Military News

Monday, July 21, 2014

Pacific Angel kicks off in Tonga

by Staff Sgt. Rachelle Coleman
PACANGEL Tonga Public Affairs


7/21/2014 - Neiafu, Vava'u  -- More than 160 members from seven nations joined forces to provide humanitarian assistance to the citizens of Tonga as part of Operation Pacific Angel-Tonga July 21.

American, Tongan, French, Australian, Kiwi, Filipino and Indonesian military personnel kicked off the first day of the exercise opening a health services outreach and conducting civil engineering projects at three local schools.

Electricians, structural craftsmen, carpenters and plumbers will work together during the PACANGEL exercise to repair and replace doors, locks, windows, wiring, partitions, sinks, faucets, toilets and various additional requirements at five local schools.

A makeshift clinic was set up in a local college auditorium with physical therapy, optometry, dental and family medicine clinics as well as a pharmacy. With the help of Red Cross volunteer interpreters, doctors and medical technicians were able to provide acute care and educate patients on preventative health measures for different ailments.

"It's definitely a worthy project that we are working with different partners to provide a service that Tongans may not have day-to-day," said Maj. Paul Kim, a public health officer. "It's about building a lasting relationship."

Kim conducted presentations for patients in the waiting area of the clinic on chikungunya virus, a mosquito born virus prevalent in the area and safe food preparation techniques.

PACANGEL enhances participating nations' humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.

"This is a humanitarian assistance and the people of Vava'u in Tonga, not only the people of Vava'u, Ha'apai too, and Tongatapu appreciate very much the exercise and assistance provided by not only the Americans but also other national foreign forces here in Tonga for...Pacific Angel," said Maj. Maama Misi, His Majesty's Armed Forces operations officer.

Officially in its seventh year, PACANGEL supports U.S. Pacific Command's capacity-building efforts by partnering with other governments, non-governmental agencies and multilateral militaries in the respective region to provide medical, dental, optometry, and engineering assistance to their citizens. This operation will be used to improve and build relationships in the event of future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.

Since 2007, U.S. military members, together with host nation military and civilian personnel throughout the region, have improved the lives of tens of thousands of people through PACANGEL operations

494th FS supports Farnborough International Airshow

by Airman 1st Class Erin O'Shea
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/19/2014 - FARNBOROUGH, England  -- Celebrating 100 years of aviation history, U.S. military personnel from bases around Europe are participating in this year's biennial 2014 Farnborough International Airshow, which runs here, July 14-20.

Farnborough International Airshow is host to a trade exhibition for aviation and defense industries, as well as public airshow activities for general attendance, showcasing the latest military and civilian aviation capabilities.

U.S. participation in the show highlights the strong alliance with the U.K., while also supporting and protecting national security interests. One unit supporting this key mission is the 494th Fighter Squadron, assigned two hours away at Royal Air Force Lakenheath. The 494th FS' F-15E Strike Eagle, flown by Capt. Tom Meyers, pilot, and Maj. Claire Lundberg, weapons systems officer, travelled to FIA to make an appearance as a static display.

"[Participating in the airshow] allows individuals to have a personal experience with the American military," Lundberg said.

Department of Defense assets are located in a small corral near the airfield. There, aircrew members and maintainers are available to speak with media representatives and the general public about the aircraft static displays.

"[Being here] allows us to showcase the American military, not only for the English public, but for the international community," said Lundberg.

Meyer and Lundberg spoke with U.S. media and the international public about their specialty aircraft and their duties as a pilot and weapons systems officer. Speaking within their subject matter expertise, they shared their knowledge about the aircraft and assisted in better educating spectators.

"Everyone has been truly amazed with our capabilities," said Meyers. " It's been a great opportunity to showcase the 48th Fighter Wing and really show how we are building partnerships and helping our NATO allies."

The 494th FS has had their aircraft on display throughout the airshow, demonstrating U.S. Air Forces in Europe's forward presence in Europe as a key factor in maintaining a stable partnership between Europe and the U.S.

"I think it's important [to have our aircraft on display] because it shows how we are 'Forward, Ready, Now'. It showcases the USAFE mission to the rest of the public and the rest of the world," Meyers said.

As U.S. and NATO forces are in place to be forward-based and capable, it's crucial they're able to respond and react quickly in support of their allies. In line with this need, the 48th FW has charged itself to be the premier combat wing, capable of dominating any adversary.

"This has been a great opportunity," Meyers said. "It really increases your knowledge, not only of the public domain, but as far as the weapons systems side of the house, by getting to interact with industry partners."

First All-Guard B-2 Maintenance Team Supports Weapons School Ops

by Capt. Jeffrey M. Bishop, APR
131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs


7/20/2014 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Missouri  -- In a year marked with a number of milestones and firsts for the 131st Bomb Wing, a team from the 131st Maintenance Group recently added another by being the first all-Air National Guard B-2 maintenance team to support deployed operations for the jet.

Twenty B-2 aircraft maintenance Citizen Airmen deployed to Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, in mid-June to support B-2 operations as part of the final integration phase of the five-month U.S. Air Force Weapons School program.

"We were essentially operating at three locations. If the Guard hadn't been there, we wouldn't have been able to do this," said Lt. Col. Michael Walters, 325th Weapons Squadron commander here. Taskings to support B-2 operations at Whiteman and at Nellis, along with a deployment of two B-2s to Royal Air Force Fairford, England, had strained maintenance resources.

Although the opportunity to support off-station operations with an all-Guard maintenance roster was born from necessity, long-standing total force integration paved the way for success, according to Capt. Chad Larson, 131st Maintenance Squadron commander and maintenance team lead for the deployment.

"About 20 percent of the (B-2 maintainer) lines are filled with Guardsmen. It's always been about Team Whiteman whenever we deploy," he said. "It was a first, but there was never any doubt that we could, because we've always done it hand-in-hand with our active duty counterparts."

Excellent communications between the active duty and Guard components is a key strength of the relationship that is essential for success, especially when drill-status Guardsmen must be provided orders so that their employers can release them to deploy. This was the case for a quarter of the 20 maintainers deployed to Nellis, Larson said.

"Working as a team with the 509th (Bomb Wing), they understand that we can do almost anything with enough notice, and they do an outstanding job of communicating requirements with us so that we can effectively use our resources to support the B-2 total force mission," he said. "It's all about Team Whiteman."

The level of experience and expertise of the 131st's maintainers gave leadership the confidence to task them, according to Walters.

"You don't build a quality maintainer overnight," said Walters. "The Guard has the unique ability to build deep quality and quantity of 5- and 7-levels; both production maintainers and supervisors. Through our use of the total force initiative concept at Whiteman, we've established that level of expertise, the experience level, the skill set to do this."

In addition to the support provided by the maintainers, pilots from the 110th Bomb Squadron, Majors Luke Jayne, Timothy Sullivan and Jeremy Simmons, were equally instrumental to INT success, according to Maj. Tim Rezac, squadron director of operations.

"They flew key sorties that helped produce the next generation of critically needed weapons officers," he said, adding that the Citizen Airmen also provided continuity, mission planning, experience and supervision to the two-week exercise.

"There have been a number of important steps that the Guard has taken along the way that led up to this deployment, starting with establishing initial operational capability all the way up to full operational capability," said Maj. Michael Belardo, a full-time Guardsman and B-2 instructor pilot detailed to the 325th. "This was just another step along the way to show that not only can the Air National Guard do it, but that it can do it well."

Whiteman's 325th is a geographically separated unit of the USAFWS, and is responsible for all B-2 training operations in support of the graduate-level program. Typically, each of the two USAFWS classes held annually includes only two or three B-2 pilots. The graduate-level curriculum generates a small pool of highly qualified tacticians who bring their new expertise back to the other pilots in their squadrons here after graduation. Whiteman graduates of USAFWS class 14A were Captains Marcus Antonini, 393rd Bomb Squadron and Justin Meyer, 13th Bomb Squadron.

The all-Guard maintainers also helped the 325th reach a new milestone for B-2 availability during the INT phase of the USAFWS program.

"This is the first time in the 10-plus years of our squadron that we haven't lost a student line due to maintenance," said Walters.

While Guard maintainers successfully supported B-2 operations in three locations, they also deployed to a fourth: the group sent more than 100 maintainers to Air National Guard Camp Clark in Nevada, Missouri, to train for state emergency duty during the wing's Annual Training week, which coincided with the deployments.

"It was a dynamic time, but it reflected a potential reality we might face one day: to support home station and deployed B-2 operations, while also helping our friends and family respond to a natural disaster in Missouri," said Col. Kimbra Sterr, 131st MXG commander. "This is exactly what we train for."

Blue Geronimo inducts honorary command sergeant major

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


7/21/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Born and raised in Kansas City, Kan., retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bernie Knight served four years in the Marine Corps before enlisting in the Army in 1987 as an infantry rifleman.

Over the years, Knight would serve in a variety of units and serve in nearly every noncommissioned officer leadership position, to include team leader, squad leader, Bradley Fighting Vehicle commander, long-range surveillance detachment team leader, operations sergeant, platoon sergeant, observer controller, first sergeant, operations sergeant major and command sergeant major.

In a July 14 ceremony outside 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment "Blue Geronimo" headquarters on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Army Lt. Col. Tobin Magsig, 1-501st Infantry commander, charged Knight as the honorary command sergeant major of the battalion during an honorary command sergeant major induction ceremony.
"I'll try not to get teary eyed," Knight said to the attendees as he thanked the command group of Blue Geronimo for the bestowing of the honor.

Knight expressed his gratefulness to be inducted as the honorary command sergeant major.

"Sir, I would like to thank you personally, you and Command Sgt. Maj. [Mitchell] Rucker, for giving me this opportunity. I'm honored," Knight said. "I couldn't think of anything better to do on retirement than serve as the honorary command sergeant major."

The honorary command sergeant major serves as the link between all members in the battalion currently serving and those who have served before.

Inducting an honorary commander or command sergeant major is unlike a change-of-command or a change-of-responsibility ceremony. Instead of passing the unit colors from an outgoing commander to an incoming commander or command sergeant major, a symbol of honor that represents the lineage of the unit is bestowed upon the honorary commander and command sergeant major.

For the paratroopers of Blue Geronimo, that symbol is the arrow for the honorary commander and for the honorary command sergeant major, it's the tomahawk.
The arrow represents the moral compass and sense of purpose and direction the honorary commander provides.

The tomahawk symbolizes the lethal force of the NCO Corps necessary to complete the mission; it also resembles a primitive ice pick to reinforce the battalion's additional requirement for arctic proficiency.

The passing of the Tomahawk from Magsig to Knight is a visible expression of the faith and confidence Magsig places in Knight's abilities to fulfill the obligations of his newly-appointed position.

"I first witnessed the depth of Command Sergeant Major Knight's knowledge in December 2012 at the Black Rapid Training Site in Central Alaska while attending the Cold Weather Orientation Course," the Blue Geronimo commander and native of Nashville, Tenn., shared with the audience.

"I know all of USARAK's leaders walked away from that event remarking at the mentorship they received from 'The Arctic Yoda,'" Magsig said. "For Command Sergeant Major Rucker and me, that mentorship has continued as Command Sergeant Major Knight has never done a very good job hiding his love for this battalion."

In 2007, Knight deployed to Iraq as command sergeant major of Blue Geronimo in what would be a hard-fought, 15-month deployment.

"I stand here and I look through the crowd and I look at the Geronimo's that were here when I was here many moons ago and before me and I look over there and I see first sergeants that served with me on our deployment to Iraq," Knight recalled.

It was Knight's six years with the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment, serving as a platoon sergeant, then operations sergeant major, and finally as Blue Geronimo's senior-enlisted advisor that would hold the unit close to his heart.

"It was the second deployment since Vietnam that the 501st had deployed," Knight told the audience. "It was a 15-month deployment and most of us thought we were only going to be there for a year and the news was not good, but I tell you through the 72 months, history continues to repeat itself."

Knight reminded the paratroopers of Blue Geronimo they are a special and determined force and he stands ready to offer his knowledge whenever needed.

"You are the manpower," Knight said. "Everybody knows that hard work is done by the Soldiers, the paratroopers contained within this organization. Anything that I can pass on to help you with the next deployment, I would gladly do."

Knight's final assignment was that of U.S. Army Alaska's top-enlisted leader after a yearlong deployment to Afghanistan as command sergeant major with another Alaska-based unit, the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

His military and civilian education includes all levels of the NCO Education System, the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy, Ranger School, Long Range Surveillance Leader's Course, Marine Corps Sniper School, Marine Corps Infantry Mortar School, Bradley Fighting Vehicle Course, Jungle Survival Course, Survival Escape Resistance to Interrogation and Evasion Course, Basic Recruiter School, Jump Master School, and Pathfinder School. Knight earned an associate's degree in general studies from Barton County Community College in Great Bend, Kan.

Knight's awards include: the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal with four oak leaf clusters, Army Achievement Medal with eight oak leaf clusters, Valorous Unit Award, Combat Infantry Badge with Star, Expert Infantry Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, Ranger Tab, Pathfinder Badge, and the Gold Recruiter Badge. He is a recipient of the British and Thai parachutist badges.

Security Forces marksmen hone skills at JBER range

by David Bedard
JBER Public Affairs


7/21/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Standing 6 feet 5 inches tall, Tech. Sgt. Jerimiah Brock looks well-suited for a career as a power forward in the NBA. But instead of shooting free throws, the Lake Tahoe, Calif., native shoots bullseyes from behind the scope of an M24 Sniper Weapon System rifle.

Brock said his parents didn't like guns and wouldn't allow him to have one. At 16 years old, he managed to get his hands on a BB gun. At 17, his grandfather - who sympathized with the teenager - got a Remington Model 522 Viper .22-caliber rifle for the budding marksman as a Christmas gift.

Brock was hooked.

Living in a small settlement of five homes, the 673d SFS flight sergeant said he could wander into national forest land, line up a few targets, and plink away.

Fast forward to July 11, and Brock has progressed beyond plinking, beyond the limited ranges and hushed zings of his rimfire days. He was lining up man-shaped targets between 100 and 500 meters for Advanced Designated Marksman qualification at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's Statler Range with the 673d Security Forces Squadron.

Civilian Officer Leonard Reloza, Combat Arms instructor, said the routine training ensures 673d SFS Airmen retain proficiency on the M24 SWS. He rattled off a description of the rifle, sounding like a 1950s-era salesman describing the whiz-bang features of the latest vacuum cleaner.

"The M24 is the current standard-issue sniper rifle for the United States Air Force," the Anchorage native said. "It's a bolt-action Remington 700 action using an H-S Precision Kevlar and fiberglass composite stock with an aluminum bedding block and a Remington 40X trigger topped with a Leupold 10x scope."

The Remington 700 action is the heart of the rifle, allowing the shooter to quickly cycle through ammunition while retaining the accuracy of a bolt-action rifle. The composite stock and bedding block ensure a tight and consistent fit with the action. According to the manufacturer's website, the match-grade trigger allows for adjustments between 3.5 and 5 pounds of trigger pull, according to the needs of the sharpshooter.

Far from the lone wolf portrayed at the cineplex, Brock said he is reliant on his spotter, Air Force Staff Sgt. Ryan Link, to hit his mark before the two switch places for training.

"The spotter is the best shooter," Brock explained. "They are responsible for calling out distances. They will do all of the formulas for you while you're behind the sight, because you have fatigue behind anything magnifying. If you're high or low, they will tell you how far you are off by clicks [of sight adjustment]. You adjust and take a second shot if needed."

Brock and Link worked like interconnecting cogs of a German watch during training, communicating in short staccato commands in order to get steel on target.

Peering through his spotting scope, Link used the reticle pattern to estimate distance based upon the assumed size of the target's torso.

"On target at four," said Link, a native of West Branch, Mich., indicating a range of 400 meters. "Send it when ready."

The order cleared Brock to shoot once he gained a good firing solution. He gingerly wrapped his fingers around a dial at the top of the sight. Click. Click. The sight was set for 400 meters.

The sharpshooter breathed in and firmly exhaled, eliminating any shake induced from his rhythmic breathing. The scope crosshairs hovered over the target. Brock's finger cradled the curve of the trigger and slowly squeezed, infinitesimally adding pressure until the trigger group activated the rifle's firing pin. Bang.

"Beautiful," Link breathed in a hushed tone, scrutinizing the target through the spotting scope. "Good hit ... center of mass."

In contrast to Brock, Reloza's childhood was replete with firearms and marksmanship. The instructor said he competed in riflery at Anchorage's Bartlett High School where he also enrolled in Army Junior ROTC. These experiences gave him a penchant for precision weapons fire and a yen for military service.

Reloza joined the Army as an infantryman, his first assignment was at Fort Campbell, Ky., with the 101st Airborne Division. He made rank and eventually became a sniper team leader before reassignment to then-Fort Richardson with the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment.

After leaving the Army, Reloza joined the Air National Guard and is a technical sergeant in the 176th Security Forces Squadron as a Combat Arms instructor. His Guard status mirrors his civilian duties, and he helps 673d SFS Airmen share his pursuit of eliminating the small things that preclude precision fire. Things like ammunition.

M118 7.62-mm Special Ball long-range ammunition is designed specifically for precision rifles used by the Department of Defense. Despite being manufactured to tight tolerances, M118 ammunition is still subject to small variances. Reloza said it is important to register a lot of ammunition - manufactured in a batch at the same time - to ensure consistent results. This information and a host of other parameters, are recorded as "data on previous engagement" in a notebook.

DOPE also includes how the rifle behaves under different atmospheric conditions.

Because the climate is so different in places like Afghanistan, and because Airmen likely won't deploy with their home lot of ammunition, Reloza said they will be assigned a deployed lot and will consequently build a new DOPE log.

Because these seemingly small factors quickly add up in the accuracy equation, Brock said it is important for advanced marksmen to become familiar with a newly assigned weapon and to maintain accurate data on how the weapon behaves in varying conditions.
"Each weapon system is different," Brock said. "They are each within a half minute of angle (1/2-inch at 100 meters) accuracy, however they are shooter- and ammo-dependent."

Some of the sharpshooters' techniques can seem like black magic. Brock said a well-trained marksman can use a strong wind to curve a bullet to hit a target behind cover. At longer ranges with higher-caliber weapons such as the .50-caliber M107 Long Range Sniper Rifle, shooters have to account for the bullet being subject to the Coriolis effect.
"When you get into long-distance shooting, you actually have to factor the rotation of the earth, because the target won't be at the same location once the bullet gets there," Brock said.

During the course of the day, 673d SFS Airmen engaged targets at known and unknown ranges in prone, kneeling and over-barricade positions in order to keep qualification on the M24 SWS.

For Brock and Reloza - two sharpshooters who couldn't have had more different backgrounds with firearms - it was another day on the beat. They both picked up their first rifles at vastly different ages, but time, experience and training ensures both are always ready to find their mark.

USAF Weapons School students get first look at upgraded B-1s

by Airman 1st Class Alexander Guerrero
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


7/21/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas  -- For the first time students from the US Air Force Weapons School got to fly with the newly upgraded Sustainment Block-16 B-1B Lancer during the student's Integration Phase (IT) at Nellis AFB, Nev.

Dyess Airmen from the 337th Test and Evaluation Squadron brought the B-1s to Nellis for the weapons school students to get hands-on with the new technology. The three-week exercise at Nellis is the final phase of the weapons school curriculum and allows students to put all their learned skills to practice in a training environment that is as close to actual combat as possible.

"The IT is the capstone exercise to the United States Air Force Weapons Instructor Course," said Maj. Andrew Maguire, 77th Weapons Squadron. "Students from different Air Force assets, like space and cyber, integrated to solve some of the most challenging real-world problems that the Air Force can provide short of actual combat. In some cases, the training problems were more difficult than real-world problems."

The 337th's part in the exercise was to test the new SB-16 and 15 B-1B Lancers performance, while allowing the weapons students to familiarize themselves with the upgraded systems.

"With the 337th TES coming along during the IT, our students had the unique opportunity to be the first B-1 aviators to integrate the new hardware and software in a training environment this realistic," Maguire said.

The weapons school instructors were pleased with the performance of both the students and the capabilities the SB-16 provided for the B-1 airframe.

"The students and aircraft performed well," Maguire said. "One of the instructors even said the new system provided him so much situational awareness that, 'it was almost like cheating.'"

The knowledge that the 337th's instructors gave the undergraduates provided them with the basic know-how on the revamped B-1s and gave them a unique training experience. They also flew several sorties on the SB-16 B-1 to gain some familiarity with the upgraded airframe.

"I wish I could give every B-1 aviator the opportunity to attend the phenomenal training provided by the weapons school," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Creer, 77th Weapons Squadron commander. "I also feel that it was such a good opportunity for the 337th that we'd like to have them out there again."

185th ARW, Home Base Iowa team up for Military Job Fair

by Master Sgt. Vincent De Groot
185th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


7/18/2014 - SIOUX CITY, Iowa -- Thirty-four area businesses and staffing agencies came to the Military Job Fair at the Air National Guard base here July 18 with a mission of their own; to hire as many military veterans as they can.

Home Base Iowa, working in coordination with the 185th Air Refueling Wing family programs office and Iowa Works of Greater Siouxland, organized the event where area employers had a chance to meet military veterans who are looking for employment.

The event was open to anyone who has served in the military and their spouse said Lori Risdal, 185th Family Programs manager. Risdal added that it was a good opportunity to match workers with potential employers.

"This kind of event is important because is it allows us to look at the whole person," said Risdal. "If the Airman or Soldier has employment or financial problems then the mission is affected. We know and many of our employers know that veterans are good workers."

Many of those in attendance are also drill status guardsmen, meaning they are current members of the guard or reserve who perform training one weekend a month and two weeks each year. Several were younger Airmen who have completed their initial training and are now in transition looking for full time civilian jobs.

By all observations the event seemed to be a success with employers and potential employees alike. The job fair is just one of the services provided through the Home Base Iowa initiative.

Home Base Iowa has a comprehensive web site with information for employers and veterans who are looking for work in Iowa. http://www.homebaseiowa.org/

173rd Security Forces trains for close quarters toughness

by Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar
173rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


7/18/2014 - KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- 173rd Fighter Wing Security Forces Squadron Airmen spent two days grappling with each other during a combatives course held here June 18-19.

The security forces combatives course teaches various defensive techniques with names like the guillotine, arm bar, and rear naked chokes.

Tech. Sgt. Clinton Wells and Staff Sgt. Matthew Taylor led this two-day annual training after volunteering to become instructors for this newly expanded program. Taylor and Wells share a passion for teaching self-defense.

"I like that it brings a lot of knowledge to our Airmen; a lot of the situations we have to go into were not always in the best position," said Taylor. "This is going to teach them how to turn a bad situation around."

The combatives program teaches both self-defense and weapons retention. Airmen learn to use their skill sets to escape compromising situations and regain control.

"This system we are teaching is highly effective," said Wells. "We are teaching them how to fight."

The Airmen begin by practicing the techniques and gradually build up to effectively use the techniques to dominate the situations.

"There are times where you can't control the environment you are in," said Wells. "All of sudden you find yourself in a bad position ... you may be knocked on the ground, they may be putting choke holds on you. We are teaching how to fight out of that situation and turn it around to your advantage."

The security forces trainees all agreed that though difficult, the training is beneficial.

"It is useful training," said Senior Airman Ryan Kaber. "It's just logging flight hours to train the brain to not cave in in the worst possible situation."

Training that emphasizes the hands-on aspect can be physically taxing.

"I don't know if I'd call it fun, but it's better than, uh ... [computer based training]," Kaber said.

Command presence: CMSAF visits Gateway to the Pacific

by Staff Sgt. Patrick Harrower
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


7/18/2014 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody visited Travis to meet Airmen and thank them for their service, July 9 through 11.

During the visit, Cody toured the base and hosted an Airmen's Call at the theater where he discussed the future of the Air Force and force management challenges.

"We have to make some tough decisions and we are going to get smaller," Cody said. "The Air Force is going to look and operate differently in the future."

While the decisions may be tough, they are necessary to ensure we are the most agile, credible and affordable total force team capable of meeting future challenges, he said.

"Every generation goes through struggles and challenges," Cody said. "The Air Force looks dramatically different from how it did 30 years ago and will look different years from now. But we will make those decisions and step right back up to being the world's greatest Airmen."

The Air Force is currently more globally engaged than ever before in its history and is currently involved in its longest sustained combat operations. Travis has specific lift and refueling capabilities that have provided global reach through all of this, he said.

"You should be proud of that," Cody said. "It is amazing that through all these distractions with sequestration, retention boards and furloughs you can still execute the mission. That should motivate and inspire all of you."

The 60th Air Mobility Wing is the largest of its kind in the Air Force and not only operates extensively in the Pacific region, but the entire world, he said.

"The base has evolved and continues to improve," he said. "It's great to see how things like the privatized housing, the Fisher House and the Food Transformation Initiative have improved Travis. They really show the Air Force's commitment to take care Airmen and their families."

"Travis is a jewel in our Air Force," Cody said. "I can see it in your performance. You're proud of what you do and your capabilities. The people out there know you are protecting them and you give them hope."

Exercise tests Travis with earthquake scenario

by Senior Airman Madelyn Brown
60th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


7/18/2014 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- A base-wide exercise July 15 incorporated an earthquake emergency scenario on Travis Air Force Base that resulted in mass casualties, injuries and damage to facilities.

Travis resides in Northern California, an area of the country prone to this type of natural disaster.

"Yesterday's exercise was important because not only are we in a prime earthquake area, but Travis hosts vital national resources in the event of a major incident in the area," said Lt. Col. Cory Miller, 60th Mission Support Group deputy commander and Emergency Operations Center commander for the exercise. "No one ever hopes to put our abilities to practical use, but being able to demonstrate and improve our response in such an event is critical."

When multiple incidents occurred simultaneously due to the simulated magnitude 6.7 earthquake, approximately 100 first responders, including Airmen from security forces, the medical group and the fire department, were tasked to prioritize which should be handled first.

"The first responders needed to take care of the most important incidents first," said Dan Johnson, 60th Air Mobility Wing director of exercises and inspections. "Those would include the large scale mass casualty incidents, which occurred at the dining facility, and when the walkway collapsed in the 60th Communications Squadron facility."

In addition to those incidents, the earthquake scenario resulted in structural damages to base housing, as well as a fuel spill in the 60th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuel tank area.

"People did participate realistically, and they did very well," Johnson said. "Everyone displayed a sense of urgency throughout the exercise. A lot of good lessons were learned and positive reinforcement was provided for the actions that were done correctly."

In addition to the first responders, members from the disaster response force and support roles stood up to respond to the exercise. Many personnel also acted in the Wing Inspection Team role to assess the response to the natural disaster.

"I hope our ability to respond to a major earthquake isn't tested," Miller said. "But if it is, Team Travis will be ready and able to be the first to answer the call."

Johnson echoed this sentiment.

"The bottom line is, we do these exercises for a reason," Johnson said. "When the real thing happens we are prepared, and that saves lives."

Alamo Wing hosts Inter-American Air Forces students

by Tech Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino
433 AW


7/19/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- 
A 21-year tradition continues as 105 students from the Inter-American Air Forces Academy visited the 433rd Airlift Wing July 17 to learn about the C-5A Galaxy aircraft, the maintenance mission and how the "Alamo Wing" maintainers keep their inventory of C-5A Galaxies battle ready.

The students received toured of a C-5A static, the wing's propulsion branch, metals technology and structural repair shops.

The IAAFA students hail from Peru, Mexico, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay, Brazil and Chile.

While attending IAAFA, students receive 10 weeks of instruction in technical and academic courses, such as aircraft maintenance management in their home language of Spanish.

"I particularly enjoy it (the tour) because I understand they don't have this kind of equipment," said Senior Master Sgt. Alfonso Cervantes, a loadmaster with the 68th Airlift Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. I can see through their eyes that they are impressed by it (C-5A). The students are very excited to see the largest aircraft in the Air Force's inventory, he said.

"These trips are an incentive to show them how the Air Force works and how we do business," said Tech Sgt. Bernardo Johnson, a superintendent instructor at IAAFA. "They have never seen an aircraft with such a big tail. They only work with small aircraft. It is exciting for them to see firsthand this type of aircraft. They have only seen this aircraft on TV and in the news. They are excited to see it with their own eyes and to touch it. For the students, it is a good feeling and a good break from the classroom, " he said.

"It makes it worth our while to share what we do with these tours," Cervantes said.

The academy was founded in 1943 at Albrook Air Force Station (formally Albrook Army Field), Panama, making it the first U.S. aeronautics training course given in Latin America.

In 1989, IAAFA closed its doors at Albrook AFS , and moved to Homestead Air Force Base, Florida. In 1992, after almost a complete destruction of the facility by Hurricane Andrew, IAAFA relocated to Lackland AFB, Texas, opening its doors just under 100 days later in 1993. Today, IAAFA graduates 800 partner nation students annually, while fostering inter-Americanism and building nation partnership.

D.C. Quarters Re-named to Honor Fleet Admiral William Leahy



By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2014 – Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy stood at the crossroads of power during and after World War II, but few people know who he was, or what he did.

The most-senior five-star officer in the U.S. military got some recognition July 17 when Quarters BB at the Old Naval Observatory here was renamed Leahy House in his honor.

“This is all about celebrating the life and accomplishments of an extraordinary and unsung naval officer,” said current Leahy House resident Navy Vice Adm. Kurt W. Tidd.

Tidd serves as the assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is the chairman’s principal liaison with the State Department. “When you ask people to name all the five-star naval officers, they get [Chester] Nimitz, they get [Ernest] King, they get Bull Halsey,” Tidd said. “Almost nobody thinks about Fleet Admiral Leahy.”

Leahy served as the Chief of Naval Operations from 1937 to August 1939. He was a friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, whom he met while the president was serving as the assistant secretary of the Navy during World War I.

He retired as a four-star admiral just as war clouds gathered in Europe. Roosevelt told the admiral, “Bill, if we have a war, you're going to be right back here helping me run it.”

He was true to his word.

Leahy served in Puerto Rico and as the U.S. Ambassador to Vichy France before being recalled to active duty in July 1942. Roosevelt appointed him chief of staff to the Commander-in-Chief. The position had never existed before.

Leahy was never far from President Roosevelt’s side. Translated to today, Leahy actually occupied three positions -- the chief of staff of the White House, the National Security Advisor and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Leahy biographer Paul Miles said that when Roosevelt appointed Leahy to this new position it was at a low point in the allies’ war effort. The Germans were marching on Stalingrad and advancing on Cairo and the Suez Canal. Allied shipping losses in the Battle of the Atlantic had reached a peak.

“Those were setbacks on the military front, but there were also setbacks on the home front,” the retired Army colonel said. Roosevelt was being faulted for lack of progress in the war. There were disagreements between the War and Navy Departments. There were questions about the president’s command arrangements.

Enter Leahy. He took over as the president’s representative to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Combined Chiefs of Staff -- a U.S.-British panel. Leahy presided over the organization “in such an even-handed and impartial manner over the deliberations of the chiefs of staff that one naval historian called him the original purple-suiter,” Miles said during the renaming ceremony.

Over time Leahy’s responsibilities grew. In 1944 and 1945, the admiral became more involved in politico-military affairs and was at Roosevelt’s side at meetings in Quebec, Teheran and Yalta. And Leahy stayed on under President Harry S. Truman when Roosevelt died in April 1945.

Leahy stepped down in 1949 -- after serving in the Navy from the Battle of Santiago during the Spanish-American War through World War I, World War II and into the Cold War. Leahy died in 1959.

The Leahy House itself is emblematic of the politico-military mélange that is Washington. The house is one of three Navy quarters on land owned by the State Department. It is just blocks from the White House and lies between the State Department and the Defense Department. The Leahy House was built in 1910 and housed officers stationed at the Naval Observatory -- a facility that broke new ground in science and was a favorite destination of President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.

Leahy relatives and descendants attended the re-naming ceremony, as did the neighbors -- Adm. Michelle J. Howard, the vice chief of naval operations, and Adm. John M. Richardson, the director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

The House is not just a museum piece. Tidd and his wife Eileen -- a doctor at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, -- have two teenage daughters and it is a warm and welcoming home.

But history is never far away. On the mantelpiece was an order Leahy signed in the White House in August 1945 to General of the Army George C. Marshall, the service chief of staff, and Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King, the chief of naval operation, ending World War II.

USU Fellow Puts New Face on Dental Medicine



By Christine Creenan-Jones
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

BETHESDA, Maryland, July 21, 2014 – Cancer, congenital disease, gunshot wounds and other trauma can transform faces into unrecognizable visages. Often, treatment -- or the injury itself -- leads to missing eyes, noses, ears and jawbones. Moreover, disfiguring facial wounds can also significantly impair daily functions, like talking, eating and breathing.

Treating these types of facial injuries can be challenging. It requires multidisciplinary collaboration between physicians, dentists, engineers and technicians who join forces to piece their patients back together.

Army Lt. Col. Cynthia Aita-Holmes -- a dentist who earned her master’s degree from the Postgraduate Dental College at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences here as part of her maxillofacial prosthodontics fellowship at the Naval Postgraduate Dental School -- is part of this elaborate process at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, also in Bethesda.

Aita-Holmes creates synthetic body parts from molds cast into silicone that are painted to match the unique characteristics of a person’s face. In best-case scenarios, the transition from skin to silicone is nearly indiscernible.

“I try to make my prostheses as close to perfect as possible because my patients have already endured so much by the time I see them. Hopefully, fitting them with a natural, comfortable prosthesis brings a little solace to their difficult recovery process,” she said.

Creating eyes that twinkle, ears that dip and fold in all of the right places and noses with the perfect bridge is equal parts science and artistry. That’s why Aita-Holmes uses both the left and right sides of her brain to make prostheses that are functionally sound but visually appealing.

“I had a patient who had the tendency to place her hand on the corner of her mouth to improve her speech with her prosthesis,” Aita-Holmes said. “One day, while out at her local grocery store, the cashier told her it was difficult to hear what she was saying with her hand over her mouth.

“My patient was happy when the cashier told her she couldn’t tell she was wearing a prosthesis,” she continued. “As her provider, I was thrilled, too. I want my patients to feel comfortable in their skin -- real or silicone.”

Across the country, a handful of military dentists like Aita-Holmes are maxillofacial students or practicing in military hospitals around the world. The field has become especially important over the past 12 years because thousands of service members have sustained facial wounds while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although most combat veterans have been fitted with their first prosthesis already, a new one has to be made annually because daily wear-and-tear lessens functionality and authenticity.

Furthermore, cancer and congenital disease strike without restriction, making the need for maxillofacial prosthodontists imminent.

“I absolutely love what I do because I’m part of a team that delivers life-changing treatment,” Aita-Holmes said. “Personally, I can’t imagine a more rewarding and fulfilling career.”

DoD Identifies Missing World War II Marine



WASHINGTON, July 21, 2014 – The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced that the remains of a U.S. serviceman lost during World War II have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors, according to a DoD news release issued today.

Marine Corps Pfc. Randolph Allen of Rush, Kentucky, will be buried July 29 in Arlington National Cemetery, Washington D.C., according to the release. In November 1943, Allen was assigned to the 2nd Marine Division. He landed with his unit on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll in an attempt to secure the island against stiff Japanese resistance. Over several days of intense fighting approximately 1,000 Marines were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded. Allen was reported killed in action Nov. 20, 1943.

In the immediate aftermath of the fighting on Tarawa, U.S. service members who died were buried in a number of battlefield cemeteries, the release said. During World War II, U.S. Navy Combat Engineers, “SeaBees,” significantly restructured the landscape to convert the island for use by the military. In 1946 when U.S. Army Graves Registration Service personnel attempted to locate all of the battlefield interments, many of the burials could not be located.

From Nov. 12-27, 2013, History Flight, a private organization, excavated what was believed to be a wartime fighting position on the island of Betio, according to the release. During this excavation History Flight recovered five sets of remains, personal effects and military equipment. Four sets of remains were determined to be Japanese service members and the fifth set was believed to be that of a U.S. Marine. Two sets of military identification tags which correlated to Allen were also found in the fighting position.

In the identification of Allen’s remains, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools such as dental and skeletal comparison, which matched Allen’s records, the release said.

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war -- more than 100,000 of them in the Pacific Theater alone.