Military News

Monday, December 01, 2014

Civic leaders view KC-46A construction

by Tyler Grimes
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


11/24/2014 - MCCONNEL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- McConnell Air Force Base's community partners toured the ongoing base construction, Nov. 18, 2014 for the arrival of the KC-46A Pegasus.

The civic leaders got an up-close look at various construction areas throughout the base, including the new regional maintenance training facility that will be used to train all KC-46A maintainers in the region.

"What a great way to educate and enthuse the civilian sector about the KC-46 project and mission," said Pat Gallagher, Wichita Metro Chamber of Commerce government relations manager. "Seeing the ongoing KC- 46 construction currently taking place on base made me stop and think 'Team McConnell has a global mission that is not missing a beat amidst all that planning, demolition and construction.'"

The tour group consisted of a small number of key civic leaders who are actively involved in McConnell's Honorary Commander program.

Another notable tour stop was the construction of the new flying squadron buildings, which will fully integrate both active-duty Airmen and Reservists under one roof.

"The integration of active-duty Airmen, Reservists and Guardsmen is an Air Force-wide initiative," said 1st Lt. Daniel Calvario, KC-46 Program Integration Office lead civil engineer. "These Airmen are being integrated in order to meet all of the KC-46 mission requirements."

Calvario also showed the group the development on the three new hangars: a single-bay maintenance hangar, a double-bay corrosion hangar and a triple-bay general purpose hanger.

The KC-46A is approximately 20 feet longer, 30 feet wider and 10 feet taller than the KC-135 Stratotanker, Calvario said, none of the current hangars are large enough to handle the new incoming aircraft.

The last part of the tour was the construction site of the new dormitory for the enlisted Airmen that will work in the KC-46A program.

While the tour showcased the total force integration effort needed for the construction project, Col. Joel Jackson, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, emphasized the role of McConnell's community partners.

"It's important to keep our civic leaders informed of the status of this project as much of its continued success depends on the support of the local community," Jackson said. "They are the ones who will see the project through to its completion."

CRW Pilot Partners With 6th Airlift Squadron to Deliver Hope and Combat Power

by Staff Sgt. Destinie Berry
621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs


12/1/2014 - HURLBERT FIELD, Fla. -- U.S. Air Force Maj. Brant Dixon, 817th Global Mobility Readiness Squadron Operations Officer and C-17 Globemaster III Instructor Pilot, commanded a special two-part flying mission with the 6th Airlift Squadron, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. Nov. 17-28.

The first part of the mission was to transport the 101st Airborne Division to the Republic of Liberia, where they will provide air transportation, command and control, maintenance, security, and the support capability in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development-led efforts to contain the Ebola Virus outbreak in western Africa as a part of Operation UNITED ASSISTANCE.

The second part of the mission had a similar theme. The aircraft and crew were tasked to head down range and pick up a special operations unit and redeploy them. Although Dixon missed Thanksgiving this year, the members he helped transport returned just in time to be home for the holiday.

"Thanksgiving's an idea not a day," Dixon said. "Whenever we get home we will have Thanksgiving. I am just thankful we could help get a deployed team back in time to spend their holiday like they deserve."

"The 6 AS provided a highly skilled and motivated aircrew for this mission," Dixon added. "I am thankful for their hard work and sacrifices they made to get this mission done, but there are also countless of other service members across the world working just as hard so we are happy to play our piece in helping them this holiday."

Since Sept. 15, approximately 79 Airmen of the 621 CRW were deployed to Roberts International Airport, Republic of Liberia to establish an initial mobility footprint required to augment the airfield. Most of the deployed Airmen belong to Dixon's unit, the 817 CRG.

"I wish we were the crew that got to personally take our guys out of Liberia, but it felt great to support the same mission my unit was dedicated to by delivering their sustainment forces as a C-17 pilot," Dixon said. "They did their part to stand up the operations, now the 101 AD will continue operations and our guys get to return home to their families."

For 14 years Dixon has flown countless missions, the first of which were in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM. According to Dixon, he is still just as passionate about donning the flight suit today. Since being assigned to the CRW, which is geared to respond during global emergencies, he has not been able to log the same amount of flying hours as his past assignments.

"The CRW capability is more specific to immediate ground response, which is a whole new rewarding experience," he said, "but pilots within the CRW don't get to fly as much as they would in a flying squadron. We only get to fly operational missions occasionally, so when we do get the opportunity, we look for the most meaningful missions like this one."

According to Dixon, his combined experience in flying missions as well as serving as a contingency response leader have opened several doors to allow him to serve in the capacity he has always dreamed of.

"I love being a part of Air Mobility Command," Dixon said. "Whether I am operating a Joint Task Force-Port Opening on the ground in a disaster response area or flying aircraft to take cargo and personnel where they need to be I find AMC's mission dynamic, challenging, and above all rewarding, because the AMC is a purely service oriented organization."

Team Dover does its part to fight Ebola

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


11/24/2014 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- The first group of 90 Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines sent to West Africa to combat Ebola, are now back safe-and-sound in the U.S. because of the tenacity of the 3d Airlift Squadron and all of Team Dover.

Seven Team Dover aircrew members from the 3d AS conducted a humanitarian relief mission into West Africa in support of Operation United Assistance, combating the spread of the Ebola Virus Disease, from Nov. 10 to 13, 2014.

"To accomplish the first move of people back out; to bring them back to their families is along the same lines as bringing a warfighter back," said Lt. Col. Jason Mills, 3d AS commander. "They're in a different kind of war; it's a humanitarian support war."

This was the first airlift mission to redeploy U.S. service members back to the U.S. since the start of Operation United Assistance. The mission also saw the aircrew delivering three passengers and 50 thousand pounds of cargo to Monrovia, Liberia. This cargo included Humvees, medical supplies, Meals Ready to Eat (MREs), clean water and other supplies.

Originating at Dover AFB, Delaware, the crew flew to Pope Field, North Carolina, to pick up humanitarian relief supplies. The crew then flew to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, to pick up and deliver parts for a stranded jet at St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands. Accomplishing this and crew resting, the aircrew's next stop was the tiny British Overseas Territory of Ascension Island in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. While en route to Ascension Island, the aircrew received word that they were being directed to tail swap and that they were picking up a high-priority mission once they arrived.

Arriving at Ascension Island, the aircrew swapped their Dover AFB C-17 Globemaster III for a Joint Base Lewis-McChord C-17. They were also instructed to fly to Monrovia, Liberia, to pick up an Advanced (ADVON) Team, who were supporting Operation United Assistance, and return them to the U.S.

Upon delivering the humanitarian relief cargo, the aircraft's cargo bay had to be outfitted to hold the 90 passengers.

After a short refueling stop in Dakar, Senegal, the 90 U.S. service members were flown to Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, since it has been designated as one of the Transit Centers for returning military personnel returning from missions fighting Ebola in West Africa. Per directive from Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, and Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all military personnel who return from taking part in Operation United Assistance in West Africa, must undergo a 21-day control monitoring program, where they will be physically separated from family members and the general public. Once this 21 day program ends, the service members are to return to their respective duty stations.

Once returning their C-17 Globemaster III to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, the 3d AS crew returned to Dover AFB.

The 3d AS aircrew was made up of Capt. Ty Scott, aircraft commander and 436th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment flight commander, Capt. Matthew Kurtz, copilot, Capt. Connor Murphy, copilot, Tech. Sgt. Shaun Flatter, loadmaster,  Staff Sgt. Ryan Thompson, loadmaster, Airman 1st Class Cody Deranick, loadmaster, and Staff Sgt. Aaron Williams, 736th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron flying crew chief.

"Overall, this was an amazing opportunity to support those around the world that need the help of the American military," said Scott. "This is an example of how Team Dover delivers excellence and uses our rapid global mobility capability to provide unmatched humanitarian assistance."

Team Seymour exercises deployed capabilities

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


12/1/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C.  -- Airmen from Seymour Johnson engaged in an exercise designed to test the base's ability to support worldwide contingency operations, Nov. 17 to 20.

Named Coronet Warrior 14-03, the exercise was filled with training and testing and simulations of challenges encountered in a combat setting.

"An exercise like this basically tests the wing's ability to affect combat power," said Master Sgt. Kevin Abendschoen, 4th Fighter Wing Inspector General inspections superintendent. "We fly simulated combat sorties, while the rest of the base protects and supports."

Abendschoen said exercises are important because Airmen build on their strengths and weaknesses, developing muscle memory, so if the base is called upon to conduct operations in a wartime environment, everyone is trained and ready. 

Exercise participants simulated security breaches, treated mock casualties, and launched F-15E Strike Eagles. The exercise also featured an Ability To Survive and Operate rodeo. The rodeo placed Airmen in several situations where they had to hone their ability to survive in a chemical threat environment.

"An ATSO is a great training venue," said Abendschoen. "It features several different stations with different events, whether it be donning chemical protective gear or defending assets by applying protective plastic sheathing so it doesn't get contaminated."

Above all, the exercise was about simulating real-world deployed settings so Airmen can achieve their mission when they participate in expeditionary operations.

"The exercise was executed well across the wing considering the short amount of time we had to plan for it," said Master Sgt. Michael Owen, 4th FW IG inspections manager. "The 4th FW Wing Inspection Team did a phenomenal job putting the exercise together. We were able to identify areas that we can improve on and we highlighted areas of strength."

ICBM Road Show updates Airmen on future of ICBM force

by Airman 1st Class Joshua Smoot
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs


12/1/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Representatives from Headquarters Air Force Global Strike Command visited Malmstrom Air Force Base Nov. 17-18 as part of the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Road Show.

The team held five briefings informing Airmen about sustainment and modernization programs that are being developed and deployed by AFGSC.

Topics discussed included manpower, ICBM investment programs, new funded programs for fiscal years 2015-2020, ICBM sustainment/normalization, future missile systems, UH-1N helicopter sustainment/modernization and helicopter replacement.

To better help with manpower, AFGSC will receive funding for over 1,100 authorizations.

Across the three missile wings, missile security forces will be receiving over 287 additional billets, and munitions squadrons will be receiving more than 50 additional  billets. Missile crew operations will be receiving more than 20 additional 13N - nuclear and missile operations officer billets and can expect to see crew members mid to late 2015. Additionally, helicopter operations will be receiving over 100 members - pilots, co-pilots and flight engineers - and more than 50 additional personnel to stand up a helicopter operations group. In missile maintenance, more than 45 additional military and civilian billets have been added across the wings.  

The team also spoke about ICBM investment programs AFGSC has recently completed such as the Fast Rising B-plug and others that have been set in motion to include diesel replacements at launch facilities and missile alert facilities, and updating reentry field support equipment.

The Force Improvement Program acted as a catalyst to help get several sustainment programs completed. In fiscal year 2014, the Air Force reallocated $161 million to ICBM force support to include upgrades in maintenance parts, equipment and facilities.

A program for missile wings to receive new payload transporters is currently being developed, said Tech. Sgt. Michael Shedd, an AFGSC ICBM Systems Manager.

The new payload transporters will be fully up-armored and have increased protection.

To better enhance the ICBM force, launch control centers will receive upgrades such as new control panels, printers and oxygen regeneration units.

"With all of the new upgrades, we also have to update the trainers to meet all of the requirements," Shedd said.

In fiscal year 2016, the T-9 launch facility trainer at Malmstrom will begin its upgrade conversion.
The team also spoke about the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent - the follow on for the Minuteman III weapon system. Instead of replacing parts and pieces of the current system, a new integrated system will be developed.

They will do this by restoring missile alert facilities and launch facilities, integrating new flight systems to place in restored launch facilities and by deploying a new command and control system and supporting ground equipment.

The current UH-1N helicopters will also be modernized with newer pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer seats for better crash survivability, and cockpits compatible with night vision goggles. These changes will be installed between July 2015 to July 2017.

AFGSC is also looking into replacing the aging fleet of the current UH-1N with a replacement helicopter. The new aircraft will come with weapons mounts, common missile warning systems, ballistic armor plating and cold weather kits.

"We are optimistic on a replacement for the UH-1N," said Col. H.B. Brual, AFGSC Deputy Director, Strategic Plans, Programs, Requirements and Assessments. "However, the replacement helicopter is contingent on receiving the required funding."

"It's valuable to know what direction we are heading," said Col. Marné Deranger, 341st Missile Wing vice commander. "It makes all of the pieces and parts we are working on make sense. This is important stuff to understand and ask questions about."

NORAD Prepares to Track Santa’s Flight


From a North American Aerospace Defense Command News Release

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., Dec. 1, 2014 – The North American Aerospace Defense Command’s NORAD Tracks Santa website, http://www.noradsanta.org/ , launched today featuring a mobile version, a holiday countdown, new games and daily activities and more.

The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Official NORAD Tracks Santa apps are also available in the Windows, Apple and Google Play stores, so parents and children can countdown the days until Santa’s launch on their smart phones and tablets. Tracking opportunities are also offered on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. Santa followers just need to type “@noradsanta” into each search engine to get started.

North Pole Elves

Also new this year, the website features Santa’s elves in the North Pole Village. NORAD Tracks Santa is introducing the newest elf and asking the public to help choose the perfect name for him. Details can be found via NORAD Tracks Santa social media or in the “Name the Elf” video in Santa’s North Pole Movie Theater at www.noradsanta.org.

Starting at 12:01 a.m. MST on Dec. 24, website visitors can watch Santa make preparations for his flight. NORAD’s “Santa Cams” will stream videos on the website as Santa makes his way over various locations.

Then, at 4 a.m. MST (6 a.m. EST), trackers worldwide can speak with a live phone operator to inquire as to Santa’s whereabouts by dialing the toll-free number 1-877-Hi-NORAD [Call: 1-877-Hi-NORAD] (1-877-446-6723 [Call: 1-877-446-6723] ) or by sending an email to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com. Any time on Dec. 24, Windows Phone users can ask Cortana for Santa’s location, and OnStar subscribers can press the OnStar button in their vehicles to find Santa.

Santa-tracking is Global Experience

NORAD Tracks Santa is a global experience, delighting generations of families everywhere. This is due, in large part, to the efforts and services of numerous program contributors.

This year’s contributors include: the 21st Space Wing, Acuity Scheduling, Alaska NORAD Region, America Forces Network (AFN), Analytical Graphics, Inc., Avaya, BeMerry! Santa/Noerr Program, Bing®, Canadian NORAD Region, The Citadel Mall, Colorado Springs Business Alliance, Continental NORAD Region, CradlePoint, Defense Video & Imagery Distributions Systems, DoD News, Federal Aviation Administration, Globelink Foreign Language Center, Harris, Hewlett Packard (HP), iLink-Systems, Kids.gov, Level 3 Communications, Marine Toys for Tots, Foundation, Meshbox, Microsoft®, Microsoft® Azure, Naden Band of Maritime Forces Pacific, National Tree Lighting Ceremony, Naturally Santa’s Inc., Newseum, OnStar, PCI Broadband, Portable North Pole/ Ugroup Media, Pueblo Riverwalk, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Southern Colorado, Space Foundation, Spil Games, SriiusXM®, Strategic Air & Space Museum, Unity, U.S. Allegiance, U.S. Air Force Academy Band, U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty, U.S. Air Force Band of the Golden West, U.S. Air Force Band of the West, U.S. Air Force Band, U.S. Air Force Heartland of America Band, U.S. Army Ground Forces Band, U.S. Coast Guard Band, U.S. Department of State Family Liaison Office, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, U.S. Band of MidAmerica, Verizon, Visionbox, West Point Band, and Xtomic.

NORAD Tracks Santa started in 1955 when a local media advertisement directed children to call Santa direct -- only the number was misprinted. Instead of reaching Santa, the phone rang through to the crew commander on duty at the Continental Air Defense Command Operations Center. Thus, began the tradition, which NORAD has carried on since it was created in 1958.

Missing World War II Airmen Accounted For



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2014 – The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced that the remains of missing World War II servicemen have been accounted for and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors, according to a DoD news release issued today.

Army Air Forces 1st Lts. William D. Bernier of Augusta, Montana; Bryant E. Poulsen of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Herbert V. Young Jr. of Clarkdale, Arizona; Tech Sgts. Charles L. Johnston of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Hugh F. Moore of Elkton, Maryland; Staff Sgts. John E. Copeland of Dearing, Kansas and Charles J. Jones of Athens, Georgia; and Sgt. Charles A. Gardner of San Francisco, California, have been accounted for and will be buried with full military honors. Gardner will be buried Dec. 4, 2014, in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

On April 10, 1944, Gardner, along with 11 other B-24D Liberator crew members, took off from Texter Strip, Nazdab Air Field, New Guinea, on a mission to attack an anti-aircraft site at Hansa Bay. The aircraft was shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire over the Madang Province, New Guinea. Four of the crewmen were able to parachute from the aircraft, but were reported to have died in captivity.

Following World War II, the Army Graves Registration Service conducted investigations and recovered the remains of three of the missing airmen. In May 1949, AGRS concluded the remaining nine crew members were unrecoverable.

In 2001, a U.S.-led team located wreckage of a B-24D that bore the tail number of this aircraft. After several surveys, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command teams excavated the site and recovered human remains and non-biological material evidence.

To identify Gardner’s remains, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including mitochondrial DNA, which matched Gardner’s maternal niece and nephew.

Lackland Medical Wing geared to recapture patient services

by Christopher Carwile
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs


12/1/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- While comment and feedback cards are always available for patients in every clinic of the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, the 59th Diagnostics and Therapeutics Squadron is taken an active, "re-construction" approach to gaining feedback.

"It's all about enhancing the patient care experience," said Byron Nichols, 59th Medical Support Group process improvement advisor.

"The 59th MDTS is working to make us the pharmacy, the lab, and nutritional medicine clinic of choice for our number one customer, the patient," said Nichols.

During the six-week project, squadron members, wearing hard hats and reflective vests, collected 1,500 responses from visitors to questions about their customer service experiences.

Responses to two questions have been primarily positive with a 98 percent satisfaction rating.

"However, we have identified several areas for improvement such as service hours, communication, and other internal processes we can adjust to better meet the needs of our patients," said Nichols.

Now it's the squadron's turn to provide feedback to the customer.

"The answers that our patients provided were taken and categorized," he said. "We are creating a display for our patients so they can know that we acknowledge what they told us and are addressing their concerns.

"This is a unique step because many times if a suggestion is made, the patient never hears a response from the clinic," he added. "The 59th MDTS Reconstruction Program is committed to improving communication and providing feedback so our patients know we listen and we care.

Lajes Airmen experience unique deployment

by Staff Sgt. Zachary Wolf
65th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


11/26/2014 - LAJES FIELD, Azores, Portugal -- Even though personnel at Lajes are ready to deploy at a moment's notice, it is not something that happens regularly. Currently, seven members of the 65th Security Forces Squadron are deployed to Kosovo tasked to protect an intelligence hub.
According to Maj. Carlos Hernandez, 65th SFS commander, this is a unique opportunity and mission for the defenders from Lajes.

"With the many years of operating in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kosovo is a nice change of pace. The ability to safeguard such a critical infrastructure node in the Balkans, allows for uninterrupted support of operations in the U.S. European Command Area of Operation. It is special, because our Airmen were able to adapt to the mission seamlessly and stepped up to the challenge in short notice," said Hernandez.  "It is not every day that my personnel do this type of mission, not to say that it's out of their comfort zone, but it shows the versatility of our Security Forces and their dedication to the mission.  We at the 65th SFS are proud for the accomplishments of our Defenders during this deployment and we look forward to the day we have them home safe and sound."

While deployments are nothing new to the Air Force, it can be to the Airmen. Many of the Airmen in the 65th SFS are first term airmen who have not had experience deploying before. However, this unique deployment is giving some of those airmen the experience.

Tech. Sgt. Andrew Williams, 65th Air Base Wing Inspector General wing self assessment program manager and team lead for this deployment, said that this is the first deployment for five of the seven members and they are handling it very well. Not only is it the first deployment for some, but it is also the first time away from family and friends during the holidays.

"This is my first deployment, but not my first time away during the holidays," said Senior Airman Kaleigh Kennard, 65th SFS patrolman. "After spending the past two Christmas' away from my family, it is just another day at work. Most of us are used to working holidays since we're Security Forces; it really doesn't bother me anymore."

There are different ways service members cope during deployments, especially during the holiday season. Some play video games while others hang out with friends to help the time pass.

"The gym time is a big one," Williams said about ways they cope with the deployment. "All seven of us are having a great time; we have meshed together to become one big family. That helps because you have people that you are close to, people you can talk to and people you can relate to."

Working in security forces, the defense of the base or infrastructure never stops and that means someone will be working on the holidays. It doesn't matter whether it is in a deployed location or at a home station, security forces defenders are on the job 24/7.

While these seven Defenders may know what it is like to be working during the holidays, that won't stop them from having plans while they are away.

"We all just want to relax and enjoy each other's presence, whether we are attempting to cook a meal with the scraps we have here, or just hanging out," Williams said. "We have some Christmas trees and decorations, so those will be going up the moment Thanksgiving is over. We plan on watching Senior Airman Kennard's favorite movie, 'A Christmas Story,' all day on Christmas."

As the holidays approach, the Defenders have a message to share to everyone at Lajes, "Have a happy holidays, have fun, keep your nose clean and take life's little things and enjoy them."