Military News

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Gunfighters return home

by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/15/2014 - MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho -- Nearly 300 Airmen from the 391st Fighter Squadron and 366th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron returned home Oct. 10, 2014 after a six-month deployment to the Asia-Pacific region.

These deployments reflect the continuing commitment of maintaining an appropriate deterrent posture in the region.

"The U.S. has a number of important relationships in the Asia-Pacific region, and the Department of Defense has taken significant steps to strengthen our operational presence while simultaneously accomplishing training with our partners and allies," said Col. Dave Iverson, 366th Fighter Wing commander. "The 391st did a fantastic job helping achieve our national security objectives in the region."

Gunfighters and family members were present to welcome home the returning Airmen.

"It was tough," said Amy Pritchard, wife of Staff Sgt. Ryan Pritchard. "It's the first time we did this with our daughter so that was a new experience. We did our best to communicate and it worked out."

Air Combat Command continues to routinely deploy fighter aircraft to the Asia-Pacific Region, providing Pacific Air Forces and the U.S. Pacific Command a Theater Security Package in the region, deepening ties with allies and relationships with the international community.

"The time difference was hard trying to juggle her work schedule and my work schedule always changing," said Staff Sgt. Pritchard, 366th AMXS weapons loader. "Communication is key, and staying connected and being there for your family is the most important thing."

Now that the Airmen have returned home, they can get back to their day-to-day lives. Many have been looking forward to this long awaited moment.

"We're going to spend time together," said Amy. "I am due in November, so we are going to have a baby and that's pretty special."

62nd MXG Airmen keep the jets flying at ODF

by Master Sgt. Todd Wivell
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


10/14/2014 - CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- At the end of fiscal year 2014, the 62nd Maintenance Group achieved a first by closing out the year with an overall mission capable rate of 87.1 percent, the highest yearly rate achieved for C-17 Globemaster III operations at McChord Field, Washington.
   
"The mission capability rate is an important metric because it measures the percentage of time that aircraft are maintained in a mission capable condition," said Col. Craig Gaddis, 62nd MXG commander. "This achievement resulted from dedicated efforts of all McChord maintenance personnel and support functions."
    
Not only do maintenance Airmen at the 62nd Airlift Wing dedicate their efforts to the aircraft at home station but they do it abroad as well.
   
Case in point is when 11 Airmen from within the 62nd MXG flew to Christchurch, New Zealand, from Sept. 23, through Oct. 11 in support of the first rotation for Operation DEEP FREEZE.
   
"Our maintenance team did a phenomenal job keeping the jet flying.  Throughout the rotation we constantly met and exceeded mission requirements," said 1st Lt. Jim Evans, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron maintenance officer in charge and 62nd Maintenance Squadron fabrication flight commander.  "Our team is crucial to the launch, recovery, servicing, inspection, and repair of the C-17 and ensured that the aircraft remained in impeccable condition to meet the unique challenges of the ODF mission."
   
This maintenance team was made up of Airmen in the ranks of senior Airman to first lieutenant and represented seven different Air Force Specialty Codes to include aircraft maintenance unit production, propulsion, crew chief, integrated flight control systems, electro-environmental, communication and navigation and hydraulics.
   
According to Evans, this was a team of that worked very well together and represented the 62nd AW to the best of their abilities.
   
"Having a cohesive maintenance team is essential for all of the work that we do, and the foundation begins with building a strong team at home station," said Evans. "Our highly-trained and competent technicians hold each other to an incredibly high standard for performing quality maintenance.
   
"When we send our folks all around the world they take that same mentality with them, and in turn they can rely on each other to do great work regardless of the location."
   
"This was a very professional team who got the job done," said Master Sgt. Tom Emmert, 304th EAS loadmaster ramp coordinator and 728th Airlift Squadron loadmaster scheduler.
   
Emmert has been out to Christchurch more than seven times in support ODF and said this was a team that ensured a safe departure and return from Christchurch, New Zealand, to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, each and every mission.
   
"For example, this time they had to conduct a short-notice landing gear tire change and got it done with no delays," said Emmert.
   
Along with the tire change, the maintenance team also troubleshot an engine bleed air discrepancy on engine four of the C-17 while at the same time still conducting the routine launch, recovery, servicing, and inspection functions that were required each and every mission.
   
"More than anything, I think this trip reinforces the quality of work that our technicians perform on a daily basis, regardless of where we are in the world," said Evans. "It also gives our maintainers a chance to see how much their work matters and more of an appreciation of the incredible capabilities of our Air Force."
   
Truly seeing how their work mattered, each of the maintainers got a firsthand account of how crucial their work is and how much it means to mission effectiveness as they headed out to Antarctica on separate missions throughout their stay.
   
"Being able to execute the mission to perfection in such a difficult location speaks to the unmatched quality of the entire ODF team," said Evans.  "It speaks volumes about the great work our maintainers do to keep the jet in such good condition."
   
Reaching the overall mission capable rate of 87.1 percent at home station was a first for the 62nd MXG and it could only have been done with the group acting as a cohesive team. That teamwork carries over to any location 62nd AW maintainers head out to, to include Antarctica in support of Operation DEEP FREEZE.

New airfield lighting system increases flight safety

by Jenny Gordon
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


10/10/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- When severe weather passed through Robins in June 2013, it damaged several lights that were part of an approach lighting system on the runway's south end.

Since then a $917,000 replacement project has resulted in a new ALSF-1 approach lighting system. The project, completed by prime contractor MKJV with subcontractor Macon Power performing the electrical work, began April 23 and was completed Sept. 26, 2014.

"The approach lighting system is a required visual aid for the instrument landing system at Robins," said 1st Lt. Kayley Squire, Airfield Operations Flight commander. "The project reinstates requirements for the ILS and, more importantly, increases flight safety for aircraft operators during landing.

"Airfield management and civil engineering worked diligently with contractors to ensure the new system is fully compliant, more sustainable, and easier to maintain," she said.

A team at Robins recently conducted a pre-final inspection of the system. However, it's not considered operational until the Federal Aviation Administration approves it. That inspection is scheduled the week of Oct. 5.

Things may look a bit different where the former lighting system used to be.

"In the past we had these trussels that you had to walk on," said Rod Eady, airfield manager. "Now we are able to get up and change any light bulbs without having to go out into the wetlands."

As a result of the storm that passed through, nine lighting structures were brought down; another ongoing project involved the replacement of the remaining 11.

While the entire system wasn't damaged, there were still lights available to indicate the location of the runway threshold without the benefit of the system's elevated centerline and sequenced flashing lights, said Squire.

All are currently on the same circuitry system, complete with new control boxes. 

The lighting project is just one of many that will lead to a busy year ahead on the Robins flight line. The base recently invested more than $8 million in airfield pavement projects which will improve pavement conditions on heavily used taxiways and aprons. Among those is a $130,500 project that will involve the removal of an outdated BAK-9 Aircraft Arresting System, which was installed at Robins during the 1960s. The system acts as a safety net for tailhook-equipped aircraft should they need emergency assistance when landing.

"The system was identified as a redundancy and decommissioned in 2013," said Squire.

As a result, the move will save Robins $500,000 and more than 1,200 man hours in annual maintenance.

Pacific Pathways Increases Readiness Through Partnership



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 15, 2014 – The “Pacific Pathways” concept is an innovative and experimental approach to increasing Army readiness through partnership, the commander of U.S. Army Pacific said here yesterday.

Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks explained the concept during a panel discussion at the annual Association of the United States Army symposium at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

“This is an innovation in large measure,” Brooks said. “It’s a new way of doing something we have been doing already. We have already been participating in exercises around the region.”

The Pacific Pathways concept

The Pacific Pathways concept involves joining multinational partners to conduct a three-part series of military exercises intended to increase Army readiness through additional training and strengthened partner-force relationships. Brooks said that as a senior officer he views exercises differently now than he has previously.

“Exercises are really an agreement between countries for foreign troops to be on sovereign soil,” he said. “So if you begin to think about it that way, we’ve used … these agreements for U.S. troops as foreign troops to be present in a sovereign country, as the basis upon which we designed the Pacific Pathways.”

The first iteration or proof of concept for Pacific Pathways -- which involves Indonesia, Malaysia and Japan -- is just ending, the general said, with command and control and support provided by U.S. Army Pacific elements 1st Corps, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, and Hawaii-based 25th Infantry Division.

Innovation of Pacific Pathways

The innovation of this concept, Brooks said, is how the Army goes to those designated places, and how it organizes itself for it.

“We’re doing what the Army has always done,” he added. “We’re going to move units and equipment -- we’ve put them on ships, just as we did in 1898, and we move into the place we’re going to go.”

Now, a century later, “we’ve started using aircraft to join the troops themselves with the equipment,” Brooks said. Projecting from home bases to participate in not just one of the exercises, but rather in a series of exercises, is new, the general said.

As a result of doing that, Brooks said, engagement with others, such as the State Department and the Defense Department, has come in a different way.

“We engage with regional partners where the exercise is going to occur in a different way,” he said, “because configuration might be different than the previous year’s exercise. And it has to be tailored to what that country can accept. It is different in that it brings together an enterprise approach to projecting ourselves from home stations abroad over the great expanses of the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”

It also has been transformative in many ways, he said, based on how the Army projects itself in a tailored structure around the region while building readiness into the deployed force.

“There’s experimentation that happens here, also,” Brooks said. “We find that as we’re doing this we can experiment with different operating concepts.”

It also allows experimentation with different technologies, he said, as industry and others find opportunities to shake something out in a tremendous battle lab that’s on the move.

Key points

The general shared three key points of emphasis on Pacific Pathways. First, he said, it is an operational deployment -- everything that goes into operational deployments anywhere goes into this operation. The planning, preparation, execution, ordering of craft to move troops, and planning for security all are included, he added.

“There are some additional dimensions, too, like passport planning [and] visa planning, that aren’t like our traditional deployments,” Brooks said. “But it is a deployment, nevertheless, and an operation.”

Brooks’ second point was Pacific Pathways is “part of our engagement structure and strategy.”

“This is not the limit of what we’re doing,” he said. “It is a part -- a very important part -- because of its innovation, transformation [and] experimentation characteristics.”

Additionally, Brooks noted, it is economical, as he anticipated it would be.

“It really requires an enterprise approach to do this, and that is an enterprise that organizes from top to bottom from department level to executing unit,” he said. It’s also an enterprise approach in terms of contributing capabilities that make it possible to employ the concept, Brooks said, lauding supporting elements such as Military Sealift Command, Army Materiel Command and all of the U.S. Army’s components.

“The enterprise approach, from top to bottom, and horizontally as well, is essential to this,” he added.

Brooks’ final point was that Pacific Pathways is shaped by the countries involved in the exercises in conjunction with the State Department.

Heroes: Moody preps festivities to celebrate retirees

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


10/15/2014 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Team Moody is scheduled to honor approximately 8,300 service members living in the surrounding areas during Retiree Appreciation Week here Oct. 26 through Nov. 1.

"I think it's so important for people serving in active duty now to not forget about the people that served before us because they set the ground work for us to do our job now," said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Dustin Heideman, Retiree Appreciation Week project officer. "It's very important that we recognize this and take the time to show our appreciation to the retiree community and what they have done for us."

This year's theme is "Heroes" and one retiree selected by the committee will be acknowledged at the event.

"I've heard so much about heroes.  In the past, we've had several themes about service, continued service and commitment," said retired Chief Master Sgt. James Ingram, 23d Wing Retiree Activities Office director.  "I thought we should recognize that word "heroes" because we do have a number of heroes in our [retiree] community, some of whom have paid the ultimate sacrifice."

The week will consist of a golf tournament, base tour, static displays aircraft, ID card renewals, a picnic, bingo and a health fair. There will also be awards, gifts and door prizes offered at Saturday's event.

"Our golf tournament is probably one of the biggest events that we have during Retiree Appreciation Week," said Ingram. "During that time period, not only do we give out prizes for winners, but we have free food."

Throughout the years, Retiree Appreciation Week has changed but Moody is still expecting hundreds of retirees to participate.

"It's grown over the years; I had the very first program myself in 1998," said Ingram who has been the RAO director since 1998. "It has changed from about 25 people to the numbers that we receive today. We have had as many as 600 retirees participate and this year we're hoping for between 300 and 500 retirees."

No matter the changes Retiree Appreciation Week has gone through, it still remains a collaborative effort from the entire Team Moody family.

"We get tremendous participation from the active-duty community," said Ingram. "That's commendable because a lot of the active-duty people realize one day they're going to be retired as well.

"The wing commander is a big proponent of this program and he gives us everything that we need to make the program successful. Everybody on base contributes to the program somehow but one of the biggest contributors is the [23d Medical Group]," Ingram explained.

During Retiree Appreciation Week, the 23d MDG will host a health fair with: free flu shots, glaucoma screenings, and an "ask the doctor" table. Information booths for dental, pharmacy, physical therapy, women's health and TRICARE will also be available.

"One thing that is a big hit with the program is the free flu shots," said Ingram. "There will be an actual doctor from the med group there; he won't diagnosis anything, but he will answer questions that retirees might have."

Although Retiree Appreciation Week only happens yearly, the retiree community is still a part of the Team Moody family.

"We want them to know that they're not forgotten," said Ingram. "They might have gone on to other professions, but they are still an intricate part of the military family and they will always be."

Man behind 'Pardo's Push' legend visits 4th FW

by Airman 1st Class Ashley J. Thum
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


10/15/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- The 4th Fighter Wing welcomed one of the Air Force's most heroic fighter pilots from the Vietnam War for a base visit, Oct. 10.

Retired Lt. Col. Bob Pardo, known for saving the lives of a fellow F-4 Phantom crew with what became known as "Pardo's Push," visited the 4th Training Squadron's F-15E Strike Eagle simulator and later addressed the graduating pilots and weapons systems officers of the F-15E Basic Course.

On March 10, 1967, Pardo was a pilot with the 433rd Tactical Fighter Squadron, Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, when a mission to destroy North Vietnam's only steel mill started to go wrong. The last plane in Pardo's formation had been hit by enemy fire and was rapidly running out of fuel.

"In that area of North Vietnam, it was all rice paddies," Pardo said. "There would have been no possibility of evading capture. I thought, 'If there's some way we could get him to the jungle, he's got a fifty-fifty chance of getting out of this.'"

Pardo tried having the other aircraft jettison their drag chute so he could put the nose cone of his plane into the chute compartment, but the turbulence kept him from approaching near enough.

Downwash had eliminated the possibility of using the fuselage of his F-4 to carry the weight of the other aircraft as well. At that point, the other plane had flamed out, and Pardo said there weren't many things left for them to try.

"I looked up and there was the tailhook," Pardo said. "I thought, 'What do we have to lose?' He put the tailhook down and we eased in very gently and put it on our windshield and started adding power. His rate of descent decreased from about 3,000 feet per minute to about 1,500 feet per minute."

Pardo said given the condition the other F-4 was in, it would only have been able to travel on its own for approximately 30 miles. With the help from Pardo's plane, which had sustained its own share of damage, it covered nearly twice that distance.

"It got a little discouraging after about 10 minutes because our left engine caught fire and we had to shut it down," Pardo said. "We continued to push and it got us where we needed to go."

Both aircrews managed to eject safely over the Laotian border and were all rescued in less than two hours by HH-53 "Jolly Green Giant" helicopters.

Pardo was nearly court-martialed for the loss of the F-4s, but his wing commander, Col. Robin Olds, convinced the 7th Air Force commanding general to drop the charges on the condition that Pardo and his wingman would receive no recognition.

"They lost eight airplanes that day, but the four of us were the only ones that made it back," Pardo said. "What the general didn't understand was we had already got what we wanted, which was our friends."

Pardo was later awarded the Silver Star in 1989, along with his rear pilot from that fateful mission, Steve Wayne.

During his visit to North Carolina, Pardo was able to relive some of his tour in Vietnam in the simulator, where he shot down a MiG-17 and pulled up behind an F-4 to attempt a recreation of his legendary move.

"I don't know how anyone could do something like that," Pardo said to the amusement of those watching his flight. "It must have taken a lot of guts."

Capt. Gordon Olde, 333rd Fighter Squadron weapons systems officer, joined Pardo in the simulator.

"Flying a simulator mission with Lt. Col. Pardo was an amazing experience - one I will never forget," Olde said.

Pardo retired from the Air Force in 1974 before going on to fly commercial aircraft, bringing his total flying experience to 51 years. Olde said he hasn't lost his touch.

"It was clear to me as he aggressively maneuvered the jet in position for a tracking guns kill that he was a professional who had lost none of his warrior spirit," Olde said.

Pardo recounted his experience in Vietnam for the B-Course graduates on the evening of his visit, where he thanked the Airmen for their service and reminded them to always put their wingman's safety ahead of their own.

"When I was on that mission, there was no decision process - no delay - and I attribute that fact to my dad," Pardo said. "He taught me that when your friend needs help, you help."

USS La Jolla Bids Farewell to Pearl Harbor



By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Khor, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- An audience of Sailors, submarine veterans, and friends and families of the crew of USS La Jolla (SSN 701) gathered at Lockwood Hall Lanai at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Oct. 14, to bid farewell to the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine, celebrating an active career spanning more than three decades.

La Jolla is scheduled to depart Pearl Harbor en route to Norfolk, Virginia, where she will be decommissioned and converted into a Moored Training Ship (MTS), serving as a training platform for Nuclear Power training at Naval Support Activity Charleston, South Carolina.

Along her illustrious 33-year career serving the U.S. Submarine Force, La Jolla had many 'firsts' under her belt, including the first of the Los Angeles-class of submarines to be homeported in San Diego; the first to participate in the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and Korean Maritime Self Defense Force's first multi-national exercise, Pacific Reach 2004; the first to deploy overseas with the advanced AN/BQQ-5D sonar system on board; and the first to be fitted with the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV).

Rear Adm. Phil Sawyer, the commander of Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, who served as a guest speaker, said it was an honor to have served aboard La Jolla as the ship's 10th commanding officer, and more importantly thanked all the individuals who helped make La Jolla such a successful warship over the years.

"To the officers and crew of USS La Jolla, please accept my profound gratitude for all that you do, day in and day out, for our submarine force, our Navy and our nation," said Sawyer.

The commodore of Submarine Squadron 1, Capt. Harry Ganteaume, also highlighted some of La Jolla's significant achievements including her role in the early stages of the highly successful Tomahawk missile program and the first submerged launch of a missile in 1983.

He continued to say that La Jolla was one of only three Los Angeles-class submarines certified for dry-deck shelter operations, contributing to the integration of submarine and Naval Special Warfare operations.

"I am sure many of you who have served onboard one of our first flight 688 (Los Angeles-class) classics will argue that there is no better submarine," said Ganteaume. "My very best wishes for continued success during the upcoming conversion in support of the Navy's nuclear propulsion program; one that will certainly be vital to the future of our Navy and the submarine force."

Retired captain and former commanding officer (CO) of La Jolla, Jeff Fishbeck, was on hand to speak about his experiences in command of La Jolla as the ship's fourth CO. He said he was truly honored to have commanded La Jolla, work with the Sailors and meet their families.

"The officers and crew were just incredible," said Fishbeck, who is from San Diego. "I had a wardroom of real professionals that passed on the legacy of La Jolla, which is, we are a clean boat, we are the best in everything we do."

"We were first in a lot of things that are done here in the submarine force," said Fishbeck. "It is truly a ship that could do everything that it was asked to do and it was asked to do quite a bit."

The former CO spoke of the submarine's sponsor, the late Shirley Wilson, who was a driving force behind La Jolla. Wilson embodied the spirit of the ship, took great care and pride over the ship.

The ship's bell will soon be donated by the Navy in honor of Shirley Wilson, to be displayed at the Maritime Museum of San Diego.

Fishbeck presented Sawyer with a poster of the submarine as well as a copy of the book 'Mains'l Haul, a Century of Submarines in San Diego' as a token of appreciation for Sawyer's service as the 10th commanding officer on La Jolla.

Many Sailors of La Jolla expressed their memorable experiences while serving aboard the submarine. Sonar Technician Seaman Joseph Morgan has been on the La Jolla for nine months and said it is an experience he will never forget.

"The La Jolla experience is very memorable for me," said Morgan, who is from Santa Ana, California. "The thing I will remember most about the La Jolla is her crew, how lively and enjoyable they made it. Even during the long days, I knew I had someone there with me that was pulling their weight and keeping me going."

Named for La Jolla, California, she is the first warship named after the township. Commissioned Oct. 24, 1981, La Jolla is the 14th ship of the Los Angeles-class of nuclear-powered, fast-attack submarines, is 360-feet long, and displaces 6,900 tons. The submarine can be armed with sophisticated Mark-48 Advanced Capability (ADCAP) anti-submarine torpedoes and Tomahawk guided cruise missiles.