Military News

Monday, August 04, 2014

Ohio Guardsmen Help With Toledo Water System Crisis



From an Ohio National Guard News Release

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Aug. 4, 2014 – In response to a state of emergency declared in Lucas County and the greater Toledo area, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has ordered a contingent of the Ohio National Guard to state active duty.

A harmful algae bloom has affected the Toledo public water system, and city officials have issued a “do not drink” notice in the affected areas.

Early reports are that about 400,000 people in and around Ohio’s fourth-largest city are affected. National Guard Bureau officials said 329 Guard members are involved in the response.

Ohio National Guard members are deploying to support residents in Lucas, Wood and Fulton counties. They will deliver water purification systems, pallets of bottled water and packaged meals.

“Our soldiers and airmen are highly trained and ready to respond,” said Army Maj. Gen. Deborah A. Ashenhurst, Ohio adjutant general. “We have specialized equipment and stockpiles of supplies that can bring some relief to the area.”

Soldiers and airmen from the Ohio National Guard’s 371st Task Force are providing the personnel for the mission.

The Ohio National Guard headquarters has activated its Crisis Action Team and Joint Planning Group, consisting of both Air National Guard and Army National Guard members, to manage response efforts.

Airmen turn C-130 into mobile ER

by Senior Airman Hailey Haux
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/4/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- A C-130J Super Hercules was converted into a flying critical care unit in mid-air after leaving Ramstein on a real-world mission July 26, 2014.

"There is no other capability like this in the Air Force," said Maj. Jennifer Jamison Gines, 86th Medical Squadron acute care nurse practitioner. "We had a team of people come up with this arrangement. We literally practiced with Lego pieces to visually develop the complicated special limitations."

Every inch of the C-130 was configured with the same amount of medical supplies that would normally be used on a C-17.

Airmen from the 86th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron along with two teams from the 86th Medical Squadron worked together through low-light conditions and turbulence to complete the set up in approximately three hours.

"We set up two surgery tables with patient-monitoring equipment and several other litters," said Master Sgt. Jose Ariaspatino, 86th MDS Surgical Services Flight chief. "We also set up several side-wall litters designed to get our bags off the ground and easily accessible."

Airmen from Ramstein had all the equipment necessary to perform surgery on the aircraft if needed.

"It's not every day that you get to see something like that happen," said Senior Airman Christian McDevitt, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "It is remarkable that we have the capability to do such things."

POL: Refueling round-the-clock

by Gina Randall
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


8/4/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- When many people are getting up for work, having rested at home, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron Petroleum, Oils and Lubricants Airmen are heading home after working the night shift. Rather than sleeping at night, they have been keeping planes in the air by providing fuel round-the-clock.

Whether it's blisteringly hot or freezing cold on the exposed flight line, these Airmen carry on getting the mission done.

One such Airman is U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Adam Geffre, 100th LRS Fuels distribution operator from Phoenix, Arizona.

His role is vital to RAF Mildenhall and its mission. Without him providing fuel, pilots wouldn't be able to fly, and vehicle operators wouldn't be able to drive.

In the dark of night, Geffre issues fuel to all aircraft and many government vehicles that come to RAF Mildenhall. Many people would find working the night shift a chore, something they do because they have to, but not Geffre. For this young Airman, it's the people who make a job worthwhile, and he is learning a great deal from his wingmen.

"The things that I enjoy most about my job are the fellow Airmen I work with and the various types of aircraft that I get to work so closely alongside," Geffre said.

He soaks up as much knowledge as his fellow shift workers give him, and these practical skills are vital in order to get a potentially dangerous job done, not only during daylight hours while surrounded by a full team, but for Geffre, working in dark hours with a skeleton team of service members.

Fuel can be a hazard, and Geffre has been trained to deal with such challenges.

"The main challenges of my job are to know the full extent of what has to be done on an operation and always keeping safety the main priority because of the hazards that come with dealing with fuel," the fuels distribution operator said.

The fuel is dealt with by a team, and Geffre learns from many people to broaden his knowledge.

"I work mostly with the crew chiefs and aircrew since I issue fuel to their aircraft. That is aside from working with fellow operators to complete a refueling operation," the Airman explained.

It's the diversity in the groups of people he works with that have made this assignment what it is for Geffre. Not only has he worked with the Air Force, being overseas has provided him the opportunity to develop international skills that will serve him well for the rest of his career and further.

"The most I've gotten out of my time so far at RAF Mildenhall is learning to work with other countries and governments. Due to being overseas we get many transient aircraft from other countries and being able to work hand-in-hand with the crew that come with them and seeing how they do things compared to our ways," Geffre reflected.

He is still very much focused on giving his all to each and every day serving his country while stationed on RAF Mildenhall, but he has hopes for the future, and his career.

"My goals are to continue learning the ins and outs of POL, receive my masters degree, and eventually become a commissioned officer and lead my own flight," he said.

Geffre chose carefully when selecting his career field, and he advises others to do the same as they embark on not only a job, but a way of life.

"I would tell people to do their research," advised Geffre. "Find the career fields that interest them the most and then find out as much as they can about those jobs."

Airman stands among the elite as Outstanding Airman of the Year

by Senior Airman Timothy Moore
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/4/2014 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- With more than 400,000 enlisted active duty, Reserve and Guard Airmen, few get to tout the distinction of being honored as an Outstanding Airman of the Year.

Senior Airman Shabree Heasell, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, accomplished that honor this year while stationed here as an imagery analyst with the 603rd Air and Space Operations Center. Though, before she was put up for the award, she had not even heard of it.

"It's really exciting, but I guess it hasn't hit me yet," Heasell said. "Everyone keeps telling me how big of an accomplishment it is. My supervisor says it probably won't hit me until I go to the ceremony in September and see the big picture of what it is. Right now, I'm just trying to stay humble and do my job every day."

The OAY program was established at the Air Force Association's Tenth Annual National Convention in New Orleans in 1956. Outstanding enlisted members representing each major Air Force command and operating agency were invited to the convention as a means to highlight an Air Force military manpower crisis. Initially meant to be a one-time event, the program was so well received that it has continued as a way to recognize top performers.

The award recognizes Airmen for superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements.

Some of Heasell's highlights include developing secret service primary and alternate routes, which secured the visits of not only President Obama but also 223 other personnel; resolving 82 errors after being requested by her group commander to scrutinize more than 1,000 civilian timecards; co-authoring a new career field education and training plan, which aided in standardizing two Air Force specialty codes among other things.

"I love imagery more than anything I've ever done before," Heasell said. "I think I'm just really fortunate that I have a job that I love, which makes it really easy for me to do."

Heasell's enthusiasm is not just limited to her job. She also spends quite a bit of time volunteering.

"I think it's important to do stuff you are passionate about," Heasell said. "It's not about going to get a couple of hours, but to go do something you really want to do."

One of the things Heasell is passionate about is victim advocacy. Her passion has led her to spend more than 280 hours on-call and personally advised three victims as an advocate, but her energy isn't limited only to her passions.

"Whenever my supervisors or my chain of command would tell me about an opportunity and ask me if I was interested, I would never say no," she said. "If there was something that was important to them, I would always try to do it."

Behaving as such, Heasell volunteered 250 hours at 41 events with 12 organizations in the Kaiserslautern Military Community.

She counts taking over as the co-chair for the Ramstein Officer's Spouse Club Bazaar committee among one of her greatest. According to Heasell, the previous chair asked her to take over as he had seen leadership qualities in her during previous volunteer events. She rallied more than 200 volunteers to raise $6,500 for the Air Force Ball, for which she also served as a chairman.

Heasell's accomplishments didn't end there. She finished a Community College of the Air Force degree in Intelligence Studies well ahead of the nine-year staff sergeant average rate of completion. She also completed two classes toward a master degree, having come into the Air Force with her bachelor's degree already. Additionally, Heasell completed and was certified on the Collateral Damage Estimate course, a qualification only eight percent of the Air Force intelligence community holds.

"I really have to give the credit to my leadership," Heasell said. "If I had to give someone advice on how to do this, it would be, 'Listen to your senior NCOs.' I was constantly asking my supervisors what was expected of me, how I am supposed to act, what would make you happy and what about my job do I really need to be good at. They just mentored me like crazy, and I would try to incorporate their experiences in my life.

"I'm always trying to be the best version of myself," Heasell continued. "I compete with myself the most, but it is the dedication of my leadership and the people around me that have helped me get to where I am today. You don't get awards or recognition by yourself."

President Obama visits 166th Airlift Wing in DE



by Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Matwey
166th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/3/2014 - NEW CASTLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Del. -- President Barack Obama came to the Delaware Air National Guard's 166th Airlift Wing here aboard Air Force One July 17 en route to the Port of Wilmington to announce a new initiative to increase private sector investment in our nation's infrastructure.

Arriving with the president were Sen. Chris Coons and U.S. Rep. John C. Carney Jr.

Tech. Sgt. Jim Burns, a crew chief in the 166th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron was the first Airman to approach Air Force One after landing. Burns placed chocks under the front wheel of the Boeing 757 aircraft.

"As easy as it is, you do not want to make the slightest error," said Burns. "My job was to chalk the aircraft to make sure it is stabilized, and then signal to the White House communications staff to give the all clear so they could connect two hard land lines to Air Force One."

President Obama was greeted by Delaware National Guard Assistant Adjutant General for Air Brig. Gen. Carol A. Timmons, 166th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Michael J. Feeley, Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden and his wife Hallie Biden, City of New Castle Mayor Donald A. Reese and New Castle County Executive Thomas P. Gordon.

Next, a crowd of a several dozen Airmen and Soldiers of the Delaware National Guard and additional invited civilian guests were able to meet the president up close. This was the first time that a group of unit Airmen has had the chance to meet a president at New Castle Air National Guard Base in seven-and-a-half-years since President George W. Bush visited Jan. 24, 2007.

It was the first opportunity for many of the people present to meet any president, including several Airmen who shook hands with President Obama.

"It was definitely a big experience that you only see on TV," said Tech. Sgt. Joel Miller, 166th Maintenance Squadron. "He's the commander in chief, and it was definitely a monumental experience."

Miller said President Obama thanked him for his service, and that Miller replied, "Thank you, Mr. President."

Senior Airman Tabitha Parag, 166th Maintenance Operations Flight, described her experience.

"It makes you feel pride and patriotism," said Parag. "All of that comes over you when you get to meet a president face-to-face."

Parag attended the 2009 and 2013 inaugurations of President Obama in Washington, D.C., while on an inauguration duty detail with the Delaware National Guard.

Nearby Airman including 2nd Lt. Valerie Harwood, 166th Airlift Wing, plus a civilian guest and the president laughed as they talked about his flight. Harwood thanked the president for coming and taking the time to meet them.

The president had similar words with other troops, telling them that he appreciate their service thanked them for what they do, exchanged in pleasantries and smiled with people. One guest who had met the president before was the Rev. Christopher Bullock, New Castle County Council president. The two enjoyed a brief talk about their prior meeting.

After receiving official notice of the visit a week ahead of time, preparations began during the July 12-13 Unit Training Assembly, and the wing did not lose a beat as it kicked into high gear to host the president.

According to Maj. Corey Walters, wing executive officer, practically each shop was tasked for some level of support, or their Airmen were individually tasked to assist other shops.

"Everybody came together," said Walters.

Senior Master Sgt. Mike Ceselsky, airfield management superintendent, 166th Operations Support Squadron, coordinated support from base units and various civilian agencies.

Ceselsky said the Wilmington Federal Aviation Administration Tower and Delaware River and Bay Authority Airport Operations were instrumental in making the presidential visit run smoothly, and that Dover Air Force Base provided the backup stair truck and two Airmen.

The 166th Communications Flight ensured communication support before and during the visit, with Master Sgt. Robert White and Staff Sgt. Scott Husler filling that role.

Airmen from the Small Air Terminal, 166th Logistics Readiness Squadron, operated stair trucks for the president, White House staff, and other personnel to deplane and board. Master Sgt. Jeff Coale and Tech. Sgt. Henry Young performed this duty, with Tech. Sgt. Angela Giroud assisting. Other LRS Airmen from motor vehicle operations and maintenance assisted in various support roles, including Master Sgt. James Mailley, 166th LRS, who built stairs for the raised press box.

166th Security Forces Squadron defenders performed additional perimeter checks and other force protection duties before and during the president's visit.

Five members of the 166th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight searched vehicles, equipment and materials on scene as a precautionary measure, and 166th CES provided grounds maintenance and base clean up.

The 166th CES base fire department was on hand to assist in any emergency, with Master Sgt. Martin Krasavage, Master Sgt. Clifford Snyder and Tech. Sgt. Christopher Castner leading the detail. The wing received additional equipment from the 175th Wing, Maryland ANG at Martin State Airport, Maryland. and the 436th Airlift Wing at Dover Air Force Base, with each unit providing a Striker P-19 fire fighting vehicle. The 436th also provided assistance from their fire chief, base civil engineer and LRS commander.

The Wilmington Manor Fire Company and New Castle County Emergency Management Services paramedics also provided people and equipment.

The 153rd Military Police Company, Delaware Army National Guard, helped with force protection by providing several Soldiers and Humvees.

Civilian police agency support for the presidential mission came from DRBA Police, Delaware State Police, New Castle County Police and City of Wilmington Police.

A number of Airmen were called to assist the wing Airman and Family Readiness office by arranging holding areas for the press, escorts, visitors and distinguished visitors and by assisting personnel with their needs.

"I had a great team of supportive Airman to help execute our tasks," said 1st Lt. Lauren Mease, A&FR program manager. "We put a lot of work into every detail of the process and knew what we were providing was very important because it would represent the Delaware Air National Guard to our guests."

This was President Obama's second visit to Delaware aboard Air Force One.

The president first came to the New Castle ANG Base aboard Air Force One Jan. 12, 2010, with First Lady Michelle Obama to attend the funeral of Vice President Joe Biden's mother in Wilmington.

Hagel Welcomes New Senior Leaders to Pentagon



By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 4, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel officially welcomed new members of his management team to the Pentagon today.

Hagel hosted a ceremony for Christine Wormuth as the undersecretary of defense for policy, Jessica Wright as undersecretary for personnel and readiness, Michael McCord as Defense Department comptroller, and Jamie Morin as the director of cost assessment and program evaluation.

Hagel noted that calling the event a “welcoming” ceremony is a bit of a misnomer, as all four have been in the Pentagon for years. Wright, for example, has been serving as acting undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness for 20 months. Her nomination was hung up in the Senate.

All four have assumed new roles and responsibilities that are among the highest and most challenging in the United States government, Hagel said.

“The Department of Defense is … undergoing a great transition,” the secretary said. “We are seeing a world in transformation, a world that is probably building a new world order.”

How this evolves depends in large part on American leadership, he said, adding that DoD is integral to peace and security as this new order evolves.

“To successfully navigate this time of uncertainty, we all must completely stay focused on building … a ready, agile, capable, modern force to defend against the full spectrum of threats and challenges that we face today and into the future,” Hagel said. “We will do that by investing in three pillars of our military: our people, our capabilities and our partnerships.”

Wormuth will help nurture the relationships the United States has with military allies and develop relations with new partners. McCord will provide the leadership on the financial side and will ensure new, affordable capabilities keep coming into the department. Wright will ensure DoD has the right mix of people, in the right positions, at the right time, the secretary said.

“DoD must meet the challenges, and probably as important as meeting the challenges is to seize the opportunities and not squander the opportunities,” Hagel said. “Sometimes those opportunities are hard to discern when we are faced with as many challenges as we are today. At this complicated and … dangerous time in the world, we need leaders who are steady, who are engaged, experienced, and forward-thinking.”

USO, Team RWB Partner to Inspire, Empower Veterans



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ESTES PARK, Colo., Aug. 4, 2014 – The benefits of the partnership between the USO and Team Red, White and Blue were on full display over the weekend as they brought together a confluence of leadership, empowerment and inspiration with a three-day rock-climbing camp 7,522 feet above sea level.

Andrew Hutchinson, a San Francisco-based Army veteran and director of camps and special programs for Team RWB, explained the goal of the camp.

“There are three things we really want them to leave with: knowledge, inspiration and empowerment,” he said. “On the knowledge side, we want them not only to learn a new sport, but also to learn some leadership.”

The goal, Hutchinson said, was for people to come to the camp and leave with the skills necessary to continue to rock climb on their own.

“They’ll have the knowledge to be able to find a rock gym and become a part of that,” he said. –Obviously, he added, the vveterans wouldn’t learn everything about rock climbing at the camp.

“But you hope that you can give them some tools --some things to think about -- so they can communicate more effectively,” he said. “We hope that this camp inspires the individuals to go back, and hopefully, pass what they’ve learned onto others.”

Hutchinson said he believes the camps inspire veterans and Team RWB members, helping them to realize they’re a part of “something good that they were kind of missing before.”

“Usually at these camps, immediately they find someone that was deployed to the same area when they were there, or in the same unit,” he said. “You see that kind of bonding occur right away.”

Another aim, he said, is for the camp participants to feel empowered to take control of their lives, their health and their reintegration. Hutchinson lauded the USO for its partnership and support in the Team RWB camps program.

“Last year, the USO was very generous,” he said. “Once they found out about Team Red, White and Blue and the different programs we have, they wanted to support us. They wanted to give us support for the camps program, so last year, they helped fund our trail-running camp and our yoga camp. They liked what they saw and how we were using the money. The camps were benefitting veterans and active duty members and civilians of Team RWB.”

This year, he said, the USO expressed interest in supporting the entire camps program, not just one or two.

“They’ve been generous and funded a large part of all seven of our camps this year,” Hutchinson said. “As we continue to grow, I think we’ll work more and more with the USO. They’ve been very supportive of our camps.”

Hutchinson said he expects the camp program to continue its growth.

“I think the camp program is one that’s going to continue to grow, and I think the camps kind of embody us as an organization,” he said, adding that he hopes to have 12 camps next year and more in years to come.

These community-based activities help to re-awaken some people who may no longer be in leadership positions in their everyday jobs, Hutchinson said.

“It gets you out of your comfort zone,” he added. “I think sometimes the most growth happens when you are outside of your comfort zone. Maybe not right in that moment, but when you conquer that fear, … I think it makes you a stronger person down the road, for sure.”

The rock-climbing camp’s participants were equally appreciative of the USO and Team RWB’s efforts to inspire, empower and teach them.

“It was a really awesome event -- something I wouldn’t have probably ventured out to do on my own necessarily,” said Jill Glasenapp, a 13-year Army veteran. “Something that now I’ve been exposed to, I’d totally do. So I think the purpose of the camp was met.”

Glasenapp said she felt “totally confident” after stepping outside the limits of her normal comfort zone.

“It makes you think out of the box, … especially when you talk about physical activities,” she said. “I had no idea how strenuous rock-climbing really is. And maybe it’s not supposed to be, but it is. I think it totally takes you outside of the box and gives you a lot of confidence to be able to some stuff you might not normally do on your own.”

The Manhattan, Kansas, native also shared her perspective on the USO-Team RWB partnership.

“I think it was the most amazing collaboration when you think about their mission statements,” Glasenapp said. “The USO is there to support our service members and their families. And then Team Red, White and Blue is there to support the veterans, so why not marry the two up to put on something that supports all those different realms?”

Team Red, White and Blue is not just for veterans, she added, but also is for family members and community members, so it’s a perfect relationship, especially for this kind of camp.

Kristyn Conner, one of those Team RWB members, said she felt “re-energized” by the camp and the opportunity to learn more about military culture.

“I don’t understand the military culture very much,” she said, “and that’s what RWB kind of brings to the table for me. It allows me to interact with people and understand where they’re coming from.”

As captain of Team RWB’s Tucson, Arizona, chapter, Conner said, she viewed the rock-climbing camp as an opportunity to “completely immerse” herself in learning.

“I hope to take all the leadership knowledge and skills that I learned back to my chapter and get everyone else back in Tucson amped up,” she said.

Conner faced her own adversity as she overcame her fear of heights to climb towering rock faces and even to undertake a Tyrolean traverse -- a method of crossing between two high points on a rope.

“I was up on that wall and my fear of heights took over,” she said. “But I think my belayer, J.J. Pinter, who’s the director of operations, said something that really rings true for me this weekend,” she said. “It’s ‘You can’t be brave until you’re afraid.’ So stepping out of your comfort zone -- if you don’t do it, you’re not going to develop, grow and progress as an individual.”

Speaking about the opportunity provided by the USO-Team RWB partnership, Conner expressed her gratitude for the union.

“I know I speak for everyone when I say how grateful we are for this partnership,” she said. “Stuff like this would probably not be happening at all, or [certainly] not on a regular basis, and this is what RWB is about. We are primarily a voluntary organization. They invest in people. And this is an investment in the people who are going to carry the organization forward, and it’s invaluable.”