Sunday, June 15, 2014

Big plane lands on small runway

by Army Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Cossel
California National Guard

6/13/2014 - PASO ROBLES, Calif.  -- Nearly 18 months of training, planning, and praying paid off in droves June 8 when a massive C-17 Globemaster from Travis Air Force Base, California, landed in the midday hours at Paso Robles Municipal Airport.

"This is the first time ever an aircraft this large has touched down at this airfield," explained Chief Warrant Officer 5 David Clark, Camp Roberts Aviation Officer.

With the historic landing, Camp Roberts moved one step closer to being the California National Guard's preeminent power projection platform. While the aircraft was empty, the landing validated the concept of moving a large number of troops in a short amount of time and landing them safely at Paso Robles airport, a small municipal airport some 15 miles from Camp Roberts.

Located in central California, traveling to Camp Roberts for the majority of California National Guard units involves long hours behind the wheel in large convoys. Long convoy operations bring a whole host of problems for commanders, ranging from clogging the highway infrastructure to increased risk of accidents and breakdowns.

"What this brings to leaders of the Cal Guard is the ability to load nearly an entire battalion of Soldiers from anywhere in the state and get them quickly to Camp Roberts," Clark stated.

According to the manufacturer, Boeing, the C-17 is capable of carrying a 160,000-pound payload, or just a bit more than one M1/A2 Abrams main battle tank. More practical in the event of a state emergency, a C-17 can transport up to 26 Humvees.

In addition to moving Soldiers quickly, transporting Soldiers by air negates the need for long convoys clogging up the California roadways and gives commanders more of one of their most precious resources--time.

"If I can get those guys on that aircraft," Clark said as he pointed to the C-17, "commanders are using less of their time getting their units to Camp Roberts and more of it training or responding to a state emergency."

Before Clark and his team could witness the landing, the pilot said an intensive engineering study of the Paso Robles Airport was required. For that, Clark looked to his friends in the active U.S. Air Force, specifically the 301st Airlift Squadron out of Travis Air Force Base.

"The engineering study ended up benefiting both the California National Guard and the city of Paso Robles," said Clark.

With no recent study of the airport's landing capabilities, Clark explained the city can now market their airfield to large aircraft.

"This is definitely an economic boon for the city," he said.

Increased mobility, economic boon and other practical matters aside, one employee of the airport after witnessing the landing and taking a tour of the aircraft descended the steps of the C-17 and noted, "Man! That was freaking cool!"

22nd STS Airmen rescue injured mountain climber

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

6/12/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Two Airmen from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord risked their lives to rescue an injured climber from Mount Rainier May 28, 2014.

Second Lt. Ryan McQuillan, 22nd STS officer in charge weapons and tactics, and Master Sgt. Kim Brewer, 22nd STS NCO in charge of weapons and tactics, are the only two service members at JBLM who had the proper skills to answer the call.

At 8 a.m. that day, the 22nd STS was contacted by the 214th General Support Aviation Battalion at Fort Lewis about an injured mountain climber who was in need of an evacuation that would require her to be hoisted up to a Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter.

McQuillan trained side-by-side with pararescuemen in Afghanistan in 2005 on a high altitude rescue team working hoist and litter operations from heights up to 15,000 feet.

Brewer is an expert mountain climber who has summited Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams numerous times each.

Together, they were the right combination for such a specific rescue attempt.

The CH-47 flew the men to Disappointment Cleaver on Mount Rainier where the injured climber and her group were waiting. The steep grade of the mountain made it too dangerous for the Airmen to hoist down at that point, so they were flown 500 feet higher up the mountain where they were able to start the evacutaion.

"Brewer went down the hoist first and secured himself to the mountain with his ice axe," McQuillan said. "Since the angle was so steep he had to pound in a picket and anchor in before releasing from the hoist.

"When I hit the ground, we roped up, came up with a quick plan and then broke down our anchors. It was a quick 500 foot down climb to say the least."

Once they reached the patient, McQuillan checked her vitals while Brewer began building anchors for them to tie into before breaking from their ropes. The patient was alert enough for McQuillan to assist her onto the hoist, allowing her to ascend to the helicopter alone.

As soon as they hoisted the patient off the mountain, small bands of clouds began passing through their location giving them clear visibility, then no visibility, repeatedly.

Brewer spoke to the helicopter pilots about their hoist extraction, planning to send up one at a time. Since the weather was rapidly getting worse, the pilot wanted them to climb 500 feet back up the mountain.

McQuillan and Brewer squashed that idea immediately.

"We asked the pilot if he was 100 percent sure he could hoist both of us off the mountain before the weather got too bad," said McQuillan. "He wasn't and since there was no way we were going to leave only one guy up there we made the call to climb down together with the hope to extract at Camp Muir."

Once the helicopter departed the mountain, the Airmen linked up with the Mount Rainier guide who had been with the patient. The three climbers made their way past Disappointment Cleaver and eventually to Camp Muir. There, they were able to rest, eat and get some water, which they would need, as the weather was still too bad for the helicopter to evacuate them from the mountain.

That only left one option for McQuillan and Brewer.

They had climb the rest of the way down Mount Rainier to the Paradise visitor center, alone, in high winds, snow, freezing rain and visibility of less than 20 feet.

"Since we were on our own, we took our time going down and did one long halt to check the map and global positioning system," McQuillan said.

After the strenuous trek in the extreme conditions and about 6 hours after their initial drop in, the Airmen arrived safely at the Paradise visitor center.

They were met by a National Park Service officer who drove the men to Kautz Heli-base where they were finally able to link up with the helicopter and fly back to JBLM.

The Airmen were relieved to be safely off the mountain but they were happier to be able to help someone in need of aid.

"It was a good feeling to be able to help out a fellow climber who had gotten injured on the mountain," Brewer said.

This mountain rescue proved to be another example of the range of skills members from the 22nd STS possess.

"It's definitely a good feeling to be part of something like this," said McQuillan. "We established a good relationship with the national park service, we're creating a good capability within our squadron, and we're helping out the local community as well."

Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Guilmain, 22nd STS superintendent, echoed McQuillan's words. "I'm proud of our team's performance during this joint rescue operation and I'm excited that our unique capabilities were useful in helping this distressed climber."

Face of Defense: Former Australian Soldier Returns as U.S. Marine

By Marine Corps Cpl. James Gulliver
Marine Rotational Force Darwin

ROBERTSON BARRACKS, Australia, June 13, 2014 – Marine Corps Cpl. Christopher Eves, born in Queensland, Australia, is back in his native land, serving as a section leader with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Marine Rotational Force Darwin.

Eves was raised just outside of Brisbane, Australia, though as the son of an Australian soldier, he said, he constantly was moving from place to place.

“I could never really call one place home,” he said. “We were always moving around, but the army lifestyle appealed to me.”

In 2004, Eves signed up to be an officer in the Australian army.

“A lot of my family had been in the army,” he said. “There was a lot of action going on at the time, so I wanted to get out and see the world.”

Eves worked with multiple U.S. military services, he said, but he first encountered U.S. Marines while participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“They just had a similar attitude to the Australian soldiers,” he said. “They always got more done with less support. That’s what I loved about them.”

The Marines trained harder than everyone, they worked harder and they were the most professional, Eves added.

After six years in the Australian army, Eves said, he decided it was time to make his dream of being a Marine a reality. He and his wife moved to Virginia, where he enlisted into the Marine Corps. His leadership experience made the trials of boot camp much easier than they might have been for others, he said.

“He’s just one of those guys who is a born a leader,” said Marine Corps Cpl. Cameron Flavel, a squad leader with Weapons Company. “I remember one time in boot camp they had him teaching a land navigation class, because he knew more than the instructors.”

Eves said he was used to the trials of a military lifestyle, making the adjustment that most new Marines have to go through much easier. “Everything just came natural to me,” he added. “I already had a lot of experience, so I loved sharing it and helping out the other Marines.”

During his initial deployment to Okinawa, Eves was able to teach his Marines everything from jungle warfare to patrolling.

“I was only a lance corporal at the time, teaching classes that a staff sergeant should be teaching, just because of my prior experience,” he said. “I was really given a lot of opportunities that most junior Marines did not have.”

Eves has a laid-back leadership style, but he still commands respect from Marines in his section.

“He’s not the kind of guy who will scream at you if you mess up,” said Flavel, a native of San Angelo, Texas. “But all his Marines respect him, and are too scared to let him down.”

After spending three years in the Marine Corps, Eves received news that his unit would be returning to Australia on a deployment. “I was pretty excited to be coming back home,” he said. “I miss a lot about this country, especially the sports.”

Eves said he plans to continue his career in the Marine Corps and is thankful for all the opportunities and challenges it has offered him.

“What I love most about the Marines is that no matter where you come from or what your accent is, you’ll always be accepted as a brother,” he said. “I share all my experiences with my Marines, and they embrace it. Being able to see and learn from other people is what makes this organization so great.”

Radar site beefs up security, showcases latest upgrade to battle management PEO

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

6/11/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Battle Management program executive officer Steven Wert toured the PAVE Phased Array Warning System, or PAVE PAWS, radar site at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., last month and examined the facility's newest security upgrade.

While the PAVE PAWS radar is owned and operated by Air Force Space Command, the Force Protection Branch -- a Battle Management team based out of Hanscom AFB, Mass. -- manages the updating and installation of the security system that protects the radar.

"After seeing the results of the installation first-hand, I am confident that the Airmen protecting this critical asset have the necessary tools to get the job done," said Wert.

Beale is one of only two active PAVE PAWS radar sites within the United States; the radar's primary purpose is to detect and track sea-launched and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The system is also able to track and detect earth-orbiting satellites. Information gathered from PAVE PAWS is relayed to missile and space control centers, the National Military Command Center and U.S. Strategic Command.

With U.S. military installations operating on a global level, integrated base defense security systems, or IBDSS, play a crucial role by helping security forces members protect the nation's critical assets.

"This was a large undertaking," said 2nd Lt. James Ellis, the project manager for the update. "An installation of this size occurs only so often on any given base. However, what we brought to the table has a significant impact to our space defense and ultimately safeguards the nation."

Over the past two years, the security system at the West Coast site has undergone major upgrades and received the latest in intrusion detection technology.

The IBDSS is now equipped with high-resolution digital cameras, up-to-date computers and video management systems, resulting in a modern-day alarm management center. In addition to these features, the new system also includes 24-hour recording of all video feeds.

The new IBDSS is operated by the 9th Reconnaissance Wing Security Forces Squadron and allows Airmen to instantly access the cause of any intrusion alarm.

"An upgrade in security was much needed," Wert said. "The PAVE PAWS radar safeguards the U.S. from nuclear and space threats -- protection of this asset is vital."

Following the tour of the PAVE PAWS radar facility and an Air Force Distributed Common Ground System site, another system sustained by battle management teams at Peterson AFB, Colo., and Robins AFB, Ga., Wert returned to Hanscom where the Force Protection office was already hard at work on their next project.

The team is currently updating the PAVE PAWS radar site at Cape Cod Air Force Station, Mass., which is expected to be completed in July.

Enlisted pilots honored during ceremony

by Tech. Sgt. Sarah Loicano
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

6/12/2014 - MONTGOMERY, Ala.  -- The military's sergeant pilots, enlisted aviators who served from 1912-1957, were honored during a monument unveiling and dedication at Maxwell-Gunter's Enlisted Heritage Hall June 9.

Nearly 14 years in the making, the monument depicts Corporal Vernon L. Burge, the Army Signal Corps' first enlisted pilot, in recognition of the service and sacrifices made by nearly 3,000 enlisted men who followed in Burge's footsteps.

In attendance were three sergeant pilots; retired Lt. Col. Charles Fisk, retired Col. James "Pat" Pool, and retired Lt. Col. John W. Beard, as well as the family members of several other enlisted pilots who were integral to making the monument a reality.

Gen. Robin Rand, commander Air Education and Training Command, presided over the ceremony, saluting the pilots for their service and contributions to the war effort. Like all who served in WWII, Rand said these enlisted pilots made up the greatest generation. Of the 3,000 sergeant pilots, 11 of them would go on to achieve the rank of general officer, 17 would become flying aces and more than 150 were killed in action.

"They were men, who during a time of crisis, did not shrink from service to our country, and instead they courageously fought to defend and aid those around them," Rand said. "Quite simply, our enlisted pilots were the very best our country had to offer. I am honored to be here today to memorialize their service and I am a humbled, truly humbled, to count myself among them as a United States Air Force military pilot."

Craig Wood, whose father Staff Sgt. Herman C. Wood, later a retired colonel, was there to honor his father. Craig, who also served in the Air Force as an intelligence officer and later as a Department of Defense civilian for 30 years, said his father came from a difficult family background. With his mother ill and father out of the picture, Colonel Wood worked in a garage all the way through high school to help take care of his siblings. Inspired by barn stormers, the stunt pilots who performed aeronautical tricks during the 1920s, Colonel Wood had always wanted to fly, but family circumstances made the dream seem just out of reach.

The military and enlisted pilot program was an opportunity that changed everything for Colonel Wood, who would go on to serve as a C-17 Globemaster III bombardier, and later as a transport pilot.

"He enlisted in 1938 and then, subsequently, when the offer was made to be able to fly, it was a like a dream come true for dad," Wood said. "So to me, coming here and remembering the significant role he had in this part of history, is really what it's all about. I'm looking up and dad's looking down and he's pleased. He worked extremely hard for this, to record this part of Air Force history."

Organized by the Enlisted Heritage Hall and the Army Air Corps Enlisted Pilots Association, the unveiling ceremony was a long time coming. Larry Chivalette, the museum curator, said the catalyst for the monument creation was when retired Brig. Gen. Edwin F. Wenglar, who championed for way to honor the enlisted pilots, passed way in 2011.

"It was his dying wish to get this done. Then Colonel Wood took over, and when he contacted Chief Master Sgt. Fred Graves, [AF Enlisted Heritage Hall director] the chief gave him his word he was going to try to make it happen."

Two days later Colonel Wood passed away.

Since the conversation in 2012, Chivalette said that Graves worked feverishly to create a monument that would honor and recognize all enlisted pilots. The efforts of the museum staff, along with the sergeant pilots and their families, raised more than $60,000 to make the monument a reality.

Pool was inspired by an early chance encounter with Wiley Post, an America pilot famous during the early 1930s for being the first man to fly solo around the world. Post was also the personal pilot of wealthy Oklahoma oil businessman F.C. Hall, who flew to Chickasa, Okla., to meet with Pool's father, a newspaper editor. When Hall and Pool's father drove off to town, young Pool was left with the famous pilot, who took him for a spin.

"I, of course, I was all for it," Pool said. "At that time he was the most famous aviator in the whole world. So we got on board, and when we left for take-off, I got to thinking about how I could do this for life."

Pool entered the service Aug. 28, 1941, just in time for Pearl Harbor, and upon completing flying school, was sent to India where he spent the war hauling critical cargo and solders to Pacific theater battlefields. Later, he flew in the famous Berlin Airlift, carrying humanitarian aid to the residents of West Berlin.

Pool, speaking about the monument, and the decision to have Burge represent all enlisted pilots, said it was a lifetime endeavor culminating in the statute.

PACAF Airmen team up for Air Force Marathon

by Tech Sgt. Joy Meek
PACAF Public Affairs

6/13/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- It starts by placing one foot in front of the other, increasing speed, building endurance and the next thing you know, 26.2 miles have passed. Ok, well, it may not be that easy, but some Pacific Air Forces Airmen have the opportunity to experience exactly what it takes to train for and complete the Air Force Marathon.

Ten Airmen from bases throughout the pacific region were selected to represent PACAF in the Air Force Marathon on Sept. 20, 2014, in either the half or full marathon at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

"This year is the first year that PACAF will officially be sending a full team of 10 runners for the MAJCOM Challenge," said Master Sgt. Terilynn Madrona, PACAF services sustainment branch noncommissioned officer at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. "In previous years, PACAF only funded four full marathon runners."

The AF Form 303, Request for USAF Specialized Sports Training, is the official document the athletes use to apply for the team which lists their last three years of run times and accomplishments. All of the applications are evaluated by a PACAF Services board which selects the participants.

With 59 applicants, Madrona said it wasn't an easy selection decision for the board.

"It was a lengthy process to go through each application as many candidates had multiple recent run times to evaluate." Madrona said. "The AF Form 303 asks for sports experience and significant performance or training for the past three years."

Airmen 1st Class Andrew Riesenberger, civil engineer with the 51st Civil Engineer Squadron at Osan AB, South Korea, one of six PACAF runners selected for the half marathon said he looks forward to meeting other military running enthusiasts.

"It's really exciting for me because I've been running for so long on high school and college teams it's cool to have a different kind of team to run and compete with," Riesenberger said.

His sentiment was shared by fellow half marathon participant, 2nd Lt. Herman Reinhold, 374th Force Support Squadron Readiness and Plans chief at Yokota Air Base, Japan. "I'm excited to meet other running enthusiasts from across PACAF," Reinhold said. "Sometimes I feel like I'm the only crazy guy out there doing laps around the flight line in 40 degree weather when everyone else is already home watching TV."

For some participants it may be a new experience, but for Master Sgt. Karissa Gunter, fitness center section chief with the 36th Force Support Squadron at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, this will be her ninth full marathon and second time on the PACAF team.

She credits her running passion to a previous assignment. "I was stationed at Aviano [Italy] in 2007 and running encouraged me to get out and see all the fascinating sites in Europe," Gunter said.

Proper training and running a few half or full marathons is important for anyone wanting to be on a future team according to Madrona. For helpful training information, visit the USAF Marathon site at

For anyone interested in applying to participate in next year's AF Marathon, Reinhold offers some advice, "All it takes is a strict running regime and a little bit of confidence. Turn off the TV for a few minutes, load some music onto your MP3 player, tie your shoes and go."

The full team representing PACAF in the 2014 Air Force Marathon is listed below:

Full Marathon:

Maj Luke Casper, 35 Fighter Wing Safety, Misawa AB
MSgt Karissa Gunter, 36 FSS, Andersen AFB
MSgt Traveller Hill, 25 Air Support Operation Squadron, JBPHH
SrA Kevin McInerny, 5 ASOS, Eielson AFB


Col Dondi Costin, HQ PACAF Chaplin, JBPHH
Capt Allison Easterly, 962 Airborne Air Control Squadron, JBER
2nd Lt Herman Reinhold, 374 FSS, Yokota AB
SSgt Joshua Johnson, 51 Operation Support Squadron, Osan AB
SrA Lauren Weimer, 647 Civil Engineer Squadron, JBPHH
A1C Andrew Riesenberger, 51 CES, Osan AB

Gen. McDew challenges mobility Airmen to dominate the mission

by Marvin Krause
43rd Airlift Group Public Affairs

6/12/2014 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, FORT BRAGG, N.C.  -- Gen. Darren W. McDew, Air Mobility Command commander, challenged mobility Airmen to dominate the mission during a recent visit here, after taking command of AMC in May.

"You are Air Force leaders with unrivaled mobility expertise, but Air Force leaders first. You should be inspired by a rich heritage," McDew said. "We should always make sure that we're dominating our mission today. I didn't say 'winning;' I said, 'dominating' our mission today. That's how we go forward. We should boldly forge our future."

McDew reassured Airmen the air mobility enterprise is strong, and he thanked all of the Airmen in attendance for their service to the Nation.

"Air Mobility Command is in great shape. There won't be any drastic changes and the priorities that are in place are good priorities that I believe in," McDew said. "I am very proud of what we do well. We do our core missions of airlift, aeromedical evacuation, air refueling and global air mobility support so well--we're the envy of the rest of the Air Force."

McDew compared AMC's mission reliability to flipping on a light switch.

"When you walk into a dark room and you flip that switch, what happens? The lights come on. Do you actually worry about how the lights come on? The rest of the world knows: you call AMC--the lights come on. That's what we do well," he said.

McDew also explained how all Airmen must lead in order to sustain AMC's mission reliability in the future.

"We're going to have some turbulence for the next few years. Each of us has to lead boldly -- not just me. So what I want you to do is do what you can do, and you can do far more than you think you can," he said.

McDew also commented on the importance of Total Force Associations throughout the command, which rely on Guard and Reserve Airmen partnering with active-duty Airmen.

"Our Total Force Association in this command goes back to 1968 at Norton and the C-141," McDew said. "We have a lot of history of doing this. We cannot walk away from the Guard and Reserve. If you look at the C-130 fleet by itself, 358 airplanes today, 27 percent of them are in the active duty and 73 percent in the Guard and Reserve. All KC-46A units will be associated, most C-17 units will be associated, a lot of KC-135 units are associated one way or another--we won't walk away," he said.

As AMC commander, McDew leads all Mobility Air Forces comprised of nearly 132,000 civilian, active duty, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve personnel.

Averaging an aircraft takeoff every two-and-a-half minutes, AMC sustains America's military operations worldwide, including combat operations in Afghanistan, through its airlift, aerial refueling and aeromedical evacuation capabilities. The command also responds to humanitarian crises at home and around the globe.

New commander takes the lead of Basic Military Training

by Mike Joseph
JBSA-Lackland Public Affairs

6/11/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- Air Force Basic Military Training welcomed a new commander Monday during a change of command ceremony at the Recruit and Family In-processing Information Center on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.

Col. Michele C. Edmondson assumed command of the 737th Training Group from Col. Deborah Liddick. Liddick spent the past 20 months as BMT commander and following the change of command ceremony, retired after 25 years in the Air Force.

Col. Mark Camerer, 37th Training Wing commander, was the ceremony's presiding official.

"It is a special day, a momentous occasion," Camerer said to the crowd, which included a 500-man BMT flight formation representing the group's nine squadrons and MTI Corps.

"Your efforts have laid the foundation of success for Colonel Edmondson as she takes command," Camerer said in remarks about Liddick. "Today we're (BMT) better off because of your service.

"You will walk away from here today without a title, but you will have something more valuable: You'll have a testimony of distinguished service."

To Edmondson, Camerer said, "You should savior this command. Treat every day, treat every minute, indeed treat every moment, as a precious gift. Your Airmen need your leadership, your mentorship and your guidance. I know you're well prepared."

Edmondson comes to JBSA-Lackland after serving the past two years as the 381st Training Group commander at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The 381st TRG provides initial training for the nation's space and Intercontinental Ballistic Missile operations and ICBM and air launched cruise missile maintenance forces.