Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Tuskegee Airmen visit Barksdale, honored at Duck Commander Independence Bowl

by Senior Airman Benjamin Gonsier
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

12/29/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Two Tuskegee Airmen visited with Airmen here and were the guests of honor during the 2014 Duck Commander Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., Dec. 27.

During their visit to Barksdale, Homer Hogues and Calvin Spann spoke to aviators and maintainers about Barksdale's mission. At the 2014 Duck Commander Independence Bowl, the two represented the Tuskegee Airmen in the acceptance of the 2014 Omar N. Bradley "Spirit of Independence Award."

The award is named after the last individual in the United States Armed Forces to hold the five-star rank. It was named after him because he embodied the spirit of independence.

"I take great pride in being one of the pioneers who paved the way for all African-Americans in aviation," said Spann. "We are happy that the Tuskegee Airmen are being recognized for their contributions."

Spann, a Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps, served in Italy during World War II, where he was a P-51 Mustang pilot and flew in 26 combat missions.

When Spann was told why the Tuskegee Airmen were receiving the award, he only had a few words to say:

"That's fantastic and I am excited that the Tuskegee Airmen are being recognized in front of all of America," he said.

Alongside Spann was Homer Hogues, an aircraft mechanic during his time with the Tuskegee Airmen, who was ecstatic about the visit and the opportunity to meet with maintainers and aviators of the current generation.

"I felt honored by the reception we received here," said Hogues. "It was great being able to meet with these guys."

The Barksdale maintainers and aviators were honored to meet and brief the living legends on their mission and aircraft.

"I was starstruck by their visit," said Maj. Millard Matthews, 11th Bomb Squadron electronic warfare officer. "I feel immensely honored and privileged to be able to meet them. My father was an aircraft mechanic during the Vietnam War, and he would be thrilled if he was alive today to be able to meet the individuals who paved the way for him and all generations."

During the reception and briefing held by the B-52H Stratofortress aviators and maintainers, Spann and Hogues could not get enough of what the Airmen had to say.

"To have them be interested in our aircraft, ask us questions and be impressed with the answers is truly spectacular," said Matthews. "It was tremendous to be able to witness history and also share with them the B-52 and our heritage."

USS James E. Williams Departs Civitavecchia, Italy

By Lt. Eric Daigrepont, USS James E. Williams Public Affairs

CIVITAVECCHIA, Italy (NNS) -- The Arleigh Burke-Class guided-missile destroyer USS James E. Williams (DDG 95) departed Civitavecchia, Italy, following a successful port visit, Dec. 28.

James E. Williams was moored for several days in Italy, giving the crew an opportunity to enjoy the local cuisine and culture in Civitavecchia and Rome.

"The crew has served a long and challenging mission abroad," said Cmdr. Heidi Haskins, commanding officer, USS James E. Williams. "It was a pleasure to be able to afford them the holiday in port to relax together as a Navy family."

Much of the crew sought out and toured notable sites in Rome such as experiencing genuine Italian food with shipmates and friends. Sailors also attended Christmas Mass at St. Peter's Square, while others seized the opportunity to finish shopping for loved ones back home.

James E. Williams, home-ported in Norfolk, is conducting naval operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations in support of U.S. national security interests in Africa.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

USS Sampson to Assist in Air Asia Search

From U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- At the request of the Government of Indonesia and as directed by U.S. Pacific Command, U.S. Pacific Fleet has authorized U.S. 7th Fleet to position USS Sampson (DDG 102) in the general search area for missing Air Asia Flight QZ8501 to support search operations.

Authorities in the region continue to lead the search and rescue effort. The U.S. Navy is working closely with the government of Indonesia to identify additional surface or airborne capabilities that best assist their search efforts.

USS Sampson is scheduled to be on the scene later today.

USS Sampson is homeported in San Diego and is in the midst of an independent deployment to the Western Pacific.

USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) Arrives in Singapore

From USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) Public Affairs

CHANGI NAVAL BASE, Singapore (NNS) -- USS Fort Worth (LCS 3) arrived in Singapore Dec. 29 as part of a 16-month rotational deployment to 7th Fleet in support of the Indo-Asia-Pacific rebalance.

As part of an initiative to deploy up to four LCS to the region on a rotational basis, Fort Worth will operate out of Singapore as a maintenance and logistics hub from which the ship will conduct patrols and train with regional navies during exercises like Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training.

"The much-anticipated arrival of Fort Worth speaks to our important partnership with the Republic of Singapore Navy and to our shared commitment to regional security and stability," said Rear Adm. Charlie Williams, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific and commander, U.S. 7th Fleet's Task Force 73. "As multiple LCS deployments become routine, ships like Fort Worth will become workhorses in 7th Fleet."

Fort Worth is the first LCS to deploy under the "3-2-1" manning concept, swapping fully trained crews roughly every four months. This concept allows Fort Worth to deploy six months longer than the 2013 USS Freedom (LCS 1) deployment and twice as long as typical U.S. Navy ship deployments, extending LCS forward presence and reducing crew fatigue for the entire 16-month deployment. It is named 3-2-1 because three rotational crews will support two LCS ships and maintain one deployed ship.

"Fort Worth's arrival marks the dawn of a continuous LCS presence in the Asia-Pacific, bringing more flexibility and capability to U.S. 7th Fleet," said Capt. Fred Kacher, commodore, Destroyer Squadron 7. "The next 15-months will be busy for Fort Worth and she will operate extensively throughout Southeast Asia in support of CARAT 2015, as well as expanding her operational footprint to Northeast Asia."

In addition to presence in nearly every phase of CARAT 2015 in South and Southeast Asia, Fort Worth will train with the Republic of Korea Navy in exercise Foal Eagle and is scheduled to join multinational ships at Singapore's Changi Naval Base for the International Maritime Defence Exhibition (IMDEX). Fort Worth will also expand LCS regional presence by using additional expeditionary maintenance locations in Northeast Asia.

Fort Worth is embarked with an aviation detachment from Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 35, the Navy's first composite expeditionary helicopter squadron. The detachment consists of one MH-60R Seahawk helicopter and one MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned aircraft system. The Fire Scout will complement the MH-60R by extending the HSM-35's range and endurance thereby enhancing maritime domain awareness.

"Arriving in Singapore is a significant milestone for Fort Worth and her crew," said Cmdr. Kendall Bridgewater, LCS Crew 104 commanding officer. "We're excited to be in Singapore and are ready to get back out to sea and work with regional navies."

Since departing San Diego Nov. 17, Fort Worth transited the Pacific Ocean, visited Hawaii to conduct joint operations, stopped in Guam to refuel and stopped in Jakarta, Indonesia for a 5-day port visit. Fort Worth will spend the remaining 15 months of her deployment operating from Singapore and will return to her homeport in San Diego in 2016.

Fast, agile and mission-focused, littoral combat ships are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for surface warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare. Fort Worth will employ the surface warfare mission package for her entire deployment, augmenting her 57mm gun and rolling airframe missile launcher with two 30mm guns, two 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats and two eight-member maritime security boarding teams. With more fuel capacity than Freedom, Fort Worth can refuel less often and stay on patrol longer.

The U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Asia-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build maritime partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability and prevent conflict.