Military News

Monday, September 22, 2014

Alaska Forget Me Not coalition honored at ceremony

by Air National Guard Capt. Bernie Kale
Alaska Air National Guard Public Affairs


9/22/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Alaska Gov. Sean Parnell signed a memorandum of agreement Thursday, recognizing the accomplishments of Alaska Forget Me Not, a coalition that works to ensure military members and families have access to culturally competent services and support.

Alaska Forget Me Not focuses on statewide collaboration, community outreach, and education and strategic partnerships all to benefit service members, veterans and families living all across Alaska.

"What you are seeing today is a gathering of service providers who are willing to say, we as a community support you," Parnell said. "We have a community of supporters of our military, and we have an opportunity here that is beyond what I think is achieved anywhere else in the country."

Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Mike Bridges, acting adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard, joined Parnell at the Arctic Warrior Event Center on JBER for the signing of the support agreement that acknowledges the positive steps the coalition has made for the military community.

Bridges spoke specifically to Alaska Forget Me Not coalition members about the importance of their programs to the veterans who live in remote villages of Alaska.

"Without the care of this coalition, and all the parts of it, to help these great American Soldiers, we would lose them," Bridges said. "All of you coalition members come to the table with a unique skill set.

"You make us better; you will support us and sustain us because of your willingness as agencies, and [because of] individuals' willingness to do so."

Parnell encouraged the coalition members to continue providing these much-needed programs and services to current military members, veterans and their families.

"I'm signing this memorandum knowing there are many coalition members here as well who as Alaskans say, we love you, we support you, and we will always be there with you," Parnell said.

Alaska Forget Me Not also works to identify gaps in available programs and duplication of efforts to make sure services maximize their program's impact.

JBER School Partnership Program members have high hopes for 2014

by Senior Airman Omari Bernard
JBER Public Affairs


9/22/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- On a rainy Wednesday in Anchorage, service members and educators met at King Career Center. Though they walk different career paths, they have something in common - the development of today's workforce and tomorrow's leaders in the Anchorage School District.

Partners from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the Anchorage School District came together to plan and coordinate efforts for the 2014 school year during the School Partnership Program Kick Off event.

Ed Graff, ASD superintendent, started off the event by congratulating everyone on the previous year and welcoming new faces as he looked around the room.
"As many of you know, the partners that we have in Anchorage are critical to our success," Graff said.

An example of this is a partnership between the 673d Civil Engineer Group and Central Middle School of Science. Airmen chaperone students, coach youth activities and teach students about their careers. Central Middle School and the 673d CEG are winners of the of 2014 Spirit of Tomorrow Business Award.

As part of the ASD's School Business Partnership program the SPP is one of many partnerships with the ASD.

"In the School Business Partnership Program we have more than 600 partners in existence and are thriving," Graff said. "What's nice about these partnerships is that we don't just receive the benefits from these partnerships - [we] are able to give back."

As the ASD superintendent, he explained he has the pleasure of having a partnership with JBER leaders such as Air Force Col. Brian Bruckbauer, JBER and 673d Air Base Wing commander, and Army Col. Thomas Roth, U.S. Army Alaska chief of staff.

"The partnerships between JBER and the ASD have been in existence for five years," Graff said. "There are 28 different partnerships currently at 24 schools with different units and support staff."

Bruckbauer and Roth both said they support the message of the ASD superintendent.

"We treasure the relationship that the installation has with the school district," Bruckbauer said. "Not only do we do our mission on JBER each and every day but all of our people live and work in the community."

Roth has had five had children attend schools in the ASD.

"I have been here for a few years," Roth said. "Thanks for what you do. We are thrilled to be partners with raising our children."

As someone new to the Anchorage community, Bruckbauer said he was impressed by the support of the local community.

"It makes living here a wonderful experience," said the JBER commander. "The community relationship we have is very strong in Anchorage."

The program is meant to develop strategies for how the JBER and education communities can work together to build stronger workforce relationships. T
ogether, partners in the program discuss the specific needs and demands for a quality education and a well-trained workforce in the 21st century.

"We want to make this program as successful as possible," Bruckbauer said. "We look forward to a wonderful year and a wonderful partnership."

For more information, or to take in the program, call 384-1505.

Simulators train aircrew at fraction of cost

by Airman 1st Class Nathan Clark
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


9/22/2014 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- Everything's normal looking out the window of the cockpit on a summer morning. The student pilot and co-pilot are going through their pre-flight checklists. Switches and toggles are thrown and gauges are read. In a few minutes this C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft will barrel down the runway and take off into the wild blue yonder.

Well, not really the "wild blue," but more like the large room that houses the flight simulator. At Altus Air Force Base, simulators are used to create a very realistic training environment for C-17 pilots and loadmasters, which operate at a much cheaper cost and no major safety risks.

Using simulators for the majority of pilot training is very advantageous, said U.S. Air Force Capt. Jeremy Mary, an operations flight commander with the 58th Airlift Squadron. It operates at about five percent of the cost of a real jet. One hour of flying in a C-17 costs approximately $23,424, a substantial difference compared to the simulator.

Not only is it significantly cheaper, but it can help save time, account for different scenarios, and is much safer. Tony Senci, the site manager for the C-17 training system, said, "We can replicate air refueling, air drop, all the various approaches the aircraft has- morning, noon, night vision googles, all weather, everything."

The training C-17 pilots receive is extensive and ensures that they will be able to operate in any real situation. This is achieved through several different steps in training, said Senci. Student pilots go through computer and instructor based training, cockpit systems simulator and weapon systems simulator training. Students spend 136.5 hours in the simulator and only 18 hours in a real aircraft.

Likewise, loadmasters spend 124 hours training in simulators and only 35 hours flying. They start with a model one-tenth the size of a true C-17 and any model of vehicles and cargo, said Senci. They then move to a computer simulator and finally to a full scale replica of a C-17.

Although pilots begin their training in a simulator, it doesn't stop after graduation. U.S. Air Force Capt. Grant Behning, a training flight commander with the 58th Airlift Squadron said, "We're relying more on the simulator. We're going to use it not just to learn, but to become experts."

This advancement comes from the simulator becoming more realistic thanks to the inputs made by the instructors. "It's important to continue to make the simulator more like the environment," said Behning. "It will have a dramatic effect and impact on the students."

Even with advancements, the simulator can never duplicate how busy pilots are in a real aircraft, Behning and Mary said. But regarding emergency training, "we can take that to a level that you would never want to in a jet."

The extensive training gives the students the confidence to transition from simulator to a real aircraft. U.S. Air Force Capt. Bryan Adams, a C-17 student pilot, said so far he hasn't been too nervous due to the gradual progression throughout the course. "You learn on the simulator and from your mistakes so you don't do that in an actual airplane."

"It's a low stress environment. There's not a lot of pressure on you yet," said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Jared Barkemeyer, who is also a student pilot.

The use of simulators for training pilots and loadmasters are useful tools because they provide realistic familiarization time with their aircraft long before they take responsibility for a multi-million dollar aircraft. The many phases  these two courses have, along with the advancement of making scenarios as real as possible help make students trained at Altus Air Force Base ready for any situation and confident in their abilities after graduation.

Luke EOD Airman changed for good by life experiences

by Senior Airman Marcy Copeland
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/22/2014 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- The challenges in life are often what make us who we are, alter our path in life and change our future. For Tech Sgt. David Gerig, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team chief, his experiences led him to helping the poor and comforting the dying.

Gerig's family came from Johannesburg, in the province of Gauteng, South Africa. He was born in the U.S. with the majority of his family still living in South Africa.
The Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S., combined with the need to receive financial help for college, led him to join the military.

At first, Gerig was interested in joining the Marines, but the Air Force offered him the job he was interested in -- explosives. After high school graduation in 2002, Gerig left for basic training and attended technical training at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, for 10 months. From there his first base was Kadena Air Base, Japan, where he experienced his first culture shock at age 19.

"My first base was Kadena, right off the bat," Gerig said. "It gave me a chance to go overseas and experience that cultural shock. The chance to see other cultures at a younger age made it a great island to be stationed at."

During his time at Kadena, the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake struck and sent a massive tsunami along the coastlines, killing more than 230,000 people in 14 countries. Gerig took leave and traveled to Thailand a few weeks before his scheduled deployment to help rebuild an orphanage.

"Kadena really opened me up to the world," said Gerig. "When the tsunami hit Thailand, I had to go there and help. That was when I was like 'Whoa, this is just amazing." Helping out was just phenomenal."

After his work in Thailand, Gerig went on his first deployment to Afghanistan. He would go on to three more deployments after that. One deployment was to Iraq, another to Afghanistan, and one to Germany to work with service members returning from war suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder at the Deployment Transition Center.

"War and death can affect a person in many ways, and I was there to help others with my experiences of going through combat."

Gerig was then stationed at Scott AFB, Illinois, from 2005 until March of this year when he arrived at Luke.

Training for missions and being gone for days at a time was not easy for this single father.

"I am a full time single dad," he said. "I needed a support system that I could depend on. Luke Air Force Base gave me the opportunity to raise my daughter and still do my job."

Gerig has traveled the world, checking off countries he has wanted to visit. Next on his list is the Kalighat Home for the Dying. The home was established in 1952 in Kalighat, Kolkata, India, by Mother Theresa. It is a free hospice for the poor and is a place to give dignity to those who are dying.

"You should do things that change your perspective on life," Gerig said. "For example, at the home for the destitute and dying, you see people who were literally dying on the streets before they were taken there. The workers ask them, 'All right, can we give you food? Can we bath you?'

"That will change your perspective," he said.

Charleston facility named after AF Reservist

by Capt Michaela Judge
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/22/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- A 315th Airlift Wing building here was dedicated in honor of an Air Force Reservist Sept. 20.

Building 416 was formally named the Master Sgt. Ronald A. Hall Aeromedical Evacuation Operations Facility in his memory and honor. Hall, who passed away in 2011, made significant contributions to the aeromedical evacuation field during a career that began in 1983.

"Air Force heritage is remembering those that made lasting contributions to the nation. When Airmen ask 'Who was Ron Hall?' it gives us the chance to explain his accomplishments and highlight the values he exemplified that we hold dear," said Lt. Col. David Ball, 315 AES chief of operations.

Hall was assigned to Charleston Air Force Base in 1987 and played a key role as an aeromedical evacuation technician and evaluator. As an AE crew member, he was qualified on C-141, C-130, KC-135, C-17 and Civil Reserve Airlift Fleet aircraft.

Hall helped to further AE's role to "preserve the fighting strength," by providing in-flight medical care aboard mission-directed aircraft used to airlift patients - essentially turning the C-17 into a flying hospital.

His service and dedication to the Air Force took him to locations all over the world to include Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Hawaii, Europe, Japan, Panama, Azores, St. Croix, and Puerto Rico.

"For 24 of his 28 years of service, Master Sgt. Ron Hall served as an aeromedical evacuation technician at the 315th AES. He became an instructor and later an evaluator teaching new generations of Airmen how to care for wounded in flight," said Ball.

Despite having a massive heart attack while on an alert crew after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Hall fought to regain worldwide mobility status and later deployed in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Even further surpassing his love for his job was the care and time Hall spent with his co-workers, friends and family.

"In addition to his superior clinical and crew management skills, Ron was a genuinely nice guy. He was the Pitmaster; the cook for all of our BBQs... be they here at Charleston or at hotspots around the globe," said Ball.

The ceremony included remarks by Col. Diane DiFrancesco, 315th AES commander, as well as several remembrances from friends and previous co-workers. At the close of the dedication, Hall's wife and family cut the ribbon marking the official designation of the facility. The ceremony was followed by a tour of the facility and wing BBQ, representing one of Hall's favorite pastimes.

"Master Sgt. Hall was truly considered a subject matter expert within the AE community; he made tremendous contributions over the years in support of global aeromedical contingencies, exercises and training," said DiFrancesco. "Naming our operations building after Master Sgt. Hall, establishes a permanent reminder of the values that he represented to all those that had the honor to know and serve with him. The mottos "Duty, Honor, Country" were words that he embodied throughout his military career."

Kansas Coyotes refuel Spangdahlem fighters

by Airman 1st Class Luke J. Kitterman
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/19/2014 - SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany -- At more than 28,000 feet above ground, a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker and its crew assigned to the 117th Air Refueling Squadron in Topeka, Kansas, executed an aerial refueling mission with 52nd Fighter Wing F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft Sept. 18 at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany.

Aerial refueling is the process of transferring fuel from one aircraft to another during flight to allow aircraft to be airborne longer, extending its range and mission capabilities.

"The F-16 usually has a mission time of about an hour to an hour and a half," said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Andrew J. Taylor, a 52nd FW F-16 pilot. "Being able to use the tankers and refuel in the air is awesome for us. It allows us to do longer missions. We can set up a scenario, go fight and then go get fuel in the air to go back and fight again."

During the refueling process, the aircraft receiving the fuel is within about 30 feet of the tanker. The fuel is transferred through the flying boom, a telescoping tube with movable flight control surfaces that an operator on the tanker aircraft extends and inserts into a receptacle on the receiving aircraft.

For one Airman, operating the flying boom is as rewarding as it gets.

"Getting to do this for a living is amazing," said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Ben Tressler, an in-flight refueling specialist from the 117th Air Refueling Squadron. "I joined the Air Force to travel and I've been to 29 different countries because of this job. To me, there's not a better gig in the world."

Since the KC-135 was from the Kansas Air National Guard and was taking off from Spangdahlem runway for their training, it gave a small group of Spangdahlem Airmen the opportunity to fly with the crew and observe in-air refueling operations.

"Most of the time it's routine training," Taylor said. "This time it's a little more exciting because it allowed some of our maintenance Airmen, the people who take care of our jets, to get a front row seat to what we do up there. It shows them how their work on the ground enables us to do our work in the air."

For many Airmen on board, it was their first time seeing the refueling process.

"Seeing the boom hook up with the F-16s was awesome," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Francisco J. Bautista, a 480th Air Maintenance Squadron electrician. "We work with the F-16s every day and to get to see them in action from the tanker was a great experience."

Air Force Reserve, Army units collaborate on World War II chapel renovations

by Christina Carmen Crea
Northwest Guardian


9/19/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Turning a World War II-era chapel into an Environmental Education and Conference Center here has connected Washington National Guard's 176th Engineers and 446th Airlift Wing Citizen Airmen in a unique way.

It was a chance for Army and Air Force components to collaborate on a project outside of combat training or operations.

"This is unique in troop construction," said JBLM Directorate of Public Works project manager and 176th Engineer Maj. Matthew Weeks. "It's above and beyond what normal troop construction has been with all of the wars going on the past few years. What makes this unique is it's truly a joint operation. You've got the Air Force Reserve and the Army National Guard working together on a military base."

Instead of going through a contractor to rebuild the chapel, Weeks said he wanted to go with military engineers and tradesmen who were already trained and on the clock.
"This project came up and I realized that they have the right skills sets and it's good to put them to work," he said.

The 176th Engineers are the lead on the project with support from the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Staff Sgt. Dustin Buel, 446th CES, said sometimes it's challenging for the Army and Air Force to work together, but this project is a good example of their collaboration.

"There's a lot of great people to learn from, we learn from each other," he said. "Since we're already on one base, why go somewhere else when there's knowledge right across the street? And it saves the public money."

In return, service members get hands-on cross-training.

"It's a win-win situation for all parties," Weeks said.

Staff Sgt. Shane Little, 446th CES Heating, Ventilation, and Cooling technician, said it's been a great opportunity to learn how the Army operates.

"There are different rules for them compared to us (Air Force)," he said. "I enjoy this project, I like working with my hands. My trade is HVAC, but with this project I get to learn different skills such as putting beams up and pouring concrete. I don't do this on a daily basis so it's good to learn."

Staff Sgt. Jose Espinomella, 446th CES, said it correlates with the joint missions of JBLM.

"We all have the same mission and vision," he said. "It's one fight."

Chief of the Environmental Division Branch of JBLM DPW project manager Ken Smith said it's a new approach for public works to use Army and Air Force for projects.

"This is a test to see how effective it would be and so far I'm very impressed with the quality of work and attitude of folks who get the job done," he said. "Hopefully more projects will be handed off to them to utilize the workforce already here."

This project has also been a "check" off of Smith's bucket list.

"I'm pretty excited from both a personal and professional aspects," he said. "We've got a few sustainability projects going on at the same time to make JBLM the most sustainable place in the Army."

Smith added that the location, size and amenities of the new building will be much better than the current building.

"There's a storm-water retention pond we can use for our environmental projects right next to the building," he said. "Right now there's always so many people who take our classes that the lines go out the door. This space is triple what we have now and will have lots of data ports for students."

This project originally started 20 years ago and faced some construction setbacks - but since October of last year, they've planned to start the project again with construction officially starting on Aug. 1.

"Back in 2007, we did a sustainability project to show that a lot of old buildings could be renovated and reused as opposed to going to the landfill," Smith said. "Of the 13 buildings removed, we have 96 percent of our materials come out of those to be re-used."

The renovations to the chapel include a new HVAC system, electrical, plumbing, interior walls, sidewalks and other interior amenities.

"Essentially, the only things it had was a roof and exterior walls and frames," Weeks said.

Dan Fry, electrical inspector for JBLM DPW, said he thinks it's "fantastic that the troops are out there practicing their skills to get the facility done."

Fry was involved in the project years ago and is excited to see it completed.

"It's great the Soldiers can actually see something happen here from start to finish. See the results of their labor," said Lt. Col. Jennifer Phelps, 627th Air Base Group deputy director of JBLM DPW.

This project is also part of the "Net Zero" mission at JBLM.

As old buildings are being removed to make way for newer, more modern and energy efficient facilities, Weeks said they too often see the loss of something special regarding the heritage represented by the buildings being replaced.

They are using durable, cost effective "green" material systems and sustainable design will be used for everything from the foundation, windows, doors, wall assemblies, insulation and roof. The reclaimed exterior wood siding (which is prime quality, old-growth wood) will be reused on the interior and the final structure will end up retaining its historical design.

"We wanted to reuse the building because the actual structure was sound," Weeks said.

This has also allowed the troops the ability to be creative and make adjustments to the design.

"We are basically creating something new with the frames," he said.

Construction will continue throughout the year, with completion expected by the end of the year.

Pope Field spouses take flight

by Tech. Sgt. Elizabeth Moody
440th Airlift Wing, Public Affairs


9/21/2014 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C.  -- The 440th Airlift Wing sponsored a spouse flight aboard a C-130 Hercules here, Sept. 21.  About 50 spouses took to the skies to see first-hand what it is their reservists do supporting the wing's mission at Pope Field.

"The goal is to have a nice introduction of the C-130 flying community and extend that to the spouses so that they understand the importance of what their spouse does every day in terms of flying," said Maj. Kristie Piotrowicz, 95th Airlift Squadron navigator, here.

For many of the spouses, this was their first flight on a military aircraft.  The training mission took the participants through their spouses' work day starting with a pre-flight mission briefing before moving to the C-130 aircraft. The two-hour flying mission then took the spouses on a track south to Charleston, S.C., and back.

Crystal Maver, married for four years to Master Sgt. Michael Maver, 53rd Aerial Port Squadron cargo supervisor here, said she was particularly excited about the orientation flight because she loves every aspect of her husband's military career.

"I love him being in the military and I'm super proud of him," said Maver.  "Michael thought this would be a good way for me to see what he does on the weekends and how they actually operate."

Making sure spouses and families know how important they are is a top priority of the 440th Airlift Wing leadership.

"Brig. Gen. Scanlan, Col. Schmitkons and Chief Master Sgt. Hart are serious about Airmen," said Col. Sharon Johnson, 440th Maintenance Group commander here.  "We can't have Airmen without their families and one thing that the general can do for recruiting and retention is to allow their spouses an opportunity to experience a little bit of our life."

A big part of that life at Pope Field is supporting the C-130 mission.

"Our wing leadership wanted to offer this opportunity for our Airmen and their spouses," said Johnson.  "That's how much we value them."

It's important for spouses to be agile and understand when we have to deploy, said Johnson.

"So we're here supporting them, showing them what we do and giving them a taste of what we're all about."

Charleston reserve maintainers covers flightline during active duty wingman day

by Staff Sgt. Rashard Coaxum
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/20/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Joint Base Charleston's 437th Maintenance Group got to take a break from work yesterday to enjoy time together courtesy of the 315th Maintenance Group.

The 315th MXG came to tap in for the 437th MXG and take control of all flightline and maintenance operations as the 437th MXG participated in the active duty's wingman day activities here.

"We're filling in in various aspects of both production and supervision throughout the entire maintenance group, however most of the focused effort is in the 437th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron," said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Mong, the 315th MXG superintendant.

"Our main focus today is on the flightline," he said. "We are covering the aircraft flying schedule, we have higher headquarters missions that we have to get off the ground as well as the reserve shuttle we are covering."

Mong - a 24-year veteran of the Air Force - said that for the last year and a half to two years, the reserve MXG has had the opportunity to proudly fill in for their active duty counterparts on several occasions here.

Being able to support the active duty on wingman day plays into the Air Forces concepts of total force integration as well as comprehensive health, he said.

"I think it's very critical and crucial," Mong said. "We have an outstanding partnership with the 437th, specifically in the 437th Maintenance Group, and I look at us as a great example of total force integration and that's vital to both 437th and 315th MXG existence."

"We really back each other up because they need us as much as we need them," he said.

"It allows them to participate as a unit and unit cohesion is a crucial part of wingman day activities," he said. "By us taking over for them, it enables all of their maintainers - not just a portion and not just a couple of men and women, but the entire unit - to participate as a group in all of the wingman day activities."

Senior Master Sgt. Michele Summers - the lead production superintendant with the 315th AMXS and night shift supervisor - said that being able to fill in for the active duty for an occasion like this is not just about coming in to work for another shift, but it was more about having the chance to allow them to decompress but still find continuity within their unit.

"It's really nice to be able to step up and say 'Hey, you know what active duty...I want you do your wingman events and go build your camaraderie among one another and not have to worry about what's going on on the line," Summers said. "It's nice to be able to say 'We got this for you guys'."

Stepping in for the active duty served a dual purpose, Summers said. The airmen she supervised got the chance to not only give the active duty much needed wingman time, but it also gave them a chance to show how capable her reserve airmen really are.

"I love the 315th AMXS and I know what we are capable of," Summers said. "We have the knowledge and we know what we need to do out there and these are the type days that give us this opportunity."

Mong echoed the same comments and added that the ultimate goal in covering operations like these expands far beyond what one might see on the surface level.

He said that it was important to remember that supporting the active duty counterpart in this way benefits each wingman - both active and reserve -  and that it's crucial to successfully fulfilling the mission here at JB Charleston.

"We have adopted their mission statement and their mission statement is our mission statement to the very core," he said. "We really are one team no seam here and that's always been our mantra we operate on."

Korean War vets visit Seymour Johnson

by Airman 1st Class Shawna L. Keyes
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/19/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- A group of Korean War veterans and their families held their annual 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing reunion here Sept. 11-13.

The veterans, who were assigned to the 4th FIW during the Korean War, toured much of the base and held several functions over the course of their three-day visit.

The 4th FIW and the Korean War: A brief history

The 4th FIW was assigned the F-86 Sabre jet just prior to the Korean War. The unit was the first to commit F-86 Sabre jets to that conflict. 4th FIW Airmen destroyed 502 enemy aircraft (54 percent of the total), becoming the top fighter unit of the Korean War. Twenty-four pilots achieved ace status. The wing's role in the Korean War is widely recognized by historians as one of the Air Force's earliest displays of air dominance.

The wing moved to Japan following the Korean armistice in 1953, continuing training and tours to Korea. The unit moved to Seymour Johnson AFB Dec. 8, 1957.

4th FW embraces its history

After one of the functions during the veterans' tour, a tearful veteran, Francis Halogan, expressed his appreciation for what happened during a visit to the 4th Maintenance Group earlier in the day where the unit lined the hallways giving the group of war veterans and their families applause as they toured the building.

"Seeing all those Airmen - I waited 60 years to have a welcome home like that from war," Halogan said.

Retired Senior Master Sgt. Carlos "Marty" Martinez, a 4th FIW veteran, said he'll never forget how the 4th MXG greeted them.

"I'm very impressed with the way the younger Airmen handle themselves and how they are serving their country," he said.

After the applause, Col. Darrell Steele, 4th MXG commander, provided the group with a briefing on the history of the wing since the group's service in the Korean War.

Col. Marl Slocum, 4th FW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Jeffery Craver, 4th FW command chief, also took time to greet the veterans and their families. Slocum thanked the veterans for serving during one of the most demanding times in U.S. history and for establishing and developing the legacy of the 4th FW.

Upholding the 4th FW legacy

On the final evening of the visit, the group held an informal dinner at the 334th Aircraft Maintenance Unit hangar, where they had an opportunity to talk about the tour and share their experiences with Airmen who've recently joined the Air Force.

As the guest speaker of the event, Steele took time to thank the group for their visit and express his gratitude in serving as a group commander in the wing that the veterans in attendance built from the ground up.

"The stories that you all have selflessly shared help inspire, guide and remind us of our rich heritage and history," Steele said. "It's our job as an Air Force and nation to ensure we never forget the many sacrifices of our veterans."

At the conclusion of the event, the veterans and their families expressed their gratitude for the 4th FW hosting the event.

"It's humbling to see how the wing has grown over the years," Martinez said. "Hopefully we can hold an event here again in the near future. There is no place like home."

403rd Wing hosts recruiting event for Airmen impacted by proposed deactivations

by Maj. Lisa L. Kostellic
3rd Mission Support Group


9/22/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Approximately 120 personnel and leadership in the 403rd Wing and recruiters from Alabama and Mississippi participated in a recruiting event here Sept. 13.

In March, the 403rd Civil Engineer Squadron was one of several Air Force Reserve Command units identified in the President's 2015 Proposed Budget to deactivate.

Although the audience was primarily made up of CES personnel, the event was open to the wing, especially those in maintenance and operations career fields affected by the proposed deactivations of the 345th and 815th Airlift Squadrons.

"We stand to lose about 500 personnel from the 403rd Wing in the near future. It's imperative we do everything we can to help these trained Citizen Airmen find a place where they can continue to participate in the national defense of our country," said Col. Frank L. Amodeo, 403rd Wing commander.

Twenty Guard and Reserve recruiters provided a multitude of choices for Airmen, who have to make life- and career-changing decisions based upon the decisions made by the Air Force and AFRC.

"It was a surprising blow for us (CES), finding out we'd be deactivating. Once we got over the initial shock, we started working on ways to help our civil engineers transition. We hope this recruiting event was a significant help to everyone who attended," said Tech. Sgt. Charles L. King, Jr., event coordinator.

Of the many guest recruiters, Col. David M. Kennard, the mission support group commander from the 186th Air Refueling Wing, Mississippi Air National Guard, drove to Keesler from Meridian to share his wing's experience to higher headquarters-driven changes and show support for the 403rd Wing's present and future challenges.

"We understand what you are going through. We've been through four types of airframes in the past five years. Recently, we got the message for our Detachment 1 to stand down. In the end, we were able to retain about 120 out of 250 members," said Kennard.

The 186th MSG commander and the rest of the recruiters briefed their missions, vacancies, and transfer requirements. After their remarks, the audience was free to move about and talk to recruiters, on-on-one.

"This a difficult situation for everyone involved. As a senior leader in an affected wing, we have to play the hand we are dealt," said Amodeo. "We want to do everything we can to support our Airmen and their families; that means offering options. This recruiting event today does that. We will continue to provide ways to help our Airmen make the most informed decision possible.".

Meet the 90th SFG Global Strike Challenge team

by Senior Airman Jason Wiese
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs


9/19/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- At this year's Global Strike Challenge, defenders from the 90th Security Forces Group are poised to take on their counterparts from across 20th Air Force.

"Global Strike Challenge is all the bases under [Air Force] Global Strike Command competing in their specific career field," said Senior Airman Colton Schoenegge, 90th Security Forces Group Tactical Response Force and 2014 90th SFG GSC team member. "So, [security forces are] going to be competing in different categories that relate to our job."

The defenders will be evaluated in their use of weapons, manipulating weapons, traversing an obstacle course, displaying tactics and demonstrating land navigation skills.

"It's a test for yourself, a test for your team," said Senior Airman Gerald Brown, 2014 90th SFG GSC team member from the 790th Missile Security Forces Squadron. "It brings up team morale and the competitive spirit."

Preparing for the challenge puts the competitors in a different mindset and keeps them from getting complacent, said Senior Airman Richard Purrier, 90th Security Forces Group Tactical Response Force and 2014 90th SFG GSC team member.

"My favorite part of the competition -- easily -- is getting to go out and do a lot more PT than usual, getting some more time to train with tactics, more shooting time -- all the stuff you sign up to do in the military, I'm getting to do that every day," Brown said.

With all eyes on them, the competitors realize the importance of the GSC.

"GSC is important because each base is able to broadcast their abilities and how good they are at what they do every day," Schoenegge said.

The GSC shows everyone that Mighty Ninety Airmen are highly motivated to do their jobs -- that they do their best to support nuclear deterrence, Purrier said.

A lot of time and effort goes into training for the challenge, Schoenegge said.

"We're very prepared," he said. "We've been doing [physical training] twice a day, and we've also been doing some training in between.

"For the other teams, I just hope they're ready."

Team members

2nd Lt. Jeffery Davis, 90th MSFS

Staff Sgt. Lance Bollenberg, 90th MSFS

Senior Airman Gerald Brown, 790th MSFS

Senior Airman Richard Purrier, 90th SFG TRF

Senior Airman Colton Schoenegge, 90th SFG TRF

Airman Riley Borges, 790th MSFS

Military Continues Battle Against Suicide



By Lisa Ferdinando
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2014 – Every suicide in the force is tragic, a top National Guard leader said recently, and the number of these deaths needs to be reduced to zero.

Army National Guard Brig. Gen. Michael E. Bobeck, special assistant to the director of the Army National Guard, spoke Sept. 19 at the Psychological Health and Resilience Summit at Defense Health Headquarters, Falls Church, Virginia. His topic was “Resilience and Psychological Efforts in the DoD.”

“Suicide and high-risk behavior reduction remains an incredibly difficult problem and has the top interest of our Army senior leaders as well as our Department of Defense,” Bobeck said. “We need to continue to work and strive to reduce high-risk behavior and suicides across our force.”

Number of soldier-suicides down

Bobeck said the Army National Guard had 120 suicides in 2013. There have been 44 this year, he said.

“That’s tragic that we’ve even had 44, but that’s a significant difference in number,” Bobeck said. “We’ve made a tremendous investment in our resiliency campaigns and our resiliency training. Can we tie that directly to that? We’re still looking at that, but we know we’ve had a significant reduction.”

Yet, each soldier’s suicide “is still tragic,” said Bobeck, who noted the necessity of reducing the incidence of such tragedies “to zero.”

Eliminate stigma of seeking help

The stigma associated with getting help for psychological issues needs to be eliminated, he said. Soldiers seeking treatment also need to fully disclose their conditions and not be afraid to report the issues they are facing, he added.

National Guard soldiers face challenges in accessing health programs, Bobeck said, as many live in communities far from where the military health programs are offered.

“Because of our geographically dispersed, part-time nature of our force, our behavioral health programs have to adapt to serve our unique needs,” Bobeck said. “Our soldiers don’t live near large bases, we don’t have continual access to clinics and we don’t come together on a daily basis.”

‘Invisible’ wounds can emerge

National Guard soldiers are screened before, during and after deployments, Bobeck noted. Follow-up assessments need to occur in the months and years after deployments, he said, when the “invisible” wounds can emerge from traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress disorder.

“What we’ve found is that many of the DoD and the Army health programs are designed for active-duty soldiers and that component,” Bobeck said. “We have to think differently on how we deliver services to our men and women in this unique population.”

Duty status also impacts the availability of health care, he said.

Bobeck said the National Guard and Army Reserve are looking at several different unified budget legislation actions to help change some policies and allow members to access care regardless of their status.

Nation at war

Members of the National Guard are citizens who work, go to school, live in their communities, and are always ready to serve the nation whenever called upon, Bobeck said.

“They have been heavily engaged in combat missions in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 13 years, and as well as responding to national emergencies at the national level as well as at the state level,” he said.

“Our men and women serving in the National Guard today are not in a Guard that their grandfather served in,” Bobeck said.

“We are definitely training more than a weekend a month and two weeks during the summer, and that shows by the readiness of our men and women to respond to emergencies in their state as well as being able to quickly mobilize and deploy for operations overseas.”

Health and resiliency programs need to address the needs and challenges of the diverse National Guard locations, Bobeck said.

“One program does not fit all 50 states and territories,” he said.

Fiscal challenges

Budget cuts are forcing “tough resource decisions,” Bobeck said. The Army across the force has allocated a “tremendous amount of time and resources” over the past 13 years for resiliency programs for family support, employment assistance, substance abuse and programs to prevent and respond to sexual harassment and sexual assault, he said.

“We know that these budget cuts that are coming are forcing us to take a hard look at all of those programs, balance those resources, look for program efficiencies, as well as partner with other not only services but other organizations to continue to provide that access for our men and women,” he said.

“And it’s hard to do,” the general added.

Former 419th reservist to compete in Warrior Games

by Master Sgt. Jamie Hamilton

9/19/2014 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- A former reservist in the 419th Fighter Wing is set to compete in the 2014 Warrior Games competition Sept. 28 to Oct. 4 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Tech. Sgt. Andrew Evans served in the wing's 67th Aerial Port Squadron for 10 years before being medically retired in June. Evans suffered spinal injuries during a hiking accident while on annual tour in Alaska in 2013 and is paralyzed from the waist down.

The Warrior Games are designed to introduce wounded service members and veterans to adaptive sports and encourage them to stay physically active.

Evans attended trials at Nellis AFB, Nevada, in April and was one of 40 athletes selected to represent the Air Force during the games, which include archery, cycling, shooting, sitting-volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball. Evans will compete in the shooting and cycling events.

The 419th alum is training hard for the competition's six-mile race.

"Two times a week I do intense elevation climbs, and the other days I focus on distance," Evans said.  "My goal changes each day, but I usually try for about 15 miles each day."

Evans' motivation to join the Warrior Games stems from his love of sports and the camaraderie he feels with his teammates, he said.

"These men and women have faced the harshest adversity of their life but they never give up," Evans said. "They are true inspirations because there's not one person who would give up the sacrifice they paid for these injuries."

Airman comes home after 62 years

by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Caya and Staff Sgt. Stephanie Sawyer
914th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/19/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- ""We never expected it -- it's a miracle," said Mary May, as she watched the dignified arrival of her brother's remains, U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. William Irving Turner at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, New York, Sept. 18.

The Niagara Falls ARS Honor Guard conducted the arrival, and a military escort remained with Turner to his hometown of Coudersport, Pennsylvania.

"The most rewarding job we can have in the military is honoring the fallen," said Master Sgt. Lisa Sveda, superintendent of the Niagara Falls ARS Honor Guard.

According to the Department of Defense, on Nov. 22, 1952, a C-124 Globemaster aircraft crashed while en route to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, from McChord Air Force Base, Washington, with 11 crew members and 41 passengers on board. DOD officials stated adverse weather prohibited immediate recovery attempts. In late November and early December 1952, they added, search parties were unable to locate and recover any of the service members.

On June 9, 2012, an Alaska National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crew spotted aircraft wreckage and debris during a training mission over the Colony Glacier, immediately west of Mount Gannett. Three days later, another Alaska Guard team landed at the site to photograph the area and found artifacts at the site that related to the wreckage of the C-124 Globemaster.

Later that month, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and Joint Task Force team conducted a recovery operation at the site and recommended that it continue to be monitored for possible future recovery operations. In 2013, additional artifacts were visible, and JPAC conducted further recovery operations.

Earlier this year, the Defense Department scientists from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used forensic tools and circumstantial evidence in the identification and recovery of 17 service members, including Turner.

The remaining personnel have yet to be recovered, officials said, and the crash site will continue to be monitored for possible future recovery.

The remains of the following service members have been recovered and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors:

Army Lt. Col. Lawrence S. Singleton; Army Pvts. James Green Jr. and Leonard A. Kittle; Marine Corps Maj. Earl J. Stearns; Navy Cmdr. Albert J. Seeboth; Air Force Cols. Noel E. Hoblit and Eugene Smith; Air Force Capt. Robert W. Turnbull; Air Force 1st Lts. Donald Sheda and William L. Turner; Air Force Tech. Sgt. Engolf W. Hagen; Air Force Staff Sgt. James H. Ray; Air Force Airman 1st Class Marion E. Hooton; Air Force Airmen 2nd Class Carroll R. Dyer, Thomas S. Lyons and Thomas C. Thigpen; and Air Force Airman 3rd Class Howard E. Martin.

RAF Alconbury hosts multi-national POW/MIA remembrance run

by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
501st Combat Support Wing Public Affairs


9/22/2014 - RAF ALCONBURY, United Kingdom -- It was his 23rd mission - flying directly over Hanoi, North Vietnam, Oct. 26, 1967. Everything was fine until "a Russian missile the size of a telephone pole came up."

The sky was full of them, the U.S. Navy pilot said. It blew the right wing off his Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and sent him into an uncontrollable, downward spiral.

Frantically, the pilot pulled the ejection handle and was instantly knocked unconscious by the force at which he was thrown from the aircraft. Although he didn't realize it at the time, he had suffered a broken leg and two broken arms. His seemingly lifeless body hung by the strings of his parachute like a marionette as he slowly descended toward the Western Lake of Hanoi - extremely hostile territory.
...

Nearly 47 years later, Service members began tying their shoes in preparation for a POW/MIA Recognition Run at RAF Alconbury, United Kingdom, Sept. 19, 2014. Prisoner of war stories, like those of the downed-Navy pilot over Hanoi, spurred them onward.

"We are here to show our support and let POW and MIA personnel know they are not forgotten," said Master Sgt. Kaden Brooks, U.S. Africa Command Joint Analysis Center theater intelligence group superintendent. "These are guys missing in war. They pretty much gave everything."

Motivated by the memory of those who are not forgotten, Brooks pushed himself to complete 20 laps, totaling five miles, around the track. Every time he passed the starting line Brooks would see the names and faces of several prisoners of war and missing in action personnel, posted to a nearby canopy.

"It's important to come out here," Brooks said. "We need to send a message that we are still looking for them and we won't give up until they are found."
...

The days following the pilot's crash were spent in a daze. He remembered several North Vietnamese pulling him from the lake and stripping him - their standard procedure. As he fought through the pain of broken bones and nearly drowning, a nearby crowd began to taunt and assault him. One slammed the butt of a rifle on his shoulder, while another stuck a bayonet in his foot. Death seemed to be inevitable until someone called the mob off and had the pilot transported to Hanoi's main prison.
Every day the guards would "quiz" him several times. They charged him with war crimes, beat him unconscious and tortured him.

"You will not receive any medical treatment until you talk," one of the guards shouted.

Each day he would only respond with his name, rank, serial number and date of birth, as required by the Geneva Conventions and the Code of the U.S. Fighting Force.

"I didn't believe this," the pilot said during an interview years later. "I thought that if I just held out, that they'd take me to the hospital. I was fed small amounts of food by the guards and also allowed to drink some water. I was able to hold the water down, but I kept vomiting the food."

The days passed and the pilot's condition worsened. His knee began to resemble the size, shape and color of a football. He was dying and all his captors cared about was obtaining military information.
...

Though unique, the pilot's story is not uncommon. To date, there are 83,189 U.S. Service members unaccounted for from past conflicts dating as far back as World War II. For five-and-a-half years, the pilot lived the life of a POW in North Vietnam. His pain from living with minimal care in abhorrent conditions was solemnly honored when British nationals working at the 423rd Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department showed up to the Alconbury track wearing full firefighting gear and ready to run.

"I think it's important to remember the POW's and those persons missing in action," said Terry Beal, 423rd Civil Engineer Squadron fire department crew manager. "I personally know several who were British veterans of the Korean War, and they have friends who were left behind there."

While many of those missing-in-action Service members have been confirmed as killed, Beal said many have yet to be transported home, and some are still unaccounted for.

"We are running in full gear to remember what these people did - the sacrifices they made," he said. "We also remember what some of them might still be going through."
...

Days turned to weeks, weeks to months and months rolled by into years as the pilot survived through periods of favorable and unfavorable treatment. Once his captors learned his father was a Navy admiral, the pilot was given access to medical treatment that ultimately saved his life. However, despite his overall health improvement, the torture and abuse continued.

"They would beat the hell out of me and say I was going to see a delegation," the pilot said. "I'd respond that I'd see a delegation, but I would not say anything against my country and I would not say anything about my treatment and if asked, I'd tell them the truth about the conditions I was kept under."

The North Vietnamese never took him to see a delegation and the maltreatment continued.

"I was down to 105, 110 pounds, boils all over me, suffering dysentery," he said. "Finally came the day I'll never forget - the 18th of December, 1972. The whole place exploded when the Christmas bombing ordered by President Nixon began. They hit Hanoi right off the bat."

By late January of 1973, the pilot and his fellow POWs knew the end of the war was near. Conditions had improved dramatically, until March 15 when they boarded buses bound for Gia Lam Airport.

"When I read your name off, you get on the plane and go home," a guard said.

Until then, the pilot had not allowed himself anything more than a feeling of "cautious hope." However, the reality of the situation sank in when his name was called: John McCain.

"There is no way I can describe how I felt as I walked toward that U.S. Air Force plane," McCain said. "I think America is a better country now because we have been through a sort of purging process, a re-evaluation of ourselves. Now I see more of an appreciation of our way of life."

McCain said the personal support he received from family, friends and strangers has been overwhelming.

"I've received scores of letters from young people, and many of them sent me POW bracelets with my name on it," he said. "This outpouring on behalf of us who were prisoners of war is staggering, and a little embarrassing because basically we felt that we are just average American Navy, Marine and Air Force pilots who got shot down. Anybody else in our place would have performed just as well."

40th AS returns home after successful deployment

by Senior Airman Kia Atkins
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


9/15/2014 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Over 70 personnel and several C-130Js from the 40th Airlift Squadron, assigned to the 317th Airlift group here, returned to home station Sept. 15, 2014, following a deployment to the Central Command Area of Responsibility.

Operating as the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, the 40th AS provided tactical airlift and airdrop capabilities in direct support of coalition ground forces engaged in combat operations throughout Afghanistan.

As part of the 774th EAS, 40th AS Airmen executed the first humanitarian relief operations to aid more than 120,000 Badakhshan mudslide victims in northeast Afghanistan. They flew the first aircraft into the area, providing critical supplies of food, water, tents, blankets and a forklift to support follow-on relief operations. In total, they delivered 25,000 pounds of supplies..
"It was very rewarding to be a part of the humanitarian relief efforts in Badakhshan," said Lt. Col. Joseph Miller, 40th AS commander. "These Afghans needed our help and support, and we responded to the call. We were humbled to have the ability to relieve them."

While deployed, the 40th AS flew over 4,500 combat sorties and 925 combat missions. Aircrews performed more than 4,000 combat flight hours, and evacuated approximately 500 aeromedical patients, saving countless lives. Furthermore, the 40th AS airdropped 25,000 tons of cargo and delivered 28 tons of cargo to austere drop zones.

The 40th AS, known for developing innovative tactics at home at abroad, developed benchmark instrument let-down and arrival procedures to facilitate all-weather operations, which were approved and distributed for the entire area of responsibility to use. The 40th AS was also the first unit ever to employ the Wireless Gate Release System, a new technology, to multiple drop zones at once.

Upon arriving at home station, Miller remarked on the accomplishments of the 40th AS throughout the unit's six-month long deployment.

"The men and women of the 40th AS are awesome," Miller said. "They executed the mission without hesitation in a flawless manner. They never complained or questioned anything. They are simply incredible Airmen."

At Dyess, Airmen from the 40th AS were greeted by friends and family members.

"It feels great to be home just in time for my son's birth," said Senior Airman Dakota Sizemore, 317th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance journeyman. "Nothing makes me happier for the chance to be there for him and my wife."

In the past year, the 317th AG has seen a high operations tempo, at times supporting all geographic Combatant Commands simultaneously. The 40th AS homecoming marked the third group of 317th Airmen to redeploy in less than a week. 317th AG members also returned from deployments in support of U.S. Air Forces Europe, U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command.