Military News

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Dover AFB sends NASCAR volunteer Airmen

by Airman 1st Class William Johnson
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


6/3/2014 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- While fans filled the seats at Dover International Speedway, Airmen from Dover Air Force Base filled the concessions stands and parking lots with volunteers for race weekend.

NASCAR fans made their way back to Dover during race weekend, May 30-June 1, providing many Airmen with volunteer opportunities to raise money for squadron booster clubs and to interact with people from around the nation.

Staff Sgt. Joyce Bray, 436th Security Forces Squadron reports and analysis, and Staff Sgt. Sean Batson, 436th SFS police services, were out at race weekend with McGruff the Crime Dog inside the FanZone to interact with NASCAR fans.

"This is my first time volunteering for NASCAR and it's been absolutely amazing," said Bray. "The kids are responding great to McGruff and everyone is having fun. Coming out to events like this shows, how Dover AFB is here for everybody and not just our base."

Volunteers from the 436th Civil Engineering Squadron explosive ordinance disposal flight and 436th CES fire department accompanied the 436th SFS with demonstrations of their own. The EOD team brought out a Humvee, F6A robot and their bomb suit that fans could put on.

Squadron booster clubs also took part in race weekend. Members of the 9th Airlift Squadron volunteered to cook and work concession stands to raise money for the squadron booster club.

Senior Airman Kayla Russell, 9th AS loadmaster, worked the concession stand during the Nationwide Buckle Up 200 race and said the NASCAR race weekend is one of the biggest booster events for the squadron and brings in the most money.

"Volunteering out here is a great way to show our pelican pride and represent the squadron to the community," said Russell. "The race supports our booster club and gives us money for our tail flashes for when people depart Dover and funds our squadron Christmas party."

The 436th SFS provided security for race weekend and had airmen patrolling the camp grounds and working security in vendor lots.

Airman 1st Class Brandon Trapp, 436th SFS response force member, provided security for one of the vendors in the FanZone and he said it's nice to see the community and members of Dover AFB working closely together.

"There's a tremendous amount of work that goes into these events and it's nice to be part of it," said Trapp. "I like to help out my community whenever I can. I've seen and talked with a lot of people from around the country and got a taste of many different cultures."

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

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

A former soldier in the U.S. Army National Guard pleaded guilty to bribery and fraud on the U.S. Army National Guard Bureau, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas.

Former Specialist Christopher Renfro, 26, of Houston, Texas pleaded guilty today to two counts of wire fraud and one count of aggravated identity theft.   Previously, on March 24, 2014, Renfro pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery in connection with the same scheme.

According to court documents, former and current military recruiters and U.S. soldiers in the San Antonio and Houston areas engaged in a wide-ranging corruption scheme to obtain fraudulent recruiting bonuses.   To date, the investigation has led to charges against 25 individuals, 23 of whom have pleaded guilty.

According to court documents, in approximately September 2005, the National Guard Bureau entered into a contract with Document and Packaging Broker Inc. (Docupak) to administer the Guard Recruiting Assistance Program (G-RAP).   The G-RAP was a recruiting program that offered monetary incentives to soldiers of the Army National Guard who referred others to join the Army National Guard.   Through this program, a participating soldier could receive up to $2,000 in bonus payments for referring another individual to join the Army National Guard.   Based on certain milestones achieved by the referred soldier, a participating soldier would receive payment through direct deposit into the participating soldier’s designated bank account.   To participate in the program, soldiers were required to create online recruiting assistant accounts.

Renfro admitted that between approximately February 2008 and August 2011, he paid former Sergeant First Class Michael Rambaran for the personal identifying information of potential Army National Guard soldiers.   Renfro further admitted that he used the personal information for these potential soldiers to obtain fraudulent bonuses by falsely claiming that he was responsible for referring these soldiers to join the Army National Guard.

Renfro is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 9, 2015 before U.S. District Judge Lee H. Rosenthal of the Southern District of Texas.

Rambaran pleaded guilty on March 25, 2014 to one count of conspiracy, one count of bribery, and one count of aggravated identity theft.   He is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 9, 2015 before U.S. District Judge Rosenthal in Houston.

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

Japan Air Self-Defense Force general visits AETC

by Capt. Ashley Walker
Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs


6/4/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas -- The head of Japan Air Self-Defense Force Air Training Command visited Air Education and Training Command, Monday, May 12.

Lt. Gen. Masayuki Hironaka, commander of Air Training Command, was given an overview of AETC's mission and international training programs.

Hironaka and Gen. Robin Rand, commander of AETC, traded lessons learned regarding core values, resiliency, training challenges and combat readiness.

"Everything we do operationally in the Air Force, we introduced it or fully taught it in AETC," Rand said. "If push came to shove, our Airmen would be combat ready straight out of training. The way we do business has changed over the years to ensure our Airmen are mission ready."

Hironaka toured AETC Headquarters at JBSA-Randolph and visited Defense Language Institute English Language Center at JBSA-Lackland. While at DLIELC, Hironaka met with Japanese students.

The DLIELC programs introduce various cultures and trains international military personnel to communicate in English so they can instruct English language programs or become program managers in their country. DLIELC graduates approximately 2,800 students annually.

"It is an honor to showcase AETC to our valued partner nation," said George Gagnon, AETC director of international training and education. "Training alongside foreign nations bolsters understanding between the countries and ensures interoperability for future conflicts."

Hironaka also visited Japanese air force students attending pilot training at the 14th Flying Training Wing, Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi.

AETC's Air Force Security Assistance Training Squadron in conjunction with AETC's International Affairs Directorate, directs all U.S. Air Force-sponsored international training. AFSAT is responsible for managing this pilot training program. In fiscal year 2014, AETC trained approximately 70 international pilots.

"The Air Training Command has a similar mission in basic flying and technical training," Hironaka said. "We have had very productive discussions during my visit that are beneficial to all partners."

AFSOC honors Outstanding Airmen, civilians

by Dawn Hart
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs


5/16/2014 - Hurlburt Field, Fla.  -- Air Force Special Operations Command leaders recognized the command's finest at a formal banquet May 15, 2014, at the Soundside club.

The evening was the pinnacle event in a week that began with honorees receiving the key to the city from Ft Walton Beach Mayor, Mike Anderson and included tours and briefings from around the base.

The banquet honored two AFSOC members who were awarded the 2014 Lance P. Sijan Leadership Award. This award recognizes the accomplishments of officers and enlisted members who have demonstrated the highest qualities of leadership in the performance of their duties and the conduct of their lives.

MSgt. Delorean Sheridan won the Junior Enlisted Category. Sheridan is a combat control craftsman assigned to the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, N.C.

Maj. Randall L. Harvey II won the Junior Officer Category. Harvey is a flight commander with the 320th Special Tactics Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan.

A highlight of the evening was the recognition of the command's 2014 Outstanding Airmen and Civilians of the Year:

SrA. Judd Rogers, Airman of the Year, 551st Special Operations Squadron, Cannon AFB, N.M. Rogers is a special missions aviator instructor.

Sheridan, Noncommissioned Officer of the Year (Sheridan was a technical sergeant when submitted for this award and was step promoted in December.)

MSgt. Ronnie Brickey, Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, U. S. Air Force Special Operations School, Hurlburt Field, Fla. Brickey is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal craftsman.

MSgt. Katherine A Grabham, First Sergeant of the Year, 901st Special Operations Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, Hurlburt Field

Capt. Ben Self, Company Grade Officer of the Year, 321st Special Tactics Squadron, Mildenhall RAF. Self is a special tactics officer.

TSgt. Matthew Marschall, Individual Reservist of the Year Enlisted Category, 15th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field. Marschall is the assistant noncommissioned officer in charge of squadron plans.

Capt. Stacie Carroll, Individual Reservist of the Year Officer Category, Headquarters Air Force Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field. Carroll is an AC-130 training officer in the Aircrew Training Division.

Jose H. Altimirano, Civilian of the Year Category I, 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, Cannon AFB. Altimirano is an engineering technician and computer-aid design drafting specialist.

Brandy L Chavez, Civilian of the Year Category II, 27th Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron, Cannon AFB. Chavez serves as the Environmental Element Chief.

Shawn Cordaro, Civilian of the Year Category III, 27th Special Operations Maintenance Squadron, Cannon AFB. Cordaro is an aircraft machinist.

Awards were also presented to the Air Commando Association recipients from 2013.

CMSgt. Roland "Hap" Lutz Air Commando Medic of the Year - TSgt. George Gonzalez Jr., 352nd Special Operations Support Squadron

AFSOC Squadron of the Year - 33rd Special Operations Squadron

SrA. Julian Scholten ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) Commando of the Year - SSgt. Candis Woods, 25th Intelligence Squadron

Commander's Leadership Awards:
Air Force Special Operations Command - Capt. Derek McCafferty and SSgt. Edward Crowe
Air Force Special Operations Air Warfare Center - Capt. Joanna Zemek and SrA. Seung-Jae Oh
1st Special Operations Wing - Capt. Matthew Slack and TSgt. Lucas Barker
24th Special Operations Wing - Capt. Gregory Walsh and TSgt. Jeremy Whiddon
27th Special Operations Wing - Capt. Timothy Young and TSgt. Jacob Arnold
58th Special Operations Wing - TSgt. Seamus G. Feeley
193rd Special Operations Wing - Capt. Ryan Palombo and SSgt. Nicolas J Crouse
919th Special Operations Wing - Capt. Brandon Brown and SSgt. Edward A. Ashford
352nd Special Operations Group - Capt. Alexander Dufaults and TSgt. Zachary Wahlers
353rd Special Operations Group - Capt. Adam G. Schmidt and SSgt. Travis J. Simmons

Chemical threats, combined strengths

by Staff Sgt. Clayton Lenhardt
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


6/4/2014 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Airmen from the Republic of Korea air force and the United States Air Force took part in a combined Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear exercise at Kunsan Air Base May 28, 2014.

The 8th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management flight hosted RoKaf Airmen from eight different organizations in the exercise.

"The exercise is different from others because we specifically conducted it without the rest of the base agencies participating," said Tech. Sgt. Stephen Hickman, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management logistics NCOIC. "By doing this we were able to focus on the CBRN mission and better communicate this training to our ROKAF partners."

The exercise covered a CBRN response from beginning to end, where they set out detection points, monitored and discovered a simulated contamination.

"We went from the preparedness all the way to recovery," said Tech. Sgt. Michael Osburn, 8th CES emergency management training NCOIC. "(Once discovered) we reported it in and mitigated the incident so the mission could carry on here at Kunsan."
One of the RoKaf Airmen who took part in the exercise expressed the importance of combined exercises.

"I think the RoK-US combined exercises must be carried out on a regular basis." said Senior Master Sgt. Park, Ki-Soo, 38th Fighter Group CBRN flight chief, speaking through an interpreter. "We are a team. We live together, eat together and fight together in wartime. Cooperation is pretty important."

Osburn also recognized the importance of training together.

"When the missiles are flying, that's not a time to second guess yourself," said Osburn. "You have to know what you're doing, how to do it, and also how your counterparts are going to react."

With all the chemical training that happens at Kunsan, emergency management has¬ an important role in the response to chemical threats.

"Whenever it comes to CBRN response and the chemical threat that is real here at Kunsan Air Base, we take the lead and frontline," said Osburn. "People rely heavily on us to be able to get out, find contamination, report it and mitigate it as soon as possible so that we can get the airplanes and everything back in the air."

Hands on exercises like this one are an important training tool and the emergency management flight plans to hold more in the future.

"Practicing how you play is crucial to the success of the mission," said Osburn. "This training that we engaged in today was a perfect example of how we're honing those skills to become a harmonious unit, not just RoKaf and United States Air Force. We operate as one at Kunsan."

Team Thule honors fallen heroes, models of service before self

by Staff Sgt. Jacob Morgan
21st Space Wing Public Affairs


6/4/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- With snow still on the ground, 30 members of Team Thule started their run from the 12th Space Warning Squadron phased array radar to the pier at the bay on base, known as the Memorial Day Array-to-the-Bay Relay Run.

With close to 24 hours of daylight and a vast expanse of open Greenlandic territory, teams ran a relay totaling 16 miles and some individuals took off on their own for 12.6 miles; all braving the cold weather in memory of Airman 1st Class Matthew Seidler and Capt. David Lyon, two fallen service members from the 21st Space Wing.

The event was a culmination of weeks of planning, a wide-array of supporting base agencies from multiple countries, more than 20 volunteers, a moving speech by Lt. Col. Jim Lovewell, 821st Air Base Group deputy commander, who was Lyon's Former squadron commander and mentor at Peterson Air Force Base, and a group of very motivated runners.

"It was a time to stop and reflect on what Memorial Day means. This day was a particularly moving one for me, as earlier this year I witnessed first-hand the impact of Capt Lyon's passing on his family and friends. My thoughts were also with the Seidler family during the run. In 2012, as the former 21 Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, I watched the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron organize to care for them the same way 21 LRS sought to comfort the Lyon family," said Lovewell. "I also wanted to give the audience a clear picture of what these two service members did; they went in willingly to defend freedom for people they had never met and gave their lives for it."

The run was held after a ceremony May 28, where members of Team Thule from the United States, Greenland, Canada and Denmark were in attendance, either volunteering or running. Approximately 30 percent of the base was at the event, on an installation where 24 hour operations are maintained.

"The run and memorial ceremony was very well received by Team Thule," said Maj. Trevor Nolan, 12th SWS operations officer and participant. "Although we are extremely far away (from Peterson), this event allowed us to remain close to the space wing. The 12th SWS put on a solemn tribute that not only brought the reflection of what Memorial Day is to Team Thule, but allowed us to celebrate and remember the sacrifices of these two Airmen from our wing.

"The speech gave the runners and volunteers an insight to two of our fellow Airmen who sacrificed with their lives; it was a very moving speech. Not only did he speak on the individuals and their situations in combat, but how many people are touched when a service member loses their life, their families and comrades, but he also spoke about what it means to live on and to live beyond the sacrifice," said Nolan. "The speech filled me with energy during the run, as I am sure it did for all of the runners. The Arctic this time of year is surreal, it's an impressive landscape and it was fitting to bring honor to these two individuals."

The event, spearheaded by 2nd Lt. Kendra McArthur, 12th SWS crew commander, allowed runners to honor and remember the pair as members who personified service before self.

"Both of these gentlemen embodied sacrifice; I want people to know that they can embody sacrifice by sacrificing every day for each other," said Lovewell. "The run is a reminder that even though neither one of the gentlemen had been to Thule Air Base, they had a far reaching impact."

The Lyon and Seidler families will receive mementos from the run at Thule, including photos and a commemorative coin from the day.

Results from the race include:

Teams:
1st: 12th Space Warning Squadron
2nd: Combined U.S. and Danish personnel
3rd: 821st Security Forces Squadron

Individual Runners:
1st: Capt. Jason Stack, 821st SFS
2nd: Tech. Sgt. Brian Stilgebouer, 821st SFS
3rd: Master Sgt. Charles Paulson, 821st Support Squadron

AFN, Pentagon Channel Commemorate 70th Anniversary of D-Day



From an American Forces Network Broadcast Center News Release

RIVERSIDE, Calif., June 4, 2014 – June 6 marks 70 years since the Allied landings on the beaches of Normandy. It was the largest air, land and sea operation in history, with more than 5,000 ships, 11,000 airplanes and 150,000 servicemen.

The American Forces Network will commemorate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day with special programming on its television and radio services.

AFNmovie will air reports from locations in Normandy during special airings of “Ike-Countdown to D-Day,” “The Longest Day” and “Saving Private Ryan” starting at 10:30 a.m. CET/JKT June 6.

AFNprime will premiere the Nova special, “D-Day’s Sunken Secrets,” a vivid account of D-Day from the perspective of one of the world’s largest underwater wreck sites beginning at 7 p.m. CET/JKT June 6.

AFN Europe will air radio broadcasts live from. In tomorrow’s Eagle Midday Show, Army Spc. Monique Moore from AFN Bavaria will broadcast from the Airborne Museum in St. Mere Eglise, France. The show will feature interviews with veterans and others involved with the official D-Day Commemoration. June 6, Army Staff Sgt. Nick Kibbey will join Moore to co-anchor a live broadcast leading up to President Barack Obama’s speech during the official D-Day commemoration ceremony and to interview veterans and other important guests.

The Pentagon Channel will host a number of special commemorative and news programs:

-- At 4:30 a.m. EDT June 6, DOD News will carry the D-Day commemoration ceremony live.

-- At 9 a.m. EDT June 6, DOD News will present a special report to highlight D-Day events that honor the importance of the historic event. This special report, leading into the encore airing of the D-Day commemoration, will include reports from the D-Day Memorial in Bedford Virginia, the Nation’s World War II Memorial in Washington, and the National World War II Museum in New Orleans.

-- “D-Day Convoy,” a historical film produced in 1948 and narrated by Lorne Green, depicts activities just prior to and including D-Day. It airs at 3 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. EDT June 6.

-- “D-Day Anniversary,” a historical film produced in 1969, shows the drama and battle action of the period of the landing at Normandy and the fierce combat to overcome the wall of "Fortress Europe." It airs at 7 a.m., 3 p.m. and 11 p.m. EDT June 6.

-- “Return to Normandy” tells the story of a World War II U.S. paratrooper who jumped with the 101st Airborne Division into Normandy, fought in Operation Market Garden, and held on to the city of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. Jim "Pee Wee" Martin, 93, tells his story of being an airborne soldier during World War II. Airtimes, all EDT, are 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. June 6; 2:30 a.m., 6:30 a.m., 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. June 9; 1:30 a.m., 5:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. June 11; and 3:30 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. June 12.

“Beaches of Red,” a documentary showing the development of American landing operations that culminated in Operation Overlord, is the story of the Landing Craft Vehicle and the people connected to the early Higgins boats. Airtimes, all EDT, are 1 a.m., 5 a.m., 9 a.m., 1 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m. June 6.

McChord Globemaster plays dual role at SkyFest '14

by Tech. Sgt. Sean Tobin
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


6/3/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- A McChord C-17 Globemaster III aircraft was one of dozens of aircraft on display and open to the public May 31 and June 1, during SkyFest 2014 at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington.

SkyFest is Fairchild's air show and open house, and this year's event, which featured aerial performances by the U.S. Army Golden Knights parachute demonstration team and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, among others, opened the base to approximately 210,000 visitors, according to base officials.

During the two-day event, McChord C-17 aircrew members welcomed the tens of thousands of curious visitors to the jet and answered questions about the airplane's capabilities and its mission, as well as questions about the roles of the aircrew members.

"We got asked a lot of questions about what types of equipment we can carry," said Senior Airman Josh Mitchell, 4th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "There were a lot of people who asked if we can carry Army tanks. A lot."

The crew members answered many questions about the payload of the 174-foot-long C-17, which was designed to carry virtually all of the Army's air-transportable equipment. They also answered very specific questions that they said were not quite as easy to answer.

"One person asked me how many total buttons the airplane has," said Staff Sgt. Orial Christopher, 4th AS loadmaster.

Mitchell received similarly tough questions.

"One kid asked how many wires are on the airplane," he said. "I joked with him and said that I wasn't sure, but perhaps if you stretched them all end to end, they would reach the moon."

The crew members said that seeing the reactions of the thousands of children as they toured the airplane was a rewarding experience.

"Just to see the kids' eyes light up when I would tell them they could sit in the pilot's seat was great," said 1st Lt. Alicia Robillard, 4th AS pilot. "I liked watching them try to move the flight controls using all of their might."

Children were not the only ones who were amazed at getting the chance to tour the airplane and meet the crew.

"It was really interesting to see people in awe when they would step onto the plane and just gasp when taking in the size of the jet," said Christopher.

Getting to see the amount of community support, and seeing the gratitude and respect the visitors had for the crew members themselves, was one aspect of the event the crew said they found very endearing.

"It seemed like almost every other person who visited would shake our hands and thank us for our service," said Robillard.

That sentiment was echoed by Christopher.

"Just having so many people asking to take photos with us, and for so many to have such an interest in what it is we do was an amazing experience," she said.

For Capt. Mike Zinkgraf, 8th AS pilot and aircraft commander for the mission, hosting the Spokane-area SkyFest attendees onto the C-17 had a personal meaning. A native of Spokane, Zinkgraf got the opportunity to host many of his own family members onto the jet.

"I've been flying since 2007 and this is the first time that the majority of my family has gotten the chance to see what I do firsthand," said Zinkgraf. "Bringing my family into the cockpit for just two minutes to show them what I do was much greater than what they've been able to get in seven years of me having conversations with them about it."

Zinkgraf said that at one point during the tour, a visitor asked him if he knew what a particular button's purpose was. Zinkgraf's father, also named Mike, proudly reminded the visitor that of course he knows what the button is for; he's the one who flew the jet there.

"There's a difference between bragging and being proud," Zinkgraf said. "It is very humbling to see how proud my family is of not only what I do, but of what we all do."

Greeting the air show attendees on the C-17 was only part of the contribution the crew made to the event. They also helped transport a large portion of SkyFest's headliners, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

Prior to the air show, the crew flew from McChord under the call sign "Thunderbird One-Four" to Colorado Springs, Colorado, where the Thunderbirds had just performed a flyover for the Air Force Academy's graduation ceremony. From there, they flew more than 50 Thunderbirds support personnel and nearly 50,000 pounds of their equipment to Fairchild.

After the air show, they again transported the support team and equipment to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, which is the Thunderbirds' home base.

Providing support for the Thunderbirds and SkyFest, and meeting with so many grateful visitors was something that many of the crew members said helped remind them of the responsibility inherent in their jobs.

"A lot of people are really impressed that such a large aircraft can be managed by just a few people, and they say it's hard to imagine what it's like to have the amount of responsibility that's given to us," said Robillard. "It's easy to take what we do with this aircraft for granted, so when you hear things like that from so many people, it really helps puts things back into perspective."

Reservist has key role in Global Hawk mission over Nigeria

by Dana Lineback
940th Wing Public Affairs


6/3/2014 - BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- ABC, NBC and PBS reported last month the Pentagon had confirmed the United States was flying high-altitude surveillance military aircraft over northeastern Nigeria in search of more than 250 kidnapped schoolgirls.

For Lt. Col. Allen, the national headlines were not news.

The Air Force reservist stationed at Beale Air Force Base, California, is an RQ-4 mission planner and instructor pilot. He was on duty as the operations supervisor when a high-level request came in from a combatant commander asking to extend a mission that was about to "head home" to it's deployed location.

"This was an opportunity to showcase what the Global Hawk and its crew are capable of in response to a real-world situation, providing immediate assistance to our NATO allies," Allen said.

Extending on-station time required a rapid calculation of the aircraft's remaining fuel, assessment of projected weather conditions and coordination of crew scheduling with the forward operating location.

Allen prioritized the issues, developed a plan, and consulted each element involved. Once subject matter experts had weighed in, the chain of command made the final decision to extend the mission.

"We were able to respond in a timely way and executed the mission in a safe and orderly manner, bringing down information that could be immediately interpreted. Instant feedback was provided."

Beyond the satisfaction of a successful mission, Allen said the tasking to overfly Nigeria touched him on a personal level.

"I have a young daughter myself. If someone took her, I'd feel devastated and at a loss."

Allen said that, as an American citizen, he was deeply troubled by the violation of basic human rights.

"I find it bothersome that people's liberties - these young girls' liberty - can be taken away like that. I hope that, in some way, I was able to contribute to the safe return of those girls to their families."

Reservists from the 13th Reconnaissance Squadron, including Allen, are an integrated part of the RQ-4 total force enterprise mission at Beale. Several have been directly involved in RQ-4 operations supporting numerous disaster relief efforts in recent years, including California wildfires, the Haitian earthquake, Japan's earthquake and tsunami, and most recently, in the typhoon-struck Philippine Islands.

Allen said he appreciates the opportunity to embed with the active duty mission as an RQ-4 instructor pilot, mission planner and aircraft commander.

"As reservists, we contribute our expertise to key roles of training and active duty mission execution."

Like many reservists, he began his military career on active duty, serving nine years as a KC-135 and T-43 pilot. In his eight years as a reservist, he has flown both the C-5 and the RQ-4, deploying twice.

In his civilian employment, he's a pilot for a major airline. Combined military and commercial flying, the veteran pilot has logged more than 10,000 total flight hours.

"The reservist of yesterday was not as directly involved with their active duty counterparts. Today, we're working alongside the active duty, often leading the missions," Allen said. "I'm grateful to my leadership for the opportunity to serve in this capacity, and I'm thankful to my civilian employer for supporting my Reserve commitment by affording me the time to serve."

Face of Defense: Deployment Takes Soldier to Original Home



By Army Sgt. Aaron Rognstad
416th Theater Engineer Command

BARAHONA, Dominican Republic, June 4, 2014 – For Sgt. Richard Mercedes of the Puerto Rico Army National Guard, annual training in the Dominican Republic means a little something more this spring.

He's come back “home.”

Mercedes, a civil engineer with the 190th Forward Support Company, spent the first 18 years of his life in the Dominican Republic before moving to Puerto Rico with his family.

“There's a lot of emotion,” said Mercedes, who talks in a thick Caribbean Spanish accent. “To be working with the people and be part of the team that is helping them feels good.”

Mercedes stepped out of his traditional job in the to serve as a translator for his annual training, which consists of various construction projects being built by Army and Air Force engineers. Escorting his fellow soldiers and airmen to job sites surrounding the Air National Guard, Army Reserve and National Guard base of operations here, Mercedes is a vital link in bridging the language barrier and serving as a guide and subject-matter expert on the surrounding countryside.

“I'm sure I'll be very busy over these next few weeks -- lots of translating and going here and there,” he said. “Whatever they need, I'm just here to help and make things less difficult.”

On his first full day of training, Mercedes found himself in La Guazara, a small village about 20 minutes north of here. Airmen of the Air National Guard's 200th and 210th Red Horse Civil Engineering Squadron were building an addition to a small elementary school, with Mercedes translating between them and the local people.

“This is fun work,” he said. “It's not even really work for me. It's just talking to my people, getting out into the community and showing everyone that we're here to help them.”

Air Force Master Sgt. Nathan Sobieck of the 200th CES said the aid of an interpreter is an invaluable resource on these types of missions.

“It wouldn't happen without them [interpreters],” he said. “A couple of our guys know some Spanish, but to get a local [native] who is one of us is a win-win situation.”

Mercedes, 37, grew up in Barahona, the country's 15th-largest city with an estimated 75,000 people. His childhood was spent with his two younger brothers enjoying the beach, playing in the area's rivers and running, he said. He moved with his family to Puerto Rico after he graduated from high school to gain better economic prosperity. He married shortly thereafter and started a family, and he joined the Army National Guard in 2008.

He now works full-time on military orders at Puerto Rico Joint Force Headquarters in San Juan, and is working toward his bachelor's degree in business administration.

Mercedes still has relatives in the Dominican Republic: a grandmother, uncles, aunts and cousins. In fact, one of his uncles lives just two blocks from his temporary post here. He also still has friends in the country.

He said he hopes he gets to see at least one of his family members or friends, but that he understands his days will be busy and the opportunity might not present itself. With Puerto Rico only a 45-minute flight to the west, he added, he always can return if need be.

But whether or not he gets to see his family this time around, Mercedes said, he always is happy to be back in his original country, especially on an Army humanitarian mission.

“My people here are proud of me,” he said. “It feels good. I am a liaison between the U.S. military and them. I tell them that I'm from here [and] I was raised here, and they're impressed that I'm helping out here.”

Memorial run scheduled to honor fallen ANG Airman

by Senior Airman John E. Hillier
Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs


6/4/2014 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Members of the Arkansas Air National Guard's 189th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, organized a 5K run scheduled for June 10 as a memorial for a fallen Air National Guard Airman.

The run will honor Master Sgt. Daniel R. Wassom II, an evaluator loadmaster at the 189th AW, who was killed while providing refuge for his family during a tornado that hit his home in Vilonia, Arkansas, April 27.

"Dan was a truly great man who died in the most heroic manner imaginable," said Maj. Joshua M. Fulcher, a C-130 evaluator pilot with the 189th and the event's coordinator. "Often we speak in hyperbole about those who have passed away, but in Dan's case there is no exaggeration. He was just one of those guys who brightened a room when he walked in. He was positive, happy, highly competent and generally one of the best people I ever met."

Wassom's family is participating in the event, which is drawing support from across the country.

"Dan's wife and kids will be starting the race, his dog 'Lizzie' is the official mascot and his mother will be handing out the awards," said Fulcher. "Guard units from California, Ohio, Puerto Rico, Connecticut and the National Guard Bureau [in Washington D.C.] have all shown or offered support in some form. Units from the [active duty] 19th Airlift Wing have offered services and support. Many local businesses have donated prizes. We have people from all over the United States wanting to donate."

The event also includes a costume contest, and participants are encouraged to run in costume. Entertainers are slated to appear throughout the race route, including a band composed of 189th members.

"I thought a bunch of his friends schlepping their butts 3.1 miles while dressed as the Incredible Hulk or Goldilocks would be a great tribute to the big personality that was Dan Wassom," said Fulcher. "It's exactly the kind of thing he would have enjoyed."

Funds raised from the event are being donated to victims of the April 27 storm.

Hagel Urges European NATO Members to Boost Defense Budgets



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2014 – NATO European allies must dedicate more money to defense spending, and all are ready to do their part in the follow-on operation in Afghanistan, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said at NATO headquarters in Brussels today.

The secretary spoke at a news conference after meetings with alliance defense ministers.

Russia’s actions in and around Ukraine were a major concern for the ministers, Hagel said, adding that Russia’s actions “constitute the most significant and direct challenge to European security since the end of the Cold War.”

The NATO allies agreed they must continue to uphold the credibility of the alliance, and the credibility of the international order that European security has anchored for seven decades.

“To date, NATO has acted with strength and resolve,” Hagel said. “All 28 NATO allies have contributed to NATO’s reassurance measures in Central and Eastern Europe, ranging from new joint exercises to an enhanced air, ground, and sea presence. And we are exploring ways to do more.”

The United States will continue to do its part, Hagel said, and he referenced the $1 billion European Reassurance Initiative that President Barack Obama announced yesterday. “This initiative will enable the United States to help maintain the readiness of allied forces, and expand our reassurance measures throughout Central and Eastern Europe,” the secretary said.

Hagel told the ministers that the United States will review its force presence in Europe. “In light of the new regional security environment,” he added, “it would be irresponsible for us not to.”

Money remains a problem, Hagel said, noting that the allies discussed Europe’s declining defense budgets. This decline means the United States has shouldered a more and more disproportionate share of the alliance’s burden, he said.

“Over the long term, current spending trends threaten NATO’s integrity and capabilities,” the secretary said.

The American commitment should be matched by renewed European resolve to invest in its own defense, Hagel said, calling on the allies to issue a definitive declaration to reverse current trends and rebalance the alliance’s burden-sharing. The NATO summit scheduled in Wales in September would be the best place to make this declaration, he added.

Latvia, Lithuania, and Romania have committed to spend more. Poland and the Czech Republic announced new commitments to increase their defense spending. NATO’s goal is for member states to spend 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense.

The ministers also discussed Afghanistan, Hagel said, adding that he was able to provide the details of Obama’s decision last week to maintain a limited military presence there after the current International Security Assistance Force mission concludes at the end of the year. The United States will provide 9,800 service members for Operation Resolute Support, provided the new Afghan president signs the bilateral security agreement.

“My discussions today with ISAF defense ministers underscored that our allies and partners remain committed to Afghanistan’s long-term security, and to the pledges made at the Chicago Summit two years ago,” Hagel said.

The defense ministers also agreed that the alliance must be prepared for the full spectrum of missions, including those against sophisticated adversaries with advanced technologies, and against new, asymmetric threats. “We need capabilities that balance NATO’s three core tasks: collective defense, crisis management, and cooperative security,” he said.

Hagel also participated in the NATO-Ukraine and NATO-Georgia Commissions. “We welcomed Russia’s recognition of Ukraine’s recent election results as a step in the right direction,” he said, “but we will continue to stand united against Russia’s aggression in Crimea, and its destabilizing actions in Eastern Ukraine.

“I outlined American assistance for political and economic reform, and our nonlethal assistance to Ukraine’s armed forces and border guard,” he continued. “The United States has already offered $18 million in nonlethal security assistance to Ukraine, and today, President Obama announced another $5 million for the purchase of body armor and other equipment, bringing our total security assistance to $23 million.”