor, gives me a breadth of experience to pull from. We will train the Guatemalan Interagency Task Force composed of Military and National Police members tasked with targeting transnational drug organizations."

"The 48th IBCT was the perfect choice for the RAF mission, because National Guard Bureau knew that the unit was fully trained and available, being the first unit to fully execute the Army National Guard's Contingency Expeditionary Force [CEF] training strategy," Smith said. "The CEF training strategy is designed to invest in readiness through progressive training over time, rather than buying readiness just before the unit deploys.

"The beauty of fully exercising the training strategy is that it allows the ARNG to internally produce trained and ready units pre-mobilization. In addition to saving tax payer money, this strategy keeps our formations at a higher level of readiness throughout the training cycle, enabling me to provide combatant commanders with combat-ready platoons and companies when they need them."

Two Kunsan Airmen selected for test pilot school

by Senior Airman Armando A. Schwier-Morales
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/12/2014 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Two Wolf Pack Airmen roared into the beginning of their dream job by being selected for the Air Force test pilot school.

Capt. Philip Jackson, 8th Operations Support Squadron combat training chief, and Capt. Mark Vahle, 8th Operations Group standardization and evaluation chief, were chosen to attend the Air Force test pilot school. The school specifically trains pilots to monitor, manage and perform flight tests on research, experimental or production-type aerospace vehicles and weapons systems.

"Program graduates have profound strategic impact on future combat capabilities, so selection is highly competitive," said Maj. Miles Middleton, Air Force Personnel Center special assignments branch, in an Air Force press release. "Graduates are future senior leaders who will help shape our national security. Identifying the right people for this opportunity was critical."

After a nine-month application process, the two Wolf Pack Airmen faced a flying interview with a variety of aircraft they were not accustomed to. Yet, neither of the pilots were deterred as both had set their sights on TPS long ago.

For Vahle, the spark to become a test pilot was fueled during his college years.

"Attending test pilot school has been a dream of mine since college," said Vahle. "In college, I remember walking by portraits of the Mercury and Apollo astronauts [many of whom are U.S. Air Force TPS graduates], and thinking about the courage and skill the first test pilots and astronauts must have had. At that point, I committed myself to work as hard as I could to be part of the team that tests new aircraft and systems, identifies limitations and determines solutions to problems."

And just like Vahle, Jackson took action to reach TPS during his college years.

"I always wanted to be a test pilot; ever since I was a freshman in college," said Jackson. "I started with a general love for aviation and it turned out that developmental testing was the most fulfilling to me."

Both Airmen have had similar paths as both fly the F-16 Fighting Falcon and have operated in a variety of theaters including Iraq, Afghanistan and now the Republic of Korea.

"To be in Korea as a third theater for me is something that I can bring back to the development test world and say 'I have seen the needs of the Air Force in action in multiple different theaters and hopefully we can develop better combat systems suited for all these regions,'" said Jackson.

While acceptance into the TPS does not guarantee a test pilot position, both Airmen say they are ready and confident that they will face the coming challenges at full throttle.

Greenert: Navy Faces Support Shortfalls, Maintenance Backlogs

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 12, 2014 – Shrunken but stable Defense Department budgets through fiscal 2015 allow the Navy an acceptable forward presence and have temporarily restored critical training and operations, but the force still faces shortfalls, backlogs and higher risks, the chief of naval operations said today.

Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert joined Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Jr. and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos before the Senate Armed Services Committee to testify on the Navy’s fiscal year 2015 budget request.

“Forward presence is our mandate. We operate forward to give the president the options to deal promptly with contingencies,” Greenert told the panel, directing their attention to small charts he gave them showing the global distribution of deployed ships, bases and support areas.

“Our efforts are focused in the Asia-Pacific, I think you can see that, and the Arabian Gulf,” Greenert said. “But we provide presence and we respond as needed in other theaters as well.”

Over the past year, the Navy influenced and shaped the decisions of leaders in the Arabian Gulf, Northeast Asia and the Levant, and patrolled off the shores of Libya, Egypt and Sudan to protect American interests, he added.

With the Marine Corps, the Navy relieved suffering and provided assistance in the Philippines in the wake of typhoon Haiyan last November, dissuaded coercion against U.S. allies and friends in the East and South China seas, the admiral said, kept piracy at bay in the Horn of Africa and continues to support operations in Afghanistan.

“The 2014 budget will enable an acceptable forward presence. Through the remainder of the year we'll be able to restore a lot of our fleet training and our maintenance and our operations, and we'll recover a substantial part of the 2013 backlog that we’ve talked about quite a bit in this room,” Greenert told the senators.

“The president's 2015 budget submission enables us to continue to execute these missions, but we're going to face some high risk in specific missions articulated in the defense strategic guidance,” he added.

The CNO said the Navy’s fiscal guidance through the DOD five-year Future Year Defense Plan is about halfway between severe cuts required by the Budget Control Act caps, also known as sequestration, and the president’s fiscal 2014 plan. It’s still a net decrease of $31 billion when compared with the president’s fiscal 2014 plan.

To prepare the Navy’s program within those constraints, Greenert said, he set the following priorities and Mabus supported him.

-- Provide a sea-based strategic deterrent;

-- Maintain a forward presence;

-- Maintain the capability and capacity to win decisively;

-- Maintain the readiness to support the above;

-- Maintain and bring in asymmetric capabilities and maintain a technological edge; and

-- Sustain a relevant industrial base.

“Using these priorities, we built a balanced portfolio of capabilities within the fiscal guidance we were provided,” the admiral said. “We continue to maximize our presence in the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East, using innovative combinations of rotational forward-based rotational forces, forward basing and forward-stationed forces.”

The Navy still faces shortfalls in support ashore and a backlog in facilities maintenance that erode the ability of its bases to support the fleet, he said, and has slowed modernization in areas that are central to staying ahead of or keeping pace with technologically advanced adversaries.

As a result, “we face higher risk if confronted with a high-tech adversary or if we attempt to conduct more than one multiphase major contingency simultaneously,” he added.

“As I testified before you in September,” he told the committee chairman, “I'm troubled by the prospect of reverting to the Budget Control Act revised caps in 2016. That would lead to a Navy that is just too small and lacking the advanced capabilities needed to execute the missions that the nation expects of the Navy.”

Greenert said such a Navy would be unable to execute at least four of the 10 primary missions laid out in the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, and its ability to respond to contingencies would be dramatically reduced in that future scenario.

“It limits our options and the nation's decision space, and we would be compelled to inactivate an aircraft carrier and an air wing, he said. “Further, our modernization and our recapitalization would be dramatically reduced, and that threatens our readiness and our industrial base.”

If the nation reverts to the Budget Control Act caps, Greenert added, “year by year it will leave our country less prepared to deal with crises, our allies' trust will wane, and our enemies will be less inclined to be dissuaded or to be deterred.”

In his remarks to the panel, Amos said the Marine Corps, in its partnership with the Navy, gives the nation an unmatched naval expeditionary capability.

“This is why I share the CNO's concerns about the impacts associated with the marked paucity of shipbuilding funds,” he said.

America's engagement throughout the future security environment of the next two decades will be undoubtedly naval in character, the Marine Corps commandant said. To be forward engaged and to be present when it matters most means a need for capital ships, and those ships need to be loaded with United States Marines, Amos added.

“Expeditionary naval forces are America's insurance policy. We're a hedge against uncertainty in an unpredictable world,” the commandant said. “The Navy and Marine Corps team provides power projection from the sea, responding immediately to crises when success is measured in hours, not in days.”

If the nation is saddled with the full eight years of sequestration, Amos said, the Marine Corps will be reduced to 175,000 Marines.

“When we built that force, we started almost a year ago today, and we looked forward expecting sequestration would be signed in March of this past year. So that force of 175,000, with 21 infantry battalions and the appropriate rest of the combat service support, is a fully sequestered force that will maintain itself out into the future,” Amos explained.

To maintain the near-term readiness now of those deployed units and those that are about to deploy, he said, Amos said, he reached into operations and maintenance accounts within his authorities and canceled 17 programs.

“I'll be able to do that for probably another two years,” he added. “But the 36th commandant will reach a point, probably two years from now, where he's going to have to take a look at that readiness level and say, ‘I'm going to have to lower that so I can get back into these facilities [and] my training ranges that I can't ignore, and the modernization.’”

Otherwise, Amos said, “we'll end up with an old Marine Corps that's out of date.”

In his remarks to the Senate panel, Mabus discussed the number of ships the Navy would end up with if sequestration moves ahead as planned. “We would get to a 300-ship Navy by the end of this decade under the current plan, and we would keep it going forward,” the secretary said.

The decommissioning of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington would be an issue, Mabus said. “Three destroyers, one submarine, four support ships, and one afloat forward-staging base that we are currently planning to build -- we could not build at those levels,” He said.

One of the perverse things that happens with sequestration, Mabus said, is that as the Navy takes ships such as destroyers or submarines out of multiyear contracts. “We’re breaking the contracts, which raises the cost of the individual ships,” he told the senators. “So we get fewer, and they cost more.”

In response to a question about whether there is an area he considers a special problem area, the secretary cited fair compensation for service members and what he called the unique characteristic that the Navy and Marine Corps give the nation: presence, which he defined as “the ability to be forward deployed, the ability to have the right number and the right mix of ships forward, the ability to maintain those ships, the ability to have trained crews on those ships.” That presence gives the nation options, he added.

“We -- the CNO, the commandant and I -- are working very hard to protect that presence … with sailors and Marines on those ships to give options to this country,” he said.

181st Intelligence Wing Airmen Hone Urban Combat Skills

by Lt. Col. Frank Howard
181st Intelligence Wing

3/11/2014 - HULMAN FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ind. -- Airmen from the 181st Intelligence Wing, 113th Air Support Operations Squadron, Indiana Air National Guard will conduct Operation Rogue Banshee at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center Saturday through Monday.

The focus of the training will be Close Air Support incorporation into urban combat operations and other small unit scenarios.
"Calling in airstrikes on the right target at the right time can change the battle," stated Maj. Ryan Harvey, 113th ASOS Air Liaison Officer.

Tactical Air Control Party members imbed with Special Forces, Army and Marine units
to bring overwhelming firepower to the battlefield in the form of air strikes.

"We train heavily with the A-10 fighter aircraft from Ft. Wayne ANG at Muscatatuck," stated Harvey. "The training with Apache helicopters this weekend will refresh our joint skills."
Throughout the training 113th ASOS Airmen will be training on all communications equipment crucial to the job.

"The skills being honed this weekend proved invaluable in responding to and retrieving stranded motorists and medical personnel during Winter Storm Ion and getting them to shelters and hospitals," stated Col. Patrick Renwick, vice commander, 181st IW and former 113th ASOS commander.

"Having the Muscatatuk Urban Training Center in Indiana gives my Airmen the ability to conduct training that is not available anywhere else," stated Harvey.

The 181st Intelligence Wing is dedicated to supporting the Nation and the people of Indiana.

Welsh, Cody visit with 138th Airmen

by 2Lt. Jennifer Proctor
138th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/12/2014 - Oklahoma Air National Guard, Tulsa Okla. -- TULSA, Okla. - Airmen from the 138th Fighter Wing, hosted Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III today for a welcomed appearance at the Tulsa Air National Guard base.
Welsh and his wife, Betty, were accompanied by the Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody and his wife, Athena.

Welsh spoke to the Airmen about the direction the Air Force will be posturing post sequestration.

During his all-call, he focused on the need to "use common sense, communicate better and care more" in order to be a more effective Total Force.

Welsh said he's "an advocate for every Airman," and offered the idea of redefining "ourselves" in order to better accomplish the mission.

During the brief visit, Welsh and Cody met with wing leadership and Airmen from across the wing, while Mrs. Welsh and Mrs. Cody met with spouses and support agencies to gain understanding of the morale and climate of Air Force families.

Mrs. Welsh and Mrs. Cody entertained questions and discussion in order to better understand their challenges so that they may overcome endeavors in the future. Mrs. Welsh had a direct interest in the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program and how agencies can assist those with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

Other honorary guests included Lt Gen (Ret.) Harry M. Wyatt III, Brig Gen Gregory Ferguson, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe and U.S. Representative Jim Bridenstine.