Monday, April 28, 2014

JBER leadership announces Eagleglen closure

Release Number: 020414

4/28/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Following a thorough review of historical trends, and dialog with the greater Anchorage golfing community and representatives from the Alaska Congressional delegation, the Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and 673d Air Base Wing commander announced the Eagleglen Golf Course will not open during the calendar year 2014 season.

This study began more than a year ago when JBER officials assessed the installation's program may have excess capacity. It revealed a 37 percent decrease in patronage over the last decade, and losses exceeding $1.9 million over the past three years and more than $2.2 million over the past five years.

JBER hosts three of the four 18-hole golf courses in the greater Anchorage area. The installation's three courses have a combined 54 holes and are open to the military community and the public. The courses are a popular attraction to the local community, which represented approximately 66 percent of the players over the last three years.

JBER hosted informational public meetings March 5 and 6. Members of the community provided inputs, which were reviewed and considered. However, based on declining golf participation and the associated loss in revenue, the commander determined that the closure of the Eagleglen Course was necessary and the most feasible manner in which to reduce the installation's excess golf capacity while keeping in mind the long term health of the installation's Morale, Welfare, and Recreation (MWR) fund and the golf program.

Community suggestions for improvements included consolidating managerial staff, selling old equipment, hiring seasonal local employees, reviewing pricing strategies, and improving tee time reservation systems. Many of these suggestions have been long-standing practices at JBER's courses and recognized as strengths during annual financial audits. Improvements to tee time reservation systems at the remaining base courses are planned for the fall of 2014 through a new, online point-of-sale system. Additionally, pricing strategies to bring in additional golfers during slower periods are under consideration, but such initiatives must be balanced with Air Force directives governing civilian use of MWR activities. These directives require, in part, that written agreements be in place from the owners or operators of local civilian golf facilities (within 10 miles or 30 commuting minutes) stating they don't object.

"We studied a variety of options which forecasted a reasonably optimistic growth in play this season, as compared to 2013, while continuing a hard scrub of operating and recapitalization costs," said Air Force Col. Brian Duffy, JBER and 673 ABW commander. "Unfortunately, the only courses of action which resulted in us generating sufficient business to cover all costs and contribute positively to our MWR fund involved significantly increasing greens fees for our civilian patrons or closing portions of our golf program."

JBER's greens fees for civilian golfers are comparable to those seen at other Anchorage-area courses.

"We are convinced the impact of a significant price increase, to the level required to generate positive cash flow, would result in substantial reductions in patronage, especially when compared with prices at other venues in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley," Duffy said.

Alternatives of closing only one of the Moose Run courses and keeping Eagleglen open resulted in similar adverse effects to the JBER MWR fund, while closure of both Moose Run courses would eliminate 36 holes from the overall inventory in the Anchorage area, likely overtaxing Eagleglen to a point where patronage would dip further. Duffy went on to state, "Closing only one of our three courses allows opportunity for the most flexibility to handle larger events while still leaving room for our individual players. Continuing the status quo simply places all risk on programs designed to support our men and women in uniform, their families, and our civilians assigned to JBER."

The JBER team is committed to continuing a productive golf program at Moose Run, as expressed by the majority of patrons who have offered a 96 percent satisfaction rate. Planned improvements at Moose Run include widening tee boxes, filling in unnecessary bunkers, and addressing repairs to the bridge on the Creek Course. This large investment, a must to restore a proper route and pace of play, was determined not financially possible with the usage rate decline over the last decade. Also, Moose Run's sizeable parking area and larger clubhouse space will continue to provide adequate room for regular patrons and larger functions.

The decision for Eagleglen not to open this year is not unique to JBER. Air Force wide, 19 Category C (self-sustaining operations) MWR facilities closed in 2013, including the golf course at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. In recent years, courses have closed at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., and McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas.

JBER officials stated Eagleglen will remain open during the winter season for cross country skiing as part of the installation's "Fit to Fight" program. The base will continue to review options for re-purposing the golf course for other uses during the summer to positively impact the morale and fitness of JBER personnel.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson leaders will be available to discuss this decision at 10:30 a.m., April 29, at the Eagleglen Golf Course club house. Media interested in interviewing JBER leadership on this topic should confirm attendance by e-mailing, or by calling the JBER Media Operations office at (907) 552-8986/8941. Media should arrive at the Eagleglen Course no later than 10:15 a.m., for the 10:30 a.m. press conference.

926th AMDS trains Philippine military on combat medical care

926th Group public affairs

4/24/2014 - CAVITE, REPUBLIC OF PHILIPPINES -- Members from the 926th Aerospace Medicine Squadron helped teach the Armed Forces of the Philippines life-saving measures here March 19 through April 2.

The six-person team joined forces with the Medical Detachment of the Guam Army National Guard and the 624th Aeromedical Staging Squadron from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to instruct the Medical First Responder Course as part of a subject matter expert exchange under the State Partnership Program of the National Guard.

The MFRC was only the third combat casualty care course instructed for the AFP, and the first to include AFP instructor students as part of the cadre. The 53 students received training on convoy operations, tactical combat casualty care and medical evacuation, among many other skills. The purpose behind the courses is to develop an internally-sustainable combat casualty care operational capability and training program within the AFP.

Hagel Reassured by Russian Counterpart on Ukraine

By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by phone today with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu and received assurances that Moscow has no plans to invade Ukraine, a Pentagon spokesman said.

In a statement issued after the call, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said Hagel emphasized to his Russian counterpart how dangerous the situation in Ukraine remains and that Shoygu "reiterated his assurance that Russian forces would not invade." 

Kirby said Hagel reiterated that the Ukrainian government has a right to preserve law and order within its own borders and also asked for Russia's help in freeing seven members of a military observer mission from the Ogranization for Security and Cooperation in Europe who are being held by pro-Russian militias in eastern Ukraine.

In addition, Kirby said Hagel called on Russia to observe an agreement negotiated earlier this month aimed at defusing the crisis and "repeated his call for an end to Russia's destabilizing influence inside Ukraine and warned that continued aggression would further isolate Russia and result in more diplomatic and economic pressure." 

The warning came on the same day that the Obama administration imposed additional sanctions on Russian officials, businessmen and companies for Moscow's intervention in Ukraine. 

Kirby said both leaders agreed to "have continued conversations seeking a way forward" on the Ukraine situation. 

Westover to lose aircraft, personnel

4/28/2014 - WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass -- Air Force officials announced Monday that half of the 439th Airlift Wing's C-5 fleet - and more than 300 jobs here - will be cut as a result of Pentagon budget cuts and sequestration.

While the host unit 439th AW flies 16 C-5B models, eight C-5s will transfer from Westover to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, beginning in 2015. The C-5 fleet is scheduled to be upgraded to the re-engined M-models. In the plan, Westover will retain eight of the refurbished C-5Ms.

Personnel losses include 59 full-time enlisted and 275 drilling reservists. This number has not been finalized nor has a timeline been released yet.

Drilling reservists are those Airmen who perform unit training assemblies at the base monthly, while the full-time air reserve technicians are civil service employees during the week. ARTs also report for the monthly UTAs.

"These changes affect the core of our mission here - our dedicated men and women. These reductions will incur hardships on our people," said Brig. Gen. Steven Vautrain, 439th AW commander. "We will take care of our people; we will place as a many as possible in other positions within the wing and programs will be available to assist those displaced by this change in force structure. We will continue to fulfill our global mobility mission before, during and after these changes."

ARTs should consult with the military personnel flight and civilian personnel offices on base, while drilling reservists should work through the MPF.

Faced with austere budgets, the Air Force is refocusing and reducing the size of its forces to comply with the president's new defense strategy and the Budget Control Act's requirements to cut $487 billion from the defense budget over the next eight years.

AFN Set to Honor Military Spouses Through Facebook Initiative

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 28, 2014 – The American Forces Network Broadcast Center has established a hashtag for Facebook users to help AFN honor military spouses during Military Spouses Appreciation Day on May 10.

The initiative will center on a special hashtag -- #spouseappreciation -- that Facebook users can include in posts and photos that pay tribute to military spouses.

On May 9, the broadcast center will encourage its audiences to use the hashtag and will search for these posts and photos to create a TV spot honoring military spouses, officials said. Local AFN television radio and television stations will incorporate some of the posts into their programming, they added.

Facebook users can type the #spouseappreciation hashtag into the Facebook search window to see all of the posts and photos that include it, regardless of which Facebook page was used to make the post.

Hurricane Hunters participate in aeromedical evacuation training

by Tech. Sgt. Ryan Labadens
403rd Wing Public Affairs

4/28/2014 - POPE FIELD, FORT BRAGG, N.C.  -- One day they could be flying a storm mission through a Category Five hurricane, and another they could be flying an aeromedical evacuation mission in support of global contingencies. As part of their training for these medical flights, members of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron "Hurricane Hunters" participated in aeromedical evacuation training here April 26-27 with trainees from several Air Force Reserve aeromedical evacuation squadrons.

One WC-130J weather plane from the 53rd WRS, assigned to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., flew three different aeromedical evacuation training missions during the two-day event, providing a platform for aeromedical students and instructors to play out their medical exercises on mannequins used to simulate patients. C-130s from the 96th Airlift Squadron, Minneapolis-St. Paul Joint Reserve Station, Minn., and the 95th AS here also participated in the exercise.

The purpose of this training is to teach aeromedical students how to respond to scenarios involved in evacuating sick or wounded personnel from one location to another. It also teaches them how to handle medical situations that might arise while transporting patients to their destination, such as simulating patients having a stroke or going into shock, or dealing with the affects that changes in altitude and air pressure can have on various injuries.

"It's real important for us to be able to provide the type of training these students could encounter in the real world so that, if situations like these do occur during evacuation flights, they'll be ready," said Master Sgt. Gary Taiclet, an instructor with the Detachment 1, 440th Operations Group, Aeromedical Evacuation Formal Training Unit here.

The flight portion of the aeromedical students' class is part of a 28-day process of academic and ground-based training and simulations provided by Det. 1, which instructs members of aeromedical evacuation squadrons from all over the Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard.

The training offered to aeromedical evacuation squadron members also provides them with hands-on experience interacting with aircrews during various in-flight scenarios they might face during a real-world medical evacuation.

"We'll usually simulate some of the situations they could encounter during an evacuation flight, such as rapid decompression of the aircraft or an emergency landing scenario," said Maj. Dominic Barberi, 403rd Operations Group pilot and aircraft commander for this mission.

The Hurricane Hunters try to support these types of training exercises at various Air Force bases across the country whenever scheduling allows, said 1st Lt. Chase Allen, 53rd WRS pilot.

"Sometimes we could fly two of these aeromedical training missions per quarter (or eight per year), but it could be less depending on how heavily tasked we are during the hurricane and winter storm seasons," said Allen.

As a further example of the capabilities of the 53rd WRS aircraft, earlier in April 2014 eight Hurricane Hunter WC-130Js flew in a 16-ship formation with C-130Js from the 815th Airlift Squadron in an exercise called Operation Surge Capacity. This exercise tested the 403rd Wing's ability to surge in a large ship formation to meet the warfighter's demands and involved simulated airdrops of troops and equipment over two separate locations along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The 53rd WRS and 815th AS both fall under the command of the 403rd Wing, Keesler AFB, Miss.

"This aeromedical exercise is just another example of the versatility of this airframe," said Allen regarding the Hurricane Hunter WC-130Js. "Not only can we perform our weather taskings, but we can also support a variety of other missions, such as airdrops, troop and cargo transport, and aeromedical evacuation."

Clothesline Project helps break the silence during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

by Peter Borys
914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/28/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Sexual Assault Awareness Month aims to raise awareness and promote the prevention of sexual violence through use of special events and public education.

The Clothesline Project, one of Niagara's events during the observance, started on Cape Cod, Massachusetts in 1990, to address the issue of violence against women.

CLP is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. Many men also get involved in decorating the shirts to show their support.  The shirts are then hung on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women.

With the support of many, CLP has since spread world-wide.

Nikki Slaughter, 914th Airlift Wing Sexual Assault Response coordinator, added that everyone has a role in preventing sexual assault and domestic violence and the clothesline project is a great way to extend this message at Niagara.

Army National Guard Soldier Pleads Guilty to Defrauding the U.S. National Guard Bureau

To Date, 23 Individuals Have Pleaded Guilty in Ongoing Corruption Investigation

A soldier in the Texas Army National Guard pleaded guilty today for his role in a bribery and fraud scheme that caused more than $30,000 in losses to the U.S. National Guard Bureau, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General David A. O’Neil of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

Sergeant First Class Zaunmine O. Duncan, 38, formerly of Austin, Texas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery and one count of aggravated identity theft.  The case against Duncan arises from an investigation involving allegations that former and current military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in the San Antonio and Houston areas engaged in a wide-ranging corruption scheme to illegally obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses.   To date, the investigation has led to charges against 25 individuals, 23 of whom have pleaded guilty.

According to court documents, in approximately September 2005, the National Guard Bureau entered into a contract with Document and Packaging Broker Inc. (Docupak), to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP).   The G-RAP was a recruiting program that offered monetary incentives to soldiers of the Army National Guard who referred others to join the Army National Guard.   Through this program, a participating soldier could receive bonus payments for referring another individual to join the Army National Guard.   Based on certain milestones achieved by the referred soldier, a participating soldier would receive payment through direct deposit into the participating soldier’s designated bank account.   To participate in the program, soldiers were required to create online recruiting assistant accounts.

Duncan admitted that between approximately February 2008 and August 2010, while he was a recruiter for the National Guard, he obtained the names and Social Security numbers of potential soldiers and provided them to recruiting assistants, including co-conspirators Elisha Ceja, Annika Chambers, Kimberly Hartgraves and Lashae Hawkins, so that these recruiting assistants could use the information to obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses by falsely claiming that they were responsible for referring these potential soldiers to join the Army National Guard, when they were not.   In exchange for the information, Duncan admitted that he personally received a total of at least approximately $24,500 in payments from Ceja, Chambers, Hartgraves and Hawkins.

Duncan is scheduled to be sentenced on Aug. 28, 2014, before U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal in Houston.

Co-conspirators Ceja, Chambers, Hartgraves and Hawkins have all pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery in connection to this scheme.   Hartgraves is scheduled to be sentenced on June 24, 2014.   Ceja, Chambers and Hawkins are each scheduled to be sentenced on June 26, 2014.   All of these sentencing hearings are set before U.S. District Judge Rosenthal in Houston.

The cases are being investigated by special agents from the San Antonio Fraud Resident Agency of Army CID’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.   This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorneys Sean F. Mulryne, Heidi Boutros Gesch and Mark J. Cipolletti of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney John Pearson of the Southern District of Texas.  

National Guard Role Expands in Wake of Arkansas Tornado

From an Arkansas National Guard News Release

VILONIA, Ark., April 28, 2014 – More Arkansas National Guard members have been called to active duty to help residents of the state recover from a deadly tornado that swept through the communities of Mayflower and Vilonia Sunday.

Reports say the twister left at least 18 people dead.

In addition to the 54 soldiers called to state active duty overnight to assist local authorities with traffic control, search and rescue, and medical evacuation, an additional six Guard members were tasked early this morning to deliver several fresh water trailers to support the needs of local residents and the vast number of volunteers.

The Arkansas Department of Emergency Management also passed a request from the Faulkner County judge for the National Guard to provide a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and crew to conduct low-level aerial search over the shore line of Lake Conway and through the wooded areas in the path of the storm for additional victims.

Initially, 46 members of the Arkansas National Guard were called to state active duty to assist local authorities in the hard-hit communities. That first call-out and subsequent responses from Guard members brought the grim realization that numerous Guardsmen and their family members were directly affected. Within the first few hours following the storm, both Army and Air National Guard members began to check in with their commanders and on each other - neighbor to neighbor.

The Arkansas National Guard confirmed that one member perished when the tornado struck Vilonia. The name is being withheld pending notification of next-of-kin.

Additionally, dozens of Guard members' homes were damaged or destroyed, and an unconfirmed number of family members were injured or hospitalized.

Despite these difficult circumstances, more than 50 Guard members from the central Arkansas area responded to the call to help their neighbors, friends and fellow Guard families in need.

Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe summed up the situation during a morning news conference in Mayflower. "These are Arkansans helping Arkansans, like they always do -- neighbor helping neighbor in a time of need," the governor said.

Beebe noted that multiple state agencies, nearby communities and a large number of civilian volunteers have responded to help. From a national perspective, Beebe indicated that the federal government pledged to make resources available to help in the recovery and rebuilding of the devastated communities.

The Arkansas National Guard has 59 personnel, 24 vehicles and one UH-60 helicopter supporting the ongoing operations.

Units supporting these missions are the 87th Troop Command, the 39th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, and the 77th Theater Aviation Brigade - all from the central Arkansas area.

Medic, part-time construction worker, student: Deployed Airman does it all

by Master Sgt. Kelly Ogden
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern)

4/28/2014 - BELIZE CITY, Belize -- She stands on top of scaffolding at a school addition construction site in Belize, profusely sweating from spending more than 12 hours per day out in the sun, fatigued from laying block after cement block and covered from head to toe in dust and debris. You might think that she has spent every day of her adult life doing construction work because she just fits in, but you'd be wrong.

Senior Airman Alyssa Reno, a Lewiston, Idaho, native, is no engineer. In fact, until about 23 days ago she had never spent a day in her life working on a construction site.

So, what is this 5-foot-tall young Airman doing in Belize?

She's a medic from the 366th Aerospace Medicine Squadron, Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, assigned to the U.S. Southern Command-sponsored New Horizons exercise in Belize. She spends her days rotating amongst four different school construction site projects, providing medical treatment to injured engineers and making sure the military members stay properly hydrated to avoid heat-related injuries.

"It's a different environment," Reno said. "I normally don't really spend much time out of my job at the hospital. This is a great experience. I get to see all of these very young Airmen, Marines and Soldiers work so hard on a daily basis; it's impressive."

Reno, who joined the Air Force three years ago, came in for educational benefits and to travel.

Her parents, who weren't too keen on having Alyssa, their only child, enlist in the military, offered to pay her college tuition if she didn't join. Luckily for her parents, after graduating from basic and technical training she ended up stationed right back where she started: Idaho.

"My parents are now glad that I joined. They've seen what the Air Force has done for me and how much I've grown since I've been in," she said.

And how she has grown in her career: as the 366th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Airman of the Year and as the Air Combat Command Olsen-Wegner Aerospace Medicine Technician of the Year, her career in the Air Force has clearly taken off.

But, she still remains grounded.

According to Reno, it all goes back to her mother and father wanting the best for their daughter.

"I'm thankful for my parents. They are the most supportive parents that I could ever ask for; their support is a big part of why I am who I am today."

Apart from her current deployment to Belize, she's not traveling much these days. Instead, she's chosen to work toward a degree in physical therapy at Boise State, complete her personal training certificate through the International Sports Sciences Association and volunteer in the community. She does all of this and still finds time for her hobbies, which include hiking, biking and running, and for her boyfriend, Jeff, an Air Force firefighter.

After completing her current deployment, Reno will most likely leave active duty military service for a position in the Air National Guard or Air Force Reserve so she can concentrate on her education full time.

Airpower above water: Air Force tests new surveillance capability

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

4/25/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- The Air Force successfully completed the first Maritime Modes program risk reduction flight April 14, 2014, as the service moves toward providing a new air-sea battle surveillance capability.

The test flight, which took place in the airspace above the Navy's Point Mugu sea range in California, consisted of an 11-and-a-half-hour sortie on a test Global Hawk Block 40 remotely piloted aircraft.

Maritime Modes is comprised of two components: a Maritime Moving Target Indicator and a Maritime Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar, or MISAR, that function together to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information on vessels traveling on the water's surface.

During the flight, the MISAR collected data on assets and moving targets on the water, ultimately testing more than 100 items of interest.

"We're very pleased with the initial results of the test flight," said Lt. Col. Michael Harm, the program's materiel leader. "A good majority of the items met with success."

Flight test data is being analyzed in order to determine initial performance, stability and necessary fixes before entering the development test and evaluation phase.

The system, which is being developed by an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center team out of Hanscom AFB, Mass., will integrate with other modes currently residing in the radar system called the Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program, or MP-RTIP. The MP-RTIP detects moving ground vehicles and can produce high quality synthetic aperture radar imagery.

Currently, RQ-4B Global Hawks are the only aircraft equipped with the MP-RTIP radar system.

"This capability will augment the MP-RTIP's existing ground surveillance and provide the warfighter with a complete ground, coastal and open seas picture," said Frank Hertler, Maritime Modes program manager. "The system will be able to detect, track, classify and build a profile from where the vessel came from as well as have the ability to see much smaller marine vehicles."

Maritime Modes is a NATO Alliance Ground Surveillance program requirement that will eventually be integrated with the U.S. Air Force Global Hawk Block 40 baseline. The AGS program intends to procure five Global Hawks equipped with MP-RTIP, and the corresponding ground segment, providing the Alliance with both airborne ground and maritime surveillance capability.

"Maritime Modes will significantly increase the warfighter's ability in observing moving and stationary targets of interest in open and littoral waters," Harm said. "These targets can then be categorized and tracked, and their respective details can distributed via appropriate channels."

Rep. Tom Cole visits AF Reserve's only AWACS unit

by Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer
513th Air Control Group Public Affairs

4/28/2014 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., visited the 513th Air Control Group at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., April 18 as part of a base-wide tour to hear the accomplishments of and issues facing military units at the base.

The 513th is an Air Force Reserve unit stationed at Tinker and is the only reserve unit to maintain and fly the E-3 Sentry, an Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft.

During a morning briefing for the congressman, 513th Airmen explained how they support the AWACS mission by providing maintenance and aircrews when the active-duty 552nd Air Control Wing, also at Tinker, is unable to provide enough Airmen to fulfill mission requirements.

Cole asked questions during the briefing ranging from the proposed inactivation of the 513th to the unit's role in allied operations. He expressed appreciation for the reservists during his visit and voiced his support of their mission at the Oklahoma-based installation.

"With this latest round of cuts, we've run the risk of cutting into military muscle," Cole said. "I don't think the president wants to leave the military less capable than when he found it, and Congress doesn't want to either."

Lt. Col. Steve England, the director of operations for the 513th's 970th Airborne Air Control Squadron, showcased the invaluable skill and experience found within the Airmen of the unit. The majority of 513th members served at the active-duty 552nd before becoming Reservists, England said. Allowing the Airmen to move to a part-time status allows the Air Force to keep experience maintenance and aircrew Airmen who don't need the training that new service members require. Typical training time for AWACS career fields ranges from eight months for certain aircrew positions to four years for radar and avionics maintenance jobs.

Col. David W. Robertson, the commander of the 513th ACG, appreciated Cole's visit to the unit.

"I was really pleased that he took time out of his busy schedule to visit the 513th and hear our story," Robertson said. "It's good to have people at his level able to tell our story and address the issues that we're facing."

Cole also visited Navy and active-duty Air Force units on base during his tour. First elected in 2002, he is the representative for the fourth district of Oklahoma.

Hill fighter wings prep to receive F-35A

by Staff Sgt. Christina Judd
419th Fighter Wing

4/25/2014 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE Fla. -- The 419th Fighter Wing annual training here is providing reservists and their active-duty counterparts in the 388th FW with immersion training on the Air Force's newest fighter jet, the F-35A Lightning II.

Airmen from Hill's fighter wings, including pilots, maintainers, logisticians, and support personnel, are getting real-time experience while working alongside the 33rd Fighter Wing.

"The F-35 is going to be an important aircraft for the future of the Air Force," said Tech. Sgt. David Sudak, 419th crew chief. "It will provide flexibility both for maintenance and air crews."

Hill AFB has been selected as the first base to receive the F-35A, with the first operational jets to arrive in fall 2015. Planning is currently underway for three operational F-35A squadrons at Hill and aircraft deliveries are expected to be phased in over a three-year period with full conversion anticipated by March 2019.

NFL players, military children 'Play 60'

by Jennifer Green-Lanchoney
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

4/25/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass.  -- As part of the Month of the Military Child celebration and NFL Play 60, past and present players from the New England Patriots as well as Patriots cheerleaders performed a free youth football and cheer clinic at the Hanscom tennis bubble here April 23, 2014.

April was designated the Month of the Military Child by then-Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger in 1986, recognizing the contribution the military child makes as their parent or parents serve in the armed forces.

"Our military children need to be celebrated too," said Ann-Marie Ely, the Hanscom Youth Center Youth Sports and Fitness director. "The month of April brings attention to the fact that military children sacrifice just as much as the military member."

Military children may face several obstacles while growing up in the military environment, including frequent moves, family separations and reintegration issues. Hanscom honors the sacrifices made by local military children here and appreciates that the Patriots have also joined in honoring our children.

"The kids loved being taught by professional athletes," said Ely. "They participated in six stations keeping them active and engaged, which promotes physical health."

Military children between the ages of 7 and 14 from installations throughout New England attended the event. Children participated in several stations including linebacker drills, kicking and punting, defensive back drills and a healthy food relay.

"It is an honor to be here and be able to do something special, be able to say thank you, to all these people doing a great job protecting our country," said Devin McCourty, Patriots defensive back.

Among those here from the Patriots were: Kanorris Davis, Marcus Forston, Nate Solder, Rob Gronkowski and McCourty.

New England Patriots players and cheerleaders joined more than 100 military children as part of the NFL Play 60 program. NFL Play 60 is an NFL program designed to inspire children to become more active and combat childhood obesity.

"I think it was fun and nice to get autographs and pictures," said Dylan Cheng-Lynn, the son of a deployed Airman.

Hill's F-16s take first flights alongside F-35s

by Staff Sgt. Christi Judd
419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/24/2014 - EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- F-16 pilots from Hill's 419th and 388th Fighter Wings took to the skies here this morning for their first training missions alongside the F-35A Lightning II, the Air Force's newest fighter aircraft.

Hill's F-16s flew air-to-air combat training missions with F-35As assigned to Eglin's 33rd Fighter Wing.

"This was a great opportunity for our F-16s to operate with the F-35. This mission allowed us to train for seamless integration of the Air Force's fourth and fifth generation fighters and provided invaluable insight into the future of fighter operations at Hill AFB," said Lt. Col. David Castaneda, the 419 FW's 466th Fighter Squadron commander.

In December 2013, Hill was named the Air Force's first operational basing location for the F-35A. The active duty 388th FW and Air Force Reserve 419th FW will fly and maintain the aircraft in a Total Force partnership. While the wings already work together at home station, training as one element alongside Eglin's 33rd Fighter Wing mirrors their real-world mission.

"We are a Total Force Integration operation," said Maj. Jayson Rickard, assistant director of operations in the 466th FS. "Everything we do back home and when we deploy is side-by-side with our active-duty counterparts. This is very representative of what we would do in combat."

The F-35A combines advanced capabilities of stealth with fighter speed and agility, fully fused sensor information, network-enabled operations and advanced sustainment.

"I really enjoyed flying with the F-35s here and it was great to see its impressive set of capabilities up close," said Capt. Alex Turner, 388th FW pilot.

On Friday, F-16 maintainers from Hill will also take part in an F-35A immersion to include an in-depth overview of ALIS - the Autonomic Logistics Information System, which is a one-stop shop for a broad range of integrated high-tech capabilities including maintenance prognostics, supply chain management, and technical data for the aircraft.

The operational flying mission of the F-35A continues a long tradition of firsts for Hill's fighter wings. The 388th FW was the first operational unit to receive the F-16 in 1979, while the 419th FW was the first AF Reserve unit to receive the jet in 1983.

"The F-35 is going to be an important aircraft for the future of the Air Force," said Tech. Sgt. David Sudak, 419th FW crew chief. "It will provide flexibility both for maintenance and air crews. The new computer system seems to be more integrated. It's going to make our job a lot easier."

"I look forward to seeing what similarities there are on the two jets," said Senior Airman Kimber Kreamer, 388 FW crew chief. "I love working on the F-16, so I'm anxious to apply that knowledge to the F-35 at Hill."

Hill AFB is slated to receive its first operational F-35A in late 2015. Planning is currently underway for three operational F-35A squadrons at Hill and aircraft deliveries are expected to be phased in over a three-year period with full conversion anticipated by March 2019.