Military News

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Columbus stands up A-29 training unit at Moody

by Senior Airman Stephanie Englar
14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2014 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 14th Flying Training Wing stood up the 81st Fighter Squadron Oct. 1 at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. The squadron will be responsible for using A-29 Super Tucanos to train 30 Afghan pilots and 90 Afghan maintainers over the next four years.

The 81st FS is a geographically-seperated unit assigned to the 14th Operations Group but stationed at Moody AFB.

"The A-29 unit was formally activated as the 81st Fighter Squadron Oct. 1," said Col. James Boster, 14th Operations Group Commander. "The unit will begin training a cadre of instructor pilots and maintainers in the A-29 this month, and in February 2015, the 81st FS will begin training the first class of Afghan pilots and maintainers."

The Afghan A-29 Light Air Support training mission will begin at Moody in February 2015. The pilots and maintainers are being trained as part of a requirement from the International Security Assistance Force which requires them to conduct training outside of Afghanistan. The A-29 Super Tucano will be replacing the current training aircraft, the Mi-35 attack helicopter will reach the end of its service life in January 2016.

"Specifically the mission that we are going to replace is the Mi-35 Helicopter, which is an attack helicopter, so they cover some of the same missions," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Hogan, Afghan A-29 Light Air Support training unit commander. "But really this aircraft is a monumental leap in capabilities for the Afghan Air Force. It will allow us to do some overlap of those [Mi-35] missions and will do a lot better; it will also expand some other missions, which they currently cannot execute."

In four years, after the training is completed, the A-29 Super Tucanos will be provided to the Afghan Air Force to provide offensive and defensive aerial fires capability and reconnaissance and surveillance capability within Afghanistan.

"The A-29 provides a great capability for the Afghan Air Force," Boster said. "It has the speed and range to reach all of Afghanistan and most importantly, the ability to provide fire power from the air. Ultimately, this capability will be used by Afghan pilots to support Afghanistan's own troops on the ground."

The 14th Flying Training Wing currently trains pilots from many foreign countries around the globe, and has done so for many years.

"Working with our international partners has many benefits beyond just the training provided," Boster said. "It provides opportunities to learn the culture and customs of other nations and opportunities to build relationships. These relationships are important as we often fight side by side with our international partners in today's conflicts."

(Editor's note: This story has been localized by the 14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs Office.)

McChord aircrew conducts in-flight refueling, JPADS training

by Staff Sgt. Russ Jackson
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/30/2014 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- What may have seemed like a normal day to Joint Base Lewis-McChord aircrew members was nothing short of that when they accomplished in-flight refueling, joint precision airdrop system airdrops and assault landings during a routine training mission September 25, near JBLM.

The day for the aircrew began like most when they have the opportunity to fly the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft. The Airmen all met at a flying squadron on McChord Field and held a pre-flight briefing discussing each member's duties during the flight and what training would be achieved. Capt. Nick Parise, 10th Airlift Squadron pilot, gave the brief as the mission's aircraft commander.

He informed the crew they would be executing an in-flight refueling training mission for the pilots before heading to the Hester drop zone near Yakima, Wash. to carry out their JPADS airdrop training. The mission would wrap up with an assault landing in Moses Lake, Washington.

The three loadmasters then got a head-start out to the plane where they were met by Airmen from the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron. The 62nd APS Airmen brought out three JPADS bundles on a 60K tunner loader and assisted in loading the cargo onto the jet and securing them to the floors.

JPADS is a unique airdrop capability that allows for cargo delivery from altitudes beyond the range of many ground threats and places the airdropped cargo within meters of a planned point of impact.

This method of airdrop delivery allows the aircraft to avoid the threats found in the low-altitude airdrop environment by increasing the jet's altitude and providing standoff distances while maintaining precision accuracy.

Recently, an Airman from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron was award the Sliver Star for his actions during combat in Afghanistan. Part of his heroics included calling in a desperately needed ammunition airdrop from an aircraft that utilized the JPADS. Through the use of JPADS, ammunition landed within meters of his position while he was engaged in a heavy gunfight.

"We can drop JPADS into a precise location where friendly forces are not afforded the opportunity to secure a typical drop zone," said Tech. Sgt. James Chestnut, 10th AS loadmaster. "The use of JPADS reduces inaccurate landing due to variations in winds and vector, which also reduces troop's exposure in a hostile environment."

Before the crew arrived to their drop zone, they first spent some time conducting in-flight refueling training. The C-17 linked up with a 92nd Air Refueling Wing KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft from Fairchild Air Force Base. The joint training allowed both aircrews to practice linking up and dis-engaging numerous times and transferring fuel needed to allow the C-17 to remain airborne longer and extend its range.

Upon the completion of the in-flight refuel, it was time for the loadmasters to spring into action. The C-17 arrived near the Hester drop zone where Chestnut and Tech. Sgt. Doug Hollingsworth, 8th AS loadmaster, opened the side doors in the back of the jet and prepared to release dropsonde ultra-high frequency receivers.

A dropsonde UHF receiver is a weather reconnaissance device that must be dropped within 15 kilometers of the intended drop zone in order to provide accurate wind data for the JPADS. As the dropsonde UHF receiver sends back wind information to the flight crew's mission planning system laptop, the jet will turn to make another pass to accurately drop the needed cargo using the attached JPADS.

"Anything that AMC can develop, utilize and implement to improve accuracy and safety of our mission should be sought out," said Chestnut. "JPADS is the safest way for aircrews to deliver aid to the ground."

As the C-17 arrived back to the drop zone on its second pass to drop the JPADS, Chestnut opened the large aft cargo door as Hollingsworth waited for the green light to cut the cargo free from its restraints.

Both loadmasters were notified down to the final seconds, the green light was given and Hollingsworth cut the strap letting the cargo bundle roll off the back of the plane and into the sky.

The parachute quickly popped open and from there the JPADS guided it to land within meters of the crew's desired location.

The aircrew made four more passes over the drop zone, dropping either two dropsonde UHF receivers or a JPADS each time before completing their training for the day. The jet then flew to Moses Lake, Wash. and practiced an assault landing.

With their mission accomplished, the crew flew back home to McChord Field. Their routine training day was complete.

Lt. Gen. Everhart visits McConnell, calls for innovation

22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

9/30/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- The commander of 18th Air Force, Lt. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, visited the 22nd Air Refueling Wing Sept. 25 to 26, his first visit to McConnell Air Force Base since he assumed command in July.

Everhart toured McConnell AFB to learn more about its tanker mission and address key issues from members of Team McConnell.

Throughout the tour, Everhart became acquainted with dozens of Airmen who help carry out the 22nd ARW's mission - organizing, training and equipping total force mission-ready Airmen and KC-135R Stratotanker mobility for combatant commanders.

Everhart urged Team McConnell Airmen and civilians to reflect on the power of innovation and contribute their best ideas to improve the effectiveness of day-to-day operations. He addressed this during an all-call at the base theatre.

"It's vitally important for us to embrace innovation and for us to back our Airmen up with the ideas that they have," said Everhart. "It's up to us as leaders to empower Airmen so that they are able to express their best ideas to make the Air Force better. We are ready to investigate these ideas, because our Airmen are the ones who are going to drive the mission."

He also highlighted the importance of building stronger relationships with National Guard and Reserve partners. He stated that his role is to empower Airmen and is looking for creative ways to remove barriers that are hindering them from making bold change.

"We are trained to do the mission with the assets that we have and we do it remarkably well," said Everhart. "I'm asking for our Airmen to work with their squadron commanders to find out specifically what needs to be done so that they can execute their mission. If there are extra things that aren't necessarily helping the mission, then it's something that we can do without."

While Everhart received a comprehensive tour of McConnell's mission capabilities, his wife, Michele, had the opportunity to look closer at other base agencies. She visited the youth center, Airman's Attic, chapel, dorms, equal opportunity office and more.

"No one would ever say that being the spouse of a service member is easy," she said, "but the foundation of support here at McConnell goes a long way to take care of our families. As my husband always says - we recruit individuals, but retain families. I firmly believe that."

Before concluding their two-day visit, the Everharts were seen off by two of McConnell's outstanding performers, 1st Lt. Paulina Rudolf, 22nd Force Support Squadron Military Personnel Section flight chief, and Airman 1st Class Arrielle Conver, 22nd Logistics Readiness Squadron Individual Protective Equipment apprentice. Everhart presented them with challenge coins and expressed his pride for the 22nd ARW and the Airmen who run it.

"I want to thank the guard, the reserve, active duty and the leadership here at McConnell for having an outstanding base," said Everhart. "For everything it does, to fuel the fight, to getting gas to people who need it, so that they can execute their mission. I want to thank every one of them from the bottom of my heart for doing that. They do it as a shining example for the world to see. I am so proud to be your commander."

Alaska Air Guard rescuers save pilot three days after crash

by Sgt. Balinda O'Neal
Alaska National Guard

10/1/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued a man Sunday after his Piper J-3 crashed, 40 miles east of Fort Yukon on Sept. 25.

According to the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the 60-year-old pilot had not filed a flight plan, nor did they receive any signals from emergency location transmitters in the area. A good Samaritan spotted his aircraft and reported the coordinates to the Fairbanks Flight Service.

The Alaska RCC was notified at approximately 1 p.m. after the Alaska State Troopers reported they were unable to respond due to another search and rescue mission.

The Alaska Air National Guard accepted the mission and responded by launching an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron and an HC-130 King aircraft from the 211th Rescue Squadron, each with a team of Guardian Angels from the 212th Rescue Squadron on board, from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Guardian Angel teams are highly trained medical personnel made up of a pararescueman and a combat rescue officer who specialize in conducting high-risk rescue missions.

The HC-130 supported the mission by performing two in-air refueling operations to ensure the Pave Hawk had enough fuel to cover the distance of the round trip.

After arriving on scene, Guardian Angels hoisted the man onto the helicopter and flew him to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where he was released in stable condition at approximately 7 p.m.

"This is a perfect example of why aircraft owners should invest in a 406 MHz ELT beacon," said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Carte, superintendent with the Alaska RCC. "This aircraft crashed on Thursday and was not discovered until Sunday; had a 406 beacon been activated in the crash, Alaska RCC staff would have been notified within minutes."

According to Carte, there are several satellite-based communication devices on the market now that allow distressed persons the ability to call for help. He suggests pilots do research around local outdoor stores and find the best fit for their needs.

"Kudos to this pilot for surviving three days in the wilderness," added Carte. "Alaskan pilots are a tough and resourceful group, but even the toughest person can't last long without food, water and shelter."

For this mission, the 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded with one save.

107th Airlift Wing conducts final C-130 flight

by Capt. Elaine Nowak
107th Airlift Wing

10/1/2014 - NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- Aircrews from the 107th Airlift Wing flew their final Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft flight and were greeted with a water salute here Sept. 25.

The unit is in the process of converting from the C-130 to the Air Force MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft.

The flight was the last time 107th aircrew members will fly C-130s. The mission was flown in partnership with the 914th Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve, who will continue to fly the C-130 from Niagara.

It is a long-standing aviation and Air Force tradition that marks the milestone of an aircrew member's last flight. Comrades spray water or champagne on the aircrew as they exit the aircraft. It is dubbed the "fini flight."

As the aircraft taxied in, two fire trucks from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station Fire Emergency Services made an archway of water. Members of the 107th AW and 914th AW lined the flightline to be present for the historic event. As the crew exited the aircraft, they were met with buckets of water, sprays of champagne and cheers.

Col. John J. Higgins, 107th Airlift Wing commander served as the navigator for the fini flight. It was the last flight of his military career.

"It is a day of mixed emotions," Higgins said. "We are transitioning from the C-130, which we've been flying since 2008 and have become comfortable with, having deployed with it to Iraq and Afghanistan. However, we look to the future with excitement as we take on the MQ-9 mission."

"It was nostalgic. I have been flying for 25 years," said Lt. Col. Douglas Eoute, who was the aircraft commander for the flight. I"t was bittersweet. We are looking forward to the future but we're going to miss flying up in the aircraft."

Sept. 25 marked the end of the C-130 era for the 107th AW. The conversion to the RPA mission is underway. Many members are currently in training or have recently completed training as RPA pilots, sensor operators, intelligence coordinators and other high-tech communications positions. The unit is on course to be fully operational by 2017.

Since it was first organized during World War II the wing has flown propeller driven fight planes, supersonic jets designed to knock down enemy bombers, ground attack aircraft and giant Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft.

"I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the community for their support of the 107th and ask for their continued support as we convert to the MQ-9," Higgins said. "I'd also like to thank the 914th Airlift Wing for being our partners in C-130 operations and convey my gratitude for all they have done for us."

Five Army National Guard Officials and One Civilian Charged with Bribery

Four retired and one active-duty Army National Guard officials and one civilian have been charged for their alleged participation in bribery schemes related to the awarding of millions of dollars of Army National Guard marketing, retention and recruitment contracts.  Two of the retired Army National Guard officials and the civilian pleaded guilty for their roles in the schemes.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. Attorney Loretta E. Lynch of the Eastern District of New York, Assistant Director in Charge Andrew McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Craig Jr. of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigative Command’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit (Army-CID) made the announcement.

“As captured by its motto, the Army National Guard is ‘always ready, always there’ for the American people,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.  “Unfortunately, today’s charges expose National Guard officials who were ‘always ready’ to pocket bribes and ‘always there’ to take kickbacks.  In return, the charged officials allegedly subverted the open bidding process and illegally steered millions of taxpayer dollars to the bribe-payers through marketing and advertising contracts. 

Corruption should know no place in American government, but least of all in the military that so honorably serves our country.  The Criminal Division is committed to rooting out corruption wherever we find it, including in the military, so that we can ensure that no one is putting the public’s trust up for sale.”

“These criminal charges and guilty pleas reflect our continued commitment to rooting out public corruption wherever it occurs,” said U.S. Attorney Boente.  “The public contracting process should be one of integrity and fairness, and these cases should send a strong message that public corruption will be vigorously prosecuted in the military as well as other areas of government.”

“This investigation has sadly reminded us that even some members of our military are willing to trade on the trust their country placed in them to line their pockets with the profits of corrupt activities,” said U.S. Attorney Lynch.  “We and our law enforcement partners will constantly guard against and root out such corruption wherever we find it.”

Charles Sines, 56, of Stafford, Virginia, a retired colonel from the United States Army National Guard; Wesley Russell, 48, of Albany, Indiana, a retired lieutenant colonel from the Indiana Army National Guard; and Jason Rappoccio, 39, of Hampton, South Carolina, an active-duty sergeant first class from the Army National Guard are charged with conspiracy to solicit bribes and the solicitation of bribes.  Russell and Rappoccio allegedly asked for and received bribes, and Sines allegedly provided bribes.

Robert Porter, 50 of Columbia, Maryland, a retired colonel from the Army National Guard, and Timothy Bebus, 44, of Forest Lake, Minnesota, a retired sergeant major of the Minnesota Army National Guard and owner of Mil-Team Consulting and Solutions LLC, each pleaded guilty in the Eastern District of Virginia in September 2014 to conspiracy to commit bribery and bribery of a public official.  Julianne Hubbell, 45, of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, a civilian who partnered with her brother, Bebus, as the vice president of operations of Mil-Team, also pleaded guilty in September 2014 to conspiracy to commit bribery.  Sentencing hearings for Bebus and Hubbell are scheduled for Jan. 23, 2015, and for Porter on Jan. 30, 2015.

“The alleged steering of large government contracts is offensive to active duty, reserve and retired members of the National Guard Bureau who took an oath to support and defend the Constitution,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McCabe.  “It is also offensive to average American citizens who trust their government and its contractors to use taxpayer money wisely.  We urge anyone who has knowledge of corruption and abuse in federal government contracting to contact the FBI.”
“The Department of Defense places special trust and confidence in its service members, particularly those in positions to influence the expenditure of taxpayer dollars,” said DCIS Special Agent in Charge Craig.  “Guardsmen hold a unique position in our society, representing both their state and military service.  The alleged behavior uncovered in this investigation was a disservice to both, but in no way typical of those honorable women and men that serve in our Army and Air National Guard.  Identifying and investigating fraud and public corruption remains the highest of priorities for the Defense Criminal Investigative Service.  Alongside our law enforcement partners, we will continue to aggressively pursue allegations of fraud impacting Department of Defense resources.”

“We have highly-trained, Army CID special agents who are extremely talented and very capable of rooting out this type of corruption within our ranks,” said Army-CID Director Robey.   “People must realize, both in and out of uniform, that fraud will not be tolerated within the Army and Department of Defense, and greed cannot and will not trump duty and honor.”

As set forth in the indictments and other publicly-filed documents, the National Guard Bureau is a joint activity of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), state Army National Guard units and the Departments of the Army and Air Force.  The National Guard Bureau, located in Arlington, Virginia, oversees the distribution of federal funding provided to the Army National Guard and its state units.
The DOD provides millions of dollars of federal funds to the Army National Guard for, among other things, advertising, marketing and sponsorships in order to recruit new members.  The National Guard Bureau uses these funds to promote the Army National Guard by entering into advertising, marketing and sponsorship contracts.  For example, through advertising, marketing and sponsorship contracts, the National Guard was an official sponsor of Dew Tour, Warrior Dash, and American Motorcycle Association Supercross’s events, where recruiters handed out promotional items and recruited new members.  The National Guard also had a contract to sponsor Michael Jordan’s AMA Superbike team.

The National Guard Bureau can avoid a competitive bid process by awarding these federally-funded marketing contracts to Small Business Administration (SBA) certified 8(a) companies, which are minority-owned businesses.  The National Guard Bureau also provides a portion of the federal funds to the state units to allocate.

The indictments allege that Sines and Rappoccio evaded the competitive bid process by using 8(a) companies to award contracts in exchange for bribes.

According to allegations in the indictment against him, Sines founded a company, Financial Solutions, after retiring from the Army National Guard as a colonel.  Sines allegedly paid Porter, a then-active-duty colonel in the Army National Guard, a percentage of all contracts that Porter steered to Financial Solutions through 8(a) companies.  As the director of the National Guard Bureau’s Guard Strength Directorate, Porter had substantial influence over the awarding of National Guard Bureau contracts, and allegedly steered approximately $4.5 million worth of contracts to Sines and Financial Solutions.

The indictment against Russell alleges that, while on active duty as a lieutenant colonel in the Indiana Army National Guard, Russell demanded 15 percent of all profits that a private marketing company would receive from state Army National Guard units.  In return for his 15 percent cut of the profits, Russell allegedly promoted and encouraged state Army National Guard units to purchase the marketing company’s products.

The indictment against Rappoccio, an active-duty sergeant first class in the Army National Guard, alleges that Bebus and Hubbell paid Rappoccio a $30,000 bribe for steering a contract worth approximately $3.7 million to an 8(a) company chosen by Bebus.  In pleading guilty, Bebus and Hubbell admitted to paying this bribe.  In an effort to conceal the bribe payment, Bebus, Hubbell and others allegedly arranged for the payment of $6,000 in cash to Rappoccio, and the remaining $24,000 was allegedly routed from a business account controlled by Hubbell to an account controlled by Bebus and Hubbell’s brother-in-law, and then provided to Rappoccio in the form of a cashier’s check to Rappoccio’s wife.

An indictment is merely an allegation, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The case is being investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, with assistance from DCIS’s Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Army-CID’s Expeditionary Fraud Resident Agency’s Major Procurement Fraud Unit.  The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Alison L. Anderson of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Fahey of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Marisa Seifan and Martin Coffey of the Eastern District of New York.

Allegations of bribery or corruption within the National Guard Bureau’s retention and recruitment contracting can be reported to the FBI’s Washington Field Office at (202) 278-2000 or the FBI’s Northern Virginia Public Corruption Hotline at (703) 686-6225.

Former CSAF Fogleman to be honored in ceremony Oct. 9

by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Senior leaders, Airmen, friends and family will convene here Oct. 9 to witness the unveiling of a bronze bust in honor of former Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman in the Mobility Memorial Park.

The ceremony, which starts at 11 a.m., recognizes Fogleman as the 23rd inductee into the Airlift/Tanker Association's Hall of Fame, which was announced during the 2013 A/TA convention. He joins the ranks of other aviation pioneers, advocates, and heroes such as Lt. Gen. William Tunner, the first honoree in 1989, Lt. Gen. Ira Eaker, Gen. Robert E. "Dutch" Huyser, and last year's honoree, Staff Sgt. William H. Pitsenbarger, just to name a few.

Many of today's Airmen may remember him as the Air Force's Chief of Staff from 1994 to 1997. Before that he served as the dual-hatted commander for both U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command, both located at Scott AFB.

The award citation chronicles his career and heroics while in Vietnam, where he completed 240 combat missions. During one of those missions, he was shot down, ejecting over enemy territory. He evaded capture until his rescue later that evening. The rescue helicopter had no room for him, so he rode on the outside until reaching safety. He flew another combat mission the very next day.

In total, Fogleman flew 315 combat missions and acquired more than 800 combat hours as an F-100 Forward Air Controller and F-4E pilot. His exceptional courage in the face of hostile forces was recognized with the award of the Silver Star and two Distinguished Flying Crosses. He also received the Purple Heart for injuries he received while ejecting from his crippled aircraft. Although his background was in the fighter aircraft world, he was recognized for his contributions to the advancement of air mobility. During his time as dual-hatted commander for USTC and AMC, he oversaw the mobility requirements during Operation Uphold Democracy in Haiti, the redeployment of Desert Shield/Desert Storm forces and he re-engineered the aeromedical evacuation program.

During Operation Support Hope he directed an innovative use of aerial refueling, showing the ability to provide extended range to U.S. mobility forces delivering war capabilities as well as humanitarian relief to Rwandan refugees.

This exhibition of compassion extended to domestic relief operations for Hurricane Andrew, Typhoon Omas, Hurricane Iniki, flooding in the midwestern United States and other humanitarian relief efforts.

These are just a few of the things the general is being honored for. His complete nomination can be viewed at While everyone is welcomed to attend the ceremony, please note seating and parking will be limited. Questions about the ceremony may be directed to AMC Protocol at 229-5555.

Airlift/Tanker Association Hall of Fame Inductees

The Hall of Fame was established in October 1988 to honor those individuals who have demonstrated superior or sustained performance to the advancement of Air Mobility. Upon selection and induction into the A/TA Hall of Fame, a bronze bust of the inductee is placed in the Mobility Memorial Park at Scott. Nominees can be on active service with any branch of the government, retired military nominees are eligible after a period of five years from their official date of retirement, civilian nominees are eligible and selection may be posthumous.

Hall of Fame Inductees
1989 - Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner
1990 - Gen. Laurence S. Kuter and Donald W Douglas
1991 - Lt. Gen. Harold L. George
1992 - Maj. Gen. Cyrus Rowlett Smith
1993 - Lt. Gen. Ira E. Eaker
1994 - Gen. Robert E. "Dutch" Huyser
1995 - Lt. Gen. Joseph Smith
1996 - Nancy Harkness Love
1997 - Gen. William G. Moore and Lt. Col. Joe M. Jackson
1998 - Sgt. John L. Levitow
1999 - Col. Gail S. Halvorsen
2000 - Maj. Gen Winston P. Wilson
2001 - Master Sgt. Roy W. Hooe
2002 - Gen. Carl A. "Tooey" Spaatz
2003 - John F. Shea
2004 - (No Presentation)
2005 - Maj. Gen. James I. "Bagger" Baginski
2006 - Gen. Duane H. Cassidy
2007 - Aeromedical Evacuation Legacy Team
Lt. Gen. Paul Carlton
Col. Dennis "Bud" Traynor
Col. Regina Aune
Col. Robert "Bob" Brannon
Army Col. (Dr.) Jay Johannigman
Army 1st. Lt. Reba Whittle Tobiason
Chief Master Sgt. Rodney Christa
Master Sgt. Mark McElroy
2008 - Maj. Gen. Robert B. Patterson Sr.
2009 - Air Refueling Pioneers
The Crewmembers of the First Series of Army Air Service Aerial Refueling Flights in 1923
The Tanker Aircraft Crewmembers Supporting the Flight of the "Question Mark" in 1929
2010 - (No Presentation)
2011 - Gen. Thomas M. Ryan
2012 - Staff Sgt. William H. Pitsenbarger
2013 - Gen. Ronald R. Fogleman
2014 - TBD

Kentucky Air Guard supports National Disaster Medical System exercise

by Master Sgt. Phil Speck
123rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2014 - LOUISVILLE, Ky.  -- Members of the 123rd Airlift Wing at Kentucky Air National Guard Base here supported a full-scale test of the National Disaster Medical System here Sept. 9 providing a training environment for Exercise Bent Horseshoe.

The exercise tested the ability of civilian health care providers to accept and process patients arriving from a disaster site and transport them to local medical facilities for treatment, explained Master Sgt. Carol Davis, emergency manager for the wing.

The wing is the primary Federal Coordinating Center for the National Disaster Medical System program in Jefferson County, which is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs' Robley Rex VA Medical Center in Louisville.

Using a hangar here and a Kentucky Air National Guard's Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft, several dozen civilian providers set up a patient reception area to triage disaster victims arriving by airlift. They also staffed patient reception teams that consisted of doctors, nurses, litter bearers, social workers and chaplains.

According to Debbi Johnson, Louisville area emergency manager for the Veterans Health Administration, Office of Emergency Management, the exercise is accomplished every three years to prepare for real-world disasters.

"We exercise patient reception for NDMS patients that have been evacuated from a disaster area, either patients that were in a hospital in the disaster area, or that were injured in a disaster," Johnson explained.

The NDMS is a federally coordinated system that augments the nation's medical response capability. It consists of several federal organizations that include the Department of Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security.

In a real-world situation, patients would be flown from an area where a disaster has occurred to a safe area with a Federal Coordinating Center. In the meantime, NDMS officials would communicate with area hospitals to secure beds for the patients prior to their arrival.

As patients arrive at an FCC like the Kentucky ANGB, they would be registered and identified as critical, intermediate or ambulatory before being transported to a local health care facility.

The Kentucky ANG has been supporting the NDMS for several years, Davis said. In 2005, during Hurricane Rita, officials in Beaumont, Texas, sent two flights of patients to Louisville for medical care.

Johnson said the exercise was good practice, but they plan to do more, possibly testing their capabilities every year.

"This is a great opportunity," she said. "It's good to practice every three years, but it's better if we do it more often on a small scale, and get people together so they are part of their own team."

Davis also was pleased with the exercise.

"I think the biggest accomplishment is the networking and community ties we build every time we support the VA or any other civilian or government organization," she said.

167th Airlift Wing flies last Guard C-5 training mission

by Staff Sgt. Jodie Witmer
167th Airlift Wing

9/25/2014 - MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- The distinct whistle of the C-5 Galaxy soaring over Martinsburg, West Virginia Sept. 25 marked the last Air Force C-5 Galaxy aircraft training mission at the 167th Airlift Wing and within the Air National Guard.

The 167th AW received its first of 11 C-5s, Dec. 4, 2006, and launched its first C-5 mission, March 28, 2007.

Although the C-5 was sometimes a challenge, it flew a great mission, said Col. Shaun Perkowski, the wing commander of the 167th AW.

"Our maintainers and operators really met the challenge of the airplane." Perkowski said. "Across every group and through every building, we can be proud of meeting these challenges head-on and exceeding the standard."

From August 2013 through July 2014 the 167th AW achieved an average mission capability rate of about 75 percent with the C-5, which was above the ANG's goal of 58.8 percent.

Since 2007, the 167th AW has acquired more than 20,000 flying hours on the C-5 with more than 4,500 sorties. It has hauled more than 53,000 short tons of cargo and more than 34,000 passengers.

Lt. Col. Lisa Windle, a pilot at the 167th said the C-5 has its own charm, because of its size and the cool things that it does and hauls.

The wing span of a C-5 reaches about 222 feet, while the fuselage is measures about 247 feet long. Along with its impressive size it can haul up to 200,000 pounds of cargo.

"When you roll into somewhere in a C-5 it's almost like you get a little celebrity status because it's so large," said Windle. "People are kind of amazed by the airframe."

Senior Master Sgt. Richard Turpin, a flight engineer at the 167th AW, said he will miss the massive aircraft and the comradery of flying with a C-5 crew.

The remaining six C-5s, the last in the Air National Guard and based at the 167th AW, are scheduled to retire to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona through May 2015.

"I think there's always that sense of nostalgia when you take these airplanes that have served honorably," Perkowski said.

The 167th AW has flown mission to all parts of the world and was the first unit to haul the Army's mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicle egress trainers.

Eight C-17 Globmaster IIIs are scheduled to replace the 167th fleet of C-5s. The first Air Force C-17 Globemaster III arrived Sept. 25 after the C-5 completed its last training mission for the ANG.

Having C-5s at the 167th put the base in a future position to accept basically any aircraft in the Air Force inventory, said Perkowski.

"I have every confidence that we will take on the new mission and the challenges and eclipse what we have done with the C-5 and Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft world with the C-17," said Perkowski.

167th Airlift Wing ushers in new era with arrival of first C-17

by Staff Sgt. Sherree Grebenstein
167th Airlift Wing

9/25/2014 - MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Despite the rainy skies Thursday, a silver lining could be found by the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing with the arrival of its first Air Force C-17 Globemaster III recently.

The C-17, piloted by a crew assigned to the 164th AW in Memphis, Tennessee, touched down at Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport ushering in a new era for 167th AW Airmen.

"The C-17, it's a great airplane," said Col. Shaun Perkowski, commander of the 167th AW. "It's got a great mission and it's got a great reputation. It is extremely valuable with everything that it can do."

Aboard the aircraft's inaugural flight to its new home were 24 Airmen from the 167th Maintenance Group to accept the aircraft. The 164th AW transitioned from the Air Force C-5A Galaxy to the C-17 last year as well.

With its reputation of being able to fulfill the United States' worldwide air mobility requirements, Perkowski said the arrival of the C-17 brings new opportunities for Airmen stationed at the Martinsburg base.

"Obviously C-17s [are] a vibrant weapons system, well supported," Perkowski said. "It is a great option and opportunity for the 167th."

"The opportunity to fly that airplane with its capabilities is exciting for all of us," he added.

The 167th AW is slated to receive seven more C-17 aircraft with the last expected to arrive in July 2015. In January a crew of 167th pilots and loadmasters will fly their first mission in the four-engine, T-tailed military transport aircraft. With the transition to the C-17, the 167th joins five other ANG units who fly the aircraft, two of which are co-located at active duty bases.

According to Boeing website, maker of the 174-foot aircraft, the C-17 is considered a premier transporter for military, humanitarian and peacekeeping missions due to its ability to fly long distances and land in remote airfields in rough, land-locked regions. It can take off from a 7,600-foot strip of land; carry a payload of 160,000 pounds and land on 3,000 feet or less of small unpaved, paved airfield.

The C-17 "can transport large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields in harsh terrain anywhere in the world day or night. The massive, sturdy long-haul aircraft tackles distance, destination and heavy, oversized payloads in unpredictable conditions ... it has delivered cargo in every worldwide operation since the 1990s," according to the aircraft's manufacturer.

Lt. Col. Lisa Windle, who is qualified to pilot the C-17 and assigned to the wing's training office, described the aircraft as "nimble" compared to flying the C-5.

When asked what she thought of the new aircraft she would be flying, Windle didn't have to think twice.

"I love it!" she said matter-of-factly.

"The C-17 is just fun to fly," Windle said. "It's what I would call a nimble aircraft so it adds a lot of enjoyment to flying that is a bit different then the C-5."

The C-17 pilot, who has accumulated just over 200 hours of flying in the aircraft, described it as "a flying, friendly airplane." 

"It is significantly different than flying the C-5," Windle said.

"I have every confidence that we will take on the new mission and the challenges and that we will eclipse what we've done in the C-5 and the C-130 world with the C-17," Perkowski said.

The commander's said he is certain that the wing's new mission will be "a huge benefit to the nation, to the state and to the local area here in Martinsburg."

"I am very excited about the future. I know that the members are excited to be moving to a weapons system with a strong future," he added.

The wing is scheduled to hold an official introduction of the C-17 to the unit Dec. 6.

Face of Defense: U.S., Indian Troops Train Together

By Army Staff Sgt. Mylinda DuRousseau
1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division

RANIKHET CANTONMENT, India, Oct. 1, 2014 – It was a cool mountain morning, the sun was beginning to peek through the fog that had settled in the valley where residents of a small village were tending to their livestock and setting about their daily routine.

Soldiers of the U.S. and Indian armies kept a watchful eye from the tree line and waited for their signal to move.

The soldiers had spent two weeks living, working and training side-by-side and were now taking part in the final field training exercise of Yudh Abhyas 14, a bilateral, peacekeeping exercise focused on low-intensity, counter-insurgent actions. The purpose of the exercise was to improve the ability of all forces involved to respond to a wide range of contingencies related to United Nations missions.

Working together

“The entire exercise we’ve been working together as a combination of the Indian and U.S. Army to strengthen relationships,” said U.S. Army 1st Lt. Justin Crose, the executive officer for 5th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment. “We’ve been training together on counter insurgency tactics.”

In the 10 years since exercise Yudh Abhyas began it has grown from platoon-level operations to brigade-and battalion-level operations. This year the training focused on combined training events within three key elements: a command post exercise, a field training exercise and expert academic exchanges. Soldiers from 5-1 CAV and the Indian Army’s 2nd Battalion, 9th Gurkha Rifles participated in the field training exercise and1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division Soldiers and members of the California National Guard took part in the command post exercise.

U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Hayes, 5-1 CAV squadron commander, and his Indian army counterpart watched as a platoon from 5-1 CAV and 2/9 Gurkha Rifles moved down the mountain through the dense forest that surrounded their objective the morning of Sept. 29.

“Both of us are mature, professional militaries,” Hayes said. “There are some differences, but really what I’ve learned over the last two weeks is there are more similarities than there are differences.”

Weeks of training, marching

After weeks of training and a long night of foot marching in the rain over treacherous terrain, the time had come to finish the simulated mission. When full effort in negotiations had failed the order was given to use the minimum force necessary to save the lives of hostages and successfully complete the peace enforcement mission.

A family of monkeys was perched in the trees above as the platoons began to move closer to their objective, a building known to be housing hostile dissidents. Suddenly the quiet morning was filled with shouts of “Put your weapon down!” and “Hands up!” Hayes listened as reports of three captured detainees came across the radio.

The soldiers put their training to use as they continued with their mission and successfully secured the captives’ weapons and escorted them out of the village.

Exercise Yudh Abhyas 14 took place in the area of Ranikhet Cantonment, Utterakhand, India, approximately 200 miles northeast of Delhi from Sept. 17-30. Yudh Abhyas is a U.S Army Pacific Command-run exercise designed to improve the ability of all forces involved to respond to a wide range of contingencies related to United Nations missions. Its goal is to build on the past nine years of exercises and move toward increasing in scope and complexity next year.

Washington gets their money worth with the Guard

by Tech. Sgt. Michael L. Brown
141st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Washington State Governor Jay Inslee hosted a group of approximately 50 Washington National Guardsmen and first responders at the Governor's Mansion in Olympia, Washington, Sept. 29, to honor them for their contribution to the State Route 530 slide.

The formal ceremony started out with appetizers and a social where attendees were invited to converse and network.  The 141st Air Refueling Wing here was able to send seven Guardsmen to participate in the ceremony.

After the social the attendees flowed into the downstairs gathering room to listen to a speech by Inslee where he expressed his appreciation for all of the supporters of the slide.  During his speech Inslee recognized several personnel by name, specifically Senior Master Sgt. Jeffrey Barton, 141st Civil Engineering Squadron and Col. Michael Weitzel, 81st Brigade commander, Headquartered in Seattle, were both given a certificate of appreciation from Inslee for their personal contributions to the slide.

Giving individuals credit for their hard work was a highlight of the speech and several were named.

"One of the things that stood out was that the governor remembered the names and faces of some of our members that assisted in the slide cleanup," Said Senior Airman Charolette Gibson, 141st Civil Engineer squadron search and extraction technician.  "The fact that he remembered specific people and the actions they did, was pretty cool."

In addition to the recognition, the ceremony provided a reunion type atmosphere for the men and women who worked closely together in the slide.

"It was nice to be able to see some of the people we worked with out at the slide who we haven't seen since March," said Gibson.  "It's nice to know, even in a time of crisis, there are friendships and bonds that come out of it."

The governor then posed for photographs with the attendees and walked around giving his personal thanks to those who were able to attend.

Seeing the support for the Washington National Guard meant a lot to Gibson.

"I always look forward to getting out there and meeting the citizens we serve, showing them, this is why the guard exists and their tax dollars are being put to good use," she said.

In a similar fashion Inslee said,  "Washington State is getting their money's worth with our Guard personnel."

Following all the fanfare and recognition the guardsmen returned home prepared and ready to assist should the need arise again.  Gibson summed up the experience with this, "I believe we have shown Washington State our capabilities over the course of the last year and how this mission is important for our state."

TACP-M ties it all together

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

9/26/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Embedded deep within an Army maneuver unit lies an Airman. Charged with orchestrating critical close-air support, oftentimes it's the effort of this combat maestro that means the difference between life and death on the battlefield -- he is known as a tactical air control party or TACP for short.

However, the success of close-air support doesn't depend on these Airmen alone, but also the equipment and communication tools they use.

TACP-Modernization, an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center-owned program, is the driving force responsible for acquiring and equipping battlefield Airmen with such tools. This technology has the capability to interface with ground forces, CAS aircraft, UHF satellites, remotely piloted aircraft and command and control intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.

To meet the needs of a modern day ground and cyber battlefield, the 46-member TACP-M team focuses on reducing reliance on voice transmission and replacing analog equipment with the latest data link and streaming video technology. The team does this by addressing three main areas -- mounted, dismounted equipment and communication software.

Mounted and Mobile

"Mounted mobile communication is a top requirements priority for us," said Rob Bubello, Battlespace Communications Branch chief and TACP-M program manager.

TACPs, who advise ground commanders on employing airpower and control aircraft to put bombs on target, utilize two different types of mounted equipment: fixed and mobile.

The mounted, fixed element integrates computer and communications equipment into re-locatable vehicle, rack or transit case-mounted systems for use in tactical operation centers and air support operation centers. This includes the Humvee-mounted ASOC Gateway, Gateway Lite, as well as Dismounted Communication Packages known as DCPs.

Today, TACP-M's sights are set on producing the next generation of on-the-move technology -- Mobile Communication Systems, or MCSs.

"The MCS offers a much more robust C2 capability since it provides four channels of voice or data as well as video streaming," said Maj. Jason Huff, MCS program manager. "In addition, the system is tailored to the vehicle and allows for more room within, which provides easy access to the equipment and more importantly, it offers easier egress access allowing members to exit the vehicle in an emergency."

The mounted, mobile element, which is very similar to its fixed counterpart, integrates hardware into mobile tactical vehicles employed by the Army and provides on-the-move voice and data capabilities. To date, the program office has fielded 45 communication pallets, which are integrated onto Stryker vehicles that operate within the U.S.'s area of responsibility.

"Another large requirement for us includes DCPs," Bubello said. "It's essentially a docking kit, which allows you to combine your existing equipment."

DCPs, considered part of the mounted equipment component, are comprised of existing hardware such as computers, keypad displays, headsets and antennas. Those items are then coupled with equipment found in air support and tactical operation centers.

Since 2007, TACP-M has managed to acquire and equip 224 Humvees and 45 Strykers with TACP communication systems and plans on integrating 400 more systems into vehicles during the next five to 10 years. They have also fielded 17 operation center Gateways, four Gateway Lights and procured 144 DCPs to date.

Essentially, all these components help modernize digital voice and data communications, allowing for machine-to-machine interface and ultimately reducing what is commonly known to warfighters as "the kill chain."

Dismounted Ops

However, it isn't solely mounted equipment that TACPs use in the field; therefore, the program team also focuses on acquiring state-of-the-art dismounted technology as well.

For example, multiband man-pack radios began fielding in late 2010, followed by small wearable computers in 2011. Within the same year, pocket laser range finders, handheld laser markers and mini thermal monoculars also entered field testing. Later in 2013, equipment such as full-motion video receivers and TOC light/heavy computers found their way onto the battlefield.

Master Sgt. Jeff Kennedy, a battlefield Airman who's currently assigned to the Hanscom AFB program office, is one of approximately 2,000 TACPs in the Air Force; he and others like him know all too well the importance of having the latest technology.

"It is crucial to have the most up-to-date tools," said Kennedy, looking back on a recent tour in Afghanistan. "Being able to quickly and efficiently communicate out there is a life or death situation."

According to the TACP, it's not only the efficiency of the equipment that has an impact, but also the size and weight. "We have a saying ... things should be smaller, lighter, faster," Kennedy said. "Ounces equal pounds, pounds equal pain. It's something the program team takes into consideration when procuring new equipment."

With this in mind, TACP-M moves toward acquiring more efficient pieces of dismounted equipment.

To instance, the team recently introduced 202 additional Soldier ISR Receivers, or SIRs, that will help bring full motion video capability to dismounted TACPs like Kennedy.

In addition, small wearable computers are being replaced by TACP computer kits, which are comprised of an integrated computer, vest and cable systems.

"We're building cheaper, more specialized kits," Bubello said. "In this case, a larger, ruggedized, tactical body-worn computer system with simpler message-focused software is the direction we're headed. It will ultimately provide the operator the means to accomplish their task at a much faster and efficient pace."

Staying connected

The final piece of the puzzle, and the team's third area of focus, is close-air support system software, commonly referred to as CASS.

The purpose of CASS is simple -- to develop and sustain a common software application, one that establishes a baseline across all TACP systems.

"What's the point of having high-tech gear if we have outdated software?" Kennedy said.

The Air Force currently uses CASS version 1.4.4, but Rockwell Collins, acting on a recently awarded contract, will produce version 1.4.5 by October. It was a selection that led to a 60 percent savings for the service from the previous contract.

With CASS playing a substantial role in TACP-Modernization, the Air Force is optimistic that the new version will be fielded in fiscal year 2015.

So what's to be expected? A software version that improves TACP mission effectiveness via Human Machine Interface, data that can be exchanged between dissimilar air and ground platforms and a dismounted simplified interface environment for battlefield Airmen. The 1.4.5 version will also focus on software applications for the dismounted operator as well as a more complex scale software capability found in air operation centers.

For those who doubt Airmen are on the ground and in the fight, they're not privy to the crucial role TACPs play or of the diligent people behind the scenes ensuring the warfighter goes into battle properly equipped.

Through the use of CASS, mounted and dismounted equipment, TACP-M ties it all together by balancing the Air Force's present day needs with tomorrow's modernization.

Aircraft maintainers' hard work, dedication keep Edwards aircraft in the air

by Dawn Waldman
412th Test Wing Public Affairs

9/24/2014 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Like their counterparts across the Air Force, aircraft maintainers at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., play a critical role in ensuring successful flight test missions. Both day and night, maintainers from the 412th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron -- Team Shadow--- support the flying schedule of the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School, as well as chase support missions for the F-35 Lightning II and F-22 Raptor. The work involves launching and recovering aircraft as well as inspecting the jets and maintaining them between flights.

The F-16 Falcons and T-38 Talons, supported by the 412 AMXS, are expected to be ready no matter the weather, which means the crew chiefs, expediters and other team members are working out in the elements no matter how cold, windy, or hot the weather conditions might be.

"The combination of wind and heat at this elevation is exhausting, but these guys continue to battle through it and get the job done," said Tech. Sgt. Teresa West, 412 AXMS crew chief and Support Section chief.  "Team Shadow strives everyday, despite harsh weather, to continue to do more with less and streamline efficiency in new ways to meet and exceed the needs of the Air Force in support of Edwards' unique test missions for research and development," said West.

The aircraft maintainers in Team Shadow have sustained a 99-percent  Maintenance Scheduling Effectiveness Rate during the past six months, above Air Force Materiel Command's standard of 95 percent, as they continue to strive for excellence in support of the Edwards test mission.

Living the dream of wearing Air Force blue

by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- He long dreamed of living above the clouds, soaring through the skies and flying off into the wild blue yonder.

He could see his path to the Air Force clearly. But in an instant, his dream became blurry.

Sitting at home doing homework one night, Jonathan Dase noticed a problem with his right eye.

"My first reaction when Jon said he was having trouble seeing was that it would be something easy to fix with just eye drops or glasses or something," said Billie Dase, Jonathan's mother. "I thought it would be an easy fix and we could just go on with our lives."

Unfortunately for Jonathan, the problem would be anything but easy.

After weeks of the problem persisting and his eyesight continuing to diminish, doctors were finally able to diagnose him with a rare eye condition called keratoconus.  According to the National Keratoconus Foundation, the condition progressively thins the cornea, resulting in significant visual distortion. The disease affects roughly one in every 2,000 people.

The diagnosis meant Jonathan would be severely limited in what he would be able to do - driving, continuing to play football, even joining the Air Force.

But despite his handicap, the Air Force still wanted to keep Jonathan's dream alive.

On Sept. 23, Jonathan and his family visited Seymour Johnson Air Force Base as guests of the 334th Fighter Squadron Flying Eagles. He was given the VIP treatment as part of the squadron's Pilot for a Day program, which gives children the opportunity to experience a day in the life of an F-15E Strike Eagle pilot and weapons systems officer, or WSO.

"The Pilot for a Day program is just a way for us to reach out to children and let them live out their dreams," said Capt. Kathleen Frost, 334th FS WSO instructor. "It's about getting up close and personal with the jet and aircrew so the kids are fully integrated into the pilot experience."

Led by Frost, Jonathan began his tour, learning about the Strike Eagle's nooks and crannies.

"It was cool seeing what all the plane could do," Jonathan said.

Next, Jonathan was taken to the 4th Operations Support Squadron life support to get fitted for a G-suit, which protects pilots when traveling at high speeds. He was also fitted for a helmet and night-vision goggles to get the full experience of what a pilot goes through in preparation for a flight.

His tour continued at the Survival, Escape, Rescue and Evade complex where he had the chance to experience a virtual simulation of ejecting from a downed aircraft. Strapped into a harness, Jonathan had to untangle his parachute, perform multiple safety maneuvers and land himself safely by controlling the parachute's speed and steering away from trees.

According to Frost, he did better on his first try than some student pilots do, despite landing in a tree.

The last stop for Jonathan was at the Eagles hangar, where he got to hop inside the cockpit of a real Strike Eagle.

"When Jon got up inside the jet, it was wonderful to see him having so much fun," Billie said. "I haven't seen him smile so much since he was diagnosed."

The family's tour concluded with Jonathan being certified as an honorary member of the Eagles to go along with his certificate he already received from the Air Force making him an honorary Airman.

"It was really awesome, even better than I thought it would be," Jonathan said. "It was the best experience ever."

Jonathan will undergo surgery on Oct. 14 in Beverly Hills, California. The $32,000 operation has graciously been paid for by an anonymous donor and their trip funded by local businesses and private donations.

The Dase family even exceeded their fundraising goal and plans to use the leftover money to pay it forward.

"There's a 19-year-old kid in Sacramento who was diagnosed with the same disease and sent home after 11 days in Marine Corps boot camp," Billie said. "We want to fly him out here to Camp Lejeune and give him a similar experience.

"We just want him to be able to live out his dream the way Jonathan did."