Monday, June 15, 2015

Paratroopers visit Normandy for 71st D-Day anniversary

by Staff Sgt. Melissa Parrish
4-25 IBCT Public Affairs

6/15/2015 - SAINTE-Mère-Église, France  -- Sixteen paratroopers with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and who are currently deployed to Kosovo, received the opportunity of a lifetime to attend festivities marking the 71st anniversary of Operation Overlord June 2 through 8.

June 6, 1944 marked the commencement of Overlord - or "D-Day" for short. A cross-channel invasion originating in England, the now famous air and seaborne move on fortress Europe formally kicked off the Allied advance into western Europe during World War II and spelled ultimate defeat for Hitler's Nazi Germany.

To mark such a mammoth feat, the Spartan paratroopers attended and participated in several ceremonies paying homage to fallen Soldiers and visited the different areas of the operation such as Omaha and Utah Beach, Sainte-Mère-Église, Picauville and Carentan.

Retracing the footsteps their forebears blazed 71 years ago allowed the Spartan paratroopers to immerse themselves in the rich military history of Normandy for an entire week.

Sgt. Timothy Brant, a paratrooper with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4/25th IBCT (ABN), said spending the week in Normandy was a dream come true.

"Getting to walk around and see the history and what the paratroopers did here has been amazing," said Brant. "We visited all of the sites and I was able to jump out of a period C-47 [Skytrain]. I jumped just outside of the original Drop Zone D. I was able to look out all over Normandy. It was an incredible feeling. You always hear the stories and look at photos, [but] I was able to really see what these paratroopers saw."

Given the presence of an authentic C-47 painted in the recognizable D-Day invasion paint scheme and configured for paratroop drops, Brant paid for the opportunity to jump from the same aircraft paratroopers did 71 years ago.

"As I sat in the aircraft looking out the door watching the ground go by, I tried to imagine what those paratroopers felt like right before they jumped in," said Brant. "I tried to imagine the thoughts that had to be going through their minds ... I tried to envision what that would feel like."

But Brant had another reason for paying to jump from the storied aircraft; his grandfather, Staff Sgt. Harold Smock, was a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division who parachuted into Normandy on June 6.

"My grandfather was a part of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment," said Brant. "He jumped into Normandy and participated in the operation. I found out what he did after he passed away.  I wish I knew exactly where he was here, but just knowing I was in the same area as he was 71 years ago really is just an unexplainable feeling."

Also in Brant's possession was something that made its second trip to Normandy - Smock's dog tags, which have stayed by Brant's side since joining the Army.

"I jumped his dog tags into Normandy so they have been jumped in here twice," added Brant. "I carry them every single day."

For Spc. Michael Piper, a paratrooper with 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, 4/25 IBCT (ABN), the week spent in Normandy was a humbling one and he, too, has a close connection to D-Day.

"My grandfather jumped into Normandy and when he landed he was shot in the lung by a sniper," Piper said. "If the bullet would have hit six inches higher it would have killed him and I wouldn't be here today."

Piper's grandfather, Lt. Theo Elmer, and paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, left a huge mark on Piper's life that led to where he is today.

"My grandfather passed away when I was a teenager, but he made a huge impression on my life," said Piper. "He is the reason I am a paratrooper today. Just knowing what he did here has been an honor."

Piper carried his grandfather's photo with him on the last day of the trip where he jumped into a ceremony with 300 other Allied paratroopers onto Iron Mike Drop Zone just outside of Sainte-Mère-Église.

"The jump was the highlight of the trip for me," Piper said. "I am so thankful to have this part of my lineage and to know people still appreciate what they did here and are thankful for their sacrifices."

All of the Spartan paratroopers had smiles on their faces as they exited the drop zone and shook hands with D-Day veterans and people from all over the world that came out to cheer them on.

"This has been a fulfilling moment in my life and I will never forget it," added Piper.

"I know everyone that came took something away," said Brant. "Learning something in a history book is one thing, but walking in the footsteps and just being here puts it all into perspective."

Air Force marine patrol prevents suicidal drowning

by Senior Airman Ned T. Johnston
6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2015 - MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- "Gearing up for work every day, we prepare for any number of different scenarios. We prepare ourselves physically and mentally to handle whatever we could encounter that day. We'd like to believe, here in the marine patrol, that we're ready for anything," explained Senior Airman Cale Schumacher, 6th Security Forces Squadron marine patrolman.

February 15, 2015, tested the legitimacy of Senior Airman Schumacher's statement when he and three other marine patrolmen witnessed and subsequently rescued a woman who was trying to commit suicide by driving her motor vehicle off of a boat ramp on MacDill into the Hillsborough Bay.

Schumacher and Senior Airman Christopher Fitchett were on their way to the boat ramp to launch their patrol boat for the day when they saw a vehicle backed up to the edge of the water on the ramp.

"When we got out of our truck and approached her vehicle to see what was going on, she covered the windshield with a sun visor and floored it in reverse into the water. Her car didn't immediately sink, but it did start to drift away from the ramp into the bay," explained Schumacher.

With the car slowly sinking and drifting away from the shoreline, Schumacher knew he needed to act quickly. He jumped into the water to retrieve the woman from the vehicle as Fitchett alerted the other patrol boat in the area of the situation. When Schumacher reached the vehicle, he tried to break the sunroof with his elbow, but to no avail.

"I called back to Fitchett at the truck to throw me a baton, so that I could break into the car," said Schumacher. "When Fitchett threw me the baton from the dock, I was able to break my way into the vehicle."

This was just the start to the rescue mission though. With a now broken passenger-side window, the car was taking on even more water than before. The woman inside the vehicle was warning Schumacher that she didn't want to have to hurt him, and that she wanted him to leave her to die.

"When I entered the vehicle, the woman had her seat belt fastened, and she had locked her arms through the steering wheel," explained Schumacher. "She fought every attempt I made to try and remove her from the vehicle."

Meanwhile, Staff Sgt. Melvin Santos and Senior Airman Colin Williams in the other patrol boat came to the scene and saw that the vehicle had traveled a good distance from the ramp and that it was now in deeper water. In an effort to get the vehicle to shallower waters, they used their patrol boat to push the vehicle as close as they could back to the boat ramp.

Schumacher was finally able to gain compliance from the woman and took her out of the vehicle through the now fully submerged passenger-side window.

Security Forces personnel detained the woman when Schumacher made it to shore with her and MacDill fire fighters used a fire winch to pull the vehicle from the bay. Authorities later found a knife in the woman's waistband and a new pistol in the trunk of her car with 75 rounds of ammunition.

Schumacher finished recalling the events that took place that day by saying, "my team being prepared to handle extreme circumstances was the difference between that woman taking her own life or us saving it."

673d fuels flight named best in the Air Force

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs

6/15/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The Air Force recently recognized the 673d Logistics Readiness Squadron's Fuels Management Flight as the best in the Air Force after the flight was named the winner of the 2014 American Petroleum Institute Award.

"The award is like winning the Super Bowl, World Series and Stanley Cup all at one time," said 673d LRS commander, Lt. Col. John Harris.
The award recognizes the wing having the best fuels management operation, and includes the facility, equipment and vehicle support from outside the fuels management flight.

In order to beat out the competition, composed of the best major command fuels management flights from across the Air Force, the men and women of the fuels management flight knew their work was cut out for them.

Their performance during the competition timeline produced no fewer than 40 bullets in their entry form. Air Force officials referred to the unit as "a clear cut winner" across three judged sections: direct mission support, innovative management and quality of life programs.

Senior Master Sgt. Ron Crowl, 673d LRS Fuels Management Flight chief, one of the architects of the award package, said the award of this magnitude is special because for many Airmen, it can be a one-time opportunity.

"You don't win this type of award every day," Crowl said. "It says a lot. Based on the criteria and grading scale, it is no easy task to try and encapsulate everything this flight does, and does well, in 40 lines on an Air Force Form 1206. These Airmen knock it out of the park every day, and I had plenty of outstanding accomplishments to work with."

The squadron's commander was particularly proud of what the flight did to secure funding for new and improved infrastructure, which was a major bullet in their award package.

"They lobbied for, and got funding for, a truck offload facility, which increases our capability to receive fuel," Harris said. "Most recently, they lobbied for and got funding for a new $7 million operations facility that strategically locates this flight closer to its customer base. That improves our mission capability exponentially. I'm so proud of what they have been able to accomplish."

While their accomplishments are too many to list, some of the highlights included managing the movement of  more than 400 million gallons of fuel between home station and deployed locations, saving the Air Force millions of dollars by using innovative practices and procedures, crafting the Air Force's first-ever F-22 Raptor Forward Area Refueling Point plan, and much more.

According to Crowl, what makes the flight's achievements even more impressive is that the flight operates out of three geographically separated areas, which is atypical of standard fuels operations. JBER is larger than any base in the Pacific Air Forces in terms of sheer physical area.

All the other PACAF bases combined would fit within JBER's fence line, making logistics a high hurdle to clear.

In addition to the geographical size of JBER, the diverse joint base mission sets also provide a scale reference to the volume and pace of work the fuels management flight brings to the installation.

"It is a challenge from a command and control standpoint," Crowl said. "But these guys make it look easy."

Another challenge the fuels management flight regularly overcomes is the subarctic conditions.

"It gets very cold on this flightline and it makes it really difficult to do our job," said Airman 1st Class Levi Roark, 673d LRS fixed facilities technician. "We face the challenge of not only being cold and wet ourselves, but the elements also affect the fuels infrastructure. We have to keep things from breaking and maintain our response times at the same time. It's difficult, but we've maintained and overcome. We have the best fuels flight in the Air Force to show for it."

However, according to Harris, there's something far more important that sets this flight apart.

"I could tell you about how we support more than 80 aircraft, while ensuring the inventory of more than 12 million gallons of fuel, all while battling arctic conditions," Harris said. "Or, I could tell you about the important missions we support, like NORAD's combat-alert cell that ensures our territorial integrity, or the Air National Guard's alert and C-130 mission; or perhaps the C-17 airdrop mission standing by at a moment's notice to deliver Pacific Command's only airborne combat capability anywhere in theater. While all of these are important, what really sets this flight apart is its strategic vision and its heart."

Harris said JBER's fuels flight is unique in its leaders' ability to look beyond the day-to-day tactical mission of launching jets and develop a strategic vision to make the operation and the flight better for future Airmen.

"But perhaps the true key to success for this flight is it's a family," Harris said. "This flight rallies around its Airmen in an unbelievable way. The level of morale here and the way these Airmen look after each other is breathtaking."

Airmen of the squadron echoed their commander's sentiment.

"When I got to the JBER fuels flight, I knew I was part of an awesome team," said Master Sgt. Elizabeth Warren, 673d LRS Fuels Environmental Safety Office noncommissioned officer in charge. "I'm really glad the rest of the Air Force knows it now, too."

Roark said the closeness and "we're a family" spirit that permeates the flight makes the award personal to each member.

"There's really no words to explain how great it feels," Roark said. "As hard as we work, my team, my brothers and sisters, all the sweat, blood and tears ... we are hard workers who love to work, because we work for each other. We work for family. There's a saying I learned here that has always stuck with me. 'Just as metal sharpens metal, so does one man sharpen another,' and that says a lot about this flight."

Harris also pointed out that while the award was given to the Fuels Management Flight, they didn't win it in a vacuum.

"While this fuels flight earned and deserved this award, they didn't do it alone," Harris explained. "Our refueler maintenance section in the Vehicle Management Flight makes sure the fuel trucks are up and running 365 days a year.

Another key component is the 773d Civil Engineer Squadron's water fuels maintenance team. They make sure the fuels infrastructure is running top of the line, which is key to making sure we can get fuel from point A to point B. This was a total team effort from all across our squadron and supporting units."

Harris said it's difficult to properly encapsulate the character of the fuels management flight but that one thing was clear, "At the end of the day, these guys epitomize JBER's motto: Arctic tough and family strong," he said.

Buckner lifeguard finds fulfillment training others

by Airman Christopher R. Morales
JBER Public Affairs

6/15/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- "I like the skill of swimming and seeing students progress," said Mae-Lin Ynacay, lifeguard and water safety instructor at the Buckner Physical Fitness Center. "Even if it's something as simple as kicking more efficiently, I find satisfaction in seeing them progress."

She was born and raised in northern California, and was a varsity swimmer for three of her high school years in Sacramento.

She worked as a junior lifeguard during the summers at that time.

To become a lifeguard, one must complete the Red Cross course to become proficient in CPR, handling choking victims and other tasks.

Ynacay went to college in Oregon for a Bachelor's degree in Chinese Studies. She decided to join the Army with her passion to help others and a goal to be a medic. But due to her knowledge of the Chinese language, the Army needed her in intelligence.

She served eight years, then decided to follow her dream, moving to Alaska to pursue a doctorate at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

"The military was challenging, but I learned a lot," Ynacay said. "I miss the military in a lot of ways, like the camaraderie."

"I used to do martial arts back in the day, crossfit, triathlons; I think I have a pretty good range of physical activity experience in order to incorporate that, with swimming, to help people get back on their feet, literally," Ynacay said.

Ynacay worked as a lifeguard with basic rescue skills at the Buckner PFC in November 2014.

"Mae-Lin is a treat to work with and she is a team player," said Savannah Ericksen, lead lifeguard for the Buckner PFC. "We [at the Buckner PFC] pride ourselves on an above-average staff, so she fits right in."

Ynacay took courses to be a water safety instructor, which involves hydrodynamics, principles of water and teaching underwater movement mechanics.

The Buckner PFC pool offers swimming lessons to patrons age six months to adults. Red Cross certification courses are also offered in lifeguarding, first aid, CPR, automated external defibrillator and water safety. They host several events during the year for the community.

Ynacay teaches these swimming classes which are tailored to skill level and how comfortable students are in the water.
Ynacay is aiming for a master's degree in either biomechanics or kinesiology, in the meantime, she is striving to become a qualified physical therapist.

"You're helping people learn to move who are hindered otherwise and teach them how to move again, get them functional in life.
"I think swimming would be an excellent incorporation if I were to become a physical therapist," Ynacay said.

Swimming is a full-body workout, toning muscles as an aerobic exercise with underwater resistance. It is also a common exercise for recovery as the water alleviates the pressure of weight.

"It helps to know, as a lifeguard - someone who saves lives and teaches people how to swim - when we reach out to others and show them water safety, they could save the lives of others and themselves," Ynacay said.

Kadena honors National Flag Day

by Senior Airman Stephen G. Eigel
18th Wing Public Affairs

6/15/2015 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The Air Force Sergeants Association hosted a National Flag Day ceremony in front of the 18th Wing headquarters here at June 15.

People across the U.S. celebrate National Flag Day June 14 each year to honor the U.S. flag and to commemorate the flag's adoption by resolution of the 2nd Continental Congress on that day in 1777.

"The American flag has been the symbol of our nation's unity, as well as a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens," Tech. Sgt. Michael Collard, 18th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection craftsman and emcee for the event, said. "The flag flies in the heart of every military member who has served and who is serving our great nation."

U.S. Flag Code states, "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."

This year, Kadena's Girl Scouts and Cub Scouts Pack 102 placed unserviceable flags into a collection barrel for proper disposal. The last flag to be placed in the collection barrel was the 18th Wing's U.S. flag, decommissioned by the Kadena Base Honor Guard June 15. The flag represents all of the flags collected that are officially retired from service today.

After the ceremony, the fire department transported the unserviceable flags to an alternate location for the final tribute to the flags to be made.

"There is a distinguishing feature on the tail of all of our jets -- that's the American flag," said Col. Christopher Amrhein, 18th Wing vice commander. "When I was a young captain, I always thought yes, that represents the United States of America wherever we go; then one day I had a senior mentor pull me aside and say 'captain that doesn't represent the United States of America -- that is the United States of America.'"

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day. In August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress.

However, National Flag Day is not an official federal holiday; it is at the president's discretion to officially proclaim the observance.

Ready to Receive: RAF Fairford goes to 'hot' for deployers

by Tech. Sgt. Chrissy Best
501st Combat Support Wing

6/11/2015 - RAF FAIRFORD, United Kingdom --  The sky above RAF Fairford is usually quiet, but for the last two years during the month of June the roar of heavy bomber aircraft can be heard as they land and take off from the flightline. This exercise gives RAF Fairford personnel the opportunity to show how the base transitions from what's called a 'warm' base to 'hot' base.

"Preparation can take as little as 48 hours, but in this case we've been planning for this exercise for months." said Lt. Col. Marc Galler, 422nd Air Base Group deputy commander.

More than 330 Airmen within the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command are supporting U.S. European Command exercises BALTOPS 15 and Saber Strike 15, and will be conducting flights around the region, using RAF Fairford as their deployed location.

On a normal day at RAF Fairford, the base has approximately 120 personnel. In preparation for exercises and operations, the 501st Combat Support Wing utilizes personnel from RAF Alconbury, RAF Croughton and the 100th Air Refueling Wing at RAF Mildenhall, which increases personnel on RAF Fairford to approximately 150.

RAF Fairford's strategic location, unique capabilities and support facilities that the 120 personnel maintain, continue to prove that RAF Fairford is a key location for large-scale exercises and readiness operations and an ideal site for bomber operations.  Its 10,000-foot runway is able to receive aircraft within 48 hours of notification, and provides an unrestricted load-bearing surface and 55 parking spots.  Additionally, the installation has the capacity to store 9.3 million gallons of jet fuel, a large vehicle fleet and support facilities for more than 1000 personnel.

"We surge in manpower and duty hours through the arrival of the main body of deploying personnel, cargo and their operating aircraft." said Galler.

Low-density, high-demand career fields, such as logistics, communications, air traffic control, contracting and services requires augmentation when the base transitions to hot status.

RAF Fairford's normal hours of operation while the base in warm status is 12 hours a day, 5 days a week. Once the base goes into goes into hot status it will go 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Contracts are reactivated or created to assist the inbound unit with their requirements when the base enters hot status.

"Multiple contracts were created or reactivated for this exercise, said Senior Master Sgt. Marcus Webb, 501st CSW, chief of contracting.  "The contracts included upgrading the WIFI services for the dorm areas, cellular phone capabilities, additional custodial services, food services and vehicle rentals are."

Facilities that are typically vacant must be placed into full operational status. RAF Fairford's team of civil engineers and maintenance personnel systematically work through all building water systems, heating systems, fire systems, doors and windows checking for functionality, safety and operability, said Andrew Davies, base civil engineer.

Davies said his teams also perform checks in the water system for concerns.

"When we have to enter into hot status for exercises or contingences the level of preparation goes up exponentially to include significant materials procurement for things like c-wire, security lighting, rental of portable facilities for sleeping, washing, office and toilet portal accommodations." said Davies.

The amount of fuel changes significantly from warm to hot status when aircraft landing and departures increase.

"During hot status we issue triple the amount of fuel in one week than we do in one average month in warm status," said Lisa Mackenzie, the chief of logistics readiness at RAF Fairford.

"For example, for the entire month of April while in warm status, we issued 8,872 gallons of jet fuel and during the first week this June while in hot status we have issued 26,335 gallons." The ratio is about the same when it comes to fuel for the government owned vehicles, added Mackenzie.

The fuels operation is managed 100%, contracted personnel Monday through Friday in warm status, but once the base goes into hot status, the fuels operations is augmented with deployed fuels personnel, usually 100 percent military most of the time. The deployed personnel take over fuels operations throughout the entire exercise.

The contractors will still be utilized, but in other areas of the base.

"Our contractors will service initial cargo, passenger aircraft arrivals and then will provide onsite familiarization training to the deployed fuels personnel when they arrive," said Mackenzie "Then they step back into an advisory or assistance type of role, for the remainder of the exercise".

It takes an extremely dedicated team of professionals to keep RAF Fairford operational during the warm status, and even more to wake up the base and move to a hot status.

"It's fantastic to have AFGSC bombers back at RAF Fairford again this year," said Galler. "The deployment itself validates that the 501st CSW's planning, maintenance and mission support personnel are excellent at what they do."

"Having the deployers here is a real boost to the morale for the 420th ABS team." said Galler.

Face of Defense: Soldier Finds New Ways to Take Flight

By Flavia Hulsey
Western Regional Medical Command

FORT BELVOIR, Va., June 15, 2015 – Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Timothy Sifuentes has flown more than 2,300 hours and completed nearly 1,000 combat missions in an OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopter. Flying is a part of who he is. So when injuries to his back and knee and a tear in his right glute forced him out of the cockpit, he had to find a new way to soar.

Sifuentes is preparing to compete in the Department of Defense Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, June 19-28.

“What do I think I’ll get out of the Warrior Games experience? A new challenge -- a new me, if you will,” said Sifuentes, a Glendive, Montana, native, and a former Fort Riley Warrior Transition Battalion soldier, now with the 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st Infantry Division.

“Yeah, I know I’ll never be 100 percent where I was prior to my injuries,” he added, “but I can establish a new baseline.”

Sifuentes, a former runner, was able to use cycling to recover from injuries, thanks to the adaptive reconditioning program offered through the Warrior Transition Battalion. He will compete in cycling, swimming and field events at the Warrior Games.

Different, But Therapeutic

“Once I couldn’t compete in [running] any more and I started the recovery process, I thought, ‘Let me give cycling a chance,’” he said. “Although much different, still, there are a lot of similarities. It’s very therapeutic for me. So you can go out and do a 10-mile run or you can go ride 30 miles. It’s just an opportunity to go clear your head. That’s the part I enjoy.”

Sifuentes also said he enjoys hitting new benchmarks in his fitness. When he began cycling, he noted, 10 miles was hard. He recently completed 100 miles over two days and has his sights set on other long-distance cycling challenges.

He’s also enjoyed adding sports to his workout routine. He started swimming after completing physical therapy in the pool sparked his interested in the sport. Swimming, combined with field events such as shot-put and discus provide therapeutic benefits to his recovery, Sifuentes said.

“The biggest thing when you get an injury is it’s not only debilitating on your body, but also the mental aspect,” he said. “It’s very self-defeating sometimes, and it’s easy to sit on the couch and go, ‘Hey, you know what, I don’t want to do anything today.’ But when I have something to strive for -- the Warrior Games, the Army Trials, things like that where I push myself -- I can look at the big picture.”

Looking Toward Second Career

In the bigger picture, Sifuentes is looking toward a second career. He will retire from the Army in April.

“When you’ve done a job for so long, it becomes a part of who you are and a part of your identity,” he said. “And that was the most daunting task for me –- to get back out there and look at a potential professional growth and where I could go in a new career. But I’ll be 37 years old, well young enough to get another job and do something productive for society.”

While Sifuentes was in the Warrior Transition Battalion, he worked with the staff to develop a transition plan in case he was unable to complete his time in the Army. He even completed job interviews that led to conditional offers. And though he chose to finish his Army career, the skills he learned will serve him well in his next phase, he said.

Advice for Others

Sifuentes said he encourages all soldiers facing an injury or illness that could alter their military career to give the Warrior Transition Battalion a shot.

“At least give it a chance -- give it a shot,” he said. “Don’t dwell on what you can’t do. Think, ‘What can I do?’”

It’s a lesson he also hopes to teach his five children, Sifuentes added.

“There’s ups and downs in life –- challenges –- but I think that makes us who we are,” he said.

177th Fighter Wing participates in local school event

by Airman 1st Class Amber Powell
177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/10/2015 - EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Local first responders and military personnel visited Alder Avenue Middle School in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey to celebrate the school's Not All Heroes Wear Capes event on June 9, 2015.

Airmen from the New Jersey Air National Guard's 177th Fighter Wing and first responders brought equipment and set up display tables to teach the students about the services they provide to the local community.

"The goal of this project from an educational standpoint was to have the students learn, think about, and honor the roles our first responders and military play in keeping our great nation safe," said Kelli Wenzel, teacher and coordinator of the event. "Additionally, the students were exposed to a variety of professions that may be future job opportunities for them."

Explosive ordnance disposal technicians from the 177th FW brought an Air Force Medium-Sized Robot and protective gear to show students. Firefighters from the Wing unrolled fire hoses from their truck and allowed students to spray water. Also, a High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle, commonly known as the Humvee, from the Wing's 227th Air Support Operations Squadron, was on display along with a tactical vest and ballistic helmet that students could try on.

"This is the coolest thing I've ever seen," said a student referring to the Humvee. "It's like the toys but bigger!"

Students from sixth and seventh grade participated along with second graders from Slaybaugh Elementary.

"We have been holding this event for 10 years, but the event has grown to include over 200 students since receiving a mini grant from the Egg Harbor Township Education Foundation," said Wenzel. "We wanted the students to be able to learn about the jobs of our first responders and military and to gain an understanding of the sacrifices that our heroes make."

Air War College officers gain from seminars, TEC campus

by Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith
I.G. Brown Training and Education Center

6/12/2015 - MCGHEE TYSON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Tenn. -- About 66 Air Force officers and one Marine Corps officer gathered here June 1-12 at the I.G. Brown Training and Education Center for the fourth Air War College seminar.

The TEC now hosts the seminar twice a year to help provide options for Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve Command lieutenant colonels in their strategic leadership correspondence studies, said officials.

"Officer PME on the TEC campus has really enhanced the training and education experience for all our students," said Col. Jessica Meyeraan, the TEC's commander. "Last week's retreat is a great example. The addition of the AWC flight, formed up next to the NCOA students, was a fantastic way for us to collectively honor our proud heritage, tradition of honor and legacy of valor."

The officers arrived from across the nation, they networked and they prepared papers on national security topics.

Lt. Col. Dawn Roberson, a facilitator for the Carl A. Spaatz Center for Officer Education, said that selection for these seminars is highly competitive - twice as many applied as were selected.  For the Air National Guard officers, their assigned units selected them to attend as well as sponsored their travel costs.  Air Force officers are centrally funded.

Roberson said that the seminar strengthens the correspondence version of AWC's 10-month in-resident program at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama. The TEC version consists of four courses, which can take an officer enrolled in normal distance learning four years' worth of nights and weekends to complete. These seminars support the officers with networking and classroom discussion during the second and fourth course.

"The purpose of this seminar is to let them focus on those studies, discuss them and set aside the distractions and demands at home," said Roberson.

Roberson said that the officers' perspectives from their particular career fields and duty assignments held great value to the studies and writing as well as in networking to future missions. She hopes more will consider the seminar's value in AWC. 

Thousands of officers enroll in AWC's distance learning program each year.