Military News

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Volley, set, match: McConnell Airman "set" to attend Air Force volleyball camp

by Senior Airman Colby L. Hardin
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


4/23/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Even at a young age, she knew that she belonged on the court.

Airman 1st Class Abby Neel, 384th Air Refueling Squadron commander's support staff, has been playing volleyball since she was in the sixth grade. Following in her sister's footsteps she knew that volleyball was the perfect way to put her 5'9 height to good use.

Neel, a Colorado Springs, Colorado native, was selected to attend the All-Air Force volleyball camp this upcoming May.

"I expect these tryouts to be very intense," said Neel. "I think they'll try to tear us down as physically and mentally as they can during the first couple of weeks."

Neel has always been one of the better players on the court when playing volleyball. After high school, she received an academic scholarship and invitation to play at Johnson and Wales University in Denver.

After joining Team McConnell in 2013, Neel has played intramural volleyball every season here on base. She also donates some of her free time to playing off base playing recreationally and coaching children's volleyball.

"I applied for the [Air Force] team last year but I wasn't chosen," Neel said. "The application form was very descriptive, I needed to provide statistics, references and tournaments that I've played in to show my experience. Luckily, this year my application looked a little better, and I was selected."

Even with the experience of playing most of her life, Neel knows that she is in for something she has never experienced before. Her soon to be coach, offered some advice to Neel.

"[She needs to] be physically and mentally prepared upon arrival," said Lani Kekahuna, Air Force women's volleyball team coach, in an email. "Leave work and home issues all behind, there is zero tolerance for 'me' players."

During the tryouts, the players will go through eight hour practices, five days a week, starting May 4 - 28. Approximately 12 Airmen were chosen to tryout for the 10 available slots on the team. After being selected for the team, they will move on to play against other military branches in Detroit, for the 2015 Armed Forces Women's Volleyball Championship.

22nd MDG mighty medics participate in Ultimate Caduceus 15

by Senior Airman Trevor Rhynes
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


4/23/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Members of the 22nd Medical Group, and units from across the U.S., participated in Ultimate Caduceus 2015, giving them the opportunity to conduct aeromedical evacuation training, April 16 - 18, at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base New Orleans, Louisiana.

The Louisiana Air National Guard hosted the exercise, which involved evacuating more than 200 dummies, people and simulated patients via a C-130 Super Hercules in the event of a hurricane.

"It was a hurricane evacuation exercise, so we practiced evacuating patients from local hospitals to areas like Arkansas, Oklahoma and other inland areas," said Tech. Sgt. Monique Roberts, 22nd MDG unit deployment manager. "They were being brought from local hospitals and were staged in a disaster area staging facility while they awaited transportation from an aeromedical evacuation crew on a C-130. We staged them, tracked all relevant information through our tracking database, then brought them to safer locations."

Roberts left the training having seen exactly what happens after a request for transport is submitted.

"I haven't seen what happens after I build the request to move a patient out of a disaster-stricken area," Roberts said. "I know how to request getting someone evacuated, but now that I've been there, I know how the mission to evacuate them gets put together."

For one member of the team of eight, it was his first experience performing his job at different location.

"It was the first time I had ever been (on a temporary duty) so it was a really cool experience for me," said Senior Airman Justin Hilty, 22nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron aerospace medical technician. "I get a lot of training here, but I don't always get to put it into practice. I got to use litter carrying experience and load someone into the back of a C-130, which I had never done before."

In groups of 20, patients were dropped off in ambulances or busses, then were processed through a tracking database and, when available, sent off to a different location.

"My favorite part was being in the middle of everything," Hilty said. "Having the busses drop off 20 patients at a time and having six to eight people there, ready to help get the patient where they needed to go. It felt good figuring everything out. It moved nicely."

Roberts said this exercise was very beneficial and that it will help set up additional training exercise in May.

"It was good to see this exercise because next month we'll be participating in training where we'll be receiving patients that were evacuated out of an area," Roberts said. "It was interesting to see what happens on the front end of an evacuation since we'll be doing the back end work soon."

McConnell leader earns prestigious award

by Airman 1st Class Tara Fadenrecht
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


4/23/2015 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- A McConnell Airman recently won the 2014 Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award.

Lt. Col. Stephen Matthews, 22nd Operations Group deputy commander, received the prestigious award for demonstrating excellence in leadership during his time as the 349th Air Refueling Squadron commander.

The award is named after Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Air Force Capt. Lance P. Sijan, a fighter pilot who evaded the North Vietnamese for six weeks after being shot down in November 1967. He was later captured and died as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

The award recognizes the accomplishments of officers and enlisted members who have demonstrated the highest quality of leadership in the performance of their duties and personal lives.

"He's a completely selfless leader," said Col. Jennifer Uptmor, 22nd OG commander. "His attention to the core values that the Air Force embodies; service before self, excellence in all you do, those were the things I first noticed about him."

As the 349th ARS commander, Matthews directed 344 overseas contingency operations, 241 higher headquarters missions and helped lead his team to numerous wing and group-level award wins.

Matthews credits the leaders he's had in his life for helping him get where he is now.

"Everybody from parents and friends to coworkers and mentors [has impacted me]," he said. "I think back to a lot of the squadron and flight commanders I had when I was younger. I can never pay them back for some of the opportunities they gave me, but I can pay it forward."

It's that very philosophy that keeps him motivated to be the best leader possible every day.

"For me, it's about growing people and helping them become more than they think they can be," said Matthews. "It's about helping folks remember that we serve something bigger than ourselves."

Netting keeps birds away from flightline, aircraft

by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


4/23/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Out of all the bird strikes that occurred at Scott Air Force Base last year, 24 percent of them involved cliff and barn swallow birds.

The United States Department of Agriculture partnered with the 375th Safety Office April 15 to cover the bridges on the flightline with netting to deter birds, specifically cliff swallows, from making the area underneath the bridges on the flightline their nests.

Kevin Wedemeyer, USDA Wildlife Specialist, said, "The main focus is to mitigate wildlife hazards to aviation and to protect the airport and the aircraft from wildlife strike hazards."

A bird strike is an aircraft collision with a bird that can cause some type of damage. It can cause aircraft to abort a landing or a takeoff, and in severe cases it can cause an aircraft to crash and harm people.

USDA members along with Airmen from the 375th Safety Office and the Air Traffic Control Tower assisted in the wildlife exclusion. Netting covered underneath the entire bridge. During the process more than 20 people held down the net in place while it is was being properly secured.

Wedemeyer said, "Putting the netting up in that area will keep them from that area to nest, and hopefully they will relocate somewhere else off the airfield and reduce the risk that they present."

The strikes from these birds caused a large amount of time and manning to inspect the aircraft for damages and related issues.

The USDA also provides other forms of wildlife exclusion and habitat modification to eliminate any conflicts between Scott and the wildlife. USDA is here to keep people, animals, and the Air Force's assets protected and safe.

Another project the USDA is planning to work on in the future is to mitigate the thousands of black birds that fly through this area every fall and spring season. These birds cause aircraft to operate with restricted schedules. They are working to eliminate the roost that is located a few miles south of Scott. If that happens successfully then the risk that they have to the aircraft will be reduced significantly.

USSTRATCOM Commander observes Buckley's capabilities, engages service members

by Airman 1st Class Luke W. Nowakowski
460 Space Wing Public Affairs


4/21/2015 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Adm. Cecil D. Haney, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command, visited Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., April 20, to view firsthand the missile warning mission for which the base is recognized.

Haney toured Buckley AFB's facilities and observed their missile warning operations. He also held an all hands call, where he emphasized the importance of their role in overcoming current and future strategic challenges and took questions from Team Buckley members.

"You are a big part of my war fighting mission," said Haney. "You're a big part of my ability to prevent, detect, and deter a strategic attack against the United States of America or our Allies."

Col. Michael L. Jackson, 460th Operations Group Commander, saw Admiral Haney's visit to Buckley as an exceptional opportunity for the base to showcase its capabilities.

"Admiral Haney is an absolute pro at space capabilities across the board," stated Jackson. "He's our nation's leader for space capabilities. For him to come here is an incredible opportunity for him to see what our wonderful professionals in the space arena are doing. This mission is one of the most important missions in his entire portfolio, if not the most important mission."

Jackson also explained how an opportunity to directly interact with the USSTRATCOM commander is valuable for Airmen and leaders alike.

"We get to directly explain to him the wonderful mission we do, the manner in which we do it, the challenges we overcome every single day and the partnerships we rely upon every single day to get this incredible mission of missile warning done," said Jackson.

50 SW earns Omaha Trophy

by Senior Airman Naomi Griego
50th Space Wing Public Affairs


4/24/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Admiral Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander, presented the 2014 Omaha Trophy to the 50th Space Wing for their distinct and outstanding contributions to global operations April 21, at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado.

This is the third time in five years the wing has received the award. Not too shabby of a record to say the least, considering the award's magnitude.

"You should know and appreciate how important the [Schriever] missions are to the mission of USSTRATCOM and to the United States of America," said Haney. "We depend on space to such a big degree in our ability to operate all around the globe."

Haney expressed his gratitude towards the wing's ability to provide assured access to and assured capabilities within the space domain.

"My message to you is keep up the momentum, keeping in mind just how far we still must go," said Haney. "Know how thankful I am that you are on the team."

Col. Bill Liquori, 50 SW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Lavon Coles, 50 SW command chief, received the award on behalf of the wing, and acknowledged the need to continue being high speed.

"Thank you for coming out here, not only to present us with this trophy, but to spend the day with us," said Liquori. "On behalf of this team, we are proud to be honored with this trophy. And we will remember to keep on running."

The Omaha Trophy, which dates back to 1971, celebrates USSTRATCOM's premier intercontinental ballistic missile wing, ballistic missile submarine, strategic airlift wing and global operations (space/ cyberspace) unit. Those who are recognized demonstrated the highest standards of performance in support of USSTRATCOM's diverse missions.

Wolf Pack Airmen dedicate community garden

by Tech. Sgt. George Maddon
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


4/24/2015 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Wolf Pack members added the final touches to the Wolf Pack Garden with a grand opening  ceremony in front of the Sonlight Inn April 22.

Volunteers have been steadily working on the garden since March 14, with the official dedication ceremony culminating their efforts with an official ribbon cutting and planting the garden's first fruits and vegetables. "We originally planned to open the garden before Earth Day," said Lt. Col. Dwayne "Shepherd" Jones, 8th Fighter Wing chaplain. "When we realized that Earth Day was just around the corner, we decided to postpone the official opening because it would be more meaningful to do it that day."

The first Earth Day, held April 22, 1970, saw the participation of 20 million Americans from all walks of life, and is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement.  Forty-five years later, more than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world.

"I think Earth Day is really symbolic," said Shepherd. "We, as stewards of the Earth, are planting and giving life and creating great opportunities for the Wolf Pack."

Before the idea of having a Wolf Pack Garden sprung to life, a small 5-by-5-foot enclosed area containing a few herbs sat in front of the Sonlight Inn. After the addition of two 13-foot expansions with a base of gravel and soil, the garden now fits over 150 plants.

"It started just as a small square box in the middle and now we have something that looks real nice," said Capt. Jordan Kieliszewski, 8th Medical Operation Squadron mental health element chief. "I'm pleased with how it looks and the help and support that we have received.  A lot of people over the last month have contributed so much to make this happen."

Komang Goins, Kunsan's Sonlight Inn director, coordinated volunteers to start the garden and will also organize helpers to maintain it.

"We need to focus on the next steps," said Goins. "About every two weeks we'll have to coordinate to have people tend the garden by weeding, watering and preparing for the harvest in the fall."

Although there is more to be done, the work accomplished so far has caught the eyes of many on base.

"People have passed by the garden and I've been watching and waiting for it to come to this moment," said Shepherd. "The Wolf Pack can see life growing and what we, as a community, have done.  It's very therapeutic and it's contagious in promoting healthy living."

Tech. Sgt. Crystal Ballard, 8th FW command chief executive assistant, agreed that gardening is relaxing, but has even more meaning at Kunsan.

"Events like this are great because it allows the Wolf Pack to come together and be a part of something bigger than themselves," said Ballard. "It also fosters teamwork and creativity."

The community garden was spurred by Bill Goins, 8th MDOS health promotion program coordinator, who proposed it as an initiative to promote healthy eating at the Wolf Pack.

"It has been a long journey to see this project come to fruition," said Goins. "It is very satisfying to receive the support that we have seen, and I just hope it adds another layer of improved resilience for Airmen at Kunsan."

If you would like to take part in helping build Wolf Pack Garden, contact the 8th FW Chapel at 782-4300.

Australians and Americans work together to deliver the mission

by Airman 1st Class Megan Friedl
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


4/23/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Scott Air Force Base Airmen recently worked hand-in-hand with the Royal Australian Air Force from the 36th Squadron, Brisbane, Australia, to deliver support equipment for Australian troops operating in the Middle East.

Prior to the Australians arriving, the 375th Logistics Readiness Squadron received the tasking from the 618th Air Operations Center (TACC) a week in advance of their arrival and immediately got to work manifesting and inspecting the cargo.

RAAF Flight Lt. Nick Tickner, 36th Squadron C-17 pilot, said, "The equipment that we're taking always makes a big contribution to the operations out in the Middle East. Whatever equipment that we need is usually a very high priority."

Staff Sgt. Mark Tully, 375th LRS Air Transportation Journeyman, said, "This was the smoothest process I've seen. We came together as a joint force and managed to keep the mission going."

The 375th LRS ensured that the equipment was ready to be used down range and were able to load the cargo as soon as the Australian C-17 landed.

Corporal Keely McDonald, RAAF 36 Squadron C-17 Flight Attendant, said, "We work together so often that we seem to work well as a team, which helps us with other operations as well. I think our bond is pretty strong."

Tickner also affirms the coalition and said, "We have a close-knit working relationship with the U.S. and a great interoperability capability between our two countries."