Military News

Friday, April 04, 2014

Airman builds ties with local orchestra

by Staff Sgt. Robert Barnes
U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West


4/4/2014 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- Tech. Sgt. Anna Andrew, United States Air Force Band of the Golden West clarinetist, performed March 22 with the Solano Symphony at the KROC Center and at the Vacaville Performing Arts Theater March 23.

As the featured soloist, Andrew performed Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's "Clarinet Concerto in A Major."

"I was extremely excited to share the stage with the musicians of our Solano Symphony," Andrew said. "We are so fortunate to have an orchestra right here in our community and it's
an honor to be able to build a relationship with them as an active duty Air Force musician."

Solano Symphony contributes to the vitality of artistic life in Solano County by providing an outlet for local musicians, supporting the local art culture, as well as featuring local guest artists. Andrew's guest appearance demonstrated the Air Force's desire to support the local music community, providing outreach and an active presence in the arts.

This cooperation not only sustained the professional image of the Air Force in general, but it also showed the support of this local symphony for military members. This collaboration helped to strengthen the relationship Travis has with civilian organizations in its community.

"Both concerts were wonderful. Sergeant Andrew's performance of Mozart's concerto was outstanding, flawless and beautiful. Our audiences enjoyed her playing very much and gave her
a long standing ovation at both venues," said Semyon Lohss, conductor of the symphony.

A native of Nyssa, Ore., Andrew graduated from the University of Texas-San Antonio with a bachelor of music degree. She also earned a master of music degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

After graduating from Basic Military Training as an honor graduate in 1999, Andrew was assigned to the Band of the U.S. Air Force Reserve, Robins Air Force Base, Ga. While there, she performed with such notable guest artists as Sandi Patty, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Celine Dion, Take Six, Vince Gill and Amy Grant.

In 2011, Andrew was transferred to Travis Air Force Base where she currently serves as principal clarinetist in the Concert Band and Golden West Winds woodwind quintet.

Collaborating with local orchestras is a perfect way of building domestic partnerships, one of the Air Force's core priorities. This performance helped to develop, guide and sustain relationships between the Band of the Golden West and Solano Symphony for mutual benefit. It allowed a military musician to demonstrate the excellence of all Air Mobility Command Airmen as a representative of Travis Air Force Base. In other words, it gave the Air Force a face and a presence within the historically hard-to-reach cultural arts realm.

Building partnerships is an integral part of being an Airman. Through musical collaboration of this kind, relationships based upon trust are developed to improve both organizations and the local community as a whole. This is an example of the pride and professionalism shown throughout the Air Force.

Andrew and the other 69 professional Airman musicians from the Band of the Golden West perform often in the local area. To find out more about their free concerts, visit the band's website at www.bandofthegoldenwest.af.mil.

Hagel Confers With Norwegian Defense Minister



American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel discussed mutual concerns with Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide recently.

Eriksen Soreide thanked Hagel for U.S. support for former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg as the next NATO secretary general.

Stoltenberg will succeed Anders Fogh Rasmussen Oct. 1. Hagel told Eriksen Soreide that the consensus in selection of a new secretary general was a strong sign that a cohesive alliance was able to work through a leadership transition even during crisis.

The two defense leaders discussed actions in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. Hagel thanked Eriksen Soreide for Norway’s prompt suspension of military-to-military engagements with Russia, and support for initial sanctions.

When the Ukraine crisis escalated, Eriksen Soreide noted Norway is a strong supporter of the work to reassure allies, and that Norway currently is assessing several specific measures to contribute to the effort.

Osan to host Pacific Thunder

by 7th Air Force Public Affairs

4/4/2014 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Osan Air Base will host exercise Pacific Thunder, an annual combined Combat Search and Rescue exercise focused on enhancing the combat readiness of U.S. and Republic of Korea Air Forces through combined combat search and rescue training.

The week-long exercise, beginning April 14, will replicate scenarios designed to train crews to execute and validate tactics, techniques and procedures, as well as integrate with combined air and command and control assets. The exercise will include A-10s and F-16s from the 51st Fighter Wing, F-16s from the 8th Fighter Wing, AV-8Bs from USMC's VAQ-223, HH-60 Pave Hawks from the 18th Wing and numerous other ROKAF aircraft and accompanying personnel.

Exercise Pacific Thunder is part of a continuous exercise program to enhance interoperability between U.S. and ROK forces and is not tied to any real-world or specific threats. These exercises highlight the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the two nations, help to ensure peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to stability in the Northeast Asia region.

Jets take to air because of crew chief care

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


4/4/2014 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- These Airmen put jets in the air - it's just that simple. Without them, the Wolf Pack couldn't execute its mission of taking the fight North, if ever needed.

In a nutshell, these technicians are responsible for the overall health of the jet. They take care of it the way a mother takes care of her infant.

Crew chiefs are charged with a lot of responsibilities, including the maintenance and inspection of the aircraft, as well as an overall check of the aircraft before the pilot arrives.

"It's my responsibility to ensure the jet is completely prepared and the pilot is confident and comfortable in flying the jet," said Senior Airmen Saeed Oglesby, 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 80th Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant dedicated crew chief. "We get them set and prepared to get into the cockpit and ensure everything is 100 percent ready for takeoff."

Once the pilot is introduced to the jet, the crew chief and pilot review all the required forms and ensure everything is to the pilot's liking.

"Once we review the paperwork, I accompany the pilot on a second walk around where everything on the jet is checked for at least the third time that day," said Oglesby. "I then assist the pilot into the cockpit as he buckles up and loads everything needed for the flight."

While crew chiefs go through a rigorous training program before getting stationed at their first base, like most other jobs in the Air Force, a lot is learned on the job.

"I love my job because it's challenging," said the crew chief. "I'm always constantly moving, I always have something to do and I also get to meet new people. The Juvats [80th Fighter Squadron] train me day in and day out. They throw me into the thick of things, which enables me to learn more in less time."

Being a crew chief in the Air Force is undoubtedly a difficult job - but it's the mission that motivates these men and women to show up to work every day, no matter what.

"There are days when you just don't want to work," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Golitko, 8th AMXS, 80th AMU dedicated crew chief. "The fact that we do have such an important mission here is the driving force in keeping me motivated to come in no matter what. This mission has to get done - that's just all there is to it."

Crew chiefs are appreciated by many, including the pilot Oglesby worked with at a recent jet prep.

"I just moved here so I haven't had the chance to work with many crew chiefs, but so far they're great," said 1st Lt. Stowe Symon, 80th FS pilot. "I've worked with Golitko a few times and he does an awesome job."

No matter if it's day or night, hot or cold or if these Airmen are working while in chemical warfare gear, they always ensure jets are able to fly - which is why the Wolf Pack is ready, 24/7/365.

Mobility Airmen exercise disaster response on anniversary of US’ largest quake

by Maj Michael Meridith
18th Air Force


4/4/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- A half century after the largest earthquake in U.S. history struck Alaska, thousands of military personnel, including mobility Airmen, travelled to the state, and to locations across the country, to exercise the nation's disaster response capability.

Alongside interagency partners from the lead Federal Emergency Management Agency and state and local authorities, more than 500 Airmen and 11 aircraft from nearly a dozen Air National Guard and active duty units were essential to the success of U.S. Transportation Command's Turbo Challenge 2014 (TC 14) exercise, held from March 27 to April 3.

TC 14 is one of several linked national exercises designed to test the interagency's response in the wake of a major earthquake in the vicinity of Anchorage, Alaska. Other exercisees include U.S. Northern Command's Ardent Sentry 2014, which simulates defense support to disaster relief operations from a "cold start"and USTRANSCOM's Ultimate Caduceus which focuses on medical support, patient processing, and aeromedical evacuation.

Although primarily centered on the affected disaster area around Anchorage, the exercises also saw "live fly" flights of simulated patients from Cheyenne, Wyo., to Denver, Colo., Puget Sound, Wash., Salt Lake City, Utah, Boise, Idaho, and Portland, Ore..

According to officials, the stats are impressive: by the end of the exercise, mobility Airmen had simulated the movement of over 3,000 relief and rescue workers, the evacuation of nearly 500 patients, and the delivery of more than 3,000 tons of equipment in support of simulated relief operations. However, one of the most significant results was the strengthening of the partnerships between military and civilian authorities.

"The level of detail in preparation by exercise planners and collaboration across local, state, Air Operations Centers, functional components, combatant commands and the interagency was impressive," said Seth Beaubien, 18th Air Force's lead planner for the exercises. "Exercises like Turbo Challenge, Ultimate Caduceus, and Ardent Sentry give us the opportunity to put the totality of DoD's transportation system to bear in a complex catastrophe scenario. Alaskans and all Americans can be confident that in a defense support to civil authorities disaster situation the citizens, state, and FEMA will receive the complete and immediate support of the rapid global air mobility enterprise."


Beaubien's sentiments were echoed by Col. Tami Rougeau, Director of Patient Stage during Ultimate Caduceus, who noted "I'm proud of what our people were able to accomplish in such a short time. In a matter of hours, we were able to stand up a disaster aeromedical staging facility to oversee the aeromedical evacuation of quake victims and provide the airlift and contingency response forces needed to support relief efforts and workers. It really was amazing to be a part of it all."

Rougeau also noted the enduring value of exercises like these, made all the more apparent in the wake of the recent earthquake in Chile and tremors on the U.S.' own West Coast.

"We know disasters will continue to place intense demands on our capabilities," she said. "Fortunately, these kinds of exercises help us to build up the relationships and skills we need to respond effectively."

Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic Transforms the Lives of 400 of America’s Veterans and Active-Duty Service Members



DAV, VA Bring Together Non-profits, Businesses, Volunteers for World-Renowned Adaptive Sports

Snowmass, Co. (April 4, 2014)– Nearly 400 ill and injured veterans and active-duty service-men and women from across the nation are in Snowmass, Colorado this week for the 28th Annual National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic (NDVWSC). Co-hosted by DAV (Disabled American Veterans), the leading veteran service organization supporting wounded, ill and injured veterans of all eras, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the clinic promotes rehabilitation through adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and offers an introduction to other adaptive activities and sports. This year’s event kicked off on Saturday with opening ceremonies, and will run through Friday, April 4.

NDVWSC is recognized as the world leader in adaptive winter sports instruction. Participants are exposed to the very latest in adaptive equipment, which is often retrofitted on the spot to fit each individual’s unique needs. Nearly 200 specially trained, certified ski instructors, other rehabilitative specialists and dedicated volunteers assist participants. The clinic offers a range of programs, seminars and activities, including adaptive skiing in sit-skis, mono-skis and bi-skis, scuba diving, rock climbing, wheelchair self-defense, sled hockey and snowmobiling.

Clinic attendees include men and women service members and veterans with profound disabilities such as spinal cord injuries, orthopedic amputations, visual impairments, certain neurological problems and other injuries. Veterans with inpatient or outpatient status at a Department of Veterans Affairs medical facility receive first priority for participating in the clinic. The event has been a starting point for many Paralympic athletes.

To date nearly 8,000 ill and injured American veterans have participated in the Winter Sports Clinic. In addition to facilitation by DAV and VA, sponsors such as Ford Motor Company, Cisco, Prudential, UnitedHealthcare Military and Veterans, Veterans Canteen Service, Military.com, DAV Department of Missouri and DAV Missouri Chapter 2 give support and time, including volunteer activities alongside participants.

For more information, please visit www.wintersportsclinic.org or www.wintersportsclinic.va.gov.

About DAV
DAV empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity. It is dedicated to a single purpose: fulfilling our promises to the men and women who served. DAV does this by ensuring that veterans and their families can access the full range of benefits available to them; fighting for the interests of America’s injured heroes on Capitol Hill; and educating the public about the great sacrifices and needs of veterans transitioning back to civilian life. DAV, a non-profit organization with 1.2 million members, was founded in 1920 and chartered by the U. S. Congress in 1932. Learn more at http://www.dav.org.

About VA
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of National Veterans Sports Programs & Special Events is the recognized world leader in rehabilitative and recreational therapies for disabled Veterans. VA promotes the rehabilitation of body and spirit by operating adaptive sports clinics and competitions around the nation. Learn more about VA's adaptive sports programs and partnerships at www.va.gov/adaptivesports.

Soldiers Killed at Fort Hood Identified



By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2014 – The three soldiers killed in the April 2 shootings at Fort Hood, Texas, have been identified while the search continues for answers that might explain the motive for the killings.

Army Lt. Gen. Mark. A. Milley today identified those killed as: 

-- Army Sgt. First Class Daniel Michael Ferguson, 39, from Mulberry, Fla., enlisted in July 1993 as a transportation management coordinator. He was assigned to the 49th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, as a transportation supervisor. He had deployed to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan.

-- Army Staff Sgt. Carlos Lazaney Rodriguez, 38, from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, enlisted in February 1995 as a unit supply specialist. He was assigned to the 21st Combat Support Hospital, 1st Medical Brigade, as a unit supply sergeant. He had deployed to Kuwait and Iraq.

-- Army Sgt. Timothy Wayne Owens, 37, from Effingham, Ill., enlisted in July 2004 as a motor transport operator, He was assigned to the 49th Transportation Battalion, 4th Sustainment Brigade, 13th Sustainment Command, as a heavy vehicle driver. He had deployed to Iraq and Kuwait.

A memorial service is planned for April 9, Milley said. Further details will be available at www.forthoodpresscenter.com.

Six soldiers remain hospitalized, the general said. Three are at Scott and White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas, and three are at Darnall Army Medical Center at Fort Hood.

Ten other soldiers wounded in the shootings have been released and returned to duty, Milley said.

“They're all strong, each of them is resilient, their families are resilient and ... they are dealing very well with a difficult situation,” he said.

Milley said he was “incredibly impressed” with the staffs at both hospitals and the entire response of the Fort Hood emergency responders and the community at large.

Investigators have started looking closely at the background of the alleged shooter, Spc. Ivan Lopez, the general said.

“We are digging into his combat experience in Iraq,” he said. “And so far, we have not discovered any specific traumatic event, wounds received in action, contact with the enemy or anything else specific that he may have been exposed to while deployed. But we are continuing to examine this line of inquiry.”

It does not appear that any of Lopez’ underlying medical conditions were a direct precipitating factor in the shootings, Milley said.

"We believe that the immediate precipitating factor was more likely an escalating argument in his unit area,” he said, noting that a detailed investigation is still ongoing.

“We do have credible information he was involved in a verbal altercation with soldiers from his unit just prior to him allegedly opening fire,” said Chris Grey, the chief of public affairs/media for U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command at Quantico, Va., and spokesperson for the multi-agency law enforcement task force heading up the investigation.

Investigators have not uncovered any history of criminal convictions or previous criminal activity by Lopez, he said.

“At this time we have not established a concrete motive, but we will do everything in our power to do so,” Grey noted. “Given that the alleged shooter is deceased, the possibility does exist that we may never know exactly why the alleged shooter did what he did.”

At this time, all evidence indicates Lopez was acting alone, he said. Initial reports of two shooters are now attributed to the chaotic nature of the situation and the alleged shooter’s movement from location to location, Grey added.

“It is critical to point out that we are not ruling anything in or out at this early stage of the investigation,” he said, “and we will continue to aggressively pursue any and all credible leads and information associated with this case.”

The crime scene encompasses an area of about two city blocks, Grey said, and includes three significant crime scenes inside buildings and three outdoor areas of focus.

"Those scenes are currently being processed by highly trained CID special agents, Texas Rangers and members of the FBI's elite evidence response team,” he said.

The investigation team is robust and multi-agency, Milley said. About 80 FBI agents and forensic specialists, 20 Texas Rangers, 50 Army CID agents, Fort Hood military police investigation teams and local law enforcement officers are contributing to the investigation.

“Additionally, we have specialists in medical investigations on hand to assist, and altogether we have over 150 professionally trained investigators from federal, state and local agencies,” Milley said.

Guardsman assists unconscious women in accident

by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
116th Air Control Wing


3/28/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- A Georgia Air National Guardsman traveling to work at here March 27, came upon a two car accident just south of the base and took quick action to assist an unconscious woman.

Senior Master Sgt. William Greenway, superintendent of the 116th Security Forces Squadron, along with an unidentified civilian, stopped to provide assistance when they noticed one of the vehicles involved in the accident had penetrated a section of the base fence.

"When I approached the vehicle, I noticed a woman partially in the driver's seat and lying on her back over the cars console," said Greenway. "She had blood on her face and was unconscious and barely breathing."

With all the vehicle doors locked, Greenway and the civilian forced their fingers between the glass and the frame, pulling the window until it shattered.

Jumping in the backseat, the Security Forces Airman immediately put his first-aid training to use opening the victim's airway while supporting and immobilizing her neck.

"I kept speaking into her ear letting her know everything was okay and that medical help was on the way," said Greenway. "I held her for approximately 10 minutes until the paramedics arrived."

While emergency personnel cut the passenger door off, Greenway shielded the victim from the glass and assisted in clearing the woman from the vehicle.

"As a Georgia Guardsman, I am proud to lend a hand to anyone in need," he said. "I didn't think about it, I just reacted. My training was a part of it, but more importantly, I believe my actions were based on the Air Force core values that are instilled in me."

Nationals Honor Washington Navy Yard Before Home Opener



By Shawn Miller, Naval District Washington Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The team joined representatives from the Navy, first responders, and victims' family members to unveil a plaque honoring the lives lost and emergency personnel who responded to the shootings.

The plaque reads, "In remembrance of the lives lost and the lives forever changed by the events of Sept. 16, 2013. For our neighbors at the Navy Yard, we stand beside you."

Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, said the plaque and the support of the Nationals team carries the remembrance of the fallen outside WNY and into the public.

"For their service, we honor them," Greenert said to those in attendance at the unveiling. "Because of the Washington Nationals and all of you here today, we will never forget that."

Also offering remarks were Nationals' owner Mark Lerner and Washington, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray.

"We thank our neighbors at the Navy Yard, and all of you, for allowing us the privilege of honoring your family members and your friends," Lerner said. "Our goal is not to perpetuate the grief, but to offer a remembrance of their lives, as well as a hopeful marker for the future."

Navy personnel also showed their gratitude toward the Nationals organization, who opened the stadium just down the street from WNY to family members of Navy personnel and contractors looking for their loved ones.

"It was horrifying and frustrating, and we wanted to help," Lerner said of the day last fall. "None of us will ever forget the faces as they came through our doors to wait for news from loved ones inside the Navy Yard."

The Nationals also donated food and worked to distribute it to personnel fleeing from the attack, as well as family members waiting for them. Before the following day's double-header, the team observed a moment of silence for the victims, and Adm. James Winnefeld, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited the clubhouse to personally thank the team for their ongoing support.

In the days following the tragedy, a Navy Yard memorial patch was developed for the Nationals players to wear on their uniforms as a show of support. Later, game-worn uniforms were auctioned, with proceeds benefitting to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors' (TAPS) Navy Yard Tragedy Support Fund.

"We deeply appreciate how you have taken us aboard," Greenert told the audience and Nationals representatives at the ceremony. "Since your arrival, we have had a growing affinity, and it's been very special. You were the good neighbor who was there to take care of us and our Navy family."

Prior to the 2014 home opening game Friday, Vice Adm. William Hilarides, commander of Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the building where the shooting took place, will conduct a flag-raising with the Navy Ceremonial Guard, and the U.S. Navy Band Sea Chanters are set to perform the national anthem and "America the Beautiful."

Jennifer Bennett, a NAVSEA contractor who was shot in the shoulder during the attack, will join her three rescuers - Capt. Chip Zawislak, Michael Jackson and Makonnen Eyob - in throwing the first pitch of the game.

Rear Adm. Mark Rich, commandant, Naval District Washington, will deliver the game ball, and the "Play Ball" announcement will be made by Danielle Knight, who lost her mother, Mary Knight, in the shooting.