Military News

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Travis honors fallen service members through ruck march

by Senior Airman Madelyn Brown
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

5/22/2014 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- More than 300 Golden Bears rucked 6.2 miles Saturday morning, many with 30-pound ruck sacks strapped to their backs, to honor fallen service members and their family members in the fourth annual Gold Star Ruck March.

The event, hosted by the First Sergeants Council, raises funds to support Gold Star Moms as well as the Travis First Sergeants Warmheart Fund.

For Senior Master Sgt. Reny Nunag, 60th Aerial Port Squadron first sergeant, the importance of the symbolic ruck far outweighed any raised funds.

"This was a moment of celebration and remembrance," he said. "The hardest thing to endure as a military member is when we lose a loved one. The most impactful and meaningful part of this event is to show the families that we grieve and celebrate with them."

Just as the event was purposefully scheduled to take place on Armed Forces Day, the host of the event is no coincidence either.

"Our career field has the honor of being tasked specifically in guarding our military's sacred values and ensuring our members also live them," Nunag said. "It seems fitting to have the first sergeants host this event because this is what we are about. People is our business."

Participants of the ruck march had the option of competing in teams or individuals, as well as with or without the 30-pound ruck sacks.

Senior Airman Ashley Stanton, 60th Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron, finished the ruck march with the fastest individual female time of 88 minutes and 18 seconds.

"I trained with a coworker at Peña Adobe Park with 50-pound ruck sacks to prepare for this ruck march," Stanton said.

The last mile proved the most challenging due to the developing blisters on her feet, she said. While Stanton will tell you she's a competitor at heart, what truly motivated was who she was rucking for.

"I try to do the Gold Star Ruck March every year because I lost a couple friends in the initial surge of deployments," she said.

In addition to rucking for those fallen service members, Stanton carried a picture of Airman 1st Class Ronnie James Hayden, a fellow 60th MDTS Airman who died in a hiking accident earlier this month.

To inspire those who have never personally known a service member who has died, Stanton encourages them to seek out their inner patriotism, sense of country and self, the Harlow, North Dakota native said.

"We all serve in the uniform," Stanton said. "You may not know who these fallen service members are, but they are your brothers and sisters. They are our family."

Wrenches to Wings: munitions maintainer becomes Eagle pilot

by 2nd Lt. Ava Margerison
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

5/21/2014 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- An Airmen here is well on his way to fulfilling his dream of flying the same eagle he once turned wrenches on.

2nd Lt. Kyle Wheeler, a Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program graduate, 80th Flying Training Wing, Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, once prepared weapons as an Air Force enlisted air munitions maintenance operator on the F-15C Eagle.  After earning a commission and completing the initial stages of learning to fly, he is now ready to climb into the cockpit and drop the weapons he once loaded.

Wheeler always knew he wanted to be a pilot, but the question was when and how.

"I was always really passionate about airplanes as a kid," the Sioux Falls, S.D., native said. "Growing up, I enjoyed the airplane ride to Disney World when I was eight years old more than I really enjoyed Disney World itself. I've always had a fascination with airplanes."

Wheeler comes from a military family, with a cousin in the Air Force and a grandfather in the Army, so early on, he knew he was going to be a part of the long blue line. Soon after graduating high school, he enlisted in the Air Force and set out to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas to begin his military career.

After graduation, as an airman basic, Wheeler's first stop was Sheppard to start his technical training in the AMMO course. He quickly finished the eight week course and headed out to his first assignment at Kadena Air Base, Japan. It was there Wheeler's ambitions to the sky were set aside for a new aspiration, to become a part of the honor guard.

"It was an extremely humbling experience," he said. "Definitely rewarding and it was a lot of work. It was awesome."

Due to the high profile nature of honor guard service, Wheeler met Maj. Gen. Brett Williams, at that time 18th Wing Commander at Kadena.

"Kyle was an exemplary member of the honor guard and a top performer in the munitions squadron," said Williams. "As I recall, he was the Airman of the year during our tour so his work ethic was obviously outstanding."

Wheeler loved his job and the experiences as an enlisted Airman, yet he couldn't shake the lure of the skies.

Wheeler knew he was going to need to keep working hard and making sacrifices to soar in the future. He said there were countless weeks where he would end up working 50 to 60 hours juggling the honor guard and school feeling as though his weekends were nonexistent.

Family and personal drive helped to encourage Wheeler to keep focused on his goals.

"I get my work ethic from my mom, I stay focused because of my wife, and I want to be a role model for my two younger brothers," he said.

He kept his nose to the grindstone working hard and as fate would have it, Wheeler and Williams happened to be stationed at the Pentagon at the same time. It was here the general began talking to Wheeler about his dreams in the skies.

"We met two or three times and he always knew exactly what he wanted to do," said Williams.

With the mentoring from Williams and his own personal drive, Wheeler knew if he was going to fly his beloved F-15 in the future, he was going to have to take a great leap of faith with a long road ahead of him.

"There were plenty of times where I thought, 'Holy cow, I have a year and a half left of my degree, I'm in a job that I really enjoy, is this something that I want to completely give up and go and just do this?' "

Wheeler finished his bachelor's degree in May 2012 and was able to commission as an officer in August 2012 through Officer Training School at Maxwell AFB, Ala. Soon after commissioning, he learned he was not only attending pilot training, but he would be attending the premier combat pilot training program, ENJJPT at Sheppard.

"It was awesome," he said. "I was super pumped. It was right before graduation so all of my family was there."

The hard work did not stop there. Through the many conversations Williams had with the instructors during Wheeler's training, his drive and commitment were evident throughout the entire 55-week pilot training program.

"The instructor told me from day one of training he knew Kyle would succeed," Williams said. "He knew what he wanted and he was willing to work as hard as required to get that F-15."

After completing the ENJJPT program, Wheeler finally walked across the stage to receive his long-dreamed-of and hard-earned pilot wings.

"It was a culmination of everything I had worked hard for a lot of years. It wasn't just the six years I had been in the military; it was in high school as well."

To top it off, Williams and Wheeler's paths crossed once more at graduation. The general is currently the director of operations for United States Cyber Command, Fort Meade, Md. Williams was able to be the guest speaker at Wheeler's graduation and present Wheeler with a set of shiny new wings.

"It was a huge honor and very humbling for me that Kyle asked me to be part of his graduation and wing pinning," said Williams. "I was very fortunate to have served as one of his mentors and to see him succeed was very special for me."

Wheeler was also excited to have one of his mentors there to see him succeed adding to the high-energy of graduation as Wheeler and his classmates finally pinned on their pilot wings.

"It was surreal. It's hard to put it into words how I felt. It wasn't until I came back to work the following week, walking around--I wasn't the same," he said. "When you walk around as a student you go about your business. With wings you get a certain respect, which was neat to see."

Wheeler will be starting Introduction to Fighter Fundamentals Course at Sheppard in August. The IFF course trains pilots the basics of fighter maneuvers from air-to-air employment in offensive, defensive and high aspect flight scenarios to close-air-support capabilities.

He hopes other pilot-dreamers will make the step to pursue their aspirations as well.

"Hard work, perseverance and the desire will allow you to do anything you want to do in the United States Air Force. It's the coolest job ever," Wheeler said.

Once Wheeler finishes training here, he will continue his adventure as he becomes specialized in the F-15.

AETC selects JBSA-Randolph legal office as tops in command

by Robert Goetz
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

5/22/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- Six months into 2012, members of the 502nd Security Forces and Logistics Support Group Office of the Staff Judge Advocate at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph looked at ways they could improve their performance in 2013.

The JBSA-Randolph legal team learned May 2 that the strides it made last year following that self-examination had not gone unnoticed outside its office. It was selected as the 2013 Air Education and Training Command Outstanding Legal Office of the Year in the small office category.

"It's humbling, because if you look across JBSA, everybody's doing a great job," Maj. Elvis Santiago, 502nd SFLSGJA deputy staff judge advocate, said. "We have to do more with less, but we've improved in every area. It's a testament to everyone in our office."

The 502nd SFLSG legal office in 2013 resolved "to be part of the larger mission of the Air Force," Santiago said, and demonstrated its commitment by assisting the JBSA-Lackland legal team during the height of the military training instructor trials.

The legal office typically handles four or five courts-martial per year, he said, but last year that number rose to 19.

"We provided assistance to JBSA-Lackland due to the surge in MTI cases," Santiago said. "That was part of an Air Force effort to hold everyone accountable for their actions."

The legal office met other objectives as well, extending its outreach to the surrounding community, streamlining the will preparation process, creating a continuing legal education program and increasing the volume of its legal opinions; in addition, staff members earned several individual awards at the command, base, wing and group levels.

Streamlining the will preparation process for beneficiaries resulted in much-improved productivity, Santiago said.

"We streamlined a process that used to take about three hours," he said. "Now we can get everybody out in 45 minutes to an hour. We produced 147 wills per attorney; that's 178 percent better than the Air Force average of 53."

In the area of community service, legal office staff members contributed 750 hours, lending a helping hand to organizations such as Haven for Hope and Habitat for Humanity. They also provided outreach to Randolph High School with Constitution Day and Law Day activities, and took advantage of teaching and mentorship opportunities.

"Teaming is one of the four pillars of our office, and we addressed how we could team with the local community to make it a win-win situation," Santiago said.

Last year was also marked by individual awards, including four for Jackie Christilles, AETC Outstanding Civilian Attorney and Civilian Employee of the Year at the JBSA, 502nd Air Base Wing and 502nd SFLSG levels, and Capt. Anna Scott, 502nd ABW Outstanding Young Attorney and 502nd SFLSG Company Grade Officer of the Year. Civilians Marcel Brown and Sarah Browne were cited as "unsung heroes" and Staff Sgt. Jason Brown earned Noncommissioned Officer of the Fourth Quarter for the 502nd SFLSG.

The legal office's evaluation process started when Lt. Col. Katherine Oler became staff judge advocate, Santiago said. Under her leadership, the staff looked at every area to maximize its potential.

Despite its small size, the legal office staff, which is composed of 13 active-duty members and four civilians, is responsible for legal assistance and military justice support for AETC, Air Force Personnel Center, Air Force Recruiting Service and 30 other mission partners, advising commanders on all legal matters and providing trial counsel at JBSA courts-martial. The office's client services range from legal counsel and powers of attorney to will and tax preparation.

Ceremony marks 14th Intelligence Squadron activation

by 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/21/2014 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio  -- A ceremony marking the official activation of the 14th Intelligence Squadron was held at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center May 17.

The 14th Intelligence Squadron is part of the latest intelligence transformation initiative by the Air Force Reserve Command and will create a unique acquisition intelligence capability for reservists.

The 14 IS will conduct intelligence analysis and assessments for Air Force Materiel Command.

The squadron will support the 21 Intelligence Squadron, a 55-member active-duty unit assigned to the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center, and work in collaboration with NASIC. These four organizations are located at Wright-Patterson AFB.

According to Lt. Col. Dianne Hickey, 14 IS commander, "Fighting smarter is key for the future, and intel is the key to fighting smarter." In order to fight smarter, the 14 IS is being established using a diverse group of people ranging from new Airmen to experienced acquisition professionals, each offering different perspectives to an ever evolving mission space.

The 14 IS reports to the 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group. The 655 ISRG oversees 11 Reserve intelligence squadrons located in 6 different States. The Group, which first became a detachment in November 2012, now oversees more than 700 Citizen Airmen who already contribute to real-world operations.

McConnell Reservist reaches air refueling milestone

by Capt. Zach Anderson
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs

5/22/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- A McConnell Reservist has reached a career milestone that was more than 24 years in the making.

Senior Master Sgt. Ray Lewis, a refueling boom operator assigned to the 931st Air Refueling Group recently passed 6,500 flying hours while at the same time tallying his 1,500th mission.

While the numbers are impressive, Lewis said he sees the totals as less of a milestone and more of a reflection on the fact that he has been able to continue to fly regularly for the duration of his career.

"I think I'm just lucky," said Lewis. "I'm lucky in the sense that I've been able to stay in the Air Force for as long as I have and I've been able to continue to fly, serving as a reservist. I've been in the Air Force Reserve for more than 16 years of my career, and I get to fly roughly four hours a week, so it's really just been an accumulation of hours over the years."

As a boom operator, Lewis' primary job is to control the KC-135 Stratotanker's refueling boom during air refueling operations. He communicates and coordinates with the receiving aircraft's pilot to ensure the safe transfer of thousands of pounds of jet fuel, all while the two aircraft are less than thirty feet apart, traveling at 500 miles per hour, 30,000 feet above the earth.

And despite having spent the equivalent of nine months in flight doing the job, Lewis said it never gets old.

"I still get excited each time I'm scheduled to go fly," he said. "It's been that way ever since the first time I did an air refueling mission, back when I was just a 19 year-old-kid. I've always loved the job, always loved being in the airplane. Honestly, I like being in the airplane more than I like being at home. That may sound weird, but I'm just very, very comfortable in the airplane and I love doing the job."

That excitement of doing the job has been a hallmark of Lewis' career, dating back to that very first mission, 6,499 hours ago.

"I was excited and terrified at the same time," said Lewis with a laugh. "It was at now-closed Castle Air Force Base in California, and I was going up to refuel a C-130. I remember my instructor was irritated because all Castle did at the time was B-52s and now on my first sortie I was scheduled for a propeller airplane. He was aggravated about that, but I kept thinking it was no big deal because I didn't know any better! And it's really not a big deal, but for the very first time it was unusual. But everything went totally fine and I was able to log my first hours."

In almost a quarter century of flying, Lewis has refueled virtually every aircraft in the Air Force fleet and served on multiple combat missions, his first refueling F-16s during Operation DESERT SHIELD in 1990 and Operation DESERT STORM in 1991. He has also conducted and instructed on hundreds of training missions, passing his own knowledge and experience on to the next generation of boom operators. Now in the twilight of his career, he said he looks at each mission a little differently.

"The job is the same, and I treat each sortie the same, but at this point the writing is on the wall--I'm not going to get to do this forever," he said. "So I appreciate it just a little more than I did back when I was that 19-year-old kid. Every flight is a blessing, and I just feel lucky to be able to continue to do this."

Soldier Missing From Korean War Accounted For

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. James R. Holmes of Warren, Ohio, will be buried May 29 in Arlington National Cemetery. In November 1950, Holmes was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment, which was pushing north through North Korea to the Yalu River. In late November, the unit was attacked by enemy forces and withdrew south to the town of Anju. On Dec. 1, 1950, Holmes was declared missing in action.

As part of a 1953 prisoner exchange known as Operation Big Switch, returning U.S. service members reported that Holmes had been captured by the Chinese during that battle and died in 1951, in prisoner of war camp known as Camp 5, near Pyoktong, North Korea.

Between 1991 and 1994, North Korea gave the U.S. 208 boxes of human remains believed to contain 350 - 400 U.S. servicemen who fought during the war. North Korean documents turned over with some of the boxes indicated that some of the remains were recovered from Pyoktong County, near the area where Holmes was believed to have died.

To identify Holmes’ remains, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA, which matched his sister and brother.

Today, 7,883 Americans remain unaccounted-for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American teams.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for
Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPMO web site at or call 703-699-1169.

Face of Defense: Air National Guard Member Molds Future Airmen

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Eichaker
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., May 27, 2014 – The Air Force basic military training instructor is vital to the development of making future airmen, and the Air National Guard plays a relevant role in that process.

Air National Guard members who apply and are accepted carry out a four-year assignment as an MTI before returning to their home units.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Maria Escobar is one of those Guard members. She left her human resources specialist job at the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, to begin her MTI tour at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, in 2010.

Escobar said her own basic training experiences encouraged her to pursue her current path, which has taken her back to where it all began for her. “My military training instructor inspired me to become an MTI,” Escobar said. “She was a great leader and mentor and she exemplified what a true airman needed to be.”

Escobar said her experiences of being on the 102nd Intelligence Wing honor guard, along with working in personnel, have had a positive effect on her MTI assignment. Although the two duties might not seem conducive to being an MTI, she said, the honor guard gave her training in drill movements, while her personnel job contributed to successful record keeping — two essential skills when working with trainees.

“I also wanted to give back to the Air Force,” she said. “I love to teach and mentor,” adding that as an MTI, she is able to accomplish both.

Despite the long hours and grueling schedule MTIs face every day, the responsibility of transforming civilian trainees to airmen can be exceptionally rewarding. “The changes are amazing, and it is not only noticeable by the instructors, but also their families,” Escobar said, adding that her biggest reward from being an MTI is the pride she feels in turning young civilians into airmen.

With almost four years of MTI duty on her resume, Escobar reflected on what she called one of her most treasured moments: giving trainees their graduation coins during their basic training graduation retreat ceremony.

“The retreat ceremony is when they get promoted to airmen,” she said. “I [know] at that moment that the airmen standing there [are] a representation of all the hard work and dedication that we achieved as a team.”

Escobar said that while serving as an MTI, she also served on a special team to evaluate other basic training squadrons for compliance, which in turn gave her a larger understanding of Air Force policies and procedures. She said this has advanced her career and provided more opportunities at her home unit.

“Due to my current assignment as an MTI, it helped me get a new job at the 102nd IW as an inspector general assistant,” she said.

And those she works with have no doubt she’ll succeed in her new position.

“Staff Sergeant Escobar is truly a consummate professional and outstanding [noncommissioned officer],” said Air Force Master Sgt. Troy Moore, Escobar’s supervisor at the 737th Training Group at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. “She is considered one of the elite among the instructor force, and she is also a leader among other MTIs.”

Moore added that Escobar’s crowning achievement while assigned to basic military training was when she received her master military training instructor distinction and earned the right to don the blue rope on her uniform.

“[The] Blue rope is a master military training instructor that is considered the ‘best of the best’ of the MTI corps, … and so is Staff Sergeant Escobar,” Moore said.

Combat Hammer 2014: Boosting RPA strike proficiency

by Staff Sgt. N.B.
432nd Wing, 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

5/27/2014 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev.  -- The role of modern aerial warfare has drastically changed since it was first used on a large scale in World War I. The advent of precision-guided munitions has aided in providing strike capabilities to combatant commanders while helping to reduce or even eliminate unnecessary suffering.

Hunters from the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing and the Air-to-Ground Weapons System Evaluation Program team participated in the 2014 Combat Hammer Exercise May 12-15, 2014, to operationally assess and evaluate the reliability, maintainability, suitability, and accuracy of remotely piloted aircraft munitions.

"In layman's terms our mission is to look at the weapon from cradle to grave in a controlled environment," said Maj. John Collier, 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron lead WSEP evaluator. "We do this so combatant commanders are provided the necessary information to ensure they plan and pair the correct number of weapons against any given type of target."

Crews from various major commands participated in the week-long exercise to include the 432nd Attack Squadron from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., joining via remote split operations.

Remote split operations allow for MQ-9 Reapers to take off from Creech AFB and be flown by aircrew with access to a ground control station, making it possible for more RPA units to engage in WSEP operations.

"The RSO capability provides us a unique opportunity that other [traditional] operations groups can't do," said Capt. Marcus, 432nd Operations Support Squadron WSEP project officer. "We can fight in combat overseas in the morning and participate in a major evaluation of weapons at home in the afternoon."

Aircrews selected to fly varied in rank and skill level, and for many it was their first time deploying either the GBU-12 Paveway II bomb or the AGM-114 Hellfire missile.

"It was my first time taking part in an exercise like this," said Airman 1st Class Gillian, 42nd Attack Squadron sensor operator. "It was awesome and really helpful for learning purposes to see weapons deploy and impact a target before having to use them for real. I truly learned a lot."

During the exercise MQ-9 Reapers flew in a two-ship formation flight through Federal Aviation Administration airspace to the Utah Test and Training Range at Hill AFB, Utah.

This marked one of the first times RPA assets were allowed to travel in formation, which aircrew members were also able to use as a training opportunity.

Along with achieving many firsts, safety remained a priority throughout the week.

"There were no safety violations; everything was spot on," Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Young, 86th FWS WSEP production superintendent. "This is my third time out here and everything always runs exactly how it should."

Leadership from the 432nd Wing/432nd AEW praised Hunters and WSEP team members for their hard work and dedication to superior performance during Combat Hammer.

"It's truly outstanding work by the maintenance team and by the crews both locally and from a distance," said Col. James Chittenden, 432nd Wing/432nd AEW vice commander.

Fighter, bomber and RPA units around the Air Force are evaluated four times a year and provided weapons, airspace and targets from Hill AFB, Utah, or Eglin AFB, Fla.

"This was a great WSEP because the Hunters pulled a lot of lessons learned to help save lives, and ultimately that's what we're here to do," said Collier.

On the prowl: VAQ-142 participates in RF-A 14-1

by Senior Airman Zachary Perras
354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/23/2014 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- It's not every day Eielson hosts counterparts from the U.S. Navy, but the distinguished look of the EA-6B Prowler is a welcome sight during RED FLAG-Alaska.

Electronic Attack Squadron 142 Gray Wolves from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Wash., recently deployed several Prowlers to Eielson to participate in the first RF-A of the year, 14-1.

"We don't get to see these large-force exercises very often outside of deployments," said Navy Lt. Candice Nunley, VAQ-142 pilot. "Participating with so many other squadrons was a huge opportunity for us to learn and experience things we normally wouldn't be able to."

Learning in an Air Force environment has been a unique experience, Nunley said. During RF-A, both Air Force and Navy participants learned the ins and outs of how to operate smoothly with each other.

"It's very beneficial if we were to ever find ourselves in a situation trying to use these tactics together abroad," Nunley said. "It expanded our knowledge base and was a good addition to our training experience."

Although a Navy unit, VAQ-142 is no stranger to Air Force procedures: Maj. Shalin Turner, a former B-1B Lancer weapons system officer, has been assigned to VAQ-142 as a Prowler electronic countermeasures officer for the past two years.

"The Air Force doesn't work with Prowlers very often, so we were teaching what [the Prowler's] capabilities were and how it should be utilized," said Turner. "We're used to doing things in a different way, so we were learning at the same time. There was definitely a lot of learning all around."

The Prowler, with its advanced electronic countermeasures capability, flew both as a "red" and "blue" force aircraft during RF-A, providing different training scenarios for each side.

"It was enlightening to see how the Aggressors planned to train the blue fighters," said Navy Lt. Matthew Galamison, VAQ-142 ECMO. "The joint aspect of it was good to experience, and I think that was something a lot of us needed. It's good to broaden our horizons."

Turner will be the last Air Force WSO to fly in the Prowler, giving him a distinctive opportunity to bring knowledge back to the Air Force once his assignment is finished.

"The Navy is the only service with fast electronic attack - the Air Force has the EC-130, but it can't integrate into a strike package," Turner said. "My role is to learn those electronic attack capabilities and bring it back over when I'm done."

VAQ-142 will transition from the Prowler to the EA-18G Growler over the next year, so as the last potential large-force exercise for VAQ-142's Prowlers, Nunley said RF-A was a great experience.

"It gave us a different perspective being Navy in an Air Force world," she said. "This may be the last opportunity for the squadron and the last one for the Navy Prowler in general to participate in a large-force exercise, but it was awesome for us."

RQ-4 Global Hawk arrives at Misawa

by Senior Airman Jose L. Hernandez-Domitilo
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/23/2014 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- The first-ever RQ-4 Global Hawk to touch down in Japan arrived at Misawa Air Base May 24.

The remotely piloted system was brought to Misawa AB to support U.S. intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions and contingency operations throughout the Pacific theater, and is scheduled to operate from Misawa AB between May and October.

A team of around 40 support and operations personnel from the 69th Reconnaissance Group, Detachment 1 also arrived on station and will remain here to support the Global Hawk mission during operating months.

According the detachment's director of operations, the temporary rotation of the Global Hawk to Japan was decided, in part, as a result of the adverse impact of inclement summer weather on ISR operations in Guam. Given the number of sorties lost due to typhoons and thunderstorms, the need to look for alternate summer basing options arose.

The director explained that comprehensive studies were conducted weighing a variety of factors that ultimately determined Misawa AB to be the most ideal relocation site. He said factors including weather patterns, available facilities, ISR priorities, contingency operation requirements, and costs -- among other issues -- were taken into consideration.

"Our relationship with Japan is very important, so being here reinforces the strong partnership our country has with the Japanese government," he said. "We're confident these operations benefit both parties."

Posturing at Misawa AB not only provides a better option from a weather standpoint, but also expands the U.S. Air Force's global reach by having another base from which the Global Hawk can operate during summer months.

While the primary mission of the Global Hawk is to provide a broad spectrum of ISR collection capabilities to combatant commanders worldwide, the 69th RG Det. 1 commander noted it has also been instrumental in assisting in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

In theater, the Global Hawk can provide near real-time aerial imagery reconnaissance support to U.S. and partner nations assisting in a multitude of operations. This capability was effectively employed during Operation Tomodachi, a relief effort that launched when a 9.0-magnitude earthquake resulting in a tsunami ravaged northeastern Japan in 2011.

The Global Hawk was requested to support relief efforts within 48 hours of the disaster, prompting crews to prepare and launch aircraft only nine hours after official notification.

While airborne, the Global Hawk was able to identify passable roads and territories to enable first responders to plan routes in and out of disaster areas. It also identified emergency landing zones in hazardous areas while providing uninterrupted coverage. Using long-range and infrared cameras, the remotely piloted aircraft provided commanders with more than 3,000 images of the disaster zone.

The director of operations said the Japanese community has been receptive and helpful with the setup of operations here, and he remains optimistic the presence of Global Hawk in Japan will further contribute to ensuring regional stability and foster cooperation between neighbors to address trans-regional issues.

More recently, The Global Hawk was also essential in supporting relief efforts during Operation Damayan following last year's Super Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. The aircraft's persistence in its ability to fly more than 30 consecutive hours provided coverage of upward of 100,000 kilometers of the disaster area within 24 hours. Imagery identifying fires, partially submerged or sunken ships, landscape hazards and distress signals by locals requesting food, water and medical care were found as a result of the Global Hawk's near real-time transmission of satellite images to experts on the ground.

The director said the detachment will be postured and ready to continue the mission at all times whether at Misawa AB or Andersen AFB.

Midshipmen Join GW to Gain Navy Experience Pride

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Matthew Riggs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Seven midshipmen joined the crew of U.S. Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) to gain valuable, motivational and instructional experience not attainable in classroom environments, May 24.

These midshipmen are assigned to George Washington for two weeks to further their professional development, introduce operations of the Navy and Marine Corps, reinforce academic programs, instill a sense of pride and identification with the Navy, and pique interest in fleet operations.

"This experience will let you [midshipmen] spend some time in other Sailor's worlds; allow you get to know the Sailors you will serve, see the environments you'll be in and gain experience in the work you'll do," said Capt. Greg Fenton, George Washington's commanding officer. "The whole point of this training is to allow all of you to have some time to ensure you know what you want to do."

Each midshipman was assigned a junior officer or first class petty officer as a running mate to facilitate training. Running mates will show midshipmen their jobs, the environment and the next potential step in each midshipman's career.

"I chose to pair them up with officers whose fields matched that particular midshipman's interests," said Lt. Cmdr. Nick Long, George Washington's training officer. "They'll be able to shadow them and learn about that profession while learning about the Navy community as a whole."

Rear Adm. Mark Montgomery, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet, spoke with the midshipmen as they began to settle into shipboard life and experience their prospective fields.

"This experience will drive your decisions, so ensure you get the right perspective," said Montgomery. "George Washington is a good ship. It's got a bit of everything and it's a good way to learn what integrated operations are like."

These potential officers are, on average, 21 years-old, and some are fresh out of college and have little practical shipboard experience or knowledge. Being on a ship offers them a unique insight into their professional development.

"I thought the ship's environment was intense," said Midshipman 1st Class Devin Duplaisir, a Cornell University recruit officer training command candidate, from Oceanside, Calif. "There are so many people here who are from vastly different communities who all work together to serve a single mission."

Midshipman 2nd Class Titus Davis, a Morehouse University recruit officer training command candidate, from Atlanta, originally expressed an interest in the aviation community and saw the vast opportunities offered by an aircraft carrier.

"I've always been interested in aviation, but after coming aboard, I got to see just how much a carrier has to offer," said Davis. "I have so many different options in front of me now...I can do anything I want to here."

George Washington and its embarked air wing, Carrier Air Wing 5, provide a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interest of the U.S. and its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

Grissom jets headed to Wright-Patterson

by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner
434th ARW Public Affairs

5/20/2014 - GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Normally birds migrate south for the winter, but Grissom's flock is headed southeast this summer.

Nearly all of Grissom's KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft will begin transitioning to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, during a planned 45-day runway construction project here.

"During that time, our Airmen and aircraft will continue their normal operations at Wright-Patterson," said Col. Bryan Reinhart, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander. "Non-flying operations will continue as normal here at Grissom; we're just moving the aviation training and alert mission over to Ohio during the repairs so we don't miss a beat."

The estimated $3.2 million project will temporarily close Grissom's runway June 1 and is critical to the long-term use of the runway by both military and civilian aircraft, said John Robison, 434th Civil Engineer Squadron chief engineer.

"We are doing this to prevent buckling of the runway due to thermal expansion," explained Robison. "The pavement heaves up during the summer time, so we are going to put in expansion joints in the pavement that allow it to move around and prevent an un-level pavement surface."

While the repairs to Grissom's 12,500 foot runway will briefly cease aviation operations at Grissom, Reinhart said everything possible was done to limit the overall impact.

"When we initially looked at these repairs, the projects were spread out over some length of time," he said. "We've worked really hard to consolidate these as much as possible so we limit the time our runway is closed.

"We've been working very closely with Jim Tidd, [Miami County Economic Development Authority director], as well as the local aviation entities on Grissom to be as flexible as we possibly can," the colonel continued. "At the end of the day, these repairs are absolutely necessary and will benefit both military and civilian aviation for years to come."

This is not the first time Grissom's runway has been closed for repair or that the 434th ARW's aviation operations have moved to Wright-Patterson.

"We did this 10 years ago, and it was really successful," said Lt. Col Brian Hollis, 72nd Air Refueling Squadron director of operations and project officer for the move. "A lot of the people that were here in 2004 are still here, and we're benchmarking from that experience to make this as smooth a transition as possible."

During that 2004 excursion, the 445th Airlift Wing and 88th Air Base Wing at Wright-Patterson partnered with the 434th ARW to offer a unique opportunity for media outlets to cover all three units. During this year's move, the units are once again partnering to two unique events not normally possible.

The first media event will be on May 27 when media will be able to capture imagery of Grissom KC-135s landing at Wright-Patterson and interview 434th ARW pilots and boom operators.

The second event will be a media flight from Wright-Patterson. Media representatives will have a unique opportunity to see an aerial refueling mission from an aircraft different from what is located in their state as Indiana media will fly on a 445th AW C-17 Globemaster III and Ohio media will fly on a Grissom KC-135.

Media interested in participating in either of these events should contact the 434th ARW Public Affairs office at (765) 688-3348.