Military News

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

NASA astronaut, Miracle on Hudson copilot, Outstanding ANG Airman to headline Executive Safety Summit

by Staff Sgt. John E. Hillier
Air National Guard Readiness Center Public Affairs

4/24/2015 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The Air National Guard Safety Office announced that guest speakers slated for the upcoming Executive Safety Summit will include NASA astronaut US Navy Capt. Barry E. Wilmore, US Airways pilot Jeff Skiles, the co-pilot of the "Miracle on the Hudson" US Airways Flight 1549, and Tech. Sgt. Douglas Matthews, silver star recipient and the Air National Guard's 2014 Outstanding Noncommissioned Officer of the Year.

The Executive Safety Summit held this year at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, brings adjutants general, wing commanders, wing command chiefs, and other senior leaders from across the ANG to discuss safety, risk engineering, cross-cultural negotiation and lessons learned over the past year of operations.

Director of the Air National Guard and host for the summit, Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, provided this overview, "Our straight-forward objective is to identify and address strategic challenges to mission readiness and Airmen resilience at the executive level across the Air National Guard."

"Virtually all mishaps come down to managing risk and human factors. Some military missions must be accomplished, despite the inherent risk," said Col. Edward L. Vaughan, ANG Director of safety. "Summits like this permit us to understand those risk factors and better address them. In a resource-constrained environment, we rely on the creativity and innovation of our spectacular ANG airmen to manage that risk."

Wilmore has been with NASA for almost 15 years. He most recently served as the commander of the International Space Station from November 2014 to February 2015. At NASA, he previously served as the pilot for STS-129 which delivered components and supplies to ISS, also as a technical expert on propulsion systems, and as launch and landing operations support at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

During his tenure as a fleet Naval officer and pilot, Wilmore completed four operational deployments, flying US Navy A-7E and FA-18 aircraft from the decks of the USS Forrestal, USS Kennedy, USS Enterprise and the USS Eisenhower aircraft carriers. He has flown missions in support of Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield and Southern Watch over the skies of Iraq, as well as missions over Bosnia in support of United States and NATO interests.

Skiles, along with Captain Chesley Sullenberger, became national figures when they landed US Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River after the aircraft suffered dual engine failure from a bird strike during the plane's climb out. Their quick thinking and calm professionalism in a crisis saved the lives of all 155 passengers and crew on-board while performing what the National Transportation Safety Board called "the most successful ditching in aviation history."

Skiles has been flying for US Airways for 23 years as a first officer and captain. He began flying at age 16, and has more than 15,000 hours of flight experience. During his career, he has also been a flight instructor, as well as a cargo and commuter airline pilot.

Matthews is a combat controller from the Oregon Air National Guard's 125th Special Tactics Squadron, who was awarded the Silver Star for his gallantry in combat after his vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device in November 2012, in Afghanistan. The explosion injured Matthews and triggered a large-scale ambush on his patrol. Despite his exposed position, he coordinated close-air support against enemy forces. He refused medical evacuation to remain and engaged the enemy with multiple air platforms, which allowed his team to break contact and return to base--remarkably with no loss of life. Matthews was named the 2014 ANG Outstanding NCO of the year, and was selected as one of the 12 Air Force Outstanding Airmen of the Year.

"The real value from this summit is when leaders share this information with their Airmen," said Vaughn. "Our senior leadership will learn a great deal from the knowledge and experience of all of our presenters, and take that back to their units."

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