Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kentucky Air Guard and U.S. Army establish crucial cargo hub for earthquake response

by 2nd Lt James Killen
123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/18/2014 - FORT CAMPBELL, Ky.  -- More than 100 members of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Contingency Response Group and the U.S. Army's 688th Rapid Port Opening Element deployed here June 16-19 for an exercise that will test their ability to respond to a major earthquake along the New Madrid Seismic Zone.

The exercise, called Capstone '14, requires the troops to set up and operate a Joint Task Force-Port Opening, a self-contained air cargo distribution center that delivers crucial relief supplies during disasters and contingencies, according to Col. Mark Heiniger, JTF-PO commander.

The two units will work together this week to run the JTF-PO, which combines an Air Force Contingency Response Group with an Army Transportation Company to form an Aerial Port of Debarkation. The CRG ensures the seamless flow of relief supplies by air, while the transportation company facilitates their final distribution over land.

The mission is not a new one for Kentucky's 123rd Contingency Response Group. The unit stands ready to respond to any contingency natural disaster, Heiniger said, initially deploying an 11-person Joint Assessment Team to evaluate airfield infrastructure in the affected area and determine if it can support large-scale relief operations.

This week's exercise began June 16, with the JAT landing here and providing a "go-no go" report to U.S. Transportation Command within four hours of arrival. In that time, they evaluated the runway's integrity for airlift operations and the movement capability of ground vehicles that will distribute relief supplies brought in by cargo aircraft. They also established a secure communications channel for operations.

"The JAT has an important mission that has to be carried out quickly by experts," Heiniger said. "Decisions have to be made, and they have to be right for the JTF-PO to be successful."

Upon site approval, the JAT began accepting the remaining Airmen and Soldiers, along with all the equipment necessary to execute the mission, from tents and electric generators to forklifts and communications gear.

One of the key objectives of the exercise is perfecting seamless operations between multiple states, multiple state and federal agencies, and multiple military units. A common theme here is "purple," which signifies the merger of green (U.S. Army) and blue (U.S. Air Force) forces toward the accomplishment of one mission.

"The interoperability, especially stateside for the RPOE mission and the CRG, is critical," said U.S. Army Capt. Jacob Elders, executive officer for the 688th RPOE. "Not every service brings everything to the fight, but when you link the two together, you have a full mission.

Capstone '14 is part of a broader effort to ensure the region has an effective response to a major earthquake along the New Madrid Seismic Zone. The zone spans eight states and, according to seismologists, operates on a 200-year cycle for magnitude 6.0 and greater earthquakes. The last earthquake of that magnitude was recorded in 1811.

"To really put it in perspective, a major earthquake along the New Madrid Seismic Zone is likely to cause more damage than Hurricane Katrina," noted Lt. Col. Bruce Bancroft, Joint Assessment Team chief for the Kentucky Air National Guard. "Preparing for the possibility is essential to saving lives and getting the region back to normal as quickly as possible."

The 123rd Contingency Response Group is the only fully operational CRG in the Air National Guard and one of just seven CRGs in entire U.S. Air Force. It and the 688th RPOE have previously been verified by U.S. Transportation Command as fully mission capable to provide key assistance during national or international emergencies.

U.S. Navy SEAL Died During Training Evolution

From Naval Special Warfare Group ONE Public Affairs

CORONADO, Calif. (NNS) -- Chief Special Warfare Operator Bradley S. Cavner, 31, of Coronado, California, died from injuries sustained during an accident while conducting parachute jump training operations in El Centro, California, June 23.

"The training SEALs go through is inherently high-risk," said Cmdr. Christian A. Dunbar, Naval Special Warfare Group One's chief staff officer. "Bradley was a warrior who selflessly answered his nation's call to defend freedom and protect us."

Cavner enlisted in the Navy February 3, 2003 and graduated from boot camp at Recruit Training Command in Great Lakes, Illinois, in April 2003. In July 2004, Cavner completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL and SEAL Qualification training in Coronado with class 247. He has served with West Coast-based SEAL units since August 2004.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V", Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat "V", Army Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2), Combat Action Ribbon, Navy Good Conduct Medal (3), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (3), Navy/Marine Corps Overseas Service Ribbon and the NATO Medal.

Cavner is survived by his parents, sister and two brothers.

An investigation is being conducted to determine the cause of the accident.

‘Rim of Pacific’ Maritime Exercise Kicks Off June 26

American Forces Press Service

SAN DIEGO, June 24, 2014 – Twenty-three nations, 47 ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft, and 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, maritime exercise scheduled June 26 to Aug. 1 in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans. RIMPAC 2014 is the 24th exercise in the series, which began in 1971.

Brunei and China are slated to participate in RIMPAC for the first time in 2014.

This year’s exercise also includes forces from Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, South Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Hosted by U.S. Pacific Fleet, RIMPAC 2014 will be led by Navy Vice Adm. Kenneth Floyd, commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet, who will serve as the Combined Task Force commander. Royal Australian Navy Rear Adm. Simon Cullen will serve as deputy commander of the CTF, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Rear Adm. Yasuki Nakahata will be the vice commander.

Other key leaders of the multinational force will include Rear Adm. Gilles Couturier of the Royal Canadian Navy, who will command the maritime component, Air Commodore Chris Westwood of the Royal Australian Air Force, who will command the air component, and U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Richard Simcock, who will lead the land component.

RIMPAC 2014 also will include, for the first time, a special operations component, to be led by U.S. Navy Capt. William Stevens. Also for the first time at RIMPAC this year, two hospital ships, USNS Mercy and PLA(N) Peace Ark, will participate in the exercise.

This year’s exercise theme is “Capable, Adaptive Partners.” The participating nations and forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of maritime forces. These capabilities range from disaster relief and maritime security operations to sea control and complex warfighting.

The relevant, realistic training syllabus includes amphibious operations and gunnery, missile, anti-submarine and air defense exercises, as well as counterpiracy, explosive ordnance disposal, and mine clearance, diving and salvage operations.

The 22nd Special Tactics Squadron welcomes a new commander

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

6/4/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- With the end of one chapter, another begins anew.

The men and women of the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron welcomed Lt. Col. Michael Evancic who assumed command from Col. Thad Allen during a change of command ceremony, June 3, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington.

Allen completed his time with the 22nd STS and welcomed Lt. Col. Michael Evancic to begin his own story with the squadron. Col. Kurt Buller, 720th Special Tactics Group commander, officiated the ceremony and made it clear that Evancic was specifically chosen for the task.

"I chose you because of your focus and maturity as well as being a former operations officer in the 2-2," said Buller. "Clearly, you understand the battle space well. I'm excited to get you in command."

Previously, Evancic was a Checkmate strategist at Headquarters Air Force located at the Pentagon in Washington D.C., where he developed United States Air Force operational plans, policy, strategy, employment and concepts to best achieve the nation's objectives.

Evancic graduated from Arizona State University and commissioned through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program. He began his career as a security forces officer and completed the U.S. Army Ranger School at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was accepted into the combat control training pipeline where he acquired the skills to be a combat diver and parachutist.

Evancic has prior experience with the 22nd STS as he was the director of operations for the squadron from May 2008 through June 2011, so he knows the area well.

After Evancic received the guide-on from Buller and presented it to Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Guilmain, 22nd STS squadron superintendent, he received his first salute from the members of his squadron and spoke his first words to them.

"To the men and women of the 22nd STS, let's get after it," Evancic said.

His speech was short but his Airmen knew how crucial his words were and are ready to get back to work at the front lines of the fight.

Cannon's Air Show and Open House in review

by Senior Airman Eboni Reece
27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

5/28/2014 - CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- After months of preparation, Air Commandos at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico were set to host an air show and open house during Memorial Day weekend, May 24 and 25. Approximately 25,000 people travelled from the local area and bordering states to witness aerial demonstrations, view static displays and listen to musical performances.

Both days consisted of a jam-packed schedule to include demonstrations by the U.S. Air Force Academy Wings of Blue parachute team, Smoke-n-Thunder jet car, Cannon's aerial assets and members from the 26th Special Tactics Squadron. Throughout the day, those in attendance were able to walk the length of the flightline numerous times stopping at various booths to participate in games and purchase souvenirs or visit static displays to learn different aircraft capabilities. Each day concluded with an aerial performance from the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.

To prelude the final event of each day, the U. S. Air Force Academy Band, Blue Steel, performed several covers to popular songs from the 1970s to modern day.

Despite forecasts of unfavorable weather for the weekend, rain only made a temporary appearance on both days, leaving clear skies for the highly anticipated Thunderbirds ground ceremony and in-flight show.

Spectators shielded their eyes and stared into the sky as six F-16s performed aerial precision tactics a few thousand feet above their heads. A narrator directed the crowd's vision to witness each spectacular approach. While following the zooming jets with their eyes, subtle gasps and the sound of ooh's and ahh's was barely audible in the midst of aircraft thunders. After an entertaining show and a safe landing, members from the Thunderbirds met with hundreds of people eagerly waiting for autographs, handshakes and photo opportunities.

With any event of this magnitude, hiccups along the way and last-minute changes are to be expected.

"The entire team worked hard to develop a strong plan and adapted well to deviations that occurred," stated Col. Tony Bauernfeind, 27th Special Operations Wing commander. "Many people stepped up to quickly solve problems and ensure that we put our best foot forward for the community."

It has been more than two years since the base hosted an open house, so many agencies and units worked tirelessly in the days prior to the events to ensure a successful weekend.

"Overall, the air show and open house was a resounding success and had a strong impact on both the local surrounding communities, as well as, the various outer lying communities whose residents travelled to Cannon to enjoy the air show," concluded Bauernfeind.

All in a weekend's work: Fairchild rescue flight saves 2 lives

by Airman 1st Class Janelle PatiƱo
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

6/24/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Airmen from the 36th Rescue Flight, an Air Education and Training Command unit, answered the call to save not only one, but two lives in one weekend.

On June 13 at 5:30 p.m., Capt. Berto Holt, the 36th RQF operations supervisor, received a call that a kayaker was stranded 70 miles southeast of Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash. Within a few hours, the crew launched the UH-1N Huey and was enroute to the man's location.

The individual had been kayaking where Marble Creek flows into the St. Joe's River when his board flipped over, ejecting him into the cold water.

"There were some challenges that occurred during the rescue due to the weather, but the crew of Rescue 48 never gave up," said Maj. Jennings Marshall, the 36th RQF commander. "At 8:30 p.m., Capt. Nate Jolls, a 36th RQF pilot, with the survivor on board, began an approach back toward the ambulance where Maj. Montsho Corppetts, a 336th Training Support Squadron medic, was waiting."

Two days later, on June 15, the crew received a call at approximately 11:30 a.m. that there was an injured hiker along the Pacific Crest Trail in Northern Washington needing quick extraction.

"He had been walking along a steep and snowy section of the trail when he slipped and tumbled down the mountainside, hitting a tree and breaking several ribs," Marshall said. "Fortunately, his hiking buddy was able to call for help."

Capt. Erik Greendyke, the 36th RQF operations supervisor, worked with Marshall to assemble a crew. The crew then launched at 1 p.m. and followed the Methow River past Mazama, Wash., to the hiker's location.

"Other hikers prepared a bright orange tent along the ridgeline that helped us immediately identify the area with minimal searching," Marshall said. "As soon as we rescued the injured hiker and his hiker buddy, the survivor was then loaded onto an ambulance with the help of Capt. Josiah Hart, the 36th RQF standardization and evaluation liaison officer, and Staff Sgt. Nicholas Poe, a 36th RQF special missions aviator, and departed for the hospital."

Helicopter rescue operations can be dangerous, but the 36th RQF crews constantly train to maintain proficiency in rescue operations as part of the mission to support the Air Force's only Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school.

"We take great effort to ensure rescues are executed safely and with as little risk as possible," Marshall said. "Our normal training missions take place at Fairchild and in the Colville National Forest and we have been tasked to perform civilian rescues throughout the Pacific Northwest in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Montana."

Bart Rayniak, the kayaker survivor, was happy that the U.S. Air Force was there to rescue him.

"I was never able to truly thank my rescuers. They were so wonderful! They put their lives on the line to save mine," Rayniak said. "They were amazing flyers and crew. They were professional and caring. Damn good at what they do. I will always be grateful."

Undermanned but not overwhelmed: AGE Maintainers meet mission requirements

by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

6/24/2014 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- Doing more with less is something that the Airmen of the 432nd Maintenance Squadron Aerospace Ground Equipment have mastered. The growth of responsibilities, however, has been no match for the short-staffed crew.

The AGE shop should have nearly 40 people, but within the last three months the already undermanned unit has lost seven people primarily due to separations. Now 20 individuals are responsible for more than 761 pieces of MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft equipment for both home station and deployed commitments.

"We've considered the possibility of manning assists from other organizations, but ultimately have simply adapted to the requirements," said Capt. Robert Dunphy, 432nd MXS AGE maintenance operations officer. "We cannot simply stop working. Our AGE personnel have done a phenomenal job turning in excess equipment, accepting new equipment to prepare for deployed operations, and ensure AGE is readily available to support local operations."

Despite the challenges that come with being undermanned, the AGE maintainers have a number of accomplishments to be proud of, including sustaining an above average passing rate on inspection.

"We have a quality assurance program with more than 100 inspections performed on us in a month, and we maintain over a 90 percent passing rate," said Tech. Sgt. Clinton Rhodes 432nd MXS AGE craftsman. "It shows the dedication that our Airman and our NCOs have toward getting the job done and doing it right no matter what."

Since April 2013 the AGE members have also turned 266 equipment assets back into the supply system through the excess equipment turn-in plan. This alone resulted in $2.3 million returned to the Air Force inventory and also saved the shop 1,600 man hours.

"When the excess equipment turn-in plan was initially presented, it seemed like a pretty daunting task," said Senior Master Sgt. Valerie Schenk, 432nd MXS AGE maintenance flight chief. "We needed to turn in quite a bit of equipment and while that sounds easy; this was no small feat - especially for an undermanned shop. But the people in AGE just nodded and said, 'let's get started,' and they got it done."

Schenk is confident their accomplishments would not have been possible without the AGE personnel maintaining positive attitudes, hard work, camaraderie and trusting in leadership.

"The senior airmen have stepped a lot to help train the new members," said Tech. Sgt. John Brownell, 432nd MXS AGE section chief. "Everybody's assumed the responsibilities of the next higher rank. Even the brand new guys have hit the ground running helping with retirements and other tasks."

Having such a small shop has made a positive impact on the AGE maintainers, and helped build strong camaraderie within the unit.

"It's like a small community," Rhoades said. "We try to keep morale up any way we can and kill any negative vibe as soon as we hear it."

Dunphy says he owes the high morale within the AGE shop to the excellent flight leadership.

"Tech Sgt. Brownell and those who led before him have kept a light and lively environment in AGE," said Dunphy. "It is always great when you go into the shop and see Airmen at work, but it's even better when they have a smile on their face."

During duty hours the AGE maintainers keep a light-hearted atmosphere, joking with each other or playing music in the shop, while still completing the mission and maintaining professionalism and respect. On the weekends, the shop will occasionally get together for fun outside of work.

"The Airmen work hard and play hard," Schenk said. "Last year, they all pitched in and bought themselves a basketball hoop. During break times they usually go out and play to relieve some stress while having a good time. That's just one of the things they've done to improve morale and relationships within the team."

The camaraderie between the maintainers has proven crucial to completing the mission and helping the Airmen manage the extra responsibilities. They do more than just manage responsibilities, they also enjoy the challenge.

"I can feel the amount of extra responsibility that is given to us," said Airman 1st Class Marcos Sandoval, 432nd MXS AGE apprentice. "We have to take in more information in a shorter amount of time, but I like the challenge and I appreciate that I'm getting that early in my career."

It's the positivity within the crew that has made a difference in spite of all the challenges, and that has made Airmen of every rank become more experienced and skilled at their trade.

"We're kind of making gold out of straw," said Senior Airman David Carr, 432nd MXS AGE technician. "We've always been undermanned since I've been here, but it's molded us into more complete maintainers."

Airman Finds Success Speaking 6 Languages

By Air Force Senior Airman Melanie Bulow-Gonterman
6th Air Mobility Wing

TAMPA, Fla., June 24, 2014 – University of Alaska Anchorage Chancellor Edward Lee Gorsuch once said, “Learning a foreign language not only reveals how other societies think and feel, what they have experienced and value, and how they express themselves, it also provides a cultural mirror in which we can more clearly see our own society.”

For Air Force Senior Airman LadyCiara Eime, 6th Comptroller Squadron command support staff, learning languages has become second nature.

Eime was born and raised in the Philippines, speaking Tagalog as the household language. Her parents, both from different cultural backgrounds, widened her vocabulary to Cebuano and Chavacano, the native tongues of her father, and Mandarin, her mother’s native language.

While growing up, Eime said, she dreamed of coming to the United States and fulfilling the American dream, so she began to save her money. Her parents encouraged her to invest her money and time in education, she added, because once that was complete, the possibilities for their little girl were endless.

“I always wanted to learn about different cultures, and I love to travel,” she said, noting that her parents instilled in her that a higher education is the only wealth that cannot be stolen or taken away.

“My parents always told me that people who know more about other cultures are knowledgeable and know their way around life,” she said. “Learning their language is the best weapon you can use to battle the challenges that life may bring you.”

With the small amount of money she saved and with help from the Philippine president and an American telecommunications company, Eime earned a bachelor’s degree in international business administration and graduated with honors.

After graduation, though she did not speak English, a telecommunications company moved Eime to St. Louis, where she worked for a few years until an American motor company offered her a job as a trainer-supervisor, and she traveled to call centers in the Philippines, India and China in that capacity. But when the company downsized in 2007, Eime lost her job.

Eime said she did not know a single word of English when she came to the United States. Her husband, who had served in the Navy, learned Tagalog and helped her learn English. Within a year, she said, she was able to have conversations with people without using her Tagalog-English dictionary.

“Learning different languages is the main key for you to understand their culture and will help you deal with different types of people with different personalities where you can work together to succeed,” she said. When her husband received orders to Japan, Eime immersed herself in the Japanese culture and learned Nihongo.

In March 2011, Eime decided to join the Air Force. A week after meeting with a recruiter, she was off to basic training, and ultimately she was assigned as a personnel specialist.

“Knowing six different languages has definitely enhanced my Air Force career,” Eime said. “It has allowed me to relate with the diversity of people in the military, as well as see problems and solutions from different perspectives. These perspectives are accompanied by the heuristics that define how individuals search for solutions, which strengthens our force.”

Eime said she hopes to earn a commission. She is waiting to hear if she’s been accepted for an enlisted-to-commissioning program for nursing.

“Growing up in a family of languages has been a major stepping stone in my success,” Eime said. “Through perseverance and hard work, I was able to fulfill my ultimate goal of living the American dream.”

ECBC Associate Director receives rare honor

ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. – The Edgewood Chemical Biological Center’s (ECBC) Associate Director, James Baker, Ph.D., became only the 16th American civilian to ever receive the German Gold Cross of Honour.

The award was presented by Alexander Grabowski, Ph.D., Director CBRN Decontamination Directorate of German Federal Armed Forces Research Institute for Protection Technologies & NBC Protection in a ceremony at Aberdeen Proving Ground that included Baker’s family, some longtime coworkers and friends.

Grabowski, who was once a visiting scientist at ECBC, has known Baker for many years and was pleased to present him with this award. “I am honored to know and work with Jim. He has the incredible ability to walk the line between friendship and professionalism,” said Grabowski. “He made working at the Center a valuable experience for me and countless others.”

The full name of the award Baker received is the Ehrenkreuz der Bundeswehr (Cross of Honour) and is presented for exemplary and meritorious service over 20 years.  “I was very touched and honored to receive this award today,” said Baker. “I have had the pleasure of seeing ECBC evolve and grow during my long career here and to be recognized as playing a role in that by one of our important foreign partners truly means a lot to me.”

Baker began his federal service in 1969 when he began active duty as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps assigned to the Chemical Systems Laboratory (now ECBC) at Edgewood Arsenal. He transitioned from the military to civilian service at ECBC in 1971 and has remained here to this day. In his current role, Baker is active in the international chemical defense program as a technical project officer on multiple projects and other international forums. 

"Throughout his long and productive career here at ECBC, Jim has led by example," said Joe Wienand, ECBC Director. "He is dedicated, driven and a pleasure to work with. A significant part of our success today can be directly tied to the work that he has done on our behalf. I consider myself fortunate to have worked with him as a colleague and to be able to call him a friend," he added.

During the brief ceremony, Baker thanked his friends and family for their support over the years. He attributed their support as the driving force that has steered him through his long a distinguished career.