Military News

Monday, September 21, 2015

Canfield Relieves Caldwell as CO of USS John Warner



By By Kevin Copeland, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Cmdr. Burt J. Canfield relieved Cmdr. Daniel B. Caldwell as commanding officer of the Virginia-class attack submarine USS John Warner (SSN 785) during a change of command ceremony held at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., Sept. 18.

The event was the ship's first change of command since its commissioning on Aug.1, 2015 in its homeport at Naval Station Norfolk. The ship was the 12th Virginia-class attack submarine to join the Navy's operating fleet, ready to fulfill its motto, "On a Mission to Protect Freedom."

The ship's namesake is John Warner, a five-term U.S. Senator from Virginia who also served as 61st Secretary of the Navy from 1972 to 1974. Warner is also the only Secretary of the Navy who served as both an enlisted man and an officer, in both the Navy and the Marine Corps.

"We are honored to have Mrs. Jeanne Warner, our ship's sponsor, with us here today," said Caldwell, a native of Milford, Ohio, and graduate of the University of Cincinnati. "Jeanne, you have been there beside us the entire way and have infused your spirit into this magnificent submarine. You have blessed us with your grace and charm. The crew of John Warner could not have asked for a better sponsor.

"To the crew of John Warner, you have impressed and inspired me on a daily basis with your hard work and dedication. You have followed in the footsteps of Senator Warner and made a commitment to join the Navy to protect freedom around the world and I know he is proud of each and every one of you. You have been asked to flex. You have asked to be agile. You have asked to be patient. Where many submarine crews have stumbled you have soared. You have met every challenge head on and you have delivered first time success every time including earning the highest score ever for readiness in the history of the Virginia-class submarine program.

"Sometimes it is hard to see what you are accomplishing through the day to day drudgery of building and operating a submarine. Every time a Virginia-class submarine is commissioned, the whole world takes notice and our adversaries spend a little more time thinking about the awesome capabilities of these ships. While Newport News Shipbuilding and Electric Boat built this amazing warship with state of the art weapons systems, it is you - the crew - that breathed life into this ship. Your training and your ability to employ the capabilities of this warship are the difference between victory and defeat when this ship is tasked to engage the enemy. You have brought the most lethal warship in our Navy to life, you have made the country safer and our nation stronger. You have demonstrated resilience and agility that is second to none and most importantly you supported your shipmates and you succeeded with honesty and integrity. I could not have asked for a better crew. You have much to be proud of. Well done men. Well done!"

Capt. Paul Snodgrass, commander, Submarine Squadron Six, was the guest speaker.

"I can feel something special in this change of command today," said Snodgrass. "This is not your normal, run of the mill Navy change of command. Today is the first change of command for the USS John Warner, the ship named for a living legend, a Virginia gentleman, a true United States patriot and statesman. Jeanne, I want to thank you and Senator Warner for all you have done for this crew, our submarine force, our Navy and our nation.

"We are here to celebrate the success of USS John Warner, and success of its first commanding officer, Dan Caldwell, a great leader. Dan is an officer that always thinks about development of his subordinates and finds ways to put his officers, chiefs and Sailors in positions to learn, grow and develop their professional skill. Dan is that leader who is always pushing his people into the limelight when it is time to heap praise and step to the front to accept responsibility if things don't go so well. The times that things did not go well were very few and far between because Dan Caldwell made John Warner and her crew function so well. Dan, it has always been very enjoyable for me and my staff to work with your crew. The crew always has a positive attitude, is proactive, receptive to feedback, and always looking to improve. That is a direct reflection on you and your leadership.

"All of my anxiety about Dan's departure from command of John Warner was removed when I found out who was going to be his replacement - Burt Canfield. I was assured that this ship would be able to carry on in the same excellent performance with him at the helm. Burt, you are ready for this job and I am confident you will do it well.

"While we are primarily celebrating the success of Dan Caldwell, and wishing Burt Canfield a successful future, both of them will be the first to tell you that today is really a celebration of the honor, privilege, and unique opportunity given to very few by our nation and Navy - to lead a submarine crew. This crew is the heartbeat of John Warner, and will be forever linked to the legacy of the great Senator John Warner."

A native of Damascus, Pa., Canfield graduated with honors from New York Maritime College in 1998 with a Bachelors of Engineering in Electrical Engineering and a U.S. Guard Third Mate's License. He earned a Master's Degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2005.

"Men of warship John Warner, I could not be more impressed," said Canfield. "The camaraderie, the pride, but most of all, the professional excellence which each one of you exhibits surpasses that of any crew I've had the pleasure of being acquainted with. Clearly, you and Cmdr. Caldwell's hard work have transformed this ship and crew into one of the finest in the fleet. Within a year you have brought this amazing warship to life. We will be deeply into deployment preparations and training, getting ready to deploy the nation's newest fast-attack submarine to the tip of the spear and breathe life into our motto, "On a Mission to Protect Freedom." I am humbled and honored to be part of John Warner as we go forward."

As the most modern and sophisticated attack submarine in the world, the submarine can operate in both littoral and deep ocean environments and presents combatant commanders with a broad and unique range of operational capabilities. John Warner 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.

The submarine is 377 feet long, has a 34-foot beam, and will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. It will operate for 33 years without ever refueling.

Table set to remember

by Senior Airman Deana Heitzman
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/18/2015 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy -- "We call your attention to this small table, which occupies the place of dignity and honor," reads Tech. Sgt. Maurice Carbajal, 31st Communications Squadron knowledge management center NCO in charge, while members of the base honor guard sharply pop to attention.

When this line is read from the historic script, the Prisoners of War/Missing in Action table ceremony begins, kicking off Aviano Air Base's POW/MIA Remembrance Week.

"They are unable to be with their loved ones and families today, so we join together to pay a humble tribute to them," Carbajal continued with the script.

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, there are 83,114 service members who are still unaccounted for since World War II. Across many military installations, attendees honor these service members by displaying a "missing man table" in dining facilities and during official ceremonies.

"This table symbolizes the fact that members of our Armed Forces are missing from our ranks. We call them POWs and MIAs," Carbajal continued.

During the ceremony, honor guard members presented symbolic items to those who are missing, while the narrator explained the meaning.

"The single red rose in the vase signifies the blood they have shed to ensure the freedom of our beloved United States of America," Carbajal read.

With five different service hats placed on a round table draped in white, they are adorned with a single red rose, a bread plate with a salted lemon, an inverted glass and an empty chair.

"The slice of lemon on the plate reminds us of their bitter fate. The salt, when sprinkled onto the plate, reminds us of the countless fallen tears of families as they wait," Carabajal continued to read. "The glass is inverted--they cannot toast with us this day. The chair is empty--they are not here. The candle is reminiscent of the light of hope, which lives in our hearts to illuminate their way home."

The ceremony ended with an excerpt for all the missing comrades to return to their ranks and their families.

"Seeing this table gave me the opportunity to honor not only those who are still missing, but the families who are still waiting for their loved ones to come home," said Carbajal. "I always tear up thinking about how my children would feel if they would constantly be waiting for me to come home."

Annually, the Air Force Sergeants Associations hosts various events leading up to National POW/MIA Recognition Day, the third Friday in September. This year, Team Aviano came together with a memorial run, retreat and the table ceremony to remember fellow service members.

Pease ANGB breaks ground for KC-46 hangars

by Staff Sgt. Curtis J. Lenz
157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs


9/21/2015 - PEASE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.H.  -- A groundbreaking ceremony was held on base Sept. 18 to mark the start of the KC-46A Hangar Expansion and Modernization Project.

New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte as well as The Adjutant General of the N.H. National Guard Maj. Gen. William N. Reddel III and 157th Air Refueling Wing Commander Col. Shawn "Rob" Burrus" spoke at the event.

"It's your skill, your hard work and your devotion to our nation's defense that is bringing the KC-46A to New Hampshire," Hassan said during remarks to those in attendance. "You've distinguished yourselves as one of the most accomplished operations group in the country and you are a great source of pride for the people of New Hampshire."

The hangars, built in the 1950s, were originally built to support Strategic Air Command's B-47 Stratojet bombers and KC-97 Stratofreighter tankers.

The intent of the project is to remodel buildings 253 and 254 to maximize the operational space in order to promote efficiency and productivity in preparation for the arrival of 12 KC-46A tankers in February 2018.

"Today's groundbreaking represents a significant milestone in that path to fielding the new tanker, and once again reflects the collective hard work of our state leaders, our congressional delegation as well as their dedicated staff, local leaders, and outstanding 157th members," Burrus said.

Air Force officials last year announced that Pease ANGB was selected as the first Air National Guard-led KC-46A main operating base because of its highly successful existing active-duty association, which would lead to lower active-duty manpower requirements. Its location in a region of high air refueling receiver demand was also a key consideration.

"Though the renovations will look different and the aircraft flying out of Pease will have increased capabilities, there is one thing that will not change and that is the integrity, service  and commitment to excellent from the Airmen at Pease Air National Guard Base," Reddel said during his remarks.

The KC-46A will provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, world-wide navigation and communication, airlift capability on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection and survivability and multi-point air refueling capability.

Reddel thinks the N.H. Air National Guard has a bright future.

"The KC-46 is a national asset and it is the cornerstone of the Air Force for refueling capabilities for decades to come," the general said. "The new tanker will provide Airman here with advanced capabilities for global reach and support Airman, Marines, Soldiers, and Coastguardsmen all around the world."

He added, "It will enhance operation effectiveness and efficiency and communications and but most importantly it will allow the men and women of the 157th Air Refueling Wing and 64th Air Refueling Squadron to operate and maintain these missions forever."

Officials expect construction to be completed in calendar year 2017.

General Reflects on Hispanic Heritage, Credits Mentors with Success



By Shannon Collins DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, September 21, 2015 — Education and mentorship helped a young Hispanic girl who dreamed of going to the U.S. Air Force Academy not only achieve her dreams, but earn the rank of major general and the position of deputy A2, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance for Air Force Headquarters at the Pentagon.

In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, Air Force Maj. Gen. Linda Urrutia-Varhall shares her lessons learned at the U.S. Air Force Academy, at luncheons and at other events, hoping to pay it forward to junior enlisted and officers, especially those in the Hispanic community.

Role Models

Growing up in Pueblo, Colorado, Urrutia-Varhall said her biggest role models were her parents.

“My mom was a stay-at-home mom, and my father worked at the Pepsi Cola plant,” she said. “My dad, I’m proud to say, came in as a janitor and by the time he retired in 39 years, he was running the plant in Pueblo.”

She said she got her work ethic from her hard-working parents, adding that her mother is the smartest person she knows. Her relatives didn’t really leave Pueblo but she wanted more. When she was 13 in 1974, she and her uncle went to visit the academy.

“I told my uncle, even though there were no women there, I would graduate from there,” she said. “He said, ‘Oh hija [little one], I know you say that, but they don’t let women in here.’ Little did I know I would graduate from there in 1984.”

She said her parents told her she could be anything she wanted to be. Her other role model was Lt. Gen. Norma Brown, the first woman to command an Air Force wing in 1974.

Culture and Education

Urrutia-Varhall said her ancestors came up from Mexico after arriving from the Basque region of Spain, settling in Colorado for a generation as pickers at a farm and then working long hours at the steel mill in Pueblo. She said the Air Force was an easy transition for her because the Spanish culture is all about family, and she gets that feeling with the military. The biggest challenge in the military is obtaining the balance of family and career, she said.

“I’ve been blessed to have met a great man who said he would follow me wherever I went and support me and my career,” Urrutia-Varhall said.

The general encourages all Hispanics, as well as all children of all ethnicities, to stay in school and get their education.

“You’ve got to stay in school to at least have a chance at becoming an enlisted or an officer in the military and doing great things,” she said. “Get your secondary education. Some way, you’ll make it. Whether you work a job, your mom and dad work, whether you get scholarships or grants, somehow, if you want to go to school bad enough, you can get there, and then all you need is somebody to open the door just once. And for each of us that is in some way successful or helpful, help that one person, just get one person’s foot in the door and pay it forward.”

Advice, Mentorship

The general said she wouldn’t be in the position she’s in today if it hadn’t been for mentors such as her parents, third grade teacher, air officer commander or husband.

To junior service members and civilians working their way toward leadership positions, she offered this advice: “You never know who you’ll meet, where you’ll get to go or what you’ll get to do or see,” Urrutia-Varhall said. “It really helped expand my horizons. Also, if you’re an officer or senior enlisted, always look people in the eye and ask them how they’re doing. Have empathy and don’t become a non-person.”

Finally, she said, “You belong in every room; learn to be comfortable in any room you walk in. You belong because of your hard work and everything you do. You belong there just as much as anybody else. And you can be whatever you want to be. The only one holding you back is you.”

Dover Airman presented Heartsaver Hero Award

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


9/21/2015 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Every time an Airman puts on his or her uniform and heads to work, they are considered a hero. But one Team Dover Airman became a hero while he was on leave.

While processing through an airport security checkpoint, Senior Airmen Bryan MacLean, 436th Maintenance Squadron crew chief, provided life-saving medical attention, CPR and automatic external defibrillator, July 29, 2015, at the Philadelphia International Airport.

"I was trying to put my shoes back on when I heard someone yell," said MacLean. "They were looking for someone who knew CPR; so I said that I did."

George Senkler, who was also processing through security, suffered a heart attack and collapsed. MacLean jumped into action, first assisting two TSA agents with CPR. When that failed to resuscitate Mr. Senkler, MacLean ran for an automatic external defibrillator and put it to work.

"I jumped in and ripped his shirt off," MacLean said. "I put the pads on and followed the instructions. The AED said there was no pulse and recommended a shock. So I shocked him and that brought him back."

These actions saved Senkler's life.

MacLean, a native of Cincinnati, has been stationed at Dover AFB for the past two years. He was on his way to board a plane to Minnesota to attend a friend's wedding when the events transpired. Mr. Senkler, 69, was also heading towards the same plane to Minnesota, but to visit his grandchildren.

MacLean and two TSA agents were presented with the American Heart Association's Heartsaver Hero award to recognize their courageous lifesaving efforts. Both MacLean and Senkler were invited back to the airport for a e ceremony that took place on Sept. 4, 2015.

"I just wanted to help out," MacLean said.

SMC honors POW/MIA; marks Air Force's 68th Birthday with 24-hour torch relay

by James Spellman, Jr.
Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs


9/18/2015 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif.  -- They ran in the warmth of a receding summer season day. They ran throughout the coolness of the night. They ran in remembrance to honor those who were held captive, and those still missing and unaccounted for during times of armed conflict.

More than 250 service members, spouses, friends and volunteers from all branches of the military and Department of Homeland Defense participated in a 24-hour torch relay and remembrance ceremony for prisoners of war/missing in action Sept.17-18.

"For the past seven years, the Space and Missile Systems Center has endeavored to honor our POWs and MIAs by hosting a 24-hour vigil and memorial run through many local communities which support Los Angeles Air Force Base," said Capt. Zachary Peters, an SMC cost analyst with the Global Positioning System space segment, and the lead project officer for the POW/MIA torch relay.

"Remembering and honoring American prisoners of war and those who are still missing in action is a deeply personal and important task," he said.

Despite a tsunami advisory issued for the California coastline caused by an earthquake off Chile's northern coast, the mood was reflective and festive Thursday as the Coast Guard started the morning off with a bang, firing seven cannon rounds from Terminal Island into the Port of San Pedro. Two were fired at the start, signifying the strong partnership between the Air Force and Coast Guard teams. Five rounds were fired afterwards, representing all five branches of service during the torch lighting ceremony and start of the relay.

Col. Gerard Gleckel, Jr., deputy director of SMC's Global Positioning Directorate at Los Angeles AFB in El Segundo, and Cmdr. Jose A. Pena, commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Base Los Angeles-Long Beach lit the ceremonial torch that was carried over the 154 mile long event.

"This is a national day of observance for Americans to offer remembrance, honor, and respect to those warriors who were prisoners of war and those who remain missing as a result of our nation's conflicts and wars. It is also a day to remember the families who have sacrificed and endured the years of pain of not knowing the fate of their loved ones," said Gleckel.

"This year's national theme of 'Fulfilling Our Nation's Promise,' reminds us of the solemn pact America makes with each of its defenders and their families - that we will take care of them, and that however much time has passed, they will make it back home," Gleckel explained. "We do whatever it takes to recover every U.S. service member held in captivity; and do whatever it takes to find, recover, and identify the remains of America's missing from past conflicts."

Teams of runners representing all branches of service took turns carrying the torch - many times while under police escort - as they made their way west through the streets of San Pedro, passing Fort MacArthur and continued along sections of the Marvin Braude Bike Trail  through all the South Bay coastal communities from Rancho Palos Verdes to Playa Del Rey.

From there, the sights and sounds of seagulls and ocean surf pounding the South Bay beach area known locally as "The Strand" changed to the high-pitched whine of commercial aircraft taking off and landing at Los Angeles International Airport two miles away as the runners arrived at the Los Angeles AFB main gate off Douglas Street.

Fortified by water and bananas to reduce the effects of leg cramps, the runners - joined by volunteers from the base community - took turns carrying the torch around the track that encircled the Schriever Space Complex. As they ran throughout the evening until Friday morning at 9 a.m., each runner executed the same mission - ensuring the torch remained lit to represent the nation's resolve; moving it ever forward to show the promise to those missing warriors and their families.  

The torch relay concluded on the Air Force's 68th Birthday with a 10 a.m. POW/MIA Wreath Ceremony at the Schriever Space Complex flagpole. The event coincided with National POW/MIA Recognition Day, proclaimed by President Barack Obama on Thursday.

Standing before a formation of runners and SMC personnel, Maj. Gen. Robert McMurry, SMC vice commander, addressed the audience.

"Today, we bond together across the nation to commemorate our fallen heroes and remember their sacrifice," said McMurry. "Since World War II, 83,144 American military, civilian and contractor personnel remain missing in action. However, the important number to remember here is One. Everyone that is missing signifies a family that has been changed."

Although the ceremony honors those who have yet to come home from foreign wars, McMurry said it's important to give the families of missing veterans hope that their loved ones remains can be recovered.

"We continue to hope and pray for their return as special agencies, such as the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency work tirelessly to make that vision a reality and provide the fullest possible accounting for our missing personnel to their families and the nation," said McMurry. "Your support embodies the last lines of our Airman's Creed: I am an American Airman. Wingman. Leader. Warrior. I will never leave an Airman behind. I will never falter, and I will not fail."

Honored guest and retired Air Force Col. Ken Hughey, an F-4 Phantom pilot shot down over North Vietnam in July 1967 and held as a POW until his release in 1973, related some of his personal experiences to the audience.

"I believe the worst possible scenario regarding the POW/MIA issue is to be 'MIA, Presumed Dead', said Hughey, who did a commemorative lap alongside the SMC runners Thursday evening.

He related a reconnaissance mission he and a fellow pilot flew over Quang Ngai Province in search for a squad of Army Special Forces on patrol in the hills south of an outpost in Hat Tan. Out of the squad of 12 Green Berets, only one came out of the jungle.

"As for the remaining 11, they are still there today. They're ghosts who are doomed to wander in the jungle and wear the label, 'Missing in Action, Presumed Dead'," said Hughey.
"Those who wait and hope suffer the malicious curse of uncertainty and endure the pangs of broken hearts for the duration. The saddest part of this day and this celebration is that a number of our 'ghosts' wander about the planet - MIA, Presumed Dead."

According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, there are 1,629 POW/MIA still missing from the Vietnam War.

"What can we do about this whole thing? We must 'Never Forget,' said Hughey.

"Remembering is respect and gratitude to this group of patriots. We have Memorial Day to celebrate the memory of those who have given their last breath for this country. On Veterans Day, we honor our veterans who have made the offer, but were never required to make the final sacrifice," Hughey pointed out.

"Today, we honor a special sub-set of wonderful men and women who served our country in a special way many of whom are still in the limbo assigned to them, because we couldn't
recover their remains. This is the special Hell for those who still wait, and who are destined to wait until we are all promoted to eternity. We must never forget."