Friday, July 10, 2015

AF Vietnam veterans honored on Capitol Hill

By Staff Sgt. Carlin Leslie , Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs / Published July 09, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Current and former service members, members of Congress, Vietnam veterans and Air Force senior leaders gathered in the Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol in Washington July 8 for a Congressional Commemoration to honor those who served during the Vietnam War.

The ceremony was part of the 50th Vietnam War Commemorative Partner Program, which is a multiyear campaign to thank and honor the veterans of the Vietnam War for their sacrifice and service and to pay tribute to the contributions of their families. Two Air Force veterans were among the 10 recognized in honor of their friends and comrades of war.

“It was a privilege to be present for the pinning of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War lapel pin on Colonel William Driggers Jr. and Colonel Michael Brazelton in honor of all of those who served during Vietnam,” said Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Larry O. Spencer. “Like many great Americans who served during Vietnam, you will find it was not about them, it was about service to their country and their friends who didn’t make it back. I was proud to help recognize these heroes.”

Driggers served 26 years in the Air Force, earning the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Vietnam Campaign Medal, as well as three bronze stars, and many other awards and medals. He completed 337 combat missions in Southwest Asia and 714 combat hours in the F-4 Phantom II as an aircraft commander.

During this 50th anniversary event, Driggers spoke of his comrades who could not be in attendance for this occasion.

“As I thought about this 50th anniversary event, I wrote down 43 names of my friends and comrades, who didn’t make it home,” Driggers said. “This is a time for me to honor those men, their memories and accomplishments.”

Standing by Driggers’ side was Brazelton.

Brazelton was one of the most decorated pilots of the Vietnam War. He volunteered for duty in Southwest Asia to gain more flight experience and return home with enough hours to apply for test pilot school. On Aug. 7, 1966, Brazelton was shot down in his F-105 Thunderchief and was captured by the North Vietnamese and become a prisoner of war.

According to Brazelton, Vietnam veterans should be proud and honored to be received in such a way as this ceremony.

“I have had a number of medals pinned on me in my day and this is certainly the highest ranking and the most honors I have received for any pinning ceremony,” Brazelton said. “Even though it might just be a lapel pin to a lot of people, this is like a medal to the Vietnam veterans.”

Brazelton wants to ensure America remembers and never forgets the sacrifices of these American heroes.

“Remember the Vietnam veterans, especially those who are still suffering from their wounds even after 50 years.”

1/40th CAV redeploys with fanfare

by Staff Sgt. William Banton
Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs

7/10/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Approximately 350 Soldiers from the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division were honored in a redeployment ceremony at Buckner Physical Fitness Center July 10, 2015.

Several hundred paratroopers assigned to the 1st Squadron (Airborne), 40th Cavalry Regiment, along with a small contingent of paratroopers assigned to the brigade's Headquarters and Headquarters Company, returned home from a 10-month rotation in support of peacekeeping operations in Kosovo.

"This team ensured a continuous safe and secure environment for the freedom of the people of Kosovo," said Maj. Gen. Bryan Owens, U.S. Army Alaska commanding general, at the redeployment ceremony. "These Arctic Warriors served daily alongside our North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies supporting nations including Hungary, Armenia, Germany, Poland and Turkey."

As part of the NATO-led Kosovo Force, Multinational Battle Group-East, the 1-40th CAV supported Kosovo police, alongside a multinational force which included Soldiers from Romania, Armenia, Moldova and Kazakhstan. This support included conducting steady-state operations involving more than 1,000 presence patrols, 180 unexploded ordnance disposals, 139 synchronized patrols and 18 reconnaissance operations.

"I think the behavior and the conduct of the Soldiers was extremely professional," said. Col. Clint Baker, MNBG-E commander. "We had a flawless record of mission success. All in all, I think the Soldiers did it as about as good as anyone could do it. I'm really proud of them."

Owens echoed the same sentiment in his remarks.

"They epitomize what the chief of staff of the Army refers to as globally deployed, regionally engaged forces," Owens said. "Today it is an absolute pleasure to welcome home this team and say job well done."

KFOR entered Kosovo in June 1999 in support of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1244, tasked with maintaining a safe and secure environment and freedom of movement for all Kosovo's citizens. At that time, the Balkans were in turmoil, facing the biggest military and humanitarian crisis since World War II.

A mounting conflict between the Serb-dominated military of the Federal Yugoslav Republic and the ethnic Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army demanding independence from Belgrade had claimed some 10,000 lives and sparked the exodus of almost 1 million Albanian refugees.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. forces played a key role in KFOR operations to end the war and established diplomatic relations with Kosovo, following its declaration of independence in 2008.

Additional reporting by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service, and Army Sergeant Brian Ragin, 4-25 Public Affairs.

43rd AG stands up air base and air mobility squadrons at Pope Field

by Marvin Krause
43rd Airlift Group public affairs

7/10/2015 - POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C. -- Airmen from the 43rd Airlift Group activated and assigned command to two new squadrons, while inactivating three squadrons and redesignating one squadron, during several formal ceremonies held here on July 1.

The 43rd Air Mobility Squadron and the 43rd Air Base Squadron unfurled their new unit guidons combining Airmen and functions from multiple units into new squadrons. The air mobility squadron combined Airmen from the inactivated 3rd Aerial Port Squadron--the oldest active-duty aerial port squadron in the U.S. Air Force--and the 43rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. The air base squadron combined Airmen from the inactivated 43rd Logistics Readiness Squadron with the redesignated 43rd Force Support Squadron.

The reorganization of the group's squadrons was driven by U.S. Air Force-wide FY15 manning reductions and will increase the group's mission focus, efficiency and synergy. The group is scheduled to be redesignated as the 43rd Air Mobility Operations Group on October 1. This new construct will provide unity of command and effort for the group's diverse operations and support functions, increasing efficiencies despite a 27 percent reduction in personnel.

During the ceremonies, Col. Kenneth Moss, commander of the 43rd Airlift Group, highlighted the histories and accomplishments of each unit, noting that all of them have been activated, inactivated and moved numerous times throughout their history.
"We talked about the past, we talked about the present, now, let's talk about the future," said Moss during the 43rd ABS redesignation ceremony.

"We are going to talk about the future and the new leader of the 43rd ABS that's going to take us there, Lt. Col. Kimberly Wallace. She is well qualified to address the many challenges we have here at Pope. Today, she joins a larger family, the Gryphon family. She is the perfect leader to take this organization forward," Moss said.
Wallace assumed command of the 43rd ABS from Lt. Col. Brian Ballew during a change of command ceremony after the inactivation of the 43rd LRS and the redesignation of the 43rd FSS to the 43rd ABS.

"To the men and women of the 43rd Air Base Squadron, it is great to finally be here and I'm very excited to join a stellar team," Wallace said as she addressed Airmen of the new air base squadron. "Today, we move forward together, strong, as one organization. Today, we place our names in the Air Force history books. I look forward to meeting and working with each and every one of you."

Prior to this assignment, Wallace was the deputy director for the 61st Force Support Squadron, Space and Missiles Systems Center, Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, from October 2013. Wallace received her commission as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Officer Training School in 2000. She has previously held assignments at the squadron, wing, major command and Air Force levels, and has served as a manpower officer, military equal opportunity chief, executive officer and personnel programs branch chief. She deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom to Qatar serving as the deputy director of Air Force Forces A1 and to Afghanistan serving as the chief of NATO Training Mission/Combined Security Transition Command, Joint Manning Requirements.

During a separate ceremony for the activation of the 43rd AMS, Moss highlighted change and the combining of Airmen and functions to form the new air mobility squadron.

"The theme for today has been two-fold--it's change and constant," said Moss. "The fact is we're all Airmen--and have been since 1947--committed to one mission, together. We've organized by task and we've organized by community, and we've called these organizations squadrons.  They've worked, they've worked really well. So why change? In change, there's significant opportunity. If we did everything the same way we used to do, we could not remain the world's premier Air Force. So today, we get an opportunity to erase some of the seemingly arbitrary lines we've drawn around our Airmen--lines that have helped us create unique identities, but which have also created some barriers to working together. I'm going to drop those lines and we're going to focus on the task. We're going to create an air mobility squadron and combine two of the proudest Air Force Specialty Codes there are, maintenance and aerial porters, put them together and let them conquer the world as brothers in arms. They're united under one directorate to begin with, so I look forward to uniting them in one mobility squadron."

Lt. Col. David Morgan assumed command of the 43rd AMS after the inactivation of the 43rd AMXS and 3rd APS.

"It's an honor to be standing here today in front of men and women of the newest air mobility squadron in the world's greatest Air Force," Morgan said as he addressed Airmen of the new air mobility squadron. "Legacy is important. Today is the first day in the new heritage. Each of us gets a once in a career opportunity at this point. It's an honor to be here to do it--to take command of this unit, but I ask you to think ahead. To think of those following in our footsteps as we hit the ramp in the coming weeks and months doing what you do best. Thank you for the support and teamwork over the past two years and I look forward to forging this team and ensuring we are ready to answer the call," he said.

Prior to this assignment, Morgan was the commander of the 43rd Operations Support Squadron from July 2014. Morgan is a 1997 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. He has served in a variety of operational assignments and on the Joint Staff. Morgan is a command pilot with more than 3,300 flying hours in the KC-135 Stratotanker and the C-130 Hercules aircraft.

The 43rd AG's 1,200 active-duty Airmen and civilians provide contingency outload, en route support and mobility operations for Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg's XVIII Airborne Corps and the 82nd Airborne Division. This partnership with the Army provides the nation a unique Joint forcible entry capability through rapid global airborne and air assault operations within hours of notification. Missions can range from humanitarian assistance to providing combat capability to the combatant commanders.

The men and women of the 43rd AG carry out their critical mission to, "Put the Air in Airborne," by supporting over 1,000 Joint training missions annually, ensuring Air Mobility Command and Reserve component partners fulfilled 100 percent of the Joint training requirements on Fort Bragg while improving strategic continuity for Joint Operational Access Exercises.

Hometown heroes: Citizen Soldiers come to aid of injured motorist

July 10, 2015
Capt. Joe Trovato
Wisconsin National Guard

A Wisconsin motorcyclist is alive today thanks to the quick and decisive response of a Wisconsin Army National Guard convoy.

As a convoy of vehicles from the 32nd Infantry Brigade’s 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry rolled down Wisconsin Highway 21 in Waushara County, they spotted trouble. Just outside Coloma, Wisconsin, on their way back to battalion headquarters in Appleton, the commander of the convoy’s lead vehicle stopped at an accident scene after noticing a woman screaming for help. A minivan and a motorcyclist were involved in a collision that left the motorcyclist severely injured. Thankfully, the Guard was there to answer the call.
The incident occurred June 19 as the unit made its way back to the battalion’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company armory in Appleton after its two-week annual training at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. Sgt. Steven Stewart, the battalion’s assistant supply sergeant, was in the lead vehicle and ordered the convoy to stop. Knowing that the unit’s medics were in a different convoy, Stewart radioed the other vehicles in his convoy for any Soldiers that were trained to treat casualties.

Known as Combat Lifesavers, or CLS qualified, these are non-medical Soldiers who have received training to assess casualties and provide initial treatment when medics are unavailable.

Spc. Thorr Prieto and Spc. David Stern had received CLS training just days before at Fort McCoy and responded immediately when Stewart’s call came over the radio. Joining them were Spc. Matt Zuleger and Spc. Jose Rivera.

Zuleger and Prieto were the first to arrive on the scene and began assessing the injured man who was unresponsive and bleeding from his head and arm. According to Zuleger, the man had severe road rash on his back, bruising along his ribs and was having difficulty breathing. The duo quickly began treating his injuries, stopped the bleeding in the man’s arm using their individual first aid kits and deduced that the man had a collapsed lung. Stern and Rivera located a CLS kit with additional medical supplies and subsequently rushed to the scene where they began bandaging the man’s head injury.

The Soldiers kept him stabilized, reassured him and continued assessing his condition until an ambulance arrived. Stewart meanwhile had jumped out of his vehicle and began directing traffic around the congested area.

Eventually, a second convoy led by Sgt. 1st Class Jeffrey Demmet from the unit approached from behind. Demmet and the second convoy helped shut down the highway in both directions and established a controlled turnaround for vehicles.

After treating the injured motorcyclist for nearly 20 minutes, the Guardsmen turned the scene over to emergency personnel who eventually summoned Flight for Life to get the man to a hospital. The Soldiers stayed on the scene the entire time, and when the paramedics arrived, the Soldiers provided their assessment of the man’s medical condition, how they had treated him and then proceeded to help load him onto a stretcher and into an ambulance before the helicopter arrived.

The motorcyclist ultimately survived the wreck.

“Literally, I can’t remember thinking through the whole thing,” Zuleger, an infantryman from Oshkosh, Wisconsin, said. “It was just kind of like I snapped and just went into action and the whole situation ended. That’s when I finally thought about what happened and the whole situation just hit me.”

Prieto, of Appleton, had a similar response.

“Basically when I ran up to the situation and looked at it, from there it just kind of clicked,” he said. “The training and everything just kind of took over. I didn’t really think about it much. I knew what I needed to do and what had to be done, and I just kind of went with the flow of it.”

It was clear that the Soldiers’ military training was a key factor in their calm and efficient response, according to Rivera, who helped bandage the victim’s head while the others treated him for shock and assessed his other injuries. Rivera, an infantryman from Menasha, Wisconsin, said that even though he had never been in a situation like that before, he relied on his military training to keep him calm and focused.

“Without it, I wouldn’t have known what to do in a situation like that,” he said of his military training.

Neither Rivera nor Zuleger had anything more than basic first aid experience, but their training as infantrymen helped them remain level-headed. Stern and Prieto had received CLS training during their annual training but never dreamt they’d have to put it to the test so soon.

“I’m just glad that we were there to be the ones that were there and react that quick,” Stewart said of the incident.

To Prieto, the Soldiers’ reaction to the scenario was second nature for those with a military background.

“It’s just the mindset we have,” he said. “When you see a situation, and you see someone in trouble, it’s kind of our natural instinct to take over and help the situation and do something about it. I’m pretty proud of how we handled the situation and the other people there as well.”

The unit’s leadership was also proud.

First Sgt. Todd Peterson, the enlisted leader of Headquarters Company, noted that many cars likely drove past the accident without stopping, and while the reaction of his Soldiers was heroic, he’s not surprised they reacted with such professionalism.

“That’s what we train for,” he said. “Basically instinct from training kicked in as they arrived upon the scene and seeing that people were in need of help. It does not surprise me a bit.”

Peterson believes their actions were indicative of the Army values in action — specifically the value of selfless service.

“The Soldiers didn’t do it for recognition,” he said. “They did it because that was the situation they came across.”

The commander of the 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, Lt. Col. Victor Parziale, agreed.

“As a commander, I’m pleased to see that their training took over,” he said. “At the very moment of decisiveness, they acted. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that Citizen Soldiers act in this accord, not just in those days when they’re in uniform, but every day of their lives.”

Parziale said the National Guard and the military are focused not solely on training for combat, but for building men and women of character as well, and that character was on display with the Soldiers who responded to the accident.

“The Citizen Soldier proves himself day in and day out, and the quality of that Soldier is evident not just in this act, but think about all the other acts that went unnoticed,” Parziale said. “All the other times that they helped out their community, or their neighbors, or their friends.”

Carter Calls Bragg Troops ‘Tip of Spear’ for New Strategic Era

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 10, 2015 – Defense Secretary Ash Carter thanked soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, today for their past service and said they will be the “tip of the spear” for the new strategic era the world is entering.

Carter viewed exercises featuring Special Forces and airborne soldiers before holding a town hall meeting with troops.

“We have, as you well know, been understandably, totally and very successfully focused on Iraq and Afghanistan,” Carter said. “From the point of view of the proficiency and skill and dedication of you, there’s no question that it was a spectacular and remains a spectacular performance. This is the finest fighting force the world has ever known.”

Future Ops Rely on Agility, Rapid Impact

But that era is ending, and new challenges and threats are waiting, he said.

The strategy calls for the U.S. military to move in a different direction while still incorporating the lessons learned from 14 years of war. The American military must be proficient in responding to all levels of threats, he said, from full-spectrum operations against a peer opponent to “the sort of ISIL-type threat that poses a different set of problems.”

Operations in the future will rely on combat power built upon the agility and rapid impact of airborne and special operations forces and the other units that are represented at Fort Bragg, Carter said.

Protecting America is at the heart of this strategy, but at the same time there exists the mission of safeguarding the rest of the world, in part to prevent trouble from reaching the United States, Carter said. "But [also] in part because we have values we stand for and very few countries can combine the principles and values that we stand for with the awesome combat power that you represent.”

Service Drawdowns

Carter addressed the Army drawdown from 490,000 active duty soldiers to 450,000 over the next two fiscal years. The reductions were introduced five years ago and coincided with the winding down of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the secretary said. “It’s a reshaping of the force,” he said. We've tried to do it in a measured and steady way, but that’s where we are going.”

The re-sizing is being done for strategic reasons -- to free up money and resources for other priorities. The military must keep a balance between today’s readiness and being set for the future. Pay and benefits, force structure, training and modernization must be in balance, the secretary said. The re-shaping helps to do this.

Modern Challenges of Service

Carter believes the other services will follow the Navy’s lead on giving 18 weeks of maternity leave for sailors and Marines. “We need really good people, but really good people also want a life,” the secretary said. He noted that in most military families, the spouse works outside the home and service members now deploy far more than in the past.

“Military life will never be like life elsewhere –- you make a sacrifice because you love the country and you love being part of something bigger than yourself,” Carter said. “But we shouldn't make that sacrifice bigger than it has to be. We've got to keep thinking, sensing and adjusting, not just living with old regulations that harken back to a different era.”