Military News

Monday, June 22, 2015

PACAF commander shares lessons learned during Sisters in Arms forum

by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal
Defense Media Activity - Hawaii


6/22/2015 - FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii  -- U.S. Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson, Pacific Air Forces commander, spoke to military service members during a U.S. Army Pacific's (USARPAC) Sisters in Arms event June 17, here.

During the forum, Robinson shared her Air Force career experiences and highlighted lessons she learned while overcoming obstacles to help provide advice to those in attendance and describe what her idea of great leadership is.

"Leadership to me is about the institution, not about you," Robinson said. "Making people better than you equals great success when you have a great attitude, aptitude, and you take advantage of opportunities that are provided to you."

During her career, spanning more than 30 years, Robinson has seen a lot of change in both acceptance and opportunity in the Air Force.

"In the United States Air Force I'm a commander, I'm a general, I'm an Airman, and I happen to be a woman," Robinson said. "Over time in my long career I watched things change. I've watched attitudes change. I've watched our service become more and more inclusive with more diversity of thought and more diversity of background, race and gender. All of those things make us a better institution."

Robinson said having a good attitude, building a strong aptitude and taking advantage of opportunities is important in obtaining success.

"It's about the way that you lead," Robinson said. "It's about the way that you take care of your Soldiers and take care of your Airmen."

Sisters in Arms is a U.S. Army-hosted forum, open to all services and genders, designed to help educate, mentor and empower female Soldiers.

Sullivan to Become DoD’s Public Affairs Chief, Carter Says



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, June 22, 2015 – Maura C. Sullivan, the current assistant secretary of public and intergovernmental affairs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, will be named the new assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced in a DoD news release issued today.

Sullivan will be taking over the position from Brent Colburn, who will be stepping down in July, the release said.

Former Marine Corps Captain, Iraq War Veteran

Sullivan, a former Marine Corps captain and an Iraq War veteran, will be joining the defense department after having served as the principal public affairs advisor to Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert A. McDonald, the release said.

A graduate of Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School, Sullivan has held a number of senior positions in both the public and private sector, including serving as one of President Obama's appointees to the American Battle Monuments Commission, according to the release.

"I am thrilled to have Maura Sullivan joining the Department of Defense as the assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs," Carter said in the release. "Her life of service and leadership, both in an out of uniform, make her uniquely qualified to run the Pentagon's public affairs team during this crucial time for the nation and the department.”

The secretary added, “Her understanding of both operational and management issues will be crucial as we seek to tackle the full range of challenges facing the department today, from securing a lasting defeat of ISIL to establishing the military's Force of the Future.”

Sullivan is “a true talent, and the experience she has gained from the battlefield to the boardroom will make her an invaluable member of my team,” Carter stated in the release.

Praise for Colburn’s Leadership, Commitment

"I also want to thank Brent for his leadership and commitment during his years of service to the Obama administration, and in particular during this time of transition within the department,” Carter said in the release. “His efforts as ATSD have helped to modernize the department's vast public affairs apparatus, and his steady counsel and communications insight have proven vital as we have tackled hotspots in every corner of the world."

Colburn, who served in key leadership posts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before joining DoD in February 2014, will be taking some time off before pursuing an opportunity outside of government in the fall, according to the release.

The assistant to the secretary of defense for public affairs serves as the principal advisor to the secretary of defense and deputy secretary of defense for communication strategy, media relations, public information, and community relations in support of DoD activities and U.S. service members and civilian employees of the department around the world, the release said.

Son following in his father's footsteps

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


6/16/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Some reasons people join the military are to serve their country, make a difference, earn educational benefits, and because it's a family tradition.

For Senior Airman Christopher Balderas that family tradition began with his father's nine-year service in the Army as a Military Policeman.

His father, Roy Balderas, said he had wanted to be a police officer since he was in the 6th grade and earned the rank of staff sergeant (E-6) before leaving the service. After the military, he continued working in law enforcement and currently works as an Engineering Technician at the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Greenville, Illinois.

Growing up, one of Christopher Balderas' favorite things to do was listen to his dad's stories of being a police officer in the Army. Among the many stories, his father would share his experiences working as a drill instructor and correctional counselor.  It was in 1987 when his dad met his mother at Fort Riley, Kansas. His mother, Sondra Balderas, lived there because her father was an Army first sergeant (E-8).

Those stories, along with the desire for helping others and his father's encouragement, led Christopher Balderas to join the Air Force 4 ½ years ago. He graduated college with a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice and now serves as the NCOIC of Police Services at the 375th Security Forces Squadron.

"I like helping people. When people join the military, they have a natural instinct to want to protect people. I wanted to take that a step further by being a police officer and protecting the military members," said Christopher Balderas.

He has found success in his career such as earning the Commandant Leadership Award while attending Airman Leadership School. That award is presented to students who display all the characteristics of an effective leader. Those qualities of a leader he attributes to both parents but especially to his father, who taught him about moral and ethical dilemmas.

"The biggest thing that I've learned from my dad is to always do what you feel is right, because at the end of the day that's what really matters," he said.

For the proud father, Roy Balderas, said he enjoys hearing about his son's accomplishments and that he wants his son to continue the hard work he sees him doing.

"As a parent I am so very proud of Chris for serving our country and doing such a great job! He is happy to follow in my footsteps as a police officer. He has often told me that he could not imagine doing anything else in the military," he said.

Father and son say they feel fortunate to be located nearby as they are able to visit together often. Roy Balderas said he plans to retire at 57 after having spent more than 30 years in federal law enforcement.  Christopher Balderas said he also wants to make a career out of law enforcement and hopes to stay in the military for at least 20 years and "hold as many security forces positions as possible."

All colors fade to mud

by Airman 1st Class Joshua King
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs


6/19/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST-  -- Marines and Airmen are crawling and carrying one another through down pouring rain - with their tan and green uniforms all covered up by mud,  the service members look like the joint fighting force they are.

During a three week Marine Corps Martial Arts Program course Airmen were taught self-defense and close quarter combat skills by their JB MDL neighbors and sister service Marines.

"After the first week we did a combat conditioning where it was complete mud and water," said Marine Gunnery Sgt. Lucio Bernabe, Marine Aircraft Group 49 and MCMAP instructor. "At that point is when they converted over, like 'let's just go for it 100 percent, let's get dirty, let's get into it.' I think from that it started clicking."

MCMAP teaches service members techniques in unarmed, edged weapons, rifle and bayonet combat. It also teaches mental and character development, including responsible use of force and teamwork.

"When I first started I didn't think I could do it," said U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Mashia Wong-Holly, 87th Mental Health Clinic medical technician.  "I was in pain, I would go to work limping, but as the days go on we get better at it."

"MCMAP is pretty much a sport where your pain tolerance changes," said Marine Sgt. Teliah Wilson, MAG 49 adjutant and MCMAP instructor. "It's not that you accept more pain but how to tolerate more pain with your inner discipline."

Throughout the three weeks of training, the students developed a bond with their sister service instructors who pushed their students hard.

"The instructors motivated me," said Wong-Holly.  "Some days I didn't want to come but I did. They are very easy to talk to they go step by step. As long as you're open minded and willing to go the extra mile for it. It's a great environment; everyone here is pushing everybody to do better."

Being at a joint base offers a unique opportunity for joint training like this to occur, further enabling the vital interoperability needed when deployed in a joint environment. During deployments all branches of the military live, eat and work together in a joint environment - having the opportunity to train together stateside helps for a seamless transition down range.

"Being able to physically train with other services allows them to see how we react with each other in a combat scenario," said Wilson. "At any time we could be deployed together and for us to train together is exactly what we're supposed to do."

"It's always a very boastful thing (working with other services), you always want to compete, 'Marines are better than the Army, Army is better than the Air Force,' so on and so forth," said Bernarbe.  "But when you deploy, its one team, one fight. That's the one thing I wanted to tell them and send that message - no matter what, we're all working together. We may talk smack a little bit, or dig at each other a little bit, but at the end of the day, we are working together to protect our nation."

After three weeks of tireless training, from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. each morning, the instructors evaluated each student in a test for their tan belt in the MCMAP program.

They all passed.

"The proudest moment is today," said Bernabe. "You can assess them you can see exactly what you taught them and how it's put into play."

Team Dyess completes Linear Air Park restoration

by Airman 1st Class Kedesha Pennant
7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs


6/22/2015 - DYESS AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- More than 120 Team Dyess volunteers completed a major restoration project of 36 aircraft June 12, finishing the refurbishment of the C-130E Hercules near the front gate at the Linear Air Park.

Originally established through the Texas Museum of Military History in 1981, the park is a two-mile-long outdoor exhibit showcasing the historic success of U.S. Air Force and Army Air Corps' use of airpower since the 1940s.

Thirty-five aircraft were refurbished, including the addition to the park of an RB-66B Destroyer and F-15A Strike Eagle, before the 2015 Dyess Big Country Airfest in May. The C-130E was the final piece of the puzzle, making it the 36th aircraft restored and finishing the project.

"The airframes received paint scores to determine deterioration levels and corrosion analysis," said Staff Sgt. John Pater, Dyess restoration project lead. "These numbers were calculated, and it was determined by senior leadership that the park required significant refurbishment."

Contributing more than 114,000 man hours, the volunteers worked on the aircraft for seven weeks using more than 280 gallons of paint in order to complete the project. Other tasks included bird-proofing, sanding, washing and repair.

"Initial efforts from the aircraft structural maintenance section focused on repairing severely corroded fuselage skins and substructures," Pater said. "The static displays received color code matching and paint preparation work. After the airframes were fully painted, the Dyess fabrication flight created the tail number decals and nose arts required to finalize the renovations."

Throughout the long hours and varying weather conditions, Airmen were able to work cohesively to accomplish the project.

Senior Airman Brandon Bartling, Dyess restoration project assistant lead, was part of the team effort which helped refurbish the C-130E in six days and said he was excited to be a part of the base-wide restoration effort.

"We had Airmen from the 317th Airlift Group, children from the Youth Center and other volunteers contribute to restoring the C-130," Bartling said. "It's important for the aircraft to look presentable to the public because it's a significant part of history."

Each aircraft, Pater said, tells an account of Air Force history and the men and women who served from generation to generation. The restoration will allow military families, residents and tourists to continue to view and read about the distinctive stories of the aircraft, while in the best standards.

"It was an honor to work on the historic aircraft assigned to the Dyess Linear Air Park," Pater said. "The ability to restore the static displays brings a great deal of pride to me and the Airmen assigned to Dyess. Over the course of the restoration, many Airmen, including myself, were able to admire the vast amount of Air Force heritage these air frames brought to life and instilled an immense amount of tradition and valor."

Cyclists Compete for More Than Medals at Warrior Games



By Shannon Collins
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., June 22, 2015 – As the heat of the day seeped in, the wounded, ill and injured hand cyclists, recumbent and upright riders each warmed up, shook off their nerves and got ready to race in the cycling competition yesterday at the 2015 DoD Warrior Games here.

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

Though Marine Corps Cpl. Gabby Graves-Wake earned a gold medal in the women’s recumbent T1 category, she said her main goal was finishing strong with her fellow female Marines.

“We started strong and we ended strong,” she said. “We’re a team. We started together. We worked together the entire time to block the wind, to draft off each other, to make sure we were a group of Marines out there accomplishing the mission that no one was left behind. It’s how it’s always been and that’s how it’s always going to be.”

Feeling Confident

Graves-Wake’s fellow female Marines were in the open and T2 recumbent categories and crossed the finish line with her.

“I was pretty nervous and the adrenaline was going but as soon as they said we were off, my legs started moving,” she said. “It was muscle memory, and training kicked in. I enjoyed the ride, the breeze was on my face, and I came in with my two buddies.”

British forces team member retired army Sgt. Andy Perrin earned a gold medal in the men’s recumbent tandem with medically retired U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Chuck Sketch and then went on to earn a gold medal in the men’s open upright. He said the heat was a bit brutal, and he and Sketch had a few mechanical issues that initially put them in the back of the pack, but then they started gaining on everyone.

“We started picking everybody off as we went along and did well, and Chuck was really happy and that’s the main thing,” Perrin said. “He loved it, coming through and overtaking people.”

Perrin said he enjoys participating in events like the Invictus Games and the Warrior Games.

‘It’s Not Really About Winning’

“I’m friends with some of the Army guys, and I ride with Chuck, the Marine,” he said. “We’re doing a big group ride this week and to be honest, that’s what it’s all about. It’s not really about winning when you come to the Warrior Games. It’s more about making new friends and meeting people in your situation and having a bit of fun, really.”

Perrin added, “There’s a lot of people learning to race for the first time and one of them was just behind me when we came in and that was his first race. Hopefully he learned a little bit and that’s what it’s about really and everybody’s in it together. It just happens that there are a few medals at the end.”

Sergeant earns award for dedicated Red Cross volunteerism

by Airman 1st Class Erica Holbert-Siebert
375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs


6/19/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Senior Master Sgt. Michael Henderlong was recognized as the winner of the American Red Cross Exceptional Volunteer Service Award, which he received June 4 in St. Louis. Henderlong has been involved with the Red Cross since 1999, and his efforts to contribute have earned him the peer nominated award.

"I am very honored, humbled and surprised about the award," said Henderlong. "I follow the old mantra of 'paying it forward,' in that you give to the community, and the community is going to give back to you in your time of need."

Henderlong works as the United States Air Force Command Emergency Management Superintendent, and as Scott Air Force Base's Red Cross Station Chairman, which is the top volunteer for the base.

A Springfield, Missouri native, Henderlong wanted to get involved with the Red Cross when a friend volunteered with Hurricane Andrew disaster response efforts in 1992. He said it was a trigger that launched him in a new direction he is dedicated to.

The eye-opening experience of assisting those in need eventually led him to his new career field of emergency management, and he is currently working on his master's degree in the same field.

Courtney Hinton, Scott AFB Red Cross Station Manager, said "The reason I nominated him was multi-fold. He was enthusiastic to volunteer when we needed someone, and he had the experience from his 15 years of Red Cross service that helped us tremendously with new projects. He has requested to be involved as much as he can be, which is rare to find. He is also instrumental on the Services to Armed Forces Committee, which covers a 72-county region in Missouri and Illinois to help military families. Having done all these things, I felt it was necessary for him to be recognized for all of his efforts. There was stiff competition, and he was successful in beating out all those other individuals."

Henderlong knows that the help he offers to others has been there for him in the past. The Red Cross does emergency notifications for families that are overseas in order to assist military members during an unplanned issue that arises.

"In 2001, I had a family member who was passing, and I got an emergency notification to go home and take care of things," said Henderlong. "For a military member to get emergency leave to take care of an unexpected event, the military requires a Red Cross notification. This assistance is part of the Service to Armed Forces piece of the organization."

The Red Cross offers a lot of resources, including blood donation, disaster relief and helping families in need. The Red Cross also helps families find financial assistance when it's needed. The Disaster Action team, which responds to events the team overhears on the police and fire department radio frequencies, provides immediate on-scene financial and supplies assistance.

Blood donation is something many people can do to help, said Henderlong, and a rewarding aspect of taking the time to donate can be when you get an email notification that your blood donation is being used at a particular hospital.
"Just being able to give back to the community is phenomenal and being station chairman, I'm able to stay involved in all of those programs," he said.

He coordinates extensive fundraising efforts and he works as a member of the disaster action team, St. Louis chapter, where he is on call to respond to house fires and other unexpected events.

"I see a significant improvement in St. Louis organizations that are better able to assist because they are more interconnected. This helps to provide a cross-section of support with the goal of uplifting the community and helping where it's really needed," said Henderlong, "The opportunity to reach out to the community is the biggest benefit of being involved in this organization. There are programs that fill where the need is, for instance we just kicked off the summer youth program, and we urge school-age children to get involved in the community that gives them something productive to do during the summer and it works toward their college applications."

He plans a future with the Red Cross when he eventually retires, and is especially interested in getting involved in national and international disaster teams.

"There's something about being on the frontlines of disaster and helping people get their lives back together that is just very rewarding to me. That's what I do in the Air Force and that will continue on with that service with the community via the Red Cross," said Henderlong.

SECAF shares priorities with USAFE-AFAFRICA

by Staff Sgt. Jessica Hines
USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs


6/22/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James talked with U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Air Forces Africa Airmen and civilians during an all-call here, June 19.

"I want to give you a little bit of a Washington update, talk to you about the three priorities and tell you about what I'm doing here in Europe," said James.

The secretary is about halfway through her European visit, discussing both bilateral and multilateral issues with U.S. partners and allies, focusing on enhancing military relationships as well discussing the changing threats that many nations are collectively facing around the world.

"All of you are truly at the cutting edge of the most important issues that we are dealing with, both as the United States of America and as part of these alliances and partnerships that we share.

"This is a whirlwind trip, it has been fantastic and it has reinforced to me just how important the U.S. military presence in Europe is," she said.

James shared her three priorities that have been the cornerstone of her time since taking on the role of SECAF just over a year and a half ago.

"Number one: taking care of people," she said. "I have been in the business of defense for my entire professional life and what I have learned in every single job I've had is the importance of people."

James stressed finding balance in the readiness of today and the readiness of tomorrow in her second point.

"These are areas we are trying to invest in," she stated, noting the efforts to increase the budget for readiness across the force.

James' third priority, make every dollar count, echoed savings program inspired by Gen. Larry O. Spencer, U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, emphasizing how the military acts as stewards of taxpayers' money.

The SECAF gave the example of smarter spending by building in better affordability in modernization and future programs.

James ended her briefing thanking USAFE-AFAFRICA Airmen for the work.

"Continue to do the terrific job you're doing ... thank you, thank you, thank for being forward, ready, now."

Gen. Frank Gorenc, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa commander gave final remarks, praising the hard work of the SECAF.

"That was an exceptional summary of all the things that our secretary has to deal with," said Gorenc.

"We appreciate greatly your enthusiasm for our Air Force, and with the recognition that we are America's asymmetric advantage, and without air power - you lose," he concluded.