Military News

Monday, March 24, 2014

50 YEARS since 1964 earthquake catastrophe: Military integral to recovery

Commentary by Chris McCann
JBER Public Affairs


3/24/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- It was a quiet Friday evening in Anchorage, March 27, 1964. The Good Friday holiday meant many people were having festive meals at home.

Then, at 5:36 p.m., the earthquake struck - a 9.2 on the Richter scale, the largest ever in North America and second only to the 1960 quake in Chile. The temblor lasted about four minutes, though people said it seemed to last forever.

Dorothy Armstrong, a flight attendant with the Flying Tiger line, was on crew rest in Anchorage when it struck.

"Being a California girl, I recognized it was an earthquake," she said. "However, being close to a Strategic Air Command base, another event did enter our minds!"
Residents described telephone poles whipping back and fourth, three-foot waves rolling across the ground, and mass devastation. Much of the Turnagain neighborhood slumped into Cook Inlet - the remains are now Earthquake Park, near Ted Stevens International Airport. The J.C. Penney building downtown was destroyed - falling concrete killed Mary Rustigan, 44, and 19-year-old Lee Styer. He'd run out of the store to check on his brand-new car.

One hundred thousand square miles was affected in southcentral Alaska, but the effects were felt around the world. Twelve people were killed in Crescent City, Calif.; boats were damaged in Hawaii and Los Angeles. Tide gauges in Freeport, Texas, recorded waves similar to seismic waves. During Easter weekend of 1964 in Sydney, Australia, surfers were doing life-saving competitions. Neville Crane, a lifeguard and surfer there, said the waves at Collaroy beach are normally gentle and small - but on Easter Sunday they'd turned menacing, peaking at more than 20 feet.

"It wasn't so much the sheer size of the waves," Crane said. "It was the awesome velocity and force after breaking." Nothing like it had been seen before in Sydney, nor has there been since.

In Shoup Bay, Alaska, a tsunami wave peaked at 219 feet. The quake itself killed only 15, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's information. The tsunami was the most lethal - killing 113, especially in Seward, Valdez, and the village of Chenega, which was entirely destroyed by a seismic wave 27 feet high. It killed 23 of the 68 residents.

The temblor resulted in vertical displacement of more than 520,000 square kilometers. Near Girdwood, a vast area along the Seward Highway to Portage dropped several feet, sinking into the Cook Inlet. The trees, suddenly absorbing seawater, died.

Clear Air Force Station, about 80 miles south of Fairbanks, was knocked offline for six minutes after the quake.

Alaska, still a new state, had limited disaster-response, and that was geared mainly to protections from a Soviet military attack. What they did have was military - from the Navy and Coast Guard personnel at Kodiak to Soldiers at forts Richardson, Greely and Wainwright, and Airmen from Elmendorf and Eielson Air Force bases, as well as numerous air stations. The inherently fluctuating nature of military operations proved invaluable training. Alaska National Guard troops, in town for their annual two-week training, were extended by three days and put to work protecting businesses and homes from looting.

"The military in Alaska, from the moment of the disaster, mustered their full strength to assist their neighbors," wrote Air Force Lt. Gen. R.J. Reeves, commander of Alaskan Command, in a letter to Army Maj. Gen. Eugene Salet, commander of the U.S. Army Training Center at Fort Gordon, Ga. "The military services proved once again that they are ready, willing, and able to cope with emergencies, whatever their origin."

Within two minutes of the earthqake, the Alaskan NORAD command center in the Alaskan Command headquarters building on Elmendorf Air Force Base became the hub for damage assessment, response and recovery.

The military around Anchorage re-established long-line communications within 12 minutes. Within 90 minutes, 95 percent of both Fort Richardson's and Elmendorf Air Force Base's local communications were restored, at least to a limited degree. Telephone communication was restored to the rest of the city within two hours, and calls for assistance began pouring in to the command center. The 1929th Communications Group, American Telephone and Telegraph, the Pacific Company, Western Union and Canadian telephone companies activated circuits to Chicago, San Francisco, and Dallas. Two and a half hours after the quake, the ACS building on Government Hill offered two teletypes and three phones for public use.

By March 31, only four days after the quake, four water-purification units were flown into Anchorage from Fort Lewis, Wash.

Georgiana Jana Llaneza, who was 11 years old at the time, recalled that 23 people took refuge in her family's relatively undamaged basement. The children gathered snow to melt for water for washing and the toilet. Snow boiled with a bit of bleach supplemented military-provided water. By April 5, water service was restored enough to provide potable water to most of the area.

Military personnel set up four field mess halls around Anchorage; although the only immediately available food was C-rations, Army cooks served hot meals for many of the locals and volunteer workers. One mess hall served 7,642 meals and used 198 pounds of coffee by April 2.

Elmendorf's 5040th Food Service Squadron, in four days, served 44,487 regular meals and 11,820 C-ration meals. Since all civilian bakeries were down, the one on base went to 24-hour operations, making 14,000 pounds of bread each day for four days.

The lack of food in the community often wasn't for lack of preparation.

Several people recalled that they had plenty of home-canned food stored. Glenna Silvan, who was 12 and living in Palmer, said her mother raised a massive garden every year and canned the food.

"The root cellar that was built into a hill had disgorged the year's food supply off its shelves onto the middle of the floor," she wrote. "There was a three-foot-high pile of home-canned salmon, green beans, berries, stew and canned caribou and moose meat, and every kind of homemade jam imaginable." Military and civilian personnel distributed typhoid shots due to the possibility of disease, given the standing water of breakup and the fact that many sewer lines were broken. Barracks around the bases were opened to civilians who needed lodging.

Given the remoteness of Alaska, airlift was critical in most cases to distributing food, clean water, and supplies to villages and islands. However, the air traffic control tower had been badly damaged, and was unusable. A transport pilot parked his plane and began conducting air traffic with his radio.

The Military Auxiliary Radio System and the Civil Defense net joined forces; the Fort Richardson MARS station handled outbound messages only, with inbound communications going to Fort Wainwright and Wildwood Station. By April 15, they'd handled 9,379 messages.

At dawn the next day, 17 C-123 Providers left Elmendorf's runway carrying equipment and supplies south and east to Valdez, Seward, and Kodiak. During the next 21 days, nearly four million pounds of cargo was flown out in Operation Helping Hand. Massive airlift operations by the Military Air Transport Service shattered records, hauling in two and a half million pounds of cargo - from baby food to heavy equipment - from Lower 48 bases.
Then-Lt. Col. Harry Heist was based at Dover Air Force Base, Del. On Easter Sunday, the base launched its first two missions in support of OHH with C-124 Globemaster II aircraft. At McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., they took on electric generators and vans to bring to Alaska.

During his short stay, Heist recalled Ship Creek, near the gate, was teeming with oblivious salmon.

The Military Air Transport Service, Alaska National Guard, and Alaskan Air Command collaborated to move a 520,00-pound Bailey Bridge from Elmendorf to the Kenai Peninsula, to replace the destroyed bridge at Cooper's Landing. Bailey bridges, frequently used in World War II, are pre-engineered and built on-site from a ready-to-assemble kit. Moving the bridge took five days and nearly 60 sorties.

One of the hardest-hit buildings was the eight-story Elmendorf hospital. Patients were evacuated into nurses' quarters and barracks - 181 patients, 18 babies, and 45 staff personnel made the move in just 18 minutes. With the help of the 64th Field Hospital from Fort Richardson, they created treatment rooms, a surgery theater, casualty rest areas, pediatric area and an obstetrics area. Within an hour after the quake, one woman had delivered twins by flashlight. Three trips by C-135 Stratolifters evacuated 58 patients from the base to Travis Air Force Base, Calif., for treatment.

U.S. Army Alaska fliers flew 589 hours on 556 sorties using mostly CH-21 Shawnee and U1A Otter fixed-wing aircraft. While they were primarily transporting equipment and people, they had a much broader mission.

The destruction was so massive and widespread, it was impossible to document from the ground. Military aircraft took more than 2,400 photos and filmed more than 4,200 feet of film to help responders and geologists determine the extent of the damage. Army OV-1 Mohawks took to the air March 28, and the Air Force's Strategic Air Command sent Reconnaissance Stratojets and B-58 Hustlers to Alaska to document Anchorage, Seward, Kodiak, Whittier, Valdez, and as much of southcentral Alaska as possible.

Alaska's hardscrabble mentality certainly contributed to the resilience of the area. But the military presence made it happen.

(Editor's note: Information for this article came from Good Friday, 1964: The Great Alaskan Earthquake, by Patrick M. Coullahan and Allan D. Lucht of the Society of Military Engineers; alaskanearthquake1964.wordpress.com, a collection of personal accounts; CAP Alaska Earthquake Report (1964), published by the Civil Air Patrol; The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964, Volume 1, by the National Research Council Committee on the Alaska Earthquake, and Doug Beckstead, JBER historian.)

Maintainer saves friend's life

by Airman 1st Class Ariel D. Delgado
47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs


3/24/2014 - LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- An aircraft maintainer with Laughlin's 47th Maintenance Directorate, through quick action, saved the life of fellow maintainer March 12.

A normal morning turned into a life-saving experience when Abe Herrera prevented Joe Hernandez, both 47th MX aircraft maintainers, from suffocating by performing the Heimlich maneuver after Hernandez began choking on a piece of food during breakfast.

"Maybe two or three times a week, the guys and I pitch in and take turns making breakfast around the 9 a.m. break," said Herrera. "It was my turn to cook so I made breakfast tacos."

As breakfast was being served, the crowd of workers filled the break room. They relaxed and talked as they enjoyed their tacos before having to get back to work.

As the break was coming to an end, Hernandez gasped, stood up and started to wave his arms frantically.

Herrera and those around him could see something was wrong but it wasn't until someone said, "I think he's choking," that Herrera moved to help, explained Herrera.

Herrera made his way to Hernandez and immediately patted him on his back. After failing to dislodge the food in Hernandez's throat, Herrera turned Hernandez around and began performing the Heimlich maneuver.

"I've never done the Heimlich maneuver myself, I've only seen it performed on others," said Herrera. "It all happened so fast. I just knew he was choking and I did what came naturally to me."

It took a few tries, but Hernandez was finally able to spit the food out and began breathing properly.

"I thank God he was around," said Hernandez. "He saved my life. I am very grateful to Abe."

It wasn't done for glory, it was just instinct, explained Herrera.

"Heroes are ordinary people who do extraordinary things," said John Jasper, 47th MX aircraft maintenance division chief. "Herrera's situational awareness and quick actions contributed to saving the life of Hernandez, he's a hero."

JBPH-H Airmen serve up seven courses of joint greatness

by Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs


3/21/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Air Force flight attendants from the 65th Airlift Squadron teamed up with their Army counterparts March 19 to serve up a Joint Service Flight Culinary Training Meal so delicious it received a standing ovation.

The flight culinary training meals are part of an ongoing effort between the two services to maximize on-the-job training opportunities and increase camaraderie and cross-flow of communication between the units.

For this exercise, the 65th AS Airmen joined Soldiers from the U.S. Army Priority Air Detachment in the kitchen to create a seven-course gourmet meal that was professionally plated and served it to members of both units whom functioned as food critics for the event. The 40 guests in attendance were each served a tasting portion of every dish and asked to provide feedback to the cooks.

Master Sgt. Dove George, 65th AS superintendent, said the training meals have been an integral part of training for the Air Force flight attendants, and though the approach is uncommon, the results have been an overwhelmingly successful, budget-friendly alternative to formal training.

"In the Air Force, becoming a flight attendant is a re-training opportunity," she said. "Our career field is made up of Airmen from a number of different AFSC's who don't necessarily come to the field with cooking experience. Our primary duty on the aircraft is passenger safety--not food. However, it's also our job to provide comfort. We fly top military and civilian leaders around the world, and it's our job to make sure they are comfortable, fed, well rested and arrive at their destination safe and ready to work."

George said the Army's different approach to manning their flight attendant program makes them an ideal source for OJT.

Whereas the Air Force flight attendants receive a basic 17-day course before arriving to the field, Army flight attendants are on special duty from their primary jobs in the dining facility, so each of the Soldiers have prior food service experience and technical training when they arrive on the job.

"Working together for the training meal is a win-win for everyone," George said. "The Soldiers get to continue practicing their skills, and the Airmen get to learn something new."

According to Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael Yaport, USAPAT flight steward NCO in charge, sharing their knowledge with the Air Force flight attendants helps them to continue to hone their own crafts.

"Preparing these meals is training for us too," he said. "It keeps us fresh and ensures we don't forget little things. It's awesome to be able to do joint ventures like these. When they ask us for help with training it's no problem because we're all on the same team working toward the common goal of serving good food and making people happy."

When working on the aircraft, flight attendant's are tasked with researching their passengers' likes and dislikes, planning menus and preparing the food--all while providing top-notch service. George said it is a flight attendant's job to know how to prepare any dish that is requested, and that's how the unique training program was born.

"We are constantly looking for new training opportunities, whether that's formal training at culinary school, or reaching out to other units like our Army counterparts or generals' aides," she said. "We use the internet, cookbooks, restaurant menus or ask for help. We do whatever we have to do to make sure that when we leave our home station and get on the jet we know how to prepare what our passengers have requested, and that takes a lot of OJT and personal passion for the job. I want to do the best job I can every single time. You want it to be a great experience for the passenger."

George said preparing the training meals give the Airmen dedicated time to experiment with new dishes and learn new techniques without the pressure of preparing it for the first time on the jet at 30, 000 feet in the air. It also allows the cooks to get feedback in real-time from someone other than their primary passenger.

"If we have amazing chefs in the kitchen doing things we've never done, then I can watch and learn and ask questions," she said. "This type of training is more hands-on and we're going to learn a lot more than we would in a large classroom setting."

George said the guest critiques and peer-to-peer feedback is one of the most valued aspects of the training.

"If we prepare a dish for the training meal, and a large majority of the guest says they didn't like something about it or it should have been presented differently, then that's something we will likely practice more before serving on a jet, or not serve again," she said. "Everything is a learning experience. Every time we prepare something there's an opportunity to learn, and that's how we become the best."

However it's not just flavor and technique being perfected during training. Presentation and professionalism are huge when dealing with the high-profile passengers the attendants transport.

"Our goal is to bring a smile to the faces of the people we serve," Yaport said. "When I see those smiles I know that as a team we have done a great job.

Denton mission sends Westover C-5 on delivery to Nicaragua

by MSgt. Timm Huffman
439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


3/24/2014 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- The spacious cargo bays in Westover's C-5B Galaxies are normally used to ferry military cargo, but a mission in late Janaury had one massive airlifter headed in a different direction, loaded with humanitarian aid.

The mission was part of the Denton Amendment Program, which allows for Department of Defense assets to deliver privatelydonated humanitarian aid supplies to approved countries. On this trip, Team Westover delivered food for starving children in Managua, Nicaragua.

To be exact, 180,000 pounds of food, loaded onto 25 pallets, the crew believed. The aircraft was three-quarters full," said Col. Jeffrey Hancock, the aircraft commander for the mission and Westover's wing vice commander. "In a normal mission we might carry 110,000 to 125,000 pounds of cargo, so this was a heavy load by all accounts."

The aircraft left Westover and overnighted at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., where it was loaded and the crew rested for the night. The next morning, the crew departed, en route for Managua. The four and- a-half hour flight was uneventful and the crew touched down without incident on the runway at the Augusto C. Sandino International Airport.

The airport, not designed to normally accommodate one of the world's largest cargo planes, offered some challenges. Hancock said they had to squeeze the C-5, which has a 222-foot wingspan, down a small taxiway and into a ramp area International Airport.

The airport, not designed to normally accommodate one of the world's largest cargo planes, offered some challenges. Hancock said they had to squeeze the C-5, which has a 222-foot wingspan, down a small taxiway and into a ramp area with very little wing clearance. Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Colucci, a 337th Airlift Squadron loadmaster on the mission, had to get out and walk beside the plane to ensure the wing tip didn't clip anything along the perimeter.

Once the pilots had parked the C-5 the crew prepared to download the humanitarian cargo. Because it was a civilian airport, there wasn't aerial port support. This meant the crew, which included four loadmasters, had to rely on the limited services provided by their host.

"That was the hard part. We see this one, rickety old forklift rattling towards the plane and we just looked at each other thinking 'This is going to take forever!'" said Hancock. Despite questions of whether the forklift would even support the weight of one pallet, let alone 25, the loadmasters got the aircraft unloaded in about two hours.

"We made do, greased the skids, pushed a little harder and got the job done," said Master Sgt. Heriberto Ortiz, one of the other loadmasters.

The Westover loadmaster brought more than just his can-do attitude on his first humanitarian mission, though. When a communication issue arose between the pilots and the airport flight manager, Ortiz, who speaks Spanish, quickly diffused the situation by acting as a translator.

"It wasn't a big deal," said the loadmaster. "He thought we were trying to keep the flight plan from him and we simply didn't have it available yet. I explained the situation, and got the manager what he needed."

With the download complete, the crew "buttoned up" the plane, refueled and returned to the States. Mission complete.

"This was something we don't get to do very often, but it is very rewarding because it helps those in need," said Hancock.

Inspirational Vandenberg Women: Launch group commander beats breast cancer, continues to serve

by Staff Sgt. Erica Picariello
30th Space Wing Public Affairs


3/21/2014 -  VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Editor's note: This is the third story in a four-part series on inspirational Vandenberg women.

Many people hum when they're happy or bored, but not many people have hummed because their life depends on it.

The 30th Launch Group commander did just that while getting an ultrasound on a suspicious lump in her right breast tissue.

"I can still remember when the doctor performing the ultrasound had this worried look on her face and said, 'hum,'" said Col. Shahnaz Punjani, 30th Launch Group commander. "I thought she was talking to the resident but she was talking to me... she was telling me to hum. So I hummed, and it turns out that sound doesn't attenuate through a tumor. You can see little sound waves bouncing around the circumference of a tumor. So I was told I needed to come in for a biopsy the following week."

In February 2011, Punjani had found a lump on her breast, but wasn't concerned. She had been down this road before.

"I had a lump when I was in my twenties, earlier in my career, and when I had it examined it was a cyst that eventually went away, so I didn't think anything of this lump," Punjani said. "Just to be sure, I went to a breast cancer surgeon and he told me not to worry about it. It was just a cyst."

The ultrasound technician and civilian doctor disagreed. They told Punjani they saw something they didn't like, and she would need a biopsy.

"I was told I needed to come in for a biopsy the following week," the Punjani said. "So I was still sitting there thinking, fat, dumb and happy -- no big deal, right? They did the biopsy and the idiot that I am, I went by myself. I know that my husband would have gone with me, but I just thought it was no big deal."

In March 2011, Punjani was teaching at the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy at Fort McNair, in Washington D.C. when she received a call that would change her life.

"The woman on the phone said, 'I'm sorry to tell you...' and then everybody that gets a cancer diagnosis tells the story the same way," Punjani said. "All I heard was, 'blah blah blah you have cancer blah blah blah...' that's all you hear. You are stunned. I walked out of [class], grabbed my stuff, went home and cried on my husband's shoulder. I didn't even make it out of the garage."

The medical professional told Punjani that she had stage one, triple negative breast cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society's website, triple negative breast cancer used to describe breast cancers whose cells lack estrogen receptors and progesterone receptors.

"Triple negative is the most aggressive form of breast cancer, and it has a greatest likelihood for recurrence," Punjani said. "Other breast cancers have a recurrence rate of one percent, mine was 10 percent. The only treatment that exists for triple negative breast cancer is surgery, radiation and chemo. For some of the other breast cancers out there you can take a drug after your treatment is done to reduce the likelihood of it returning by reducing whatever it is in your body that feeds it. Cancers feed off different things: For example, ER positive cancer feeds off estrogen - so they'll give you a drug that reduces estrogen so that the cancer can't grow and feed off that. There isn't any drug like that for triple negative because they don't know what it feeds off yet. So there is no treatment to prevent or reduce the likelihood of recurrence other than surgery and chemotherapy."

Knowing she was facing surgery, Punjani chose a surgical option that would eliminate all risk of the cancer reoccurring in her breasts.

"For surgery you can do a lumpectomy or a mastectomy," Punjani said. "Long term prognosis for both is about the same - but since my cancer was more likely to recur and there is no long term drug that could prevent recurrence, I went with double mastectomy because [the cancer] is also more likely to occur in the other breast."
According to the American Cancer Society website, a lumpectomy removes the tumor whereas a mastectomy is surgery to remove the entire breast including all of the breast tissue, sometimes along with other nearby tissues. Punjani felt like this was the best option for her future goals and family.

"I talked to a friend who had done a preemptive mastectomy because she had two close relatives who died of cancer before the age of 30. I decided to go with the double mastectomy so I wouldn't have to undergo the six week radiation treatment and to reduce the likelihood of recurrence," Punjani said. "Also, being a mother, I wanted to give myself peace-of-mind."

After the double mastectomy, Punjani underwent eight, one-week sessions of aggressive chemotherapy.

"I underwent dose-dense chemotherapy because you I don't have a lot of 'core morbidity' meaning that I was young and my body could handle the high-dose chemicals," Punjani said. "Chemotherapy was exhausting. The nice thing about when this all hit - I was diagnosed in March. Surgery in April and I had chemotherapy over the summer when class wasn't in-session so I didn't have to miss much work."

Unlike other cancers, Punjani didn't have to wait years for her cancer-free diagnosis.
"The other thing that's weird about cancer is that even though it's limited to the breast there could be microbiotic bits of cancer left in your body... and there would be no way to know. So after the tumor is removed through surgery, we do chemotherapy to basically kill any little bits of cancer that could be hanging around to get it all," Punjani said. "So I consider myself cancer free because there is no way to tell me otherwise."
Punjani credits her positive attitude through cancer diagnosis and treatment to support from helping agencies and family.

"My experience with cancer is one of the reasons I'm so supportive of mental health treatment," Punjani said. "I went monthly to a support group that focused on women my age. To me, [the support group] was a way for me to get feedback from other people. It helped me know what to expect and to get encouragement from other people who were going through what I was going through or had already been there. Also, I was so lucky because my husband Frank was really there for me. I was very thankful for him. He took everything, he did it all. He was amazing."

Punjani has committed over 20 years in service to the military and didn't let the disease stop her, and she wants others to know that this diagnosis isn't a means to an end of a military career.

"You feel isolated, like you're the only person in the world that's going through it even though you know you're not," Punjani said. "That's why I'm so open about [what I went through] because I want other people to know you can continue to serve after cancer. It inspired me when people told me that they had cancer and continued to serve. Plus, I want to tell people, no kidding - do your appointments when you are supposed to do them. For Airmen out there who may have cancer now, remember: This is totally beatable. Your career is not over, and your life as you know it is not over. It will get better."

Navy Terminates Ice Camp


From Commander, Submarine Forces Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commander, Submarine Forces (COMSUBFOR) announced an early end to Ice Camp Nautilus on March 23. The ice camp was a temporary structure built and operated especially for Ice Exercise 2014 (ICEX-2014).

Personnel at Ice Camp Nautilus, which is built into the ice floe north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, began a careful breakdown of the camp Sunday.

ICEX-2014 began March 17 and was scheduled to continue through March 30. However, large shifts in wind direction created instabilities in the wind-driven ice floes of the Arctic Ocean, and these changes in the prevailing winds between March 18th and March 20th led to multiple fractures in the ice near the camp. These cracks prevented the use of several airfields used for transporting personnel and equipment to the ice camp. The rapidly changing conditions of the ice, along with extremely low temperatures and poor visibility hampered helicopter operations and made sustaining the runway potentially risky.

The Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) and the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hampton (SSN 767) will continue to gather data and conduct ice-related exercises until they transit out from under the ice.

Submarines have conducted under-ice operations in the Arctic regions in support of inter-fleet transit, training, cooperative allied engagements and operations for more than 50 years. USS Nautilus (SSN 571) made the first submerged transit to the North Pole in 1958. USS Skate (SSN 578) was the first U.S. submarine to surface through arctic ice at the North Pole in March 1959. Since those events, the U.S. Submarine Force has completed more than 120 Arctic exercises with the last being conducted in 2012. The last ice camp was established in 2011. Since 1987, most of these have been conducted in conjunction with Royal Navy submarines.

Hagel Discusses Military Professionalism with Leadership Team



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with his leadership team today to discuss military professionalism, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said.

Civilian and military leaders met to discuss ways to foster ideas for how the institution can continue ensuring professionalism across the force, Kirby said during a news conference.

Hagel values the inputs, opinions and perspectives of his leadership team, which includes senior DOD civilians, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the combatant commands, Kirby said. Hagel “is taking advantage of this opportunity today to seek those perspectives,” he added. “He will continue to make this a priority in the weeks and months ahead.”

Kirby noted that Hagel and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have released a public service announcement on this issue.

The meeting today is one of many that senior leaders in the department hold, Kirby said, adding that he will have an announcement soon on Hagel’s selection of a senior advisor for military professionalism.

‘The secretary said it himself when he was here with you not long ago: ‘Ethics and character are the foundation of an institution and a society. They must be constantly emphasized every level of command: top to bottom,’” Kirby told reporters. “He and his leadership team remain committed to that end.”

‘Boots to Business’ Helps Troops Become Entrepreneurs



By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2014 – When Sandra Gonzales and Tony Turin were enrolled in the Defense Department’s Transition GPS course, they found their career calling through an optional entrepreneur track called “Boots to Business.”

The Transition GPS assists service members with re-entering the civilian sector and offers three optional tracks after the basic week-long program for transitioning troops and spouses who are interested in going to technical or vocational schools, attending college, or starting a business. Transition GPS replaces the former Transition Assistance Program.

The Small Business Administration sponsors the optional Boots to Business track with a two-day introduction to the program, followed by an eight-week online course through Syracuse University for students to develop their business plans.

Gonzales, a former Army nurse, is also a military spouse. Married to an artillery Army officer, Gonzales knew she needed a practical business that would offer her family stability.

“I chose the entrepreneurship track because I really needed a career that would offer me flexibility, as well as portability to juggle the roles of spouse, mom and entrepreneur,” she said.

Gonzales is in the start-up phase of her business, Docere eLearning Solutions LLC, in Lawton Okla. It’s an educational consulting group that creates interactive learning programs for children from kindergarten through 12th grade, the corporate sector and health care organizations.

With a master’s degree in nursing leadership and a graduate certificate in health care education, she said, she was not able to find a job in health care information technology that allowed her the flexibility she needed to home-school her children and make the military’s frequent moves.

“I [created] my own opportunities to have some longevity with a company and use my degree to help communities I really care about: the military community and the special needs community,” Gonzales explained.

Her military training gave her the leadership experience to take on her own business, she said. “I felt very well prepared to become an entrepreneur,” she added.

Her classmates shared similar goals and aspirations in the two-day introductory portion of the track, she said, and the eight week online course helped her break down the “formidable task” of writing a comprehensive business plan into smaller, more manageable parts.

Gonzales said her instructors gave her feedback on her assignments and helped her when she needed it.

“Boots to Business really opened a lot of doors for me,” she said, adding that she had a lot of mentoring through her local business counselors and access to a lot of resources. “You’re surrounded by a very good network of entrepreneurs looking to help you.”

Through Boots to Business, Gonzales also received an unexpected boost to her business. She learned during her training that she could enter competitions to earn seed money for her venture. As she focused on her business plan, she kept the competition in mind, she said.

“It not only prepared me to compete, it gave my venture a blueprint of how I’m going to [proceed],” she added.

Gonzales won first place in the initial and final competitions for the best business plan, earning $25,000 at each level for a total of $50,000 as startup money for eLearing Solutions. Using every resource made available to her in Boots to Business, she said, it’s surprising what’s available through the SBA’s entrepreneurial program.

It’s vital to use mentoring help and other resources in the Boots to Business program, she said.

“It’s just like the military, [where] we couldn’t do it alone, and the same holds true for starting a new business,” she said. “You need to surround yourself with people who are going to help you and are invested in helping you succeed.”

Army Capt. (Dr.) Tony Turin is an optometrist at Womack Army Medical Clinic at Fort Bragg, N.C., who knew he wanted to establish his own clinic when he separates from the military April 18. Like Gonzales, Turin took the mandatory week-long transition GPS course and said the program gave him peace of mind about transitioning back into the civilian sector.

“You’re with a group of people in same situation,” he explained. “So much of our military lives have been planned out for us, and it can be a pretty intimidating time, knowing you’re going to transition and be on your own.”

Through Boots to Business, a wealth of knowledge is available to people, he said.

“It opens your eyes to what’s available and lets you know as a veteran you won’t be left out there on your own,” he added. “Those five [Transition GPS] days are worthwhile, [because there is] a network of people there to help you during your transition.”

Now in his seventh week of the eight-week online class, Turin said, Boots to Business is helping him refine his business plan for his soon-to-open Mount Hood Eye Care practice in Sandy, Ore., which will open two days after he separates from the Army.

While he had a general business plan in mind before he took Boots to Business, he said, the entrepreneurial track helped him solidify his plan and get rid of unnecessary fluff.

“I thought the online course would be a cookie-cutter [format],” he said. “When you submit assignments, you get personal feedback. It was a very interactive course.”

Turin called the Boots to Business track phenomenal. “I went into it thinking I had a good established business plan and ideas about how I wanted to market my business, and the seven weeks has really helped guide and refine it,” he said.

Because he’s “clinically minded,” Turin said, it’s helpful to have a professional in marketing, for example, take a look at one’s marketing plan. “It’s just worth your while to get an expert’s opinion, and they’re available to us for free.”

Turin said students in Boots to Business begin with a concept and build a business plan while they learn about demographics, legal issues, retail, hiring employees, insurance and many more topics essential to starting a business. “If anyone has inclinations to start a business down the road, do it,” he said.

He called the initial two-day exposure to starting a business “laid-back,” and while a person could have 10 ideas, they’re examined in class. A weeding-out process begins to determine what’s pertinent to starting a business.

The eight-week online course, he added, “Gets more refined and helps guide and prepare you for the real world. And start early –- it’s a great opportunity.”

713th COS member captures PACAF officer of the year awards

by Capt. David Tomiyama
713th Combat Operations Squadron Public Affairs


3/24/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Maj. Alison Hamel, 713th Combat Operations Squadron A2 Intelligence officer, was named the 2013 Headquarters Pacific Air Forces Reserve/Guard Officer of the Year and the 2013 PACAF Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance Awards Program Reserve Officer of the Year. The awards cap off a year in which she spent the longest time in one place since 2007.

"It's definitely an honor, not so much from the perspective of winning, but the fact that people thought highly enough of me that they wanted to take the time to submit me for the award in the first place," Hamel said. "Writing up these annual packages is no quick feat."

In 2013, Hamel was critical to the PACAF intelligence community. As a traditional reservist, she spent all of 2013 supporting A2 and A5's day-to-day operations as well as exercises, humanitarian support missions and regional issues.

"Maj. Hamel has been an instrumental member of the PACAF ISR Directorate and of the A2 Operations Division total force helping bridge the gap while two active duty members are deployed," said Col. Eva Jenkins, PACAF director of ISR. "She is most deserving of the award as her expertise was key during several events including Operation Damayan, Exercise Keen Edge 2014, the Area Defense Integration Zone implementation as well as several strategy initiatives to advance the PACAF commander's theater strategy construct."

Hamel joined the 713th COS, Det. 1 in October 2012. Previously, she was an individual mobilization augmentee with the 70th ISR Wing at Fort Meade, Md., but was on military personnel appropriate orders for eight months in 2012 at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Belgium before moving to Hawaii.

After leaving active duty in 2007, Hamel rolled into the Reserves. Since 2008, she moved every few years or even twice in the same year while attached to the 70th ISRW. Some of the areas she called "home" for a period of time included: intelligence school at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas; a deployment to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan; SHAPE; and U.S. Pacific Command at Camp Smith, Hawaii. It was during her time as the Defense Intelligence Agency directorate of analysis representative to the PACOM Joint Intelligence Operations Center in 2010 that had Hamel thinking Hawaii would be the next place she would call home.

"I got MPA orders to the PACOM JIOC in 2010 and loved it here," Hamel said. "So when it was time to change to a new reserve unit, I was determined to find a billet in Hawaii and take the plunge and just move. This is the longest I have been in one place so Hawaii feels the closest to a home."

Hamel is scheduled to attend the U.S. Army's Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., for a year beginning this summer. After that, her options are open for the next adventure.

"I hope to return to Hawaii and remain with the 713th COS or find a joint billet PACOM," Hamel said. "Since Air Force Reserve Command is sending me to school, they may try to direct me somewhere that they think is in the best interests of the reserves and my development as an officer. That's the great things about the reserves---I can always say no and choose my own adventure!"

U.S. Sends Sea Search Equipment to Australia



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 24, 2014 – As the United States continues to support the search for the Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, the Navy is sending a towed pinger locator, as well as a Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle, to Perth, Australia, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said today.

The pinger could be used to locate the missing airliner’s black box, while the autonomous underwater vehicle has sophisticated sonars that could be used to locate wreckage. Malaysian officials said evidence points to the plane crashing in the Indian Ocean west of Australia.

The equipment has left New York for Australia and should be there tomorrow, Kirby said during a Pentagon news conference.

“There will be a small number of people going along with them,” he added. “In fact, I think there are two on the flight with the gear itself, and then another eight folks will be flying separately to Perth to prepare the equipment.”

Nothing has been easy with this search; Kirby noted that no debris field has been sighted yet. “We don’t have anything to indicate where the aircraft is, or even that it is down at the bottom of the ocean,” he told reporters.

But Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, “made a very prudent and wise decision to move the equipment that could be useful should a debris field be found, or should we think we can get close to where the black box may be,” Kirby said. “He made a decision to get that gear there now so that, again, should we be in that position, it will be a lot easier to get it on station.”

Malaysian officials made the request for the equipment from Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week.

The Bluefin autonomous underwater vehicle is an underwater unmanned vehicle that has side-scanning sonar and a multi-beam echo sounder. It would be useful should there be a debris field or other underwater objects that need to be examined. The Bluefin can dive to 14,700 feet, and has an endurance of 25 hours at three knots.

If needed, the equipment will operate off an Australian commercial ship. Neither piece of equipment needs to be embarked on warships.

Meanwhile, U.S. participation in the aerial search continues, the admiral said.