Military News

Monday, October 06, 2014

CCAF graduates largest class to date

by Airman 1st Class Alexa Culbert
42 Air Base Wing Public Affairs


10/6/2014 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala.-- -- The Community College of the Air Force's October class broke records when 13,042 graduates earned their associate of applied science degree.
With the graduates from the April class, the year 2014 has had a total of 23,160 graduates.

Breaking records is nothing new for the CCAF. It is the largest community college in the nation with a 6,000-person staff, 2,000 courses and more than a quarter million students, all distributed within 108 affiliated schools.

The CCAF Campus Relations Flight is responsible for managing all the school campuses nationwide, with only five staff members. That averages nearly 1,200 staff members and 22 schools each person has to manage and ensure requirements are being met.

That is a lot of people to look after, but with that enormous amount of people comes an even more enormous stack of paperwork. The CCAF Student Services Flight is a four-person team that produces and mails all requested transcripts.

"Every student gets researched, and their information is physically written on every transcript," said Tech. Sgt. Jody Bowles, CCAF Student Services Flight non-commissioned officer in charge. "It can get pretty overwhelming."

In 2013 the flight received more than 124,000 transcripts, that is approximately 31,000 transcripts per person in the flight to manage.

"It's nothing less than chaotic to say the least. During class closeout periods the number of transcripts that come in at one time is unbelievable," said Staff Sgt. Vanessa Glenn, CCAF Student Services technician. "Lucky for us, our CCAF team is ready to help us any time we need help processing transcripts.  We always come together as a team in order to process all the transcripts and be able to award degrees to our students."   
The hard work at the headquarters is certainly paying off since there has been a 64 percent increase in annual graduations. The CCAF graduates more than twice the amount of students annually than the top civilian community colleges in the nation. To date the CCAF has granted 445,600 degrees in just 36 years, and that's enough to grant the entire population of Atlanta a degree.

"We started accreditation in 1976, got it in 1980 and now share Air University's accreditation," said Lt. Col. Michael Artelli, CCAF commandant.

The CCAF, and Air University as a whole, is accredited by the same organization as highly reputable colleges and universities, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

"We are regionally accredited, that's a gold standard, and it takes a lot to keep that standard," said Chief Master Sgt. Andrew Hollis, CCAF vice commandant.
It's no doubt that CCAF is pushing out degrees, but that diploma is more than just a piece of paper to the Air Force.

"The Air Force doesn't want people to get degrees just to have them; it's the benefit they are to the Air Force after they've received it," said Hollis. "It's the education our Airmen have that makes them the most highly capable enlisted fighting force in the world."

Airmen train for ‘new wild, wild west’ in cyber domain

by Staff Sgt. Jarrod Chavana
3rd Combat Camera Squadron


10/6/2014 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla -  -- The Pentagon is one of the most secure facilities in the world and yet it defends its networks against more than 5,000 cyber-attacks on any given day.  To combat this growing threat, Airmen train to defend computer networks against invisible ordnance in the operational domain of cyberspace.

The 39th Information Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., is Air Force Force's premier information operations and formal cyber training unit. Operated by Air Force Space Command's 24th Air Force, the squadron conducts qualification and advanced training to provide mission-ready information operations and cyber warfare operators for all Air Force major commands.


"The demand for trained cyber operators has significantly increased over the past three to five years," said Maj. Mark Dieujuste, 39th IOS director of operations. "We don't see this going away. One of the classes we teach is the information operations integration course, which is the initial qualification training for Airmen assigned to operational-level information operations team billets in air operations centers."


Housed in a state-of-the-art 22,000-square-foot facility, the squadron schoolhouse features several classrooms, solid vaulted doors, and instructors with experience on what it takes to defend the cyber domain.


"Cyber is the new wild, wild west," said Gen. John E. Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander.  "It took us about 30 years to figure out how to make space a real warfighting domain and operate in it accordingly.  We do not have that time in cyber, because cyber is under threat every day.  The big difference between space and cyber is the cost of access into space is significant.


"But the cost for cyberspace is a laptop and an internet connection, and then you can be a threat to anybody," he added. "That is the challenge that we have there.  So we have to monitor our cyberspace domain, we have to monitor everything that goes through cyberspace.  We have to be able to defend that, and if somebody does something bad to us, we have to be able to do something about it."  


All 39th IOS classrooms are equipped with cutting edge communication and computer systems, to include secure video teleconferencing and fiber optic infrastructures. This allows real-time war gaming and improved instruction at multiple security levels.


"In order to create a worthwhile training environment in the cyber area, it's not just about learning how to push a button, and making your computer do things while being able to understand the tactics, techniques, and procedures," said Scott Runyan, 39th IOS technical advisor. "It's not enough to just understand it, but you have to practice it. For us to allow our students to fly, we have to create the cyber domain.


"We have replicated what an average base computer system might look like, what the average Air Force gateway may look like, and we then create maneuver space," he added. "We then create opportunities for our folks to control the bad guys. We show them, 'this is what is happening in the network, this is what you should see, but this is what's happening; now find them, fix them, track them, target, engage, assess, and close them out.'"


As students advance in the class they are not given a scenario, but told 'find the issue and fix it.'
"Our red team is in the back of the class ... and they are trying to take down service in real time," said Runyan. "They are looking at wired, wireless, satellite communications; things like this all enter into the mix of how we are training our folks."


Red team members are instructors pretending to be adversaries and are trying to hack into the computer system.


At the 30th annual Air Force Association Warfare Symposium and Technology Exposition, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III., listed space and cyber space with the importance of having the F-35 fielded and ready.


"Cyber is definitely a force multiplier," said Runyan. "It's definitely a way of building efficiencies within a dwindling budget environment. Cyber is one way to do that as we are automating different aspects of what we do, and the automation has created and bred a certain dependency on it."


Although the schoolhouse possesses advanced software, they routinely use open source technology to provide students with an idea of what adversaries may be using.


"When you think of cyber, think about the whole Air Force mission," Runyan added. "Threats we see every day come from a variety of sources and you can't really pin it down without digging a lot deeper. You are going to see the teenager just out for a joy ride, you are going to see the hacktivist groups ... you are going to see nation states, and you are going to see terrorists. Never in the history of warfare has the power of one been greater."


During the course, students work side-by-side to learn the fundamentals regardless of rank.
"You have folks who've been communication squadron commanders who've done information technology their entire career," said Runyan.  "We may have an airman first class who may have had some experience in the IT world, but now we have to do the same thing for them.


"We give them the same classes, the same cognitive training, the same psychomotor hands-on training," he said. "Where we find the difference is when we get into the crew training elements, we start giving you a job commensurate with your rank."


A dynamic training environment, cyberspace curriculum tactics, techniques and procedures change at a moment's notice with constantly changing technology.


"Regardless of the fighting domain, we need trained operators to achieve superiority, which is ultimately the goal of the Department of Defense," said Dieujuste. "The same holds true in cyber space; we are the force who will gain superiority in that domain. Our mission is to train cyber space operators and that fight starts here. The purpose of this schoolhouse is to provide Airmen the necessary skills to protect the networks without much on-the-job training.


"Often times Airmen learn their skill sets at their new base, but we don't have this luxury; they must be ready when they get there," he added. "This is a unique opportunity to develop the next generation of cyber space operators as the Air Force asserts control and conducts cyber space operations. I think the need for this level of training will increase, and I can see this unit remaining at the forefront."

Taps sounds the final farewell

by Staff Sgt. Amber R. Kelly-Herard
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs


10/6/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- During an 80-degree fall day, Jefferson Barracks was silent save for those mourning their losses and a three-volley rifle salute followed by Taps amid perfectly-lined tombstones.

Since 2000, Congress has authorized a recording of Taps to be played because of a military bugler shortage.  The family of Navy Aviation Cadet V5 Stephen W. Kohl, who served 1943 - 1947, requested a live playing of Taps through the organization Bugles Across America.

Seeing the request, Col. Brian A. Reno, 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) Mobilization Assistant to the Commander, volunteered to play his cornet at the funeral.

"I've been playing with Bugles Across America for about 4 years and I try to play as often as I can, which ends up being a few times a year," said Reno, who volunteers to play within a 100-mile radius of O'Fallon, Illinois. "It's an honor and a privilege to play Taps.  Every Veteran is entitled to it, and I'm happy to oblige, because it's always better live."

In a note to Reno, Matt Kohl, the son of Stephen who made the request via Bugles Across America, wrote, "Thank you for your beautiful bugle playing, it's something I will carry with me forever."

Reno is one of 7,500 buglers across America who volunteer to perform at funerals for the more than half-million veterans who pass away every year.

The Euclid, Ohio, native played the trumpet while in high school, but quit playing after his first year of college.

"I picked it up again 11 years ago and now I play regularly at church and in a few jazz bands around St. Louis," said Reno.

The cornet Reno used for Kohl's funeral has a special history. Engraved on the silver instrument below the ornate gold anchor and "U.S.N" artwork are the words "Great Lakes." The cornet was made in 1917 for the band at Naval Station Great Lakes in Chicago, Illinois, which at the time was under the direction of Lieutenant Commander John Philip Sousa.

"So this horn," said Reno, "has probably played 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' under the baton of John Philip Sousa himself."

Reno is an Individual Mobilization Augmentee, but most wouldn't know it since he has been serving on orders at the 618th TACC almost continuously since his first day on September 11, 2001. Prior to that, he was on active duty for 14 years, as an instructor pilot in the T-38A, F-4G and AT-38B.

MA2 Mayo memorial unveiling ceremony at NTTC school grounds

by Airman Justine K. Rho
502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs


10/3/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- A memorial unveiling ceremony for Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Mark Mayo was held at the Naval Technical Training Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Oct. 2.

On March 24, at the age of 24, Mayo paid the "ultimate price" while standing chief of the guard at Naval Station Norfolk, Va. On board the USS Mahan (DDG-72), Mayo put himself between an unauthorized intruder and the petty officer of the watch; saving lives and preserving the safety of the ship.

The NTTC is a U.S. Navy command at JBSA-Lackland, with leadership at the Center for Security Forces in Norfolk , Va. and the Naval Education and Training Command in Pensacola, Fla. Mayo was a Master-At-Arms who received his initial training at NTTC in the same classrooms and facilities used by Sailors today.

"It is tradition here, at NTTC Lackland, that we memorialize those masters-at-arms who paid the ultimate price for freedom in defense of America," said Cmdr. Bart Fabacher, commander of NTTC Lackland. "All students learning to be Master-At-Arms need to understand Mayo's legacy because he was ready."

According to Fabacher, Mayo's courageous act encapsulates the persona and skills taught to the Sailors at NTTC Lackland.

"He took the skill set we teach everyday and put it to use protecting his fellow Sailors from the dangers of someone coming aboard a warship, armed and attempting to wreak havoc," explained Fabacher. "Mark Mayo went back to the fundamentals, took action, and went into harm's way preventing the potential large scale loss of life aboard one of our warships. His sacrifice will not be forgotten."

Those that had the opportunity to work with and build a friendship with Mayo knew of his work ethic and positive attitude.

"He had the ability to keep everyone motivated and in high spirits," said Lt. Cmdr. Michael Weaver, executive commander of NTTC Lackland. "Mayo performed well under stress, while doing a job way above his pay grade. I could rely on him."

A colleague and friend, Master-at-Arms 1st Class Justin Treml, NTTC instructor, expressed his condolences to Mayo's family members present at the ceremony.

"Mark's life was not taken," said Treml. "He made the decision to sacrifice his life for the safety of his shipmates, for the ship and his country."

As the memorial plaque was unveiled, it is explained that it symbolizes Mayo standing the watch.

"No student will graduate Master-at-Arms school without knowing Mayo's legacy," said Fabacher. "He will never be forgotten."

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: I Can We Can

by Senior Airman Michael Ellis
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs


10/3/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and members at the 59th Medical Wing rallied together to make pledges on what they could do individually and collectively to stop domestic violence during an event hosted by the Family Advocacy program.

Tables were cluttered with various colors of paint, stickers and markers. In collaboration with the nation slogan "I Can We Can," supporters painted and decorated their hand and wrote what they are going to do to help stop domestic violence.

"It's really about making it personal and expressing what you can do to end domestic violence," said Dorie Budde, 59th MDW domestic abuse victim advocate.

Budde has been at the 59th MDW for 2 and a half years, but has worked in Family Advocacy for 13 years.  Her best advice is to speak up and do not ignore signs of domestic violence.

The 59th MDW has three domestic abuse victim advocates available to assist victims 24 hours a day.

"We have the most domestic abuse victim advocates at Joint Base San Antonio than any other installation," said Chandra Peterson, 59th MDW Family Advocacy manager.

Communication with victim advocates is considered privileged, which allows victims the option of doing restricted or unrestricted reporting. Only allegations reported to domestic abuse victim advocates, the sexual assault response coordinator, medical provider or Family Advocacy program staff, allows the restricted reporting option.

According to Peterson, young adults, though sometimes overlooked, have been proven to be particularly vulnerable to domestic violence.

"Actually, 18 to 24 year olds are at the greatest risk for abuse," said Peterson. "Intimate partner violence does not require marriage and can happen between any two people in a close relationship."

Domestic violence generally occurs in three stages.

First, tensions builds as the victim feels angry, afraid or unfairly treated; and the abuser feels tense, frustrated or jealous.

Then, a violent episode occurs where the victim feels trapped or helpless, while the abuser is enraged.

Finally, the victim feels guilty or in denial, while the abuser is apologetic and remorseful.

It is important to look out for signs of current or future abuse in your relationship or in those around you.  To make the pledge to end domestic violence, visit the "I Can We Can" website at http://icanwecan.awbw.org/i-can-we-can-toolkit.

To report an incidence of abuse, call the Domestic Violence 24-hour care line at 210-367-1213.

Altus Air Force Base hosts joint training

by Airman 1st Class Megan E. Acs
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


10/3/2014 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- U.S. Army Soldiers from Fort Sill, Oklahoma, practiced loading and unloading a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft alongside U.S. Air Force loadmasters Oct 2, 2014.

The intent of the training was to improve joint-operability between the Army and the Air Force, and ensure the 4th Battalion, 3rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade, is prepared for real world rapid deployments.

"We're doing air load operations right now in preparation for our contingency expeditionary force assumption," said U.S. Army Capt. Michael Savageau, commander of 4-3 ADA at Fort Sill, Okla. "We're going through and streamlining our processes to ensure that we're doing it correctly now. Any deficiencies are noted, and then in the event we actually have a real-world mission, we can do it rapidly and effectively."

This is the first training mission he's done year, though they look to train here more often to ensure they are doing everything appropriately and effectively.

The battalion brought about 100 Soldiers and 15 different pieces of equipment to Altus for the training.

"A lot of these soldiers are young, straight out of advanced individual training. This is the first opportunity they've had to practice or rehearse any type of rapid deployment, which is what we're simulating here," said Savageau. "They got to see the whole gamut of our rapid deployment."

Before beginning, the soldiers had to make sure the vehicles were in compliance for loading on the aircraft by taking steps such as checking the tires for foreign objects, making sure there were no fluids leaking and weighing and measuring the vehicles.

"Many of the Soldiers and vehicles have never even been on a C-17 before, so we had to make sure they didn't exceed aircraft limitations and our technical order regulations as well," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Laura Bourdlais, 58th Airlift Squadron instructor loadmaster. "We practiced driving each vehicle on and off of the aircraft, as well as taught them how to apply restraint to the vehicles."

Restraint is calculated depending upon the weight of the vehicle, and the verified amount of restraint each chain provides.

Bourdlais said this is important for the Soldiers to learn, because they may not always have trained Air Force aid at the ready.

"For them to help out in any capacity is going to be very beneficial to not just them getting out of there, or in there quicker, but to us as well," said Bourdlais.

"I really enjoy working with the Army, as well as other services. Working jointly between services allows individuals from each branch to be able to get a bigger picture of how we all work together," said Bourdlais, "While today may have just been a practice run, some day we may be working together again for an operational mission, and today's training will greatly enhance the timeliness of the loading/unloading as well as the effectiveness of the mission. At the end of the day, we're all just people working together to serve our country and keep it safe."

Face of Defense: Palau Native Marine Returns to Island Home



By Marine Corps Cpl. Drew Tech
3rd Marine Expeditionary Force

IRAI, Palau, Oct. 6, 2014 – Bedtime stories can have an impact on children’s imaginations. For many young people, hearing tales of fictitious characters like “Peter Pan” or “Jack and the Beanstalk” can create the desire to experience Peter’s or Jack’s extraordinary adventures.

For one boy from Ngaraard, Palau, bedtime stories were not about fighting pirates or giants. This boy was told stories of combat and the U.S. Marines at the Battle of Peleliu during World War II.

That boy was Milton Donatus, and the stories his grandmother told him as a child spawned a lifelong dream to become a U.S. Marine.

“Every time my grandmother would talk about war, the Marines came up,” said Donatus, the training chief with Combat Logistics Detachment 379, Combat Logistics Regiment 37, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force.

Idolized Marines

“The Marines were always talked about as the saviors and the best [warriors] ever, so growing up, I didn’t know about any other military,” he added. “I only knew about the Marines, and that I wanted to be one.”

Shortly after graduating from high school in 1995, Donatus moved to Guam to pursue his dream, and in May 2000, he enlisted in the Marine Corps.

His career has seen him rise to the rank of staff sergeant and has brought him aboard the USNS Sacagawea as part of exercise T-AKE 14-2, a maritime pre-positioned force, multinational theater security cooperation event that deploys from the Japanese island of Okinawa to conduct training exercises.

Teaching pistol marksmanship

Palau national law enforcement officers and Combat Logistics Detachment 379 Marines completed live-fire training with the M9A1 9 mm service pistol here Sept. 16. The training, led by Donatus, taught the Palauan law enforcement officers the fundamentals of combat marksmanship with the weapon, such as loading, clearing and firing procedures.

“The training went according to plan,” Donatus said. “The national police showed up eager to learn. They left with a good image of what the Marines stood for and a knowledge that they will carry on with them throughout their careers as police officers.”

For the law enforcement officers of Palau, the opportunity to train with the U.S. Marines and receive instruction from a native of their island nation was special, said Fave Ngiramengior of Koror, Palau.

Great opportunity

“It was a great opportunity to get to train with the U.S. Marines,” said Ngiramengior, a police officer with Palau’s patrol division. “The last time we were able to shoot was two years ago, so getting to learn from the Marines, and especially a local in the Marines, was very nice.”

Donatus’s positive effect on the Palauan police officers was evident, said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Barr from Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

“One thing I noticed during the training was how the police officers gravitated to him,” said Barr, the company gunnery sergeant for the detachment. “Whenever he was instructing them, they paid close attention and really took in what he said.”

Meaningful experience

The chance to come home and participate in this training was a very meaningful experience, Donatus said.

“It feels good, and it means a lot to me to come back in this situation,” he added. “I was not a wealthy kid growing up, so people kind of always looked at me thinking that I wouldn’t amount to anything. Being able to come back with a different life is just awesome, because it gives me a chance to show everyone who grew up where I did that there is hope.”

CONS at FIP forefront

by Senior Airman Jason Wiese
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs


10/3/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Most people know a lot goes on behind the scenes in large organizations to make things happen. Most people also want to know the answer to the million-dollar question: who is handling the money, and where is it going?
For the Mighty Ninety, to answer these questions one must check behind the scenes at the 90th Contracting Squadron.

Contracting Airmen have handled the selection of contractors and awarding of contracts for the Air Force Global Strike Command Force Improvement Program, and over the course of September, have awarded almost $30 million in contracts.

More than half of this year's awards directly funded FIP initiatives to help execute a safe, secure and effective ICBM mission and shape its future.

"This is the most amount of money for a month of September that I've ever seen," said Maj. Katrina Curtis, 90th Contracting Squadron commander.

Air Force contracting squadrons receive project dollars -- money to spend on projects such as repairs and construction -- in September. For comparison, last year, the 90th CONS received $17 million, she said.

Millions of the dollars awarded in the contracts benefitted local businesses, especially small businesses, Curtis said.

"The programs [determining what contracts get awarded and to whom] are specifically laid out to inject money back into the local community," she said. "It's important for us to support the local economy because the community supports the people on base."

Funding funneled through the 90th CONS will support contracts for projects including roofing repair on base, a new skid pad for vehicle training, truck toppers for vehicles used in the missile complex, flooring repair, new mattresses for missile alert facilities and security forces uniform items.

Changes happening as a result of FIP has led to projects and funding that have not been seen in some time, Curtis said.

"It's a unique experience that I might never get in my career again," said 1st Lt. Cassie Fletcher, 90th CONS contract specialist. "I really appreciate the experience."

FIP is about improvement, and it takes money and resources to make improvements, so CONS is at the forefront of making FIP happen, Curtis said.

"Seeing the funding coming down totally validates that our mission here is important," Fletcher said.

Senior Department of Defense and Air Force leadership have long touted the nuclear deterrence mission as a high priority for the U.S.

It is easy to say something is a priority, but it is not until nuclear Airmen get the projects they need funded that they will say, "They really are treating us like a number-one priority now," said Curtis.

Now the command is doing just that, she said.

As a direct result of FIP, the 90th CONS has and will continue to take great strides for the betterment of the nuclear force.

Airman Basic to Command Chief, journey to the top

by Senior Airman Matthew Lotz
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/3/2014 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- In 1985, Mark Batzer was a young, motocross-loving, drag-car racing teenager coasting into adulthood without direction; however, his family would give him the push he needed to change his life for the better.

"I came home one night and my mother told me I was no longer welcome," said Chief Master Sgt. Mark Batzer, 31st Fighter Wing command chief, of the moment that would lead him to join the military.

"I grew up into a family where I wasn't spoiled. I had really great parents and a great childhood. But I had gotten into the wrong crowd," he admitted.

Turning to the Air Force, Batzer found his path for redemption when he was offered a job as a crew chief.

"When I came into the Air Force, I had something internally that I wanted to prove to my parents -- to show them I was worthy and I wanted to do the best I could," he said. "As a young Airman looking at the rank of chief master sergeant and seeing their leadership, I just thought they were awesome and inspired me to want to be the same."

Now, after 29 years of serving in the Air Force, the Lancaster, PA, native will relinquish his position as the highest enlisted service member to a new command chief on Oct. 31, and will officially retire Jan. 15, 2015.

During his career, Batzer soared through the Air Force ranks, including the now-retired rank of buck sergeant, achieving milestones such as NCO of the Year and the U.S Air Forces in Europe Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, an award that recognizes outstanding maintainers.

After almost 30 years in the service, Batzer experienced several changes with the military. He says he has seen the Airman Performance Report go to the Enlisted Performance Report and watched the utility uniform change three times, but the biggest change throughout his career was computers.

Technology advanced not only for computers, but for the F-16 Fighting Falcon he was responsible for too. As an aircraft maintainer, Batzer was responsible for everything from the tip of the jet to the tail --performing various functional checks, cleaning the aircraft and carrying the safety of a pilot on his shoulders.

"My favorite memory as a crew chief is when I was crewing the F-111 [Aardvark F-model] because it had the most powerful engines - the Pratt and Whitney engine," Batzer explained. "When I was engine-run qualified, there was no greater feeling to be out there running both engines in afterburner, especially at night.

"I can't say for certain that the ringing in my ears is related to aircraft maintenance, but 26 years on the flightline, I'm sure it has something to do with it," he joked.

With so many years under his hat, he has accumulated several memories, but one of his greatest doesn't involve the military at all.

Batzer says that his greatest memory is marrying his wife and having his two boys, Tom and Jonathan. While Jonathan resides in Utah, working as a machinist, Tom is an Air Force staff sergeant following in his father's footsteps as a crew chief stationed here at Aviano with the 31st Maintenance Squadron.

"I never pushed my kids to join the military," said Batzer. "It was always their choice, but I did give them specific directions for after high school: 'you're not just going to sit at home. You're either going to college, get a job or you're going to go into the military.'"

According to Staff Sgt. Tom Batzer, he has mixed feelings on his dad's retirement, but is fortunate to have the unique experience of being stationed at the same base.

"This has given me the opportunity to spend time with him that I never thought I would have had and I will really miss that," he said. "On the other hand I can understand that sometimes you reach a point in your life where you just need to do something new for both the challenge and the adventure. I can honestly respect his decision."

Chief Batzer says he has given a lot of advice to his sons over the years, which will help them grow in their careers and knows they will continue making their own path. As for him, he and his wife of 26 years, Joanna, plan to reside in Pennsylvania where he plans to start his next challenge in life.

"With all my achievements throughout my career, I wouldn't have any of them or be here today without my wife," he said. "My wife knew the emergency procedures for engine runs as well as I did because she used to quiz me. Our service members should always remember how important the family aspect is to their career.

"Just like anything in life, if you're not challenged and don't try to overcome your weaknesses, you're going to look back on life and think 'what have I really done,'" he added.

Let's celebrate: HHM festivities held at Moody

by Airman 1st Class Ceaira Tinsley
23d Wing Public Affairs


10/3/2014 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Team Moody members mingled and tasted Hispanic inspired dishes during the Hispanic Heritage Month luncheon here Oct. 2.

The Hispanic Heritage Month committee hosted the luncheon and this year's theme was "Many Backgrounds, Many Stories ... One American Spirit."

"We gathered to celebrate the diversity and experience of our nation's Hispanic Americans ... they have served in today's Air Force and can trace their roots back to the United States Army Air Force," said U.S. Air Force Col. Andra Kniep, 23d Wing vice commander. "Hispanics, both men and women have reached the top ranks of our Air Force and served with both courage and honor."

The history of Hispanic Heritage Month began in 1968 when it was only a week long observation. President Ronald Reagan later expanded it to be recognized for a 30-day period from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

"Each year Americans observe the National Hispanic Heritage Month by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America," said Staff Sgt. Lionel Garcia, 23d Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. "The day of 15 September is significant because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries."

Notably, the Hispanic population continues to grow with more than 157,000 Hispanics serving in the armed forces and approximately 134 serving at Moody.

"According to the 2010 Census 50.5 million people or 16 percent of the population are Hispanic or Latino origin," said Chief Master Sgt. Guillermo Castillo Jr., 74th Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent. "We are the No.1 growing population in America and will continue to positively impact the military, economics, politics, education and society for generations to come."

The luncheon featured a Hispanic inspired menu including: pernil (pork), yellow rice with pigeon peas, green salad and tres leches (milk cake).

Castillo also served as the luncheon's featured speaker emphasizing that America is made of many different heritages and highlighted a few Hispanics who have helped shape history and answered their nation's call.

"It is this diversity that has developed and defined America as a melting pot and a great world power," said Castillo. "It is this diversity that I have come to appreciate and celebrate."

Castillo left the guest in attendance with these final words: "United we stand, divided we fall and together we can make a difference. Together we are America's past, present and future with many backgrounds, many stories and one American spirit."