Military News

Monday, December 08, 2014

Remains of missing Airman in Guam confirmed


By Air Force News Service, / Published December 08, 2014

BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. (AFNS) -- Leadership from the 2nd Bomb Wing confirmed the loss of Airman Alec Dye during a press briefing here Dec. 6.

Dye, a crew chief from the 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, was deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, where he was last seen at Tarague Beach on Dec 1. On Dec. 3, remains were recovered on the beach where he went missing, and were confirmed to be Dye’s on Dec. 4.

"The news is beyond sad and our team is mourning the loss of one of our own," said Col. Kristin Goodwin, the 2nd Bomb Wing commander. "As great as our pain is, though, it pales in comparison to the loss that is felt by the Dye family and all of those who loved and knew Alec, and we want to ensure that they know that we are here to help them and support them in any capacity."

Throughout the search for Dye, his unit's squadron commander and Air Force officials remained in contact with his family. On Barksdale AFB, chaplains and base mental health professionals provided support to those impacted by his loss.

While relatively new to the wing, Dye was well-regarded within the 2nd AMXS.

"Alec was an outstanding young Airman, and a B-52H Stratofortress crew chief," said Lt. Col. Michael Hammack, the 2nd AMXS commander. "He was progressing well in his upgrade training and was well on his way to becoming an outstanding aircraft maintainer. Alec was known for his eagerness to learn, his willingness to take on the toughest tasks, and his enthusiasm for his job as a B-52 mechanic. His bright personality and service to his country will have a lasting impact on us all."

Throughout the near week-long search for Dye, a variety of Guam-based agencies were engaged in the recovery efforts, to include: the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard, Guam Police Department and Guam Fire Rescue. This level of support was not lost on 2nd Bomb Wing leadership.

"We want to express our gratitude to the more than 180 Guam individuals, both federal and local agencies, who were involved in the search and recovery efforts for Alec," Goodwin said. "Their determination validates what we all know - that the life of every Airman is a precious thing."

DoD Threat Reduction Agency Builds Anti-Ebola Capacity


By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8, 2014 – The Defense Department agency whose mission is to reduce biological, chemical and other threats to troops worldwide began ramping up its response early in the Ebola outbreak and now, with many partners, is steadily building capabilities in Liberia as it extends capacity into Sierra Leone and Mali.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, known as DTRA, protects the United States and its allies from chemical, biological, nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.

The fast-moving nature of West Africa’s Ebola crisis, which so far accounts for 17,145 cases of Ebola virus disease and at least 6,070 deaths, according to the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has driven the need for constant, close collaboration within DTRA itself and among U.S. agencies, entities such as U.S. Africa Command, international organizations and private companies.

One of Many Stakeholders

DTRA Deputy Director Air Force Maj. Gen. John P. Horner recently spoke with DoD News about DTRA’s Ebola response in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID, the U.S. lead for Ebola efforts in West Africa.

“DTRA is one of many stakeholders -- we are not necessarily the lead for any of this,” Horner said. “But between our [research, testing, development and evaluation] efforts and providing protective gear, diagnostic capabilities and vaccines, to modeling and analysis and data-sharing capabilities, we’ve made a lot of contributions” with a range of partners.

These include CDC and the Department of Health and Human Services, the State Department’s Biosecurity Engagement Program, many other U.S. interagency partners, and international partners that include the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders.

Together, DTRA and its partners provide support to Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa and contribute assay development and laboratory services, funding and capacity building to fight this and future deadly outbreaks.

In the Realm of Basic Research

Dr. Ronald K. Hann Jr., director of research and development in the Chemical and Biological Technologies Department, described the process for DTRA’s work on Ebola diagnostic assays.

“Here at DTRA we work in the realm of basic research up through developing prototypes, but we aren't the ones who do the follow-on procurement, life-cycle management or distribution,” he explained.

“We try to anticipate threats in the future and make sure we have resources prepared to meet those threats,” Hann added.

As products progress, DTRA works directly with its DoD acquisition partner, the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense in Maryland, or with interagency partners such as the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, part of HHS, and the National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, or NIAID.

“We work in an early discovery role, up through prototypes,” Hann said. “Often we’re looking to answer the question, can I do a certain thing, not necessarily whether it’s the best or cheapest way to do it. Looking to make something more cost efficient or how to mass produce it, those are questions that go on to our interagency partners … who carry the product further.”

Threat Detection and Surveillance

Dr. Richard Schoske, chief of the diagnostic detection and threat surveillance division in the Chemical and Biological Technologies Department, described DTRA’s role in diagnostic development.

As far back as 2010, Schoske said, the agency and its advanced developers funded and developed more than seventy assays to detect 19 different pathogens such as hemorrhagic fever viruses like Ebola and Marburg that are both filoviruses.

The assays received pre-Emergency Use Authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Pre-EUA is a step toward EUA, which allows unapproved medical products to be used in an emergency to diagnose, treat or prevent serious diseases.

Generally, Schoske said, DTRA provides funding to the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, and scientists there do further development and present packages of information about the assays to the advanced developer -- the Joint Program Executive Office for Chemical and Biological Defense.

Then the JPEO-CBD and DTRA’s Cooperative Biological Engagement Program, or CBEP, partners fund the manufacturing, procurement and distribution to analytic laboratories like the ones DTRA is putting in place in Liberia, Schoske said.

“Those are the assays currently being used by laboratories, in West Africa,” he added.

Labs in Sierra Leone, Assessment in Mali

Now, at Sierra Leone’s request and with CBEP funding and DTRA’s international partners, the agency is moving two contractor-staffed diagnostic labs into Sierra Leone and helping build capacity in that country to deal with Ebola and other infectious diseases.

CBEP division chief Dr. Lance Brooks said the labs will go out in stages. One is expected to be ready by the end of December and full operating capability is expected by early January.

Also in the region, DTRA, with CDC and the State Department’s Biosecurity Engagement Program, has sent an assessment team to Mali, the most recent West African country affected by the Ebola epidemic.

Major General Horner said one of DTRA’s most critical capabilities as a combat support agency is “our agility in terms of working with our lawmakers and colleagues at the Pentagon to get money programmed and on a contract in a hurry.”

He added, “As part of [President Barack Obama’s] Global Health Security Agenda we will sustain our efforts and the capabilities we are putting forward into the future as part of our medical countermeasures-biosurveillance effort.”

Dr. Ronald Meris, branch chief for DTRA Technical Reachback, where modeling is performed for Ebola and other infectious diseases, said, “If we could go out on a limb I would say our modeling is showing that the U.S. government response is making a difference in West Africa.”

He added, “I would say the rate of uptick is lower with each bit of interdiction we do to help combat this [outbreak] and build capacity in the countries. So I'm not going to say that it's a good news story yet but I'm saying the response is taking hold.”

Hickam Ceremony honors Dec. 7 attack heroes

by Tech. Sgt. Terri Paden
15th Wing Public Affairs


12/8/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii  -- The 15th Wing hosted the 73rd Remembrance Ceremony at 7:55 a.m. Dec. 7th in commemoration of the fatal attacks on Hickam Field in 1941.

More than 50 survivors and their family members attended the ceremony, which honors the 189 Airmen who lost their lives on Hickam Field during the two waves of attacks launched by the Imperial Japanese Navy on Dec. 7, 1941.

"I am honored and humbled to speak to you on such a historic day," said Col. Randy Huiss, 15th Wing commander. "Today marks the anniversary of a day that changed the course of history. On this day, the lives of everyone stationed at Hickam Field changed forever."

During the ceremony, the heroic stories of the men and women who lost their lives during the attack were shared with the attendees.

"The stories are what keeps those who sacrificed alive," Huiss said.

One unique survivor story was represented by the Shepherd family.

Marion Shepherd was assigned to Hickam Field after enlisting into the Army Air Corps, and survived both the December 7th attack on the base and the Battle of Midway in 1942 before passing away at 89 years-old, when Tech. Sgt. Andrew Shepherd was nine years old--but not before leaving a lasting impression on his grandson who enlisted in the Air Force nearly 10 years later.

Shepherd, who's assigned to the 15th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here, had the unique opportunity of attending this year's ceremony as a family representative and official escort to his father, Thomas Shepherd, who participated in the ceremony for the first time. During the ceremony Thomas accepted a folded flag in honor and recognition of his father's selfless service.

"The ceremony was really emotional," Thomas said. "It brought a lot of the stories to life ... it was very beautiful and moving."

Thomas said he feels proud to have his father honored in a ceremony.

"Attending this ceremony is something that I've wanted to do for a long time," he said. "It's an honor to me also that he and his fellow Airmen are honored like this. I've very proud."

In addition to honoring survivors like Marion Shepherd, the ceremony also honored Master Sgt. (ret) Kenneth Ford and Col. (ret) Roy Bright, two survivors who were long-time attendees of the ceremony at Hickam, but passed away before this year's ceremony.

Crew chief dedicated to his MC-130J Commando II aircraft

by Gina Randall
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


12/5/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England  -- Aircraft flying overhead is a common sight for people living near an air base or airfield. What people may not know is the hard work and dedication that keeps the aircraft ready to respond at a moment's notice -- day or night.

Each aircraft on RAF Mildenhall is assigned its own dedicated crew chief. Their job is to ensure the aircraft is mission ready, whatever the weather. They take care of every component on their assigned aircraft ranging from the tires to the nuts and bolts that hold its engine together.

These crew chiefs are responsible for millions of dollars worth of aircraft and the people that operate them.

One Air Commando entrusted with the safety of his aircraft -- and its crew -- is Staff Sgt. Randy McDonald, 352nd Special Operation Maintenance Squadron dedicated crew chief from Sumter, South Carolina. Before the sun has even risen, he's out checking his aircraft when mission dictates this schedule.

Taking pride in his work, and the responsibility that goes with it, McDonald thoroughly inspects every aspect of the MC-130J Commando II he's assigned to.

"My job is to take care of the aircraft, make sure it flies and make sure everything is good on it," the South Carolina native explained.

To certify aircraft are taken care of effectively, each one has a dedicated crew chief, an assistant crew chief and three to four other maintainers assigned to it. It's the job of the DCC to hold the team together and make sure each member is doing his or her part. As important as the DCC is to the aircraft's readiness for flight, no operation can happen without a team. McDonald relies on subject matter experts when there is something that happens outside his range of knowledge.

"We have specialists that work alongside us (who) know about the different aspects of the aircraft," McDonald added.

The 352nd Special Operations Group operates on a 24-hour basis so the crew chiefs work shifts to ensure the aircraft is ready when the pilots and aircrew receive a tasking.

McDonald and other DCCs are a reflection of the ethos their leadership embraces.

"Staff Sgt. McDonald is always out on the flightline training our guys to make sure they are up to speed with the (MC-130J Commando II variant)," said Tech. Sgt. Chad Gordon, 352nd SOMXS flying crew chief manager from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. "He is fantastic and he's been a leader from the beginning."

For this particular Air Commando, the work is a labor of love he thoroughly enjoys especially because he is part of the bigger picture of the Air Force he serves and the vital missions the aircraft is used for.

"I enjoy launching the aircraft, getting it ready and actually seeing it fly," the crew chief stated.

Fightin' Fifty-Fifth Airmen share "innovative ideas" with vice chief of staff

12/8/2014 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- More than 30 members of the 55th Wing met with the Air Force vice chief of staff in a virtual town-hall meeting to discuss the Airman Powered by Innovation program Dec. 1, at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Offutt is the first base chosen to interact with U.S. Air Force Gen. Larry Spencer on this topic as he hopes to hear innovative ideas generated by Airmen from across the service.

"Please send us your ideas," he said to group in attendance. "If you take nothing else away from this session, I want you to know that we are listening and we want to hear from you."

API was officially launched April 4 as a follow-on program to the 2013 Every Dollar Counts campaign. During that campaign, 302 ideas submitted by Airmen were implemented by the Air Force, generating savings of $71 million and 24,000 hours annually.

API also replaces three existing Air Force "good idea" programs - the Innovative Development through Employee Awareness, Productivity Enhancing Capital Investment, and Best Practices programs.

"We really learned a lot through (the Every Dollar Counts campaign), which caused us to create the Airman Powered by Innovation program," Spencer said.

Highlighted during the 60 minute meeting was an API idea submitted by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Bryan Garcia of the 55th Security Forces Squadron. He proposed a plan that would save the Air Force money by simply stocking food for military working dogs at their deployed locations as opposed to shipping it out individually each time a MWD is deployed.

"Participating in this program may seem somewhat intimidating, but let's face it, everyone has something great they can bring to the fight," Garcia said. "Be encouraged that we have outstanding leadership who is supporting our every step in being the tip of the spear."

It is those "common sense" ideas, like Garcia's, that Spencer hopes to hear more of as this virtual forum will continue to be held monthly at different Air Force bases around the world.

"I'm going to tell you, we have those sorts of ideas at every wing," he said. "We need you tell us and we will change them, trust me."

Spencer also said the plan is to have API more transparent than some of the past Air Force "good idea" programs. One such way is that the site includes a 30-day snap shot that shows what submissions have been approved from across the service.

"You can actually see what we've approved, we aren't just reading them, but we are actually approving ideas," he said. "We think this is a big improvement from some of the other programs in the past."

Airmen in attendance were thankful Spencer took the time to meet with them and agreed API is a program that can really help the Air Force.

"When the Air Force cut entire programs and thousands of jobs following sequestration, every dollar really does count," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Cameron Collins, 55th Intelligence Support Squadron. "With the growing attention our leaders are paying to this program it makes it easier for these important issues to be reported to a level where the change can occur."

"The API program is important because it gives all of us a chance to make a real difference in our Air Force," said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Sam Kimmons, 55th Communications Squadron. "Also based on the answer that I got from General Spencer, it seems that with all the attention that the API is getting amongst senior leaders we can expect to see some great things as it progresses over the next few years."

It is also the hope of the wing's Air Force Smart Operations 21 office that these virtual town-hall meetings will jump-start the API program and help generate some ideas that will transform the Air Force.

"It's obvious that Air Force leadership values every Airman's opinion and wants to not only hear their innovative ideas, but get them implemented," said Mark Kier, 55th Wing AFSO21 chief. "Our office is here to help and we look forward to the API program expanding the role of Air Force Smart Operations in the future."

McConnell's emergency management inspection

by Senior Airman Colby L. Hardin
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


12/5/2014 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- McConnell Airmen participated in an emergency management inspection, a simulated homeland terrorist attack Dec. 3, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan.

It was a total force exercise involving the 931st Air Refueling Group and 184th Intelligence Wing.

"We do this to test and evaluate the wing's ability to respond, protect personnel, and recover and restore operations after an emergency," said Lt. Col. David Mazzara, 22nd Air Refueling Wing inspector general. "We want to make sure that we are ready to take on any challenge that comes our way."

The Wing Inspection Team makes sure that they can get as close to real life situations as they can.

"We want to see people's reaction as if it were a real life situation, instead of what they would do when they have time to plan for it." added Mazzara.

The scenarios that are simulated during exercises are meant to have a real life feel to them without the actual accident happening.

"It's difficult to match the intensity of real life; it's almost impossible," Mazzara said. "We still have our real world mission going on at the same time and we do a good job completing both missions."

Even when not all members are able to participate the wing still does its job to stay ready for any incident that could occur.

"As part of the wing inspection team, we're just looking for any deficiencies," said Mazzara. "or any way that we can deal with a possible incident more efficiently."

The information gathered by the wing inspection team will be given to the wing commander for him to look at and make changes to the way we handle emergencies.
"It takes a large effort from the wing inspection team and the leadership to make all of this come together," Mazzara added. "Overall we do all of this to make the wing better and improve the safety of all of our personnel."

Fairchild Airman convicted of indecent communication

by Senior Airman Justin Guerreso
92nd Air Refueling Wing Legal Office


12/5/2014 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash.  -- On Nov. 21, Staff Sgt. Julian S. Phillips, 92nd Security Forces Squadron, was found guilty at general court-martial of two allegations of wrongful communication, two allegations of making indecent remarks to female coworkers, and one charge of wrongfully using his government computer to send inappropriate emails to another female coworker.

During the court-martial, witnesses testified that on two occasions, Phillips, who was assigned as a quality assessor (QA), sent sexually inappropriate pictures of male genitalia and figures engaged in bizarre sexual acts to female members of the 92nd SFS. On two other occasions, Phillips sent messages via text message and Facebook soliciting sexual favors in exchange for higher QA inspection evaluation scores to two other female members of the squadron. The evidence presented also showed that on another occasion, Phillips sent sexually suggestive poems to a female Airman using his work computer, a violation of Air Force regulations prohibiting inappropriate use of government resources.

Following the four day court-martial, Phillips was sentenced by the Chief Trial Judge of the Air Force to reduction to the grade of E-1, confinement for seven months and a bad-conduct discharge.

One of the two prosecuting attorneys in this case, Capt. Justin Rossi, stated that the females involved in this case were appreciative of the efforts to be able to bring this information to light and to have their day in court.

"Phillips actions show that he had complete disregard for his fellow Airmen and our core values," said Capt. Catherine Santiago, 92nd Air Refueling Wing assistant staff judge advocate. "There is absolutely no place for this kind of behavior in our Air Force."

As a result of his court-martial conviction, Phillips will have a federal conviction on his criminal record indefinitely, will be marked with a bad-conduct discharge, and will not be entitled to nearly all veterans benefits associated with military service. He will also face the stigma of trying to secure future employment with a significant negative characterization of service.

Pope Airmen and Fort Bragg Soldiers combine efforts for Operation Toy Trot

by Marvin Krause
43rd Airlift Group


12/5/2014 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, FORT BRAGG N.C. -- Pope Airmen and Fort Bragg Soldiers participated in the Air Force's annual Operation Toy Trot 5K race here Dec. 3, collecting toys for the annual Randy Oler Memorial Operation Toy Drop scheduled for Dec. 5 thru Dec. 7.

Over 150 servicemembers dressed in holiday and fitness attire, donated toys and competed in the 5K race around the Pope Field flight line to help kickoff this year's U.S. Army Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations Command's (Airborne) annual Operation Toy Drop. Over its 17-year span, Operation Toy Drop has collected and distributed thousands of toys for children in the Sandhills, North Carolina area.

"Operation Toy Trot was a great start to this year's Toy Drop efforts," said Master Sgt. Claudia Alvarez, Operation Toy Trot project officer from the 43rd Force Support Squadron. "The main purpose of joining forces with the Army for this event was to increase awareness for Operation Toy Drop and to collect additional toys for the local community, including our Airmen and Soldier families as well," she said.

This event and Operation Toy Drop underscores the service's belief that Soldiers and Airmen - the people who collectively come together as a team for great causes like training and charity - are an organization's best asset.

Certificates and prizes were awarded for the Toy Trot's 1st place male and female, 1st place team and best holiday attire, male and female. 1st Lt. Lorin Hoover, 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, placed first for the females and Airman 1st Class Benjamin Latimer, 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, placed first for the males.

"This year, we attached a unique label with a piece of chocolate to each donated Toy Trot toy to honor the Berlin Airlift's original 'Candy Bomber', Air Force Col. Gail S. "Hal" Halvorsen," said Col. Kenneth Moss, 43rd Airlift Group commander. "During the Berlin Airlift from 1948-1949, Col. Halvorsen decided to boost the spirits of the German children during that time of uncertainty and privation. He organized missions to drop candy to children using parachutes made of handkerchiefs. It was such a success, soon other pilots joined in to create what became known as Operation Little Vittles. Col. Halvorsen knew instinctively how much difference an act of kindness can make in a child's life. We are simply trying to follow in his footsteps and pay homage to a man with a big heart," he said.

Halvorsen, who turned 94 years old on October 10, will be among members of the Civil Air Patrol receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on Dec. 10 for their service during World War II. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest award Congress can give to a civilian. He perhaps is best known for advocating themes of service towards others. "Service is the bottom line to happiness and fulfillment," he said.

Operation Toy Drop, originally masterminded in 1998 by then-Staff Sgt. Randy Oler, a Civil Affairs Soldier, started as a relatively minor success. After months of planning, the first Operation Toy Drop was small and just 550 toys were raised--but it was a start.

Since 1998, the operation has collected and donated more than 86,000 toys--from bikes to dolls to video game systems--for families and children in need throughout the region. Each toy collected is donated to a child in need - almost 20,000 children received toys in 2013 through Operation Toy Drop.

On April 20, 2004, Sgt. 1st Class Randall R. Oler suffered a fatal heart attack while performing jumpmaster duties. The void left by his death was a difficult one to fill; Oler had run the operation from memory for six years.

With the support of every unit on Fort Bragg, Operation Toy Drop has continued and, in 2013, Operation Toy Drop raised more than 10,000 toys.