Military News

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

F-16C Accident Report Released

Release Number: 020915

9/8/2015 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- Spatial disorientation and a loss of visual contact with his formation's lead aircraft led to an F-16C pilot's fatal impact into the Gulf of Mexico on Nov. 6, 2014, according to an Air Combat Command Accident Investigation Board report released today.

Matthew J. LaCourse, a civilian employee with the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., was killed by the impact and his aircraft was destroyed.

According to the results of the investigation, the mishap occurred during intercept training with another aircraft. While attempting to intercept the other aircraft, LaCourse performed a series of aircraft dynamic maneuvers that stimulated fluid in his inner ear canals which are responsible for perceptions of gravity, balance, movement and direction. As a result, he misperceived his angle of bank, angle of pitch and general position and became spatially disoriented, which resulted in his crash. In addition, the board president found by a preponderance of the evidence that LaCourse's loss of visual contact with the formation's lead aircraft substantially contributed to the mishap.

The total loss to government property was valued at $22 million. There was no damage to private property.

Face of Defense: Soldier Shaped by Family, War, Football



By Keith Oliver Soldiers Magazine

FORT MEADE, Md., September 8, 2015 — Russ Currie had not yet been born when his uncle, Jerry Lee Patrick, was killed in Vietnam.

An icon in his hometown of Eustis, Florida, Patrick was an accomplished high school football player, who had wanted to join the Army since he was a kid. At Eustis High’s traditional "class night," held the week of graduation, the somewhat reserved teenager surprised many by walking alone onto a bare stage and performing "The Ballad of the Green Beret."

"When he started singing, I don't think there was a dry eye in the audience," remembered Dawn [Gosnell] Diehl, then a 7th grader. "For me, it made the war a reality. It hit home that our boys were going to join in that fight."

Patrick spent the rest of that short summer of 1966 getting in top shape for basic training and airborne school, hitting the blocking sled on his alma mater's practice field in addition to running and lifting weights. Less than two years later -- March 31, 1968 -- he was gone, caught in a hail of enemy fire while leading a Special Forces patrol in Vietnam’s Thua Thien province.

At the end of the 1969 football season, the Eustis Panthers inaugurated the Jerry Lee Patrick Memorial Award, presented to the graduating senior who had best exemplified its namesake on and off the field.

Fast-forward to 1992, when some of Patrick’s teammates from the 1963 state championship team discovered the trophy in a closet. The award had been mysteriously discontinued for more than a decade, but the men had it refurbished, adding individual plaques to ensure its perennial status and featuring a rubbing of Patrick's name from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Kevin McClelland was Eustis' senior star quarterback when Patrick was a rare sophomore starter. "Jerry Lee was tougher than a piece of rawhide," he said. "He didn't have a lot to say. He was just one tough, rawboned kid."

That tenacity and selflessness "made it a mission" for McClelland, teammate Art Hilbish and others to resurrect the Jerry Lee Patrick Memorial Award, he said.

Later that year, the restored honor was bestowed on Jerry's own nephew, Russell B. Currie.

McClelland played on the Eustis Panthers with Patrick, and after three decades that included his own time soldiering in Alaska and elsewhere, the career educator came back to Eustis High School, where he also became Currie's head coach.

On the practice field and in games, Currie, like his uncle, was the epitome of mental toughness and dedication, McClelland said. In honor of his uncle, Currie played as No. 60, also Patrick’s number when he played for the Eustis Panthers.

Now an Army sergeant first class and a veteran of two tours in Iraq, Currie said, "My Uncle Jerry was my inspiration for becoming a soldier. And he is still an inspiration to me."

"In high school, my best friend Brea Croak took a rubbing of his name from 'the Wall' on a trip to D.C.," he said. "Later, when my Army unit would conduct road marches from Arlington, across the Key Bridge and all along the Potomac River, I made it a point to always visit the Vietnam Memorial and touch Uncle Jerry's name."

Career Student to Career Soldier

After high school, Currie attended Florida State University before enlisting in the Army, where he was hand-picked in basic training for the Army's vaunted Old Guard ceremonial unit..

A self-described "career student," who was "a little dog chasing his tail around" in college, Currie disenrolled from FSU with broken walk-on aspirations and a blown-out knee. He has since completed his bachelor's degree and is now enrolled in a master’s program.

The Army "paid back" his tuition loans and at basic training saw something special in both his size -- 6 feet 2 inches, 230 pounds -- and character, sending Currie to the Military District of Washington to join the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, where he served as a casket bearer with the "Full Honors" team.

But in the days and weeks following 9/11, "everything changed," Currie said. He was assigned to Operation Noble Eagle for search and recovery operations at the Pentagon.

"I can't tell you [that] one or two funerals outweighed them all," Currie said of his time in the nation's capital, "but the Pentagon ones meant a lot because we had worked to find the remains. We were with our comrades-in-arms at both locations [the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery]."

He was also in the detachment that traveled to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to receive some of the first American soldiers killed in Afghanistan, just six months after 9/11.

Back at home station, serving as "head of detail" for the team escorting the remains of Army Cpl. Matthew Commons, Currie said that "now there was a personal connection" and a full-circle feel to the Pentagon attack, as his duties required him to somberly come face-to-face with his nation's response both here and in the terrorists' backyard.

"My outlook, my life, my service … everything changed," he said. "I now understood my true debt to society, my opportunity to serve."

And serve he has. Currie's 16 years in uniform have taken him to Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Stewart, Georgia; and into Baghdad in 2005 and through the streets and alleys of Sadr City during "surge operations" in 2007.

Currie was also stationed at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, working with badly wounded combat veterans during that portion of their tailored, doctor-monitored pilgrimages to top stateside facilities.

The infantry soldier is presently posted at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, where, for four years, he has trained soon-to-deploy National Guard units for rotations in Afghanistan and other contingencies.

He and his wife Brandy, herself a former soldier and Afghanistan veteran, anticipate orders to a new assignment soon. And the couple is expecting their sixth child this month.

That baby will be born into a family whose bloodlines evoke quiet honor and a strong sense of purpose, McClelland said.

The Gold Star Mom

Such comments mean a lot to Patrick's mother and Currie's grandmother, twice-widowed Mary Patrick Hammond. She has heard similar words from the men who trained and fought alongside Patrick.

"Absolutely the best human being I ever met," squadmate Tom Bailey posted on a memorial website. "Jerry Lee, you left me too soon. I ride my motorcycles in memory of you and Bobby Rera."

Hammond received countless letters from her son's fellow soldiers, and corresponded "a long time with one particular boy who came to see me," she said. "It seemed to help him to talk it out as he was fighting his own battle with what we now call PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder]."

Her first husband, Charles, died when Patrick was 12, and it was his World War II Army uniform that Hammond used to stitch together a reasonable facsimile for her son's turn at the mic at that class night so many years ago.

Even in the midst of her grief when the family learned of Patrick's battlefield death, Hammond was comforted by the fact that "his life's ambition was to be a soldier and, as a sole surviving son, he even had to fight to get over to Vietnam. Jerry was exactly where he wanted to be. Many mothers did not have that comfort."

Currie was not the least bit surprised upon hearing his grandmother talk of Patrick's selflessness and desire to serve. "We were brought up that way," he said.

Airmen share air mobility knowledge with African partner nations

by Staff Sgt. Gustavo Gonzalez
621st Contingency Response Wing Public Affairs


9/3/2015 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- Approximately 40 African military personnel visited here to participate in the African Partnership Flight hosted by the 621st Contingency Response Wing Aug. 30 through Sept. 4.

The APF program, sponsored and developed by U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa, is the premier security cooperation program that partners U.S. and African personnel to improve professional military aviation knowledge, skills and cooperation. African nations that participated in APF include Angola, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Ghana and Tunisia.

"The strength of this program is in the partnerships among African Air Forces and in each of us learning from each other while enhancing air sovereignty, aviation security cooperation, and regional security," said Maj. Gen. Rick Martin, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander. "I know that the lessons learned and friendships we developed this week will continue long after this event. I look forward to continuing the journey together."

During the weeklong engagement, U.S. Airmen from the 818th MSAS focused on sharing ideas and experiences with African counterparts in the realm of logistics management and aircraft maintenance in order to develop mutual understanding and strengthen relationships between participants. Additionally, the event featured interactive classroom discussions, briefings and facility tours at the 621st CRW, 87th Air Base Wing, 305th Air Mobility Wing, and the 1/150th Aviation Battalion.

"This event is about building networks and building partnerships, not only with Americans but with their partner nations on the continent of Africa" said Capt. Philippe Caraghiaur, 818th Mobility Support Advisory Squadron operations flight commander and air advisor. "This event as a whole is key to strengthening partnerships in the global theater. With everything that we have going on around the world and in the continent of Africa right now, there is no greater importance than building friendships."

According to 1st Lt. Armel Bama, Burkina Faso Air Force maintenance officer, the African Partnership Flight interactions with the 818th MSAS will help meet each country's goals.

"This whole Africa Partnership Flight and cooperation we're having between the countries is the main goal is for us to have a better world," he said, "and allows us to build security for our own countries, our region, and the world."

Grand Forks AFB hosts Active Shooter Response Tactics Course

by Staff Sgt. Susan L. Davis
319th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


9/8/2015 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Nearly two dozen law enforcement officers from various agencies across the region came together here during the first week of September 2015 for some classroom and hands-on training dealing with active shooter scenarios.

The training was led by officials from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Advanced Training Facility in Harpers Ferry, W. Virginia., and was designed for students to enhance their existing knowledge and skills in order to share them with their own respective organizations.

The training is derived from the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at Texas State University. The center was created in 2002 as a partnership between the university, the San Marcos Police Department and the Hays County Sherriff's Office to address the need for active shooter response training for first responders.

"This whole week has been full of really great training," said Ben Deckert, East Grand Forks Police Department. "The instructors have done really well imparting all this knowledge that they've shared with us. They really know their stuff."

Deckert said the training gave him a valuable opportunity to work together with other members of law enforcement that may otherwise be hard to come by.

"Interagency cooperation is such a big deal," he said. "The more we work together, the better we can figure out where our strengths are and hone those and the better we can identify where we need improvement and come up with ways to streamline."

The instructors had their own positive feedback about the progress of the course.

"One of our biggest goals in conducting this week-long training is to take law enforcement officers from diverse backgrounds and spheres of experience and put them in dynamic, close-quarters situations and watch them tackle problems by applying the instruction we've offered them to practical, realistic situations," said Russell Church, supervisory border patrol agent at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Use of Force Center of Excellence. Church also served as a course developer and instructor for the training.

"What these guys also may not realize is that we are learning just as much from them as they are from us," he said. "With the export training offered by our mobile training teams, we get to go out on location and see these officers at work in their own familiar surroundings. We get to see the interoperability of state, local, tribal, military and many other types of law enforcement agencies and see how they fit together and work together."

Staff Sgt. Cody Crunelle, 319th Security Forces Squadron trainer, agreed.

"These scenarios are all about controlled chaos and fostering closer relationships between different law enforcement agencies," he said. "The goal is to inflict as much stress as possible in a safe environment. That way, if there are mistakes made, it won't cost any lives as a result, and it serves as a great learning opportunity and confidence booster for next time."

Not only that, but setting up scenarios with hostages, non-combatant casualties and other innocents are a great way to force players to be more cautious with their reactions and more judicious with their use of force, he said.

"The more different kinds of people you can throw into a scenario, the more it forces them to be selective about how they respond," said Crunelle.

Church and the other instructors expressed their gratitude to the 319th SFS and Grand Forks Air Force Base for their support and hospitality, as well as Grand Forks Public Schools for accommodating the training group with the use of the currently unused Carl Ben Eielson Elementary School, which was shut down in 2014.

"This whole experience for everyone has been phenomenal I think," he said. "The Air Force has bent over backwards to help us make this training a success, and we would really like to extend our thanks to everyone who helped make this a reality. We want to show that cops have a vested interest in protecting and serving our communities, and this is one way we can effectively do that."

USS New Mexico Returns From Six-Month Deployment



By Kevin Copeland, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Mexico (SSN 779) returned to its homeport at U.S. Naval Submarine Base, New London, from a regularly-scheduled deployment on Sept. 4.

Under the command of Cmdr. Todd Moore, New Mexico returned from the U.S. European Command (EUCOM) area of responsibility where the crew executed the Chief of Naval Operation's maritime strategy in supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.

"The role of the submarine is to deploy forward, remain undetected, operate behind enemy lines, and bring covert firepower and intelligence collection to bear against any potential aggressors," said Moore. "New Mexico deployed to EUCOM, operating as an asset in supporting Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet operations. We stood ready to perform all tasks when called upon. In conducting deployed operations like New Mexico completed, the U.S. Navy builds operational experience throughout the world, defending our homeland by projecting power globally. The crew is proud to have been part of something so important."

During the deployment New Mexico steamed more than 36,000 nautical miles, equal to circumnavigating the globe one-and-two-third times. Port visits were conducted in Haakonsvern, Norway; Rota, Spain; and Faslane, Scotland.

"In each port the crew enjoyed terrific relations with our allies," said Moore. "The port visits provided an opportunity to interact with foreign navies, thereby building better cooperation between our countries. The crew enjoyed the many cultural experiences of each country, as well as the opportunity to relax and replenish supplies."

During the deployment the crew of New Mexico distinguished themselves through performance and professional achievement.

"Throughout the deployment we had seven officers and 14 enlisted Sailors earn their submarine warfare qualifications," continued Moore. "We had 15 petty officers advance in rank; two were selected for chief petty officer; and one each was selected for senior chief petty officer and master chief petty officer.

"New Mexico seems to enjoy stormy weather. We deployed during one of the many blizzards that struck Connecticut last winter. While our spouses suspect we left them only to avoid shoveling the snow, I must inform we also had our rough weather. The North Atlantic produced storms with 30-foot waves, but both the boat and crew held up well. This was the first deployment for a large portion of the crew, whose experience had been limited to short underway periods and training simulators. The long training period prior to deployment proved to be more than adequate as the crew successfully employed the ship in theater for nearly six consecutive months with virtually no lost operational time."

New Mexico is looking for calmer waters since they have anchored at home.

"We plan to enjoy friends and family members, make trips with loved ones, and reconnecting with those we have not seen in a long time," finalized Moore. "We are looking forward to spending time participating in outdoor activities and basking in the sun, an activity we have been without for several months. We aim to catch up on the many TV shows, movies and sporting events that we missed, in addition to all the world events since we deployed. Following our leave period, we are looking forward to executing maintenance and training to ensure New Mexico can maintain the highest state of readiness."

As the submarine force's sixth Virginia-class ship, New Mexico was commissioned March 27, 2010 in Norfolk, Virginia. It is the second Navy vessel to be named for the 47th state.

As the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, New Mexico enables five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence. The ship is a flexible, multi-mission platform designed to carry out the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, delivery of special operations forces, strike warfare, irregular warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and mine warfare. New Mexico can operate in both littoral and deep ocean environments and presents combatant commanders with a broad and unique range of operational capabilities.

New Mexico is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operates at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged.

San Diego Team Feeds 'Three Presidents Crew' During Historic 3-Carrier Swap



By Candice Villarreal, NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego Corporate Communications

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) San Diego is hard at work providing nourishment for thousands of Sailors this September as it supports the ongoing "3-Carrier Swap" evolution from its headquarters in San Diego.

The command's Subsistence Prime Vendor team, charged with procuring the food that sustains afloat Navy units in the region, is playing a pivotal role in feeding the nearly 9,000 Sailors assigned to the aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) as they make their way through the unprecedented swap. An estimated 1,200 of those crew members will have served aboard all three aircraft carriers as part of the evolution and have been dubbed the "Three Presidents Crew."

"This is the most food we've ever procured at one time and in such a short period," said Monet Bernhardt, prime vendor supervisor. "It's a lot of communication, coordination and busy days, but in this line of work you have to do whatever it takes to get those ships underway."

To date, the San Diego SPV team has processed thousands of line item orders totaling more than $10.5 million in subsistence for the swap, with that number set to increase significantly before the evolution is complete. To put that figure into perspective, a total of more than 200,000 cases of chill, dry and frozen provisions, 23,440 cases of fresh fruits and vegetables and 5,496 gallons of fresh milk were loaded onto Ronald Reagan and George Washington to ready them for sea.

The benefits of the SPV team's support don't stop when the ships set sail. In addition to the pierside load-outs, the command also processed separate container orders for George Washington, ensuring another million dollars' worth of food will be pre-staged and ready for the ship as it arrives in ports along its South American route.

"That's the beauty of logistics," said Commanding Officer Capt. John Palmer. "It is a strategic art to be able to execute vital support for any operation, anywhere around the globe, and at any time. It's what keeps the ships steaming and enables the warfighters to take the fight to the enemy, where it belongs."

Ronald Reagan departed San Diego Aug. 31 to relieve George Washington as the Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier in Yokosuka, Japan, following a 10-day hull swap. Later this month, George Washington will also depart San Diego to make its way around South America to its destination in Newport News, Virginia, where it will begin its mid-life refueling complex overhaul.

Theodore Roosevelt, currently in the midst of a scheduled deployment, set sail from Norfolk, Virginia, in March and will take Ronald Reagan's place on the west coast upon its return. The SPV team will begin supporting Theodore Roosevelt's requirements as the flattop enters the command's area of responsibility later in its deployment. Those efforts will serve as the command's last leg of support in completing its final phase of the 3-carrier evolution.

"Historically, this is unprecedented," said Michael Novak, subsistence prime vendor operator. "Just because we've got a high-tempo evolution to support doesn't mean the rest of our support to the fleet stops. Playing a part in such a big logistical puzzle is really meaningful work."

Because the SPV team supports all vessels in their area of responsibility, the colossal support required for the carrier swap is in addition to their ongoing subsistence procurement for other ships in their area of operations.

"Our job is to send the Sailors to sea with all of the food and nutrition they need to sustain them as they go out and complete their missions," said Novak. "I think I speak for the whole team when I say we are very proud when we see our happy customers operating forward."

NAVSUP FLC San Diego, one of eight fleet logistics centers under NAVSUP Global Logistics Support (GLS), provides global logistics, business and support services to fleet, shore and industrial commands of the Navy, Coast Guard, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Army and allied forces. Services include contracting, regional transportation, fuel, material management, household goods movement support, postal and consolidated mail, warehousing, global logistics and husbanding, hazardous material management, and integrated logistics support.

NAVSUP GLS provides global logistics for a global Navy. The organization is made up of more than 6,500 military and civilian logistics professionals operating from 105 locations worldwide providing an extensive array of integrated global logistics and contracting services to Navy, Marine Corps, joint operational units, and allied forces across all warfare enterprises.