Military News

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Wingmen continue successful interventions across AFMC

by Kim Bowden
Air Force Materiel Command Public Affairs


6/18/2015 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Across Air Force Materiel Command, Airmen continue to embrace the command's culture of respect and resiliency. This is especially evident in their behavior as wingmen.

"Accountability is at the core of the culture we emphasize, and it's at the core of the wingman concept," said Jennifer Treat, AFMC Community Support Coordinator. "A good wingman stays alert for signs of danger from whatever source -- whether suicide, safety mishaps, alcohol abuse, sexual assault, bullying, medical issues or other difficulties; gets involved by knowing their fellow Airmen; and takes action when necessary to protect their wingman, on and off duty. We're proud to have so many true wingmen in our command who look out for the welfare of their colleagues and community."

Some recent examples of successful wingman intervention include:

-- Wingmen found the driver of a crashed car pulseless and apneic. They provided initial care, CPR and defibrillation until first responders arrived. The driver regained a pulse and was taken to the hospital.

-- Another wingman was notified by an Airman's spouse that the Airman had threatened suicide. The wingman found the Airman engaged in a preparatory act but intervened and immediately escorted the Airman to the mental health clinic. The wingman continued to provide support until the Airman returned to duty.

-- One wingman noticed an overturned, burning vehicle and worked to remove the passengers. The wingman flagged down assistance and made contact with emergency responders, staying on the scene until they arrived.

-- At a club during spring break, a wingman witnessed several drunken males near a group of underage females. The wingman overheard one male shouting about 'hot little minors,' so she asked the females if they were okay and stayed close by to intervene again if necessary. Later, the same wingman helped a drunk, underage female into a cab when the female tried to drive home.

-- One wingman responded to an off-duty emergency. The wingman found an Airman's infant family member not breathing and initiated CPR. The wingman provided stability until first responders arrived.

-- After an Airman had an on-duty breakdown and threatened coworkers, a very dedicated supervisor and wingman intervened. The wingman involved the Airman's peer group, and together they ensured the Airman made it to the hospital. Over the course of the next year, the wingman coordinated a get-well plan and escorted the Airman to various appointments, allowing the Airman to remain productive until he was medically retired.

By staying engaged, showing concern and recognizing signs of distress, these wingmen helped others avert danger and even saved lives.

AFMC has been consciously building the concept of wingman intervention since 2013. The goals are to raise awareness of helping behaviors, increase the motivation to help, develop the skills and confidence to safely intervene and assist when necessary, and ensure the safety and well-being of self and others.

If you become aware of situations in which personnel have recognized at-risk behaviors and proactively intervened, please contact your local Community Support Coordinator. AFMC's goal is to highlight these situations as teachable moments to encourage similar behavior and continue its focus of maintaining a "Culture of Respect and Resiliency."

A week at Yokota Air Base

374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/18/2015 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 374th Airlift Wing includes four groups: operations, mission support, maintenance and medical. Each group manages several squadrons in order to carry out the wing's mission.

Yokota Air Base is also home to U.S. Forces Japan, a joint service headquarters coordinating matters affecting U.S. and Japanese defense relations, and 5th Air Force, whose mission is to enhance the U.S. deterrent posture and, if necessary, provide fighter and military airlift support for offensive air operations.

As the primary Western Pacific airlift hub for peacetime and contingency operations, the wing provides airlift for the movement of passengers, cargo and mail to all Department of Defense agencies in the Pacific area of responsibility and provides transport for people and equipment throughout the Kanto Plain and the Tokyo metropolitan area.

Yokota hosts several tenant units including the 515th Air Mobility Group, which manages air mobility operations throughout the Western Pacific, and the Japanese Air Defense Command which controls Japan's air defense mission.

NDU Graduates Ready for Future Challenges, Dempsey Says



By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

FORT LESLEY J. McNAIR, Washington, D.C., June 18, 2015 – National Defense University graduates will be ready for whatever comes their way, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said during the university’s graduation ceremony here today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey said this year marks the 19th anniversary of his graduation from the university.

“My time at this university contributed mightily to preparing me for what I now found is my task,” Dempsey said.

More than 600 senior officers and civilians representing some 60 nations received degrees at the graduation ceremony. Dempsey called the school the “preeminent leadership university in the world.”

A 'Monomyth' Journey

“You are among the best leaders and thinkers from our services, our civilian workforce and from the 60 nations represented here today,” the chairman said. “You earned this spot and we are proud of your accomplishment.”

Dempsey talked to the graduates about the idea of a Monomyth -- American mythologist Joseph Campbell’s word for the hero’s story. The idea of the monomyth is shared among cultures, races and religions. The Iliad, the Chanson de Roland, Star Wars are all examples of use of the monomyth.

Essentially, “there’s a person who in the face of danger or adversity, displays courage and is willing to make sacrifices for the greater good. That is the protagonist,” Dempsey said. “He or she sets off on a journey composed of three parts -- departure, initiation and return.

“It should sound familiar to each of you, because it is your life,” he added.

Dempsey said the graduates are prepared to take that journey.

“The things you have learned over the past year are preparing you for the challenges that lie ahead -- for the times that will become your defining moments,” he said. “The joy of life is not in the summit, but in the perseverance displayed in the ascent and the character building that occurs during the occasional descent.”

Dempsey said the graduates are all volunteers who came forward to make the country and world a better place.

“You didn’t do it for a life of ease or comfort. You did it because there was work to be done, because you felt you could put your talents to use for the greater good,” he said. “Rather than stay put, you ventured away from the familiar to be an active maker of peace instead of a passive consumer of it.”

This is, again, a classic example of the monomyth, the chairman said.

Challenges Ahead

Dempsey emphasized that the graduates must be prepared when history calls.

“The challenges will await you,” he said. “For some of you, the challenge will be encountering violent extremism. For others, you will patrol the expanse of the Pacific Ocean or fly the skies over Eastern Europe to prevent instability from taking root or from spreading.”

Some of the graduates will defend the cyber world from faceless adversaries still intent on doing harm, Dempsey said. “No matter what your specialty, you can be sure that challenges lie ahead and we will need you to overcome them,” the chairman said.

Graduation does not mean the end of challenges, he said.

“As you rise in rank and assume larger responsibility, there will be tests of your ethics and of your character,” Dempsey said. “You must succeed there as well. The work we do requires it, the people we serve deserve it and the nation we serve expects it. It is no longer enough to be proficient, we must be principled.”

ATV safety course prepares riders for all terrain

by Airman Christopher R. Morales
JBER Public Affairs


6/18/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaksa -- The state of Alaska has only a handful of paved roads and highways in its 586,000 square miles, making off-road transportation very practical for many off-duty activities.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's Outdoor Recreation centers offers a recurring all-terrain vehicle safety course during the summer for service members and civilians on base to acquire their ATV Safety Institute certification card, so they can ride legally on base.

"The ATV safety course is not only to allow access to ride on base, but it also teaches proper riding habits," said Tyler Glenn, director of JBER Outdoor Recreation.

"The safety class is not necessary to attend the ATV off-base trips we provide, but is encouraged for less-experienced riders."

The maximum number of students in a class is eight, so reserving a spot may be necessary.

The course costs $5 if the students brings an ATV and all the safety equipment (eye protection, full-fingered gloves, long pants, long-sleeved shirt, over-the-ankle hard-sole shoes or boots and a reflective vest), but $50 if an ATV needs to be provided.

The ATV organized trips work similarly. Fees differ, but pay to cover ATV use and all necessary safety equipment. Providing personally owned essential gear and an ATV will lower the cost.

Leading the classes this year is Bob Braun, general equipment repair technician and ATV safety instructor for the Outdoor Recreation Center with the 673d Force Support Squadron - classes are at the Hillberg Ski Resort unless otherwise posted.

"I started riding [ATVs] around 1993 and have been teaching this course for over five years here," Braun said. "I'm licensed to teach this course anywhere in the United States."  Generally all are welcome to take these classes because the main thing is safety, learning the capabilities of their vehicle," Braun said.

The safety courses include step-by-step introduction to the vehicle and general control like any other driving test, Braun said.

Students will properly learn to start, stop, turn, swerve, ride over obstacles and traverse steep hills.The course gives riders the skills necessary to safely operate the vehicles and to quickly react in an emergency situation.

ATVs are useful for adventure, but they can serve a larger operational purpose in the military.

Service members use ATVs for perimeter checks, security details, and general transportation in deployed missions.

In 2013 there were three confirmed injuries on JBER due to off-road accidents; two of those happened on ATVs.

The number may be miniscule compared to 100,000 ATV injuries in 2012 all over Alaska, but they are accidents that could've been avoided had the riders employed skills such as those taught in the course.

Whether it's a ride on base with a friend or an organized trail ride with a group, ATVs can take you there and get you back, but only if you know how.

Remote radio relay stations enable communications during NE15

by Capt. Tania Bryan
Northern Edge 15 Joint Information Bureau Public Affairs


6/18/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- In a state that is as wide as the lower 48 states and larger than Texas, California and Montana combined, maintaining communications during Northern Edge 15, the largest flying exercise of the year, can be challenging yet is critical to mission success.

The military air, land and sea training ranges in Alaska are collectively known as the JPARC, or Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex, and includes 65,000 square miles of available airspace, nearly 2,500 square miles of land space and 42,000 square nautical miles of surface, subsurface and overlying airspace in the Gulf of Alaska.

The JPARC provides for wide and varied training unmatched anywhere else in the world.  However, the vast expanse of the training ranges requires special attention be paid to ensure radio communications are maintained throughout the exercises.

Middleton Island, an uninhabited island in the Gulf of Alaska, houses a Federal Aviation Administration Radar and Communications site, which during Northern Edge doubles as a radio relay station for military use.

"Additional equipment is brought in to include an Air Combat Maneuvering Instrumentation transponder and radio transceivers so aircraft can be tracked in real-time," said Steve Curley, a contractor working for Headquarters Pacific Air Forces weapons and tactics division.  "This provides a capability for live command and control, as well as having their entire flight profiles recorded for a more accurate post mission analysis and debrief."

In order to operate and maintain the equipment during the exercise, personnel are deployed to the island.  A location routinely home to no more than local wildlife.

"During the live-flying events I monitor the equipment and update transceiver frequencies in real-time, so the range training officers and command and control do not miss key radio calls," said Master Sgt. John Sperling, 354th Communications Squadron NCO in charge of radio frequency transmissions.

"Because Northern Edge has not been held since 2011, I have had to become familiar with and be able to troubleshoot 'new to me' equipment in a relatively short amount of time," said Sperling, a Frankenmuth, Michigan, native.

While this has been a challenge, the capabilities have been maintained and help to ensure safety of the exercise.

"Just today, we had a situation where two radios would not transmit, and being the only person on the ground, Sergeant Sperling was able to complete complex troubleshooting, correcting the problem in near record time," Curley said. "Without these two radios, an entire air fight lane, greater in size than some states would be without realistic and accurate mission results."

Record-breaking Anchorage weather provides unsurpassed training potential at NE15

by Staff Sgt. William Banton
Joint Information Bureau Public Affairs


6/18/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The first week of Exercise Northern Edge 15 in Alaska brought with it record-breaking high temperatures which meant perfect flying conditions for the joint training exercise.

"It is unseasonably warm up here, but hot for Alaska is still comparatively benign for the lower 48 states," said Capt. Richard Williams, 525th Fighter Squadron F-22 Raptor pilot. "The heat itself hasn't really thrown us off, but the clarity and the nice weather we are experiencing has simplified things greatly."

According to Capt. Carl Densford, 3rd Operations Support Squadron weather commander, significantly warmer than average sea temperatures moved warmer air into the upper-levels of the atmosphere. This altered the pattern of the Jetstream just enough that higher pressure is overhead preventing weather systems from affecting the local area.

"Normally weather is very much a factor we have to contend with up here, " Williams said. "It's something we have to plan around, and it can often complicate our missions, but the past few days have been beautiful. It has let us focus on our tactics and our execution."

The perfect flying conditions come during the second driest summer in the last 30 years, said Technical Sgt. William Thornton, 3rd OSS weather NCO in charge of airfield management services.

"This year has been a truly unusual time for Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and the Anchorage Bowl," Densford said. "We were several feet below our average annual snowfall and have experienced more thunderstorms in the local area in the months of April and May than we see all year."

Climate statistics for JBER suggest that thunderstorms, which can impede flying, are very rare. The local area average is supposed to be one thunderstorm per year, but the past two years have proven these stats wrong.

"I've only been here for two years, but by mid-June each year we surpass those numbers," Thornton said. "Our extreme max temperature is supposed to be 86 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer and we came to that a few days ago. This is definitely a unique season."

Face of Defense: Coast Guardsman Throws for Distance



By Shannon Collins
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

VENTURA, Calif., June 18, 2015 – A retired Coast Guard marine safety officer who has had a long journey of recovery with many tests of willpower along the way said he couldn’t have made it through without the support of his wife, family and friends.

Lt. Sancho Johnson joined the Coast Guard in college, where he was studying biology. He was the first in his family to join the armed forces, he said. In February 2009, he was injured in a traffic accident while visiting the island of Dominica. The open-air bus he was riding in overturned as it was coming down a hill and he was thrown about 200 feet.

“I guess I passed out, because when I woke up, I couldn’t breathe,” he said. “I looked down at my leg, and my femur bone was sticking out, and I couldn’t move.”

He was flown from a local hospital to Miami, where he learned all but one of his ribs were broken and blood had been filling his lungs, causing his breathing difficulties. He also had a broken right shoulder and nerve damage in his right hand.

Johnson’s L-2 lumbar disk had slipped behind the L-1 disk. Doctors had to fuse the L-1 to the L-3. “Once they began to piece me back together, it was about a month, the doctor came in and told me I probably would never walk again,” Sancho said. “I was in shock.”

Family On Hand

Johnson said his mother and sister were with him from his hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, but he wanted his father there to help him process the news. His dad flew in the next day. Together, he said, the family met with his doctors, who tried to prepare him for what he would face as he recovered. The doctors offered him the choice to continue his rehabilitation in Veterans Affairs hospitals or in a hospital near his home.

“I felt like I needed my family and friends, so I went home,” he said.

Early Days of Recovery

The early days of recovery were difficult and embarrassing, Johnson said. “It was very emotional for me, but my family just showed me love, and that’s what got me through,” he said.

Learning to drive again marked a turning point, Johnson said.

“It was a sense of release and relief,” he said. “I could just go out, get in the van and go. It was my first surge of independence since the accident.”

A New Beginning

Shundra and Sancho Johnson met in a church ministry singles leadership group, the couple said. “She looked past the [wheelchair] and just saw me,” he said.

As they got to know each other, Shundra Johnson said, she felt in her heart that he was the one. She made a promise to God, she added: “If you would allow him to love me unconditionally and accept me and my children, I will meet his needs.”

Some service members lose their families after they are injured, Sancho Johnson said, but he is grateful to have gained one in his wife’s children, Quintin, 9, and daughter, Morgan, 8.

“They’re my world; they’re my future,” he said.

“The kids don’t like doing anything if he’s not a part of it,” his wife said.

Warrior Games

Johnson learned about the Warrior Games through Navy Safe Harbor in 2010, when he wasn’t yet strong enough to use a manual wheelchair. His throw in the shot put landed at his feet, he said.

“Everybody was cheering and clapping, and I was like, ‘That didn’t go anywhere,’” he said. “I realized it wasn’t about how far I threw. It was the fact I was throwing.”

He said he started doing more research on adaptive sports. He started pushing himself more around in his wheelchair and built up his strength. He was strong enough to get around on his own by the time the next Warrior Games came around, and his teammates noticed the changes in him.

“That was encouraging, being encouraged by people I can identify with as far as injuries,” he said. “It became more than just adaptive sports. It became like a family.”

In 2013, now married, he earned a bronze medal in the seated shot put.

A Proud Moment

“It was a proud moment to have [my wife] there by side, cheering and yelling and clapping,” Johnson said. “I was just proud, trying to hold it all in. I can’t believe I went from just throwing it by my feet to being able to throw it … for a medal.”

This year, he will compete with the Navy team in the seated shot put, discus and hand cycling in the 2015 DoD Warrior Games at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, June 19-28.

Throughout the games, wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans from the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard will compete in track and field, shooting, swimming, cycling, archery, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball.

Operation Arc Light marked first time in combat for B-52

by Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

6/18/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Fifty years ago, the B-52 entered combat for the first time as part of Operation Arc Light in Vietnam, which was the culmination of several years of planning and preparation.

Strategic Air Command had always harbored a residual conventional capability with its bombers, but it was not until the early 1960s that its leaders began planning for limited war capabilities. Originally designed as a cold war nuclear bomber, the B-52 required modifications to allow it to carry conventional weapons.

"SAC had been testing a conventional bomb training program for selected B-52 wings since 1963," Shawn Bohannon, AFGSC History Office, said. "In particular, the 320th Bomb Wing at Mather AFB, California, tested dropping more than 100 conventional bombs from a B-52.

The 320th was one of the units selected by SAC to train and be ready to use conventional bombs on short notice, Bohannon said. By October 1964, all the wing's aircraft had undergone a modification enabling them to carry 24 750-pound bombs externally, almost doubling the bomber's original conventional bomb load. Lt. Gen. Archie J. Old, Jr., Fifteenth Air Force Commander, was quoted as saying:

"If anyone had suggested a few years ago that we hang iron-bombs from our airplanes, we would have thrown up our arms in horror. Now we are begging to stay in the plan - to get in on the fighting, and make use of our unique capability to pin-point targets."

In February 1965, 30 conventionally-laden B-52Fs deployed to Andersen Air Base, Guam. The crews, who hailed form Mather and Barksdale Air Force Bases, planned to strike targets located in North Vietnam. However, the B-52s sat on the ground for several months before they were used.

"Political reasons proved to be the chief reason for the delay," Bohannon said. "Many in political and military circles equated using B-52s in combat with an escalation in the war, likely as the bombers were nuclear capable. Until the B-52s were used for the first time, smaller Air Force and South Vietnamese tactical aircraft were, however, flown on strike missions in South Vietnam."

Bohannon added that after President Johnson's issuance of National Security Action Memorandum No. 328 on April 6, 1965, which permitted a wider employment of U.S. troops, and his appeal to bring more friendly nations into the fight - only South Korea, New Zealand, and Australia responded with troops - the fighting in Vietnam began to intensify as it transitioned to an American-led war. This set the stage for the combat debut of the B-52.

On June 18, 1965, 30 bombers (15 from the 7 BW and 15 from the 320 BW) took off from Andersen headed for a target located in South Vietnam and measuring about one mile by two miles square. Earlier, weapons technicians had loaded twenty four of the B-52s with 51 750-pound general purpose bombs while the remaining six carried 27 1,000-pound semi-armor piercing bombs internally and the normal 24 750-pounders externally. In all, the 30 bombers carried 1,530 bombs into combat.

"The B-52s brought an enormous bomb load to bear an enemy targets and base camps, far more than was possible with tactical aircraft," Bohannon said. "Plus, the altitudes that the B-52s flew at introduced an element of surprise as the enemy could neither see nor hear the bombers as they approached the target area."

Unfortunately, that first mission was fraught with difficulty. It began with tragedy when two of the B-52s collided, killing eight of the crew while another was declared as missing-in-action. Next, another bomber with mechanical malfunctions could not receive fuel from an orbiting KC-135 and had to return to Guam. Lastly, prior to arriving at the target, several aircrews realized they would not be able to release their weapons due to mechanical malfunctions. Nonetheless, the remaining B-52 crews entered the target area and released 1,299 bombs.

A quick survey by allied recon teams found little to no damage in the target area and few dead. The press immediately focused on the unorthodox use of a strategic bomber drawing the analogy of "using a sledge hammer to kill gnats." But, while the criticism tended to focus on the costly B-52 air-to-air collision, the military considered the mission a success. Historians later wrote, "that the B-52's mission was to harass the VC, to disrupt his normal activities, to permit him no respite from danger even in his jungle redoubts, and to wear him down psychologically."

However, in the months that followed, while B-52 crews continued to harass the Viet Cong, they eventually accepted a new mission, a mission to directly support the allied ground forces. This began in November 1965 during the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, the first major encounter of the war between U.S. Troops and the North Vietnamese Army. But later in December, B-52 crews also supported the Marines during Operation Harvest Moon.

By the end of 1965, SAC's 30 bomber force had increased its monthly sortie rate to roughly 300 and by the end of 1966 more than half the B-52 strike requests came from field commanders.

In a short amount of time during the war in Vietnam, B-52 crews transformed the airplane from a Cold War nuclear bomber to a close-air-support juggernaut. B-52 crews provided support to ground forces, harassed the Viet Cong, and wrote a new chapter in the bomber's history.

Editor's Note: Portions of this article are re-published from the Dec. 4, 2012, story, "ARC LIGHT marked beginning of B-52 involvement in Vietnam." The AFGSC Office of the Command Historian also contributed to this article.