Military News

Friday, August 29, 2014

F-15 Pilots Identity Released

by Public Affairs Office
104th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


8/29/2014 - BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Westfield, Mass. -- Following the fatal crash of a 104th Fighter Wing F-15C aircraft in the remote mountains near Deerfield Valley, Va. the family has asked that the unit share with the public the name of the pilot who was fatally injured Wednesday.

"On behalf of the family of our fallen pilot and with a sense of profound sadness, I am sad to share that Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr., was killed tragically in Wednesday's F-15 crash," said Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander. "We all continue to keep the Fontenot family in our thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time," added Keefe.

Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot Jr. served with the 104th Fighter Wing as the full-time Wing Inspector General, responsible for the implementation of the Air Force Inspection System and as an F-15 instructor pilot with more than 2,300 flight hours. A 1996 Air Force Academy Graduate, Lt. Col. Fontenot was additionally a Weapons School Graduate with more than 17 years of F-15 flying experience. He served as a squadron commander at multiple locations. Following Active Duty assignments in Washington D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous deployments to the Middle East, Lt. Col. Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February 2014. He was a decorated combat veteran, earning the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Combat Readiness Medal among others.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.

#30#

No additional information is available at this time. Dignified transfer and memorial announcements will be made through official channels once releasable.

Background:
At approximately 9:05 a.m. Wednesday, Washington Center Air Traffic Control in Washington, D.C. lost radio contact with the F-15C aircraft stationed at the 104th Fighter Wing, Mass., and at approximately 9:30 a.m. the 104th Fighter Wing learned that the aircraft had crashed in a remote site near Deerfield Valley, Va.

The single seat F-15C aircraft was en route to Naval Air Station New Orleans to receive a radar system upgrade. The flight was not related to the 104th Fighter Wing's homeland defense mission, and there were no munitions on the aircraft during this flight. The pilot was flying a solo mission when he reported an in-flight emergency prior to the loss of radio contact with Washington Center.

Officials confirmed Thursday evening at 5:00 p.m. the pilot was fatally injured in the Aug. 27 crash of an F-15C Eagle in the remote mountains near Deerfield Valley, Va.


//SIGNED//
ANTHONY MUTTI, 1st Lt., MAANG
Public Affairs Officer 104th Fighter Wing Barnes Air National Guard Base
175 Falcon Drive, Westfield, MA 01085
Phone: (413) 568-9151, x698-1263
http://www.104fw.ang.af.mil

Press Release:Mass Air National Guard grateful for search and rescue support

by Public Affairs Office
104 Fighrter Wing Public Affairs


8/29/2014 - BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Westfield, Mass. -- Senior leaders from the Massachusetts Air National Guard express their gratitude to the many local, state and federal agencies that supported the search and recovery operations and continued to participate in the ongoing recovery efforts following the fatal crash of a 104th Fighter Wing F-15C aircraft in the remote mountains near Deerfield Valley, Va.

"The level of support provided by a number of states and at the federal level has been very helpful during this challenging time," said Maj. Gen. L. Scott Rice, the Adjutant General, Massachusetts National Guard. "On behalf of the men and women of the Massachusetts National Guard, I thank each and every one of you for your assistance. The continued support from the available agencies will be critical as we work through the ongoing recovery and investigation."

"The 104th Fighter Wing is extremely grateful for the outpouring of support demonstrated by our local community, and nearly 30 agencies in the Virginia area that spent more than 30 hours scouring over dangerous terrain, committed to finding our fallen Airman and to bring him home," said Col. James Keefe, 104th Fighter Wing Commander.

The search and rescue efforts were supported by approximately 150 personnel from a number of agencies that include the Augusta County Sheriff's Office, Augusta County Fire and Rescue, Deerfield Fire Department, Churchville Fire Department, Swope Fire Department, Virginia State Police, Virginia National Guard, Virginia Department of Emergency Management, Virginia Department of Game & Inland Fisheries, Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Forest Service, FBI, US Border and Customs Enforcement, Maryland State Police Aviation, Indiana National Guard, Massachusetts Air National Guard, New Jersey National Guard, Alabama National Guard, West Virginia National Guard and the U.S. Air Force.

A number of volunteer search and rescue teams also participated in the rescue operation, including the Southwestern VA Mountain Rescue Group, Search & Rescue Dogs East, Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group, Blue Ridge Mountain Rescue Group, Blue-Gray Search & Rescue, VA Search & Rescue Dogs Association and Piedmont Search & Rescue.

The investigation into the crash is ongoing.

#30#

No additional information is available at this time. Dignified transfer and memorial announcements will be made through official channels once releasable.

Background:
At approximately 9:05 a.m. Wednesday, Washington Center Air Traffic Control in Washington, D.C. lost radio contact with the F-15C aircraft stationed at the 104th Fighter Wing, Mass., and at approximately 9:30 a.m. the 104th Fighter Wing learned that the aircraft had crashed in a remote site near Deerfield Valley, Va.

The single seat F-15C aircraft was en route to Naval Air Station New Orleans to receive a radar system upgrade. The flight was not related to the 104th Fighter Wing's homeland defense mission, and there were no munitions on the aircraft during this flight. The pilot was flying a solo mission when he reported an in-flight emergency prior to the loss of radio contact with Washington Center.

Officials confirmed Thursday evening at 5:00 p.m. the pilot, Lt. Col. Morris "Moose" Fontenot Jr., was fatally injured in the Aug. 27 crash of an F-15C Eagle in the remote mountains near Deerfield Valley, Va.

Lt. Col. Morris Fontenot Jr. served with the 104th Fighter Wing as the full-time Wing Inspector General, responsible for the implementation of the Air Force Inspection System and as an F-15 instructor pilot with more than 2,300 flight hours. A 1996 Air Force Academy Graduate, Lt. Col. Fontenot was additionally a Weapons School Graduate with more than 17 years of F-15 flying experience. He served as a squadron commander at multiple locations. Following Active Duty assignments in Washington D.C., Japan, Idaho, Florida, Alaska and numerous deployments to the Middle East, Lt. Col. Fontenot joined the Massachusetts Air National Guard in February 2014. He was a decorated combat veteran, earning the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Aerial Achievement Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, and Combat Readiness Medal among others

Spartans show they have what it takes for Marine test

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


8/29/2014 - CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan -- Arctic warriors were given an opportunity to experience Marine combat training while participating in Exercise Ulchi-Freedom Guardian 2014, an annual joint/combined command post exercise designed to enhance the Republic of Korea's defensive capabilities in the face of an aggressor threat.

Paratroopers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, along with Airmen of the 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron assigned to the Spartan Brigade, home-stationed at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, participated in the Marine Corps' Combat Fitness Test to build esprit de corps and learn more about the Marines' training requirements.

"Since we're here at Camp Hansen and Camp Courtney conducting the UFG exercise and we're doing joint operations with the Marine Corps, we thought it would be a great way to understand some of the Marine mentality," said Army Maj. David Nelson, operations officer for the 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment.

The CFT is taken once a year and includes a sequence of physical exercises that evaluates a Marine's ability to perform several combat-related activities. The CFT was designed to complement the Physical Fitness Test in order to provide insight into a Marine's overall fitness level.

Before the inception of the CFT in 2008, Marines took the PFT once every six months. The Marine Corps then changed it up a bit, shifting more towards a combat fitness-type test.
Since 2008, between January and June, the Marines run a PFT, which consists of pullups, crunches and a three-mile run for males. For females it consists of a flexed arm hang, crunches and a 3-mile run. Between June and December a CFT is conducted.

"I think it's excellent. Running three miles, doing 20 pull-ups, doing 100 crunches, becomes normal," said Gunnery Sgt. Pete O'Brien, the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters and Service Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, who also facilitated the CFT for the arctic warriors.

"This mixed it up and now there's a whole bunch of things we have to start working on," said O'Brien, a Boston native. "You have to work on your combat conditioning, your flexibility, your upper body strength and things like that."

The CFT consists of three events:
  • An 880-yard "movement to contact" run in boots and utility pants.
  • Two minutes of lifting a 30-pound ammo can over the head, earning two points for each number done in the time limit.
  • A "maneuver under fire" drill, which is part obstacle course, part conditioning and part combat test, and consists of the following:
  • 10-yard sprint
  • 15-yard crawl (low then high crawl)
  • Hauling a simulated casualty using two different carries - drag and fireman's carry - over 75 yards while zig-zagging through cones
  • Sprint while carrying two 30-pound ammo cans over 75 yards through the same cones
  • Throwing a dummy hand grenade into a marked circle 22.5 yards away (five seconds added to total time if missed)
  • Three pushups and a sprint with the ammo cans to the finish line.
"It's a pretty good assessment," said Army 1st Lt. Jonathan Razack, a Dallas native assigned to the 1-501st Infantry.

Razack compared the event to the Army's Ranger Physical Assessment Test, noting the similarities of running in boots and field uniform with body armor on.

"I definitely think it's a good measure of combat fitness and it's something a little different," Razack said. "It's good for team building."

"Learning to see how [the Marines] train and actually [execute] the training are great lessons learned and maybe we can take some of this training and incorporate it with our own units," Razack added.

O'Brien said the scores were right on par with the Marines. Noting that like everything else in a unit, there are high scores and then there are scores that indicate areas for improvement.

"I think they are doing pretty good," O'Brien said. "If you took these scores and put them next to a Marine's score, you wouldn't know who ran what from the score."

This is Nelson's second time participating in the event.

"I did it last year with another group of Marines," Nelson said. "It's a smoker, but I think it's a great test of your ability to execute some of those tasks that have to be done in combat. It's great [physical training] and it's a good way to understand a little more about what the Marines do and learn about their mentality."

Third Alaska assignment for 3rd Wing commander

b
y Air Force 2nd Lt. Michael Trent Harrington
JBER Public Affairs


8/29/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- "The 3rd Wing is a certain thing in an uncertain world," Air Force Col. Charles Corcoran said on a gray and rainy morning at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Corcoran assumed command of Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's 3rd Wing, the largest unit in the 11th Air Force, in a ceremony at Hangar 1 Monday. Corcoran arrives after a deployed tour as the chief of staff of Air Force Central Command in Qatar.

The outgoing commander, Air Force Col. David Nahom, departs as a newly-promoted brigadier general to serve as the director of Regional Affairs with the Deputy Undersecretary of the Air Force for International Affairs at the Pentagon.

Corcoran is already something of an Anchorage expert. Corcoran's role as head of the 3rd Wing marks his third assignment to JBER and his second as a commander. In the late 1990s, he served as a weapons officer for the 19th Fighter Squadron, flying F-15 Eagles before the unit moved to Hawaii. He returned from 2007 to 2009 as commander of the 525th Fighter Squadron.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Russell Handy, Alaskan Command and 11th Air Force commander, spoke on the process of identifying five or six Air Force men and women to assume one of the most important commands in the Pacific.

"I tried. I tried really hard to come up with that list," Handy said. "And no matter how many ways I looked at it I kept coming up with only one choice: (Col.) Corcoran."

The 3rd Wing represents one of the most diverse and strategic commands in the Air Force - with the F-22 Raptor, C-17 Globemaster III, C-12 Huron, and E-3 Sentry aircraft, as well as partnership with Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve components.

Corcoran will be charged with running "top cover for America" - responsible to North American Aerospace Defense Command, the Pacific Air Forces and the 11th Air Force for early warning, detection and interception of unidentified aircraft.

Corcoran takes the reins of the 3rd Wing at a busy time. The wing's two F-22 fighter squadrons will attend major training exercises in Hawaii and Guam next month, and both F-16 Fighting Falcons and Navy F/A-18C Hornets are slated to participate in dissimilar air combat training here in coming weeks.

Likewise, attention to 3rd Wing's NORAD "alert" role surged briefly earlier this month as media outlets sought to link ongoing tension and armed confrontations between Ukraine and Russia. North American Air Defense officials confirmed that both foreign flights and American intercepts in the Alaska Air Defense Identification Zone are a legal and routine part of business for U.S. pilots. It is the same everyday sense of JBER's attention to excellence, improvement and readiness, which Corcoran says has drawn him back to 3rd Wing.

"The enthusiasm, the pride and the initiative I see in the Airmen and their families around JBER is phenomenal," Corcoran said. "I want to keep that going."

As the 3rd Wing moves forward with the challenges of ongoing military missions abroad and fluid budgetary situations at home, third-time Anchorage veteran Corcoran seems well poised to understand precisely what 3rd Wing's arctic warriors need.

"I'm honored to once again be a part of this amazing team," Corcoran said. "I'll do all I can to ensure the 3rd Wing has the resources it needs to continue its legacy of excellence."

JBER Airman recalls battle

by Chris McCann
JBER Public Affairs


8/29/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- It was 4:19 a.m. July 17 when the first rocket-propelled grenades came into Forward Operating Base Oqab.

Air Force Capt. Adam Phillips, commander of the 43 Airmen of the defense forces at the FOB, was asleep - as were many of the defenders not on shift, given the hour. Those standing guard in the towers around the base were joined by Airmen dressed in whatever they wore to bed; T-shirts, flip-flops and gym shorts were the uniform of the hour. One, Senior Airman Julian Rangel, was in "a tank top, gym shorts and his Vans," Phillips said. "He was the main gunner on one QRF."

The defenders dispatched two quick-reaction forces. The enemy fire was coming from a high-rise complex just outside the Kandahar International Airport. The QRFs moved to the Afghan Air Force base next to Oqab, linked up with the Afghans, and coordinated their fields of fire.

The enemy forces were in a building, 300 meters away, just outside the FOB.

The KAIA North Operations Center was coordinating for air support for the troops.

"We checked on the guys in the towers on the FOB," Phillips said. Fortunately there were no casualties but one moment looked particularly bad.

"I was up in tower 2, and one of our senior noncommissioned officers was in tower 3," he recalled. "A round looked like it hit tower 3, and we had a handful of guys in there."

The RPG missed the tower, hitting an Afghan Air Force communications building - luckily empty of people. Still, adrenaline ran high.

"It's not that I wasn't worried," he said. "People getting shot at and shooting back is [worrisome]. But I'd dealt with stressful situations at [Bagram Air Field] and when it happens, we just work. You have the [adrenaline] dump later."

The firefight raged for more than two hours and included suicide bombers and a vehicle-borne IED detonated near one of the entry control points, but there were no coalition injuries.

"Not a scratch," Phillips said. "It was really wild. Nobody was hit, nobody was nicked."
They had a cease-fire at 6:15 a.m., but had to hold their ground for the next three hours. A sweeping force, made up of Marines and Afghan air commandos, was just outside the base, clearing the buildings the enemy had been in, as the defenders could not leave FOB Oqab unmanned. They remained on standby.

Phillips coordinated recovery of the unexploded ordnance with a French explosive ordnance disposal team.

"It was pretty wild," he said. "A two-hour firefight in this career field never happens."
The biggest takeaway for his Airmen, he said, was the value of training.

"The training kicked in and everything came together," he said. "There's no litmus test for it except in battle."

Some had complained about losing time off for training.

"It takes time," Phillips said. "But after that, they were saying 'I'm really glad I had all that training.' People were prepared; they probably didn't realize how well prepared until they had to use it."

One of the most important outcomes was the improvement in the Afghan troops, he said.
"The Afghan Security Forces guys engaged in the coordinated effort of the defensive line," he said. "They helped hold the line."

About five months prior, Phillips' team had created a train-the-trainer course for their Afghan counterparts for using the M240B machine gun. They were resistant, preferring their Russian-made PK machine guns which were lighter.

The two-hour skirmish, however, seemed to change their minds.

"Independently - and this is huge - they got the 240s through their supply line, trained their soldiers to use them, and got them out on the line," Phillips said. "It was a great success; we didn't have to tell them to do it. The stuff we'd done five months ago all came together.

"In the two weeks before I left, all the advising we'd done for the last year finally clicked. Stuff's working."

Phillips, a native of Fuquay-Varina, N.C., is leaving the Air Force after almost seven years of service. He plans to stay in Alaska and go back to school to get a degree in outdoor education.

"I want to do an outdoor rehab program for troubled youth," he said.

His first degree, in criminal justice, led him to join Air Force Security Forces - and it set him up for such an endeavor.

"Even as an officer, I still deal with base and society problems," he said. "I have a love of the outdoors and teaching skills that can help [youth]. I still want to help people, just not in a law-enforcement capacity."

Working closely with the Afghans also was helpful.

"It taught me the virtue of patience," he said. "You work so hard to get a small gain, but even a small gain is a big improvement."

USS Germantown Successfully Completes INSURV



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- The amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) completed a material inspection by the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) at Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo, Aug. 28.

The extensive three-day assessment of the entire ship was evaluated by 98 subject-matter experts assigned to INSURV, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7, Commander Amphibious Squadron (COMPHIBRON) 11, and the Inspection and Readiness Assist Team (IRAT).

"When it comes to the material condition of the ship and the potential for ships to go into harm's way, we want to ensure that the ship runs properly, and it is very important that all of the systems work," said Lt. Refus Combs, assigned to INSURV. "As mandated by congress, we try to come out and do as thorough of a job as we possibly can in the time allotted."

INSURV was established 130 years ago to inspect the Navy's ships and to ensure their readiness. In 2013, the president of INSURV made changes to the inspection program mandating that every ship get inspected every 30 months verses every five years.

"The fact that this is a material inspection and not a personnel inspection, takes a little bit of the pressure off of the ship, because the only thing that they have to do is demonstrate how the equipment works," said Combs. "Our job is to make sure that the ship can actually perform as designed."

Some of the major INSURV inspection tests Germantown performed included the testing of the aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) sprinkler systems, anchoring equipment, a long range air search radar performance demonstration, engine inspections, and weapon system performance and capabilities.

"Our crew has assumed total ownership of their equipment and their ship," said Capt. Marvin Thompson, commanding officer of USS Germantown. "We have improved standards ship-wide and spent months conducting material checks in preparation for this inspection. I am tremendously proud of our crew and their professionalism."

Each department successfully completed their checks. This can be attributed to the crew's teamwork and dedication to the ship.

"The Germantown crew is phenomenal," said Lt. David Smith, 1st Lieutenant aboard Germantown. "In my 19 years of service I have never been through anything as strenuous as the last six months. We have completed multiple certifications, countless maintenance actions, and all the while we were preparing for the biggest inspection the Navy conducts. The crew has responded in outstanding fashion on all occasions and they continue to amaze me with their relentless efforts and excellent attitude."

Germantown is scheduled to depart Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo for a scheduled patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.

NECC Participates in DSCA LOADEX



By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Lauren Booher, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors attached to Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) participated in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) load exercise (LOADEX) at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story Aug. 27.

The DSCA LOADEX is a "train like we fight" scenario that brought together NECC forces, Expeditionary Strike Group TWO (ESG 2), 2nd Marine Logistics Group, and the Fleet Weather Center. The exercise was designed to provide familiarization and training for amphibious landing operations related to DSCA and disaster response.

"We're prepared, if the request were to come from the Department of Defense, to provide support to civil authorities," said Rear Adm. Frank A. Morneau, commander, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (COMNECC) and designated commander, Navy Lead element for DSCA. "We will be able to load our gear and provide support in a quick and decisive manner as we respond to the scene of a hurricane, natural disaster or any kind of man-made disaster which could occur."

During the exercise, equipment was loaded on and off USS Arlington (LPD 24), USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), and supporting landing craft platforms, and transported to the shore using the Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS). The INLS is a cargo transfer system in which sections lock together like building blocks to create a variety of floating structures. The INLS allows Navy ships to transport heavy equipment and cargo in order to provide aid to areas where moorings have been damaged or are unavailable.

"We have to determine what we want to stay on land when the ships go out and what we want to make sure is preserved in case what is left behind is damaged or inaccessible," said Lt. Cmdr. Torben Smith, exercise planning officer. "We are loading Marine Corps equipment, and our own equipment that can access channels, underwater clearance capability, and equipment to remove debris. We're getting a better idea of how our equipment fits onto the different ships and onto the INLS."

The DSCA LOADEX provided a perfect opportunity for military personnel to practice loading and unloading operations in a controlled environment so they can be ready for the real event when it happens.

"It's one thing to brainstorm it on paper, but to physically see the process is a hundred times better. It's a great way to see our capabilities," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Michael Diamond, mobility officer assigned to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group 2.

Rodney M. Davis Promotes Pacific Partnership at Sail Raja Ampat 2014



By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Derek A. Harkins, USS Rodney M. Davis Public Affairs

RAJA AMPAT, Indonesia (NNS) -- The crew of Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate USS Rodney M. Davis (FFG 60) sailed alongside other navies during Sail Raja Ampat Aug. 22-23.

Sail Raja Ampat is part of a series of international maritime events hosted by the government of Indonesia in West Papua, Indonesia.

Crew members welcomed Indonesian navy Ensign Michael Kasake, a liaison officer, on board to help coordinate the ship's participation in Sail Raja Ampat.

"I'm proud to be involved in something that lets us and our allies work together like a family and showcase our partnerships and this island to the world," said Kasake.

Rodney M. Davis Sailors manned the rails as the ship joined a formation of more than 50 ships from Indonesia, Singapore, and Australia. The ships sailed past a crowd ashore at Torang Cinta Beach, Waisei on the island of Waigeo and rendered honors to distinguished visitors , which included the President of Indonesia, Susilo Yudhoyono, and U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) Deputy Commander, Rear Adm. Robert Girrier.

The overcast skies and falling rain did not dampen the spirits of the participants.

"A little rain isn't going to stop a Rodney M. Davis Sailor," said Electronics Technician 1st Class Christifer Dearing, from Redmond, Oregon.

Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Robertus Sulistiono, from Los Angeles, serves in deck department's 1st division on board Rodney M. Davis. Sulistiono, who was born in Indonesia and lived there for more than 20 years, acted as an interpreter during the event.

"I'm proud that I could help out," said Sulistiono. "I'm happy to do whatever I can for the ship."

Participation in events like Sail Raja help advance regional partnerships and alliances with navies throughout the region.

"Sail Raja Ampat was another great chance for us to work with our Pacific allies" said Cmdr. Todd Whalen, Rodney M. Davis's commanding officer. "We also sailed with ships from Indonesia, Singapore, and Australia during Rim of the Pacific 2014 last month, so our participation in Sail Raja helps sustain those relationships."

Rodney M. Davis, based out of Everett, Washington, is on patrol in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.