Military News

Thursday, May 29, 2014

U.S., Romania conduct joint training, build partnership

by Senior Airman Damon Kasberg
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


5/29/2014 - BUCHAREST, Romania -- More than 80 U.S. Airmen and Soldiers stationed in Germany came together to take part in the Carpathian Spring 2014 in Bucharest, Romania from May 9 through 23.

Carpathian Spring is an annual training opportunity which allows C-130J Super Hercules aircrew to fly in less restrictive airspace, allowing them utilize night-vision goggle capabilities and fly in low-level formations.

"This training is important because Romanian airspace allows us to be very flexible and helps to keep us proficient," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Chad Thompson, 37th Airlift Squadron pilot. "We're performing daytime-visual mountain-low-level training, where we fly low through the mountains to practice threat avoidance and forcible-entry capabilities. We're also doing air-drop training with container delivery systems and Romanian paratroopers. At night we're doing NVG flying and landings."

The opportunity to fulfill training requirements was essential for all personnel, but more importantly, the two-week-long training allowed service members to interact with their Romanian allies. Members from both militaries shared their perspectives and expertise, improving mission planning and tactics.

"I've learned how U.S. pilots can perform in tactical exercises and how they manage a paratrooper mission," said Romanian Air Force 1st Lt. Gheorghe Matis, C-27J pilot in training. "I was very impressed. These kinds of training opportunities prepare us for real missions. This has been my first time working with Americans. I hope there are more chances in the future to take this cooperation to a higher level because we have a lot to learn from each other."

Pilots from the 37th AS also shared similar sentiments.

"It's important to work with the Romanians because they're one of our NATO Allies," Thompson said. "They're hard working and have been accommodating, letting us bring our C-130s and opening their airspace to allow us to train better together.

"Working closely together during these types of flying training deployments helps increase our thriving relationship with the Romanian." he added.

Along with conducting flying training missions, Romanian paratroopers were also able to fulfill their jump requirements. Above Romanian drop zones, C-130J pilots, loadmasters and U.S. Air for and Army jumpmasters worked together with Romanian paratroopers to ensure safety during static-line jumps and high-altitude low-opening jumps.

"We've been here providing jumpmaster support," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Christopher Zavala Romero, 435th Contingency Response Group jumpmaster. "We have helped push out 300 Romanian paratroopers in the past two weeks. Part of our job is to make sure jumpers and the aircraft are both safe. This training ensures we're on the same page when we work with our allies."

Once aircrew completed their missions, Airmen from the 86th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron were ready to do their part. The maintainers worked 12-hour shifts to keep the C-130Js flight ready.

"For two weeks our teams have been launching aircraft for day and night missions and fixing them when they return," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Jereamy Day, 86th AMXS guidance and control craftsman. "Delivering aircraft that can perform the mission is why we're here.

The 86th Airlift Wing mission is only successful with every piece working together, the same way joint operations are successful with partnerships built during trainings such as Carpathian Spring. Team Ramstein has participated in Carpathian Spring since 2008, showing the Air Force's continued commitment to NATO Allies.

Truxtun Departs Muscat, Oman



By Ensign Rachel Mattis, USS Truxtun Public Affairs

MUSCAT, Oman (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103) departed from Muscat, Oman, May 13, after a port visit.

Truxtun received valuable logistics support and technical assistance which will help maintain high material readiness on the ship.

"Truxtun left Muscat in better condition than it arrived thanks to the excellent support we received, and the crew was also able to get some well-earned rest and relaxation," said Truxtun's commanding officer, Cmdr. Drew Bates. "The tours of cultural and scenic places of interest were especially liked."

While in port, Truxtun Sailors took advantage of the many recreational opportunities presented by Muscat. Many Sailors were able to stay at hotels, where they enjoyed private beaches and fine dining. Others took a tour of the Bait Al Zubair Museum. Sailors particularly enjoyed an outing where they were able to see local marine wildlife by swimming and snorkeling off the Oman coast.

Sailors also visited to the Qurm City Center mall, to an embassy sponsored club, and to local shopping areas.

Truxtun is deployed as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Face of Defense: Combat Medic Continues Quest for Badge



By Army Sgt. Quentin Johnson
2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division

FORT HOOD, Texas, May 29, 2014 – Former President Richard M. Nixon once said, “Defeat doesn’t finish a man -- quit does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.”

Army combat medic Spc. Jessica Lazo’s story is not one of an inspiring accomplishment or defeat, but a never-quit attitude as she continues her quest to earn the Expert Field Medical Badge.

Lazo tried and failed to earn the badge during testing conducted here from May 10 to May 20. It was her fourth attempt to earn the badge in nearly two years of trying.

The EFMB test is a 10-day event in which soldiers in medical career fields can earn the coveted badge by performing more than 30 critical and medical tasks through three separate combat testing lanes, said Army Maj. Matthew Mapes, the 61st Multifunctional Medical Battalion’s executive officer and the EFMB officer-in-charge.

The 10 days are broken up into five days of testing-lane study and five days of actual testing with a 60-question written test on the first day and a 12-mile march on the last day, said Mapes, a native of Highland Park, Illinois.

All aspects of the test are timed and graded. Upon successful completion of all the events, each participant will receive the EFMB, he said.

Lazo, assigned to Company C, 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, was one of approximately 173 Fort Hood soldiers to tackle the test.

She said her journey started in September 2012, when she was a private and competing for the EFMB for the first time.

“I originally wanted to earn [the EFMB] for career progression and to keep myself competitive in my field,” she said.

Lazo said she had no expectations on the outcome of the test but was dedicated to doing her best.

“I did my best. [I] studied at night and learned all I could from my instructors,” she said.

Despite Lazo’s best efforts, her lack of experience in land navigation caused her to fail the event and she was dropped from testing, she said. Never one to accept defeat, Lazo continued to train and grow from the experience to attempt the test the following year.

Lazo, who hails from Miami, said she took the EFMB test again on Jan. 13, 2013. This test, Lazo said, was conducted at Fort Bliss, Texas, which came with an entirely different type of terrain from what she was accustomed to.

“The test was very similar in terms of testing, but the geography was different,” she added. “I better-prepared myself the second time, especially in land navigation.”

She kept a committed attitude and successfully passed the land navigation portion of the test, she said. However, that triumph proved to be short-lived.

“I was more than eight miles into the foot march,” she said. “It was cold and without really noticing what was happening, I passed out,” she said.

Lazo said moping around was not the answer. Instead she learned from her mistakes and refused to give up.

“The third attempt was more personal, like a vendetta between me and the badge,” she said.

Lazo said she studied harder and steeled herself for another attempt.

“I understand the test’s attrition rate is high, but I will accomplish this,” she said. “I know it is possible to succeed.”

At this year’s EFMB test, Lazo said she was disqualified after the land navigation portion of the test.

“It was heartbreaking,” she said. “I prepared but couldn’t have anticipated how difficult it was to navigate the test site’s terrain.”

Lazo said she isn’t ready to concede defeat.

“I really want this badge,” she said.

Lazo’s advice to soldiers wanting to earn the EFMB is to train hard and don’t give up. She said her fourth attempt to earn the badge is scheduled this fall.

Kentucky Air Guardsmen complete intense combat training at Red Flag - Alaska

by Master Sgt. Phil Speck
123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


5/29/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- More than 100 Airmen from the Kentucky Air National Guard completed 10 days of intense combat training here May 23 airlifting 35,000 pounds of essential cargo and airdropping 280 Army paratroopers into enemy territory while facing attacks from hostile aircraft and surface-to-air missiles.

The training, part of a regular Pacific Command exercise called Red Flag - Alaska, exposed Kentucky's C-130 aircrews to a "hyper-realistic training environment" that will strengthen their preparation for combat missions in any setting, said Col. Robert Hamm, commander of Kentucky's Louisville-based 123rd Operations Group.

"The fast pace and high tension of the exercise required our Airmen to maintain constant focus despite being mentally and physically fatigued throughout," Hamm said. "It was as close as it gets to the stress they'll have to endure in actual combat.

"Our guys accomplished every one of their learning objectives, and I think it opened up a lot of their eyes about how serious this is -- about how different (combat) is from the way we train locally because we can't create the same conditions back home."

Among those differences were the ability to train alongside escort and strike aircraft while facing threats from aggressors in the air and on the ground. Kentucky's three C-130s were escorted into and out of hostile territory by F-15 and F-22 fighters, whose mission was to eliminate enemy aircraft and surface-to-air missile batteries, Hamm said.

The Kentucky Airmen also had the opportunity to navigate challenging mountain terrain in the Pacific-Alaska Range Complex where the exercise was staged, and to interoperate with a full spectrum of assets from AWACS to A-10s, working with each of these units to plan and execute every mission.

Lt. Col. Matthew Quenichet, director of operations for the 165th Airlift Squadron, was pleased with Kentucky's performance in such an intense environment.

"It was a big accomplishment just to survive the sortie, hit your time-on-target, make your landing, pick up your cargo, and get it to the end of the vulnerability zone," he said.

That vulnerability zone is where the simulated war took place. Aircraft from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, would meet there to begin the conflict. Units took turns being allied forces or aggressors, while C-130 crews executed various scenarios in which they had to fly through treacherous terrain, land on dirt-strip runways, pick up cargo, and airdrop cargo or Army paratroopers.

This exercise marked the first time that Army forces were integrated into the training, and the Kentucky Air Guard became the first Air Force unit ever to drop paratroopers into an airfield for a simulated seizure during Red Flag - Alaska.

"There was a lot of apprehension going into this," Quenichet said. "People were not sure what to expect, but they were excited. It was a lot for people to take in. The idea was to throw more challenges at the aircrews than they would ever see in actual combat."

Two groups of Kentucky Airmen participated in the exercise, Quenichet added: Highly experienced aircrews with extensive combat exposure in Afghanistan; and brand-new co-pilots, engineers and loadmasters who had never seen anything like it before.

"It may have taken the new aircrews an entire career to get this kind of experience, but they got it in their first couple of months in the airplane here," Quenichet said. "We worked together as a team to get a game plan and accomplish this mission. Once we were en route, it wasn't a simulator. It was real airplanes flying through incredibly challenging terrain, facing actual threat systems. The only difference between the scenarios here and real combat was that there weren't pieces of metal flying at you.

"By the end of the exercise, all our aircrews were right where they needed to be."

Lt. Col. Kevin Allred, commander of Detachment 1, 353rd Combat Training Squadron, said the event was one of the smoothest Red Flags he's seen.

"I'm very impressed all the way around," Allred said. "From the deployment to getting in to town, they were all over everything. All of your crews were fired up to be here -- that's really fun to watch. I think everyone got really good training out of it, because they wanted to be here."

Allred also said he was pleased by how smoothly the Army integration went, adding that officials plan to build on the airfield-seizure scenario in future exercises.

Hamm credited the 353rd with providing excellent support throughout Red Flag -- a factor that helped the Kentucky Airmen maximize their training opportunities.

"The 353rd Combat Training Squadron provided outstanding support for a phenomenal exercise," Hamm said. "There was no tension, and we got everything we asked for. We couldn't ask for better support from those guys."

10th CWS deactivates at Hurlburt Field

by Airman 1st Class Jeff Parkinson
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs


5/14/2014 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla.  -- The 24th Special Operations Wing deactivated its 10th Combat Weather Squadron May 7 during a ceremony here.

Col. Kurt Buller, 720th Special Tactics Group commander, presided over the ceremony with more than 100 Airmen in attendance.

"When you leave this building and find your new buildings, your new team rooms, I want you to excel because there are a lot of people depending on you," said Buller. "There are a lot of reasons for people to depend on you."

Special operations weathermen from the unit will be integrated into 720th STG, joining fellow ST Airmen in combat control, pararescue and tactical air control party.

Air Force Special Tactics has nearly 1,000 operators around the world working alongside Navy SEALs, Army Special Forces and Army Rangers to provide U.S. Special Operations Command with a highly trained SOF capability.

Special Tactics is SOCOM's premiere tactical air-to-ground integration force. The organization is also the Air Force's special operations ground force to enable global access and deliver precision strike, environmental reconnaissance and personnel recovery.

After initial activation at Derrick Field, Md., June 24, 1942, and staging from Camp Stoneman, Calif., the former 10th Weather Squadron formed as a weather region headquartered at New Delhi, India under the 10th Air Force in January 1943.

The 10th CWS had significant historical lineage with ties to combat and special operations since 1943, said Master Sgt. April Dalessandro, 10th CWS first sergeant.

During its history, more than 1,000 Air National Guardsmen nationwide have either volunteered or deployed with this squadron.

The 10th CWS will officially deactivate May 16 as Detachment 1, 720th Special Tactics Group.

Exercise Turbo Distribution: establishing a port in a storm

by Eric Sesit
Joint Base Charleston Public Affairs


5/28/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- The port facility at Joint Base Charleston - Weapons Station, South Carolina, was temporarily located near the city of fictional city of Charliesport in the country of El Corona recently as part of a Joint Task Force - Port Opening exercise.

Held May 15 through 22, U.S. Transportation Command's Exercise Turbo Distribution 14-2, allowed members of Surface Deployment and Distribution Command's 597th Transportation Battalion and 688th Rapid Port Opening Element, Military Sealift Command's Expeditionary Port Units 109 and 110 and Naval Cargo Handling Battalion ONE, along with support from JB Charleston's 628th ABW, 841st TB and ASLAC, the opportunity to exercise their skills in a joint environment.

"JTF-PO is a joint expeditionary capability which provides initial, rapid response forces for combatant commanders around the world to establish a distribution network in support of both U.S. and global crises," said Chris O'Dell, TRANSCOM team lead for the exercise. "One of the most important responses in initial phases of humanitarian aid, disaster response or contingency operations is to quickly open airports and seaports for the distribution of equipment and supplies."

In the event of a global crisis, TRANSCOM, operating on the regional combatant commander's request, would initially deploy forces to the area with the goal of conducting either an airfield or seaport opening. This exercise scenario required a seaport opening, so a rapid deployable Joint Assessment Team, followed by the remainder of the JTF-PO team, arrived in Charleston and began making arrangements to discharge the cargo and provide aid to the fictional disaster area.

The Military Sealift Command ship, USNS Watkins (T-AKR-315 ) was the center piece for the exercise. The Watkins, moored at Wharf Alpha on the Weapons Station, was scheduled for a routine discharge before a maintenance period, providing the perfect platform for the various units to work from.

"This is a win-win scenario," said Rear Adm. Lawrence Jackson, MSC deputy commander. "This ship has to be off-loaded. TRANSCOM has pulled all their joint assets together just as they would in a real-world scenario. Not only do we get the ship off-loaded, but we get excellent training working with our joint partners."

One of the first tasks in opening any port is to make sure the initial responders from the various units have a place to sleep and eat. To make the exercise as real as possible, 18 notional C-17 chalks were pre-staged on Pier Charlie at the Weapons Station. Exercise participants had to inventory their gear, and then deploy it as necessary, creating a tent city where they would live and work for the duration of the exercise.

Once the team of more than 120 Soldiers and Sailors was in place, they began the task of discharging the ship.

"These types of exercises are crucially important," said Lt. Marc Muldoon, EPU 110 Husbandry Agent. Muldoon's unit was tasked with providing everything the ship needed while it was pierside, such as waste disposal, electrical service, etc. "We go over these scenarios during classroom training but we need to see the cargo and have the chance to talk with the ship's master as well as interact with the other units on the ground."

Chief Petty Officer Daniel Tiffee, a boatswain's mate assigned to Naval Cargo Handling Battalion ONE, home-based in Cheatham Annex, Virginia, said, "Our unit is the only active-duty cargo handling unit in the Navy. Although we have real-world operations going on all the time, we mostly use crane operations to move cargo. This exercise is giving us the opportunity to test our roll-on, roll-off capabilities, which we don't train on as much."

The exercise wrapped up May 22, at which time the Watkins was more than a third empty. Their job done, the JTF-PO team handed off the remainder of the discharge to the fictional host country team, which in this case was actually ASLAC and the 841st TB.

"I can't emphasize how great it was to work this exercise at Joint Base Charleston," said O'Dell. "Everyone from the senior leadership to the various agencies and squadrons who assisted us made this a great evolution from start to finish."

Airmen help restore battlefield to its former glory

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


5/27/2014 - GETTYSBURG, Pa. -- The hallowed grounds of Gettysburg have seen their fair share of beards; from the beards of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Union Lt. Gen. George G. Meade, to Master Sgt. Jamie Beard, 436th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment flight chief, who helped coordinate a volunteer effort to help the National Park Service restore the battlefield at Gettysburg to its historic appearance.

Forty-Five Team Dover Airmen traveled three hours to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, May 16, 2014, to volunteer their time and muscle to clean-up and restore one of America's most historic sites, Gettysburg National Military Park, to its 1863 appearance.

"For us in the military, it's huge for us to be able to come through and clear this area out so that people can still see the view of the battlefield," explained Beard.

The volunteer trip was organized by members of the Air Force Sergeants Association, Chapter 201 and the Dover Air Force Base First Sergeants Council. The team Dover volunteers came from all ranks and career fields.

"We [National Park Service] love having the Airmen come out; they really help restore the landscape to what it looked like during the battle," said Amanda Whitmore, NPS: Gettysburg National Military Park Adopt-A-Position Program volunteer coordinator. "Every time Dover comes, they just do excellent work; they're very fast and efficient, and we are really pleased with everything they do."

Due to heavy rains and minor flooding, the Team Dover volunteers' original site on the battlefield was inaccessible. So the volunteers were split up into two equal groups. Both groups worked at the same task of cutting down and clearing small cedar trees and brush from clearings. One group worked near the Pitzer Woods section of the battlefield, where fierce fighting took place on the first and second days of the battle. The second group worked at Oak Ridge, a site used to fire artillery by the Confederate Army, and would later be home to the Eternal Light Peace Memorial.

"It makes me feel good seeing everyone that wants to give back to the community," said Airman 1st Class Matthew James Ohliger. "Dover isn't a big base and seeing this many people come out for one event is pretty good."

This trip was Staff Sgt. Derek Larue's, 436th Maintenance Squadron test cell, third year volunteering at Gettysburg and he plans on continuing to do so for as long as he is stationed at Dover AFB.

"It's really nice for the Airmen to get out and dedicate their time and a lot of hard work; lots of manual labor," said Larue. "Helping restore something that our forefathers fought on gives us a chance to give back a little bit."

20th CES firefighters awarded DOD level honor

by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Bass
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


5/29/2014 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Two firefighters from the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron received a Department of Defense level award for heroism based on their actions that took place, April 9, 2013.

Tech. Sgt. Joseph Charleston, 20th CES station captain, and Senior Airman Boyd Korb, 20th CES firefighter, were directly responsible for the lifesaving rescue of a downed civilian firefighter in Sumter, South Carolina.

The two won both Air Combat Command and Air Force level awards before going up to the DOD level.

"We were tasked to perform ventilation inside the structure," said Charleston. "We went inside to check for fire extension and when we went to the second floor there was heavy smoke."

Fire extension is when a fire gets into the walls and spreads to another room.

"Myself and Senior Airman Korb ran into some county firefighters who were in the building," said Charleston. "They asked us if we knew where one of their men was at, and we didn't hear anything, I told everybody to be quiet and we heard the [missing] firefighter's PASS device going off."

A PASS device is a personal alert safety system worn by firefighters which makes a loud audible noise if the firefighter is in distress.

After hearing the missing firefighter's pass device, Charleston and Korb traced the sound to an elevator shaft, he said.

At the bottom of this shaft was the downed firefighter, alive and conscious, but unable to move.

Charleston and Korb received permission to go get the firefighter and went into the building via the first floor and rescued the firefighter.

"Our firefighters spend a lot of time training, but training only goes so far," said Lt. Col. Terry Walter, 20th CES commander.

Training for worst-case scenarios can be the best tool to prepare young Airmen for the challenges of being a firefighter here, said Terry.

"We're proud to be one of the best fire departments in the DOD," said Charleston. "We show it day in and day out."

SAPR down day focuses on Duty to Intervene

by Airman 1st Class Jacob Jimenez
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


5/28/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Operations on McChord Field fell silent May 22, as Team McChord Airmen and civilians spent the day discussing how to combat sexual assault in the Air Force.

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response down day is a Department of Defense initiative to reiterate zero tolerance of sexual assault and focus on fostering a climate of dignity and respect.

The SAPR down day focused on the theme "Duty to Intervene", the power of one and instilling a culture of dignity and respect.

"It's important to create a culture where we do not facilitate nor tolerate an atmosphere where unprofessional or offensive behavior is accepted," said Col. David Kumashiro, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, speaking on the importance of creating a culture of dignity and respect.

Col. Anthony Davit, 627th Air Base Group commander, concurred and spoke on how Airmen can intervene.

"Don't tolerate the inappropriate jokes and behavior," said Davit. "That is sexual harassment and it has no place in the Air Force. Where there is sexual harassment, there is sexual assault."

Throughout the event Airmen were briefed on SAPR facts and statistics, which included statistics of how often sexual assaults go unreported and reporting options available to victims.

"I want to make sure victims are aware of the help that is available to them and the actions they can take to help us bring perpetrators to justice," said Kumashiro.

During the event Airmen and civilians heard from other speakers and took part in various games and raffles. Games were based around the day's theme "Duty to Intervene" and knowing your Airmen.

The event's closing comments were given by Kumashiro.

"I am confident we have what it takes to overcome these challenges and make a real difference," said Kumashiro. "The difference happens through the power of one to intervene."

After the event, Airmen and civilians broke off into their respective units to participate in teambuilding activities and discuss bystander intervention strategies.

For more information on the Air Force Sexual Assault and Prevention programs, visit: http://www.sexualassaultpreventionresponse.af.mil/index.asp

CSAF visits, motivates Buckley Airmen

460th Space Wing Public Affairs

5/28/2014 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and his spouse, Betty, spent the day meeting with base leaders and Airmen during a visit May 27 at Buckley.

Welsh and his party arrived by helicopter from the U.S. Air Force Academy as part of a tour of Air Force Space Command bases.

Welsh's visit included stops to the 460th Space Wing headquarters, 460th Security Forces Squadron, the 460th Operations Group and the Aerospace Data Facility - Colorado.

He first met with wing leaders at the headquarters building where he gleaned insights from their operational space perspectives.

Col. Dan Wright, 460th SW commander, was impressed by Welsh's communication and leadership.

"I could see his leadership style, I could see his true caring," said the wing commander. "He was open. I thought that was an important aspect, letting us commanders know we need to have the same outlook."

After listening to 460th SW leaders, Welsh met individual Airmen during his various stops throughout the base, some of whom he awarded his CSAF coin.

Senior Airman Jose Sanchez, 460th SW paralegal and one of the Airmen coined by Welsh, felt his sincerity left a lasting impression.

"I could tell he really cared about the things he said," Sanchez said. "It means a lot when a leader comes out and says how he feels."

Base leadership gathered for lunch with Welsh at the base community center where they further discussed hot-button topics such as the recent force shaping measures.

At an all-call, Welsh encouraged Airmen to pursue ideas for improvement and stressed how important each Airman is to the Air Force mission.

"Don't ever forget how important you are," said the chief of staff. "Remember how important your people are and how worthy they are of your respect."

Herschel Walker visits McConnell

by Airman 1st Class Colby L. Hardin
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


5/29/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The 22nd Air Refueling Wing received a visit from Herschel Walker, retired NFL player and CEO of Renaissance Man Food Services, May 22.

His visit was part of the wing's sports day, an opportunity to participate in a number of sports and team building activities throughout the day with their unit or individually.

Since the theme of the sports day was resiliency, Walker spoke about how he had to stay resilient while facing challenges in life.

"They should know that, everybody goes through some things, you should never think that you are in any situation by yourself," said Walker. "I know from experience that there is a brighter day out there, but you have to go earn it."

It wasn't always easy for Walker growing up as a kid. Being the middle child in a family with seven children, he always had motivation to keep going even when he didn't think he could.

"Growing up, I had a mom and dad who worked all the time, and they were our foundation," said Walker. "My brothers and sisters believed in me, even when I didn't believe in myself.

They were always the ones that lifted me up and that matters a great deal because sometimes you don't believe in yourself, and you won't go anywhere with that mindset," he added. If you look down, you're going to go down. And they're the ones who kept me looking up. I know how to deal with people today, because I had a big family."

Even to this day, Walker still faces some challenges with his own family.

"Being a dad is very tough now, because you have social media," said Walker. "Some people think that social media can raise a child, but I won't let it happen to my family."

Walker's speech to Team McConnell hit on situations that personally went through. He offered advice on how to use the techniques that he used to face his challenges, and how Airmen can apply them to their own.

"There's never a reason to think that you can't make it," said Walker. "There's no shame to ask for help in anything. You can always get help and if you fail, you just have to get up and keep working at it."

Reserve wing ready to assist with wildland fires

by Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


5/29/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Reservists and active duty Airmen from the 302nd Airlift Wing recently completed their 2014 aerial firefighting training held May 16-20 here. The certification and re-certification of the aircrews ensures the wing will be ready to respond with their Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped C-130Hs when called upon.

The training consisted of classroom instruction and aerial water drops on federal lands, simulating the terrain and flying conditions the crews will face when fighting actual wildland fires. This year the drops were made around the Tarryall Mountains, Hackett Mountain, 39 Mile Mountain, and several areas of Bureau of Land Management land in Park, Teller, and Fremont counties. And even though being certified is the main purpose of the training, it is also meant to push the aircrews a little.

"We worked out some drop runs with the leads [U.S. Forest Service aircraft] that are a little more challenging, to make the pilots work a little more getting the plane to the drop, so I think it's a little more ramped up training this year in general," said Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, 302nd AW chief of aerial firefighting.

In all, 33 MAFFS training sorties were flown over four days, certifying 62 crew members in all C-130 aircrew positions.

Tech. Sgt. Shannon Memmelaar, a C-130 loadmaster assigned to the 731st Airlift Squadron, is in her second season of MAFFS certification. "It's a great experience. And being part of this unit, to be part of MAFFS is a huge privilege. Knowing that you could possibly save someone's home is also very rewarding. It's definitely a mission you want to get on."

The U.S. Forest service owned MAFFS units fit inside the C-130H without requiring structural modification. This allows the units to be loaded on short notice. MAFFS units can drop either water or fire retardant. The retardant is made of 80 to 85 percent water, 10 to 15 percent ammonium sulfate, a jelling agent and red coloring. The red in the retardant helps aircrews see where they have dropped previous loads. Along with containing the fire, the retardant also acts as a fertilizing agent.

It takes approximately two hours to load and configure a MAFFS unit in the C-130. A MAFFS unit can discharge its load - 3,000 gallons weighing 28,000 pounds - in less than five seconds. The retardant can cover an area one-quarter of a mile long and 100 feet wide. After the plane discharges its load, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

MAFFS is a mission that highlights interagency cooperation. The 302nd Airlift Wing is a federal force belonging to the Department of Defense, yet works in concert with the National Interagency Fire Center and the U.S. Forest Service. NIFC determines firefighting needs and strategies. When it is determined MAFFS will be utilized, NIFC through U.S. Northern Command requests the DOD, U.S. Air Force resources.

One Air Force Reserve and three Air National Guard locations participate in the MAFFS Program. The 302nd AW is the only Air Force Reserve unit with the aerial firefighting mission. The Air National Guard units supporting MAFFS include the 153rd AW in Cheyenne, Wyo., the 145th AW in Charlotte, N.C. and the 146th AW based at Channel Islands, Calif. Each flying unit stores and is ready to activate two of the MAFFS units for a total of eight nationwide.

In 2013 the 302nd AW MAFFS-equipped aircraft and MAFFS aircrews made 187 drops in six states dropping 503,622 gallons of retardant.

Air Force recommends four-star position for Global Strike Command



WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III continue to implement improvements to the Air Force’s nuclear mission and increase support to the men and women who operate, maintain and support the nation’s intercontinental ballistic missile force.

Following visits to the missile bases and visits with the Airmen who perform the mission, James and Air Force Global Strike Command Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson announced some sweeping initiatives.

Recently, James recommended to the secretary of defense elevating the Global Strike Command leadership to a four-star general, from the current three-star rank. This proposal will be worked over the next several months and will require congressional approval, officials said.

“This important mission in the Air Force deserves the highest level of leadership oversight similar to our other operational core mission areas,” James said.

The Air Force also will increase the Air Force assistant chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration from a two-star to a three-star billet. Additionally, the service will increase nuclear manning levels and strengthen professional development.

Part of that manpower goes to putting more mid-level officers into the missile squadrons. For example, two majors are being added to each missile squadron to serve as assistant operations officers and help fill the gap between the lieutenant colonel squadron commander and lieutenants and captains who perform the alert mission.

“This is our most critically important mission and these personnel actions show that,” Welsh said. “And we are not just increasing the rank within the organization, we are also increasing the overall manpower by more than 1,100 personnel to address shortfalls and offer our Airmen a more stable work schedule and better quality of life.”

James also highlighted the importance of continued accountability for those who do not meet standards. Airmen at all levels of Global Strike Command have been held accountable for recent test compromises, which brought to light many of the morale issues James and Wilson are addressing.

“These initiatives will take time,” Wilson said. “But we’re putting our money where our mouth is and aligning resources to go after those initiatives.”

“We have redirected $50 million in (fiscal year 2014) funding to address urgent, near-term nuclear sustainment shortfalls by internally reallocating all of the sustainment funds that Global Strike Command can execute (fiscal 2014), as well as $350 million over the future years defense program,” James said. “Through the tireless efforts of General Wilson and his team at Global Strike Command we are on our way to correcting some of the systemic issues I observed.”

Lastly, to return the focus to performing operations in the field and attract and retain high-caliber Airmen in the nuclear mission, the Air Force is also introducing several incentives to Airmen.

WASP veteran shows off her flying skills

by Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


5/29/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- It is like riding a bike. Once you learn, you never forget. In the case of Betty Dybbro, Woman Airforce Service Pilots veteran, her bike is an airplane.

Alongside 25,000 other women, Dybbro volunteered to fly for the Army Air Force during World War II. She was one of 1,074 women who passed the training and spent 1944 as a WASP flying for the Army Air Force. During that time, she piloted the Vultee BT-13, the Texan AT-6, Martin B-26 Marauder and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress while stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.

Dybbro will be the keynote speaker for the 2014 Heritage Dinner at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in June. Before the dinner, she was offered the chance to tour McChord Field and receive an in depth view of what it is like to be a pilot in today's Air Force.

Met by retired Maj. Gen. Don Brown and female pilots stationed at McChord Field, Maj. Sueann Lamia, 10th Airlift Squadron, Capt. Rachael Deroche, 10th AS and 1st Lt. Samantha Caszatt, 7th AS, Dybbro began her tour at Heritage Hill.

Brown escorted Dybbro up the ladder of the Lockheed-Georgia C-141B Starlifter and into the cockpit so she could see firsthand the advancements in aviation technology since her flying days.

"To see all the new things in these planes in the last 70 years and the technologies is mind boggling," said Dybbro.

The C-141 has not been flown since 2001 so the technological advancements in the C-17 Globemaster III were just as exciting for her to discover. Lamia brought the small group to the flightline to tour a C-17 and give Dybbro time to sit at the controls and ask the pilots questions about flying the aircraft.

"When I left the WASP corps, I flew small Cessna's and Taylorcraft airplanes as an instructor," said Dybbro. "I enjoyed my tour today because I was able to learn so many new details about aviation."

After exploring the aircraft, Dybbro accompanied Deroche to the C-17 simulator to see how she would fare behind the wheel.

Dybbro received a quick tutorial from Deroche, including a flight without movement before she took the controls of the fully functioning simulator. As the cockpit pitched back and forth, she became more comfortable and felt right at home.

"It took a couple of passes to stick the landing but I think I was starting to get a feel for it. Any landing where you can walk away is still a good one," Dybbro said with a laugh.

And at 91 years old, Dybbro did just that.

The 2014 Heritage Dinner is scheduled for Saturday, June 21 at the Collocated Club main dining room at McChord Field. To make your reservations, contact the Retiree Activities Office at 982-2795/5581.