Military News

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

176th Wing provides air component command during JFEX

by Air Force Staff Sgt. N. Alicia Halla
176th Wing Public Affairs


6/17/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The office bustled with olive green jumpsuits, the smell of pizza, and a dozen conversations dropping terms such as "sorties" and "objective." At the white board near a high table covered in maps, a 6-foot-plus commander in a flight suit bearing the 144th Airlift Squadron patch scribbled information and directed various personnel.

Ring, ring. "Mission planning cell," a serious face answered one of the uniformly black office phones.

The mission planning cell was the eyes and ears of the air and ground forces commanders, assigned to the task of command-and-control for the Joint Forcible Entry Exercise's many moving parts.

More than 1,500 service members drawn from Alaska, Oregon and Guam came together for a large joint-force exercise at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and at Fort Greely, near Delta Junction, last week.

The Joint Forcible Entry Exercise - a sizable undertaking by the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Operations Group, U.S. Army Alaska's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, the Oregon Air National Guard's 125th Special Tactics Squadron, and the Air Force's Guam-based 36th Contingency Response Group - demonstrated close cooperation and the ability to project combat power.

The six-day event involved a mock airfield seizure from enemy forces, multiple airdrops, and airlift transport of more than 500 tons of cargo and more than 650 Soldiers and Airmen. It included a jump with more than 400 paratroopers, intelligence and reconnaissance operations, simulated firefights, a medical evacuation exercise, air traffic control and more.

Exercise organizers attributed its success to the flexibility and positive attitudes of the entire team.

"Sometimes people focus on why we can't," said Army Col. Matt McFarlane, the JFEX ground forces and 4-25th IBCT commander. "We focused on how we can."

Planning began in October 2013 and required considerable cooperation between participants and critical support from other agencies such as the 3rd Operation Group; the 176th, 773rd and 673d logistics readiness squadrons; and the 176th Maintenance Group.

The Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing, with its wide range of missions, was able to furnish support normally requiring several wings. For example, the original plans called for preparing only 12 aircraft, wing maintainers were able to provide 16 mission-ready aircraft - including the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules, HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and HC-130 King aircraft - for more than 70 flying missions during the exercise. They were able to repair aircraft in 45 minutes - work that usually takes four days, according to Air National Guard Lt. Col. Michael Griesbaum, the 176th Operations Group deputy commander, who served as deputy air forces commander for the exercise.

Unforeseen factors required speedy cooperation by support agencies. Changes included moving the original drop zone for the paratroopers from Allen Army Airfield at Fort Greely to Malemute Drop Zone on JBER due to unsafe wind conditions.

The organizations achieved interoperability - working together to achieve service-specific training, learning each other's terminology, and building stronger relationships.

"The intention is to continue these mutually-beneficial large force exercises in the future," said Air National Guard Col. Blake Gettys, the 176th Operations Group commander, who served as the exercise's air forces commander.

Brigade leans on Air Force, National Guard support

by Sgt. Eric-James Estrada
4-25th IBCT Public Affairs


6/17/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- More than 400 paratroopers and Airmen participated in a large-scale exercise at Fort Greely June 7 to Tuesday. The Joint Forcible Entry Exercise included an airborne jump and trained paratroopers to get on the ground quickly and efficiently.

Spartan paratroopers with 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, hosted the three-day JFEX at the Donnelly Training Area.

The JFEX included interoperability training to jointly seize an airfield, establish and expand a lodgment to include follow-on missions. Airmen of the Alaska National Guard's 176th Wing provided airlift support, the Oregon National Guard's 125th Special Tactics Squadron controlled the aircraft, and the 736th Security Forces Squadron, 36th Contingency Response Group, based out of Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, provided security and running the airfield in terms of marshaling the aircraft and unloading and offloading all vehicles, pallets and equipment.

"Today demonstrates one, the capability of the joint force, but two, the flexibility," said Army Lt. Col. Tobin Magsig, a native of Nashville, Tenn., and commander of the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment.

The JFEX started off with a heavy-equipment drop of howitzers and military vehicles parachuting to the ground at the Donnelly Drop Zone for the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment. The Spartan Steel Battalion provided counter fires capability in the event of indirect fire on the airfield. During the drop, three of the 11 loads received some damage as heavy winds pushed them before they landed on the drop zone. The heavy winds, which were within the limits for a heavy drop, were not within safety measures for personnel. A nearby forest fire that began to escalate within the area of the planned airfield seizure forced the Spartan paratroopers and Air Force jumpers to come up with a new plan, and quickly.

"We changed the location of the drop zone over 200 miles away in less than three hours based on hearing word on the severity of the fires," Magsig said. "After the force conducted its airborne operation, we reconvened a team and conducted an air land here at Allen Army Airfield. Although we're getting here a little later then we planned, we're still going to be able to conduct our training and achieve our training objectives."

Since coming back from their recent training rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La., Magsig said the brigade has found some areas they can improve on.

"Last month, the battalion went to the [JRTC] and that was fantastic training, but like all our training events there were some things that we could have done better," Magsig said.

"There are several ... training objectives that each company has that we're going to work and weave into this exercise from a groundside. The air component brings their own set of training objectives. What's important is that we work together and maximize our interoperability to achieve each other's training objectives."

For the 36th CRG stationed at Guam, this is their first time working with the Spartan Brigade and training in Alaska.

"This is a new partnership that we have been building, but we do have other airborne units that are security forces that have jumped in through [JFEX] at Fort Bragg and with the 75th Ranger Regiment out of Fort Benning," said Air Force Master Sgt. Somchai Rollins, a member of the 36th CRG. "So for this theater, this is the first time we've done this; but throughout the Air Force, we have done it before."

The 36th CRG is a rapid-deployment unit designed to aid airborne units in securing an airfield and establishing and maintaining airfield operations. Coming from tropical weather, Rollins said he and the rest of the 36th CRG met with some interesting challenges.

"Coming from a tropical island, Guam, and coming here and [54-degree temperature] is a little cold for us, but apparently people are around here having fun," he said. "And the sunlight, that's another thing too. As you can tell, right behind me (sunset) it's about [1:30 a.m.]. For us in Guam we're used to it being dark at [6:30 p.m.] So that's another challenge, we're trying to sleep and get acclimated. It's a little tough."

Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Geisser, an Air Force combat controller, and native of Townsend, Mont., with the 125th Special Tactics Squadron out of Portland, Ore., provides the connection between Army, Navy Special Forces and the Air Force.

"We're the link," he said. "Everything from calling in airdrops of personnel and/or equipment to providing air-traffic control services to bring that equipment into austere landing zones, ... and close air support to bring air power to the ground forces. This is not new to me. It's different because it's a much larger scale than we're used to, but it's been a good experience overall."

Magsig said when it comes to airfield seizures, it can't be done without them.

"The special tactics squadron provides air traffic control and controls the aircraft as it comes in and clears the runways and taxiways, and the contingency response groups helps us set up and run the airfield in terms of marshaling the aircraft and unloading and offloading all of our vehicles, pallets and equipment," the battalion commander said. "They run the aerial port of embarkation and debarkation, marshal aircraft as they arrive, park them, and receive the equipment, and they help us in the security of the airfield as well."
As the Spartan Brigade continues to train, this exercise served as a certification of the Army's contingency-response force for the Pacific Theater.

JBER library enlists service dogs, ferrets for a “Paws to Read” activity day

by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs


6/17/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- For the past five years, the Department of Defense has been encouraging children, teens and adults to read during the summer through the iREAD Program at base libraries.

The initiative endeavors to create resource guides and animal-themed materials and activities to provide a way to keep up with children's literacy through the summer.

Participants can log their reading hours when they sign up for the summer reading program on the DoD website or through the JBER Consolidated Library's website.

"This year's theme is 'Paws to Read' and during the six-week period, the readers will be reading books that are animal-themed," said Marcia Lee, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson librarian.

During these six weeks, the library will host events for the participants of the program, such as craft projects, reading sessions and animal presentations.

"They will also be receiving a take-home craft when they sign up," Lee said. "It's a time for families to do a little crafting together."

The program breaks up into three categories. The first is for younger children at an age when they can be read to or they can read to a parent. The next category is for the pre-teens and teenagers, and the third is for adults.

"All of the categories are age-appropriate," Lee said.

"To keep track of how many books the children read, we give parents a bookmark with four Paws to Read logos on it and we punch the logos out when the parents tell us their children have read four books," Lee said.

For adults to receive incentives at the end of the six weeks, they must read at least three books, but there is no upper limit.

"The children's incentives are by the minutes they read (or are read to), up to 500 minutes," Lee said. "It's amazing how many children exceed that amount of time. I always ask them if they have done any chores this week because of how many minutes I see they have read."

"So far the summer reading program has been great; it encourages the kids," said Crystal Powell, wife of Air Force Staff Sgt. Steven Powell, 673d Aircraft Maintenance Unit. "The library does a wonderful job at getting the kids interested in reading with all the events and incentives they do."

By reading four books, children and teens earn a free game of bowling at Polar Bowl.
At the end of the six-week program, the library submits the top three readers, one in each age group, to Air Force Libraries in San Antonio, where a name will be drawn for a grand prize.

"My philosophy is that I don't like to call them prizes," Lee said. "They are incentives to encourage children, and all of us, to read and to learn and develop a curiosity through reading."

1 Geronimo Soldiers honor WWII legacy of 501st veterans

by Army Maj. Adam Hallmark
4-25 IBCT Public Affairs


6/17/2014 - SAINTE-MERE-ÉGLISE, France -- Seventy years after the launch of the largest air- and seaborne operation in the history of warfare, paratroopers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson took part in a ceremony to commemorate the actions of one of its units in the small French village of Angoville-au-Plain June 7.
The 501st Infantry Regiment (of which today's 1st Battalion is assigned to the Spartan Brigade) fought as the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment under the 101st Airborne Division during World War II.

The 501st PIR played a key role in all of the division's engagements, including Operation Overlord in Normandy and Operation Market Garden in Holland, and the Battle of the Bulge in Belgium.

However, it was during the Normandy campaign that the 501st got its first real taste of combat.

Activated at Camp Toccoa, Ga., in 1942 and built upon the Army's famed parachute test platoon, the 501st was commanded by Col. Howard "Jumpy" Johnson until his death during Operation Market Garden in October 1944.

In Normandy, the 101st Airborne Division tasked Johnson and the 501st to drop in north and east of the town of Carentan in order to secure the La Barquette locks on the Douve River.

That plan did not survive initial contact with the enemy.

Intense German anti-aircraft fire over Normandy forced many C-47 Skytrain pilots to take evasive action, leading to missed drop zones for soldiers of both the 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions.

So erratic were the drops, some paratroopers found themselves a staggering 21 miles from their planned drop zones.

The error forced paratroopers from various units to form hodgepodge fighting outfits until the confusion could be sorted out, leading to what later became known as little groups of paratroopers, or LGOPs for short.

To the dismay of German forces, the initiative, adaptability and the "can-do" fighting spirit of the American paratrooper won the day despite the initial setback.

"These men knew what they had to accomplish," said Robert Wright Jr. of Port Richey, Fla., and the son of one of Angoville-au-Plain's two celebrated heroes.

"When my father was here on D-Day, he worked alongside soldiers from not only his own regiment (501st), but even the 506th [Parachute Infantry Regiment] as well."

Robert Wright Sr., a senior line medic with Dog Company, 501st PIR, jumped from his C-47 and came down near a stream running through a farm field roughly 150 yards from the town's 11th-century church.

That building would become the location for a pivotal moment in his life, the actions within and around it forever etched in his memory.

As action with the occupying German forces intensified around Angoville-au-Plain, the village church soon found a new role as a makeshift casualty collection point and aid station.

Wright Sr., along with Able Company, 501st PIR senior line medic Kenneth Moore, took charge of first aid operations within the church.

Meanwhile, the battle outside raged for three days.

The church, along with Wright Sr. and Moore's personal safety, changed hands a number of times, but it's what they managed to accomplish in conjunction with their primary duties that proved remarkable.

"It was Dad's idea to bar any weapons whatsoever from being brought inside the church," said Wright Jr.

Easy enough when you're working alongside friendly forces; difficult to impossible when enemy forces are entered into the equation.

However, that's exactly what Wright Sr. and Moore accomplished.

"When a German officer walked into the church, dad told him he had to leave his weapon outside," said Wright, Jr.

"The German hesitated at first, but when he saw that dad and [Kenneth] Moore were also treating wounded German soldiers, he complied and the church was marked with a red cross and made off-limits to military action."

At one point, a mortar round came through the roof of the church and landed inside without exploding.

Wright Jr. said that his father, without a second thought, picked it up and threw it outside.
Wright Sr. and Moore's courage and devotion to duty during the action, which finally subsided on June 8, 1944, earned them both Silver Stars.

When it was finally over, Wright Sr. and Moore had treated 80 wounded American and German soldiers, losing only three in the process. They also treated a very young boy from the village, who survived.

The broken windows were replaced later with stained-glass depictions of paratroopers, but the building still bears bullet scars - and the blood-stained wooden pews that served as hospital beds.

Although separated by an ocean, the Wright family and the people of Angoville-au-Plain share a special bond.

"Many of the people here today are the children and grandchildren of those who lived here on June 6," explained Wright Jr.

Like many World War II veterans, Wright Sr., who passed away last December, was not one to openly talk about his wartime experiences.

"Growing up, I didn't have an appreciation for what my father did during the war because he never talked about it," said Wright, Jr. "It wasn't till later in life . . . that he began to open up - but the people here [in Angoville-au-Plain] knew what he did.

The June 7 ceremony wasn't Wright Jr.'s first - he's attended others.

When asked why he keeps coming back, he explained that such ceremonies were important to his father and that it's important to carry on his legacy.

More importantly for Wright Jr., there's another reason why he keeps coming back.
"If anything, these people [of Angoville-au-Plain] helped me to learn who my father was," he added.

Seventy years after the action that took place there, the impact that Wright Sr. and Moore had on this rural French community and surrounding area is still visible.

Only about 50 people call Angoville-au-Plain home these days.

But on June 7, 500 people turned out to remember what two young privates of the 501st PIR accomplished all those years ago.

673d FSS hosts annual JBER car and bike show

by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs


6/17/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 673d Force Support Squadron hosts the seventh annual Military Appreciation Car and Bike Show on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Joint Military Mall.

This year, the show will have vendors, bouncy houses, door prizes, food and other entertainment venues.

"We have had as many as 115 cars and trucks," said Bill Miracle, 673d Force Support Squadron Warrior Zone program manager. "Right now our current number of entries for the show is 50, including approximately 25 bikes."

Individuals can enter their car in one of nine categories, or their motorcycles in one of three, free of charge. Classic, custom, sports car, hot rod, muscle car, low rider, antique, military and people's choice are the car categories and custom, classic and sport bike are the motorcycle categories.

Attendees are encouraged to vote for their favorite car or bike. Those entries will also be used in a drawing to win a 50-inch TV.

Food and craft vendors will also be at the show to help raise money for different organizations on JBER, such as Joint Base Against Drunk Driving, Better Opportunities for Single Service Members, the Warrior Zone and other clubs on base.

"It's a great, fun event," Hardin said. "Everything from outside vendors to inside arcades, we have something for every age."

For information, call 384-9006.

Generating Airpower: The heart of an F-16

by Senior Airman Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


6/17/2014 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan --  (This article is part of a series featuring the 35th Maintenance Group on their ability to generate airpower for the 35th Fighter Wing's Wild Weasels. The 35 MXG is compiled of 22 career fields that support the mission of the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, the only SEAD wing in Pacific Air Forces.)

When Airman 1st Class Ashton Youngblood was 17 years old, he spent an entire year rebuilding a Ford F-150 pickup truck from the ground up. He didn't know it at the time, but it was just a minor tune-up for what his career had in store.

A couple years later, he traded his backyard garage in Missouri for one in northern Japan that stores a little more horsepower. When he walks into work these days, he's surrounded by huddles of hulking F-16 Fighting Falcon engines. Today, there are 10 engines in the hangar and a combined 1 million horsepower between them.

They're the heart and soul of a fleet of 44 F-16s stationed at Misawa, and it's up to Youngblood and his fellow aerospace propulsion maintainers to bring them to life.

"These engines are what the jets are built around," Youngblood said. "The work we do back here is what really sends them off the runway."

Aerospace Propulsion is commonly referred to as "props," and every day around 80 props Airmen ripple into their hangar, ready to repair engines and set the frame for mission-ready fighter jets. They'll use hundreds of tools, utilizing things like bore scope cameras to see hard-to-reach places inside the engine, dry ice to condense specific parts and basic wrenches for bolt turning.

Youngblood works in the Jet Engine Intermediate Maintenance section in the props back shop, where the vast majority of props Airmen work. It's one of three major areas that fall under aerospace propulsion, and they work hand-in-hand with flightline engine troops and engine test cell maintainers.

Following each flying day at Misawa, flight line props run extensive tests on each F-16 engine using computer programs to analyze and monitor different parameters to ensure they're functioning properly, said Staff Sgt. Jeremy Howard, 35 Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

With Misawa pilots flying more than 6,000 sorties annually, the cohesion of back shop and flight line maintainers must remain solid and fluent.

It's a story of two different worlds working together. While Howard and about 10 other flight line props troops battle the elements and fast pace, the back shop digs into depths of the engines seen by no other maintainers.

"It's a higher tempo out here [on the flight line]. We have to constantly push sorties so the pace is a little faster," said Tech. Sgt. Keith Wright, 35 MXS. "We all work well together and everyone plays their part."

Following testing and downloads on the flight line, Howard said they'll review the information and either perform maintenance on the fly or turn to their counterparts for more advanced and hard-to-reach help.

"Basically, anytime the flight line has more maintenance than quick fixes on the engines or identifies upcoming long-term maintenance, they'll send it to us at the back shop," said Airman 1st Class Hannah Stout, 35 MXS, who has spent the past year fixing engines at Misawa.

Once at the back shop, the elaborate hands-on dissection begins.

"What we'll do is receive an engine, tear it down, inspect any parts, and replace them," Youngblood said pragmatically.

It's hardly that simple - unmasking a 5,530-pound engine is no easy task, but it's one props troops take on wholeheartedly.

"It's a big deal - the F-16 is a single-engine jet, so everything we do must be exact," said Staff Sgt. Rubiani Navarrette, 35 MXS. "It's very complex at first and a lot to take in, but after a while you get used to it and take pride in going in there and doing your job with no problems."

Back shop maintainers practically swarm an engine to break it down -- some on wheeled seats deconstructing the underside, some scaling the engine's sides and top, and others reviewing technical orders and supervising the process. They're patient and methodical, calling others in for opinions and assistance to ensure perfection.

"The most challenging part is what you face mentally," Youngblood said. "You're always learning something new and relying on coworkers to get the job done."

Disassembling an engine usually takes around a week, and putting one back together takes about double that. Along with faults and fixes, scheduled maintenance as part of a service life extension program requires that each engine be inspected thoroughly and necessary parts be replaced after a certain amount of flying hours.

On top of supporting Misawa's Wild Weasel mission of the Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses, the props back shop is a designated Central Repair Facility, meaning it also takes on the bulk of engine responsibilities for both Osan and Kunsan Air Bases in the Republic of Korea.

"We support the entire Pacific theatre," Youngblood said. "It means a lot to know we're part of the bigger picture. We have a hand in every jet that flies out here."

When all their hard work comes to a head, the final piece of the trio - the engine test cell maintainers - bring the engine to life.

About once every week, an F-16 engine is loaded into the test cell's "Hush House," a warehouse-like structure designed to muffle the roaring sound of jet engines. It's the final test after hours, days and months of laboring work.

"It's our goal to catch any last issues and have each engine ready to go before it reaches the flight line," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Martinez, 35 MXS. "It's imperative to have our end squared away so maintainers aren't spending any more time troubleshooting and making repairs."

A 15-foot flame on full afterburner and an engine thrust up to 30,000 pounds signifies a job well done and another engine ready to support the mission of Misawa.

"That one pilot is putting his or her life on the line to keep the rest of us alive," said Staff Sgt. Mitchell Morelos, a 35 MXS test cell maintainer. "It means everything to us to know that props is the reason those jets are in the air."

It's a demanding job, complete with incomparable satisfaction. While some just see it as another day at work, Youngblood said his life around engines takes on another meaning.

"I see these engines go into jets and watch them take off," Youngblood said. "We take a lot of pride in knowing we played a part in protecting our people on the ground."

Air Force reservist recognized as AFRL's best in Colorado

By Tech. Sgt. Rob Hazelett

6/16/2014 - DENVER, Colo. -  -- Aurora Chamber of Commerce officials, and other local organizations, honored Staff Sgt. Iris Morales as the Reservist of the Year in the Air Force Reserve category during the 38th Annual Armed Forces Recognition Luncheon at the Double Tree by Hilton hotel here June 13.

"I want everybody here to remember that because of our armed forces, we continue to enjoy a free country," said Kevin Hougen, president and CEO of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce. "For those of you who are seated with a service member, please take this opportunity to thank them for their service to continue to uphold the great traditions of our great nation."

The luncheon, sponsored by Colorado Technical University, included an awards ceremony that honored 11 military members and one civilian from the community for their outstanding achievements during the past year.

Morales, an Air Reserve Personnel Center contact center technician, said the award is just the beginning in her aspiring career.

"As a proud resident of Aurora, it is great to know that although you should never do things for the recognition, it feels amazing when your efforts are recognized by your community," the four-year Air Force veteran said.

As a contact center technician, Morales is responsible for providing world-class support for "Generations of Airmen" throughout their careers. Morales's civilian employer is Jackson Memorial Hospital where she directs the functions of the physician services department.

During her spare time, she completed her master's in health services administration and is currently enrolled in Masters of International Business Administration, which enabled Morales to be meritoriously selected as a 2nd lieutenant in the Air Force Reserves. In addition, she was also elected by her peers as the president of the ARPC Junior Enlisted Advisory Council, contributed as a squadron physical training leader, unit honor guard member and Aurora Youth Mentor.

The guest speaker for the luncheon was Kelly Sullivan Loughren, the granddaughter of Albert Sullivan, one of the five famed Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa who were killed during World War II when their ship sank Nov. 13, 1942. Albert was killed along with George, Frank, Joe and Matt.

Other ARPC finalists were:

Air Force Active Duty - Staff Sgt. Andrew Johnson
Air National Guard - Tech. Sgt. Amy Szpak
Air Force Reserve - Tech. Sgt. Bridget Smith and Senior Airman Lawrence Watson

ARPC finalists competed against members in their respective category from the 460th Space Wing, Aerospace Data Facility-C, 233rd Security Forces Squadron and 140th Air National Guard.

Hurricane Hunters, 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron team up for life-saving training


by Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
403rd Wing Public Affairs


6/16/2014 - MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron's Hurricane Hunters based in Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here have vastly different missions; however, the one thing they do have in common is saving lives.

The two Air Force Reserve Command units paired up aboard a WC-130J for three in-flight medical training missions June 13-15.

The Hurricane Hunters flew simulated storm missions gathering data for the National Center for Environmental Prediction, a National Weather Service agency, while the Aeromedical Evacuation team trained on various medical scenarios they might encounter while transporting sick or wounded patients to a medical treatment facility.

"The jobs are unrelated, but we are all training, which is an efficient use of time and resources," said Lt. Col. John Wagner, 53rd WRS pilot and aircraft commander.

Airborne Medical Care
In the cargo area of the aircraft, the 446th AES team treats a patient with an eye injury when smoke fills the aircraft.

Maj. Laura Ely, a flight nurse, and her AE team grab their oxygen masks, or MA-1 Walk Around Oxygen Bottle, and hastily put them on testing their equipment to ensure it's operational. It was one of many scenarios the team encountered during the weekend training, teaching them how to respond to a variety of medical and emergency situations ranging from treating a patient with cardiac arrest to preparing for a crash landing.

Ely is part of a five-person aeromedical evacuation team consisting of a medical crew director, flight nurse, and three aeromedical evacuation technicians. The 446th AES is a 150-person squadron and 16 personnel took part in the weekend training.

"Training while in flight is an important part of the mission," she said, who added patient care is vastly different once in the air. "When you are at a hospital all the equipment is there, such as oxygen and electricity, when you fly you have to take all that with you."

"When you are up in the air; that's it; you don't have anything to fall back on; so we need to ask all the questions we can possibly think of now with a simulated patients that way your situational awareness is that much more heightened when you are in the air," said Master Sgt. Charlene Taylor, AE technician and trainer and evaluator for the event, who added that most medical events occur during take off and landing due to the changes in altitude and pressure on a patients injuries.

In addition to training for various emergency and medical situations, AE crews must be familiar with transporting patients on the C-17, C-130 and KC-135.

"McChord only has C-17s so this is a rare opportunity for us," said Staff Sgt. Kyle Knox, medical technician. "Different airframes require specific types of medical equipment and litter configurations."

For example, a C-17 is equipped with therapeutic oxygen, but crews have to bring it when flying on a C-130.

Ely, who joined the Air Force Reserve in 2008 and is a nurse at a rural hospital in Washington, deployed to Bagram in 2010 and attests to the importance of training on the different airframes.

"We flew a lot of patients on the C-130," she said, who added that the aircraft could transport up to 80 patients.

When transporting patients from a deployed location, AE personnel frequently work with Critical Care Air Transport teams. CCATTs consist of a doctor, intensive care nurse and respiratory therapist. This specialized medical team operates a portable intensive care unit.

"If we have a patient who is severely ill or a critical patient that needs one-on-one care we will have a CCATT crew," said Taylor. "Our job is to ensure their equipment integrates with the aircraft, and they have everything they need to ensure they can do their job."

Patients are flown from the area of responsibility back to Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Depending on their condition, they will be treated there until stable and then transported back to a stateside military medical facility. Research has shown that patients recover better if they are near their families and loved ones, said Taylor.

"Once someone is injured and enters the AE system there is a 98 percent survival rate, said Knox, who added that the U.S. Air Force Reserve and Guard conduct 85 percent of AE missions.

When dealing with life or death, training is vital, and that's why the 446th AES trains on different systems of the body monthly, said Knox, who added this month's training focused on maxofacial. They are also required to fly on an AE training mission a minimum of every 90 days.

"We train for the worst-case scenarios," he said. "We are constantly training for anything that can happen."

For newcomer Senior Airman Tyler Soule, a medical technician on the flight who reported to McChord after two years of training, said he considered it a pretty normal training flight.

"They throw a lot of far-fetched scenarios, events that may rarely happen, but if it does happen you have to know how to respond," he said.

"That's why training is important," said Taylor. "You are not going to have patients that come home with the same symptoms. It may be a cardiac patient, burn patient or a psych patient; they are all going to be varied."

Into the virtual storm
While medical personnel were busy in the cargo compartment, the 53rd WRS was conducting its own training--winter storm missions. The squadron is known for its hurricane hunting mission, providing surveillance of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and eastern Pacific Ocean for the National Hurricane Center in Miami. However, the unit also flies winter storm missions.

The data they provide improves the accuracy of forecasts by as much as 30 percent, which can save property and lives, said Lt. Col. John Gallagher, ARWO.

NCEP can task winter storm missions in the Pacific, Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico.

"The National Weather Service builds the route with specific points where they want dropsondes released," said Wagner who was responsible for a nine-person crew. "During a winter storm missions, we can drop about 15 to 20 sondes, but today (Friday) we are dropping three for this training mission."

A five-person crew conducts the mission aboard a WC-130J, which is equipped with meteorological data-gathering instruments. The pilot and co-pilot man the flight controls while the navigator keeps track of the aircraft's position and movement and monitors radar to avoid severe weather activity. In the back of the aircraft, the flight meteorologist observes and records meteorological data at flight level using a computer that encodes weather data every 30 seconds; and, the weather reconnaissance loadmaster collects and records meteorological data using a parachute-borne sensor known as a dropsonde. These devices collect temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, and surface pressure data. This information is transmitted to the NWS to assist them with their forecast models.

"This is a prime opportunity to increase and enhance the skills of the weather loadmasters," said Master Sgt. Jeff Stack, standardization and evaluations loadmaster. "When flying with aeromeds the loadmaster is able to launch dropsondes as well as assist in the loading and offloading of personnel. This accomplishes two critical areas in the overall aspect of the weather mission for crewmembers."

There was also some real-world application as part of this mission.

"We got new software used to gather meteorological data so this cross-country trip and AE trainer gave us the opportunity to identify any issues and resolve those before we get into the active part of the hurricane season," said Lt. Col. Ray Deatherage, ARWO.
Training or conducting real world operations, the Hurricane Hunters and 446th AES will be ready to save lives when their nation calls.

Standing ready to guard the future

by Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


6/17/2014 - Adaži Training Area, Latvia  -- The Air and Army National Guard came together with allied nations to participate in Saber Strike 2014 here recently.

With the responsibility of standing ready to respond to natural disasters, civil emergencies and military operations, it is critical for the citizen Soldiers and Airmen to participate in exercises like Saber Strike to maintain the skills needed to defend America and its allies.

Along with providing an opportunity for the U.S. Army and Air Force to operate together, Saber Strike attracted more than 4,700 military members from 10 nations.

"You really get to see the critical role you play across the world because of Saber Strike, especially as guardsmen," said Capt. Travis Hartzell, 116th Air Support Operations Squadron joint tactical air controller. "But I think it's the value of being a guardsman which helps sustain the continuing partnership with the same country. We built an enduring relationship which I think will help in reaching the ultimate goal of peace."

For more than 20 years, Michigan has worked hand in hand with Latvia through the State Partnership Program, building the proficiency needed to encourage growth not only as a military but as a country.

"The bond between Latvia and Michigan started in World War II," said Latvian Lt. Gen. Raimonds Graube, Chief of Defense, Republic of Latvia. "A lot of Latvians fled to Michigan [when attacked by enemy forces] because the environment there was very similar. Now, Michigan has one of the largest Latvian communities in the United States.

"Long after the war people here would want to go visit Michigan because they had families there" Graube continued. "Businessmen have been able to employ here, there were marriages, and children have been born because of the State Partnership Program. Latvian society has been greatly influenced. The program is not a corporation; we all know each other and we are all friends."

It is through building a long standing relationship through the State Partnership Program that Latvia now has the capabilities to assist air policing missions even without an Air Force, turning the Baltic State into a cherished asset for interoperable missions.

"The best way to prepare for future joint operations is to have a bond, an unbreakable trust for the person on the ground guiding the U.S. aircraft even if it's not an American giving the directions," said Lt. Col. Andrew Roberts, bilateral affairs officer, U.S. Embassy-Latvia. "The Latvians wanted to develop the Joint Tactical Air Control capability to defend their country and meet their strategic goals, and we needed to figure out a way to accomplish this.

"We taught a select few Latvian soldiers English and put them through a course that would nurture them into JTACs," Roberts continued. "After they learned the fundamentals, we brought them to Michigan for a week just so they can see jets, an asset they have never used or in some cases even seen. We also provided hands on training because this soldier is used to thinking like an infantryman where 30 minutes is plenty of time, but for us (JTACs and pilots) 30 minutes is hundreds of miles and multiple attacks. They needed to understand at what speed they should operate at."

Now, Latvia has a self-sustained JTAC force that is capable of creating future generations to support in interoperable missions all because of a friendship that started more than 20 years ago.

The State Partnership Program and exercises like Saber Strike work together to build upon a relationship of trust and camaraderie between the U.S. and its allied nations, preparing professional and dedicated service members who stand ready to secure the future.

40th HS members endure critical SERE training

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


6/13/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Every member of the U.S. Armed Forces must know how to survive in any environment - enemy or allied territory - should their aircraft go down.

Since 1973, the 40th Helicopter Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base has saved more than 400 lives and accumulated more than 135,000 accident-free flying hours. To maintain their 40-year safeguard status and to teach them everything they need to know how to survive in any environment, aircrew members from the 40th HS endured survival, evasion, resistance and escape training June 9 to 13.

"This is a refresher course that is done every three years as a requirement for their combat mission-ready status," said Corey Ask, Air Force Global Strike Command contracted SERE program analyst.

Airmen from the 40th HS started their SERE training at the base pool, where they honed water survival skills. There, they learned how to use a C-bottle, which provides 21 breaths of oxygen. After practicing breathing with their bottle underwater, they were then instructed to breathe into the bottle upside down. Lastly, they were strapped into a SWET chair, or shallow water egress trainer, and were flipped upside down, instructed to put their oxygen bottle on and egress to the side of the chair.

"They experienced water going through their nose so they would feel what it would be like in an inverted helicopter crash," Ask said.

According to Ask, water survival training is required for anyone flying a mission that goes over water - like the Missouri River.

"It's extremely important to know how to utilize these pieces of equipment, because bottom line, if they end up in a scenario that requires this training and they don't know how to use their equipment, they're not going to make it out alive," Ask said. "Any training we do is very effective. We always train for the 'what if' because we can never predict what will happen."

In addition to hands-on water survival training, Airmen also received in-class academics, combat survival training and a SERE field training exercise in Monarch, Montana.

"Basically what we do is train high-risk-of-isolation individuals - aircrew members, people who go outside of the wire for their job - and what to do in the event they are separated from their unit. Not only do they learn basic survival skills, they learn evasion [from the enemy] skills and resistance skills should they become a prisoner of war, or held captive. The last part of SERE is escape - how to escape from captivity. These skills may never be used, and we hope no one has to use these, but it's crucial."

As an Air Force SERE specialist since 1999, Ask's experience provided Airmen who are high-risk-of-isolation the skills they need to survival in any type of situation. From basic navigational skills to learning how to procure water and build shelters, the skills taught could be the difference in any crew members making it home safely.

'Never Quit' brings resiliency message to Barskdale

by Master Sgt. Greg Steele
93rd Bomb Squadron


6/6/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- 
Members of the 307th Bomb Wing were able to meet a couple of America's top athletes here during the American300 Tour 'Never Quit Series. Three-time Olympic skier Emily Cook and U.S. Paralympic Curling Team captain Patrick McDonald came to the base June 5.

"The mission of the American300 Tours is to increase the resiliency of our troops, their families, and the communities that they live and operate in," said Rob Powers, U.S. Army veteran and founder of the American300 Tours. "It's a great opportunity for us to show our appreciation for the dedication and sacrifices made daily by our military members."

Resiliency is defined as the ability to recover, and whether physically or emotionally, we all experience times of hardship. The American300 Tours was formed in recognition of the challenges faced daily by the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The American300 Tours is an all-volunteer organization working in partnership with the Department of Defense to bring new forms of master resiliency programming to service members.

"The tour offers me an opportunity to tell my story and connect with military members who are faced with their own personal struggles, whether they be physical, emotional, or both," said Patrick McDonald. "It's important for them to know we care and are very grateful for their service."

McDonald faced his own personal struggle in 1991, after being involved in an accident while serving with the U.S. Army in South Korea. The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down, and he credits the support of family and friends for his recovery. Sports also played a key part in his rehabilitation, as he excelled in wheelchair basketball, swimming, golf, and table tennis, which eventually led to him earning a spot on the U.S. Curling Team and competing in the 2010 Paralympics held in Vancouver, Canada.

The Olympians spent two-days on Barksdale, visiting the different commands to talk to Airmen about their experiences and get a hands-on feel for what they do.

"Emily and Patrick are awesome. I've never met an Olympian before," said Senior Airman Trimaine Clemons, 307th Operations Support Flight aircrew flight equipment technician. "For them to come out to our shop and show such an interest and appreciation for what we do really means a lot."

Emily Cook's interest and determination were put to the test when she participated in the repacking of a B-52H Stratofortress drag chute, which is deployed from the tail of the aircraft to help slow it down after landing. The final repack is performed by an Airman jumping up and down on the folded chute to force it down into its container.
"I'm pretty sure I had the technique down, but I just didn't have the weight," said Cook laughingly. "When I met Rob and was told about the American300 Tour, I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of."

Cook has been through her own personal struggles. From the death of her mother when she was two years old, to battling an injury after making the 2002 Olympic Ski Team, Cook persevered when she achieved her Olympic dream by competing in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy.

As the American300 Tour came to an end at Barksdale, there was one obstacle yet to be overcome. "I want to climb into the cockpit of a B-52," said McDonald. For him to get into the cockpit, the first step would be the hardest.

With assistance from Powers and aircraft crew chiefs from the 307th and 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadrons, McDonald made it up the hatch and after much determination, into the pilot's seat. "I climb in and out of this aircraft every day, so I know how hard it can be," said Tech. Sgt. David Bailey, 307th AMXS crew chief. "To see Patrick make it all the way into the pilot's seat is an inspiration and one of the coolest things I've been a part of."

The American300 Tour is relentless in its effort to include resiliency in their Themed Tours and then showcase the Troops through partnerships with corporate partners, media connections and great Americans who have connectivity to the same.

"I'm very proud to help connect servicemen and women with the people whose freedom they ensure," said Powers. "Americans honoring America's heroes...it's what we do!"

Whiteman teen leads care package drive

by Senior Airman Daniel Phelps
442nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


6/8/2014 - WARRENSBURG, Mo.  -- The military family extends beyond those who put on the uniform, it extends to the civilians working beside them and their parents, spouses and children.

The bond of the military family was exemplified through the daughter of two members of Team Whiteman, 14-year-old Warrensburg Middle School student Kennedi McGee, daughter of Staff Sgt. Larissa McGee, 442nd Logistics Readiness Squadron, and Master Sgt. Cory McGee, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter.

"I had heard that there were some people deployed from the 442nd Fighter Wing who hadn't received any care packages yet," Kennedi said. "I knew it was hard for them being deployed, and I wanted to support them and let them know they were remembered."

The 442nd FW Key Spouses group wanted to build some packages to send to our deployers, Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Lyon, 39th Maintenance Group superintendent said. So they gave her a list from our deployers for some things they wanted.

Kennedi brought the list to her National Junior Honor Society group and got the word out to the community. She connected with the Warrensburg United Way and between them and a 200 dollar donation from the WMS NJHS, she was able to receive all the supplies needed for the care packages.

"We collected NERF and water guns, as well as toiletries and food," she described. "They really wanted beef jerky."

The Key Spouses processed about 50 flat rate boxes and about 100 care package bags, Lyon said.

This all came together over one weekend, Kennedi added.

"The support and volunteers were lifesaver," Kennedi exclaimed. "We were so busy."

Lyon had a personal stake in this as he has been deployed several times, he said.

"Taking care of the seemingly minor things for people who are deployed means more than you know," Lyon commented.

"Family takes care of its own; and the 442nd is a family," the chief added. "We take care of each other."

Gridiron girls: Reserve, guard servicewomen break barriers

by Tech. Sgt. Mark R. W. Orders-Woempner
434th ARW Public Affairs


6/13/2014 - GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Whether they're headed down field for a touchdown reception or down range on a deployment, three Indiana military women are creating a level-playing field in all aspects of their lives.

Leslie "Legs" Nance, Jenessa "Mighty" Anderson and Christa "Dirty" Martini are all members of the U.S. military's reserve component, and they all have one more thing in common - they're members of the Indy Crash, a women's professional football team in Indianapolis.

"We have girls from all walks of life - from working professionals to stay-at-home moms," said Nance, a Crash tight end, "We have players from ages 17 to 48 years old."

The team currently has three members active in the Air Force Reserve, Army Reserve and Indiana Army National Guard, and many of the players are military veterans, said Nance, who has two connections with the Air Force Reserve. She currently as both a 445th Aeromedical Staging Squadron first sergeant at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and as a civilian 434th Force Support Squadron human resources specialist at Grissom.

It was at Grissom that the first sergeant got connected with professional football, a sport she had never considered playing.

"One of my teammates, Rachel Smith, is a fitness instructor at the Grissom gym, and she said 'come check it out,'" Nance explained. "I was hooked instantly; I was hooked on the idea I could play a sport that's typically considered a men's sport, but I could play competitively against other women where the other players don't worry about coming full-force at you because they're worried about hurting you."

For Martini, a former Crash player who started playing in 2005 and now serves as a line coach, it was always her desire to take to the field.

"My brother was a football superstar in high school, and growing up I always wanted to play," explained the coach, who joined the Army Reserve in 2010 for similar reasons and now serves with the 221st Ordnance Company in Fort Wayne, Indiana. "And, I always had this desire to be in the military because my brother was in Marine, and I always had that ache.

"When I decided to join the team, my mom was very reluctant and didn't like it at first, but she became very proud of me," she recalled. "It was the same way with the Army."

Martini has also found a unique way to combine both her patriotism and passion for the sport as she often sings the national anthem before games.

"I love doing it because it's such an awesome thing," said Martini. "I started singing it before games as a player, and I've continued as a coach because it's always been important to me."

While the uniforms they wear may be different from field to foxhole, all three players said the coach's singing is far from the only significant crossover between the military and football.

"They're both kind of extreme things," said Anderson, a Crash strong safety and running back who is also a cadet in an Indiana National Guard commissioning program. "Less than half a percent of the population serves in the military and even less play women's football."

Outside of their small membership, she also said both are built on a firm foundation of structure and camaraderie.

"The bond I share with my teammates is comparable with the bond I've developed with my fellow servicemembers on deployments," agreed Nance, who previously served with the 434th Security Forces. "Whether you're in close quarters, in the trenches or on the gridiron, you build bonds that last a lifetime."

"Aside from true family, there's no sense of family like what we have in the military because of the experiences you share, and it's the same as women's football because you grow together," added Martini. "For many of us, it's a brand new thing with people learning through a lot of blood, sweat and tears, and that builds a strong bond."

She added that bond is the key to a successful game-day strategy just as much as it is to a good battle plan.

"You're trying to win a war, and that takes teamwork," the coach explained. "You're only as strong as your weakest person, so you have to make sure never to leave anyone behind."

Another connection between the worlds of service and sports is found in the training and execution of missions.

"The first reception I ever had was against Chicago, which is the number one or two team in the league, and it felt like it was a 40 yard gain when in all actuality it was about seven yards," recalled Nance. "But, it was that thrill of connecting with the ball, even though I was tackled instantly, that told me the last several months of practice had paid off -- I had done my job in that moment, during that play, and it paid off.

"It's the same thing in the military," she continued. "You train and train and train to deploy and do your job, especially as a reservist, so when you're fulfilling your duties, you're getting that same level of satisfaction."

Outside of the benefit of knowing they've done their part, all three reserve component Crash players also said they've benefitted from their military and football experiences as both have broken down barriers.

"I've met people on this team that I probably would have never otherwise crossed paths with," said Nance. "There are different backgrounds and cultures, and just like in the military, to be successful you have to get to know them, where they're coming from, what they're about, what their values are and how it all fits into the team concept."

And, just as women were once excluded from military and combat service, Martini said they are breaking down barriers for females on the field as well.

"We've all heard, 'women don't play football,' but we're changing those perceptions," she continued. "When I step on the field, I'm not a woman -- I'm a football player."

For Anderson, the barriers she broke through the military and football were her own.

"Before I was in either program I was shy, but once I got into them and had to get to know these girls who are more intimidating as football players and Soldiers, it helped me branch out," she said.

"The best thing these do for women is build confidence because they are outside the norm for women to do, and it shows them they can do anything," continued the 5-foot-1-inch running back. "You can't be timid, especially being in the military because you can't be shy to stand up for what you're thinking or what's right, otherwise you'd get ran over."

Another benefit football has brought to the Citizen Airman and Soldiers turned professional players is fitness.

"Even though I had always wanted to join the military, I was really out of shape, but when I started playing football I wanted to get stronger and better and lost enough weight to join the military," recalled Martini. "I don't think I would have ever decided to lose the weight and get healthy had I not played."

Physical fitness is just another connection Nance said she sees between the military and football.

"A lot of our players are in the military or former military, which isn't surprising given that military members are generally physically fit and driven people who want something more from life," she explained.

It's for that exact reason Martini said she loves to coach current and former military members.

"Military and ex-military are so eager to learn, and they respond well to you pushing them," she said. "If you push them, they'll meet that limit every time - when you tell them to jump, they ask you how high."

Unfortunately, there's another similarity between the service and the sport, which is more personal.

"The hardest part of both is sacrificing time from my family," said Nance. "It's not the physical at all, as those bumps and bruises heal."

However, the first sergeant went on to say that her family is proud of all her accomplishments and the key to success has been a strong support system.

"My husband's my number one fan and supporter, even though he doesn't understand football," she said. "He's always told me, 'if there's something you want to do, do it.'"

And, taking those opportunities life provides while not being afraid to fulfill her's desires is a lesson Nance hopes her Airmen learn.

"I want them to seek out those things that open up their eyes," she said. "Whether it's being a part of the honor guard, Airman's council or football team, anytime you go outside your box, there's something you can always bring back to your unit, team or life."

Tops In Blue visits MHAFB

by Airman 1st Class Brittany A. Chase
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


6/16/2014 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Tops In Blue, an all active-duty U. S. Air Force special unit dedicated to enhance mission productivity for Air Force members and their families, performed here June 15.

Families gathered around the huge stage to enjoy the vocal performance of Tops In Blue which included a wide variety of music, ranging from Bruno Mars to Blake Shelton.

Out of the 21 vocalist's who performed, one had a special Mountain Home tie, as she was selected from the 366th Medical Group and came back performing for the Airmen she once worked alongside.

"It was amazing to come back and sing for the people who have supported me throughout this journey," said Senior Airman Mayra Hernandez, Tops In Blue female vocalist. "To see everyone and share this success was very emotional for me but also very rewarding."

This performance was important for Hernandez as well as to many of the Airmen who came out to watch the show.

"It means a lot for them to come out and perform for us," said Senior Airman Diana Buena, 366th Force Support Squadron readiness unit deployment manager. "The people who are performing are Airmen just like us, who've taken time out of their career to do something for us."

The Tops In Blue team provides quality entertainment from within Air Force resources for the Air Force family.

"I came out last night with the goal to boost morale and show support," said Hernandez. "I know there can be hard times but I want to be able to influence people here, like Tops In Blue once did for me."

Tops In Blue continues to bring a touch of home, a touch of America and above all, the pride of the Air Force to all their audiences.

"I instantly got goosebumps when Tops In Blues started to sing Proud to be an American," said Leah Gilbertson, audience member. "The patriotism everyone showed during that song was amazing, it was a moment where everyone came together to stand and be proud of being a part of this great nation."

Citizen Airmen provide free medical services during Tropic Care

by Tech Sgt. Elizabeth Moody
440th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs


6/16/2014 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C. -- Reservists from the 440th Medical Squadron here, are heading to Kauai, Hawaii in support of Tropic Care 2014. The federal program, which began in 2012, allows medical professionals from the armed forces to provide free health care services for the island's residents, between June 16 and June 26.

Like other humanitarian missions, Tropic Care prepares medical professionals for rapid deployment to remote locations, while providing under served communities with the medical services they need, said Chief Master Sgt. Candace Chesley, 440th MDS superintendent, here.

"It's an excellent opportunity for real-world field training," said Chesley.

Chesley said this mission also provides Pope's airmen the opportunity to gain experience working with people with different cultural backgrounds.

"You walk away with so much more than extra training," said the chief. "The team will gain a lot of human experience with another culture and you can't give anybody anything better than that."

The team of reservists from Pope Army Airfield includes a physical therapist, several dentists, and optometry and dental technicians, who will join other specialists from the armed forces to provide basic medical care for Kauai's locals.

One such medical volunteer, Maj. Eric James, 440th MDS physical therapist here, said this deployment will be his second humanitarian mission supporting Tropic Care.

"People in Kauai are especially interested in homeopathic treatments and once the word got out that physical therapy care was available, they lined up," said James, who hails from Oneonta, New York. "During the 2012 Tropic Care mission, I saw more than 230 patients over an eight-day period. On my busiest single day, I saw 37 patients - that's one patient every 12 minutes."

Tropic Care participants are seen on a first come, first serve basis and all services are free of charge, including dental care, basic health screening, eye care, and basic lab tests.

According to recent Hawaiian press, Kauai officials said they are hoping residents receive up to $10 million in free medical services through the Tropic Care 2014 mission. 

Face of Defense: Student Follows Brothers Into Marine Corps


By Marine Corps Cpl. Joseph Scanlan
Marine Expeditionary Brigade Afghanistan

CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan, June 17, 2014 – Many young adults in the United States pursue college directly after graduating high school. While some continue to pursue a degree, others decide along the way to pursue a different path.

Marine Corps Cpl. Jonathan Hollis attended college immediately after high school, but after a few short years of enduring the monotonous routine, he said, he was fed up and sought an adventure. He’s now deployed here as an antitank missileman with Weapons Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.

Hollis and his eight siblings were raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He was home-schooled until he was a teenager, and then he attended Caledonia High School.

“Because I was home-schooled, it was pretty strict at home, so when I got to public school, I never missed a homework assignment,” he said.

His high school grades earned him an engineering scholarship, and when he graduated, he went on to Grand Rapids Community College. He continued to earn good grades and made the dean’s list during his first year, he said, but he wasn’t content.

“I hated college,” Hollis said. “I didn’t like sitting in a room for hours upon hours every day, just repeating the same schedule. I would show up in the morning, do my classes and leave at night while having a job on the side. It was just the same thing every day, and I was sick of it.”

While Hollis was a student, two of his brothers who were infantrymen in the Marine Corps told him about their experiences, and that’s when he decided to become a Marine himself. He enlisted as an infantryman and departed for recruit training Dec. 10, 2012.

Three grueling months later, he underwent training at the School of Infantry, where he would become an infantryman. Hollis earned a significant position of leadership shortly into the training cycle. Midway into the training evolution, he was given the opportunity to choose which kind of infantryman he wanted to become.

“One of the things I liked to do while growing up was to build rockets,” he said. “So I was one of the few that really wanted to become an 0352 [antitank missileman].”

Hollis continued to lead Marines during the course through various events, and ultimately earned a meritorious promotion to lance corporal upon graduating from School of Infantry. He then reported to 1st Battalion, 7th Marines, at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California.

He began predeployment training immediately upon arrival with the battalion. His training included aiding the 30-day Weapons and Tactics Instructor Course at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, a 10-day mission rehearsal exercise and a 30-day integrated training exercise to prepare him for his March 2 deployment to Afghanistan’s Helmand province. His hard work has not gone unnoticed.

“Hollis has exemplified what we like to see as a leader,” said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Gerald Furnari, a platoon sergeant with Weapons Company, and a native of Franklin Square, New York. “He has separated himself from his peers since his arrival in the company. He did an outstanding job all throughout the workup. We sometimes put him in positions that he normally wouldn’t have occupied as somebody with his experience and time in service, but he showed us a lot of versatility, and he showed us through his good work ethic that he is somebody we can count on.”

Hollis has operated with Weapons Company during several missions here, participating in numerous patrols in Taliban-occupied areas and receiving enemy fire on multiple occasions. Weapons Company is slated to continue a high operational tempo throughout the summer in Helmand province before returning to the United States. His work ethic, intelligence, initiative and leadership ability earned Hollis a meritorious promotion to corporal June 2.

“Hollis is one of the best assets we have in our platoon, if not the company,” Furnari said. “When we return from this deployment, he is going to be one of the noncommissioned officers we lean on, because of his prior work experience and his performance. He’s going to be one of the individuals that we’re going to look at to lead the company during our next predeployment workup and into the next deployment.”

Arizona pararescue units conduct mass casualty drill

by Master Sgt. Luke Johnson
943rd Rescue Group Public Affairs


6/11/2014 - DAVIS MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz.  -- Airmen from the 305th and 306th Rescue Squadron's trained to respond to a mass casualty medical emergency scenario here during the June Unit Training Assembly weekend.

The training provided pararescemen (PJ's) and HH-60G Pave Hawk aircrews an opportunity to enhance their abilities to work together in a mass causality medical emergency scenario involving numerous critically injured patients. The training showcased both unit's capabilities to provide the best, quickest emergency medical care and transportation to a medical facility.

The 305th RQS is a flying unit consisting of pilots, special mission aviators and support personnel in maintenance, operations and administration.

The 305th RQS is a pararescue unit with pararescuemen, and support personnel in equipment maintenance, intelligence and administration.

Both units are assigned to the 943rd Rescue Group, whose mission is to organize and train combat mission ready Citizen Airmen to perform personnel recovery operations worldwide anytime, anywhere.