Thursday, December 18, 2014

Fighter wing sends Christmas presents to its biggest fans

by Tech. Sgt. Emily Alley
442d Fighter Wing

12/18/2014 - WHITEMAN AFB, MO. -- A lot of Airmen are football fans. And the feeling is mutual.

The Kansas City Chiefs requested thirteen XXXL T-shirts from the 442d Fighter Wing , which they promised to "wear with pride."

Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt expressed his support of the relationship in 2012 by writing, "For more than two decades, the Kansas City Chiefs have cherished our relationship with Whiteman Air Force Base and the 442d Fighter Wing."

In fact, the unofficial logo of the 442d Fighter Wing is a variation of the KC Chiefs logo, an A-10 Thunderbolt II superimposed over the KC Chiefs distinctive arrowhead. The floor of the main aircraft hangar here is marked with the emblem and, while resting, the A-10 engines are covered and wear the logo, which was also blessed by Hunt.

"As the 442d defends our great country, it gives me tremendous pride to know that you're displaying our colors," he wrote.

When the team's general manager, John Dorsey, saw the 442 FW arrowhead logo during a recent base visit, he was intrigued. The logo had been printed on morale T-shirts for wing members and Dorsey requested 13 of the T-shirts, in size XXXL, for his offensive line. Both the KC Chiefs players and the fighter wing share the nickname the KC Hogs.

"If you asked 30 active duty Airmen at Whiteman who their favorite football team is, you'd get 30 different answers," said 442d Fighter Wing commander Col. Hubie Hegtvedt, as he spoke to Dorsey during the visit. "If you asked our reservists most would probably say the Kansas City Chiefs. They're locals."

Eleven new members of the 442d Fighter Wing took the opportunity to make their first oath of enlistment on the field during the pregame at Arrowhead Stadium Nov. 2, then were invited to the game to watch the Chiefs defeat the New York Jets.

"What better way for young people to begin their career than walking down the players' tunnel into a veritable gladiator's coliseum?" said Master Sgt. Kent Kagarise, manager of the support program for new Airmen, who helped supervise the enlistment.

When the Dorsey received the T-shirts for his offensive line, he asked for another shirt for himself, which he promised to "wear with pride."

Hegtvedt gifted the shirts to Dorsey and challenged him to friendly fighter pilot competition in the A-10 simulator.

In the photo, the XXXL shirts fit snugly on the linemen. While many Airmen at the 442d Fighter Wing are fans of the Kansas City Chiefs, the linemen may be the wing's "biggest" fans.

Marines bring joy, toys to far-flung Alaska villages

by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson
JBER Public Affairs

12/18/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Children are keeping their ears perked up and their eyes glued open - looking for sleighs and listening for bells.

But in Buckland and other remote Alaska villages, Santa doesn't use reindeer power - he's uses horsepower.

The Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Marine Corps detachment is delivering toys to north Alaska villages this year in cooperation with Toys for Tots as part of Operation Cool Runnings; and they're bringing Santa along for the ride.

Cool Runnings is a two-part mission; Marines of the Inspector-Instructor Detachment, Military Police Company D, 4th Law Enforcement Battalion, deliver toys to schools in villages that are too isolated to have consistent outside contact.

On the way, they get hands-on arctic survival training.

Three teams went out by C-130  Hercules to different locations: Kotzebue, McGrath and Galena.

Upon arriving, the teams prepares to ride snowmachines fully loaded with toys and survival gear across hundreds of miles of frozen tundra in temperatures as low as 50 below.

At each village, they sort toys by school grade, and one team member wears a Santa costume. Children get presents, and adults get photos of the meetings.

When traveling from village to village, the average speed is about 60 mph and the visibility is poor.

This far north, the angle of the Earth's axis causes remarkably short days during the winter; the sun peeks over the mountains for only about an hour before surrendering to the mountains again.

This means even on a clear "day," line-of-sight is determined by how far your headlights reach and is further impeded by a scratched, constantly frosting helmet visor that can't be left open due to risk of frostbite.

This year there wasn't very much snow, which means riding the snowmachines across rivers was less like riding an all-terrain vehicle and more like using motorized ice skates. It was a constant struggle to keep the towed sleds from swinging wide and throwing the snowmachines over.

It can be dangerous; if it wasn't, it wouldn't be called arctic survival training. But the Marines don't fret the perils. They are more concerned with the opportunities to help the communities.

"We don't dwell on the difficulties," said Marine Maj. Lee Johnson for the detachment. "We just think about the mission at hand."

In between school visits, they help with whatever needs the villagers may have. Last year it was building cold-weather storage for heavy equipment; this year it was tearing up frozen carpet."

"They'll give you the shirt off their back to help you out," said Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Martin, operations chief for the detachment. "It's great that we get to give something back; that level of involvement is very, very rewarding for us."

While the Marines are in town, community members frequently cook for them. Where a 12 pack of cola is $15, serving caribou stew and muktuk (sliced bowhead whale skin and blubber) for five visitors is no small sacrifice. But it's a sacrifice they seem happy to make.

"This is what they live on for the year, and they're willing to use it for us," Martin said.

Johnson said the appreciation goes farther than just dinner.

One of the Marines who recently finished his enlistment is a native who, as a child, received a toy from a Marine Corps Santa and never forgot it.

"Seeing the smile on the face of a kid who receives a toy donated by someone in the community and delivered by a Marine Corps Santa - that's the reward for this," Johnson said.

Carolina Panthers honor Seymour Johnson AFB Airmen

by Senior Airman Daniel Blackwell
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/18/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Six Airmen from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, got up close and personal with the National Football league, Dec. 14.

The Carolina Panthers and the USO of North Carolina coordinated with military bases in North and South Carolina allowing selected service members to meet the players, have sideline access and also get recognized during the game.

Five Seymour Johnson AFB Airmen sat in the Row of Honor, a section exclusive to honoring service members. Each Airman was introduced over the loudspeaker and received a boisterous show of support from the Panthers fans in attendance. The Airmen also received pre-game field passes, met with celebrities attending the game and were shown on the scoreboard.

"I just hit 20 years of service last week," said Master Sgt. Paige Stoner, 4th Medical Operations Squadron medical services flight chief. "It was very special for me as this is only my second live game ever. As a North Carolina resident and Carolina Panthers, fan it was the perfect way to celebrate with gorgeous football weather."

Senior Airman Ryan Smith, 4th Maintenance Group maintenance qualification instructor, received a very special honor from the Panthers and the USO of North Carolina as he and his family were selected to spend a jam-packed weekend in Charlotte, attending a Panthers' practice on Friday, touring the team's facilities and enjoying a meal with players. The Smith's received two nights of complementary accommodations in Charlotte prior to Sunday's game and the family was recognized on the scoreboard.

"I couldn't have been more excited about this," Smith explained. "Leading up to this, I went home every day with a huge smile on my face. The Panthers and the USO treated us great."

All the Airmen being honored at the game said they enjoyed themselves and were humbled by the recognition they received.

"This is my first year of service and my first time going to a professional football game," said Airman 1st Class Travaris Brown, 4th Contracting Squadron contract specialist. "It has been an awesome experience and a blessing to be a part of."

PJ’s extraordinary heroism earns Air Force Cross

by Maj. Craig Savage
Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

12/18/2014 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Recognizing extraordinary heroism shown in combat, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James presented the Air Force Cross to an Air Commando during a ceremony here, Dec. 17.

Master Sgt. Ivan Ruiz, a pararescueman deployed with the 22nd Expeditionary Special Tactics Squadron, was awarded the U.S. military's second highest decoration, only to the Medal of Honor, for an Airman. He earned the medal for protecting and saving the lives of two wounded teammates while under heavy enemy fire at close range during combat operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan, Dec. 10, 2013.

"We reserve the Air Force Cross for those special few who exhibit unequaled courage and bravery despite overwhelming odds, and that's exactly what (Ruiz) did," James said. "Today we are adding his name to an extremely small list of five additional Airmen, since Sept. 11, 2001, who demonstrated this highest caliber of service and excellence."

While moving through several compounds after infiltrating enemy territory with his special operations forces counterparts, Ruiz and two U.S. Army Special Forces teammates became separated from the main friendly element. They were immediately confronted by four insurgents in a point-blank engagement. Ruiz and his teammates quickly killed the enemy, but suddenly became trapped in a courtyard by vicious and intense insurgent crossfire.

"I didn't really think, I reacted," Ruiz said. "Anytime something bad happens in my career, I just fall back on my training. It prepares us for what we can encounter when we are doing our work."

The two soldiers were immediately wounded by the enemy's barrage of heavy gunfire and grenades, rendering them immobile and exposed. According to the medal citation, Ruiz sprinted through the waves of gunfire with complete disregard for his own personal safety to defend his teammates in their exposed position.

Ruiz was forced to fight lying flat on the ground due to grenades exploding around him, some only 15 feet from his position. He continued to return fire at multiple enemy locations to prevent enemy fighters from maneuvering toward his teammates.

"I just wanted to make sure my guys didn't get hurt any more than they already were," Ruiz said. "I just wanted to do my job."

Refusing to take cover or leave his wounded teammates exposed to potentially fatal shots, Ruiz continued to fight the enemy alone in the courtyard until reinforcements arrived. Once they did, he advanced again through a hail of gunfire, dragged his teammates to a nearby position of concealment and immediately administered life-saving trauma care. Due to the lack of light, Ruiz had to use night vision goggles to administer the care.

"It is not an understatement at all to say that you have made an indelible imprint on Air Force history," James said to Ruiz prior to presenting the Air Force Cross medal.

Lt. Gen. Brad Heithold, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, opened the ceremony by addressing the Airmen and guests who packed the venue's seats and sidelines.

"This is what 'right' looks like," he said. "This is when Air Commandos from all specialties come out and recognize the heroic deeds of one of our fellow Air Commandos. This is a proud day for Air Force Special Operations Command and for the U.S. Air Force."

Also in attendance were two of Ruiz's Army Special Forces teammates on the mission, one of whom Ruiz saved in the courtyard that night.

"I have a great deal of respect for what (Ruiz) and guys like him bring to the fight," the soldier said. "It's always good to know you have guys like that out there with you."

Work, British Defense Official Discuss Budgets, Programs

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18, 2014 – Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work met at the Pentagon yesterday with Philip Dunne, minister for equipment, support and technology for the British Defense Ministry.

Work began by thanking Dunne for hosting his July visit to the United Kingdom, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Courtney Hillson, spokeswoman for the deputy secretary, said in a statement summarizing the meeting.

Future Security Threats, Technology Requirements

“The two leaders discussed the U.S. and U.K. defense budgets and key program decisions,” Hillson said. “In their discussions, Deputy Secretary Work and Minister Dunne talked about future security threats and how they relate to new technology requirements, including opportunities for close U.K.-U.S. collaboration on future capability investments.”

Work and Dunne also reaffirmed their commitment to maintaining close coordination in the coming year, Hillson said.

Keesler reservists bring a holiday surprise

by Master Sgt. Brian Lamar
403rd Wing Public Affairs

12/17/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, MISS. -- Playing Santa Claus for the less fortunate might not be on Master Sgt. Spring Winter's resume, but she said it will be forever written into her memory and soul.

More than 60 boxes of donated toys, clothes, art supplies and medical supplies streamed into the lobby of the Queen Louise Children's Home, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Dec. 11.

Since 2008, Airmen with the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base have volunteered their free time to carry donated items to the home during the annual Roll-up and Roll-out missions on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, which is the forward operating base for the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron "Hurricane Hunters".

Earlier this year, Winters, with the 403rd Maintenance Group, coordinated with the QLHC staff to find out what donations were needed and then went to work fulfilling the request. She, along with other deployed reservists working at the island, delivered the supplies during their off time.

The staff at the children's home could not express their appreciation enough, said Dianna Arthurton, Co-Director of QLHC.

"This is amazing. I have been here for five years and the support is constant and the Airmen coordinate what we need with what they give," said Arthurton, looking at the boxes and supplies. "I am going to save these gifts until Christmas Eve, and we are going to transform the community room into a winter wonder land for the children."

According to the staff, because of the donations, the children's home was able to allocate money to other areas of their operation.

"We are undergoing our first major renovations in 14 years," said Dana Holtz, QLHC director. "Because of these donations helping us out, we were able to free up that money over the years to place into a special account for improvements on the facility."

The improvements include renovations on all the housing area, near kitchens, extended awnings for outside play areas, a bike trail on campus and improvements to the playgrounds.

With all the improvements at the home, Winters will be able to go back to the 403rd and share the news of the positive impacts with 403rd members.

For Winters, working with the children's home is more than just a good deed; it's personal.

"I was also in foster care as a child, and that is why this is very important to me," she said. "We also appreciate the way the people of St. Croix support our Hurricane Hunting mission throughout the year and this is one way our wing can give back," Winters explained.

Reservists 'deck the halls' at Alaska Fisher House

by Tech. Sgt. Dana Rosso
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

12/17/2014 - Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska -- Guests at the Alaska Fisher house will feel more at home this holiday season thanks to some hard work and effort by members of the 302nd Fighter Squadron and the 477th Operations Support Flight.

The Fisher House program is a unique private-public partnership that supports America's military in their time of need. The program recognizes the special sacrifices of our men and women in uniform and the hardships of military service by meeting a humanitarian need beyond that normally provided by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

Members of the 477th Fighter Group have spent time at the Alaska Fisher House consistently over the past three years preparing meals and spending time with the guests in hopes of helping them through tough times. This year Angela Earle, a member of the 302nd Fighter Squadron, led a group of Airmen from the 477th OSF and the 302nd FS in decorating for the upcoming holidays.

"Not one time have I walked away from the Fisher House and not had a tear in my eye," said Earle. "Whether we are working in the office all day or volunteering personal time, we all need to ask ourselves at the end of the day, 'Did I make a difference today?'"

Earle has been a member of the 477th FG for three and a half years, and on the first Wednesday of the month she organizes a group of volunteers from the group to come out to the house and prepare a home cooked meal. This month the 477th Maintenance Squadron prepared chili and homemade corn bread.

A-10s train at White Sands Missile Range

by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/17/2014 - WHITE SANDS MISSILE RANGE, N.M. -- Members of the 354th Fighter Squadron, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., the 74th Fighter Squadron, Moody AFB, Ga., and the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla., traveled to White Sands Missile Range for training Dec. 3-4.

The mission of the 354th and 74th Fighter Squadrons was to upgrade a select cadre of pilots to conduct unimproved surface landings on a dry lake bed, both day and night.

The objective of the 23rd STS was to provide ground air traffic control and set up an austere landing strip in a simulated assault zone, similar to what would be seen in a deployed environment.

"This training allows for air frames to penetrate a lot farther into enemy territory than would normally be allowed due to fuel and re-arming restrictions," said 1st Lt. Jesse Galt, 23rd STS Gold Team assistant team leader.  "You set up a site and you can land almost any plane you want. You can bring in fuel, ammo, weapons, troops, medics and all types of vehicles and set up for expedient operations in denied territory without an established landing zone under friendly control."

Soft spots on the designated landing strip interrupted the takeoff of the first A-10 that landed, causing the mission to change.

"Once we determined that we weren't going to land, we decided that we were going to practice the approaches and to work on our techniques for instruction to teach pilots on approaches on an unmarked air field or an airfield with very little markings," said Lt. Col. Steven Behmer, 354th FS commander.

The A-10 pilots were able to take advantage of the training opportunity with low approaches to the austere strip without conventional landing aids or instrument approaches. They were also able to make covert night approaches using night vision goggles without any physical light.

"The low approaches still served a lot of our training objectives," Galt said. "We were setting it up for our controllers to get a lot of air traffic control practice.  A couple team members are new, straight out of training, and most of their controls have been in a simulator, so this gave them the opportunity to talk to live pilots and get live interactions."

The training mutually benefited the STS and the fighter squadrons by allowing for better preparedness in future situations.

"The STS is there to be air traffic controllers and to set up these air fields, so it's important to have them on the ground because they make the determination whether or not it's safe to land based on their training," Behmer said.  "By working with them, it gives us the opportunity to integrate with the guys that are actually going to be doing it for real when we're in combat."

Secretary James arrives at Columbus AFB

14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

12/17/2014 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The Honorable Deborah Lee James, Secretary of the Air Force, arrived Dec. 17 for a two-day visit at Columbus Air Force Base.

During her visit she will tour several squadrons and organizations to meet with Airmen and learn their unique capabilities, key initiatives, attributes and missions.

James is the 23rd Secretary of the Air Force and is responsible for the affairs of the Department of the Air Force, including the organizing, training, equipping and providing for the welfare of its more than 690,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian Airmen and their families. She also oversees the Air Force's annual budget of more than $110 billion.

For nearly a decade, James held a variety of positions with SAIC to include Senior Vice President and Director of Homeland Security. From 2000 to 2001, she was Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Business Executives for National Security, and from 1998 to 2000 she was Vice President of International Operations and Marketing at United Technologies.

James earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in comparative area studies from Duke University and a master's degree in international affairs from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs.

"The men and women of the 14th Flying Training Wing are honored to have Secretary James visiting Columbus AFB and we are excited about showing off our mission and our world-class Airmen," said Col. John Nichols, 14th Flying Training Wing Commander.

"During this two day visit, Secretary James will witness firsthand how Team BLAZE executes its mission of Producing Pilots, Advancing Airmen, and Feeding the Fight."

Shaw Airmen train for real-world scenarios

by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Bass
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/18/2014 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Airmen from the 20th Civil Engineer Squadron and 20th Aerospace Medicine Squadron spent five days practicing emergency management procedures here, Dec. 7-12.

The integrated base emergency response capability training consisted of Airmen being placed into a series of simulated radiological, biological, and chemical attack conditions and had them test for exposure to hazardous materials in order to ensure the safety of the base.

The exercise provided combined training for both squadrons to work together, said Chris Hosman, Alliance Solutions Group, senior emergency management specialist.

For the Airmen in the scenarios, this created a chance for them to develop better practices in their combined efforts.

The emergency management flight assigned to 20th CES shares responsibilities with the bioenvironmental flight assigned to the 20th AMDS, said Senior Airman Jordan Gagne, 20th AMDS bioenvironmental engineering journeyman.

These responsibilities include assessing the damage caused by the simulated attacks on the base by using detecting equipment to determine the hazardous compound levels.

Gagne went on to say that the equipment both units used complement each other, allowing the combined teams to work well together.

The Airmen were equipped with personal protective equipment consisting of hazardous material suits, respirators, gloves, and oxygen tanks, in order to protect them from simulated contaminates. They also traveled in a single-file line in order to prevent exposure to hot spots.

The simulated attacks gave the Airmen a chance to break out equipment used to test for indications of hazardous compounds, such as the Sam 940 radioactive isotope identification device, the Victorine 451P chamber radiation survey meter, and the RADeCO high volume air sampler.

Tasked in sets of entry teams outside the simulated hot zone, located at the 20th CES training ground, the Airmen used their equipment to assess the situation and provide feedback for the incident commander, said Hosman.

With the recent guidance from headquarters Air Force regarding an increase in threats to base and personnel security, safety of the base and the Airmen is paramount to accomplishing the mission of the 20th Fighter Wing: To provide combat ready airpower and Airmen to meet any challenge, anytime, anywhere.