Military News

Monday, March 17, 2014

Niagara Falls Gulf War veterans gather at squadron

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


3/17/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Prior to the March Unit Training Assembly here, a few of the 328th Airlift Squadron Airmen noticed something about their wingmen attending a routine intelligence brief.

"During the brief we looked around and we noticed we had the highest number of Desert Storm veterans attending," said Lt. Col. Glen Moore, a 328th AS standards and evaluation officer.

In the 328th AS building there is an honor roll with a list of all the Airmen who served in the first Gulf War in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Out of approximately 80 names, the number of those Airmen still in the unit is close to the single digits, said Moore.

"I've been here for nearly 30 years," said Lt. Col. J.R. Cupples, a 328th AS C-130 navigator. "I pass that list frequently and I am always noticing the names of the Airmen who have left."

Cupples said through all his years here he has seen many changes, not only of the names of the men and women he served with, but of the Air Force Reserve as a whole.

"It was an interesting time back then," said Cupples. He said he was able to witness the reserve transition from inactive to the operational reserve junior Airmen are familiar with now.

Although the list of names is shrinking on the squadron honor roll, the camaraderie is still there, say many of the Airmen.

"Being with people this long is no different than being with your family. You're around them all the time so they start to become like family," said Moore.

Big brother hands over mission to little brother

by Master Sgt. David Miller
379th Air Expeditionary Wing


3/17/2014 - QATAR -- As a service member's deployment comes to an end, one of the biggest concerns is to set their replacement up for success. For Staff Sgt. David Rippy, his replacement is his brother, Senior Airman Mark Rippy, both reservists deployed from the 315th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.

The Rippy brothers are C-17 Globemaster III hydraulic systems specialists assigned to the 8th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, who maintain C-17s supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

They are responsible for troubleshooting, inspecting and performing hydraulic system maintenance which allows the C-17 and its crews the ability to transport passengers and all types of cargo to include food, water, supplies and vehicles to accomplish Air Forces Central Command's mission.

David initially started his Air Force career as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician but ultimately changed career paths after talking to Mark as he was training to become a hydraulic systems specialist at Sheppard AFB, Texas.

"I went through initial training at Sheppard and then went through nine months of upgrade training with my unit at Charleston to be a certified hydraulic system specialist," said David.

David went on to work at his civilian job as an automotive set-up mechanic where he troubleshoots problems and performs all mechanical maintenance functions on equipment which includes repairs, modifications and performs changeovers and set-up on machines, fixtures and measurement devices.

Mark, following the same training plan, finished his upgrade training but stayed on active orders and became extremely proficient at his job as he did it day in and day out.

"I knew Mark and his abilities from working with him at Charleston," said Master Sgt. Armenia Coleman, 8th EAMS maintenance section chief, deployed from Charleston AFB and a Memphis, Tenn., native. "Working with David the past couple of months, I knew getting Mark in the unit we wouldn't lose a step with the turnover."

With the stories his brother was telling him of his experiences here, Mark was able to get a vivid picture of deployed work and life.

"I talked to Mark and let him know about the mission out here before he was identified to deploy as we kept in touch often throughout my deployment," said David.

"I spoke to my unit leadership and volunteered to deploy anywhere in the AOR," said Mark. "I was initially told that the members were already identified for the next couple for deployments but I was still ready and eager to deploy and an opportunity arose that allowed me to deploy here and become part of the 8th EAMS team."

Mark arrived in March and became not only a member of the 8th EAMS but also a direct replacement for his brother.

As brothers they share a few common traits that allow them to excel as hydraulic system specialists.

"Both of us work hard, be it in a team environment or as an individual, and we are always looking for opportunities to learn and assist different career fields to achieve mission accomplishment," said David.

Hydraulic systems specialists are key to ensuring the hydraulics and hydraulic pressure is functional and works properly to actuate the flight controls, ramp, door, gear and braking system of the C-17s that fly missions daily.

"I worked with David for two months and as a knowledgeable and hardworking airman I see the same attitude and work ethic from Mark in the few days I have worked with him," said Staff Sgt. Bobby Hill, 8th EAMS instrument and flight control systems journeyman deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and a Parkton, N.C., native.

"Being a reservist, I am grateful to for the active duty airmen who supported me on this deployment," said David. "I came to the unit and I was able to learn so much from the people with experience about the mission and my job."

David has won numerous awards while at AUAB to include the 8th EAMS Hard Charger award, Safety Warrior and Flight Knuckle Buster during this deployment.

"As is typical, the older brother leaves some big shoes for the baby brother to fill," said Coleman.

JBLE hosts Canadian Air Cadets, strengthens international bonds

by Airman 1st Class R. Alex Durbin
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


3/17/2014 - JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. -- U.S. Service members from Joint Base Langley-Eustis hosted more than 100 Royal Canadian Air Cadets from the 180th Mosquito Squadron, 173rd Tiger Squadron and the 342nd Bedford Lions Squadron March 12 and 13.

The tours on each installation showed the Canadian units the U.S. military mission, teaching the cadets about international partnerships. The tours also upheld the Canadian Air Cadet Program mission to bring the military ethos to youth and develop citizenship, said Jonathon Levy, 180th Mosquito Squadron civilian instructor and administration officer.

"Being a military sponsored organization, we try to focus on learning military structure, specifically aviation," said Levy. "We hope to see what other countries military organizations are like. The cadets love [the experiences]."

The 180th Mosquito Squadron visited Fort Eustis, touring the U.S. Army Transportation Museum, 128th Aviation Brigade, 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary) vessels at 3rd Port, and received a military working dog demonstration from the 3rd Military Police Detachment.

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Hector Reyes, 3rd MP Det. plans and training noncommissioned officer, facilitated a demonstration by explaining the various training aspects to the cadets and showcasing patrol car equipment to the 180th Mosquito Squadron.

At Langley Air Force Base, The 342nd Bedford Lions Squadron visited the 633rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, 633rd Security Forces Squadron and the Shellbank Fitness Center. The unit finished the visit with a meal at the Crossbow dining facility.

U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Mark Leslie, 633rd SFS MWD kennel master, led a demonstration and answered cadets' questions. Leslie said the demonstration taught the cadets about JBLE's joint mission.

"We do a number of military working dog demonstrations every year for junior ROTC units and members of the public. Personally, I like having fun with the kids while also trying to teach them something about the mission," he said. "The international cadets seemed interested [in our mission] and asked a lot of questions to better understand what we do."

The following day, the 342nd Bedford Lion and 173rd Tiger Squadrons teamed with the Civil Air Patrol's Langley Composite Squadron to tackle the leadership obstacle course at Fort Eustis.

Cadet Rolan Naiman, 17, 180th Mosquito Squadron warrant officer, said the trip was "unique and a beneficial experience."

"It was really interesting because we got to see how diverse the U.S. [military] is," he said. "Within our cadet program, we can be in our own 'bubble' in Canada. We do promote global citizenship in the program, and [tours like this] ties to the classroom. It puts [cadets'] hands on equipment we learn about."

While the tour was beneficial to the cadets, Leslie said the tours had far-reaching effects helping to foster strong international relationships.

"It is important to share our American military culture with our international allies so they can get a better understanding of the way we operate," he said. "While conducting joint operations, many [Service members] have the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with other nations. Sharing our culture and understanding each other is a necessity to working together."

Get ready for the next big thing: Earthquake preparedness vital for Alaskans

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Blake Mize
JBER Public Affairs


3/17/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Many people who live where tornados occur build storm shelters or basements under their houses. Coastal residents often have several days warning in advance of a hurricane to board up their windows, stock up on canned goods and water or simply head inland. But how do those who reside in earthquake country prepare for their most probable disaster - one that is impossible to predict with accuracy?

Alaska is undoubtedly earthquake country. According to the U.S. Geographical Survey, nine of the 10 most powerful earthquakes ever recorded in the U.S. have occurred in Alaska.

Additionally, the Alaska Seismic Hazards Safety Commission estimates the Last Frontier is home to an average of 1,000 earthquakes per month, any one of which could be the next catastrophic one. According to the ASHSC, it is not possible to predict the time and location of the next big earthquake, but the active geology of Alaska guarantees that major, damaging earthquakes will continue to occur.

One such major, damaging earthquake was the 1964 Great Alaska Earthquake, which struck 50 years ago this month with an epicenter about 75 miles east of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The monster 9.2-magnitude earthquake and the tsunami that followed took 128 lives in Alaska, California and Oregon. The quake, the second most powerful ever recorded in the world, destroyed parts of Anchorage and the surrounding area, including what were then Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson, according to the USGS.

"Immediately following the initial shocks, Alaskan Air Command and the 5040th Air Base Wing began making initial damage assessments and formulating recovery plans," said Doug Beckstead, JBER historian. "The first total damage assessment [for Elmendorf alone] was placed at $10 million (more than $73 million when adjusted for inflation)."

A lot has changed in Alaska since 1964, but one thing that has not is the state's propensity for ground shaking.

"Alaska is a very seismically active area," Beckstead said. "Most of the earthquakes that occur here every day are not even felt, but people should not take that as a sign that [an earthquake similar to the one in 1964] won't happen again. It is always a good thing to be prepared with a plan for what you will do when the next big one strikes, because history is a good teacher of lessons."

According to ready.alaska.gov, most earthquake-related casualties are preventable and taking certain preparedness measures can lessen the impact of an earthquake.

The Municipality of Anchorage suggests Alaskans adhere to the following safety tips:

Before an earthquake strikes:
- Prepare a disaster supply kit - at home, at work and for your car.
- Secure bookcases, file cabinets, pictures, mirrors, etc. to walls. Include hot water heaters and other appliances, which could move and rupture gas or electrical lines.
- Know where to locate switches and how to turn off home gas, electricity and water.
- Develop a family plan for disasters.
- Practice earthquake safety drills.
- Be able to take care of yourself and your family for five to seven days after a disaster, before emergency services may be able to reach you.
- Know basic first aid.
- Know emergency phone numbers.
- Know how to open and close an automatic garage door manually.

During an earthquake:
- Stay calm and stay where you are -- if inside, stay inside; if outside, stay outside.
- If inside: drop, cover and hold on - take cover under a heavy desk or against an inside wall away from glass and falling objects.
- If outside: safely move to a clear area, away from buildings, overpasses, signs, utility lines and trees. Sit on the ground and do not stand up.
- If on the road: drive away from underpasses and overpasses. Stop in a safe area and stay in your vehicle.

After an earthquake:
- Be prepared for aftershocks.
- Listen to the radio for public safety instructions.
- Check for injuries and provide first aid.
- Check for safety hazards: gas or water leaks, sewage breaks, downed power lines, etc. - Check for any building damage and evacuate if dangerous.
- Properly clean up spilled medicines, bleaches and other hazardous materials.
- Phone lines should be kept as clear as possible for true emergency situations.

For more information, there are several resources available to learn more about earthquake preparedness, including ready.alaska.gov, aeic.alaska.edu and earthquake.usgs.gov, which details the 1964 quake. These and many more are easy to find through online search engines.

Leap of faith: Chaplains help Airmen flex spiritual muscles

by Senior Airman Ashley Nicole Taylor
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/13/2014 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- As one of the four pillars of resiliency, spiritual fitness can play an important role in the overall well-being of an Airman. For this reason, the chaplains of the 354th Fighter Wing provide many services to ensure every Iceman has the opportunity to speak to them.

Some Airmen work jobs that might make it harder to leave their shop due to a high operations tempo and don't always have the opportunity to see a chaplain. So the chaplains come to them.

"Spiritual fitness seeks to answer important questions in life, the big questions like 'What's my purpose, what do I believe,'" said Chaplain (Capt.) Thomas Fussell, 354th Fighter Wing protestant chaplain. "Questions like those operate our daily lives and our beliefs; those beliefs in our heart of hearts will come out in our behaviors naturally."

Aside from the many activities chaplains are part of, such as Airmen dinners, resiliency briefings and church services, they have set up alternate duty locations throughout the installation, to support those who might not be able to reach a chaplain by normal means.

"It's been a trend in the past handful of years in the Air Force to get us closer to being in the units," said Fussell. "We find that when we are out in the units, we can be more proactive in helping to solve internal issues that tend to pop up in personal lives."

Alternate duty locations are currently in the 354th Logistics Readiness Squadron, 354th Maintenance Squadron, and the 354th Security Forces Squadron. Chaplains also pull one swing-shift a week for Airmen who work late nights or weekends.

"It's nice that the chaplains do this because some people might have things that they might not be comfortable to come and talk about to their coworkers," said Senior Airman Andrew Luna, 354th MXS aerospace ground equipment journeyman. "I think the chaplains having an alternate office within our squadron and knowing who we are is a really great aspect of their service to us."

With the only counseling service on base that provides a 100 percent confidentiality disclosure, when the chaplains say you can tell them anything, they mean it.

"Our purpose is to give people options when they feel they've been backed into a corner," said Fussell. "I am not going to go their commander, their first sergeant, their mother or anybody about what they just said. If I did, I would lose my cross and be no good to the Air Force."

As for those who choose no religious denomination, it shouldn't deter them from visiting with a chaplain.

"In fact, most people I talk to are not religious," said Fussell. "If they choose to believe something else then I'm okay with that, I will still talk to anyone."

The chaplains encourage Airmen to seek assistance before things get out of hand and to possibly prevent things from getting any worse.

"Life happens and all that stuff tends to sit on us and we have to get it out somehow," said Fussell. "When we get the concerns and cares off of us, then we can be more focused, we can be more efficient and effective at what we do."

Airmen should keep spiritual fitness in mind with their daily lifestyle and exercise the different opportunities available to them.

"I believe I have the best job in the Air Force," Fussell concluded. "It's fun to get out from behind the desk and be around people that are focused on a mission that makes a difference and it's fun to make a difference in people's lives and help people when they get in a bind."

Physician assistant at Misawa receives national recognition

by 2nd Lt. Lauren Rogers
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/16/2014 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- It was her first year working as a physician assistant, and a patient had just left her exam room when she heard a burst of gunshots in the distance. Within seconds, screams filled the hospital as people scrambled for cover. In the midst of the chaos, a piercing silence fell over the clinic and her heart raced as the sound of the gunman's footsteps drew closer and closer to her office door.

The gunman walked right past her door, pivoted, and passed her door again - all the while spraying rounds from a semi-automatic rifle throughout the 92nd Medical Group, Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.

Almost twenty years later, Lt. Col. Melanie Ellis, 35th Medical Operations Squadron commander, still remembers her medical instincts kicking in once she realized she was the only provider left in the Family Practice hallway.

"I heard the gunman exit the hospital into the parking lot, so I found a technician and rushed to stabilize and treat a female patient who had been shot just a few offices away," Ellis explained. "There was an intercom announcement about a possible second gunman, but I didn't have time to think about that possibility. We had a patient to take care of."

It was a tragic day for the U.S. Air Force. Four people were killed and 22 were wounded before a security forces senior airman shot and killed the gunman, but Ellis played a pivotal role transporting multiple victims from the base hospital to an impromptu helicopter-landing zone where victims were evacuated to the local trauma center.

Every assignment since then has offered new challenges and adventure for Ellis, who was recently named American Academy of Physician Assistants' Federal Service PA of the Year.

The PA of the Year award encompasses an entire career of accomplishments. It honors the PA who has demonstrated exemplary service in the federal sector, defined as working for any of the uniformed services, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Public Health Service or other related federal agencies.

Ellis' career began as an enlisted surgical technician. She was selected to attend PA training and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1993. Several years later, she became the clinical coordinator for the same training program where she managed the medical rotations for dozens of PA students.

Today, with more than 21 years of experience, Ellis credits her success to her Air Force mentors, hard work, an amazingly supportive family and good timing.

She tells the story of how being at the right place at the right time transformed a brief elevator conversation into a career path traveling abroad.

"It was a one minute conversation with a retired Biomedical Sciences Corps Chief, who simply asked me what I wanted to do in my career," Ellis said. "We'd spent several days working together at a Human Performance Enhancement conference and I told him I'd love to work overseas one day. He must have made a few phone calls because the next day at work I received a call from my associate corps chief offering me an assignment in Belgium working with NATO," Ellis said.

From there, countless opportunities arose for Ellis to showcase PA capabilities around the world. Her short elevator conversation indirectly opened the door to many "boots-on-the-ground" experiences in Afghanistan, Germany, Ghana, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Botswana.

While working as an International Health Specialist on a Building Partnership Capacity mission in Botswana, Ellis found herself mentoring the first female member of the Botswana Defense Force. In addition to teaching medical disaster management, Ellis helped the first BDF female develop doctrine that incorporated standards for female service members.

"That experience was amazing," Ellis said. "I could have never imagined the second and third order effects that IHS mission would bring."

On a separate assignment, Ellis co-authored the medical concept of operations for the NATO no-fly zone in Libya and facilitated the evacuation of the wounded and dead after the Benghazi Embassy attack in October 2012.

During her career, she was the only Air Force member in an Army Flight Surgeon course at Fort Rucker, AL, and later served as the executive officer to the Assistant AF Surgeon General for Medical Force Development where she coordinated policies for 39,000 active duty medical professionals.

"I have never seen anyone with the same depth of experience evidencing her brilliance, tenacity and dedication in all my years of supervising physician assistants," said Col. (Dr.) Alden Hilton, 35th Medical Group commander.

"She hit the ground running at Misawa and advanced the Air Force Surgeon General's vision of tailoring medical care to the unique mission requirements of our population, working to preserve and enhance the performance of our warrior Airmen," Hilton emphasized.

Since arriving at Misawa, Ellis has matched up her medical personnel with various high-intensity units on base, such as the 35th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal and 35th Security Forces Squadron through in-depth briefings and face-to-face interactions.

"It's important that our technicians never lose sight of how medics impact the mission," Ellis said. "Speaking with the different units, with strenuous jobs, helps us understand their unique medical needs and shows the service members how seriously we take our role as healthcare providers."

Through all the experience and accomplishments, Ellis continues to emphasize mentoring and paying it forward to the next generation.

"My favorite assignment until now was clinical coordinator for the Interservice PA Program. Launching new Air Force physician assistants and growing future military leaders is extremely rewarding." Ellis concluded. "My former students are my 'other children.' I love watching them grow professionally and hearing about their accomplishments. I feel the same way about my squadron. I'm going to push them, like I was pushed in my early years, to achieve all the great things I know they are capable of accomplishing."

Climate and Deterioration claims the ARC LIGHT Memorial's B-52D Stratofortress

by Jeffrey Meyer
36th Wing Historian


3/13/2014 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Andersen Air Force Base's B-52 static display aircraft in the Arc Light Memorial park, at the center of the installation, has long been a symbol of the tremendous contribution Andersen AFB bomber missions had during the Vietnam Conflict. Sadly the aircraft must be removed from Arc Light Park due to decades of weather-related deterioration and corrosion.

There have been two different B-52D aircraft over the years occupying the Arc Light Memorial. The first aircraft was dedicated on February 12, 1974, in honor of the first anniversary of the initial release of U.S. Prisoners of War captured and held in Vietnam. This original memorial aircraft was tail number 55-0100. "Old 100," as it was called, flew more than 5,000 combat hours over Southeast Asia and remained at the commemoration site on Andersen for nine years. In 1983, however, weather deterioration and rust led to the original "Old 100" being replaced by a second B-52D aircraft.

June 9, 1983 marked the rededication ceremony for the current Arc Light Memorial aircraft, which has stood for more than 30 years thanks to the efforts of Airmen who provided corrosion control and detailed washes in addition to several sheet metal restoration projects.

The current removal project, which will last approximately two months, begins with the dismantling of the vertical tail section. The B-52 static aircraft will remain at the site as the project continues throughout March and April. The monument plaque, dedicated to the 75 Airmen who perished during the Vietnam War on missions that launched from Andersen and several other sites in the Pacific, will remain at the site in Arc Light Park after the aircraft is completely removed.

The redesigned monument will have a full-sized silhouette of the B-52D on the ground with the current B-52D tail mounted on a raised platform. In addition a B-52H tail honoring the Continuous Bomber Presence will be brought in and mounted on a separate raised platform. While the aircraft will no longer stand as one piece in Arc Light Park, the new memorial design will continue to honor the men and women who gallantly contributed to bomber mission here on Andersen AFB. In addition sections of the aircraft will remain on display at Andersen's Heritage Hall, located inside the AMC Passenger Terminal.

Power professionals keep the mission running

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


3/13/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Commanders and senior enlisted leaders stared at their computers, tracking various operations throughout Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. A windstorm howled and threatened to knock down trees outside.

Lightning cracked in the sky and lights failed as the power went out across the installation.

In the moments following, as people began grabbing radios and attempting calls on their cell phones, the 673d Civil Engineer Squadron went to work. Shortly thereafter, the lights came back on; the power was up and running for approximately 48 hours on a generator while the damage caused by the storm could be mitigated.

A situation like this happened in September 2012, resulting in the loss of power to 35 facilities across the installation.

"Even during prolonged outages, we can keep facilities up for an extended period of time, ensuring that those units can complete their part of the mission," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Brandon Venable 773d CES power production technician..

It's part of the mission of the 673d CES power production shop to keep things running when nature or other factors cause power outages.

"Power production is critical to the mission because much of the mission is dependent on electronics," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Kyle Perry, 773d CES power production technician. "If there is no electrical energy, there will be very few, if any, working electronics. With limited technology, the mission will most likely fail."

The shop maintains and operates 85 emergency power generators that can be used during contingency operations.

"Ultimately, power production backs up most of the technological requirements the warfighters will need to survive, thrive and overcome adversaries," Perry said.

Take away everything that runs on batteries for one day - alarm clock, coffee maker or phone; most people wouldn't even be able to make it to work, Perry said.

Power production capabilities ensure JBER is prepared for whatever contingencies that may arise.

"We never know when these disasters will happen, that is why we have to be on our toes 24 hours a day, seven days a week, qualified and ready to react in a moment's notice," Perry said.

The new UEI: Increased effectiveness

by Staff Sgt. Jessica Haas
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/17/2014 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The Pacific Air Forces Inspector General team, and the Air Force Inspector General, populated Kunsan Air Base to conduct the highly anticipated, Unit Effectiveness Inspection capstone event during the week of Mar. 3 - 7, 2014.

"We are the commander's eyes and ears," said Lt. Gen. Stephen Mueller, Inspector General of the Air Force. "My job is to report on the discipline, effectiveness, efficiency and the readiness of the Air Force. It is a big task and we accomplish it through inspections."

Inspections are necessary and conducted at every Air Force base; but the inspections conducted now are different. This new 'breed' of inspections is the result of a completely different method of inspecting units in an effort to ensure honest feedback and to allow senior leadership to make data-driven decisions.

"Everything you knew about the inspection system, throw it out of the window," said the inspector general. "It's not at all like the way you grew up in the Air Force. That's one of the big challenges that we have."

The general said the system focuses on trusting Airmen to tell the truth about the problems that they have.

"This is radically different from the way we used to do things," continued Mueller. "During the old inspection system, Airmen were out there trying to dazzle the IG so they wouldn't find the problems that they knew they had. Now we encourage everyone to tell us what their problems are, and we have a better and more honest appreciation for the issues that are facing the Air Force."

The general said the new system focuses on the Airmen performing their mission and not focusing so much on preparing for an inspection.

"So in theory, there would be zero preparation for inspections," said the IG. "All the work can now be put back into the mission."

Mueller then stressed three main tasks he wanted Airmen to focus on for future UEIs.

"First, I want Airmen to know their job," started the general. "Second, I want them to do their job. And third, I want them to tell us when they can't do their job. That's it."

The general also highlighted many of the reasons why this new way of inspecting is so much more beneficial than the older system.

"Also, the template we have is standard across the Air Force," continued the general. "So instead of having ten different MAJCOM types of inspections that you couldn't correlate, we can now correlate the data across the Air Force, and get really good, solid identification of where our problems lie."

The general concluded by saying this new system empowers the wing commander to conduct their own inspections.

"At base-level, we have to create that capability to inspect ourselves," he said. "Each of the wing commanders is learning from this as they build it, and we collectively at the Air Force level are then able to learn what the best practices are."

The Wolf Pack Airmen were the first in PACAF to go through this revised system, earning an overall effective and a highly effective in mission execution.

"I'm proud of our Wolf Pack, and I'm proud of what we have accomplished so far," said Col. S. Clinton Hinote, 8th Fighter Wing commander. "The new system is more honest, and that has made us better. Our best, however, is yet to come."

PACAF IG visits Osan for first UEI

by Senior Airman Siuta B. Ika
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


3/17/2014 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The Pacific Air Forces Inspector General team visited the base for the 51st Fighter Wing's first Unit Effectiveness Inspection Capstone event March 9-14.

This was the first time the IG team visited the base since the new Air Force Inspection System, Air Force Instruction 90-201, was published in August 2013.

"We're here to validate and verify that the wing commander's inspection program is developing to meet readiness and compliance requirements, and we've seen a lot of great things," said Col. David Van der Veer, PACAF IG. "Under the new system, (the PACAF IG team) is responsible for conducting one on-site inspection every 24 months in the UEI process, known as the Capstone event, but the wing will actually be in the UEI cycle for 24 months."

The IG team inspected the wing on the four major graded areas under the AFIS - managing resources, leading people, improving the unit, and executing the mission - with the wing earning an overall "Effective" rating.

"The inspectors noted our many strengths and highlighted our shared focus, outstanding support to our community and tenants, realistic and creative exercises, excellent maintenance and logistic support to flying units, proficiency in combat operations, and world class medical care and logistics," said Col. Brook Leonard, 51st FW commander. "So what do we do now? We take this feedback just like we would do at the end of an exercise and digest it and use it to improve. We must keep getting better at learning about each other and the mission, listening to each other's issues and ideas, and looking for our edge... our maximum capacity, and making ourselves better."

Part of the new inspection system includes the IG team conducting group and individual meetings, which allows the inspectors to hear first-hand how issues are being handled at work centers across the wing. This, Van der Veer said, will help reverse some of the negative trends occurring around the Air Force.

"I think a lot of what we're seeing is Airmen are trying to do the best they can with what they have and whether there's internal or external pressures, Airmen need to have the courage to step up and say something's wrong, or say they don't comply in a certain area," Van der Veer said. "We don't want to fear noncompliance but we don't want people to go 'Well I need to get through this inspection so I'm going to check mark that we're complying with this and hope an inspector doesn't find it.' I think we need the integrity as Airmen to embrace accountability and take ownership of the system, because they're our eyes when they're filling out those inspection checklists."

In the current Air Force culture, units are accustomed to preparing for their inspection before it happens. The concept behind changing the inspection process is that units will remain mission-ready 100 percent of the time with or without inspectors being present.

"The great part about the system is it put the ownership compliance and readiness squarely in the commander's hands," Van der Veer said. "Before when we did an (operational readiness inspection or unit compliance inspection) it was a snapshot in time of that unit's readiness. So if the jets weren't 100 percent ready to go and you couldn't generate enough planes to meet the air tasking order it was a tough inspection to pass. Now it's like a portfolio, not just single snap shots."

No matter what type of inspection, the 51st FW must focus on the little things and team work, Leonard said.

"That is what this AFIS is about...we are all inspectors and instructors, it takes all of us working as a team, and we must continue to prioritize readiness and respect," he said. "Overall, we are winning, but cannot sit on our lead. We will continue to do large force drills and exercises every other month, do smaller part task training events, and have fun as a team and family. I am also really excited about our upcoming efforts to focus on some key goals and increase involvement across the wing."

Civilian Airman, paralympian lives to race

by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau
460th Space Wing Public Affairs


3/14/2014 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- He readies at the starting line.

The crowd roars, their deafening cheers fill the Olympic stadium. As the starting gun is raised, the sea of voices goes deathly silent in anticipation. The muscles in his arm tense as he takes a final breath to try and calm his nerves. His hands grip tightly to his racing chair. So many moments in his life have lead up to these nail-biting seconds. His chest slowly rises and falls as he zeroes in his focus on the race before him. He may not win this race, but he is dead set to not let his disability beat him.

Tyler Byers, Team Buckley civilian Airman and two-time Paralympic Games competitor, was born with sacral agenesis, a birth disorder that caused his spine to not form properly at birth. But Byers does not give into the hardships brought on by his condition.

"My parents told me that it wasn't until I was 8 or 9 years old that I realized I had a disability and that I was different from everybody," the 31-year-old racer explained. "My parents didn't treat me any different than my brothers. They made me do chores, and they held me accountable for my actions."

This accountability wasn't the only thing Byers' parents tried to teach him. Tim Byers, his father, believed it was critically important for Byers to get as normal of a childhood with his brothers as possible.

"We believed that fostering an environment of independence would aid him far more than doing the things for him that he could do for himself," Byers' dad said. "I wanted to give him a 'can-do' attitude, were you can accomplish anything you set your sights on. Tyler took this and really never looked back."

With the examples instilled in him by his parents and a "glass half full" attitude, Byers took his racing wheelchair and talents on the road to University of Arizona on a four-year scholarship.

It was in college that the possibility of becoming an Olympian was first realized. After training day in and day out at UA, Byers launched himself onto the global stage at the Athens games in 2004.

He competed in four separate races, and while the experience of his first Paralympics Games was amazing, Byers admitted that the size and pressure of the event got to him. He did not place in the events in which he competed, but he received some valuable insight for future games -- something he would use in Beijing four years later.

In the 2008 Paralympic games, Byers earned a place to compete in the semifinals against the world's best in his events. He competed in the 800-meter, 1,500-meter, 5,000-meter and marathon races. Though he never medaled at the event, he said that the experience would be something he would never forget.

Five years removed from his last Paralympic Games, Byers still finds time for top-level wheelchair racing. In November 2013, he completed the New York City Marathon, placing inside the top 20. He is still able to get out and train in the high-altitude of the Rocky Mountains for about six events each year, but he admits he cannot train the way he did when he had a younger man's body. However, his motivation still burns as deep.

"I grew up competing with my brothers, whether it be at board games or the little basketball hoop set up in our basement. I remember crawling around and trying to shoot around them and they would stuff me without mercy," Byers joked. "I love competing. Even though I have been racing for more than 22 years, my competitive drive hasn't dimmed.

"It's hard to explain where that drive comes from, but I feel it," Byers said. "I love being fit and I love being in shape. After the NYC Marathon I told my coworkers that I was taking a month off -- I lasted two weeks before I was back out there."

That internal drive may lead him to the championship podium in the future, but he believes he is already a winner at home. Byers is a husband of 10 years and a father of a little boy and baby girl who love to watch their daddy race, he added.

"My wife has always been supportive of me racing, and now my kids are getting into it," Byers said. "My son likes to sit out in front of our house and watch me do laps around the neighborhood. When I have to go away for a race he cries because he wants to see me race."

Setting the example for his children isn't the only thing Byers represents; he is also an inspiration for others with disabilities. His mother, Ann Byers, has seen it her entire life.

"It has never ceased to amaze me how having a child with special needs can really shape a person's life," Ann Byers said. "It made me go in a direction I never would have and has been the greatest of gifts a parent could have. I have learned so much through Tyler and owe him more than I can say. I am not the only one who feels that way -- he has touched so many in his 30 years, and there's never been a day that I was not proud that he was my son," she added.

For Byers, he just sees it as being himself because he isn't racing to be an example.

"The disability has taught me the value of teamwork and dedication and shown me empathy for people when they come up short because I have come up short," Byers said. "I have seen a lot of people who have bounced back from horrific injuries to find new meaning in life. Some people don't find the fortitude to go on, but it's the people that realize that they do things differently now and can enjoy life -- those are the ones that make it through."

As a triathlete, snow-skier, and paralympian, Byers has proven he is determined to get the most out of life. Like many other disabled athletes, he now lives the mantra that he shares with his competitors; "Man, I love being disabled, because I get all these opportunities."

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NAVFAC Pacific Employee Devotes Half A Century to the Federal Government; Well-Deserving of the Lifetime Service Award



By Krista K. Catian, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Pacific Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Commander Rear Adm. Kate Gregory presented the Peggy B. Craig Lifetime Service Award to Arlene Yoshioka March 13 at NAVFAC Pacific headquarters.

"There are certain people that what they devote to an organization transcends their paycheck, their pay grade and transcends the name on their billet title," said Gregory. "They run the organization through sheer force, love, experience and care and that is what Arlene does for us. We are so lucky that she has graced us with all of her work and has been such a devoted servant to our great government."

Yoshioka, secretary for NAVFAC Pacific Commander and senior leadership, was selected for her lasting dedication, professional contribution, and unfailing commitment to the NAVFAC organization for 50 years.

"I am extremely humbled and honored to receive this great recognition," said Yoshioka. "I've been with NAVFAC for 50 years and this award culminates all those years. I started with NAVFAC 50 years ago and will retire from NAVFAC. I have met so many people, made many friends and am so thankful for all the support I've received throughout the years. I want to thank everybody who has made an impact on my life and career."

The Peggy B. Craig Lifetime Service Award is awarded to individuals who have led a life of service, selflessness, devotion and dedication to NAVFAC, the Civil Engineer Corps and Seabee Communities. Individuals chosen for this award demonstrate professionalism, have made a positive and enduring impact on the organization and have a strong sense of servant leadership.

"This award recognizes someone in NAVFAC who served at the ultimate level of loyalty, dedication in service and in this case love for all of us, our Navy and NAVFAC," said Rear Adm. Bret Muilenburg, NAVFAC Pacific commander. "Arlene embodies the character, integrity and professional excellence and is well-deserving of this prestigious award."

Yoshioka has mentored and provided wise counsel to commanders, vice commanders, aides and senior civilian leadership with her seemingly boundless corporate knowledge built over her career. Her day-to-day duties, along with planning morale-boosting command functions are met with positivity and optimism, while maintaining a relaxed yet efficient work environment throughout a high paced, high pressure command. Her spiritual gift to serve others comes naturally as her warm and friendly demeanor is one of sincere care and boundless compassion, which is reflective of Hawaii's valued "Aloha" spirit.

"I've committed much of my time and energy to the NAVFAC organization and have enjoyed this amazing journey," said Yoshioka. "I'd especially like to thank my husband and family for their continued support and encouragement. Family is my number one priority, and I am proud to call NAVFAC Pacific my Ohana."

"I want to thank Arlene's family because we know how much she gives to us and the time it takes and the behind the scenes stuff she does for us and I know that comes with the expense of your family," said Gregory. "From all of us to your family thank you very much for the sacrifices you've made to make her successful because she makes us successful, so thank you very much."

The Peggy B. Craig Lifetime Service Award was established in 2012 in memory of Peggy B. Craig, who faithfully served as a Navy civil servant for 48 years and as the special assistant to 12 consecutive Chiefs of Civil Engineers. The award is presented annually to active or retired civil servants in NAVFAC, First Naval Construction Division, the Center for Seabees and Facilities Engineering or subordinate units who have served over the course of 20 years or more.

Historic 26 STS military free fall

By Senior Airman Eboni Reece
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


3/4/2014 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- History was made Feb. 28 at Melrose Air Force Range, N.M., as two members of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron conducted the first Military Free Fall jump in conjunction with one of the many aerial assets maintained at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. Simultaneously, the 522nd Special Operations Squadron director of operations received qualification on performing MFF aerial operations.

Equipped with parachutes weighing more than 50 pounds, four special tactics members boarded an MC-130J Commando II with members from the 522 SOS. An MFF jump is a feat each member has completed numerous times before, but this jump was slightly more significant than previous ones for another reason.

A recently fallen tactical air control party member with the 17th Special Tactics Squadron Master Sgt. Josh Gavulic, was on the minds of these men on this day. While these special tactics members were at Cannon preparing for the day's events, a memorial service for Gavulic was happening more than 1,200 miles away at Fort Benning, Ga. With heavy hearts, these men still took their seats aboard the aircraft and prepared to take off and eventually complete their parachute training.

While in the air, more than 12,500 feet above sea level, each special tactics member, all certified jump masters, began to perform jump master pre-inspections on each other's equipment and practice emergency procedures. Once confident that each member was ready to safely take a leap of faith down toward Melrose Range, the four men took their positions near the open doorway of the MC-130J.

Almost immediately and without hesitation, each member ran out of the aircraft somersaulting away from the aircraft while in free fall until their presence was so minuscule that it could not be seen by the naked eye.

After parachuting to a safe landing at Melrose Range, each member completed 'memorial pushups', a strong tradition for the 26 STS, performed in observance of many significant events. During the pushups, they recited a chant honoring the deployed members, other fallen comrades and finally, Gavulic himself. The chant was followed by a ceremonial flag-folding and sentiments were shared from each special tactics member.

Navy Band Performs For Allied landing In Salerno Anniversary



By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew Murch, Navy Public Affairs Support Element-East Detachment Europe

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Sailors from the U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa Band played a jazz concert for an Italian and Navy audience in Salerno, Italy, March 15.

The performance was to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Allied landings in Salerno during World War II.

Allied Forces "Jazz Diplomats" played a selection of jazz music from the 30s, 40s and 50s in honor of the anniversary. Musicians performed music made famous by artists like Benny Goodman, Ella Fitzgerald, Glenn Miller, and Frank Sinatra.

"This was one of two concerts I've played at where we have just floored it and the audience went crazy," said Musician 2nd Class Ray Laffoon, drummer. "There really isn't anything cooler than representing your country in foriegn countries in front of people who love hearing your music."

Vice Adm. Phillip Davidson, commander, U.S. 6th Fleet attended the event. During the intermission Davidson talked briefly to audience about the relationship between the Italian and Allied forces that stemmed and grew from the landings that took place 70 years ago.

Davidson talked about the sacrifices made by many U.S. and Italians during World War II to ensure freedom and democracy.

The Allied landing at Salerno followed their victory over Axis forces in Africa. Operation Avalanche called for landings in several places. After almost two weeks of heavy fighting the Allies claimed victory after heavy casualties on the Allied side.

The Allied Force Jazz Diplomats is an ensemble composed of U.S. Navy musicians and members of the Italian army, navy, and Carabinieri. They are a relatively new ensemble in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe Africa Band. Formed less than two months ago, the band already plays concerts bi-weekly and has been invited to attend the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy.

"My experience is they love the jazz band. They know tunes like New York, New York," said Musician 1st Class Jennifer Wilson, trombonist. "All we need play is just a few bars of a song and the crowd will go crazy with applause."

After announcing that the next two songs were going to be Glenn Miller songs the announcer walked off stage without saying the names of either song saying "These need no introduction." As soon as the Diplomats began to play the crowd started to clap and cheer.

Community relation events like the jazz concert continue to strengthen the relationships between Italian nationals and the U.S Navy.

WWII B-17 co-pilot shares experiences

by Airman 1st Class Breonna Veal
17th Training Wing Public Affairs


3/17/2014 - GOODFELLOW AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- William Archer, World War II Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress co-pilot, visited here for the first time in almost 70 years to share his experiences during WWII March 7.

In 1943, Archer, a Texas native, along with his college roommate, decided at the end of their second year of college to volunteer to join the Army Air Corps Cadet Program so that they wouldn't be drafted.

"At 20, I was around the age where I could have been drafted," Archer started. "The war was getting quite serious then. I had the choice to become a pilot, so I did. I chose to fly planes because I didn't want to be on the ground getting shot at."

Flying didn't stop Archer from the firefight. After training in Alexandria, La., to become a B-17 co-pilot, the Army Air Corps transferred Archer to the 447th Bomb Group in Rattlesden, England, where he performed 26 missions.

Without being targeted in the first 24 missions dating back to June 1944, Archer's last two gave him something to talk about.

"On the 25th mission, we were shot down, and we bailed out in Belgium," he said. "Flying to Belgium on one engine was just a little difficult because we were going down. The engine was a good one and held up on full throttle for several hundred miles."

During this flight to Belgium, Archer and his pilot threw all items of weight out of the plane while two friendly P-38s flanked them until they assumed that the B-17 went into Belgian territory. Allies greeted them when they landed in friendly territory, and escorted them safely into allied territory.

"He landed in barbed wire," added Nita Archer, family member. "He didn't have a scratch on him. We kept his boots, which had a clean cut down one side of it for a long time."

Archer's missions didn't stop there. On his 26th mission, a high ranking officer replaced Archer as co-pilot and Archer sat in the tailgunner position, according to his biography.

"On the mission, I was supposed to get my own crew, but instead, I replaced another pilot because he had been wounded," said Archer.

During his 26th mission, the plane was hit by flak, and Archer was seriously wounded and almost bled to death.

"During this mission everything started off fine, but coming back, the Germans had some real good gunners and shot at the airplane," said Archer. "I thought I was hit in the foot, but I was hit in the thigh. I had two half crowns in my pocket. Those two coins wrapped around my bone about a half-inch from the inside of my leg, luckily."

After recovering from his wounds, he received an assignment to Concho Field, later known as Mathis Field, to train bombardier cadets.

"When I got back to San Angelo in 1945, the first thing I did was go on three blind dates," commented Archer. "Nita was the second date. I never did lose her."

Eventually, Germany surrendered and Archer was discharged from the military, but he stayed in the reserves obtaining the rank of captain. Since then, Archer and his wife have watched Goodfellow and the surrounding area develop.

"San Angelo has certainly grown," said Archer's family member. "We have always been very proud to live close by. We had neighbors who were military. It was a great experience to know the Goodfellow community and other Team Goodfellow members."

Although they have lived in the surrounding area, Archer and his wife hadn't been to Goodfellow in close to 70 years.

"It is amazing how much Goodfellow has changed since I've last been here," said Archer. "There were wooden barracks when I came here, and now, they are all new brick buildings."

Goodfellow welcomed Archer and his family by giving them a tour of the base. He also agreed to a Q-and-A session where he answered questions from service members. At the end of the session, he said a couple of words to Team Goodfellow.

"I admire all of you because you chose to volunteer to join the military," he said. "It was - and - is at your own will."

Col. Brendan Harris, 17th Training Group Commander, presented Archer with a commander's coin and his wife with flowers, concluding the Archers' visit to Goodfellow.

Team Goodfellow thanked Archer with a round of applause. With new service members coming in weekly to begin their training, it's not every day that history walks through the gates of Goodfellow.