Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Airmen guard honor of tradition

by Gina Randall
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

8/26/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- Traditions are a valued part of the Air Force and its history. Traditions must be passed down from generation to generation -- otherwise they may be lost forever.

Currently entrusted with teaching Airmen the Air Force traditions are honor guard trainers U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Michael Sternberg, 100th Civil Engineer Squadron pavement and construction equipment operator from Panhandle, Texas; U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. James Stay, 100th Logistics Readiness Squadron flight service center supervisor from Chicago, Illinois; U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Aaron Klarenbach, 352nd Special Operations Maintenance Squadron aerospace propulsion journeyman from Vancouver, Washington; and U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jesse Dunsmore, 100th Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman from Wichita Falls, Texas.

These Airmen are looking for more service members to become part of their elite team. Everyone is welcome to try out.

"No matter who comes in, we can always train them up. It doesn't matter how fast or slow someone learns. We have individuals here who will work closely with them to help them," Dunsmore said. "Come along to a few practices. Try it out. We're not going to come and hunt you down. Basically if you want to join it's on you. We're looking for those individuals who want to be here. We want that enthusiasm."

It takes dedication to represent the Air Force at public events, and the team trains hard. The role of an honor guard can be challenging and the trainers ensure their Airmen are prepared.

"One challenge is the unknown, we train a specific way to do a detail the same every time but no detail is ever the same," Stay said. "It's always different so we have to adapt to or overcome. That's the biggest challenge, but it also makes it interesting. Nothing is ever the same twice."

The trainers don't take their duties lightly. They know the importance of training the next generation of Airmen entrusted with the responsibility of Air Force history and culture at ceremonies. They are a huge part of events such as funerals, where a grieving family will look to the honor guard to represent the career, and life, their loved one was a part of.

"I enjoy being a part of the tradition. Knowing that I can make the retirement ceremony, funeral or whatever ceremony that we are doing a little more meaningful for those involved is important to me," Sternberg said.

For many people who join the honor guard, it's the families they want to help. To make a somber day a little more bearable and memorable using the honor and traditions their loved one was a part of.

"Seeing that grateful expression on somebody's face, that's why I joined -- to make a small difference to someone's life," Dunsmore said.

The skills these Airmen learn can continue when they move to another base. Once learned these skills stay with them for life. The enthusiasm that brought them to the honor guard in the first place stays with them for their career. Klarenbach has prepared well for his time in the honor guard.

"Read the honor guard manual. It gives you everything that you will ever need to know," Klarenbach said. "The honor guard is something I hope to do my entire career so I wanted to be prepared."

It's not an easy skill to learn and it takes a great deal of practice and teamwork. Everyone must work as a unit and help the other Airmen.

"It's about keeping everyone together. I know everything as far as details and training, so it's getting everyone on the same page so we all perform as a cohesive unit, making sure all our movements are exactly the same -- standardizing," Klarenbach said.

This training serves the Airmen well, not only when all eyes are on them at a public event, but also in their primary role on base and in their lives in general. What makes these people great Airmen also makes them great honor guard members.

"I would say to stay flexible. Things can change at the drop of a hat, and you will have little to no control over it. The places you go and the people you work with are always changing. So stay focused on the things you can control. Don't stress about the things you can't change," Sternberg said. "It's not for everyone. Just like the military isn't. It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of commitment. A lot of times we are spending our weekends and time after work to go train. But it's definitely worth it."

Practice is held Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Training is all day the second Tuesday of each month.

Reserve C-5, C-17 airlift wings join forces in Patriot Express exercise

by Senior Airman Alexander Brown
439th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs

8/26/2014 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Flexible is defined as the ability to easily modify and respond to altered circumstances or conditions. That's exactly what the 47 Westover and March Air Reserve Base and Joint Base Charleston Airmen exemplified during "Patriot Express," a periodic Air Force Reserve Command air mobility exercise that took place here, Aug. 13-18.

Nine different units from the Massachusetts, California and South Carolina reserve wings made this exercise possible.

The goal of the exercise was to prepare and train Airmen for potential deployments, making them even more proficient at their jobs. The goal of the mission was to coordinate between all members in a mock deployed location between the aircraft, ground crew, and communication elements.

"A contingency response element is the front line of command and control, comprised of experienced airlift and operations personnel to manage coordinate and control air mobility assets," said Lt. Col. Gilbert Kesser, director of operations.

Even when having to juggle a multitude of different tasks, this group of Airmen successfully completed 33 landings and take-offs in 72 hours. Other tasks included landing and parking the aircraft, on and offloading equipment, creating loading plans, weighing cargo, creating manifests, participating in active shooter drills and much more.

The challenges began as soon as the crew landed. Either a voice or data connection to home base had to be made within 30 minutes of landing. Meanwhile, Airmen are off-loading all their equipment and setting up the Hard-sided Expandable Lightweight Air Mobility Shelter. This is the primary communication hub for air-to-ground transmissions.

"It's a group effort, everyone needs to understand and complete their roll but be willing help everyone else in theirs," Tech Sgt. Lui Puga, who worked in communications.

A load planner must carefully create a plan to ensure the safety of the aircraft when transporting cargo.

"Plans constantly change and we all have to be flexible," said Senior Airman Lyndsay Snow, 42nd Aerial Port Squadron.

Training involved Airmen who had never previously participated in any real-world exercises. At any time, an Airman was doing something for the first time with a trainer behind him or her.

Out of the 47 Airmen who participated in the exercise, nine were in training status and still were able to on and offload more than 330 tons of cargo during "Patriot Express."

Esprit de corps was evident throughout the exercise.

"All of the people here are great to work with," said Tech Sgt. Steven Frost, a load planner with the 42nd APS.

As the last aircraft took off at the end of the exercise the "Patriot Express" Airmen had successfully and safely processed and completed all the missions.

"This is the first time there have been no delays during one of these exercises," said Kesser.

507th ARW gains a new squadron, air mobility training mission

by Maj. Jon Quinlan
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

8/26/2014 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 507th Air Refueling Wing gained a new squadron and a new training mission assuming command over the 730th Air Mobility Training Squadron, Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma.

The 730th AMTS is an Air Force Reserve Command unit charged with training aircrew on the C-17 Globemaster III, KC-135 Stratotanker and in the future, the KC-46 Pegasus aerial refueling aircraft. The reservists work with active duty Airmen of the 97th Air Mobility Wing, training aircrew members for Air Education and Training Command.

The transition just made sense due to the proximity of the 507th to the "off-site" squadron at Altus, according to wing leaders.

"We are so excited to be working with these outstanding Airmen and happy to be gaining a new mission," said Col. Brian Davis, 507th ARW commander. "This training is vital for the Air Force Reserve and with the addition of the KC-46 mission in the coming years, I can't think of a better team of reservists to train on the newest aerial refueling aircraft and the C-17 and KC-135."

The training squadron is made of up of a mix of traditional reservists and air reserve technicians who support over 2,100 KC-135 and C-17 students a year in 22 formal training courses for active, guard, reserve and international students. Nearly 25 percent of the instructor force at Altus is provided by the 730th. The squadron is split by weapon system as roughly half instruct in the C-17 and the rest in the KC-135. Initially, a handful of positions will transition to begin work with the new KC-46 training squadron when it comes online.

"This unit is another example of the Air Force commitment to Total Force Integration ... we are infusing TFI in our training every day and it starts at the school house," Col. Davis said. "These reservists work directly with active duty training units augmenting the instructors and they bring a tremendous amount of experience which enhances the training pipeline."

A familiar face, previous 507th Operations Support Squadron commander, Lt. Col. Michael Remualdo took command of the 730th AMTS as the unit transitioned to its new chain of command.

Administrative control of the 730th AMTS now falls with the 507th Operations Group here with operational direction coming from AETC and the 97th AMW due to the training mission. The 730th was previously assigned to the 452nd Operations Group, March Air Reserve Base, Calif. This classic associate unit was the first of its kind mixing reservists with active duty.

The 730th AMTS activated in 1943 during World War II, and performed a variety of missions to include bombardment, night photo, tactical reconnaissance, troop carrier, tactical and military airlift in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Persian Gulf War. The unit first saw reserve duty when activated in the reserve on Aug. 1, 1947.

On Mar. 25, 1968, the 730th Military Airlift Squadron became the first associate reserve unit, which is when a reserve unit shares facilities and aircraft with an active duty unit. It was redesignated the 730th Airlift Squadron (associate) on Feb. 1, 1992 and then deactivated on March 19, 2005.

The 730th has flown many aircraft including the B-17 Flying Fortress, T-6 Texan, T-7 Navigator, T-11 Kansan, B-26 Marauder, F-51 Mustang, C-46 Commando, C-119 Flying Boxcar, C-141 Starlifter and now the C-17 and KC-135.

Air Guardsmen serve as cadre leaders for ROTC during overseas training

by Staff Sgt. Vicky Spesard
123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/22/2014 - LOUISVILLE, Ky.  -- One Air National Guard Airman didn't know a single word of French when she arrived in West Africa country of Burkina Faso in early June, traveling not as a tourist but as a mentor to the eight Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadets who accompanied her.

In support of the U.S. Army Cadet Command's Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program, Master Sgt. Zakiya Taylor mission was to serve as their cadre leader, aiding the young cadets in bridging cultural divides between themselves and African officer cadets from the Georges Namoano Military Academy.

"I was really excited to be chosen for this mission," said Taylor, a Kentucky Air National Guardsman who normally serves as dining facility manager for the 123rd Airlift Wing in Louisville. "This gave me an opportunity to mentor young people and to test my leadership skills."

While in Burkina Faso, Taylor and the cadets lived in barracks alongside their African counterparts, attended classes with them and visited a local population whose dominant language is French.

"Some of their cadets could read and write our language, but had little understanding of it," Taylor explained. "Our cadets went through English language workbooks with them and provided teachable moments. It was a wonderful experience for both groups."

The idea behind the CULP Program, which is headquartered at Fort Knox, is for young Army leaders to develop more cultural awareness and foreign language proficiency skills. According to the program's website, cadets experience up to three different "venues" during immersion, learning about humanitarian service, host nation military-to-military contact, and the social, cultural and historical aspects of a country.

In 2013, more than 1,200 ROTC Cadets traveled across the world to participate in CULP. As the program has grown, the Army discovered it did not have enough personnel to accompany the cadets, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Shawn Keller, so other services were invited to provide cadre leaders. The 2014 effort marked the second year of participation for the Kentucky National Guard.

Keller, a Kentucky Air Guardsman and director of the Kentucky National Guard State Partnership Program, became a bridge between the Cadet Command and the Kentucky Guard in 2013, serving as a test case by accompanying a group of cadets to Burkina Faso last year. Upon his return, he knew the mission could be fulfilled by the state's Army and Air Guard members.

"The program sends cadets to more than 40 countries around the world each summer for a period of approximately three weeks," Keller said. "When the program reached out to the Kentucky Guard, they found qualified people with life experience and experience working with young people. When the Army asked for the Guard's assistance, I knew where to get it."

This partnership between the Army and the Kentucky Guard is an invaluable asset to the continued growth of the program, according to Cadet Command officials.

"We recognize and appreciate the outstanding support we get every year from the Kentucky National Guard and other National Guard partners across the United States," said Army Col. Brian Mennes, deputy commanding officer for U.S. Army Cadet Command. "This year 75 percent of our culture and language proficiency missions are supported with National Guard NCOs and officers, who are acting as cadre, providing essential coaching, mentoring and training to our future leaders.

"Missions such as these," he continued, "are good examples of the experience and knowledge our cadets gain from their time with members of the National Guard."

Besides Taylor, two additional Kentucky Air Guardsmen and two Soldiers from the Kentucky Army Guard accompanied cadets overseas this summer. Air Force Lt. Col. Brian McMorrow, medical plans and operations officer for the Kentucky Air Guard's CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, accompanied one group to the Democratic Republic of Congo, while Air Force 1st Lt. Jessica Ellis, medical liaison officer for the CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package, took another group to Croatia. Air Force Lt. Col. Dallas Kratzer, director of military personnel for the Kentucky Air Guard, traveled to Bosnia where his group of cadets experienced all three venues of the CULP Program.

"Originally, my group of cadets was going to go to another location when record rains turned into devastating floods throughout Bosnia," Kratzer explained. "We were rerouted to Bosnia to help with flood-relief efforts. The operation became a multi-nation effort as military forces from around Europe came to help.

"Working side by side with so many different militaries was an invaluable learning experience," he continued. "The students were focused on getting to know the other service members as well as assisting local Bosnians. When we ended the mission with one-on-one contact with the cadet officers, it gave our cadets a true sense of immersion into different cultures. It was a truly fantastic mission."

McMorrow's mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo mirrored Taylor's mission to Africa, with U.S. cadets visiting foreign military cadet installations and teaching English language and culture to their foreign counterparts.

"It was truly fabulous watching our young Army cadets leading their (Congolese) cadet officers and building relationships with each other," McMorrow said. "The give and take between the two vastly different groups on such a human level was an experience that I and my group of cadets will never forget."

Taylor echoed those sentiments.

"This was a great leadership opportunity for me," she said. "I was solely responsible for these cadets, getting them to their mission location and taking care of them from start to finish. The mission didn't improve my French, but it has made me a better leader. I know the cadets' experiences will make them better leaders, too."

Air Guard dedicates C-130 'Spirit of Mansfield' during airport event

by Tech. Sgt. Joe Harwood
179th Airlift WIng Public Affairs

8/22/2014 - MANSFIELD, Ohio  -- An Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft from Mansfield's 179th Airlift Wing joined about a dozen other aircraft at Mansfield Lahm Airport during an event July 5.

The event is dedicated to aviation and aircraft of past and present, as well as chance to showcase a couple hundred classic cars and other vehicles.

The "Spirit of Mansfield" is a name that embodies the community support for the 179th Airlift Wing. It represents everything that has been done in the past to preserve the base in hard times, as well as the continued support of the community into the future. Col. Gary McCue, 179th AW commander, kicked off the event with an aircraft dedication ceremony, a dedication of a C-130H, being christened the "Spirit of Mansfield". Wife of Congressman, Bob Gibbs, Jody, was honored with the christening of the aircraft.

State and local representatives attended the event; Congressman Bob Gibbs, David Howard representing the office of Senator Sherrod Brown, Richard Spicer, representing the office of Congressman Pat Tiberi and Mansfield Mayor Timothy Theaker.

"I can't say enough about how proud I am to be here," Congressman Bob Gibbs said. "I want to thank all the men and women that serve here. They are always ready for us, to serve our nation and our state. These planes are not exactly new; the maintenance crews here deserve a round of applause because they keep them flying. They are always ready. We're committed to keeping them flying here, and hopefully to getting them some upgraded ones. This unit has served us in Afghanistan, Iraq and all over and I think we should all recognize the value they have to us here."

The District 12 Ohio Senate sent a proclamation stating it's approval of this "On behalf of the members of the Senate of the 130th General Assembly of Ohio, we are pleased to applaud the 179th Airlift Wing. This is indeed an important occasion and provides an ideal time to acknowledge the exceptional work done by the 179th Airlift Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard. This remarkable unit has diligently striven to sustain the highest levels of integrity and professionalism while serving Ohio and the United States of America." The proclamation is signed by Senator Keith Faber, President of the Ohio Senate and Senator Larry Obhof, the Majority Whip.

Richard Spicer, representing the office of Congressman Pat Tiberi, presented a proclamation from Congressman Tiberi, recognizing the dedication of this aircraft.

"It truly is an honor to be a part of this event, it is tremendous everything you do for us," Spicer said, who is a former Marine and wounded warrior. "And as a former Marine, I learned two things about these aircraft, you can always fit one more in the back, and if you gave it to the Marines, it's just a matter of a time before we try and strap some guns to it."

There on behalf of the city of Mansfield to accept a framed photograph of the aircraft in flight over Mansfield was Mayor Timothy Theaker.

"The support we get from Washington, Senator Brown, Congressman Tiberi, Congressman Gibbs and at the state level with Representative Romanchuk, Senator Obhof, Senator Faber, along with the citizens of Mansfield, it's great," Mayor Theaker said. "The 179th is an important part of our local and state economy, but they are a very important part of the defense of this country."

After the dedication ceremony, the public lined up to tour the C-130H, a line that stayed busy for the remainder of the day. The plane's crew engaged visitors at the rear ramp and onboard. Visitors of all ages took turns looking out the windows, climbing on the seats, and exploring the cockpit.

Airport Day is not an event hosted by the 179th AW, although its members love to get involved. Col. Michael Howard, vice commander, volunteered to be one of the judges of the car show, and many members of the unit attended the event with their families.

The day hosted beautiful weather, contributing to the largest crowd that Airport Day has seen to date.

Greek, US training ends with strengthened bonds

by Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/27/2014 - SOUDA BAY, Greece -- The two-week bilateral training between the Hellenic and U.S. air forces ended Aug. 23.

As the U.S. service members departed for their home station at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, the pilots reflected on the outcome of this peacetime training event.

"The Hellenic air force and the U.S. Air Force have their own way of doing business, and we are good at it," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Berkland, 480th Fighter Squadron commander. "But when you combine their air force with the way our air force operates, there are some limitations. Every day we get better at that interoperability piece, and both sides have seen significant improvements in our performance."

"Every day, we're working on interoperability," he emphasized. "It's absolutely essential to our ability to go to war with our coalition partners, and we train like this so that on day one of a conflict, we've already worked out a lot of these interoperability issues."

The U.S. air force launched nearly 200 individual sorties throughout this two-week period, each with a specific mission of enhancing the military compatibility between the two nations. The mission objectives required both air forces to integrate and prove their capabilities in air-to-air and air-to-surface combat, a multi-role to which the F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft is geared.

"For us, it's really neat to be able to come here and train with the 343rd and 340th Fighter Squadrons because they also fly the F-16," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Kyle Davis, 480th FS pilot. "They bring different things to the fight than we do even though we fly the same jet. So we may be strong in certain areas, but they're strong in others. So training together with them, we really got to promote our own strengths and also fill in each others' weaknesses, and truly build a stronger fighting force together."

Greece is a longstanding NATO ally and has supported many joint objectives throughout the years. The country has promoted Balkan stability and economic development, and contributes forces to both the NATO International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and United Nations peacekeeping missions. Greece leadership has also provided the U.S. with access to the region to operate key military installations, such as the Naval Support Activity Souda Bay, a combined airfield and seaport facility that is the largest deepwater port in the eastern Mediterranean.

With the conclusion of this joint training, the Hellenic air force leadership feels they are demonstrating their commitment to a peaceful, stable and secure Europe.

"I think everything went well," said Hellenic air force Lt. Col. Michail Tsikalakis, 343rd FS commander. "Greece and the United States are proven partners with a long military relationship. It's strong, I think, and based on common values of democracy and freedom. We've had many (cooperation events) throughout the years, and we're looking to future challenges, training how we fight.

"We are confident to fly with the U.S. pilots now," he continued. "We have common training and common procedures. We see in the air that it works, and we're ready to fly and fight in a war together."

Davis said U.S. fighter squadrons in Europe have a unique chance to work with coalition partners who desire to train together. And as the Defense Department continues to operate in a fiscally constrained environment, it is even more important to take the opportunities when they are available.

"Because when it comes down to it, we need to be able to work with our partner nations to be able to provide an effective force no matter what type of engagements we find ourselves in," he said. "We're not going to do it by ourselves; we're going to do it with the Greek air force. We're going to partner with some of the other countries that surround us. And so flying with them proves the point that we can do it, but it also really helps us understand how to do it better in the future and make the total package of coalition partners a much more lethal fighting force."

The Aug. 23 date may have marked the end of face-to-face training; however, both countries aim to meet or exceed the NATO standard of operations. Collectively, this European partnership will continue to provide security, protect global interests and bolster economic bonds.

Trading places: Minot chosen as test base for crew swaps

by Airman 1st Class Apryl Hall
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

8/27/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- In order to implement new initiatives stemming from the Force Improvement Program, Minot Air Force Base was chosen as the test bed for two modifications currently underway within the missile community. To include F.E. Warren AFB, Wyoming and Malmstrom AFB, Montana in the test phase, Task Force 214 and 20th Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein directed a crew swap, entailing missileers from all three bases trading places for three months.

"As much as possible it was a one-for-one crew swap," said Lt. Col. David Rickards, 91st Operations Group deputy group commander. "The idea is that the folks embedding with us for 90 days would be able to experience at the ground level some of the changes and initiatives we're implementing as part of the Force Improvement Program."

Minot AFB received four individuals from Malmstrom AFB's 341st Operations Group and three from F.E. Warren AFB's 90th Operations Group. Seven Airmen from Minot AFB were sent to fill their places.

"We sent similar people based on background, certifications and abilities," Rickards said. "One of the goals by sending crews from Malmstrom and F.E. Warren to Minot, and for us to reciprocate those crews back to those two wings, is to ensure the objectivity of the results, standardization across the operations groups and robust cross talk."

The two FIP modifications, referred to as Block 0 and Block 10, focus on changes to the organization of the operations group, crew training and scheduling. A major change for training is in the area of testing. Previously, crew members were required to take recertification tests monthly. With the new initiatives they will test quarterly while adding a second simulator session each month to hone their proficiency. The purpose of these changes is to emphasize hands-on training and empower crew commanders to be responsible for the proficiency of their crew.

"I think a lot of the problems in the missile world have been self-inflicted," said Capt. Adam Ross, 341st Operations Support Squadron missile combat crew instructor. "So let's think about this logically, be smarter and come to a better way of how we operate."

The seven Airmen sent to Minot for the test phase were chosen by their commanders. Although there is no formal documentation process required during their time at Minot AFB, they are responsible for relaying information back to their commands as the changes progress.

"They brought people from other bases to get different perspectives and make sure it jives with our bases," Ross said. "We're just going to work through the bugs here first."

For Ross, who is working with the 742nd Missile Squadron while here, being able to participate in the implementation process is exciting, he said.

"Changes are coming for the right reasons, and I wanted to be a part of that," Ross said. "I hope to inject positively where I can, provide that critical feedback and hopefully make a better system for everyone else later on."

The crew swap, which runs until the end of October, is a first step in using the FIP to produce necessary changes within Air Force Global Strike Command units. By involving all three missile bases in the initiation process, the goal is to make the transition smooth and do so as a team.

"It's always good to see how another team works," Rickards said. "We can learn at the grassroots level and not just get this from the outside in. We'll have someone who experienced it, really lived it and breathed it for three months."

Not your father's combat survival training

by Tech. Sgt. Joe Harwood
179th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/22/2014 - MANSFIELD, Ohio -- The need for aircrew combat survival refresher training has been around for as long as the Air Force has been flying aircraft, yet this weekend something noticeably different was happening in the woods of north central Ohio.

"I had the opportunity to hear Secretary James discuss the need to embrace diversity of thought," said Col Mark Auer, commander of the 179th Operations Group. "That encouraged us to look for innovative ways to conduct reoccurring training. We knew Battlefield Airmen in Tactical Control Air Party units possessed finely honed land navigation, tactical movement and survival skills. And since TACPs attend the same basic survival course as aircrew, we knew they could speak the same language and our aircrew would benefit from their recent ground combat experience. We were all anxious to see what could be achieved by combining Mobility Air Forces aircrew and Aircrew Flight Equipment personnel with Battlefield Airman from the Combat Air Forces."

Four TACPs from the 169th Air Support Operations Squadron, 182nd Airlift Wing, Peoria, Illinois, combined with seven members of the 179th Operations Support Squadron AFE section to offer Combat Survival Training that was not your usual affair.

"Having the TACPs work to enhance our field skill instruction and play the role of aggressors elevated the training to a whole new level", said TSgt William Hamilton, who took lead on organizing the training and whose family hosted the event on their property near Butler.

"We were impressed right from the start; from the planning and coordination, to the level of engagement by the aircrew," said Senior Airman Matthew Denault, a Joint Terminal Attack Controller, was one of the visiting TACPs. "Everyone was committed to making the training as realistic and valuable as possible, plus it was great to train together - we hope to continue the relationship."

The Ohio Airmen received valuable training on land navigation; shelter building, fire craft, food and water collection, camouflage and concealment, signaling and evasion techniques. This type of refresher training aims to enhance the survivability and combat readiness of aircrew.

"I have seen lots of Combat Survival Training in my career and this was as good as anything I have ever seen," said Capt. Ryan McMaster, an Intelligence Officer with the 179th OSS, who started his career as an AFE technician.
Based on feedback received, the 179th plans to expand the training next year.

"We are already looking at how to bring even more assets into the scenarios next year", said MSgt Trevor Shaw of the 179th OSS. "Coming from the birth place of aviation, no one should be surprised if further innovation is just around the corner."

188th Wingman Day Olympics builds unity, resiliency

by Staff Sgt. John Suleski
188th Wing Public Affairs

8/23/2014 - FORT SMITH, Ark. -- To develop unity and resilience among Wingmen new and old, members of the 188th Wing participated in a Wingman Day Olympics event held at Ebbing Air National Guard Base here Aug. 2.

In order for Airmen to have excellence in all they do, they need to have the unity to work together and the resiliency to push past all obstacles.

Since the 188th Wing's conversion to different missions, drastic changes and new faces have been a way of life, said Lt. Col. Tom Smith, 188th Wing chaplain.

The whole is more than the sum of its parts and this concept is used every day by people who work together as a team to achieve more than if they performed individually.

"With all the transition, planes going away, a new mission no one knew anything about, people's lives being turned upside down, it's been hectic," said Smith, who coordinated the event. "If it was going to work, it had to be with everyone pulling together. The Wingman Day Olympics was one way to accomplish that."

The 188th Civil Engineering Squadron Team 1 won a tiebreaker with 188th Wing Staff to claim this year's Wingman Day Olympics. Both teams scored 50 points but CES scored points in more events to earn the tiebreaker.

The 188th Security Forces Squadron and 188th Civil Engineering Squadron Team 2 tied for third place with 45 points each.

Senior Master Sgt. Sam Janski won this year's Rambo Award for the most points scored by an individual. Janski hit on 14 of 15 shots to win the free throw competition and also won the golf chipping contest to collect 50 total points for 188th Wing Staff.

The Olympics had eight events, ranging from a 1.5-mile run to volleyball. Smith said the events were chosen to build teamwork and challenge the participants' physical fitness, which ties into the physical pillar of resiliency.

Staff Sgt. Tim Curd, 123rd Intelligence Squadron intelligence specialist, said the mile relay race was particularly difficult.

"The box jumps were the worst," said Curd, in between deep breaths. "It really slowed my running down. But, it was a good, hard race."

The 123rd team won the mile relay event with a time of 6:02.

Some of the events, like basketball free-throws and golf, were individual competitions but allowed for others to cheer for different people, Smith said. He added that he enjoyed seeing the spectators at the 1.5-mile cheer for everyone, not just the finalists.

Smith said this was important because this unit training assembly was the first time the members of the 188th and its new squadrons, including the 123rd Intelligence Squadron, would be together.

Most of the participants wore different colored squadron shirts; 188th Wing personnel had olive green shirts. The 188th Security Forces Squadron had black and other squadrons had red, blue and light green. While there were several seas of solid colors, many teams resembled tie-dyed shirts.

"Everyone still has their guys that congregate together because they know each other," Curd said. "But making them get on different teams and do different things with different people, that separates them out and mixes things up so they come together more as a unit. Wingman Day is a really good idea and I think it should be done a little more often."

Smith said the Wingman Olympics is planned on being held every year. Additionally, the fastest 1.5-mile run records, engraved upon a plaque, can only be broken during the event each year.

This year, the fastest man, Airman 1st Class Austin Culp, 188th Operations Support Squadron, came in at 8:33. The fastest woman, Staff Sgt. Rachel Ponder, 188th Communications Flight, came in at 10:35.

After proving their physical prowess as a part of resiliency, the members of the 188th Wing broke up to their individual units for resiliency training to learn more about the other pillars of the concept: mental, spiritual and social.

"Having the Olympics and then going to resiliency training was a good idea," Smith said. "Everyone had a good taste in their mouths and that helped them not go to this training like a lot of training they've been in."

Overall, the chaplain said the Wingman Day Olympics were a success. He added that it was not him who made it happen, but the volunteers who helped support the different events.

"The wing came together, competed against each other, cheered for each other and I witnessed some real bonding and cohesion," said Col. Mark. Anderson, 188th Wing commander. "Everyone who played a role in making this a success - participants and those who worked behind the scenes coordinating the events - deserves a pat on the back. This was an exceptional event."

Team results
1st place
188th Civil Engineering Squadron Team 1 - 50 points (won tiebreaker: scored in most events)

2nd place
188th Wing Staff - 50 points

3rd place (TIE)
188th Security Forces Squadron - 45 points
188th Civil Engineering Squadron Team 2 - 45 points

Individual results
Wing Rambo (individual top scorer)
Senior Master Sgt. Sam Janski (188th Wing Staff) - 50 points

1.5 mile run (men's)
Airman 1st Class Austin Culp (188th Operations Support Squadron) - 8:33

1.5 mile run (women's)
Staff Sgt. Rachel Ponder (188th Communications Flight) - 10:35

Mile relay
123rd Intelligence Squadron - 6:02

Free throws
Senior Master Sgt. Sam Janski (188th Wing Staff) - 14 of 15 shots

Golf pitching
Senior Master Sgt. Sam Janski (188th Wing Staff)

153rd Intelligence Squadron Team 2

Casting contest
188th Civil Engineering Squadron Team 1

Safety obstacle course
Airman 1st Class Kody Miller (184th Attack Squadron)

Deployed maintainers keep hurricane hunter mission moving

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

8/27/2014 - ST. CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS -- The pilot prepares the aircraft for takeoff going through the required checklists when she notices the embedded GPS initial navigation system isn't working properly.

They can't fly without it so Maj. Dena Williams, 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron pilot and aircraft commander for the Aug. 25 mission flying into 'Cristobal,' calls maintenance.

Master Sgt. David Workman, 403rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crewchief, comes onto the flight deck and troubleshoots the issue. The solution was a reboot, shutting the aircraft down and restarting, much like a computer.

"It's rewarding to know you contributed to the aircraft taking off on time, and it's a safe aircraft," said Workman, who joined the unit in 2001. "This is a great mission. We contribute to the safety of people in the United States who may be impacted by these storms."

Workman is one of 31 Airmen from the 403rd Maintenance Group deployed to St. Croix from Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, to maintain and repair the WC-130J Super Hercules, the weather-data-gathering platform for the Hurricane Hunters. The 53rd WRS has been flying missions into the now Category 1 hurricane out of the Henry E. Rohlsen Airport in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, since Aug. 21. The information they collect is sent to the National Hurricane Center to assist them with their forecasts and storm warnings so maintenance plays a huge role in ensuring mission success, said Chief Master Sgt. Vince Armata, 403rd AMXS superintendent.

"There is a limitation on our checklists on what we can do," said Williams, referring to the aircrew. "We can let them know what we think might be wrong, but it's up to them to trouble shoot and repair."

With seven systems ranging from hydraulics to avionics, the $13 million aircraft is complex and a lot of things can break, so maintenance is essential in turning the aircraft and getting them back into the air, said Armata.

Because of the aircraft's complexity, the 403rd MXG deploys a variety of specialists from the communication and navigations, meteorological, hydraulics, propulsion, structural, electro-environmental, and instrument flight control systems shops. They also bring all-purpose mechanics, better known as crewchiefs who work on just about everything on the aircraft, and personnel from the maintenance operations control center, which tracks maintenance status on the planes and serves as a liaison with leadership and ground crew maintainers.

Having the right equipment is crucial in a bare-bones maintenance operation so a supply technician from the 403rd Logistics Readiness Squadron also deploys with the unit to track, issue and order parts for the aircraft.

Being forward deployed on the island is a bit different than working back at Keesler where they maintain the only 10 WC-103Js in the Air Force inventory, said Armata. At home station the specialists are typically dispatched from their shops to the flightline or inspection dock. Once the task is complete they return to their shops. At St. Croix the labor pool is smaller so the Airmen work with different specialties, which broadens their maintenance knowledge, said Armata.

"It's more of an AMU (Aircraft Maintenance Unit) concept here where everyone helps each other," he said.

This is what Staff Sgt. James Barnhart, 403rd Maintenance Squadron IFCS journeyman, said he likes about his first deployment to St. Croix.

"You get to work with systems and people from other shops that you don't normally work with at home station," said Barnhart, who has been in the Reserve for six years. "It's more of a team concept."

While it's Barnhart's first time working at St. Croix, it's Staff Sgt. Crystal Pourciau's fourth deployment to the island. She is a meteorological equipment technician with the 403rd Maintenance Squadron MXS and has been working in the shop for a year. Prior to that she worked electronic countermeasures.

She stands with Workman on the parking ramp adjacent to the flightline watching as the WC-130J races down the runway at 115 mph and ascends into the stormy grey clouds.

Pourciau, who works on the equipment used by the aerial reconnaissance weather officer and the dropsonde operator, walks back to the detachment with a smile.

"Whenever you get a weather bird into the air that's an amazing feeling," said Pourciau, who is a bank teller in civilian life. "Not many people get to do what we do. It's such a great opportunity to come out here and be a part of something that's bigger than myself. We've been impacted by hurricanes before so now I get to see how we were able to prep for that and be a part of it."

Children and teachers deploy in Operation KUDOS/TUDOS

by Airman 1st Class William Johnson
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

8/25/2014 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Children and teachers of Team Dover got the chance take a step in Airmen's boots as they deployed in Operation KUDOS/TUDOS, Kids/Teachers Understanding Deployment Operations Aug. 20, 2014, at the Youth Center.

The event recreated the stresses of deploying and gave kids a better insight of what their parents go through when they are preparing a for a real-world deployment.

The children and teachers went through pre-deployment briefings and processed through a deployment line where they received their dog tags, mock travel cards and physical forms.

After processing through the deployment line, the kids were greeted by their Military Training Instructor who formed them into a formation and marched them to the track and field to participate in deployment exercises. The kids donned and doffed gas masks, received self-aid buddy care treatment, got their faces painted with war paint and went through an obstacle course.

Master Sgt. Arthur Bradshaw, 436th Force Support Squadron readiness non-commissioned officer, and Staff Sgt. Nicole Hawley, 436th Mission Support Group administrative assistant, organized the event and they said the operation was widely successful and they met their goal of showing children and teachers what it is like to deploy.

"We had a great turnout for today's operations and everything ran smoothly," said Bradshaw. "This was a big event that required a lot of resources from various agencies and everybody knocked it out of the park."

More than 160 children and 83 teachers from Major George S. Welch Elementary and Dover Air Force Base Middle school participated in the mock deployment. The participants were split up into 10 chalks.

The obstacle course was a favorite of Daniel Bradley, 7, who said he thought the whole day was really fun.

"I really liked crawling under the ropes with a NERF gun," he said. "I also liked getting my face painted."

Wendy Jones, Youth Center school age program assistant, led the first chalk and said events like Operation KUDOS/TUDOS is a constructive way to show children and teachers just a fraction of what military members go through when deploying.

"I think the children learned a lot when they were going through the numerous stations and exercises in the deployment area," said Jones. "My favorite part of the day was taking pictures and watching the kids be happy and just having a good time."

Operation KUDOS/TUDOS was staffed by over 100 volunteers from Team Dover and the operation received numerous sponsorships totaling more than $10,000.

"Today would not have been possible without all of our volunteers," said Hawley. "We'd like to give kudos to all of our KUDOS volunteers."

Experts exchange ideas to vector Aviation Safety Cooperation in Asia-Pacific region

by Tech. Sgt. James Stewart
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

8/27/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  --

Military aviation is an inherently dangerous undertaking -- in every aspect, there's a chance something can go wrong, be broken, or worse, someone can get hurt.

The U.S. Air Force dedicates entire career tracks to researching, measuring, evaluating and, most importantly, preventing safety mishaps. Airmen in these careers live and breathe aviation safety, immersing themselves so completely they provide a huge amount of expertise to those attending the Asia-Pacific Aviation Safety Subject-Matter Expert Exchange hosted by Pacific Air Forces Aug. 25 to 27.

"The whole purpose of this exchange is to bring everyone together, giving us the opportunity to share what we know about aviation safety," said Maj. Cherie Clark, PACAF flight safety officer.

That opportunity includes safety experts from PACAF, as well as 13 other nations.

"Safe aviation throughout the Asia-Pacific region is a top priority for all of us," Clark said. "Cooperation is a big part of what we do in PACAF, and it's only natural we collectively consider how to work together to safely accomplish the mission."

Risk management is a major focus for the attendees this year. Using the RM process, PACAF has already achieved a 30-percent reduction in aviation safety mishaps this year.

"We work side-by-sidy with our nation's allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region," Clark said. "We all have unique methods of working to minimize flight safety risks, and the conference provides another avenue to give us access into each other's minds and creates a venue for us to examine how we can improve our own risk management processes."

At its core, risk management helps recognize, gauge and prioritize risks with an aim to avoid threats altogether or lessen the chances of them occurring.

"Risk management is a reflection of who we are as American Airmen," said Maj. Gen Kurt Neubauer, Air Force Safety Center chief of safety and conference attendee. "It's a direct result of every leader's effort to instill our Airmen with the thoughts, words, actions and habits to get the mission done -- safely and effectively."

Expert exchanges are a core principle to the U.S. military's role in building partnerships with other nations. These engagements come in many forms, and PACAF's safety exchange is a shining example of BP's strategic benefits.

"It's a tremendous opportunity for American Airmen to meet with their counterparts to exchange ideas, understand common safety challenges, share lessons learned and discuss proven techniques and procedures," Neubauer said. "That will go a long way to improve aviation safety programs and foster better interoperability throughout the region."

Clark couldn't agree more.

"Safety is an organic part of the mission in the Pacific. We all share a responsibility to deter aggression and promote stability," she said. "Keeping safety in the fore-front of our minds is how we increase aviation safety awareness and ultimately improve our ability to work together for the common good in the theater."

Nine nations who participated in last year's expert exchange have returned and approval was granted to continue idea exchanges in 2015.

"Repeat engagement is the key to building reliance with our partners," Clark said. "As a team, as a theater, we achieve greater risk management by sharing our ideas. We owe it to our Airmen to focus on safety. Continually engaging with our partners is a great way to discover new methods to protect our Airmen from risks that come with aviation and make sure they are capable to get the job done."