Military News

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Joint effort widens scope of Operation Pacific Unity 14-8

by Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs


9/9/2014 - MOUNT HAGEN, Papua New Guinea  -- As Pacific Unity 14-8 wraps up this week, additional construction projects have begun at Togoba Secondary School in Papua New Guinea.

Pacific Unity is a bilateral Engineering Civic Action Program conducted in the Asia-Pacific region in collaboration with host nation civil authorities and military personnel. This year marks the fourth iteration of the operation, with efforts focused on the construction of two new dormitories for female students.

With the primary goal of building the dorms nearing completion, the 34-manned team of U.S. Air Force construction craftsmen and support personnel from the Hawaii Air National Guard's 154th Wing, alongside U.S. Air Force active duty Airmen, Papua New Guinea Defense Forces and local workers, have turned their attention toward additional functional and cosmetic projects that will enhance the overall condition of the school.

According to Capt. Nhut Dao, Pacific Unity 14-8 mission commander, the needs of the school were too great not to use the additional time and resources to benefit the entire the school.

In addition to building the dormitories, which included tear down of the old structure and site preparation, the Pacific Unity team is also upgrading the electrical system in the school's administrative building, painting, renovating the dining hall, adding gravel to the school's entry road, reconstructing the covered walkway and building new basketball goals for the school's recreation area.

"There are many logistical challenges to working here in the highlands, but so far because of the collaboration of all the organizations and all of the functions that we have here things have been going great," Dao said. "We are on schedule to get everything done before the closing ceremony and all the additional work that we are currently working on will also be complete so things are going great here."

Once complete, the dormitories will enable hundreds of girls from the surrounding communities the opportunity to attend school, while the additional construction will improve the infrastructure and learning environment for the more than 2,500 students and teachers who use the facilities each day.

"This is a dream come true," said Simon Opa, Togoba Secondary School principal. "It's something that we have not yet expected and it's something we have yet to come to terms with and the fact that we have two new girls' dormitories is incredible."

Though there are currently two occupied female dormitories on the campus, Opa said the new dorms will not only provide space for additional female students in grades 11-12 to attend the school, but also cut down on the cost and risks associated with traveling to school.

"The number of boarding girls will double," he said. "More girls living on campus will cut down on the number of girls coming as day students, which will go a very long way in helping them. There are a lot of risk involved in traveling and a lot of time. Money for them to pay for their transport every day back and forth is a big problem. Sometimes the rivers flood and they may not be able to cross and the public transport system is not always reliable. It will go a long way for our girls to be living on campus."

Though the primary beneficiaries of Pacific Unity 14-8 will be the new female dorm residents, Opa expressed gratitude on the school's behalf for all of the work being done.

"This is a very unique project and we did not expect this," he said. "I really thank the people of the U.S. and the Airmen here doing the construction; we owe them so much. Out of all the schools in the country out of all the schools in this province our school has been selected and our prayers have been answered. It will go a very, very long way so we thank you all."

Airmen host shoe drive during Pacific Unity 14-8

by Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs


9/9/2014 - MOUNT HAGEN, Papua New Guinea  -- Though the official mission of Pacific Unity 14-8 is to construct two female dormitories for students at Togoba Secondary School in Papua New Guinea, Airmen deployed in support of the operation have found additional ways to give back to the community.

The team hosted a shoe drive Sept. 6, 2014, to benefit students at the school and children in the local village. A total of 264 pairs of shoes, 60 pairs of shorts and 36 t-shirts were purchased and donated in support of the effort.

Master Sgt. Jamain Braxton, Pacific Air Forces Regional Training Center flight chief and the anti-terrorism officer for Pacific Unity 14-8 deployed from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, said the idea came to him during a visit to the local market. "I'd been here about a week driving around and kept noticing some of the children walking around with no shoes on," he said. "I love children; it was breaking my heart to see them barefoot. I felt like I had to do something so I ran the idea of buying a bunch of shoes for them out of my own pocket by my wife and the plan took off."

Braxton, whose been in the Air Force 17 years, said he's been deployed to many countries before, but felt a sense of obligation to act because of his close interactions with the community during Pacific Unity. "This TDY is different because I'm more involved with the people here," he said. "For this mission I'm engaged with the locals and more involved in their daily life.

Initially, Braxton planned to foot the bill alone, but when other members of the Pacific Unity team found out about the initiative they were all in.

Airman 1st Class Jaimie Aquino, a 154th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management journeyman deployed from the Hawaii Air National Guard 154th Wing, said she was just happy for the opportunity to give. "It felt good knowing that I was giving to people who don't have as much as we do," she said. "To see all those kids without pants or shoes is so sad, so to give them something they didn't have felt right."

Children not able to fit or receive shoes were gifted with the items of clothing--an act Braxton said seemed to excite the parents even more than the children.

"Not many families can afford to get a pair of shoes for their kids, especially the ones that are not going to school," said Anna Blake, Togoba Secondary School deputy principal, who also helped arranged the drive.

Blake said for many of the children the donated shoes were their first pair. "You could see it in their eyes they were really excited," she said. "As a Rotarian this was my one great honor to be able to be involved with the U.S. Air Force and helping to see people in the surrounding community of the school benefit directly from this. They were really happy; they feel blessed."

Not every child was able to receive a pair of shoes, but Braxton said that's okay, the team extended their generosity to as many as they could--including the local vendors from whom the shoes were purchased. "I know I won't be able to help everyone here, but I just wanted to do what I could while I was here," he said. "It was a little bit for me, but it goes such a long way for them."

Oil painting depicting life-saving crew presented to 433rd Airlift Wing

by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trevino
433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/8/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- A copy of an oil painting depicting two Air Force Reservists onboard medical evacuation flight "Bandage 33" saving the life of an Air Force Combat Controller was recently presented to the 433rd Airlift Wing.

Capt. Adriana Valadez and then Senior Airman Amanda Torres of the 433rd Aeromedical Squadron, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas were deployed to Afghanistan with the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, when the life-saving actions took place.

"It was an honor. It is a reminder for all of us of why we do what we do. Capt. Valadez made all the right calls. She is a great role model," said Torres, now a staff sergeant.

 The painting, by Maj. Warren Neary, an Air Force Space Command Individual Mobilization Augmentee historian, commissioned by the Air Force Reserve Command's history office, was presented to the 433rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron by Tech. Sgt. Kim Herrera, 433rd Airlift Wing historian.

According to Herrera, the original portrait hangs in the Office of the Chief of the Air Force Reserve at the Pentagon. Additional copies hang at Headquarters AFRC, at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

"Most of the big works are kept in collections like Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command," said Herrera. "For us, it is an honor to have a copy here at the wing. It is something that we are not always able to see."

The portrait will be on display in the 433 AES building.

96th ARS participates in aircrew CBRN training

by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
15th Wing Public Affairs


9/8/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Members of the 96th Air Refueling Squadron conducted emergency preparedness training, ensuring they are able to operate in a chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear contaminated environment, September 5th.

With assistance from the 15th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment section and the 15th Maintenance Group, 96th ARS members were able to practice using their protective equipment so in the event of a real-world CBRN attack, they are prepared.

"Today is very important because we don't have many opportunities to train in this equipment," said Capt. Richard Brown, 96th ARS. "The important thing about this training is that we work out any issues and get it right the first time so we're ready."

Unlike common CBRN individual protective equipment, aircrew members use a special system, the Aircrew Eye and Respiratory Protection System, which ensures they don't contaminate the inside of the aircraft. The equipment includes a motorized breathing system that pumps air into their filtered gasmask, a plastic hood, two layers of gloves, plastic booties over their boots, and a clear plastic body bag that ensures full-body coverage of their flight suit.

At the aircraft, maintenance technicians did their part in the training by assisting aircrew members into the KC-135 Stratotanker where the aircrew practiced unhooking from the AERPS and hooking into the aircraft's oxygen system. After exiting the aircraft, the aircrew members made their way to the Aircrew Contamination Control Area, where AFE Airmen were ready for the decontamination process.

"We're out here helping the aircrew practice and become familiar with the decontamination process," said Tech. Sgt. Ryan Hunt, 15th OSS AFE. "This helps them stay prepared, and helps us train our people as well."

AFE members set up the ACCA in a condensed area, but normally, the ACCA stations would be spread out over the length of a football field and positioned in compliance with wind direction in order to ensure a successful decontamination. Each station included detailed instructions on how to decontaminate the aircrew member, with the last station allowing them to remove their gasmask.

Brown said a main reason for the training is preparation of an upcoming unit compliance inspection, but added that this training is valuable to have.

"We might be able to practice once more before the inspection, but this training is extremely valuable to have, regardless," he said. "We also practice flying with this equipment in our simulator, so all of this training keeps us up to date and prepared."

Scott firefighters honor fallen 9/11 comrades

by Senior Airman Tristin English
375 Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


9/9/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill -- Sept. 11, 2001 started off just like any other day. People walked their dogs, played with their kids or headed to work. However, terror and panic began to spread as two planes hit the World Trade Center towers in New York City, another at the Pentagon and yet another that crashed into the fields of Pennsylvania.

As the crisis unfolded around them, firefighters and first responders risked their lives to run inside buildings that were collapsing . . . some to never make it back out. Although some people are too young to remember, others remember it like it was yesterday. But one thing is certain, this nation will never forget.

That's why on a Sept. 6 Sunday morning in Clayton, Missouri, first responders, firefighters and local community members gathered to honor fallen comrades who gave their lives in the 9/11 attacks during their annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. The climb event benefits "The Fallen Firefighters Foundation" which helps support not only families of 9/11 survivors, but also any fallen firefighter around the country to help with funeral costs, supporting their family, and with anything else they need.

"Our participation in the stair climb started almost a year ago when a few of us were looking for different events to honor firefighters and this seemed to be the closest and biggest one that we could do," said Staff Sgt. Anthony Chiappone, 375th Civil Engineering Squadron firefighter. "We asked for volunteers and our team of 10 began training mid-June. We climbed the Scott Air Force Base control tower eight times (which equals 110 stories), which we did every weekend. As a team we spent a lot of hours training to get ready for it."

Firefighters were encouraged to wear their proper protection equipment, self-contained breathing apparatus, and carry an appropriate hand tool or hose during the climb. Each member picked someone to climb "in honor of" and then at the end of the stair climb they rang a bell while they called out the name the fallen firefighter.

Team member Staff Sgt. Randall Forsythe, also a 375th CES firefighter, said, "I was very excited to be a part of this event and raise money for an organization that supports fallen firefighters and their families. The event was a struggle physically, but we made it through the climb as a team."

Air Force reveals newest recruiting campaign

Air Force Recruiting Service Public Affairs

9/8/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas  -- The U.S. Air Force is bringing back its "Aim High" advertising slogan after a 15-year hiatus with the launch of the "I am an American Airman" recruiting campaign today.

The integrated campaign, created by the Air Force's advertising agency, GSD&M, includes three commercial spots as well as new video content titled, "Barrier Breakers," on AIRFORCE.com.

The campaign employs inspirational language and imagery to showcase the vast accomplishments Airmen have made throughout history; and the wide range of opportunities and career fields available in the Air Force. It also ties the Air Force's motto "Aim High ... Fly, Fight, Win" with the "Aim High" advertising slogan to appeal to not only potential recruits and influencers, but current active duty Airmen.

A first for the Air Force, the "New Frontiers" spot features the Air Force's Chief of Staff, Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, and showcases how the Air Force has broken barriers and pioneered new paths. The "America's Future" spot features excerpts from the U.S. Air Force Academy commencement speeches delivered by former Presidents John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. In this spot, the former commanders in chief extol the Air Force's dedication to innovation and advancement. The third commercial, "I knew one day" features current active duty Airmen from Eglin, Hurlburt and Nellis Air Force Bases.

Other creative elements include the "Barrier Breakers" video content on AIRFORCE.com that shares stories of Airmen who have made significant contributions in their fields, surpassed expectations and accomplished feats once considered impossible. The site will also offer opportunities for visitors to learn more about the careers available in the Air Force.

All three Air Force commercials will be broadcasted on major cable television and prime-time channels, to include airing during the NFL season.

CSAF inspires Columbus AFB

by 2nd Lt. Cory Concha
14th Student Squadron


9/8/2014 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- It's not every day the highest ranking uniformed officer in the Air Force visits your base. Columbus Air Force Base had the privilege of hosting Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Sept. 5 and 6.

Welsh, who is in charge of the more than 690,000 men and women who compose the active duty, guard, reserve and civilian Air Force employees, visited the base to speak at Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training Class 14-14's graduation. The event was one of many during Columbus AFB's Heritage to Horizons week, celebrating the base's history.

"You won't find many people who have been stationed at Columbus AFB who don't rave about it," Welsh said.

Welsh's son also earned his coveted silver wings on Columbus AFB, marking the last time Welsh visited the base.

"I got to watch my father, who served in the Air Force for 35 years as a pilot, pin the wings on [my son] John's chest. He didn't just give him wings, he kind of handed over an Air Force."

During his visit, Welsh took the time to address the wing and the local community through various events including a Base Community Council-sponsored community reception, a news conference and a wing All Call.

Welsh emphasized the importance of outreach and community involvement, an idea Columbus AFB is already familiar with.

This community involvement allows the base to continue its mission of Producing Pilots, Advancing Airmen and Feeding the Fight, even in the face of sequestration, furlough and force management measures.

"[Our job] remains to fight and win this nation's wars, and we have to be good at this, so don't lose focus," Welsh said. "Keep doing your job."

Welsh inspired confidence into base members, encouraging them to be involved in developing ways to overcome difficulties facing the Air Force.

"We just have to be smarter, more clever and more innovative about the way we do our job," he said. "I am an unashamed fan of our Air Force."

Welsh's fandom is magnified through social media, in an effort to stay in touch with not only Airmen but the general public.

"I'm actually on Facebook and Twitter now. You have to use social media to get the story out as quickly as you can, whether the story is a good one or a bad one," Welsh said. "Just put the facts on the street. Social media helps us with that."

FIP update: Maintainers, defenders, helos and more to get funding

by Senior Airman Jason Wiese
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs


9/9/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- As a direct result of Air Force Global Strike Command's Force Improvement Program, funding for new equipment purchases and other initiatives have been greenlit for the F.E. Warren Air Force Base mission.

FIP is an aggressive, grass-roots feedback program designed to quickly provide senior Air Force leaders with actionable recommendations for improvement by conducting one-on-one interviews and surveys with Airmen. It is an opportunity to foster positive changes within the command.

Funding will aid maintenance, security and helicopter operations, as well as other initiatives.

"The funding dispersed to our wing will be invaluable to our operations in the field," said Col. Tracey Hayes, 90th Missile Wing commander. "Whether it's making sure a maintainer has the part he or she needs to keep our ICBMs operational or providing our defenders thermal imagers so they have proper situational awareness while conducting nighttime operations, these funds will allow our Airmen to perform their missions even better than before."

For instance, Airman 1st Class Travis Hughley, 90th Maintenance Operations Squadron Mechanical and Pneudraulic Shop technician, said maintainers are required to keep certain ICBM components readily available for use in maintenance operations, and before recent FIP changes, delays in ordering parts made it difficult to meet those needs.

New funding for ICBM maintenance operations will allow maintainers to more easily have the parts they need on hand.

"If we don't have the things we need to do our job, it can keep other people from doing their jobs as well," said Airman 1st Class Taylor Deniz, 90th MOS MAPS technician.

"We all rely on each other," Hughley said.

The recent changes show AFGSC leaders are committed to making the changes they promised.

"Due to FIP, Airmen understand that their leaders want to hear their concerns and are willing to do the work necessary to make real, tangible changes in a critical Air Force mission," Hayes said. "Our commanders and supervisors value input from all levels."

Seeing FIP changes improves the trust Airmen have in the program, especially those who have ideas to improve the mission, said Airman 1st Class Meghan Roy, 90th Missile Security Forces Squadron.

"I think Airmen won't believe anything until we actually see it," she said. "I saw a lot of my ideas get addressed."

These changes will not be the last to be addressed.

"The Force Improvement Program philosophy is to continually improve AFGSC's nuclear deterrence mission and culture for our Airmen," Hayes said. "FIP has led to changes that have already occurred, which came directly from our Airmen at the tactical level. The nuclear force can expect future improvements based not only on their roughly 300 initial recommendations, but also the recommendations we continue to receive."

Face of Defense: Mother, Daughter Strengthen Bond in Kuwait


By Army 1st Lt. Isra Pananon and Army Staff Sgt. Laura Treangen
3rd Medical Command Deployment Support

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait, Sept. 9, 2014 – Many have heard U.S. soldiers calling their comrades family, only a relatively small number of soldiers have served overseas with a member of their immediate family.

In November 2013, Army Capt. Andrea Boll and Army Spc. Lydia Boll of the 452nd Combat Support Hospital were mobilized to prepare for their deployment to Kuwait.

Mother-and-daughter duo

This mother-and-daughter duo has served in the same Army Reserve medical unit since April 2010, when Andrea joined the military. Andrea said she never would expect her children to do something she would not do, so she joined the Army Nurse Corps as a medical surgical nurse to give back to her country.

“She followed me into the military, and I followed her into the medical field,” Lydia said. Lydia joined the military in 2009, after being inspired by her grandfather, who served in the Army as a saxophonist in the Army Band.

Back home, Lydia resides in Wisconsin with her mother and father and Lydia’s four younger siblings. The experience of being deployed with her daughter has forced her two youngest children to grow up fast, Andrea said. Her husband, Jim Boll, has embraced this experience with open arms, and is bonding with their other kids at home, she added. The Bolls’ middle child, Emerson, also is in the Army, and will be in Afghanistan when Andrea and Lydia return home.

When they first heard of the mission to Kuwait, all three wanted to deploy together and get Emerson on the roster as a combat medic. But it was not to be, and Emerson is serving in Afghanistan on a forward surgical team.

Health care careers

In civilian life, Andrea and Lydia work at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Andrea in the cardiac intensive care unit as a critical care nurse and Lydia as a care partner in the surgical/medical ICU.

Working together at home was good preparation for their current deployment, they said. Although many soldiers could not imagine having their parent or child overseas with them, the Bolls said they cannot imagine not having each other here. Andrea is a registered nurse in the ICU/intensive care ward here, and Lydia works in the medical regulating office.

Special bond

The bond that soldiers experience while deployed together is something unexplainable, but for the Bolls, it is special. They share the experience by exercising, shopping and sitting and enjoying coffee together.

As with any deployment, their experience has had its ups and downs. Andrea’s sister died in April, and although it was nice to have Lydia here to mourn with, it was difficult for Lydia to stay overseas while her mom traveled home for the funeral service. On the other hand, Lydia was excited to have her mother here to tell in person when she became engaged during the deployment.

The Bolls will return to Wisconsin soon, when their tour here ends.

US Pacific Command Forces Come Together for Valiant Shield 2014



From U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Forces from the U.S. Pacific Command are scheduled to participate in Exercise Valiant Shield (VS), scheduled for Sept. 15-23, on Guam and around the Marianas Island Range Complex.

Participants include two aircraft carriers, 19 surface ships, more than 200 aircraft and an estimated 18,000 personnel from the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps.

Valiant Shield is a U.S. only, biennial field training exercise (FTX) with a focus on integration of joint training among U.S. forces. This training enables real world proficiency in sustaining joint forces through detecting, locating, tracking and engaging units at sea, in the air, on land and in cyberspace in response to a range of mission areas.

The participating forces will exercise a wide range of capabilities and demonstrate the inherent flexibility of joint forces. These capabilities range from maritime security operations to anti-submarine and air defense exercises and complex warfighting.

The lessons learned from exercises like VS14 will assist the U.S. in continuing to develop regional and global power projection capabilities that provide a full range of options to succeed in defense of its interests and those of its allies and partners around the world.

The VS series is aimed at developing a 'pre-integrated' joint force built from habitual relationships. This force builds interoperable and complementary cross-domain capabilities and benefits from realistic, shared training enhancing the flexibility to develop new tactics, techniques and procedures as operational conditions dictate. Such forces will provide the deterrence and stabilizing effects of a force-in-being, ready at the outset of a contingency without delays for buildups or extensive mission rehearsal.

This is the fifth exercise in the Valiant Shield series that began in 2006.