Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Mission ready: PACAF passes management inspection

by Staff Sgt. Alexander Martinez
Headquarters Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

2/17/2015 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Headquarters Pacific Air Forces proved "mission ready" after passing a management inspection that happened Jan. 29 through Feb. 9.

The inspection, conducted by the Air Force Inspection Agency, tested the major command's organizational performance in several key areas: strategic planning, organizational management, customers, process operations, resources, data-driven decisions, organizational performance and by-laws.

Col. Michael Fitzgerald, the MI team chief, praised the MAJCOM for its superior performance and hospitality during an inspection outbrief presentation Feb. 9.

"PACAF's performance in this inspection is a benchmark for the rest of the Air Force," Fitzgerald said. "You all treated our team like your 'ohana' (family), and we're very thankful."

PACAF scored "highly effective" and "effective" in all major graded areas, boasting the best performance from any of the 12 agencies inspected to this point, some of which included other major commands.

Fitzgerald highlighted several graded areas in which PACAF displayed outstanding performance, including organizational management, where the MAJCOM's ability to cultivate a culture of innovation and efficiency as part of the Every Dollar Counts campaign saved the Air Force $778,000 last year.

Another graded area Fitzgerald highlighted was organizational performance that included PACAF's engagement with other service components and partner nations.

"It was clear [PACAF] is dedicated to and fully engaged with its partner nations," he said.

Maj. Gen. Jon A. Norman, PACAF vice commander, praised the PACAF team for their mission performance before and during the inspection.

"I'm so proud of the continued hard work and dedication displayed by the men and women of this great organization," Norman said. "The management inspection validated the areas where we know we're exceptional and helped us better identify areas where we can improve.

"Thank you to the inspection team for your thoroughness, and for helping us become a better organization," he continued.

Additionally, the MI team recognized six individuals and four teams for their superior performances:

     - Lt. Col. Matthew Keihl, Analysis Assessment and Lessons Learned Directorate
     - Maj. William Ballard, Strategy, Plans and Programs Directorate
     - Senior Master Sgt. Gillie Zamora, PACAF Cyberspace Systems Squadron
     - Tech. Sgt. James Stewart, PACAF Public Affairs
     - Stephanie Fortin, Financial Management
     - Emi Kiyoi, Program Management Office

     - PACAF Cyberspace Systems Squadron
     - PACAF Chaplains Corps
     - PACAF Financial Management
     - PACAF Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

COPE NORTH 15 kicks off at Andersen

by Melissa B. White
Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

2/17/2015 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam  -- Exercise Cope North 15 kicked off Feb. 15 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and will run through Feb. 27.

This year marks the 86th iteration of the multilateral training exercise which is a long-standing, multinational event designed to increase interoperability and improve combat readiness and develop a synergistic disaster response capability between the countries involved.

"It's important, so we can learn from each other," said U.S. Air Force Col. David Mineau, Cope North exercise director. "All of our forces have strengths and weak areas, but coming together, we can hone our abilities by listening to each other, increasing our interoperability and sharing techniques, tactics and procedures to make us more effective and to promote peace and stability in the region."

The exercise has two main objectives overall, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief training involving air base opening and aeromedical evacuations and also an air combat training portion which includes air-to-air and air-to-ground combat and a large force employment exercise.

There are approximately 2,000 military members participating in CN15 this year from the United States, Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Philippines, as well as observers from the Singapore and Vietnam air forces. There are also nearly 100 aircraft from 23 different flying units within the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, Royal Australian Air Force, Japan Air Self-Defense Force and Republic of Korea Air Force involved in the exercise operations. This year is the first time the Royal New Zealand Air Force and Philippines Air Force are participating in Cope North to engage in the HA/DR portion of the exercise.

"I'm so excited to be part of Cope North," said JASDF Capt. Yasuhiro Kimura, Cope North public affairs officer. "This is a very good learning experience, and it's very important for us to work together with other countries."

Andersen AFB started hosting Cope North annually in 1999, but the event was previously held in Japan up until that point as often as four times per year. The next Cope North exercise is slated for early 2016.

March Programming Aboard the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

WILMINGTON, NC – The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA announces the programming schedule for March, 2015.

Statewide NC QSO Party
An Azalea Coast Amateur Radio Club Event
Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Azalea Coast Amateur Radio Club will operate from the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA during the North Carolina QSO Party on Sunday, March 1, 2015. The event runs from Noon until 10:00 pm local time.  The purpose of this annual “HAM Radio” event is to allow amateur radio operators worldwide to contact as many of North Carolina’s 100 counties as possible.  This year the Battleship is one of four stations worth “extra points” if contacted. The Battleship is NI4BK and the club looks forward to hearing from many HAMS.  Licensed radio amateurs are invited throughout the year to be guest operators on the air from Radio Central using call sign NI4BK.

The Club will communicate by voice through the Ship’s original cabling and antennas. Morse code communications will originate from the TBM-4 transmitter, placed in service aboard the Battleship in 1941, and restored to operating condition by Club members in 2002, after a 50+ year slumber.

The club hosts and participates in several events at the Battleship during the year, including Museum Ships Day, Battleship Alive, and Pearl Harbor Remembered.  They also spend time restoring the Battleship’s original communications equipment. Details of the guest operator program may be found at the club's website http://AC4RC.org.

Power Plant
March 14, 2015
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
$65 (plus tax) per person.  $60 (plus tax) for Friends members or active military

Calling all Navy engineering enthusiasts! Join us for an in-depth program on the Battleship's power plant. Learn in detail about the ship's eight Babcock & Wilcox boilers, four sets of General Electric turbines and reduction gears, steam and diesel powered service turbo generators, along with electrical distribution, water distillation, and steering mechanisms. Our program features classroom presentations and behind-the-scenes tour of engineering spaces. North Carolina naval steam engine expert Gene Oakley demonstrates his working models of historic naval steam engines to place the Battleship’s engines in perspective. Discover what it took to propel a 36,000 ton heavily armored battlewagon bristling with massive firepower and 2,300 fighting men across the Pacific.

The program is for adults only (ages 16 and up) and is limited to 40 participants. It is not appropriate for those who have difficulty climbing narrow ladders or over knee-high hatches. Wear warm, comfortable, washable clothing, sturdy, rubber-soled shoes and bring a camera! Registration and payment are due by Thursday, March 12th.  Event is $65/$60 for Friends of the Battleship or active military plus tax. Call 910-251-5797 for reservations.

The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is self-supporting, not tax supported and relies primarily upon admissions to tour the Ship, sales in the Ship's Store, donations and investments. No funds for its administration and operation come from appropriations from governmental entities at the local, state or federal levels. Located at the junction of Highways 17/74/76/421 on the Cape Fear River.   Visit www.battleshipnc.com or follow us on Facebook.com/ncbb55 and Twitter.com/battleshipnc for more information. Relive with the crew on the Battleship Blog http://seastories.battleshipnc.com/. The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is an historic site within the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources (www.NCCulture.com).

Hunting peace: from Steubenville to Croughton

by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
501st Combat Support Wing

2/13/2015 - RAF CROUGHTON, England -- There was blood on his shirt. A dark crimson that stained the fabric, as Terrell Yarbrough bragged to his friends about killing two college students and stealing their Chevrolet Blazer during a robbery at a street-level apartment in Steubenville, Ohio, May 31, 1999.

"They got their heads shot off," Yarbrough allegedly told a friend, after inviting him for a ride in the stolen vehicle and confiding that he had killed "two white boys" to get it.

It was roughly 5 a.m. when Yarbrough, and his accomplice - Nathan "Boo" Herring forced their way into the apartment, waking the occupants - who were all students at the nearby Franciscan University. Andrew Doran heard "a loud series of crashes" and immediately crawled out a window. He silently re-entered the house through a side door and called out to his roommates: Brian Muha and Aaron Land.

There was no answer.

In the darkness, Doran saw a hooded figure with a white handkerchief over his mouth - later identified as Yarbrough. Before Yarbrough could react, Dornan ran from the apartment to a nearby house, where he phoned the police - who arrived at the scene minutes later to find the both the perpetrators and the two students missing. Immediately, detectives began calling friends and family of Aaron and Brian, hoping for some lead as to their location.

"Hello," Kathleen O'Hara said as she answered her house phone.

The man on the other end identified himself as a detective with the City of Steubenville Police Department. He told her a 911 call was recently placed by Doran, and then asked if she knew the whereabouts of her son, Aaron.

"Yes," O'Hara answered. "He's at Franciscan University."

There was a long pause. O'Hara said she could feel her stomach knotting. The detective told her there had been a robbery, blood was found at the scene and her son was missing.

"At that moment, I could feel myself swirling down the drain," she said, 16 years later during the 2015 National Prayer Breakfast at RAF Croughton, England. "The last thing I said to him was 'I love you and I'll see you soon.'"

Speaking to U.S. Air Force Airmen of 422nd Air Base Group, O'Hara said Yarbrough and Herring were drunk and high on a combination of beer, cocaine, marijuana and prescription drugs when they used a .44-caliber handgun to repeatedly beat Aaron and Brian, before forcing them into the back of the Blazer.

"This was a turning point in my life," O'Hara continued. "Sixteen years later I can tell this story without breaking down."

With their frightened hostages in tow, Yarbrough and Herring drove the stolen car to Pittsburg - stopping briefly in Washington County, Penn. There, alongside the highway, Yarbrough pulled Aaron and Brian out of the car and into a wooded area. At gunpoint, the two students were taunted and tortured.

Then, in a moment of calculated inhumanity, Yarbrough raised the gun to the back of each boy's head and calmly pulled the trigger.

"They did it," O'Hara said. "These two crack addicts beat, tortured and murdered my son and his friend. I remember thinking, 'why didn't God protect my son?'"

With her faith shaken, seemingly beyond repair, O'Hara said she waited anxiously for any news of her son - unaware that his lifeless body was being hidden under a bush in the dense forest. After hiding the bodies, Yarbrough and Herring took Brian's ATM card and some cash and continued on their way to Pittsburgh.

Fortunately, thanks to Doran, the police were already in pursuit. After unsuccessfully attempting to use the ATM card, and stealing another car, Yarbrough and Herring were arrested. However, their capture was of small comfort to a grieving mother who was doing her best to carry on.

"I wanted to die," O'Hara said. "But, I couldn't allow them to destroy me, my family and my faith. God didn't do this. Two people with a gun did this."

Eventually, Yarbrough and Herring were tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison - where the full weight of their crimes acted as a constant companion.

"I can only say, I know in a certain situation such as this, apologies ain't going to get it," Herring said during the penalty phase of his trial. "But I am so terribly sorry. I would like to send my sympathies out. If I could turn back the hands of time..."

As Herring lost composure and wept openly on the witness stand, O'Hara watched from across the courtroom.

"Life is not fair," she said, recalling that day. "It doesn't ask you what you want. Life gives you what it gives you and it's your job to step up."

Reconciliation with this tragedy did not come easily for O'Hara. She fought with herself constantly, trying to accept what had happened and move on.

"I wanted peace," she said. "I sought it daily. Turning to God helped me more than anything else."

O'Hara said renewing her faith in God allowed her to come to terms with this tragedy and realize that protection offered by God does not necessarily equate to protection from death. From that realization, O'Hara said she found a new sense of compassion and love in her life.

"You can do so many things in this world," she said. "But if you don't have love you are just a banging cymbal."

Despite living through the death of a child, O'Hara said she is committed to continuing working with survivors of violent tragedies as a psychotherapist.

"The great fruit of suffering is compassion," she said. "It is in that purification that your heart is cracked open and you begin to understand the suffering of others."

Face of Defense: Sailor Receives ‘Old Tar’ Award

Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON, Feb. 17, 2015 – Senior Chief Gunner's Mate Robert Hyatt recalls Nov. 30, 1988, as the day he got his Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist pin. More than 26 years later, after nomination from last year’s chief petty officer selectees, he realizes how significant that day has turned out to be.

Last month in Washington, D.C., Hyatt, a sailor from Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, was presented with the "Old Tar" award by the Surface Navy Association.

"I was quite surprised that I was chosen as the next Old Tar," Hyatt said. "It definitely made me think about my years of service and all of the things I've accomplished."

The Old Tar term comes from the early days of the Navy when sailors often boarded enemy ships in battle and engaged in hand-to-hand combat. Beforehand, they would dip the knot of their long hair in tar, which would then harden and protect their necks from blows from behind. Some sailors soon became known as "tars.” An "Old Tar" was one who was honored and respected for his knowledge, wisdom and long experience at sea.

Today, the Old Tar is given to the active-duty enlisted surface warfare specialist with the earliest date of qualification, as received by the SNA before the announced closing date for nominations.

A Veteran Surface Sailor

Hyatt, a native of Springfield, Ohio, remembers the day he officially became a surface sailor.

"When I got my ESWS, I was a 2nd class and the program had only been around for nine years, so not a lot of sailors had the qualification," Hyatt said. "Out of 175 people on board USS W.S. Sims, only 16 sailors were ESWS qualified and that included E-9 and below."

Over the years the ESWS program has evolved, and Hyatt recalls how very different it was in 1988.

"Unlike now, where many ships conduct ESWS training during working hours, all work and studying had to be completed during a sailor's free time," Hyatt said. "Sailors had to survive two preliminary boards and a 100-question written test. We then had to pass an oral board chaired by the executive officer or commanding officer of the ship."

Hyatt said that it was a challenge to achieve the milestone due to the requirements placed on the program.

"It wasn't a requirement -- more like a specialty," Hyatt said. "The ESWS sailors had their own duty section. If the ship had to get underway in an emergency, they would call the ESWS duty section first to get it underway."

Pride and Tradition

And because it was such a new program, Hyatt felt it was an honor to be in such an elite group.

"It's about pride … it was about carrying on the tradition," Hyatt said. "It made you the best of the best on the ship. It was an honor to be a part of such an important group because ESWS is steeped in Navy tradition, and with some Navy traditions going away, this is one that I don't want to see fade."

Hyatt said his love for Navy traditions actually led to his submission for the Old Tar.

"About six years ago I was running a chief's season, and I tasked the selectees with finding out when each chief got their ESWS, what the Old Tar is and then give a brief on it," Hyatt said. "I thought it was a great way for the selectees to get out and meet the Chief's Mess."

Over the years, that tradition has continued, which led to Hyatt's nomination by the Fiscal Year 2014 Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story Chief Selectees. When he heard about the nomination, he was humbled that he met all the criteria.

"I never imagined that a simple task I've given the selectees over the years would lead to my nomination for one of the greatest milestones of my career," Hyatt said.

On Feb. 1, Hyatt officially received the title of the Navy's Old Tar from retired Master Chief Fire Controlman Thomas Ward.

Making dreams come true: Patients visit Aviano AB for tour

by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/13/2015 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- Three patients from the pediatric oncology department at the Aviano National Cancer Institute in Aviano, Italy, along with their family and friends, visited Aviano Air Base for a base tour, Feb. 12, 2015.

The visit included a trip to the fire department and a close-up look at an F-16 Fighting Falcon.

"We showed the kids the base's capabilities and let them spray the water off the big crash trucks and ladder truck," said Tech. Sgt. Gregory DeMarco, 31st Civil Engineer Squadron fire station captain.

The visit provided the children and their families an opportunity to experience something out-of-the ordinary, and take their minds off their current health condition.

"I had a lot of fun today," said one child. "My favorite part was shooting the water out of the giant fire truck."

The visit afforded the group and the base an avenue to further cultivate the relationship between the two organizations.

"We love interacting with the local community and getting that positive perception of the base," Demarco said. "Hopefully the group tells their friends about the visit and gets the message out that we're a professional organization inside the gate with a heart for the local community."

The tour was set up several weeks ago with the help of one of the hospital's long-time volunteer teachers, Paola Fabbro.

Fabbro, a retired elementary school teacher, has been volunteering as a teacher at the hospital for more than five years. She dedicates up to 15 hours per week, depending on the number of children receiving treatment at the time.

"This experience has deeply enriched my soul," said Fabbro. "At the beginning I doubted I had enough strength to support children suffering from cancer; but these young patients are so strong, hopeful and brave. At the beginning I thought I could do anything, but then I realized I lacked experience [interacting with cancer patients]. You learn step-by-step what you have to do and how you have to behave."

According to Fabbro, these steps include meeting each patient's basic social needs.

"Even though these kids suffer, they always desire to play, laugh and smile," said Fabbro. "What makes the difference is their awareness of their illness and of their uncertain condition. They wish a normal and happy life and, through laughter, we improve their life."

Even though Fabbro teaches the children, she's often the one doing the most learning.

"Every child is special to me and teaches me to appreciate every single moment and the little things in life," she said. "The most surprising thing is to see the strength of these children. Even though they are sometimes weak they find a way to pull out all their strength and smile."

Fabbro warns that volunteering at the hospital is not for the faint of heart.

"Everyone can be a volunteer," she said. "I have to confess that at the beginning it can be difficult, especially if you are emotional. However, it is the kind of job that changes you and makes you appreciate every single moment of your life."

At the conclusion of the tour, the children returned to the hospital, where they'll continue their treatments.

"I'm so grateful toward the American services members and civilians who have always been gentle with our children and kindly let them visit the base," Fabbro said. "It means a lot to them. It is a dream that comes true, and it makes them feel special. We want our patients to have good memories."

Red Flag: evolution

by Tech. Sgt. Eric Burks
48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/13/2015 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- In 1975, when the first Red Flag exercise took place here; there were a few sights and sounds around Las Vegas that haven't changed much over the years.

Visitors flocked to casinos on Las Vegas Boulevard, took photos in front of neon displays on Fremont Street, and could hear the live music of Elvis Presley on a regular basis.

But today, there are newer, larger casinos, Fremont Street is now an "experience," and the guy singing "Love Me Tender" in a white sequined jumpsuit isn't Elvis.

Likewise, while the goal of Red Flag remains the same, the exercise has seen four decades of changing times, tactics, airframes and technologies.

"Red Flag still accomplishes the original objective it set out to in 1975," said Lt. Col. John Stratton, 493rd Fighter Squadron commander. "It provides realistic training to make our force more survivable in combat."

What makes Red Flag so relevant and important, he said, is that it has evolved commensurate with real world operations and threats.

"Red Flag deliberately incorporates lessons learned from real world operations, past Red Flags, weapons school training, and changes to meet the needs of the combat air forces and the war fighters," he said. "They've developed a variety of extremely difficult scenarios that build on each other from day to day so we aren't going out to execute the same mission over and over again."

Those scenarios aren't simply challenges for fighter pilots. Red Flag 15-1 incorporates adversaries in all three domains of air, space and cyberspace, and includes aircraft and personnel from 21 different U.S. military squadrons, as well as the Royal Australian Air Force and the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force.

Cyber and space operators have been included in the Red Flag exercises for nearly a decade, and Air Force Space Command elements were fully integrated in 2011 at the tactical level, from planning through execution and debrief, according to a 24th Air Force Public Affairs release.

Col Brian Dudas, Red Flag 15-1 Air Expeditionary Wing Commander and 48th Fighter Wing Vice Commander, said deployment and defense of assets across each element -- air, space and cyberspace -- is critical to the modern warfighter.

"In the 1970's, when Red Flag began, much of the technology we rely on today was still developing, and wasn't yet part of day-to-day employment," he said. "Today, everything overlaps across the domains, and they continue to evolve. Cyber warfare absolutely affects our capabilities, and defense of space in the future will be very important."

Red Flag, Dudas said, is the pinnacle of training environments.

"When our crews, maintainers, cyber operators, and air operations center and support personnel leave this exercise, they will all have been pushed to their own limits. They will understand just how crucial their own performance and success is to the success of the entire mission," he said.

"Nowhere else will you find such a coordinated environment to test every aspect of our warfighting capabilities. Nowhere else will you find such a well-trained team dedicated purely to replicating the best of the threats, challenges and issues we may face in combat operations," he said.

Dudas, who has attended nine Red Flags in 20 years, said the ultimate reason we train and operate with our allies at complex flag exercises is to improve our performance and prepare for those real-world operations.

"In today's world, the likelihood of going to combat without our sister services, allies, and partners is almost nil," he said. "Therefore, we want to maximize our opportunities to push our own limits alongside those warriors with whom we will fight when called upon."

Dudas said he's seen the level of international integration improve dramatically since his first Red Flag experience as a B-1B co-pilot in 1995.

"We used to spend the entire time trying to figure out how each other spoke, in different terminologies. It took time to learn how to best communicate and interact," he said. Now we walk in on the same page, ready to fight. We already speak a common tactical language."

The relationships built and strengthened here will pay huge dividends in future combat operations, Dudas said.

"It's that much less time we'll need to spend getting familiar with how we operate separately, he said, "since we've already done this tough exercise as one cohesive warfighting team."