Military News

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

AGE keeps RIMPAC aircraft ready to fly

by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
15th Wing Public Affairs

7/28/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- With the entire Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam ramp full of Air Force, joint-service and coalition aircraft, the Aerospace Ground Equipment flight has been busy dealing with the influx of work during Rim of the Pacific 2014.

AGE prepared months in advance and communicated with the incoming units to ensure all RIMPAC aircraft have what they need to get off the ground.

"There was a lot of coordination before everyone arrived," said 2nd Lt. Paulina Wetzel, 15th MXS maintenance flight commander and squadron RIMPAC co-coordinator. "One of the biggest challenges was making sure all of our equipment was compatible with foreign and joint-service aircraft. If they needed parts that we don't have, they had to bring it with them."

AGE is responsible for supplying and maintaining the equipment that supports aircraft while they're on the ground, including electric generators and hydraulic and air pressure equipment. For every hour an aircraft spends in the air, it spends dozens more on the ground, requiring a lot of equipment for maintenance.

For RIMPAC, they've had to balance supplying equipment for aircraft permanently assigned here, and the visiting aircraft, making their operations tempo rise.

"One of our biggest challenges is maintaining the large amount of aircraft here, and having to prioritize the RIMPAC missions and our normal daily missions," said Master Sgt. Lance Carlson, 15th MXS C-17 Globemaster AGE flight production superintendent. "What we've had to do is just take the requests in the order they come in, and we go from there."

Carlson said one element of the AGE flight that's helped during RIMPAC is the continuity provided by the Department of Defense AGE civilians in the section.

"[The civilians] have been extremely helpful for RIMPAC," Carlson said. "If we have an issue, they're able to let me know if we had the same issue last time, and we're better prepared to fix it."

RIMPAC is the world's largest maritime exercise, comprising 22 nations and 25,000 participants operating around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California. Wetzel said it feels awesome to be a part of such a large and important exercise.

"I've learned so much from RIMPAC, including coalition and joint logistics; for me, the knowledge is invaluable," Wetzel said. "I'm happy to be a part of it, and I'm glad my leadership trusted me with such a large project."

With a mission so important to the care and maintenance of aircraft on the ground, Carlson expressed what he thinks about the role AGE plays in RIMPAC: "RIMPAC would be impossible to pull off if you didn't have AGE."

747th CS ensures communication security for RIMPAC 2014

by Maj. Joe Blubaugh
15th Wing PA

7/28/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Maintaining communication security in and around Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam is a big job for the 747th Communications Squadron. In fact, they have the largest COMSEC footprint in Pacific Air Forces, supporting all the tenant units of the base, including the Hawaii Air National Guard, as well as several other locations, including Maui, Wheeler Army Airfield and Wake Island.

Members of the 747th CS will be the first to admit many of their fellow Airmen don't know what they do. In simple terms, the squadron provides the material needed, so the units they support can utilize secure communications, both in the air and on the ground.

Tech. Sgt. Shari Epley, JBPHH COMSEC manager, says she and four additional Airmen support more than 80 COMSEC accounts across a large geographical area. That number increases dramatically with onset of the planning phase of Rim of the Pacific 2014, a multinational maritime exercise that takes place in and around the Hawaiian Islands. The exercise includes 22 nations, 49 surface ships, six submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel.

"RIMPAC definitely ups the tempo," Epley said. "We start working with the organizations we support when the exercise planning starts to ensure we can provide them with their secure communication materials. We also support units from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Navy and Marines."

Epley's team was also responsible for providing the resources necessary, so that the highest levels of RIMPAC leadership could communicate securely. The team's efforts helped enable secure satellite communication links between the Combined Forces Air Component commander, Combined Forces Maritime Component commander and the Combined Forces Land Component commander.

Not surprisingly with an exercise as large as RIMPAC, they have also received last-minute requests, especially from transient units attending the exercise.

"It takes a lot of extra time and coordination on the last-minute requests," Epley said, "but we always drop what we are doing to make sure the mission is accomplished."

RIMPAC is one of the biggest exercises the team supports, and they provide more secure communication materials for the exercise than at any other time of the year. However, since a large part of their efforts were concentrated during the planning phase, they have been able to get back to somewhat normal day-to-day operations as the exercise enters its final days, Epley said. "And, of course, get ready for the next exercise," she continued.

Defense Department Calls on North Korea to End Military Buildup

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 30, 2014 – Defense Department officials are aware of reports that North Korea has fired short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, and call on that nation to end its military buildup, Director of Pentagon Press Operations Army Col. Steve Warren said today.

Warren made his remarks to Pentagon reporters during an off-camera briefing on a range of topics.

“We are aware of … reports that the North Koreans fired several short-range ballistic missiles,” Warren said. “Rather than spend their money polluting the waters around North Korea, they should spend their money feeding their people.”

According to North Korea’s official news organization, the Korean Central News Agency, the nation’s leader, Kim Jong Un, guided a rocket-firing drill July 26, the day before the anniversary of the United States, China, North Korea and South Korea agreeing in 1953 to an armistice, officially ending hostilities in the Korean War.

The notice in the KCNA article said the drill “was conducted by a firepower strike unit of the strategic force of the [Korean People’s Army] tasked to strike bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in South Korea.”

Earlier today, other news and social media outlets reported that North Korea launched four more short-range ballistic missiles eastward into the Sea of Japan, but that only two of the missiles reached the water.

In a briefing yesterday at the Pentagon, Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, said the “proliferation activities of North Korea, their desire for nuclear missiles and nuclear capabilities, as we've said over and over again, are highly threatening to the global security environment, and denuclearization of North Korea is an essential part of the way ahead in that part of the world.”

At the Pentagon today, Warren said, “We continue to see the North Koreans expend resources on upgrading their military, on conducting tests of more and more sophisticated weapons systems, and, as we have for decades, we call on the North Koreans to stop their military buildup and work toward peace on the peninsula.”

McConnell Total Force team completes bike ride across Iowa

by Capt. Zach Anderson
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs

7/29/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- 
Several members of Team McConnell were among more than 35,000 cyclists participating in the 42nd Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI), July 20-26.  Members of the U.S. Air Force cycling team took part in the more than 400 mile ride across the state, including a Total Force representation made up of active duty, reserve and guard members of Team McConnell.
According to the event website, the annual seven-day bicycle ride is the oldest, largest and longest bicycle touring event in the world.
Longtime cycling enthusiast Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Salomon, 931st Maintenance Squadron, is a veteran of RAGBRAI and said the event is an opportunity to represent the Air Force and its core values to a unique audience.
"I've been doing this event for five years now with the Air Force Cycling Team," said Salomon.  "RAGBRAI is a great event where you can show others that the Air Force is a group of men and women that have great values and integrity and can have fun as well."
As the members of Team McConnell rode through countless towns and communities across Iowa, they and their fellow members of the Air Force Cycling Team left a strong impression on the individuals with whom they interacted.  Salomon said the Air Force team has a reputation for assisting other riders along the route.
"It's a good feeling to know that people appreciate us being there for the event," said Salomon.  "There were plenty of people who would come up to us and ask if they could take our picture because we were the Air Force Cycling Team.  There were also plenty of people that would see us when we were riding by them and want to talk and would tell us how they felt safer on the route because they knew if they had any problems there would be an Air Force rider there to help them in their time of need."
This year, the team had a unique opportunity to make a stop along the route at the home of a World War II Veteran for a photo and to visit with him during a family reunion.
Salomon said the ride was at times difficult, but a tremendous experience for himself and the other U.S. Air Force riders.
"It was a great ride, and the team was great," he said.  "It was also a time when you were challenged with the wind and the hills that we had to ride through, but it was fun!"

AFSOUTH maintainers return from MTT in Belize

by Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs

7/30/2014 - LADYVILLE, Belize  -- Ten Belize Defence Force Air Wing maintainers were given the tools to increase their aircraft fleets capability, thanks to the help of two Air Forces Southern Airmen.

Master Sgts. Noel Mendoza and Jeremy Jacobs, aircraft managers assigned to12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern), recently returned from a mobile training team event with the Belize Defence Force Air Wing.

"By teaching them the basics of aircraft maintenance management we are helping them build their own program so that they can become self-sufficient and handle their own equipment in-house," Mendoza said.

While in Belize, Mendoza and Jacobs helped strengthen the partner nation's air and maritime capabilities by teaching 10 maintainers how to establish their own maintenance programs. The MTT was requested by the Government of Belize and the Security Cooperation Office to help the Belize Defence Force Air Wing establish its own maintenance management programs.

The goal of the MTT was to help the Air Wing maintainers understand the importance of maintenance operations. "Maintenance operations are what keeps the aircraft flying safely and efficiently," Jacobs said.

The training included guidance on establishing an aircraft maintenance training program, quality assurance, the concept of aircraft weight and balance, as well as the importance of using standardized forms and documentation in maintenance practices.

While most of the aircraft fundamentals were taught in a classroom setting, the maintainers were fortunate enough to have hands-on opportunities as well.

"We were in luck when we arrived," Jacobs said. "Their fleet was going through a major maintenance inspection so we were able to oversee their inspection processes and practices."

Because of the relationship between AFSOUTH and the Belize Defence Force as well as the expertise of Jacobs and Mendoza, maintenance professionals from the Belize Defence Force Air Wing are now capable of functioning as maintenance supervisors and are prepared to establish their own maintenance programs.

Returning with Honor: World War II POW James Bollich reflects to Airmen

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

7/29/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Washington -- "Once we arrived at the camp, the Japanese commander laid down the rules; and said that anyone who was broken, he would have their capturer killed. The speech ended by what was interpreted to us by saying 'you have come here to die."

Everyone hears the stories, watches the documentaries, reads the books, but nothing speaks of the pain, torture, special moments missed, brothers and sisters lost and what they endured for our freedom. When a prisoner of war speaks, we listen, because these moments will only last so long.

Staff Sgt. Christopher Gilbert, 336th Training Support Squadron paramedic, has a link to history that relates to his everyday duties. Gilbert supports the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape school here, the training his grandfather, James J. Bollich, a retired Army Air Corp solider used to return with honor from World War II. Bollich spoke to Airmen and families about the events leading him to becoming a prisoner of war and living to tell the journey he endured during and after the Bataan Death March.

"I first heard my grandfather's entire story when I was in third grade around 8 years old. Shortly after, he wrote 'Bataan Death March: A Soldier's Story' which I read immediately," said Gilbert. "The first time I heard the story, I could not believe how many times he was an inch away from being killed and how lucky I am to be here today."

The Japanese Empire was in full force attempting to control all of Asia while still defending off the Republic of China. The year was 1939, and the world was at war once again for the second time. A few years later, a young solider from Louisiana named James J. Bollich unknowingly began a journey that would later become one the most profound memoirs written by our greatest generation of warfighters.

Bollich was attached to the 27th Bombardment Group, 16th Squadron Army Air Corp deployed in the Philippines. Several hours after the attacks on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, Bollich, along with another 1,000 American soldiers, were soon to be forced into what is known now as the 'Bataan Death March.'

"We were told that the Japanese landed about 35 miles from where we were, and if we couldn't get out in a hurry we would soon be captured and even killed. So we headed toward the city of Manila," said Bollich.

After several days of holding off for reinforcements, Philippine and American soldiers were surrounded. The Japanese had taken control of the waters and land around the Bataan Peninsula.

"We made our way down to the beach in Bataan and began making a defense line. The Japanese had flown in an extra thousand troops; we were surrounded and told to surrender."

This was the beginning that led to more than a 100 mile, five day march through the Bataan peninsula and up to Camp O'Donnell. Along the way, many soldiers would be beaten with the stocks of weapons, shot, beheaded and stabbed if they attempted to reach for water, fell, or stepped out of line. The Japanese soldiers did not give mercy to their prisoners, marching them night and day constantly beating them.

"The first night, we stopped; we were surrounded by guards, but they didn't give us water or food, basically just getting rest," said Bollich. "In the crack of dawn they kept us moving until we reached the camp, basically they were trying to kill us."

Once they have reached San Fernando, Philippines some of the prisoners were loaded into box cars and were sent 35 miles to the final destination. The Japanese then let the POW's out to walk another 12 miles to the first camp. A large number of prisoners died due to suffocation, dysentery and wounds from being transported in these conditions.
Bollich spoke to the airmen of the 336th Training group about lying awake in the camp at night hearing screams, crying and prayers throughout the darkness. This would be his 'home' for the next three and half years. Bollich said the only freedom these prisoners had was during their sleep, dreaming of their families and loved ones. Day in and day out these POW's would be tortured and beaten and given little to no food at times.

"This was an excellent opportunity to show the upcoming SERE cadre what they are really teaching Survival and Evasion skills for; the first 2 letters in SERE. Because hearing his story of captivity for three and half years is what happens if you don't learn those valuable skills" said Gilbert.

Three and a half years later, Bollich and the remaining men in his unit finally heard that they were going home. They all left the camps and made their way to ships off the coast of China that would bring the soldiers back to the California coast for in processing. Bollich believed he was safe and sound, until a major accident occurred.

"At about 4 a.m. we heard a quick bang and the lights went out, some sailors came down and said 'grab a life preserver and hit topside' " said Bollich.

Their ship that was transporting them back home was struck by a floating mine and began to take on water. Everyone onboard began to seal off quadrants of the ship to keep it from going under. They were successful in doing so, which gave them time to be rescued and given other transportation back to the main land...home.

"The first thing I did when I got home was get a haircut at a local barber shop" said Bollich.

When Bollich sat down for his shave and a trim the barber began to talk about a family who lost two sons and another who was held captive as POW. After a few minutes of listening to the conversation, Bollich realized that it was his two brothers that were killed in action in Europe. He slowly took off his bib, and walked out of the shop without a word.

Years later, this story was told to his young grandson many times, Christopher Gilbert, who would later become a U.S. Air Force paramedic for the S.E.R.E training school. These trials of his grandfather as a warfighter transpired into Gilberts' pride in being part of the S.E.R.E. mission and training. So that others may 'Return with Honor.'

Strategic agility is the future of the Air Force

by Staff Sgt. Torri Ingalsbe
Air Force Public Affairs Agency, Operating Location - P

7/30/2014 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- As the Air Force prepares for new challenges and opportunities of the coming decades, it faces sobering 21st-century realities: global centers of power have become more distributed and the terrorism threat more dispersed. Most importantly, the emerging environment is demonstrating a trend that could prove to be the defining one of current times: the accelerating pace of change.

Thus, the Air Force's ability to continue to adapt and respond faster than the potential adversaries is the greatest challenge it faces during the next 30 years.

To meet the challenge, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III have developed a strategic framework that will guide Air Force planning and resourcing over the next several decades. The framework has three main elements: a long-term future look that provides the vectors and imperatives necessary to guide planning activities, a 20-year resource-informed plan, and a 10-year balanced budget, based on fiscal projections.

The first document of the trilogy, "America's Air Force: A Call to the Future," is the cornerstone guidance for a unified path to the future. The document emphasizes the need for strategy-driven resource decisions. But more important is the courage to make bold change, because Airmen must think and do things differently to thrive in the 21st century.

In an era defined by rapid change, the institution that can keep pace in its processes, thinking, and actions will be the one best poised for success in deterring conflict, and winning should a fight be required. This is what "A Call to the Future" refers to as strategic agility.

Agility combines the attributes of flexibility and adaptability to leverage speed. The rate at which the Air Force develops capabilities needs to increase to match the pace of change and the opportunities to incorporate new technologies and improve existing systems.

James explained further that, "In addition to strategic agility, our nation demands an Air Force capable of harnessing diverse ideas and perspectives. Diversity, total force integration, and building internal and external partnerships provide the nation with the Air Force it expects, deserves, and needs."

The most important responsibility of a military service is to provide decision makers with viable solutions for the challenges of tomorrow and, true to Air Force heritage, it will meet that challenge. The Air Force will continue to deliver enduring, responsive airpower for national security through both the strength of Airmen and the responsive and effective application of global vigilance, global reach, and global power for America.

As Welsh stated earlier in 2014, "The five core missions of the Air Force are not going to change. These missions are what the combatant commanders and the nation expect us to provide, but the way we think about how they are provided has to change. The Air Force must have the strategic agility required to successfully respond to the complex challenges that will confront our nation."

CMSAF Cody visits Peterson Airmen

by Airman 1st Class Rose Gudex
21st Space Wing Public Affairs Office

7/30/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody and his wife Athena paid a visit to Peterson Airmen July 23-25.

During his visit, Cody, the Air Force's senior enlisted leader, toured the base, visited with and thanked the Airmen working hard to support the mission here, hosted two Airmen's Calls, and discussed the challenges and rewards of being in the Air Force today.

A top priority over the last year and a half for Cody has been the Enlisted Evaluation System. He said the most important part has already been unveiled, the Airman Comprehensive Assessment, which will help Airmen reach their full potential by getting proper feedback.

"The goal here will be to, over the next 18 months, completely have the new Enlisted Evaluation System with some impact on enlisted promotions phased in," Cody explained.

Beyond that, one of the biggest challenges facing Airmen today is the anxiety created from uncertainty about the future from a career standpoint.

"I think what we have to continue to be aware of, and be vigilant to not let happen, is that (uncertainty) overwhelms us to the point that we forget that we have a mission to do every day," Cody said.

Cody acknowledged and repeatedly praised the efforts put in by the Airmen here, including the impact Air Force Space Command has on the Air Force.

"Air Force Space Command is an incredible capability for our nation," he said. "(It's) critically linked to virtually every mission set that we have when you think about how it's connected, as well as how it supports all the other services."

After traveling around the world, Cody, who will celebrate 30 years in the Air Force this coming November, said he has seen parts of the service he never knew existed and realized how much is going on in the Air Force.

"It's all about the people. Just the time we've spent here at Peterson over the last couple days, the pride the men and women have in what they do and how really exceptionally good they are at doing it. That has probably been the most memorable part."

Part of what makes being an Airman so great is loving what you do, and the chief master sergeant of the Air Force is no different than any other Airman.

"If you are happy to do what you do every day and you know it is valued by people every day, it inspires you and motivates you to keep doing it," Cody said. "The Airmen that continue to raise their right hand, the families that support them to defend our nation, that's why you do it."

Cody spent time talking to many Airmen and getting to know them, remembering their names and stories and recounting them throughout the day.

"If that (these stories) doesn't make you think about what it means to be a part of this team and the type of people that come forward to serve, then you're just not paying attention," he said.

18th AF commander shares mission and vision with Fairchild Airmen

by Senior Airman Mary O'Dell
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

7/29/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Lt. Gen. Carlton Everhart II, 18th Air Force commander, came to Fairchild to preside over the 92nd Air Refueling Wing Change of Command ceremony July 25, 2014. During his quick visit, Everhart toured Memorial Grove, a site dedicated to Fairchild men and women who have lost their lives while serving their country, as well as visited with Fairchild leaders and their families during a pre-ceremony reception.

Everhart also took some time to answer questions about important topics affecting 18th AF and Fairchild Airmen.

Q: How do total force integration units, like Fairchild, strengthen 18th Air Force's mission capabilities?
A: "I am a big fan of total force integration because it gives us flexibility to support our nation's needs and it gives us opportunities to build relationships. In our Air Reserve Component and reserve wings, there is so much vast experience that our young crew force can benefit from."

Q: How do you feel the KC-135 and KC-46 will work alongside each other over the years as the KC-135 is slowly brought to retirement?
A: "The good news is the KC-135 will be here for a while, and that experience base as we bring on the KC-46 will be vital as we develop that aircraft and its capabilities. I believe they will complement and support each other for years to come. Both are capable of air mobility, and we rely on our tanker force. I know as we go forward and execute the needs of our nation, they will be the perfect team, together, to get things done."

Q: How will force shaping impact the 18th AF mission moving forward and what do you recommend to Airmen and their families going through that process?
A: "I recommend that Airmen ask their supervisors and commanders about the initiatives involving force shaping so that they fully understand the purpose of force shaping and can educate their families. As we draw down and these initiatives take effect, I'm going to start relying on our Airmen to think of innovative ways to do things. It's true, we are going to get smaller, but I also believe we are going to get better."

Q: What advice can you provide to family members as the deployment tempo continues to change?
A: "First of all, I ask they be patient. Deployments are going to ramp up, deployments are going to subside. We have to understand current events and be prepared. That's what we do as a nation, and that's what makes our military so strong. Our Airmen support this mindset and understand the rules, and we need to give them credit and educate them along the way to make sure they are prepared."

Q: Spokane was recently awarded the Abilene Trophy for best community support in AMC. How important is that community support to the warfighter and how does it impact the mission?
A: "It always impacts the mission in a positive light, and this community is a perfect example of that. One of the first things we talk about when I visit various bases is how well the community supports the base. It's a fact that the base is a part of that community's heartbeat and the base is a representation of the state they are in. Community relationships are vital because they provide good welfare for our Airmen."

Q: In your 30 years of service, what have you learned that you would like to pass on to Airmen?
A: "You need to be the best that you can be and bloom where you are planted. Do your job and do it well, and you will be recognized. I believe in our Airmen, with a big A, across the entire spectrum to go out and get the mission done."

Everhart assumed command of 18th Air Force June 20. In this position, he is responsible for the command's worldwide operational mission of providing rapid, global mobility and sustainment for America's armed forces. With more than 37,000 active-duty Airmen, Guardsmen, Reservists and civilians and approximately 1,100 aircraft, 18th AF manages global air mobility through the 618th Air and Space Operations Center, 11 wings and two stand-alone airlift groups.

ANG's Outstanding Senior NCO of the Year: Master Sgt. Joseph Ashwood

by Senior Airman John Hillier
Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs

7/30/2014 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- Leaving behind a legacy of service for the next generation is what drives
Master Sgt. Joseph G. Ashwood, the Air National Guard Outstanding Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the Year.

Ashwood is a remotely piloted aircraft sensor operator assigned to the 111th Reconnaissance Squadron at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, Texas, who was selected for his leadership and commitment to training his wingmen to accomplish their missions.

Ashwood enlisted in the Air Force as a fuel systems apprentice at the age of 17, taking up a family tradition of military service. His grandfather fought in WWII, and his father and several uncles served in Vietnam. After seven years of active-duty service, he joined the Texas Air National Guard in 2003.

"I don't like to be in the spotlight," said Ashwood. "When people tell me how much they appreciate my service, it's a little overwhelming for me. Being named an Outstanding Airman of the Year is a big honor for me, although I'd like to be at work doing my job, I realize that I have a story that could resonate with others who decide they want to serve their country."

A deployment to Slovakia showed Ashwood how fortunate he is to be an American, and how powerful an individual Airman can be.

"We were the first Air Force unit to deploy to Slovakia and use their ranges," said Ashwood. "The conditions they were dealing with because of the country's economic situation left them without up-to-date equipment, and they weren't necessarily able to fly the aircraft they had. But they still were very enthusiastic about their service. They still were willing to do everything they could to serve their country. The individual Airman's attitude plays a huge part of what we're able to do as an Air Force. But you decide how enthusiastically you're going to serve your country."

Ashwood does not have to look far to find motivation to excel.

"What really inspires me is my wife and kids," Ashwood said. "Everything I do is with them in mind. At the most basic level, I want to make sure I do something my kids will be proud of...I want to be sure to show a good example of how to live your life and be a good person."

After finishing his bachelor's degree, Ashwood began home brewing beer as a way to unwind from work and find quiet personal time.

"I started [home brewing] to have a nice way to decompress," said Ashwood. "Another person at work did it, and I felt I could jump into it easily. It provides me with a level of accomplishment - I can say 'I made this.' It's been a good outlet for me."

Whether it's coordinating troop-in-contact events, training the next generation of sensor operators or passing along life lessons to his children, Ashwood's drive to succeed contributed to his selection as ANG Outstanding Senior NCO of the Year.

"I want to be successful at whatever I do," he said. "I want to be a good role model to my kids, a good husband to my wife. Whatever it is I do, I just want to do it to the fullest."

AMC's Enterprise Learning Office recognized for research on preparing Airmen for future

by Roger Drinnon
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

7/30/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- 
As Air Mobility Command transforms the air mobility enterprise into a modernized learning organization, the command's lead office for developing Airmen has received international recognition for training-cost research.
AMC's Enterprise Learning Office (ELO) received the Best Paper Award in Business and the Art of Cost Estimating Track category from the International Cost Estimating and Analysis Association following a presentation in Denver, CO. The Business and the Art of Cost Estimating Track focuses on creative and integrated approaches to address industry's most relevant cost-estimating challenges. For AMC, such challenges include maintaining mission readiness in a resource-constrained environment.
 "These analyses are part of our holistic approach to learning transformation," said Dr. Darcy Lilley, Chief Learning Officer for AMC's ELO. "It's imperative we use the most cost-effective approach to develop Airmen who are self-directed, lifelong learners, ready to meet tomorrow's challenges to accomplish the command's global mission."
ELO collaborated with ICF International, a joint partner under the National Technical Information Service, Department of Commerce.  Dr. Lilley and Mr. Kevin Cincotta, Cost Estimating and Analysis Practice Lead at ICF International, delivered the award-winning presentation and paper entitled, "A Comprehensive Cost Element Structure and Benefit Case Analyses Approach for Lifelong Learning." The presentation and paper examined the costs and expected benefits of various learning initiatives the ELO is sponsoring. The learning initiatives include:
            - AMC Training on the Fly - An initiative to make training readily accessible for Mobility Airmen via a video format like YouTube.
            - Mobile Device Strategy and Proof of Concept - Mobile learning is a game-changing strategy which can act as a mission effectiveness multiplier by harnessing capability-tailored applications and mobile infrastructure to support innovative solutions to operational needs. The USAF Expeditionary Center is conducting a proof-of-concept with the Contingency Response War Planning Course, expecting to save resources and increase learning. 
            - The Critical Thinking Toolkit - A program to enhance decision-making skills or strategies that contribute to disciplined thought processes and accuracy of understanding.
"It's an honor to have our efforts recognized this way," said Mr. Cincotta,  "but it's just a first step in an ELO-ICF partnership that aims not only to transform learning at AMC, but also to set the standard for how to do services-related BCAs in the cost-estimating community."
Preparing Mobility Airmen for the future via high quality training and development using adult learning principles remains a command priority, as AMC leadership facilitates the intellectual potential and innovative spirit inherent in each Airman.
"Access to high quality blended learning gives our Airmen the tools they need to forge the future of our nation's unmatched Rapid Global Mobility." said Gen. Darren McDew, AMC commander. "Measuring the costs and benefits of learning initiatives across AMC gives us critical insight and the ability to minimize cost, leverage existing resources, and make the most effective use of our Airmen's time."
ICEAA is a nonprofit organization with more than 2,000 members promoting the profession of cost-estimating and analysis. The organization is represented by more than 20 chapters, nationwide, and international affiliates in Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom.

Hospital Corps Recognized by VFW for its Achievement as a Force Multiplier

By Chantel Furbert, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

ST. LOUIS (NNS) -- The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) awarded Navy Medicine's Hospital Corps the Armed Forces Award at its national convention in St. Louis, July 21.

Force Master Chief Sherman Boss, U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery's force master chief and director of the U.S Navy Hospital Corps, accepted the award on behalf of the Hospital Corps.

As the leader of all corpsmen, the VFW addressed him as the "Top Doc" of the single most decorated enlisted corps in the United States Navy.

"I was pleased, honored, and humbled to accept the award on behalf of the 27,000 hospital corpsmen who serve today and the countless who have worn the cloth of our nation over the past 116 years," said Boss.

The award recognizes national security achievements by military personnel, active or retired, or organizations that demonstrate the highest traditions of service to the armed forces and the nation.

"There is no argument of their valor from the many in this room who owe their lives to a hospital corpsman who accomplished his or her mission," said Bill Thien, Vietnam veteran and presenter of the award. "I commend all corpsmen for their unwavering dedication to upholding their motto 'Semper Fortis'- for always courageous."

The Hospital Corps is the largest, most diverse rating in the Navy, consisting of 38 different occupational specialties. Throughout their history of service, Hospital Corpsmen (HM) have become the most decorated group of enlisted men and women, achieving 22 Medals of Honor, 174 Navy Crosses, 31 Navy Distinguished Service Medals, 948 Silver Stars, innumerable Purple Hearts, and 22 ships commissioned in their honor.

"Today's corpsman is better trained, educated, and equipped than ever before," Boss said. "The success and freedoms we enjoy as a nation, and as Sailors, is due largely to our people and their ability."

During the awards presentation VFW officials stressed the significance of the Hospital Corps presence on overseas missions and battlefields, specifically noting their remarkable influence in Grenada, Panama, Desert Storm, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, and in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Battle mortality and non-battle injury rates are at an unprecedented low in the history of armed conflict," Boss said, "However, corpsmen represent nearly half of all Sailors wounded and one third of all Sailors killed in Iraq and Afghanistan."

When off the battlefield, corpsmen serve in medical treatment facilities worldwide - at sea, under the sea, and in the air - and accompany the VFW in their search for POW/MIA. Recovery teams travel all over the globe in their ongoing effort to bring home the more than 80,000 American servicemen listed as missing or unaccounted-for from our nation's wars.

Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

McChord pilot continues to inspire Airmen

by Airman 1st Class Jacob Jimenez
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

7/29/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- In 2009, a young Air Force lieutenant in pilot training thought his dreams of flying in the Air Force were crushed following a recreational boating accident that resulted in the loss of his right leg.

Despite the accident, Capt. Ryan McGuire, now a 4th Airlift Squadron pilot, became the first Airman to complete Air Force pilot training after losing a leg. He has since become a motivational speaker to Airmen.

The boating accident took place when McGuire was in pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. The boat McGuire was on was towing a float with a rope. The rope wrapped around McGuire's leg, fracturing his pelvis, dislocating his hip and cutting off the blood circulation to his leg.

Six weeks following the incident, McGuire's leg was amputated.

"The days leading up to the amputation were overwhelming and depressing," said McGuire. "The amputation was miserable. I was at the lowest of low."

McGuire said his depression was compounded by the fact that he probably would not be allowed to fulfill his dream of completing pilot training in the Air Force. However, when he began his rehabilitation program, McGuire began to realize his situation might not have been as dire as he thought it was.

After his surgery, McGuire was waiting for a physical therapy appointment and was asked by a Soldier when he had lost his leg.

"Last week," McGuire responded.

Conversing with what seemed like to McGuire any other Soldier, McGuire said he was surprised when the Soldier told him he had also lost his leg the previous year.

"Seeing him in uniform walking perfectly normal made me realize that being an amputee doesn't define me," said McGuire.

In addition to his rehabilitation, McGuire said the support system of his family, friends and Air Force wingmen was a key part of his recovery.

"From my wing commander to my flight commander, they supported my family and me throughout my recovery," said McGuire.

In addition to the challenge of recovering from his injury, McGuire faced the possibility of being medically discharged from the Air Force. Having wanted to fly since the age of five and entering the Air Force academy with expectations of becoming a pilot, he said the thought of losing the opportunity to fly was devastating.

In order to stay in the Air Force and fly, McGuire had to go before a formal medical evaluation review board to prove he was able to continue pilot training. To get a waiver to fly, McGuire had to show the Air Force he could still do everything that would be required of him as an Air Force pilot.

Faced with what looked to him like impossible odds, McGuire said with the help of his rehabilitation and the support of his Air Force family, he was able to effectively present his case and receive a waiver to continue flying.

"My squadron supported my decision to stay in the Air Force and assisted me in the process of getting a waiver to fly again," said McGuire. "It didn't matter that I was a lieutenant. They were going to support me no matter what."

In May 2011, McGuire completed his pilot training and by October of that same year, he finished C-17 Globemaster III qualification training. McGuire has since deployed and flown medical evacuation missions, but has also become known for his inspiring story of resilience.

"Most people don't even know that Ryan lost a leg during pilot training," said Lt. Col. Matt Anderson, 4th AS commander. "The fact that he doesn't talk about it is why his story of incredible resiliency and mental toughness is awesome. He just wants to be part of the team like everyone else."

McGuire has spoken to Airmen and civilians at numerous events to include Team McChord's Wingman Day in 2012, the Air Force Academy's National Character Leadership Symposium in 2013 and more recently at the 305th Air Mobility Wing's Mission Focus Day at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.

"He has represented Team McChord by speaking at these large venues across the country about resiliency, sacrifice and selfless service, each time leaving the stage with a standing ovation," said Anderson. "Ryan's positive attitude, incredible work ethic and desire to be part of something bigger than himself make him an incredible officer and inspiration to others."

McGuire said he is passionate about speaking at various events to give back to the Air Force and help others overcome diversities.

"The Air Force has given me the opportunity to excel and overcome this injury," said McGuire. "I hope to show others that they too can overcome an injury or a setback like I did. I want them to know that the Air Force takes care of its people and will provide them with the tools and resources to overcome."

Since arriving here, McGuire says he has received the same treatment as everyone else and that he has never been singled out or mistreated for being an amputee.

"If you are facing diversity, you have a support system in the Air Force," said McGuire. "It will never be too much for the Air Force to help you get to the other side. No other job in the world gives the support that the Air Force does."

McGuire encourages other Airmen facing similar challenges not to lose hope.

"Never take no for an answer, keep pushing forward and the Air Force will have your back," he said. "For every challenge, there always has to be a first to overcome it. In my case I was that first. You can be a first too."

Airmen get inside look at military judicial system

by Delanie Stafford
55th Wing Public Affairs

7/30/2014 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- "Members, today you're going to hear about a sexual assault...that was committed against the the accused, her friend."

Those words are part of a prosecutor's opening statement newly assigned airmen to Offutt AFB will hear as part of a 'mock trial' program started in June to raise awareness about sexual assault in the military.

Members of the 55th Wing legal office modeled the program after a similar platform used at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, titled 'Got Consent,' which promotes sexual assault prevention through education and awareness.

"We took what Spangdahlem's legal office started and we took it a step further," said U. S. Air Force Capt. Dave Rolek, 55th Wing assistant staff judge advocate and coordinator for the program. "We made it a realistic court room experience for them."

Students attending orientation training through Offutt's First Term Airmen's Center now actively participate in the mock court-martials as part of their training.

The court-martials, which take place inside Offutt's courtroom, simulate an Airman being accused of violating Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, a charge for sexual assault crimes. Throughout the trial, Airmen experience firsthand what it's like to go through a court-martial, to include cross examinations, expert witness testimony and panel (jury) deliberations.

"It was the first time I had ever been in a court martial," said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mychal Allen, 55th Maintenance Squadron, who attended the first mock trial on June 9. "I learned a lot of things that you wouldn't know just by sitting in a classroom; actually going through a court-martial, seeing all of the different evidence that's brought up, and being cross examined. It makes you question a lot of things that you probably wouldn't have questioned."

Rolek said the scenario for the mock trial included the use of alcohol, which is frequently present in sexual assault cases. The degree of impairment is often an area of dispute during a sexual assault trial.

"An airman goes out drinking, and something happens when they come back home, and they're not really sure if it was sexual assault or consensual the next day, so we really wanted to put that on display for the young Airmen," Rolek said.

After hearing all of the testimony, Airmen are given 30 minutes of deliberation to discuss the court-martial before settling on a verdict.

"They really get in to it - going back and forth about what the definitions meant, what evidence they wanted to see, and whether or not it was sexual assault," Rolek said. "We really feel that it gets through to them."

In the end, determining whether the accused is guilty or not guilty can be difficult.

"I did not feel bad about saying not guilty," said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Justin Pearson, 55th Force Support Squadron. "I like dealing with absolutes... my opinion was altered after they said you cannot incriminate somebody if there's reasonable doubt."

So far, the legal office has conducted three mock trials for 71 first-term airmen. Rolek said their office decided to make some changes to the mock trials after receiving feedback from the first two.

"Students really wanted to see more evidence," Rolek said. "They wanted expert knowledge on how victims respond, how alcohol specifically affects people, and they wanted friends to verify the victim's story. They were really thinking critically about it."

In response, the mock trial was expanded to include testimonies from mental health and alcohol experts, an Office of Special Investigations agent, DNA evidence, and the accused's testimony by means of a previously written statement.

"We believe that these additions strengthen the experience for FTAC students by providing them with a very realistic exposure to what an actual court-martial can look like," said U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt. Ryan Crnkovich, legal intern who works with Rolek and who helps organize the mock trials.

Rolek hopes Airmen who attend the mock trial will walk away with a better understanding of the military justice system and a more responsible mindset.

"[Sexual activity] is something that should be done sober and for sure with consent, and hopefully we got that message across," Rolek said.

US Navy, JMSDF VBSS Teams Build Unity Aboard McCain during Malabar 2014

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Archer Alonzo, USS John S. McCain Public Affairs

EAST CHINA SEA (NNS) -- The Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) was the stage for a compliant boarding exercise involving visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) teams from U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), July 27, as part of exercise Malabar 2014.

"Every boarding event comes with risk," said John S. McCain's Commanding Officer Cmdr. Chase Sargeant. "In a real world boarding, Sailors would be going into the unknown, whether compliant or non-complaint, inspecting for illegal drugs, weapons, and human trafficking."

This is a skill we need to hone. I believe it is the nature of the Navy to be prepared for anything and today's exercise helped keep our team sharp."

The exercise began with JMSDF sailors from the Japanese ship Ashigara (DDG 178) boarding John S. McCain which was already engaged in the scenario. The team leader, JMSDF Lt. j.g. Rikiya Akahane, climbed the pilot's ladder from a small craft, immediately drew his weapon and scanned for contacts before signaling his team members to come aboard.

Once the entire Japanese VBSS team had successfully made it aboard and set up a perimeter around the boat deck, they met up with Lt. j.g. Joseph Travers and the U.S. Navy VBSS team.

"The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force boarders were fantastic," said Travers, leader of the John S. McCain VBSS team. "There was a bit of a language barrier, but our collective understanding of close quarter combat vastly outweighed it.

The combined forces split into two teams. Team one began the accent to the pilothouse, where they would question a simulated captain and review the ship's logs, while team two made its way through the rest of the ship, checking for hostile contacts.

After team one's inspection of the ship's logs and interview of the captain, they returned to the boat deck, which team two had secured in preparation for their arrival.

Both teams then separated back into full U.S. Navy and JMSDF teams as the small craft returned alongside John S. McCain to retrieve the sailors and return to the Ashigara.

Still fully immersed in the exercise, Akahane prepared to depart the U.S. Navy destroyer and knelt in front of the pilot's ladder that descended into his team's boat with his weapon drawn, remaining vigilant.

Finally, Akahane holstered his weapon and shared a gracious farewell handshake with Travers.

"Thank you very much for inviting us to conduct this training," said Akahane. "This was a great experience for me, and also my team. I look forward to similar operations in the future."

"Today's exercise has expanded my already tremendous confidence in the ability of not only my own VBSS team, but also that of the JMSDF," said Sargeant.

The oceans remain the most vital component to global commerce. Conducting maritime interdiction and sanction enforcement using VBSS teams as the main element is a crucial part of the U.S. 7th Fleet's mission of supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

"The day's operations were a success, not only for the United States Navy, but our friends and allies, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force," said Sargeant.

Malabar 2014 is a U.S. Navy, Indian navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force trilateral naval field training exercise aimed to improve our collective maritime relationship and increase understanding in multinational operations.