Tuesday, May 20, 2014

On the run again: Airman selected for opportunity to compete in 2016 Olympics

by Senior Airman John Nieves Camacho
4th Fighter Wing public affairs

5/19/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, NORTH CAROLINA -- U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Samantha Morrison, former 4th Fighter Wing public affairs deputy chief, was recently accepted into the Air Force World Class Athlete Program at Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The world class level program, which begins in the summer, is two-years long and provides Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard Air Force personnel the opportunity to train and compete at national and international sports competitions with the ultimate goal of selection to the U.S. Olympic team.

"I'm very excited that I was accepted into the WCAP," said Morrison. "Thanks to my great leadership that supported me and pushed me to apply, I'm able to pursue this golden opportunity."

During her time at the Olympic training, she will conduct strength and recovery training four - eight hours a day. This will include high amounts of swimming, cycling and running to prepare her for the Olympic trials. At the conclusion of the program, if she qualifies, she will be eligible for a spot on the U.S. triathlon team.

"I would love to compete on the Olympic Team," said Morrison. "However, selection for the team is always really close and competitive. I'm just going to live day-to-day and try 110 percent every single day with nutrition, working out, rest and recovery, put them all together and see what my body can do."

Morrison has already competed in competitions across the U.S., such as the IRONMAN World Championship and the Wildflower Triathlon, garnering top three positions more than five times. In the last competition she came in first in all three sections of the triathlon for her gender and age, making her one of the fastest females in the Department of Defense.

In order to prepare for her competitions, Morrison said she trains daily, performing various swimming, biking and running exercises.

"The training is rough," said Morrison. "I think I'm in a constant state of soreness, so I don't notice as much anymore. The IRONMAN races leave me limping for a week. Luckily, I love the sport, so the training is my escape."

Morrison believes the program will offer a more training-friendly schedule.

"It's going to be awesome," said Morrison. "It's really hard to dedicate 100 percent to work and training. Working through the duty day and trying to cram in four hours of training before and after work was hard to handle; my body shut down sometimes."

Maj. Amber Millerchip, 4th FW public affairs chief and Morrison's supervisor, said she is impressed and proud with Morrison's attitude and work ethic.

"It was amazing to witness Morrison's equal dedication to her strenuous training routine while simultaneously learning the craft of public affairs," Millerchip said. "This whole-hearted commitment also extended to her PA team and was a true inspiration to the Airmen she led."

Since the age of 15, Morrison has trained for triathlons; sometimes, spending more than 20 hours per week training during high school.

"Being a professional athlete is probably top on the list of a lot of people's dreams," said Morrison. "I know it's been mine since I was born, I just never thought it would happen. I've worked extremely hard toward this goal. I'm very lucky."

She also attributed her drive to excel from the principles instilled in her by her parents.

"My parents helped get me where I am today," said Morrison. "They always pushed me to do the best I could in everything I accomplished. My whole life has not been about me going to a race with the goal of winning in mind. When I work out every day it's always to see how well I can do."

Vanessa, Morrison's mother, said she feels her daughter deserves this opportunity to go to a world class program.

"I'm amazed at how well she's done," said Vanessa. "She works too hard for a human; I don't know how she does it. Samantha's always done exceptionally well in everything, always wants to do more and be on top. There is a lot of hard-working talent out there, but I think she works just a little harder than everyone else."

Although Morrison is leaving her first duty station, her coworkers have offered their support in her career and future goals.

"Lt. Morrison has been absolutely phenomenal since she arrived here," Millerchip said. "We are definitely going to miss her however; we are thrilled she is pursuing her dream."

Fallen warriors remembered

by Senior Airman Shane M. Phipps
30th Space Wing Public Affairs

5/16/2014 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- As part of National Police Week, Airmen with the 30th Security Forces Squadron recently remembered their fallen comrades through a 24-hour vigil and candle-lighting ceremony here, May 15.

The ceremony commenced with SFS members conducting a 24-hour guard of the vigil and transitioned to the reading of 120 names of those killed in the line of duty, including ten civilian officers. As each name was read, a commemorative candle was lit in their memory.

"The vigil starts out dark and bleak, representing the unknown (perils) those (who are remembered) faced, but by the end it's bright and inspirational, representing the safety and security their sacrifice gave," said Tech. Sgt. Carmine Androsiglio, 30th SFS unit trainer. "The ceremony ensures those who made the ultimate sacrifice are not forgotten. The Defenders and Peace Officers gave their lives to protect those behind them - family-members, brothers and sisters-in-arms and complete strangers who they swore to protect."

Although police week consists of numerous events aiming to celebrate those who paid the ultimate price, this particular observance is a source of immense pride for the 30th SFS.

"Throughout the week we do different events honoring those who have fallen, but this ceremony, specifically, shows the dedication our squadron has for those who have passed away," said Tech. Sgt. Danielle Carver, 30th SFS assistant flight chief. "The guards are out here protecting the vigil throughout the night and it really shows how much we respect and honor those we have lost."

Some Defenders were afforded the somber honor of lighting the candle representing someone they knew personally. One such Airman was Staff Sgt. Corin Dolson, 30th SFS patrolman and dispatcher, who emotionally recalled his 2013 Afghanistan deployment with Staff Sgt. Todd Lobraico.

"We were deployed to Afghanistan together," explained Dolson. "I was a radio telephone operator and dispatcher for him. I would watch outside-the-wire patrols on a live feed. I was watching his patrol when they took fire. I lost radio communication and ended up relaying communications through some of the (aircraft in the area). I ended up communicating a medevac with para-rescue."

Despite being evacuated within a one-hour window of time following traumatic injury, known as the "golden hour", Lobraico succumbed to his injuries.

"It was an absolute honor to be at this event," said Dolson. "I really don't have words for how moving and powerful it is for me to be able to do this for someone I knew and worked with. It gives me so much pride in what I do and makes me want to do everything I possibly can to be a better Airman and wingman."

Hagel Stands Behind Tough Budget Proposal, Spokesman Says

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

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel stands firmly behind tough budget choices made in the 2015 Fiscal Year Defense Budget request as lawmakers return to Washington to take up defense spending.

Speaking to reporters today, Pentagon press secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby affirmed the defense secretary’s appreciation for Congress moving forward with its consideration of the budget proposal.

“As you know, the full House of Representatives and the Senate Armed Services Committee are considering their defense authorization measures for fiscal year ’15 this week,” he said.

“Secretary Hagel appreciates the efforts of leaders in both chambers to move forward with this critical legislation,” Kirby said. “He believes that it’s important for the ideas and proposals put forward by the Defense Department in the president’s budget are subject to a full and vigorous debate.”

The admiral said Hagel knows this debate is just the beginning.

“He stands firmly behind the tough decisions that were made in that budget proposal -- decisions that he believes are necessary to preserve our military edge in a very difficult fiscal environment,” Kirby said.

Given the importance of the budget proposal, Kirby said he believes “you’ll be hearing more from the secretary and other senior leaders in the department on this in the weeks and months to come.”

Team Seymour Airman selected for AF World Class Athlete Program, sets sights on Olympics

by Senior Airman John Nieves Camacho
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/20/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, NORTH CAROLINA  -- After a thumbs up of endorsement by the U.S. Triathlon Olympic Staff, 2nd Lt. Samantha Morrison, former 4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs deputy chief, was recently accepted into the Air Force World Class Athlete Program in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

The two-year program, currently underway, provides Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard Airmen the opportunity to train and compete at national and international sporting competitions with the ultimate goal of selection to the U.S. Olympic triathlon team.

"I'm very excited to be accepted into the program and get this shot," said Morrison. "If it wasn't for my leadership encouraging me to apply back in January, I wouldn't have had the courage to even try.

"Being a professional athlete tops the list of a lot of people's dreams and it has been my dream since I was born; I just never thought it would happen," she added. "I've worked extremely hard toward this goal. I'm very lucky."

Morrison, a triathlete since the age of 15, competes in triathlons across the nation, from the IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawai'i to the Wildflower Triathlon in California. In this year's IRONMAN competition, she came in first in all three sections of the triathlon for her gender and age, making her the fastest female in the Department of Defense. Morrison is also the only female triathlete in the WCAP for the whole DOD.

During her time at the Olympic Training Center, she'll train up to eight hours a day swimming, cycling, running, and other strength and recovery exercises. While entry into the WCAP doesn't guarantee a slot in the upcoming Olympics, Morrison says the program is the ideal vehicle to give her her best shot.

And Morrison is no stranger to training. In order to prepare for her previous competitions, Morrison swam, ran, and biked daily while maintaining a vigorous work schedule in the public affairs office.

"It was amazing to witness her complete dedication to her strenuous training routine while simultaneously learning the craft of public affairs," said Maj. Amber Millerchip, 4th FW Public Affairs chief. "Her whole-hearted commitment also extended to her PA team, to whom she is a true inspiration."

Morrison makes no bones about the difficulty of her training, but she says it's a way of life for her.

"The training is rough," she said. "I think I'm in a constant state of soreness, so I don't notice as much anymore. The IRONMAN races leave me limping for a week. Luckily, I love the sport, and the training is like an escape for me."

Over the last year, Morrison has competed in more than 10 triathlons, finishing first in four. She attributes her drive to excel to the principles instilled in her by her parents.

"My parents helped get me where I am today," she said. "They always pushed me to do the best I could in everything. But my whole life hasn't been about me going to a race with the goal of winning in mind. When I work out every day, it's always to see how well I can do."

Vanessa, Morrison's mother, said her daughter never ceases to amaze when it comes to her capabilities and effort.

"I'm amazed at how well she's done," said Vanessa. "She works too hard for a human; I don't know how she does it. There's a lot of hard-working talent out there, but she just might work a little harder than the rest."

Heading into the Olympic Training Center, Morrison has her eyes set on several goals.

"I would love to compete on the Olympic Team," said Morrison. "However, selection for the team is always really close and competitive. I'm just going to live day-to-day and try 110 percent every single day with nutrition, working out, rest and recovery. I'll put them all together and see what my body can do."

TMO: A Moving Mission

by Airman 1st Class Sahara L. Fales
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

5/20/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- The special mission at Minot Air Force Base requires bombers to be ready to respond at the drop of a hat. The Traffic Management Office here, usually known for shipping house hold items, also has the responsibility of ensuring the base's B-52H Stratofortresses are fully functional for take-off at any moment.

"Our role is to make sure that the parts that need to be fixed and the parts we need to fly are ready 24/7," said Senior Airman Garrett Medlock, 5th Logistics Readiness Squadron cargo movement specialist. "Our bombers need to be taken care of around the clock."

Weekly shipments include an average of 800-900 items of general cargo, 150 mission capable items, 20 classified items and five to six Nuclear Weapons Readiness Materials.

TMO consists of many different sections including packaging and crating, inbound and outbound cargo, household goods, passenger travel, and quality assurance.

"Once cargo has been received it is then processed and sorted," said Master Sgt. Joshua Hawkins, 5th LRS cargo movement section chief. "Airmen in TMO also build the crates that the cargo will reside in as Minot is one of the only bases without a civilian wood worker."

Minot is also one of the only bases that work with NWRMs while maintaining a 60 percent manning rate.

"Only Global Strike bases deal with NWRMs," said Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Erhart, 5th LRS noncommissioned officer in charge of cargo movement. "They are high-visibility parts and everybody wants to know everything that's going on with them, every step of the way. You really have to be on top of your A-game."

Whether it is the finance office personnel who pay the Airmen, the loadmasters who load the munitions or the pilots themselves, TMO wants to ensure the Airmen who contribute to our everyday missions are being taken care of, said Medlock.

"We make sure that you are given the best quality packaging and shipping," said Staff Sgt. Rajeev Shilpakar, 5th LRS NCO in charge of packing and crating.

Contrary to what many people might believe, TMO does not deliver household goods directly to each doorstep, they use a contracted carrier, said Shilpakar. TMO's role during a delivery is to conduct inspections to make sure the carrier is using proper packaging and procedures, and to ensure quality service is provided for customer.

In addition to everything they do to support Minot's mission, TMO also provides parts to bases worldwide. They are responsible for shipping out parts such as nuts and bolts, or plane wings for mission essential tasks overseas. More importantly they assist in bringing back loved ones from deployed locations.

"If your loved ones are supposed to be getting on a plane to return home, and that plane is down, the part to fix it has to be shipped from TMO," said Erhart. "There's a lot more to TMO than household goods."

House approves Congressional Gold Medal for Civil Air Patrol

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) -- When the founding members of Civil Air Patrol, the U.S. Air Force auxiliary, risked life and limb to help protect the home front during the early days of World War II, they weren’t looking for recognition.

Some seven decades later, though, they’re receiving it, thanks to the U.S. House of Representatives’ voice vote Monday afternoon to award CAP a Congressional Gold Medal for its volunteer service during the war, when more than 120,000 members stepped up to support the military effort and help keep the nation secure. The Senate approved the gold medal legislation a year ago. A new CAP website provides full coverage of CAP’s Congressional Gold Medal journey, including vintage photos, bios of living World War II veterans, nationally renowned veterans, B-roll video and blog posts.

Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who introduced the Senate legislation in February 2013, hailed the House vote Monday. “I am delighted to see this bill receive final approval,” said Harkin, commander of CAP’s Congressional Squadron. “The men and women of Civil Air Patrol stepped up and served their country when it needed them during the darkest days of World War II, and it’s time we recognized them and thanked them for their service.”

Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, who introduced the gold medal proposal in the House, praised the legacy CAP’s founders established.

“The awarding of the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal, to the members of the Civil Air Patrol ensures that long overdue and proper recognition has finally been bestowed upon these brave men,” McCaul said.

“The Civil Air Patrol's valiant efforts in defending our coastline, providing combat services and flying dangerous humanitarian missions in America during World War II embodies the American Spirit of volunteerism. These brave men were an integral part in defending not only our homeland but also our principles of freedom and liberty.

“I am proud Congress has taken this step to recognize all of the important work the Civil Air Patrol did," he said.

CAP was founded Dec. 1, 1941, a week before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Within three months, CAP members were using their own planes to fly anti-submarine missions off the East and Gulf coasts, where German U-boats were sinking American ships carrying oil and other vital supplies to the Allies. By the time that mission ended Aug. 31, 1943, CAP’s coastal patrols had flown 86,685 missions totaling 244,600 hours and than 24 million miles. Seventy-four planes sent out from coastal patrol bases crashed into the water; 26 CAP members were killed.

Elsewhere, CAP’s airborne missions throughout the U.S. included border patrols, target-towing for military trainees, fire and forest patrols, searches for missing people and aircraft, disaster relief,  emergency transport of people and supplies, and orientation flights for future pilots. Many from the organization’s ranks went on to join the Army Air Forces.

Civil Air Patrol’s national commander, Maj. Gen. Chuck Carr, said, “The heroic service provided by our members during World War II helped save lives and preserve our nation’s freedom. I am very grateful they are finally receiving the recognition they so deserve.”

CAP’s legacy of selfless service for the nation and its communities continues today. In all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, CAP members stand ready to respond to such challenges as natural and manmade disasters and searches for missing aircraft or individuals.

John S. McCain, Mustin Sailors, Shimoda Citizens Celebrate 160 Years of U.S., Japan Partnership

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Trevor Welsh, Commander, Task Force 70 Public Affairs

SHIMODA, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to the Arleigh-burke class guided-missile destroyers USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) and USS Mustin (DDG 89) joined the city of Shimoda, Japan in the 75th annual Black Ship Festival celebration May 15 - 19.

"This celebration is very important and becoming more important each year as our partnership with Japan is tightening and getting stronger," said Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet. "This celebrates that 160 years ago, the U.S. Navy came here to introduce the West to Japan and begin to understand Japan in the West. The celebration of this opening between our countries really reflects our constant strong bond that has developed between the U.S. and Japan and the friendship that truly exists between our peoples. This reflects the U.S. commitment to peace and prosperity in Asia."

The "Black Ships," or "Kurofune," refers to the Japanese term for foreign ships, which were mostly excluded from Japan for two hundred years until 1854 upon the arrival of Commodore Mathew C. Perry and the negotiation of the Treaty of Amity, the first treaty between the United States and Japan, thus ending two centuries of Japanese isolationism. The Black Ship Festival celebrates the signing of the treaty, which brought the two countries together as trading partners.

As the U.S. Navy representatives to the Black Ship Festival, the near 600 officers and crew stationed aboard the two ships took to the city upon arrival experiencing the local culture while participating in various goodwill events including visits to six local schools to interact with students and faculty. Sailors also marched through downtown Shimoda during a parade and participated in sporting events with local citizens.

"The city of Shimoda is fantastic," said Rear Adm. Terry Kraft, commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Japan. "This is the 75th anniversary of the Black Ship Festival here and they really pull out all the stops. The real friendship that we feel here in Shimoda is like nowhere I've ever seen before. Celebrations like this are so important because the help us better understand the Japanese culture and really get a deep appreciation for the people of our host nation."

John S. McCain and Mustin are two of seven Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, forward deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations supporting security and stability of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Defenders remember the 15th of May

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

5/20/2014 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- As the first note of taps rang, the 8th Security Forces Squadron joined thousands of law enforcement officers around the U.S. recognizing fallen comrades during Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15, 2014 at Kunsan.

President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation in 1962 that established May 15th as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week it fell on as Police Week. The Wolf Pack honored 22 fallen defenders, office of special investigation agents and military working dogs during a memorial ceremony May 15.

"We gathered today to honor both our fallen comrades and the ones who still serve today with valor and distinction," said Senior Airman Sarah Kilgore, 8th SFS event master of ceremonies and coordinator.

Chief Master Sgt. Samel Brown, 8th SFS manager, stood at attention as the names of each fallen defender was read. It eventually came to one name: Tech. Sgt. Jason L. Norton. In 2006, a roadside bomb killed Norton in Iraq. Brown and Norton trained, fought and conquered together.

"He is always with me, as I put on this beret and I wear the uniform that I do," said Brown. "I do it proudly because of folks like him. Airmen like him, who have gave their life in defense of our nation and the freedoms that we enjoy today."

While the ceremony remembered 22 fallen defenders, the Wolf Pack followed the tone set by the proclamation recognizing not only those who passed away but also those who are serving.

Submarine Learning Center Renews Educational Accreditation

By William Kenny, Submarine Learning Center Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Submarine Learning Center (SLC), headquartered in Groton, Conn. announced May 20 reaffirmation of their accreditation by the Council on Occupational Education (COE), including all SLC learning sites.

A four-person COE site-inspection team led by Michael Bouwhuis, Campus President of Davis Applied Technology College in Kaysville, Utah devoted three days to reviewing the programs and processes of SLC and its associated sites.

"The purpose of COE is to improve the quality of education within the institution itself," explained Bouwhius. "As a nationally recognized accreditation agency, COE's evaluations are based on 11 standards, to include the institutional mission, educational programs, learning resources, as well as physical, financial and human resources."

The reaffirmation process requires the SLC to continually evaluate how well it achieves its mission, standards and goals. SLC was first accredited in 2008 and every four-to-six years, they are required to re-initiate the entire process; including hosting a COE visit.

According to the post-inspection write-up, the inspection team reported no deficient findings and specifically mentioned two sections as notably praise-worthy.

"We commend the Submarine Learning Center in two areas," offered the report. "The Instructional Bridge and associated training hardware and software is state-of-the-art technology."

The COE report also cited "the faculty mentorship and constant care of submariners, combined with an environment of 'failure is not an option'" as both highly commendable and an excellent practice.

Capt. David Roberts, SLC commanding officer, noted that SLC required about a year to complete the entire reaffirmation process, and the results exceeded his expectations.

"I feel reaffirmation means the practices and methods of our entire staff are acknowledged by contemporaries in both the public and private learning sectors," said Roberts. "Our standards are recognized by an authoritative agency or professional group, in this case, the COE."

Roberts added that reaffirmation offers tangible benefits for his staff and the Sailors they train.

"Our Sailors benefit by independently documented verification that our processes and procedures, what we do and how we do it, are equal to those of a civilian college or university," he said. "Reaffirmation of accreditation provides our civilian counterparts an opportunity to see how we conduct ourselves in support of education and training and to look at how we spend the taxpayer's money."

Roberts, a former commanding officer of USS Dallas (SSN-700), noted that pride in accreditation is important, but it's purpose and achievement that shows up on the bottom-line when training is evaluated for effectiveness.

"We (the Navy) are performance-focused and driven. We have to constantly strive to transform concepts, goals, innovations, plans and vision into measurable mission milestones," he said. "What we teach is embodied in every Sailor we provide to the fleet and reflected in the achievements and performance of every submarine crew."

The COE notice of accreditation reaffirmation for SLC is only interim until a scheduled meeting of the COE commissioners this coming September adjudicates and ratifies the visiting team's findings.

The other three members of the COE inspection team that inspected SLC included: Dwayne Eldridge, Director of Online Learning for the Defense Institute of Security Assistance Management at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Jeanette Gantt, Curriculum Development, Department of Defense; and William Prescott, Manager of Training at the Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Va.

The mission of SLC is to plan, program, budget, and execute individual and team training for Undersea Warfare Enterprise mission readiness. Additionally, it develops, assigns, and coordinates future undersea warfare training and education solutions and allocates resources to execute undersea warfare training in fleet concentration areas. SLC has 1,150 instructors and staff (enlisted, officer and civilian) and had 232,000 enrollments during 2013 for an average on-board under-instruction (AOBUI) of 2,145 students during the fiscal year. The SLC blended learning solution combines instructor-led classes, hands-on labs, simulation, interactive course ware, and computer-based training and is a critical support element of Undersea Warfare.