Friday, May 08, 2015

Veterans Gather in Manassas for Flyover Test Flight

By Jacqueline M. Hames
Soldiers Live

MANASSAS, Va., May 7, 2015 – Military veterans and their families, and aviation officials gathered at the Manassas Regional Airport here today for a test flight of World War II-era bombers in preparation for the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover tomorrow above the Washington National Mall at 12:10 p.m.

The flyover will commemorate the 70th anniversary of the allied victory in Europe, known as V-E Day.

The day’s events began mid-morning with a press conference led by Manassas Mayor Henry J. Parrish II, who welcomed attendees and acknowledged the service of the veterans present. Clarence “Bud” Anderson, a World War II fighter pilot, also spoke during the conference.

‘Engage the Enemy and Win’

“I got to do what every fighter pilot in the world wants to do: engage the enemy and win,” Anderson said. Anderson, who was based in Leiston, England, with the 357th Fighter Group, flew 116 missions during two combat tours. He returned to the United States after the war as a major, and went on to serve in the Air Force. His comments set the tone for the day: triumph and remembrance.

After the press conference, the crowd gathered outside on the tarmac to watch a B-24 Liberator, two B-17 Flying Fortresses, and one B-29 Superfortress warm up their engines and take off. Engines roared to life, propellers blurred, and the smell of oil wafted over to the onlookers as the planes prepared for flight. Several guests and veterans were able to go for a ride in the bombers as part of the test.

The veterans that remained on the ground were available to speak with the press while the test flight was making its rounds.

B-29 Gunner Tells His Story

Karnig Thomasian, 91 years old, was a B-29 gunner in the China India Burma Theater in 1944. He was part of the U.S. Army Air Forces 20th Air Force, and was shot down and taken prisoner during one of his missions.

The bombardiers on his crew discovered that they had a mixed load of bombs for the flight, which would make the plane unstable, and they asked not to perform the mission. Thomasian said the commander threatened them with court martial, so they flew anyway. Their primary target, a bridge in Thailand, was covered in clouds and they couldn’t see well enough to hit the target. They moved onto a secondary target: Rangoon, Burma.

“[We] dropped the bombs, moments later, everything turned red. Our plane flipped, and what had happened was the bombs hit each other in the air and the bombardiers knew what happened. Blew the whole formation up, to the point that four planes went down directly on the target, including us, and one [plane] was destroyed immediately,” Thomasian said.

Only one plane made it back to base, he said.

Thomasian and part of the crew were able to parachute to safety before their plane crashed, but that safety was short lived. The Japanese captured them and took them to a prison camp. Thomasian was isolated in solitary confinement, interrogated and beaten during his time in the prison. Eventually, the camp was liberated by the British.

Recalling Difficult Circumstances

“But in all these crazy moments, there are these moments you have to laugh, which really keeps you going,” Thomasian said, describing a British prisoner, who mocked their captors to boost morale.

“To survive in prison, I think one of the chief things is you have to decide whether you’re going to capitulate and just go back into yourself and die, or are you going to say, ‘Hey, I’m living, I’m breathing, I’m going to go on and succeed and I’m getting out of here.’ And so, I participated in just about everything I could do.”

Thomasian was still imprisoned on V-E Day, but he remembers being very excited when he heard the news.

“It just makes you feel great, because now they can really hone in and get us out of there,” he said.

Urban Rahoi was a captain in the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1944. The 96-year-old, who is still flying planes from his home in Alaska, never feared much about the war. He thought if he was meant to die, then he’d die, and it wasn’t anything to worry over. Rahoi, part of the 15th Air Force, 463rd Bomb Group, was based in Algiers, Algeria, and flew five missions during the war. After V-E Day, he helped convert B-17s into passenger planes before returning to America.

He is excited about the flyover event because it helps bring this part of history to life.

“The fact that somebody remembers it, what we did and [what] it was for” made him feel good, Rahoi said.

Honoring the ‘Greatest Generation’

The flyover’s purpose is to honor the “Greatest Generation” and the veterans that served during World War II. John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows, said the event had captured the imagination of the entire Washington, D.C., area.

Cudahy estimates that 400 veterans will be at the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., tomorrow for the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover. He added that the planes participating in tomorrow’s flyover will be available for viewing at the Udvar-Hazy Center in Dulles, Virginia, on May 9.

The first plane in the flyover will appear over the south side of the National Mall at approximately 12:10 p.m. Eastern time, and will fly at a minimum of 1,000 feet from west to east along Independence Avenue.

In the event of rain, the flyover will be moved to May 9.

Military policeman lives to serve others

by Tech. Sgt. Raymond Mills
JBER Public Affairs

5/7/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The desire to lead and help others has always come naturally to Sgt. Caleb Morrison, traffic collision investigator with the 545th Military Police Detachment on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

As a prior construction worker, Morrison maintained a seasonal work schedule, but needed a more stable job to provide for his wife and four children. As a solution, his wife suggested he enlist.

"My wife actually suggested I join the U.S. Army," Morrison said. "It was a surprise, as I wasn't expecting that."

After some thought and consideration, Morrison took a cue from his older brother, who was a civilian police officer. In 2008, just shy of his 31st birthday, he enlisted in the Army as a military policeman.

After completing Basic Combat Training, Morrison attended the Military Police Basic and Advanced Individual Course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

"Basic and advanced individual training wasn't quite as hard as I thought it would be, but one of the benefits of being an older guy is that my drill sergeants realized that I was older than most of them, so most of the time I didn't get all the crappy details, and they treated me with a level of respect that was commensurate with my age," Morrison said. Obviously life experience plays a big part of it, and when it comes to specific duties I am sometimes selected because of my maturity level and experience."

Although he has a few years on his peers, Morrison doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Morrison was selected to attend several additional military schools, like special reaction training, protective services training, antiterrorism evasive driver training, master fitness trainer, and traffic collision investigation courses.

Military policemen may encounter a variety of volatile situations that must be resolved, sometimes without immediate backup.

Morrison faced one such incident when he responded to a domestic violence call.

"An individual equipped with firearms was threatening to kill his wife and children, and thankfully we were able to get there in time to prevent that," Morrison said. "That was the best and worst day at the same time, because it could have gotten worse, but it ended well."

Responding to such incidents can take an emotional toll.

Soldiers work in teams, and MPs are no different. Every Soldier has a battle buddy they can count on, whether for professional or emotional support.

"I have a great detachment that I work with," Morrison said. "Unfortunately I don't get to see lot of them because we work shift work, which is a downfall but we have a great support group here." 

Nowadays, Morrison spends most days conducting routine duties or training fellow Soldiers and Airmen.

Morrison said working with the Air Force on a joint installation has its own unique challenges. For instance, the forms are different, which means MPs must learn Air Force practices as part of the joint mission.

"I had never worked with the Air Force before, so it's a unique opportunity," Morrison said. "They have a lot of great guys over there, and I enjoy working with them. Being stationed at a joint base definitely has its challenges, but I can see a bright future with it so far."

Morrison said he reenlisted to be stationed at JBER and loves it here.

"At one point, I thought about separating from the Army and coming back as a civilian law enforcement counterpart, but I decided against that and want to make the military a career," he said.

Morrison remains dedicated to the mission and people he serves.

"I like being a resource people can rely on, who's there 24 hours a day, seven days a week," Morrison said. "Anytime somebody picks up that phone, or waves you down, there is always someone there that can assist them with whatever their need is. It's very rewarding to me to be that person who can assist in a time of need."

Engineer units furl guidons, inactivate

by David Bedard
JBER Public Affairs

5/8/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 23d Engineer Company (Airborne), alongside Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 532nd Engineer Battalion, inactivated during a May 1, 2015 ceremony at the Alaska Army National Guard Armory on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Commanders and first sergeants cased guidons, capping storied histories for both units. The guidons will be shipped to the Institute of Heraldry at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, where they will be archived and ready should the units activate in the future.

"This casing ceremony brings with it a flurry of emotions we have all experienced over the past several months," said Lt. Col. Kirt Boston, 532nd Engineer Battalion commander and presiding officer for the ceremony. "The overwhelming emotion that I would like to share with you today is one of thanks - thanks to the numerous Soldiers who have served honorably and professionally in the 532nd Engineer Battalion, the HHC, the 84th [Engineer Support Company], the [23rd] Sapper Company and others."

The 23d Engineer Company was constituted April 3, 1944 as the 1488th Engineer Maintenance Company and was activated May 12, 1944 at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. The company served in Japan and France before reactivation at then-Fort Richardson June 30, 1972.

The company was inactivated Sept. 16, 1997 and then reactivated Oct. 16, 2008 at Fort Richardson.

The 23rd Engineer Company served three tours in Afghanistan between 2010 and 2014. During their last deployment, the company was stationed out of Operational Base Fenty in Nangarhar Province, carrying out more than 90 combined-arms route-clearance operations and clearing more than 8,500 kilometers of routes throughout four provinces.

"No one was ambushed or hit by an IED following a 23rd Sapper Company sweep," Boston said. "Impressive, considering that part of the world."

The 532nd Engineer Battalion was constituted as the 532nd Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment June 20, 1942 at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The unit participated in the Pacific Theater during World War II, culminating in the occupation of Japan. The unit served in the Korean War, transporting the 1st Marine Division during the Inchon Landing.

The battalion inactivated in June 1955 while in Japan.

Due to the scheduled inactivation of 2d Engineer Brigade Headquarters and several of its subordinate units, coupled with the deployment of the brigade headquarters and 17th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion Headquarters, U.S. Army Pacific saw fit to stand up the 532nd Engineer Battalion.

Reactivated as a provisional battalion Jan. 5, 2014, the 532nd Engineer Battalion was quickly organized to undertake inactivation operations.

After a year-and-a-half long effort that will end in July, the unit will have turned in and transferred more than 1,800 pieces of equipment worth in excess of $143 million as well as relocated more than 1,000 Soldiers to other units in support of Army restructuring.

HHC also provided the headquarters for 17th CSSB during that battalion headquarters' deployment.

"All of these tasks were conducted with little fanfare - executed simultaneously, split-based and in some cases under some harsh weather conditions," Boston said. "[It's] an amazing accomplishment for a small battalion HHC that had every single staff primary position rotate out at least once - and in some cases multiple times during a short window."

Soldiers from both units will either transfer to another installation or join another unit at JBER.

Boston placed the companies' accomplishments in context.

"You are now part of a legacy and should be justifiably proud knowing that you served honorably and professionally," he said. "Take the lessons of unit pride, professionalism, your strong work ethic and patriotism with you as you continue your Army careers.

"You are these units' legacy."

Going the distance: Globemaster III hits major milestone, flies 3,000,000 hours

by Jenny Gordon
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

5/8/2015 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The Air Force's C-17 Globemaster fleet celebrated a milestone this week -- reaching 3 million flying hours, a significant feat considering the first aircraft was delivered to Joint Base Charleston, S.C., more than 20 years ago.

Officials from Robins, flight crews and distinguished visitors from Joint Base Charleston met at both bases earlier this week in a display of partnership and collaboration to celebrate the accomplishments of the men and women who've played a part in making the aircraft a success across the globe.

"In the relatively short lifetime of the fleet, when you look across all of the Air Force's weapon systems, that's a pretty big milestone," said Col. Amanda Myers, C-17 System Program Office director. "This signifies all the work that the C-17 has done, what the operators have been able to do with this aircraft, and all the capabilities it has brought to our Department of Defense."

Robins is home to the Air Force's C-17 System Program Office, and the 562nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, whose 625 personnel are responsible for the heavy maintenance and overhaul of the aircraft.

The C-17 SPO at Robins -- with personnel colocated at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio -- includes foreign military sales and Boeing representatives responsible for the sustainment, modification, maintenance and overall service of the entire fleet.

"We've challenged our employees to build something better, and I will tell you with the C-17 we've accomplished just that -- the world's premier airlifter," said retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, Boeing director of field operations and former Warner Robins Air Logistics Center commander. "But as important as the airplane is, it's really all about the people. We in Boeing are proud of those that design and built this airplane, those that today maintain and sustain this aircraft, both in the U.S. Air Force and in our eight international partners, as well as within the SPO and the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex."

Although the Air Force received its final C-17 Globemaster III in 2013 -- its 223rd aircraft, which was delivered to Joint Base Charleston that September -- Robins will continue to manage and maintain the fleet for decades to come.

"Our role here is still very significant for the lifetime of the aircraft," said Myers. "The C-17 Program Office will be responsible for the operational safety, suitability and effectiveness of the fleet, with everything we do fitting into that realm. As aircraft get into a sustainment phase and start to age, that will become more important to make sure we understand what the aircraft is doing, and how it responds to the environments we put it in.

"There's still quite a bit of work going on to make sure we keep it performing at the level it is today, and that it can provide the same level of service and mission capabilities that everyone has come to expect," she said.

The Air Force's newest, most flexible cargo aircraft continues missions across the globe -- most recently humanitarian assistance to aid earthquake victims in Nepal.

"The C-17 goes where and when the nation calls, whether that is to go to war or to promote peace," said Myers. "Along with Boeing we enjoy a strong, effective relationship with the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. The work you do every day is essential to increasing capability and maintaining the aircraft to the high level of performance that our nation has come to expect."

Raptor test force enters new phase of AIM-9X testing

by Kenji Thuloweit
412th Test Wing Public Affairs

5/6/2015 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- The 411th Flight Test Squadron and F-22 Combined Test Force successfully test fired two guided AIM-9X Sidewinder missiles this year as part of the latest phase in getting the Raptor closer to using the missile operationally.

The AIM-9X is an advanced infrared missile and the newest of the Sidewinder family of short-range air-to-air missiles carried on a wide range of fighter jets.

The first guided launch of the AIM-9X from an F-22 Raptor was Feb. 26 by Maj. Christopher Guarente, 411 FLTS assistant director of operations and F-22 test pilot. The missile successfully shot down a BQM-34 drone. The second guided firing was conducted April 29 by Maj. Patrick Killingsworth, targeting a BQM-74 drone. Both shots were taken over the nearby China Lake test range.

"The second shot was done in a much more stressing flight regime, doing things that only the Raptor can do while employing the AIM-9X," said Jeremy Cookson, F-22 Weapons Integration lead engineer.

These two guided test shots mark the beginning of the integration phase of the F-22 CTF's AIM-9X program. The CTF completed the carriage phase, and the separations phase is ongoing with 17 successful releases. These phases ensure the F-22 can carry and shoot the missile through the extremes of the flight envelope.

"Once you can fly the AIM-9X, once you can have it safely come off the aircraft, then it's time to make sure it can hit its target. We are currently integrating the electronics, having the missile talk to the aircraft and the aircraft telling the missile where to go," Cookson said.

The AIM-9X has a digital guidance system and infrared signal processing that results in enhanced acquisition ranges, greatly improved infrared counter-countermeasures capability, and extremely high off-boresight (the angle off of the nose of the aircraft) engagement zones for unprecedented first shot, first kill air-to-air performance.

The AIM-9X has the same warhead and a slightly modified rocket motor as previous versions of the missile. Changes also include fixed forward fins and smaller rear control fins.

"The 9X will give the pilot the capability to launch this missile from any condition he can find himself in," said Guarente. "The aircraft will be able to employ the 9X at high angles of attack and high look angles, which will allow the pilot freedom to maneuver as necessary to achieve the first shot and kill without being limited by the missile's launch capability. We are expecting that the 9X will be cleared for launch in flight conditions no other aircraft can even achieve, bringing the full-maneuvering capabilities of the F-22 to bear."

According to the Air Force, the F-22 cannot be matched by any known or projected fighter aircraft. With its stealth, advanced flight controls, thrust vectoring and high thrust-to-weight ratio and integrated avionics, the Raptor has the capability to outmaneuver all current and projected aircraft along with being able to kill enemies without being detected.

Currently, operational F-22s carry the AIM-9M. The AIM-9X will make the F-22 even more lethal.

"The 9X will bring an increased capability in all aspects as compared to the 9M," said Guarente. "The 9X is a longer range, more maneuverable missile and can be launched from a much, much larger flight envelope than the 9M. This will finally give the F-22 a missile that can be employed at the extreme flight conditions that the F-22 is capable of operating and often does operate."

The F-22 CTF has helped develop the modified launch rail as well as the basic software for integration of the AIM-9X into the aircraft avionic system.

"The AIM-9X will be fielded with the next aircraft software drop and requires hardware modifications to the launch rail. Further capability enhancements are expected in the follow-on software drop," added Guarente.

Cookson said fielding the AIM-9X on the F-22 has been a process, beginning around 2008 when the Air Force decided to have the Raptor carry the advanced missile. Through the hard work of the F-22 CTF, getting the AIM-9X out to the warfighter is closer to reality.

"There have been a lot of findings and challenges along the way and the whole team has done a phenomenal job getting us to where we are today. AIM-9X is long overdue on the F-22, but it is going to be a tremendous capability for the Air Force and that's due to the hard work this team's doing."

Dyess B-1s integrate with Barksdale B-52s for stand-off weapons training week

by Airman 1st Class Autumn Velez
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

5/8/2015 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- On April 23, 2015, the 77th Weapons Squadron hosted two B-52H Stratoforstresses from the 340th WPS as part of the United States Air Force Weapons School's bomber integration and stand-off weapons training week.

During the training weapons school, students were given the opportunity to integrate the B-1B Lancer weapon system with the weapons system of the B-52. Together, the students were faced with challenges of coordinating despite being geographically separated.

"Last fall, we identified a need within the B-1 weapons instructor course to increase our bomber stand-off training with other bomber and fighter platforms," said Lt. Col. John Creer, 77th WPS commander. "This week is the first step in increasing Stand-Off Weapons integration training."

While at the weapons school, undergraduates learn about the tactics, techniques and procedures of their respective aircraft platform. Although students are given the information about weapons systems, they do not have the chance to integrate with other aircraft until their final integration phase, just prior to graduation.

"An important aspect of the advance tactics training is teaching those aviators to be mission commanders over large composite forces," Creer said. "The training focuses on integrating these forces to accomplish joint force commander objectives tailored toward how our Air Force will integrate with joint forces when we go to war."

The goal of integrating in an earlier phase is to give students first-hand experience on the bomber level before their final integration phase: the Weapons School Advanced Integration.

"Stand-off weapons integration training is a small composite force focused on preparing our students for the final and culminating stage of training," Creer said. "By providing this opportunity early on, it better prepares our students for the Weapons School Advanced Integration Phase."

After the training sortie was complete, the crews of the B-1s and the B-52s came together to debrief. While debriefing, they were able to discuss the challenges they faced while integrating and possibilities for future integrations. In all, the addition of a training sortie to stand-off weapons integration week was a success.

"From the integration, we generated lessoned learned that we will apply next month during the Weapons School Integration Phase where a similar mission will be executed on a larger scale" said Lt. Col. John McClung, 77th WPS director of operations. "We are hoping to start doing this integration every six months to prepare students to execute the next phase."

Obama Salutes ‘Greatest Generation’ on V-E Day Anniversary

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 8, 2015 – “The world rejoiced in the hope of peace” upon the Allies’ acceptance of the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany’s armed forces during World War II, President Barack Obama said today, marking the 70th anniversary of the victory in Europe during his weekly address.

“On V-E Day, after the Nazi surrender, people swarmed the streets of London and Paris and Moscow, and the cloud of fear that had hung for so many years finally lifted,” Obama said in his address. “Here at home, from small towns to Times Square, crowds gathered in celebration, singing and dancing with joy.

“There would still be three more months of deadly fighting in the Pacific,” he continued. “But for a few hours, the world rejoiced in the hope of peace.”

Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower announced Germany’s surrender with little fanfare, noting simply that the Allies’ mission in Europe was fulfilled, the president said.

But Eisenhower’s message “belied the extraordinary nature of the Allied victory -- and the staggering human loss,” Obama said. “For over five years, brutal fighting laid waste to an entire continent. Mothers, fathers, children were murdered in concentration camps. By the time the guns fell silent in Europe, some 40 million people on the continent had lost their lives.”

Paying Tribute ‘to All Who Served’

Today on V-E Day, “we pay tribute to all who served,” the president said.

“They were patriots, like my grandfather who served in Patton’s Army -- soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marines -- and the women of the WACs and the WAVES and every branch,” Obama said. “They risked their lives, and gave their lives so that we, the people the world over, could live free.”

Those who served to secure Allied victory during World War II, the president said, also included the “women who stepped up in unprecedented numbers, manning the home front, and -- like my grandmother -- building bombers on assembly lines.”

The ‘Greatest Generation’

This was the generation, he said, “that literally saved the world -- that ended the war and laid a foundation for peace. This was the generation that traded in their uniforms for a college education so they could marry their sweethearts, buy homes, raise children and build the strongest middle class the world has ever known.

“This was the generation,” the president continued, “that included heroes like the Tuskegee Airmen, the Navajo Code Talkers and the Japanese-Americans of the 442nd Regiment -- and who continued the fight for freedom here at home, expanding equality and opportunity and justice for minorities and women.”

Rededicate to Freedoms

The nation and world “will be forever grateful for what these remarkable men and women did, for the selfless grace they showed in one of our darkest hours,” Obama said. “But as we mark this 70th anniversary, let’s not simply commemorate history. Let’s rededicate ourselves to the freedoms for which they fought.

It’s important for Americans to “make sure that we keep striving to fulfill our founding ideals -- that we’re a country where no matter who we are or where we’re from or what we look like or who we love, if we work hard and take responsibility, every American will have the opportunity to make of our lives what we will,” the president said.

He added, “Let’s stand united with our allies, in Europe and beyond, on behalf of our common values -- freedom, security, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law around the world -- and against bigotry and hatred in all their forms so that we give meaning to that pledge: “Never forget. Never again.”

(Editors note: Although May 8, 1945, marked Germany’s exit from the war, the Japanese Empire would continue to fight on until its surrender in mid-August and the formal signing of the surrender documents Sept. 2, 1945.)