Monday, June 02, 2014

Helping our wounded warriors

by Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/2/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- Most of the time when someone hears about wounded warriors, they think of the Wounded Warrior Project, a non-profit civilian organization that is supported by donations. The Air Force has its own program to help these warriors.

The Air Force Wounded Warrior (AFW2) is a Department of Defense program that helps Airmen who have been listed as wounded warriors overcome some of the struggles and financial burdens that may arise in their families' lives.

"Employment is a big issue," said Vicki Beaudoin, Airman and Family Readiness wounded warrior consultant. "Sometimes they just can't do the job they use to do and sometimes the whole family has to do a turn around."

Beaudoin emphasized that being in AFW2 doesn't mean you will be forced out of the military.

Although AFW2's headquarters is in San Antonio, Texas, they are still able to work with wounded warriors and their families face-to-face. Each Air Force base has an AFW2 consultant that meets with wounded warriors and directs them to appropriate facilities or helps provide support to their families.

Beaudoin started a spouse's support group two months ago, the first of its kind in AFW2. Only wounded warrior spouses are approved to attend and everything they talk about stays in the group. Beaudoin has a topic for the group each session; she has had someone come in to talk about resiliency and also a member of the Military Family Life Consultant speak to the group.

"Some of the spouses have been going through the process {with their warrior] for three or four years," she said. "The spouses that are new to having a wounded warrior learn how to recognize and deal with some of the difficult changes."

Anyone interested in the program can find out more by calling the local installations A&FRC.

McConnell medics host Guatemalan air force

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

5/29/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Members of the Guatemalan air force visited the 22nd Medical Group's aeromedical assets assigned here, May 19 through May 23.

Col. Leyda Rodriguez de Villagran, Joint Forces public health chief in Guatemala, and Col. Luis Alfredo Salazar Martinez, director of the Air Force hospital in Guatemala, observed day-to-day operations within McConnell's medical clinic.

"This opportunity is opening their eyes and way of thinking; they are able to compare their capabilities against our capabilities," said Lt. Col. Victor Ortiz, 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander. "The exchange of knowledge will facilitate the implementation of the first flight med clinic in the Guatemalan air force."

"They will gain the knowledge and concept of operations in the aerospace medicine field," he added. "Eventually, building capacity will make their military force stronger and less dependent on the U.S. Also, it will reinforce the friendship and mutual collaboration between both countries."

Rodriguez de Villagran and Martinez both agreed although there were differences between both countries medical facilities, the importance to deliver care for airmen and their families are among their first priorities.

"After seeing the facility, I'm impressed by how the pilots carry out their mission here and how they work together with aerospace medicine," said Rodriguez.

Both colonels said they hope to implement processes they've witnessed here back to their medical facilities.

"I recognize that there are some limitations in the country," said Salazar. "But I hope we can count on the U.S. for support and training in the future."

The exchange between the two nations also allowed the medical group Airmen here to have a new perspective on limitations and challenges medics face in other countries.

"I am impressed of all the great things that they can do and achieve in the medical field with no or scanty resources," said Lt. Col. Victor Ortiz, 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron commander. "I guess that we can learn on how to be more cost effective in our programs and how to do more with less."

Ramstein Airmen Rekindle Piece of D-Day History

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Sara Keller
86th Airlift Wing

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany, June 2, 2014 – Seventy years ago, young men from the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron at RAF Cottesmore, England, prepared their aircraft and themselves for what soon would be known as one of the most significant and meaningful days in the history of the world: D-Day.

Today, airmen of the 37th Airlift Squadron are preparing for the June 6 anniversary of that day. But this time, they’ll be flying to honor and remember those brave men who took part in the Normandy invasion during World War II.

On Memorial Day, May 26, the 37th Airlift Squadron welcomed the Douglas C-47 Skytrain known as Whiskey 7, allowing them to experience a piece of their squadron’s rich history.

The C-47s were the first aircraft the 37th Troop Carrier Squadron flew when it was formed in 1942. When the squadron was re-designated as the 37th Airlift Squadron and based in Germany, it flew C-130s. Today, it flies the C-130J Super Hercules.

“It was a few years ago we found out that the National Warplane Museum in Geneseo, New York, had the last airworthy C-47 from the original 37th TCS,” said Air Force Capt. Andrew Richter, a 37th Airlift Squadron pilot. “About two years ago, we really started working with the museum to help in any way we could to bring the C-47 to Ramstein and the 70th anniversary.”

After two years of intense fund raising and coordination, a team of volunteers from the museum made the 3,600-mile trip to Germany and flew with the C-130J from the 37th Airlift Squadron for the first time.

“We have such a rich history here at the 37th, and it’s amazing to see our squadron’s heritage first-person,” Richter said. “The C-47 is the first aircraft our squadron flew, and it means so much to us to have the opportunity to fly with a piece of our history and participate in the French 70th anniversary of D-Day [observance].”

It has taken thousands of hours, about $250,000 and hundreds of people to get Whiskey 7 to Ramstein, and it’s not just the airmen of the 37th Airlift Squadron who felt the need for the historically significant journey to happen.

“The biggest reason we brought Whiskey 7 to Europe for the D-Day anniversary is because that airplane is a symbol of what those men did 70 years ago for the entire world,” said Christopher Polhemus, Whiskey 7 lead pilot. “Our crew chief really put it into perspective. He said, ‘Those men came as liberators, not as conquerors.’ The entire European continent was under the tyranny of Nazi control. They were not free.”

Polhemus said airmen from the 37th Airlift Squadron were extremely helpful, and that he’s thankful for all of the time and effort they put into bringing Whiskey 7 here.

“We learn about our history as soon as we walk in the door. We see it on the walls around us. … It’s ingrained in us,” Richter said. “To bring W7 here, fly next to it and parking it right in front of our squadron, it’s just surreal.”

Growth at Wilford Hall signals new era of services for wounded warriors

by Staff Sgt. Christopher Carwile
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

5/27/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- A simple ribbon-cutting ceremony witnessed by a gathering of staff and wounded warriors May 20 marked a new era of rehabilitative and administrative services for wounded warriors at the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center.

The ceremony showcased a much anticipated expansion, officially designating a large portion of the medical facility's fifth floor as home for a growing 59th Medical Wing's Patient Squadron.

Normally considered an administrative holding program for Airmen with complex medical conditions, "this new area lets us streamline operations, and improve and expand patient services," said Lt. Col. John DaLomba, Patient Squadron director of operations.

Previously, the core staff was spread out over two different floors, in cubicles that did not allow for privacy when attending to patients. "Now, all the core and support staff is located in once place, with more than twice the amount of space as before," said DaLomba.

The unique thing about the Patient Squadron is that every patient is also a member of the organization. "Every patient is issued permanent change of station orders, or sent here on a temporary duty assignment to be a part of the unit while they recover," said DaLomba.

While assigned to the squadron, patients are offered a variety of services by representatives from warrior support programs and the Air Force Personnel Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph.

With the new space, DaLomba is working to expand the services available within the squadron. The goal is to have representatives from other base agencies, such as finance and personnel, visit weekly to help patients and their families.

"Their primary duty being recovery and rehabilitation," he added.

Also, depending on their medical needs, some patients are allowed to work in organizations throughout the JBSA.

"About 60 to 65 percent of our patients are able to work in areas within their career fields or similar ones," said DaLomba.

All of treatment and rehabilitative services work toward one common goal, he said, "integrating every patient back into the Air Force, whether in their career field or a new one, or helping them through the process of separating and transitioning back into civilian life."

Sheppard clinches Verne Orr award

by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

6/2/2014 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 982nd Training Group here received the Verne Orr award for the 2013 fiscal year.

The award is presented annually by the Air Force Association to a unit or organization that most effectively uses its resources to accomplish the Air Force mission.

The group is annually responsible for 48 detachments globally, 34,518 graduates, 582 international students and credits the earning of the award to the work of its Airmen.

"It's a good feeling to recognize folks for the good work they're doing," said Col. Bernard Hatch, 982nd TRG commander.

The recognition comes as an important factor for the morale readiness of the troops who complete the mission on a daily basis.

"Everybody has an opportunity to compete for a multitude of awards, but very seldom do you win an Air Force level award," Hatch said. "Having that recognition that we are effectively using our resources and doing great work for the Air Force is important for morale. It's a nod that we're doing the best that we can for the Air Force and we'll continue to do that in the future."

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Hight, knows their success is a habit fostered through hard work ethic and passionate personnel.

"That's inherent in what we do as a profession," he said. "I don't think there's anybody who wears this uniform that doesn't want to succeed."

Hight holds the need to lead by example and emphasize customer feedback in high regard.

"This award comes from the hard work and dedication of each and every member in our unit, all 1,130 of them," he said.

Hatch values the experience of his instructor personnel and is enthusiastic about the effect they have on molding future Air Force personnel for leadership and subject matter competency.

"The opportunity for them to make great maintainers and communicators is really what we're all about," he said.

Having been responsible for an estimated 20 percent of Air Education Training Command students, Hatch wants to continue to use educational capability to better the Airmen they serve with.

"I have a great affinity for the mission, but I'm inspired by the people who drive it," he said.

WWII veteran shares story

by Senior Airman Devante Williams
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

5/30/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. --

Everyone has a story. It could be a simple story or complex. Some may experience a moment that can change their lives forever. For retired Chief Master Sgt. Harold Bergbower, 26th Cavalry Regiment air mechanic, his time in the Air Force proved to be life changing, and he shared it May 15 at Club Five Six during a Focus 56 meeting.

Bergbower was born May 11, 1920, in Newton, Illinois. He joined the Army Air Corps May 12, 1939. One year later, he went to school at Chanute Field, Illinois, and became an air mechanic. In January 1940, he volunteered to go to the Philippine Islands. Bergbower stayed there for a year and a half. Everything was good until Dec. 8, 1941.

"We just got word that Pearl Harbor was bombed," he said. "We also heard that Clark Field had been bombed as well, but we were on Clark Field at the time, so we thought it was a joke."

No more than 10 minutes after hearing the statements on the radio, Bergbower saw Japanese bombers fly over Clark Field and drop bombs.

"The first few bombs dropped and then it was silent," Bergbower said. "Seconds later came the impact, and I was hit. I remember waking up in the morgue at Fort Stotsenburg about 80 km north of Manila. I crawled out of the morgue, went back to my squadron and went back to duty."

After the incident in Clark Field, Bergbower fought with Troop B of the 26th Cavalry Regiment for about two-and-a-half months because his original squadron was miles away from where he was.

"The food was so scarce that we used the horses and mules that we rode on for food," Bergbower said.

Bergbower found out that his squadron was at Mindanao. With the help of the 26th Cavalry Regiment, he was able to rejoin his original squadron. Engaged by the Japanese, they fought with all their might but had to surrender. Japanese soldiers took them to a prison camp called Malaybalay, which was in the northern part of Mindanao. They were there for about three months and then transferred to Davao Penal Colony, where they were forced to farm.

"We raised rice and learned how to use a caribou to plow in the fields and paddies," he said.

Bergbower and other prisoners farmed the fields of Davao Penal Colony for about four months until the Japanese soldiers decided to throw them on a "hell ship" and send them to Japan to work as slave laborers.

"They packed us in that ship from shoulder to shoulder, front to back," he said. "You couldn't even sit down. The ship ride was all a blur. I don't remember anything until we landed in Japan, and that's when everything came together."

The unit was dropped at a warehouse to be hosed off. The Japanese took them to a steel mill where they worked until the war ended.

"The way we found out the war had ended was when people with the Red Cross came into our camp and said, 'The war is over. We have entered the atomic age,'" he said. "The atomic bomb had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the Japanese surrendered."

The U.S. won the war and the American prisoners were set free. Bergbower and his crew were sent to Tokyo on a hospital ship called The Rescue where they received treatment, hot meals and new clothes. The unit was able to send a telegram home. It went to a telegraph service in Canada where it was then delivered to his parents' house by regular mail.

"My mother had received a letter and a telegram from the president about the death of her son Dec. 8, 1941," he said. "It's September 1945, and she gets this telegram saying that I'm alive. Of course she went into shock, but the doctor took care of her."

Bergbower came back to the states in October 1945. He took the train from San Francisco to Galesburg, Illinois, to Letterman General Hospital and from there he called his parents. He was released from the hospital and went back to his parent's home in Decatur. "It was an honor to have Chief Master Sgt. Bergbower as a special guest for our Focus 56 meeting," said Staff Sgt. Arlene Gutierrez, 56th Security Forces Squadron secretary. "Hopefully attendees who were at the meeting will pass on this incredible story to young Airmen and use it as motivation to succeed in their Air Force career."

Recruiting NCO to receive Bronze Star Medal

by Annette Crawford
Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs

5/30/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas  -- "People first."

It's more than just a phrase for Master Sgt. Michael Staggs. It was the philosophy that saw him through a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.

Staggs filled several roles, primarily as the senior enlisted advisor for the Defense Contract Management Agency, a joint-service unit that covered all of Afghanistan.

Working upwards of 14 hours a day, seven days a week, Staggs ensured the more than 200 Airmen under his oversight had what they needed to get the job done. He was also known as a Blue Line Warrior, serving as the liaison between the Air Force and DCMA, and finally, as DCMA operations superintendent.

And while Staggs feels he was just doing his job, his actions earned him the Bronze Star Medal, which will be presented June 4 at Headquarters Air Force Recruiting Service.

The 20-year veteran and Cincinnati native was working as the AFRS NCO in charge and Basic Military Training Liaison at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, when he was tagged to deploy. Before departing in April 2013, he attended an advanced combat skills training course at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., for 34 days, where he was immersed in field conditions, communications and navigation. The training readied him for the mission in Afghanistan, a position unlike anything he had done before in his Air Force career. His previous deployment experience was in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, for two months in support of Operation Uphold Democracy.

"I traveled the whole area of responsibility as the commander's point man," Staggs said. "I had operational oversight of all the personnel and property, and also helped with any Air Force-specific issues."

To visit the nearly 40 locations, Staggs traveled on more than 230 ground convoy missions and 190 helicopter and fixed wing flights.

"I took at least six direct fire attacks and 50-plus indirect fire attacks while I traveled around the AOR," he said.

Staggs had operational experience with heavy construction equipment during five years in the civil engineering career field, which helped him identify a volatile situation with ill-equipped non-tactical vehicles shortly after he arrived in country. He traded in the inadequate vehicles for superior ones. His action in this regard saved six lives when one of his teams was hit by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device, or SVBIED.
The convoy was hit only five feet away from the first vehicle. According to the Bronze Star Medal narrative, the team also incurred small arms fire after the blast but pressed on and returned fire. Of the six casualties, one needed to be medically evacuated, and "without hesitation Sergeant Staggs jumped on the medical evacuation helicopter with his troop to Bagram Airfield."

Staggs, who is now the HQ AFRS Superintendent of BMT Liaison at JBSA-Lackland, said that working in a joint environment was a learning experience.

"Having the other U.S. and other countries' services around was interesting to see how they do business and deal with certain issues for the enlisted members," Staggs said.
"I've known Master Sergeant Staggs since he was a staff sergeant assigned as an operations NCO in the 362nd Recruiting Squadron," said Senior Master Sgt. Pedro Colon Jr., superintendent of enlisted accessions at HQ AFRS.

"Even then, he was an acknowledged expert and trusted leader," Colon added. "I was extremely pleased to know I would be working with him again at AFRS - he makes my job very easy."

Staggs, who became a recruiter in May 1999, said the deployment changed the way he looks at life.

"I will never take for granted the time we have here on earth and what is really important. I'm tailoring that mindset into my everyday life at work and home," said Staggs, the father of three sons.

"I will look at situations in a different light, and mentor and guide people to what is most important to accomplish, whether personally or professionally," he added. "Always do a great job, but never lose who you are and what is most important in life."

109th AW joins community to pull LC-130

by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
109th AW Public Affairs

5/23/2014 - SCOTIA, N.Y.  -- Richmor Aviation at the Schenectady County Airport was packed with people taking shelter from the weather, hoping it would pass so they could complete the mission they set out to do ... pull a 109th Airlift Wing LC-130 Skibird aircraft 15 feet in the fastest time possible.

Rain, thunder, lightning and a tornado warning put the Airplane Pull, hosted by the Unified Military Affairs Council, on hold for a little while, but the weather did pass, and the 109th AW's team of 25 was up first to set the bar for the event.

14:48 seconds was the time to beat.

About 20 teams competed in the event, including a team from the Navy. UMAC has been planning the event for months, with the intent to raise awareness and money to help support local military events.

The 109th AW jumped on board and offered their ski-equipped LC-130, weighing in at about 90,000 pounds, to pull as well as a team to kick off the event. The unit's aircraft is the only one of its kind in the U.S. military, supporting the National Science Foundation in both Antarctica and Greenland. Currently, the unit is in full swing as they provide airlift and polar airdrop support to NSF and several allied nations in Greenland and above the Arctic Circle. In October, the unit will kick off their annual Operation Deep Freeze mission in Antarctica.

Members of the 109th Airlift Wing, including the community manager, Capt. Ashley FitzGibbon, and the command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Amy Giaquinto, were part of UMAC's Airplane Pull planning committee. They coordinated with command to approve using one of the unit's aircraft, with maintenance for the logistics of using the aircraft, and brought together a team of 25 Airmen to represent the wing.

"As soon as I started to advertise the event, people throughout the base started asking how they could be part of the team," FitzGibbon said. "It was easy to pull off with the excitement of all our members and the integral support of the 109th Maintenance Group. Without the maintainers, this event would not have been possible."

While the base played an integral part of the event, it was the entire community that pulled it all together.

"There were so many people throughout the community that made this event possible," Giaquinto said.

Despite the looming weather, the event was a success all around. The 109th AW team was proud of their effort, and many said although challenging, it was a lot of fun.

"It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be," said Capt. Melissa Cucchi, 139th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. "It was great to be able to get everyone out here and be so involved with the community."

"Events like this are what make my new role as community manager so fulfilling," FitzGibbon said. "Seeing our members come together and give back to the community distinguishes our Wing from others, while truly representing our core value of Service Before Self."

Actions Underscore Worldwide Commitment, Official Says

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 2, 2014 – The United States is demonstrating its continued commitment to collective security through a series of actions designed to reassure NATO allies and partners of America's dedication to enduring peace and stability in the region, in light of the Russian intervention in Ukraine, a senior Pentagon official said.

“Increased air, land and sea deployments to eastern Europe are a tangible demonstration of our solid and enduring commitment to collective security and the NATO alliance,” Derek Chollet, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, told American Forces Press Service.

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf has been in the Black Sea since May 23. The USS Donald Cook was there in April, followed by the USS Taylor through mid-May. The ships have conducted operations to improve interoperability, increase readiness, and enhance professional relationships.

In April, about 600 paratroopers from the 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed for training rotations in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Training rotations are scheduled to take place for the next few months and beyond. These are in addition to previously scheduled multinational land force military exercises in the region, defense officials said.

For example, Exercise Combined Resolve II began May 15 and runs through June 30 in Germany. About 1,200 soldiers from the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team are participating in the U.S. Army Europe-led multinational exercise as part of more than 4,000 military members from NATO and European partner nations.

The exercise, which currently includes participants from Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, France, Georgia, Hungary, Lithuania, Romania, Serbia and Slovenia, will focus on maintaining and enhancing interoperability during unified land operations in a decisive action training environment, officials said.

The United States also is augmenting its aviation detachment in Lask, Poland, through the remainder of the year. While quarterly rotations of military aircraft and airmen began in late 2012, the United States augmented the rotations in March of this year with additional F-16s and support airmen. Officials said these F-16s and airmen provide a persistent presence in Poland, and enhance training and operability with the Polish air force.

In addition, the United States agreed to fly air-to-air refueling missions to support NATO early warning aircraft flights over Eastern Europe. From March 16 to May 16, two KC-135s forward-based out of RAF Mildenhall, United Kingdom, conducted 65 missions.

Meanwhile, the United States more than doubled the number of aircraft allocated to NATO's Baltic air policing mission. On March 6, the United States deployed an additional six F-15C’s to augment the four F-15C’s already in Lithuania filling a NATO peacetime requirement to have quick-reaction interceptor aircraft “ramp-ready” for a four-month period to ensure the integrity of the airspace above Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

The U.S. rotation began in January and ended in early May. Poland, with augmentation from the United Kingdom, France and Denmark, took over the air policing task in the Baltic region, and Canada deployed aircraft to augment NATO air policing in Southeast Europe.

“Americans have served side by side with their European counterparts for many years,” Chollet said. “These additional rotations enhance our close relationships and improve our interoperability.”

Airmen spend day focusing on sexual assault prevention

by Staff Sgt. Travis Edwards
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/30/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany  -- Airmen from the 86th Airlift Wing here took an entire work day to focus on the importance of sexual assault prevention and response May 28.

The goal for SAPR down day was to have Airmen come together as a group to discuss the topic in depth, including reinforcing how to intervene in unprofessional situations and what reporting options are available to them.

"Having a full day to talk to Airmen about how important sexual assault prevention is invaluable," said Carmen Schott, Ramstein sexual assault and response coordinator. "The reminder helps everyone understand the options available to them and also allows Airmen to talk to each other openly and candidly about a subject that can be sensitive."

The day opened up with a commander's call from the 86th Airlift Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Patrick X. Mordente.

"Sexual assault and sexual harassment are unacceptable and they have no place in the Air Force," said Mordente. "The Air Force is making progress in sexual assault response, but preventing the crime itself remains our goal."

In fiscal year 2013, there were a total of 1,047 reports of sexual assaults.

The general added that as a service, the Air Force cannot stop until there are zero sexual assaults and those who commit the crime are brought to justice.

"It takes courage for a victim of sexual assault to come forward to make a restricted or an unrestricted report," he said. "If sexual misconduct occurs, its important victims are treated with care and feel confident to report the incident without fear of ridicule, retaliation or reprisal. Regardless of the reporting option chosen by a sexual assault victim, we as Airmen must ensure they get the help they need."

Mordente's words echo those of the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III.

"We live in a culture of respect," Welsh said. "We cherish our core values of integrity, service and excellence. But in order to ensure all Airmen experience and benefit from those values, we must eliminate sexual assault in our ranks."

A goal of the sexual assault and prevention program is to reinforce that every Airman has the duty to promote a safe, respectful, and productive work environment free from sexual innuendo, harassment and assault. Prevention includes informing and educating Airmen of their rights and responsibilities to themselves and to each other, and having the ability to identify potential perpetrators.

Airmen were told to be on the lookout for specific traits of offenders, like someone who shows hostility toward the opposite sex, has lower levels of empathy or holds traditional gender role stereotypes.

The general explained that having these traits doesn't mean someone will sexually assault another, but rather shows a correlation between the sexual assailants interviewed and the traits they exhibited.

In addition to the training, the SAPR coordinator stated it was important that victims know that on possibly the worst day of their lives they have a place they can turn to receive compassionate, capable support from the Air Force.

"We want Airmen to completely understand that if they are sexually assaulted, it's never their fault and they can continue to trust that we will do everything we can do to help them in their time of need," said Schott. "Whether they want a restricted report or unrestricted, we're here to help."

The day's events concluded by giving Airmen a chance to share successful stories of intervention within small groups.

Southern Partnership Station 2014 Commences, USNS Spearhead Departs Mayport

By Mass Communication Specialist First Class Rafael Martie, SPS-JHSV 14 Public Affairs

NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) departed Mayport to begin Southern Partnership Station 2014 (SPS-JHSV 14) May 29 in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to conduct subject matter expert exchanges and partner building relationships from May 29 - Oct 9.

Supporting the U.S. Maritime Strategy, SPS-JHSV 14 will focus on enhancing cooperative partnerships with regional maritime services and improving operational readiness for all participating services.

Prior to departing Mayport, Rear Adm. George Ballance, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet, spoke to the SPS-JHSV 14 team about the upcoming mission, his expectations, and developing relationships with partner nations.

"Your missions ashore, in theater, and at sea on Spearhead support all of our lines of operation: maritime security operations, security cooperation, and contingency operations," said Ballance.

"Every Sailor, Marine, Soldier, Airman, mariner, and civilian is an ambassador," said Ballance. "Your actions and appearance represent the United States, the U.S. Navy, U.S. Southern Command and U.S. Fourth Fleet."

While Spearhead was pierside at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Va. prior to departing to Mayport, U.S. Marine Corps Brig. Gen. David Coffman, commanding general of U.S. Marine Corps Forces South came aboard to talk to U.S. Marines coming from detachments across the U.S. attached to the SPS-JHSV 14 mission.

"There are two groups of people in this world, good guys and bad guys, and we continue to work with the good guys to make them better because they want the same things you want," said Coffman.

SPS-JHSV 14 will also provide the opportunity for the U.S. and its allies across Central and South America to operate in the multinational environment, refine coordination and improve interoperability, and demonstrates flexibility.

The focal point for assigned units will be to locally identify needs such as medical readiness, operational risk management, port security, non-commissioned officer professional development, motor maintenance, and patrol craft operations.

For U.S. Marines Lance Cpl. Michael Bostic from Dublin, Ga., currently stationed at Head Quarters Battalion, Second Marine Division out of Camp Lejeune, N.C., is leaving on his first deployment.

"I am excited to work alongside our allies, see new places and experience their culture," said Bostic.

Intelligence Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Bryan Bowser, a native from Friendsville, Md., already completed a prior deployment on the Spearhead, and volunteered to go again.

"This is a unique environment to work in. I like the diverse group of people that come from all services and the mission this ship does," said Bowser.

The ship is scheduled to return to Mayport at the completion of the scheduled mission Oct.9.

SPS-JHSV 14 is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces.