Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Seamless mobility - Travis port dawgs train with Texas Reservists

by Ellen Hatfield
349th Public Affairs

9/10/2014 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Travis Air Force Base has built a reputation for an associate partnership that demonstrates "one team, no seam," a phrase coined by Brig. Gen. Jay Flournoy, former 349th Air Mobility Wing commander. So when the 26th Aerial Port Squadron reservists from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, needed proficiency and initial training, partner with the 60th APS here during their two-week annual tour.

It was an opportunity they don't get at home station, as the 26th APS is the only aerial port squadron on an active duty training base, which is home to Air Force basic military training.

"Working with their hands, getting in and doing the job, is what it's all about," said Master Sgt. Geoffrey Rodgers, 26th APS deputy superintendent. "I have one tech sergeant who is a passenger terminal specialist, some just back from deployment, one senior airman who is a 60K Tunner driver, sharing this experience, and busting their butts getting it done."

Rodgers got to see something that he had never seen in his career: a full 36-pallet load of a C-5. The aircraft was from Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts; right next to it, another had landed, ready to be loaded, from the 433rd Airlift Wing, the 26th APS's home wing.

Standing inside the giant beast, the load master opened up the rear door, and 60K loaders rolled in from both sides, waiting to start. Then began the Port Dawg Dance.

Rodgers said it's a precision line-up, side by side pallets, with only three to five inches of clearance on either side. As the 60K brings the load up level with the deck, Tech. Sgt. Epifanio Lopez hunkers down, and with smooth hand signals, guides the loader in, so the rollers on the deck line up. Rodgers points out the locks on the pallet, that keep the load from moving. "They flip the lock, and rock to unlock, to let it roll off, and get it ready to roll down," he said.

The team begins the forward roll, spotting on either side to keep the pallet going straight. A bit to either side, and it gets stuck, and they rock it backwards, until they get an even forward roll again. One after the other, two teams roll them to the front of the aircraft, packed in tight. Because of their skill, focus and teamwork, they don't have many get stuck to slow down their rhythm and momentum.

"The rollers can spin the pallets 360 degrees, as needed for the fit, " said Rodgers, as another Airman driving the 60K loader, delivered the last six pallets of six loads. He said they would definitely come to train again with the Travis team, as it is close to home, and the best use of their resources to get their Airmen trained.

"I can't say enough good about the integration here, between the active and Reserve," he said. "They answered questions patiently, and were willing to make the time and give the effort, to make sure we got what we needed. This was a really great experience, we really felt welcome."

Comm powers friendship's voice

by Senior Airman Michael Washburn
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/10/2014 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- When Yokota opened its gates on Sept. 6 and 7 for this year's Friendship Festival, more than 150,000 patrons flocked to the flightline to experience the food, music, culture and aircraft the U.S. and Japan operate as part of their alliance.

With that many people on the base at one time, keeping the masses informed on important notifications became paramount. Leading up to the festival, Airmen from the 374th Communication Squadron radio frequency shop have worked on and installed a new public address system to ensure when alerts needed to go out, the system worked every time.

"Yokota's had a system like this before, but it was only a temporary one and it needed to be upgraded," said Staff Sgt. Kevin Joseph, 374th CS noncommissioned officer of radio frequency base operations. "We set up 18 new speakers located on nine buildings by the flightline. We made the system a more permanent setup that we'll be able to use for the foreseeable future."

For a job of such magnitude, careful planning and consideration went into deciding how to set up the new PA system.

"We started planning about two to three months ago," Joseph said. "We knew what needed to be done, but it took about a month of coming up with new ideas of how we were going to accomplish this until the final plan was set."

The PA system filled two needs for Friendship Festival -- the ability to inform the public and the capability to communicate between key personnel.

"We were able to announce upcoming events and inform people to be on the lookout for a potential lost child or if hazardous weather was close," Joseph said. "We developed the system to be used in coordination with land mobile radios. If a problem did arise that specifically dealt with Friendship Festival, we were able to communicate with emergency responders without tying up other dedicated real-world base emergency systems."

Building an innovated new system from scratch brings new challenges that could potentially affect real-world operations.

"The main obstacle that we faced was how do we get a signal from one end of the flightline to the other by copper wire, while not hindering flightline abilities," said Airman 1st Class Daniel Wood, 374 CS project co-lead technician.

The problem was resolved by running the system's wires through existing phone lines and by utilizing the base switch system. The switch for the PA system works just like how phone and internet work in offices around the base.

When it mattered most, the system did just what was needed from it.

"The main system helped reunite 49 lost children with their families and aided the Japanese National Police by helping get all 158,000 Japanese Nationals that attended the festival across Highway 16 with zero incidents," Wood said. "We know there is room for improvement with the setup and will learn from this year to continue making it better for future events."

COMPACAF recognizes 535th AS Airmen for humanitarian mission

by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
15th Wing Public Affairs

9/10/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- Gen. Hawk Carlisle, Pacific Air Forces commander, presented the Air Force Aerial Achievement Medal to Captains Michael Hank and Edward Sutton, 535th Airlift Squadron, for their contributions to Operation Damayan, during a medal presentation September 9 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.

"I can't say it enough--thank you for what you do, and thank you for stepping up for this mission and being absolutely incredible," Carlisle said. "Your whole crew did an amazing job, and you have a lot to be proud of."

Hank and Sutton were members of two C-17 Globemaster III crews who flew humanitarian sorties in and out of the Tacloban region of the Phillipines, after Typhoon Haiyan devastated the area, killing more than 6,000 people.

Lt. Col. Gregg Johnson, 535th AS commander, presented the Air Force Aerial Achievement Medal to five other crewmembers at the presentation: Capt. Jason Birdsall, 1st Lt. Gavin Walter, Tech. Sgt. Robert Wyman, Staff Sgt. Dylan Porras, and Senior Airman Samantha Holley.

"It was amazing today to have our crews get the Aerial Achievement Medal," Hank said. "It's the result of the hard work everyone put into completing the mission and helping others."

Their crews were the first U.S. C-17s to land at Clark Air Base, Philippines, to provide humanitarian relief for the operation.

"What an honor and a humbling experience to be presented the Aerial Achievement Medal," Sutton said. "Sometimes it just feels like it's another day in the office but then you look back and see the impact your work had on the overall mission and on helping others--it's amazing."

When the crews arrived, more than 20,000 people were waiting for humanitarian aid and evacuation, many grieving due to missing family members and the devastation in the area.

"The moment that stands out for me was when we had that first load of 674 passengers," Walter said. "To see these people finally having a little hope on the plane after going days without food and water is something I'll never forget. We were able to take them to safety and that was an amazing feeling."

The 674-passenger sortie set a record for the most number of passengers on a single C-17 sortie.

In all, the two crews airlifted more than 2.5 million pounds of life-saving cargo, and rescued more than 2,000 people.

Official: Military Input Keeps Medical Care Top-Notch

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 10, 2014 – The future of military medicine is evolving largely from the input of service members and their families, Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Douglas J. Robb, director, Defense Health Agency, said at the annual Warrior-Family Symposium here today.

An organization under the Military Health System umbrella, the agency is the military’s platform to deliver health care, Robb told the symposium audience. The event was cosponsored by the Military Officers Association of America and the National Defense Industrial Association.

“Keep knocking on my door ... we’re listening,” the general told audience members.

But keeping up-to-date with medicine in a tight fiscal atmosphere can be a matter of adapt or perish, Robb said.

With the military downsizing from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, DHA was stood up to reform the military medical systems into one “efficient, effective but viable and higher-quality health care system in today’s environment,” he said.

DHA brings together standardized medicine and shared medical resources from the services, and shifts resources to increase the military’s readiness posture, Robb added.

By integrating the Army’s, Navy’s and Air Force’s medical departments and services, Robb said, the military is getting the best value for its health care system and a great readiness support network.

The recommendations from a recent Military Health Care System review are now in the hands of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Robb said. The results should come out in the next couple of weeks.

“What we’ll see is a good, honest hard look,” from internal and independent reviewers, he said.

“We have some areas for improvement, but we have some areas where we’re out-performing the civilian sector,” he said, adding that a highly reliable organization must continually focus on where it needs improvement.

“You need to keep pushing us and keep demanding [quality health care],” Robb told the audience.

USS Texas Changes Command

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jason Swink,
Submarine Force Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- The command of USS Texas (SSN 775) was passed, Sept. 9, as Cmdr. Andrew Hertel was relieved by Cmdr. Todd Nethercott as commanding officer at a time-honored change of command ceremony held aboard the Virginia-class fast attack submarine at the submarine piers on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

Hertel expressed how proud he is of having had the opportunity to be in command of the submarine for the last 32 months.

"It was the privilege of a lifetime to be your Commanding Officer. Thank you for giving your best every day," said Hertel to his crew. "With Sailor's like you manning such a vessel, it is no wonder everyone knows, you don't mess with Texas."

In command since Feb. 1, 2012, Hertel led his submarine through a 26 month maintenance availability period at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyards (PHNSY).

The ceremony's guest speaker, Capt. Brian Osgood, commander of PHNSY praised Hertel and his crew for a job well done.

"Andy spent much of his command tour in a mission that by no means was glamorous, but in many ways was vitally important to the future of the submarine fleet in the Pacific." said Osgood.

The first Virginia-class submarine to execute a major depot level maintenance availability and modernization in the pacific provided extra challenges which Osgood said the crew exceeded expectations.

"Texas is now one of the most advanced submarines on the planet, and the crew can testify to its capabilities," said Osgood.

During the ceremony, Hertel was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his leadership during the first-of-a-kind dry-dock selected availability demonstrating exceptional leadership and superb judgment during his command of Texas from Dec. 2011 to Sept. 2014.

As Nethercott assumed command of Texas, he thanked Hertel for the ready state of Texas and her crew.

"You should be justifiably proud of the outstanding job you have done bringing the ship, its crew and the families through a complex 26 month shipyard period," said Nethercott. "I want to thank the crew for all the hard work that went in to getting out of the shipyard and back to sea."

Commissioned Sept. 9, 2006, Texas was the second Virginia-class fast attack submarine constructed and the first submarine to be named after the Lone Star State.

The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Soldier Missing From WWII Accounted For

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing since World War II, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. Bernard Gavrin of Brooklyn, New York, will be buried on Sept. 12, in Arlington National Cemetery. On June 15, 1944, as part of an allied strategic goal to secure the Mariana Islands, U.S. forces were ordered to occupy Saipan. After a month of intense fighting, enemy forces conducted a suicide assault, known as a banzai attack. This was designed to inflict as many casualties as possible against the 105th Infantry Regiment (IR), 27th Infantry Division (ID). During these attacks, elements of the 105th IR sustained heavy losses, with more than 900 soldiers killed or injured. Gavrin was reported missing in action on July 7, 1944.

On July 8, 1945, with no new information concerning Gavrin or 21 other service members of the 105th IR, investigators issued a presumptive finding of death. In November 1948, the American Graves Registration Services (AGRS) reviewed the circumstances of Gavrin’s loss and concluded his remains were non-recoverable.

In Sept. 2013, several Japanese non-governmental organizations, with oversight from a private archaeological company, recovered human remains and personal effects belonging to American servicemen from an unmarked burial. The remains were turned over to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).

In the identification of Gavrin’s remains, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools including dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA, which matched Gavrin’s nephew.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPMO web site at or call 703-699-1169.