Thursday, April 09, 2015

JBLM holds TACP 24-hour-run

by Airman 1st Class Keoni Chavarria
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/3/2015 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Airmen from Joint Base Lewis-McChord participated in a 24-hour-run event to help Tactical Air Control Party service members and their families recover in time of need.

Airmen from the 1st Air Support Operations Group, the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron, the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, and 17th STS along with Soldiers from the Army, ran in the TACP Association's annual 24-hour-run at JBLM, March 27 to 28, 2015.

The run was a fundraiser for the TACP Association in which the proceeds directly benefit the TACP community and their mission.

Their goal is to relieve some of the financial pressures families are in after the passing of a member. The association provides support to TACPs who are wounded in action and also assists families of TACPs killed in action.

"The event is charity driven and honor-bound with the intent to raise proceeds for the TACP Association and ultimately pay tribute to our fallen warriors," said Master Sgt. Glenn Wilderman, 5th ASOS operations superintendent.

This year, there were a total of 122 runners from Team JBLM. That team ran a total of 1,563 miles and generated more than $9,150.

The TACP Association's organizational-wide goal for this year's run was $100,000. With 5,153 runners across 33 teams around the globe, the association was able to raise more than $131,390 and run a total of 37,037 miles during the 24-hour-run.

The TACP Association raises money through sales of merchandise, memberships, and fundraisers, but the 24-hour-run is the largest fundraiser each year, according to Charlie Keebaugh, TACP Association president. He added, 100 percent of the proceeds the association raises go right back toward the TACP community.

"The mission of the TACP Association is to 'remember the fallen, honor the living, and aid our brothers in need,'" said Keebaugh. "The association provides support to members of the TACP community and families when they are in their darkest hours."

TACP members are battlefield Airmen who advise the best use of air power by planning, requesting, and directing air strikes against enemy targets on the ground.

"Ask anyone at the 5th ASOS and they'll emphatically tell you that it's not news that the TACP career field is listed by the USAF as a high-stressed Air Force Specialty Code on both the officer and enlisted side," said Wilderman.

Return to flight

by Senior Airman Michael Washburn
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/7/2015 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- With a calm, yet stern voice, Tech. Sgt. Joshua Lucero guides the four Airmen located below the right wing of a C-130 Hercules who are giving a piggy back ride to a leading edge -- the front part of the wing that covers the internals components. They're trying to attach it back to the wing.

"Guys, it needs to come out, over to the right, up and then back in," instructs Lucero, 374th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron electrical and environmental systems technician.

The Airmen comply as they attempt to align the teeth on both the leading edge and the aircraft, but the smallest of movements can throw it out of alignment. It doesn't want to fit and it's becoming a trying task.

Lucero continues directing for the next 10 minutes or so as the group moves. Up, down, left, right, forward, back; they follow every instruction until they finally achieve victory. Albeit a small one.

But that's how the last two months have been. A series of victories toward an inevitable goal: to get the aircraft back in the air where it belongs and not on the ground like a bird with its wings clipped. The aircraft suffered damage to its wings. Damage so severe that even Master Sgt. Jonathan Dowell, a 21-year veteran maintainer, has never seen anything like it.

"We checked the aircraft during a maintenance run and all the circuit breakers started to pop in the flight deck," said Dowell, 374th AMXS production superintendent. "Following this, a bleed air duct ruptured between the number three and four engines."

As they took the wing panels off, shrapnel fell out. The team was taken aback and shocked at the amount of damage 2067 had sustained. It was not something that was seen in their day-to-day maintenance.

Adding to the shock of seeing the damage was the news that a team of eight Airmen were tasked to rebuild the aircraft instead of a program maintenance depot team. This was an unusual decision given the extent of the repairs, but the team was up to the challenge.

"Everything between the number three and four engines was destroyed," Lucero said. "We replaced about 3,500 feet of wire along with a handful of line-replaceable units, brackets and the boost pump for the fuel tank."

From mid-January until late March, the eight-man maintenance team worked on the time-consuming to-do list. Remove the leading edges: check. Rewire the entire wing: check. Ensure the anti-ice system works properly: check. It was all very Humpty Dumpty-esque, but they were determined to put all the pieces back together until it was whole again.

"All the leading edges were removed, all the ducts inspected, damaged parts fixed and then we needed to put it back together," said Tech. Sgt. John Beltran, C-130 Hercules crew chief dedicated to this specific aircraft.

After two months of work and an estimated 5,000 man-hours, the time came to tow the C-130 from Hangar 15 to its rightful place on the flightline and eventually in the air.

As Number 2067 lifted off from the flightline, it did so before a gathered crowd of Airmen and higher leadership.  They watched as the wheels left the ground and it climbed into the sky. It was a moment of pride and accomplishment for everyone, but none could be prouder than the eight Airmen who worked for the last two months. Everyone applauded and congratulated each other as the plane disappeared into the distance.

For Beltran, being able to work on the repairs for the C-130 has brought him closer to the aircraft.

"I've been working 12 hours a day for the last two months," Beltran said. "Spending every minute of every day with the aircraft has allowed me to really see all the pieces I didn't see before. It brings you closer to the aircraft. You care about it more because you've invested so much time in it and it becomes your baby."

Airmen increase emergency readiness

by Staff Sgt. Benjamin W. Stratton
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

4/7/2015 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Airmen at Fairchild Air Force Base conducted an emergency management exercise March 30 that afforded them the opportunity to practice in a training environment the skills that save lives during emergency situations.

"We gear these exercises to give personnel a chance to see what is expected and the ability to perform it in a training environment," said Master Sgt. Gretchen Parsons, a 92nd ARW wing inspection planner. "This will better prepare Fairchild in case of a real world event."

To make the exercise appear more realistic, Fairchild "role players" were dressed up in moulage makeup applied to various body parts simulating an array of injuries creating unique emergency response scenarios.

"We try to control a lot of the variables in an exercise so we can focus on the objectives given by the base leadership," said Lt. Col. Osvaldo Lopez-Torres, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing inspector general. "Another benefit of [these] exercises is that we can make them as complex as possible while still maintaining a high level of realism so that if and when the incidents happen they are easier to handle than the practice."

This exercise included simulated explosions, an active shooter and a hostage situation. Fairchild conducts similar exercises regularly to maintain a high level of preparedness to ensure the installation is always able to provide responsive, precise air refueling and operational support for the full range of military operations.

Team RWB and the eagle have landed in Dover

by Airman 1st Class William Johnson
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/7/2015 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Red, white and blue, and the bald eagle are symbols for many things in America; however it is also the foundation for one veteran support network.

Team Red, White and Blue is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to "enrich the lives of America's veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity," and members of Team Dover are organizing the first Team RWB chapter in the state of Delaware.

Chief Master Sgt. Gerald Barnett, 9th Airlift Squadron superintendent, is the team captain for Dover's Team RWB and said he is excited to bring the organization to Delaware.

"My goal here is to partner up with the local community and local business to build upon the relationship with the veterans, active-duty, Guard and Reserves," he said.

Dover's Team RWB currently has 53 members and participates in a wide variety of physical activities including running, cycling and CrossFit workouts. RWB members are easily recognizable because they wear their Team RWB shirts at these events a process known as "wearing the eagle."

From civilians and veterans to active duty, Guard and Reserve, anyone is eligible to join Team RWB. Members of the group then plan and organize what they call RWB events.

"You don't have to be a cyclist, you don't have to be an endurance runner or a triathlon athlete, you don't have to be any of these people to be a member of RWB," said Barnett. "If two people want to throw darts and build that community as veterans, than that to us is an RWB event."

Dave Sawicki, 436th Operations Support Squadron flight record clerk, is a former Army paratrooper and is Team RWB's veterans outreach director. His mission is to make veterans aware of Team RWB and provide them with knowledge of the organization and how to join.

"If you ask veterans what they miss most about the military, a lot of times what you are going to hear is they miss that comradery and being part of something bigger than themselves," said Sawicki. "At team RWB, we recreate that environment for them and it provides that sense of community, comradery and that team environment that they lost once they got out."

A key piece to building that team environment to support veterans comes largely from the support of the local community. Team RWB is already seeing support from businesses in the local area.

Mike Georgules, owner of CrossFit Sweat Angel in Camden, Delaware, was born on Dover AFB, and supports Team RWB in its mission to bring the community and veterans together. Members of Team RWB meet at his gym on Thursdays and wear the eagle while participating in high intensity workouts.

"As a business owner, there is no better country in the world to start your own business and grow on your own and create your own luck," said Georgules. "The only reason I have that opportunity is because of our veterans, past and present."

Every aspect of Team RWB focuses on building a community with veterans. The unique relationship shared between veterans and military members is a driving force for many military members to join.

"I joined because I wanted to be part of this great community," said Airman 1st Class Karla Montes, 436th Dental Squadron dental assistant. "Whether if it's the Air Force, CrossFit or RWB community, I feel involved and I feel that we are making a difference in the lives of our veterans."

Barnett encourages anyone who is looking to join the organization to participate in any of events planned by Team RWB.

"It's amazing to see the transformation as you become part of something bigger than yourself," said Barnett. "It's an opportunity to meet and try new and different things."

Events and information on how to join Team RWB can be found on their Facebook page by searching Team RWB Dover.

CRW Mobility Masters Competition assess deployment processes

by Staff Sgt. Gustavo Gonzalez
621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs

4/3/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J.  -- The 621st Contingency Response Wing continued to test their deployment capability in the form of a friendly competition between two of its units.

Approximately 225 members of the 818th and 817th Contingency Response Groups participated in the 621st CRW East Devil Raid 15-02 Mobility Masters Competition, March 30 - April 2.

The two phase exercise tested the ability of the units to process equipment and personnel for deployment upon the receipt of a tasking to order.

Phase one is designed to assess the initial notification and planning process for deployment taskings. Phase Two is an equipment and personnel readiness competition between the 818 and 817 CRGs of specific equipment tasked, or, unit type codes (UTCs).

"This is a great opportunity for our wing to participate in a friendly, yet competitive environment to test our deployment capabilities," said Maj. Jesper Stubbendorff, 817 CRG director of operations. "The purpose of the competition is to ensure our personnel and equipment are prepared to go wherever we're needed at moment's notice."

The UTCs were processed to the point of unit assembly, complete with all required deployment documentation to conduct a joint inspection at the host base. Mobility folders for the individuals from tasked UTCs were also made available for review at ready line time. Personnel that were identified for tasked UTCs came from a previously established alert hard crew listing.

The results are in and the winners for the categories are...

Mobility Folder - 818 CRG
7E1AF UTC - 818 CRG
7E1CC UTC - 818 CRG
817 CRG Outstanding Performer - Staff Sgt. Stephen Maroko
818 CRG Outstanding Performer - Senior Airman Christopher Good
Outstanding Unit - 818 CRG

According to Senior Airman Christopher Good, 818 CRG vehicle maintainer, the fact that it's a competition made participants from his unit want to perform better than their opponents, the 817 CRG.

"This competition strengthened us," Good said. "The exercise pointed out inconsistencies for both groups that we found during this process. Now that they have been identified, we can learn from them and they won't hold us back when we go out the door to deploy."

Good stated the competition wouldn't have been possible without the assistance of the 819th Global Support Squadron.

"They did a great job supporting," Good said. "They not only provided equipment expertise, but also support personnel."

The 570 and 571 CRGs stationed at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., are both scheduled to conduct their mobility exercise competition April 27.

The 570, 571, 817, and 818 CRGs are all part of the 621st Contingency Response Wing. The bi-costal wing located at Travis AFB and JB-MDL is highly-specialized in training and rapidly deploying personnel to quickly open airfields and establish, expand, sustain, and coordinate air mobility operations. From wartime taskings to disaster relief, the 621st extends Air Mobility Command's reach in deploying people and equipment around the globe.

The mobility competition is scheduled to be conducted on a reoccurring basis.

In Japan, Carter Reports Progress on Major Issues

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2015 – In Yokota yesterday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter reported progress in talks with Japanese officials on the U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines for Defense Cooperation and on a proposed regional regulatory and investment treaty called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Speaking with reporters who are traveling with Carter on his first official trip as defense secretary to Northeast Asia, the secretary discussed the purpose of his visit to Japan and progress made on longstanding issues.

“The purpose of my visit was to prepare the way for … the so-called ‘2+2’ meeting, which is the meeting of foreign ministers and Secretary of State John Kerry and also the defense ministers, which occurs later this month,” Carter said.

The 2+2 meeting itself is a preparatory meeting in advance of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit here to meet with President Barack Obama.

U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines

“I had the opportunity to make progress and to discuss two very important things, Carter said, referring to the U.S.-Japan Defense Guidelines for Defense Cooperation and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP.

In October, the United States and Japan jointly released an interim report of ongoing revisions of the U.S.-Japan defense cooperation guidelines, according to the U.S. State Department’s website.

The revised guidelines, expected to be finalized by the end of the year, will establish an expanded and more flexible framework for alliance cooperation to ensure the peace and security of Japan under any circumstances, from peacetime to contingencies, the website said, and to promote a stable, peaceful and prosperous Asia-Pacific.

Historic Moment

“This is an historic moment for the U.S.-Japan relationship,” Carter said. “Japan is … changing its security posture in important and truly historic ways and we, accordingly, are changing our relationship to evolve with them.”

The secretary said the update of the guidelines is significant because it opens new possibilities for the United States and Japan to work together in Northeast Asia.

“We can work in new domains like space and cyberspace, and we can cooperate in new ways, both regionally and globally,” he added.

Carter said the agreement has many dimensions and represents a modernization of the alliance.

Lasting Security Relationship

“To me it shows how lasting a security relationship with the United States is,” the secretary added. “We've had it [with Japan] for many decades and of course it's been instrumental in keeping peace and stability in this part of the world.”

Such stability has led to the uplifting of many people economically and politically in the region, Carter said. “And that hasn't happened automatically,” he added. “It’s happened because of the United States' military role out here.”

Carter said the TPP is an important part of the U.S.-Japan relationship and relationships among many countries in the region.

The treaty, he said, “reinforces that the strategic approach to this part of the world is not just a military matter. It's economic and political as well [and] it's extremely important.”

Missile Defense Preparations

In response to a question about North Korea’s firing of two short-range surface-to-air missiles off its west coast earlier today, Carter called it a reminder of how tense things are on the Korean Peninsula.

“That’s the reason I'm going to talk to our own commanders and troops, and very importantly to the government of South Korea, which like Japan is a longstanding, very staunch ally out here,” he said.

The show of North Korean aggression, Carter added, “reinforces the missile-defense preparations we've long had on the Korean Peninsula and have here.”

More broadly than missiles, Carter said the missile launch is a reminder of how dangerous things are on the Korean Peninsula, and how a highly ready force in support of a strong ally is needed to keep the peace.

“That’s what we'll be talking about and visiting with the South Korean government about over the next couple of days,” Carter said, “the health of our alliance and the importance of our alliance to peace and security on the peninsula.”

Face of Defense: Army Wounded Warrior Enjoys Athletics, Camaraderie

By By Army Lt. Col. Robert A. Whetstone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

FORT BLISS, Texas, April 9, 2015 – Joshua Andrew, 28, an Army veteran who’d served in Iraq and Afghanistan, knew from a tender age what his calling in life would be, as he played "soldier" with his golden Labrador retriever in the woods behind his grandparents’ house in the state of Washington.

What Andrew didn’t know was that the medal he’d win during the shot put competition at the Army Trials here would be the same color as his childhood dog.

A former sergeant, Andrew dislocated his right knee and experienced a traumatic brain injury during his military service.

Last week, Andrew was among the approximately 80 wounded, ill, and injured soldiers and veterans competing here during the Army Trials, a series of athletic events, including archery, cycling, shooting, sitting volleyball, swimming, track and field, and wheelchair basketball. The trials help determine who will get a spot on the Army team that will compete at the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games held in late June at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia. Coaches and leaders will assess the results and select athletes for the Army team.

Andrew won the open shot put competition here with a throw of 14.36 meters, but he said his desire to excel extends beyond the competition.

Destined to Join the Military

Andrew said his grandfather was a diesel mechanic in the Navy during World War II. During his early school years, when teachers would ask students knew someone that served in World War II, Andrew was the kid who raised his hand. He said he was destined to join the military.

“I used to wear my grandfather’s pea coat around the house,” Andrew said. “My father and grandfather taught me to do things right the first time -- even if it takes a little longer -- and to be proud of what I do.”

Andrew got a healthy dose of paying attention to detail, which translated into learning the technical skills needed to compete in shot put. According to Andrew, children need structure and discipline, and he was getting plenty from the adults in his life. This environment made it simple for him to grasp and hold onto the Army’s values.

“The military came so easy, so natural. It was like the missing piece in my life,” he said.

An Extended Family

The Army Trials can be viewed like an event similar to a family reunion. Athletes reconnect with old members of the "family" and welcome in newcomers.

“From the time you show up in the military, you get a battle buddy,” Andrew explained. “You are assigned one person to look after, and they look after you. As you move up in the ranks, you start getting more people assigned to you that depend on you as a leader or as a teammate.”

Each athlete has a commonality that goes beyond the uniform, but remains steeped in tradition.

“Being out here [at the Army Trials], this is our Army team,” Andrew said. “Individuals come from all walks of life; they have walked in the same steps that I have.”

Sense of Duty

Andrew talked about the importance of adaptive sports and athletic reconditioning and how it brings new life to the participants. Soldiers on active duty, veterans and retirees have a tremendous sense of duty that never wanes.

“When everyone comes together in a situation like this, regardless of the outcome, everybody performs better and leaves happier,” Andrew said. “No matter what I do, if I can help an individual improve in their own way, then that’s what I’ll do.”

The athletes have pushed and punished their bodies far beyond even what they thought was possible. When someone fell, coaches exhorted them to endure and fellow athletes stood at the ready to motivate and if necessary, carry their comrade to the finish line.

“The nurturing aspect of any good Army leader is to love the individuals around you,” Andrew said. “You have to treat them like they’re your own flesh and blood, your own family.”

Eyes on the Prize

Competition ended here April 2 and the athletes went their separate ways. However, the loyalty and attachment seen in a family is not separated by time and distance.

“You look over your shoulder and you think, ‘Man, I miss that already,’” said Andrew, before departing Fort Bliss.

The Department of Defense 2015 Warrior Games is the next challenge for the athletes who are chosen to represent the Army, and the other service branches. The DoD Warrior Games is an annual sporting competition bringing together wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from across the country. This year’s Warrior Games will be held June 19-28 at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia.

This is the first year that the department is organizing the games, which were previously run by the United States Olympic Committee and held at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado.