Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Army Marksmanship Unit Soldiers continue world dominance in Munich

By Michael Molinaro

FORT BENNING, Ga. – Two Shotgun shooters from the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit (USAMU) took home medals in Double Trap at the International Shooting Sports Federation (ISSF) Munich World Cup June 9.

Staff Sergeants Glenn Eller and Jeff Holguin claimed the silver and bronze medals, respectively, continuing an impressive run by USAMU Soldiers in the discipline.

USAMU Soldiers have claimed five out of nine possible medals on the World Cup circuit this year. In addition to the two medals won in Munich, their teammate Staff Sgt. Josh Richmond has earned two silver medals in 2014, and Holguin won the gold medal in April in Tucson, Ariz.

 “Without looking at the records I am 99.9% sure that we have never started a year off this strong,” Holguin said, a native of Fullerton, Calif..

New rules adopted in the sport after the London Olympics challenged everyone associated with Double Trap, Holguin said. Competitors used to know exactly how the targets would come out of the house, but through the new rules, target combinations are now presented in a random order.  Shooters have to be extremely focused to remember what targets have yet to come, according to Holguin.

 “(We) have been pounding some rounds since the inception of the current rules last year,” he said “We are more pure gun pointers than many of the other Double Trap shooters worldwide. This has helped us adjust to the new rules faster.”

Holguin shot a 147 (out of 150) in the qualification round while Eller fired a 146 to make the last spot in the six-man final. Eller fired a 29 (out of 30) in the semi-finals to earn a spot in the gold medal match against Slovakia’s Hubert Olejnik. Holguin shot a 28, then hit 18 consecutive targets in a shoot-off against Russia’s Vasily Mosin to make the bronze medal match.

Eller, from Katy, Texas, and Olejnik went shot-for-shot for gold until Eller missed a bird in the next-to-last round, resulting in the silver medal. Holguin defeated Great Britain’s Tim Kneale for the bronze.

The Soldiers have one more World Cup match before the World Championships in September, where Olympic quota slots will be on the line for the first time leading up to the Rio Games in 2016. As the reigning world champion, Eller said it’s important to treat it as any other big match and get mentally ready for the day. USAMU Soldiers compete worldwide to demonstrate the U.S. Army’s prowess and associate the Army and nation with excellence.

 “We have several events to get ready for the world championship,” Eller said. “We have a good training plan and its working.”

USAMU is part of the U.S. Army Accessions Brigade, Army Marketing and Research Group and is tasked with enhancing the Army’s recruiting effort, raising the standard of Army marksmanship and furthering small arms research and development to enhance the Army’s overall combat readiness.

Security forces train to face active shooter situation

by Senior Airman Nicholas Caceres
482nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2014 - HOMESTEAD AIR RESERVE BASE, Fla. -- In an active-shooter incident, most people instinctively run away to stay safe.

The men and women of the 482nd Security Forces Squadron here take a different course of action. They are trained to put themselves in harm's way to neutralize the target, protect innocent bystanders, and aid the injured.

The danger of being shot by an armed assailant is very real to members of
security forces, so the squadron holds annual training on a variety of scenarios such as the active-shooter training held during the June Unit Training Assembly.

The two-day training consisted of building clearing tactics along with a live-fire exercise that included teams and solo training where SFS members dealt with a variety of active-shooter scenarios.

"The purpose is to make mistakes here where we can correct them, instead of out in the field," said Tech. Sgt. Frederick Kilian, 482nd SFS training manager. "(Our people) train in shoot/no shoot scenarios to appropriately react to each situation according to the threat level."

The training is part of a law enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response program. The ASER program seeks to get different kinds of law enforcement personnel to use the same techniques to cooperate better in case of emergencies, explained Kilian.

Security forces had permission from Miami-Dade County to use Building 745, located just off base for the training. The mandatory training is required annually for traditional reservists and periodically for full-time people.

"I really liked the stress on communication and countering," said Senior Airman Antonio Williams, a 482nd SFS response force member. "I feel like I learned a lot from the new scenarios."

Security forces members train in dimly lit and highly lit settings to be prepared for any situation.

During the training, the trainees use modified M4 rifles and M9 pistols that shoot Simunition, a type of paint bullet that is non-lethal but packs a punch. Different colors of paint help differentiate who shot what and where.

"It was awesome," said Senior Airman Victor Alejo, a 482nd SFS response force member. "It was more interactive than I imagined. Reading about it and actually doing the training are two completely different things. The new defensive and offensive tactics were my favorite part."

Kilian was pleased the training outcome.

"The Airmen were able to quickly adopt the new changes in training and implemented it very well," he said.

Training like this will continue to grow as agencies streamline tactics to respond more effectively to emergency situations, added Kilian.

During each UTA, members of the 482nd SFS train to respond to various emergency situations. The training in June is just one example of how reservists practice to develop skills to ensure they're using the proper tactics, techniques and procedures during incidents like an active shooter.

Navy Scientist Honored for "Pivotal" Impact on Fleet Ballistic Missile Strategic Weapons System's Success

By John Joyce, NSWC Dahlgren Division Corporate Communications

DAHLGREN, Va. (NNS) -- The scientist described as a "leading force" to the Fleet Ballistic Missile (FBM) Program was honored with the Navy Strategic Systems Programs (SSP) Director's Award, Navy officials announced June 10.

SSP Director Vice Adm. Terry Benedict presented the award to Patricia Fetter, a Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) principal scientist, before her civilian Navy colleagues and leadership at a ceremony here.

"I am very honored that Strategic Systems Programs presented me with this award for my contributions to the Fleet Ballistic Missile Program and in particular for developing the first COTS (commercial-off-the-shelf) based real time operating system for the SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile) Strategic Weapon System," said Fetter. "I am accepting this award on behalf of a team of hardworking and dedicated smart people because without them, none of this would have been possible."

Benedict recognized Fetter's achievements as "pivotal" to the success of the Fleet Ballistic Missile Strategic Weapons System program and fundamental to providing credible and affordable sea-based deterrent missile systems.

The SSP Director cited Fetter's "personal contributions to the FBM program for more than 31 years as a leading force in the development and sustainment of fire control and targeting software for the FBM program," in his letter of congratulations. "Your leadership helps exemplify our program's high performance standards and expectations."

SSP develops and deploys the nation's Seaborne Strategic Weapons Systems. The program directs the end-to-end effort of the Navy's Strategic Weapons Systems to include training, systems, equipment, facilities and personnel; and fulfills the terms of the U.S.-UK Polaris sales agreement.

"Patti has made significant contributions to the SSP Program both technically and from a management perspective," said NSWCDD Strategic and Weapon Control Systems Department Head Jim Wolfe. "Most importantly, she understands the value and strength of the SSP technical team at Dahlgren. They have consistently delivered high quality products to the fleet. She has held numerous positions with tremendous responsibility and accountability. I am very proud of her many accomplishments."

The SSP Director recognizes personal contributions - extraordinary in value to the success of the FBM Strategic Weapons System, of no more than two awardees annually. The nominees can be military or government employees who have not had the opportunity to serve in high visibility positions. Their work must be considered significant and important to the FBM program.

"I am blessed to have been given the opportunity to work with such an amazing group of people," said Fetter. "My career in the Fleet Ballistic Missile Program has been extremely rewarding."

The SLBM Program at NSWCDD has a 60-year history of providing a credible sea-based strategic deterrent. NSWCDD has been integral member of the Strategic Systems Program SLBM Team since it began more than 60 years ago.

"The opportunity to be a part of providing innovative solutions to our men and women in uniform that will help them conduct their missions safely and effectively has been a career highlight," said Fetter.

The highly specialized Navy Strategic Systems Programs workforce is composed of military and civilian, scientific, engineering, and professional personnel who work closely with private contractors and consultants.

NSWCDD designs, develops, tests and maintains the SLBM weapons control and mission planning software, provides expertise in reentry systems structural, material, aerothermal, and flight mechanics, and performs system level testing and analysis of strategic, test and training targeting data.

Laser Weapon Being Readied for Marine Vehicles

By Eric Beidel, Office of Naval Research

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- As the Navy prepares to deploy its first laser weapon on a ship later this summer, Office of Naval Research (ONR) officials announced June 11 that they have finished awarding contracts to develop a similar weapon to be used on ground vehicles.

The Ground-Based Air Defense Directed Energy On-the-Move program, commonly referred to as GBAD, aims to provide an affordable alternative to traditional firepower to keep enemy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from tracking and targeting Marines on the ground.

ONR is working with Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division and industry partners on the development of GBAD's components and subsystems, including the laser itself, beam director, batteries, radar, advanced cooling, and communications and command and control.

"We're confident we can bring together all of these pieces in a package that's small enough to be carried on light tactical vehicles and powerful enough to counter these threats," said Brig. Gen. Kevin Killea, vice chief of naval research and commanding general, the Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory.

The GBAD system is being designed for use on light tactical vehicles such as the Humvee and Joint Light Tactical Vehicle. With the proliferation of UAV technology, Marine Corps leaders expect that units increasingly will have to defend themselves against adversaries trying to perform reconnaissance and surveillance on them from the air.

"We can expect that our adversaries will increasingly use UAVs and our expeditionary forces must deal with that rising threat," said Col. William Zamagni, acting head of ONR's Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department. "GBAD gives the Marine Corps a capability to counter the UAV threat efficiently, sustainably and organically with austere expeditionary forces. GBAD employed in a counter UAV role is just the beginning of its use and opens myriad other possibilities for future expeditionary forces."

The technologies being developed under the GBAD program are a direct response to the Marine Corps Science and Technology Strategic Plan, which calls for a mobile directed-energy weapon capable of destroying threats such as UAVs.

"Aggressive action against air threats is needed for the Marine Air-Ground Task Force to conduct expeditionary maneuver. Everything about this program is geared toward realizing a viable directed-energy capability in support of that objective to allow our Marines to be fast and lethal," said Lee Mastroianni, program manager for Force Protection in ONR's Expeditionary Maneuver Warfare and Combating Terrorism Department.

Some of the system's components already have been used in tests to detect and track UAVs of all sizes. Later in the year, researchers will test the entire system against targets using a 10kW laser as a stepping stone to a 30kW laser.

The 30kW system is expected to be ready for field testing in 2016, when the program will begin more complex trials to ensure a seamless process from detection and tracking to firing, all from mobile tactical vehicles.

The program has benefitted from previous investments, studies and technology development by the Department of Defense High Energy Laser Joint Technology Office, MIT's Lincoln Laboratory, the Penn State Electro-Optics Center and the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command.

"These partnerships, along with strong support from Marine Corps leadership, are vital as we move forward to see how this capability opens up new frontiers on the battlefield," Mastroianni said.

All the pieces for the system are being developed under ONR's Future Naval Capabilities program, which brings proven technology to military acquisition programs in rapid fashion, going from research-and-development to delivery in five years.

ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs more than 1,000 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

In Honor of an Air Force Giant: ALS building dedicated in honor of Chief Etchberger

by Staff Sgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2014 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D -- The southern exterior wall of one of the buildings here shines much brighter as the Warriors of the North recently unveiled a golden plaque bearing the name and image of an American hero and fellow Airman.

The airman leadership school facility here was officially renamed the Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger Airman Leadership School during a building dedication ceremony June 4, 2014.

ALS is a professional military education program designed to teach and prepare Airmen to become effective leaders and supervisors in the Air Force when a junior enlisted member has been selected for or promoted to staff sergeant, the entry-level rank in the Air Force non-commissioned officers corps.

"From the bottom of our hearts we thank you," said Rich Etchberger, while gesturing to the left side of his chest during a speech delivered to the crowd present at the dedication ceremony honoring this father.

Rich was not the only member of the Etchberger's family to be present. He was joined on his trip to North Dakota by his brother Cory Etchberger, his step-brother Steve Wilson and Madison Etchberger, Chief Etchberger's granddaughter. All smiled or subtlety nodded when Rich said to the crowd, "dad would be proud."

Pride seemed to be prevailing sentiment for not just the current and former ALS students who participating in ceremony, but also Master Sgt. Aaron Holmes, the current commandant of the Chief Etchberger ALS, who along with his predecessor, Master Sgt. Tameka Morales-Long, gave plenty of reasons for audience members to feel a sense of pride by retelling the story of the selfless and courageous actions that led to Chief Etchberger sacrificing his life for his country and ultimately being awarded the Medal of Honor.

The following is that story.

On April 1, 1967 Richard L. Etchberger was promoted to the rank of chief master sergeant.

The following year he and several other Airmen were hand-picked for a secret mission in Laos manning a small radar facility, which guided American pilots in the air campaign against North Vietnam. The site was located on the summit of one of the tallest mountains in Laos.

North Vietnamese forces knew the impact this radar station was having on the war, so they were determined to shut it down.

On March 10, 1968, the North Vietnamese surrounded the mountain and Chief Etchberger and his team knew they had to make a quick decision--evacuate or continue the task at hand.

That evening after shift, the North Vietnamese began their assault on the site, so Chief Etchberger and several of his men descended to a steep ledge on the side of the mountain.

As the North Vietnamese attacked, Chief and three of his men were trapped on the ledge, doing all they could to survive as the enemy lobbed grenades at them.

While on the side of the mountain, Chief Etchberger was able to direct airstrikes to clear the way for a helicopter rescue.

When the helicopter arrived, Chief Etchberger loaded wounded into the rescue slings, exposing himself to enemy gunfire.

As he bear-hugged the last man into the sling and began to depart, gunfire erupted below and Chief Etchberger was hit.

Due to the significant amount of blood lost while in transit, Chief Etchberger died before the helicopter reached the medical facility.

Of the 19 Americans on the mountain that day, only seven made it out alive. Three of those men diretly owed their lives to the heroic actions of Chief Etchberger.

More than 40 years later, on Sept. 21, 2010, Chief Master Sgt. Richard L. Etchberger was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

"It was a honor long overdue," said Holmes.

Holmes explained the delay was due in great part to the political sensitivities of the era and the secret status of the Chief's mission, which was not declassified until the 1980s.

"This dedication is an important event not just for our school and the base, but the Air Force," said Holmes. "I'm honored to have been part of it."

The dedication was not just a special occasion for Holmes and the Etchberger family, but Morales-Long as well, who proposed the dedicating the school to the memory of Chief Etchberger when she served as the commandant.

She said she had contemplated dedicating the school building to the memory of an enlisted member, but felt uncertain on who to pick.

That uncertainty quickly went away the day she saw the televised live presentation ceremony of the Medal of Honor to Chief Etchberger's family.

"I thought, wow what an amazing story," said Morales Long.

She soon approached the 319th Air Base Wing command chief, Chief Master Sgt. David Carlson, who gave his full support right away.

"It may have taken 19 months to get approval, but it was definitely worth the wait and worth the trip," said Morales Long, who is currently stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, but was more than glad to return to North Dakota in order to see the dedication in person. "It is just incredibly humbling not just because of all the hard work that was put to make this a reality, but to look back and know you had a role in preserving the legacy of a great Airman like Chief Master Sergeant Etchberger."

Col. Paul Bauman, 319th Air Base Wing commander, shared similar sentiments.

"It is only fitting that our airman leadership school be named after one of the giants of our Air Force."

The commander said dedicating the school in honor of the Chief Etchberger not only honors one of our great warriors but shows the importance the service places on education and expanding one's knowledge.

He went further by reciting the words of Thucydides, a general, political philosopher and historian from ancient Greece.

"'A nation that draws too broad a difference between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and it's fighting done by fools,'. . . therefore I ask that you keep these words in the forefront of your thoughts as a reminder of who we are and who we aspire to be," referring to man whose name is found on the walls where the Warriors of the North learn to become leaders.

Team Fairchild honors Lt. John "Red" Morgan during dedication ceremony

by Staff Sgt. Veronica Montes
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

6/10/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash.  -- Members of the Fairchild family gathered June 6 to formally dedicate the base's newest center to 2nd Lt. John "Red" Morgan, the 92nd Bombardment Group's only Medal of Honor recipient, and to unveil a portrait of the lieutenant to his family.

As a member of the 92nd Bombardment Group, Morgan was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions on a bombing mission over Nazi Germany in 1943 while he was a copilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress.

During the mission in 1943, Morgan's pilot received a fatal head wound during a German fighter attack. Morgan pulled the airplane back into formation, and then continued to fly the bombing mission for two hours getting his crew home safely.

Col. Brian Newberry, 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander, welcomed the crowd to the ceremony and spoke of Morgan's heroism.

"Distinguished family and friends of Red Morgan, our 92nd veterans, and leaders and Airman of our 92nd ARW, welcome to an amazing event, the dedication of this building in honor of our 92nd charter Airman, a patriot and a hero," said the colonel.

Newberry said he chose June 6 because it was the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day in 1944 when more than 160,000 allied troops landed on the French beaches of Normandy to fight Nazi Germany. He said D-Day is emblematic of the strength of the greatest generation.

Morgan's family and friends in attendance were pleased to be part of such an event.

"Not only did I come here to honor my dad, but also to honor the members of Fairchild," said Sam Morgan, Morgan's son. Sam was one of the seven family members who made the trip to witness the dedication. "My dad was one of the strongest men I've ever met. I've only seen him cry three times in my life, and I guarantee this would've been the fourth. To have his home, the 92nd Bombardment Group, honor him would have been the biggest honor he could've ever had."

Sally Thomas, Morgan's niece, said their family was moved to be there with Team Fairchild to share the event. The family gathered to unveil the portrait of the lieutenant and shared comical stories of his youth.

"He was larger than life," said Thomas, referring to her uncle. "It's perfect to have an event center named after him because he was full of life. He was honest, outspoken, and just a wonderful man overall."

The Red Morgan center opened March 15 and is used for various events like award ceremonies, promotion parties, recognition ceremonies and heritage festivals.

American Airmen participate in annual RCAF Run

by Staff Sgt. David Dobrydney
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/10/2014 - WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Canada -- American Airmen stationed in Canada recently represented their home country in a friendly competition with their northern colleagues.

Six members of Detachment 1, 1st Air Force, ran in the sixth annual Royal Canadian Air Force Run May 25. This event included a 5K, a 10K and Canada's platinum certified half marathon equivalent to the annual U.S. Air Force marathon.

"It's a great way to highlight our community involvement," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Roberto Andino, Detatchment 1 strategy planner. "Although we have a small presence in terms of numbers, we make a concerted effort to make our presence felt."

Besides the six Airmen who ran in the event, all 12 detachment members volunteered in the preparations and promotion of the event, which hosted 2,500 participants and raised $30,000 for the Soldier On and Military Families Funds.

Of the six Airmen from the Detachment that ran the half marathon, Staff Sgt. Abraham Walker ran a best time of 1:39:13, finishing 19th overall.

These programs are similar to the USAF's Air Force Assistance Fund, and provide RCAF commanders with a quick means to assist military families when faced with an unexpected need, and support injured and ill Canadian Forces soldiers to attain and maintain a healthy lifestyle through participation in physical fitness, sports and recreational activities.

As the U.S. component of the Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Command region Combined Air Operations Center, Detachment 1 operates throughout the 1st Canadian Air Division's Headquarters element providing liaison and USAF expertise to their Canadian counterparts in support of the NORAD bi-national agreement.

Travis opens Fisher House II

by Jim Spellman
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

6/6/2014 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Six months after ceremonial shovels first dug into the ground marking the start of new construction, more than 200 invited guests witnessed the handing over of ceremonial keys during a ribbon-cutting and housewarming to officially open a second, larger Fisher House here May 30.

The new facility marks the 64th house built by the Fisher House Foundation, with 20 other locations near Department of Veterans Affairs or military medical facilities identified for construction in the future.

The new, 13,000 square-foot home accepted its first overnight guests Monday. It is located next to the VA Fairfield Outpatient Clinic, and directly across from the original Travis Fisher House. Since first opening its doors in 1994, more than 3,500 guests have been served by the seven-room, 5,000 square-foot haven at no out-of-pocket expense while coping with the hospitalization of a loved one.

Travis Fisher House I has maintained 100 percent occupancy for more than four years with an average waiting list of six weeks. With base closures throughout California, coupled with a 74 percent increase of in-patient volume at David Grant USAF Medical Center since 2008, Travis and Fisher House have become essential to the health and well-being of military and veteran families throughout northern California and the Pacific theatre.

"It is amazing that all this started with one letter written to then-Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley dated April 25, 2013 that was an offer to the Department of the Air Force that a second Fisher House would be built at Travis," stated Brig. Gen. Charles Potter, Air Force Medical Service assistant surgeon general.

"The anticipated period of time needed to perform the actual construction work would be approximately twelve months," Potter added. "I am very proud to stand here today in front of such a magnificent building and fully understand what it will mean for our military families that will grace its rooms from this day forward."

Fisher House II features 16 fully furnished bedroom suites, each with a private bath. It is double the size of Fisher House I, which will remain in operation. In-room telephones, cable television, DVD and wireless internet connections, a communal dining area with a well-stocked kitchen, laundry facilities, spacious living and family rooms and wheelchair-compatible hallways, doorways and elevator round out the new, two-story, home-away-from home. Its residents are families of active duty and retired military or veterans undergoing treatment at DGMC or the VA Fairfield OPC.

"When you enter this second Fisher House, you'll be able to see the selfless support and service to our uniformed military and veterans," stated Col. Corey Martin, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander. "It will serve as a lighthouse to our military members and their families in the darkest of nights or days of storms during their medical need."

Local community support for the Travis Fisher House is nothing short of outstanding.

More than $3.5 million in private funding and donations from the Combined Federal Campaign, Friends of the Fisher House Foundation, Richard Lumsden Foundation and Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation were raised to build the new home. More than $1.1 million alone came from regular listeners of Sacramento-based personalities Jack Armstrong and Joe Getty of the "Armstrong & Getty Show." Another round of fundraising by the radio talk show duo is set for November.

Daily home-cooked meals are routinely donated by squadrons on a rotating basis.

Volunteer appreciation awards, annual golf tournament, Easter egg hunt, Christmas tree auction and Viking Challenge run are just some of the regular activities to benefit and sustain daily housekeeping operations over the past two decades.

"There is a dignity and majesty in the efforts of all our armed forces, and it is well for us to remember the noble deeds of those who have worn our country's uniform," explained David Coker, Fisher House Foundation president. "This house serves as a tangible symbol of our support - our love and respect for all those who have selflessly served our country."

"It is this foundation's goal - in fact, we believe it is our duty - to help provide an environment where families can focus solely on the healing process, free from the financial worry of finding a place to stay in what may be an unfamiliar city while a loved one is receiving their necessary medical care."

The Fisher House Foundation's intention is "to be able to keep service families together during periods of medical emergencies or crisis, when they need the support and comfort of their family the most," stated retired Air Force Gen. Michael P.C. Carns, a Fisher House board member.

Fisher Houses supported 22,000 families in need last year and that number will reach 23,000 by the end of 2014.

"While metrics are important, we need to remember that every family has their own remarkable story, and focus on helping one family at a time," Coker said.

"With General Carns' help and under the Fisher family's leadership, we will continue to invest in our military and veterans communities, until the need is met - and the families we are so privileged to serve receive what they have so richly earned ... a system that cares for them ... and a nation that honors them."

Partnerships with Travis Fisher House are still available to service or business organizations, churches or local groups. If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution, Fisher House Foundation is ranked as a four-star charity by Charity Navigator and is a member of the Combined Federal Campaign.

Grand Forks AFB volunteers receive presidential recognition at appreciation picnic

by Staff Sgt. Luis Loza Gutierrez
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/10/2014 - TURTLE RIVER STATE PARK, N.D. -- Members of the Grand Forks Air Base community received special recognition from the nation's commander in chief at an awards ceremony during a Volunteer Appreciation Picnic hosted by the 319th Air Base Wing Chaplain Office on May 17 here.

"This day is to recognize all the impact you have made on Airmen, families and ministries this past year," said Chaplain (Capt.) Aaron Satchwill. "This past year the chapel has been blessed by the all the volunteers who have graciously given their time and talents to make a difference in the lives of airmen and families."

Fifteen members of the local base community earned the President's Volunteer Service Award.

The President's Volunteer Service Award recognizes individuals, families and groups that have achieved a certain standard - measured by the number of hours of service over a 12-month period or cumulative hours earned over the course of a lifetime.

There are four different level awards in the PVSA program. The first three are the bronze, silver and gold levels. These awards are earned within three age groups: children ages 5-14, young adults ages 14-25 and adults age 25 and older. The age groups make up the individual category. The families and groups make up the second category.

The Catholic community of Grand Forks AFB received the 2013 Presidential Gold Level Volunteer Organizational Award. They had 69 volunteers, who donated a total of 6,220 hours. Chaplain (Capt.) Ruben Covos accepted the award on behalf of the Catholic community, which he has served as its last assigned Catholic priest until May 18.

Among the base Catholic community were four members who earned a PVSA for their individual total number of hours.

Chief Master Sgt. Thomas Helbling and Tanya Pavlik earned the bronze level award for donating 107 and 108 hours respectively.

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Karl Ohrn earned the gold level award by donating 808 hours; however he wasn't the only recipient of the gold level award as Roselle Greene was also recognized with the same award for her impressive donation of 2,981 hours.

Father Ruben wasn't the only Air Force clergyman to accept an award. Chaplain (Capt.) Christopher Watson joined Chaplain (Maj.) Steven Dabbs to receive the 2013 Presidential Gold Level Volunteer Organizational Award on behalf of the Protestant community of the base. The two protestant chaplains led a flock that included 87 volunteers, who donated 38,119 total hours.

Like the Catholic community the Protestant community had some of its members earned PVSA for their individual efforts as well.

Brittany Dabbs and Master Sgt. Andrew Sidorovic donated 104.5 and 201 hours respectively to earn a Bronze level award.

Tech. Sgt. Ryan McDaniel's 488 hours made him the sole recipient of a silver level award.

Col. Paul Bauman, 319th Air Base Wing commander, joined Chaplain Dabbs to present the two gold level PVSAs.

Staff Sgts. Jere Ross and Nikki Webb earned their gold PVSA for donating 510 and 992 hours respectively.

"It's wonderful to have two NCOs like Sergeants Webb and Ross because they are not just great about performing their duties as chaplain assistants, but they're very generous and dedicated to serving the community during their personal time. They are truly a blessing to our chaplain corps staff and the base community," said Dabbs.

Bauman and Dabbs also presented the Lifetime Presidential Volunteer Service Awards to members of both the Catholic and Protestant communities. The Lifetime award is the highest award in the PVSA program and it is awarded to a person who has donated 4,000 hours or more over a lifetime.

A total of seven Lifetime PVSAs were presented. The first five of which went to the individuals listed below with their respective total volunteer hours:
  • Bob Greene: 4,931 hours
  • Octavia Dabbs: 4,412.5 hours
  • Tina Watson: 4,978 hours
  • Deachole Green: 4,388 hours
  • Stacy Green: 5,144 hours
The final two individuals to be presented a Lifetime PVSA were James and Helen Winder.

"They have been a part of the Grand Forks Air Force Base Chapel Community for over forty-three years," said Satchwill about the couple.

Mr. Winder donated 4,168 hours and Mrs. Winder donated 8,399 hours.

In addition to receiving the PVSA in hand the volunteers were also given a letter from President Barrack Obama, which read in part, "Congratulations on receiving the President's Volunteer Service Award, and thank you for helping to address the most pressing needs in your community and our country....Your volunteer service demonstrates the kind of commitment to your community that moves America a step closer to its great promise.... Thank you for your devotion to service and for doing all you can to shape a better tomorrow for our great Nation."

In 2013 alone, the chapel communities of Grand Forks AFB collectively donated 42,720 hours.

"Additionally, we were able to track other contributions you have made to the greater Air Force community and beyond, bringing our final total to 50,295 hours," said Satchwill. "Your generosity and selflessness has positively impacted numerous people. From the bottom of our hearts we thank you for everything you and your families have given and sacrificed."

Army Marksmanship Unit ready to host 55th Interservice Pistol Championships

By Michael Molinaro

FORT BENNING, Ga. – Service members from the Army, Army Reserve, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, and National Guard descend on Fort Benning this week to decide the military’s best pistol shooters.

Hosted by the U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit, the 55th Annual Interservice Pistol Championships takes place June 15-20, at Phillips Range.

The competition crowns the best pistol shooters while providing the opportunity for service members to share techniques, develop new ideas and enhance the overall combat readiness of the joint force.

 Marksmen will compete in individual and team matches with .22-caliber, .45-cal, center fire and service pistols. They will also shoot an excellence-in-competition match to conclude the week.

The Army has won the past eight team championships. Among USAMU’s top shots in this week’s event is shooter/instructor Sgt. 1st Class James Henderson who has won eight individual championships in his career.  Henderson has been competing in international pistol the past year in a quest to make the 2016 Olympic team.

Updates and photos from the competition can be found daily on the USAMU Facebook page, and

USAMU is part of the U.S. Army Accessions Brigade, Army Marketing and Research Group and is tasked with enhancing the Army’s recruiting effort, raising the standard of Army marksmanship and furthering small arms research and development to enhance the Army’s overall combat readiness.