Monday, October 05, 2015

357th FS, 22nd STS team up for austere landings

by Senior Airman Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/2/2015 - FORT IRWIN, Calif. -- Four A-10C Thunderbolt II pilots from the 357th Fighter Squadron conduct austere landing training at the National Training Center range at Fort Irwin, California, Sept. 22, while participating in Green Flag-West 15-10.

The training involved the landing of A-10s on the unimproved surface of Bicycle Lake Army Airfield's dry lake bed.
The 22nd Special Tactics Squadron from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington supported the training by performing air traffic control, surveying the area and testing the density of the ground to ensure the aircraft could land safely.

"The purpose of conducting austere landing training is to practice and demonstrate the capability to launch and recover aircraft on a surface that is not designed or maintained to bear the loads and weights of a heavily armed aircraft," said Maj. Mark Malan, 357th Fighter Squadron A-10 pilot. "This capability can be vital to combat and contingency operations at locations and environments where U.S. and coalition forces have a very limited footprint."

"This task demonstrated that we maintain a unique capability to operate and integrate in a forward-deployed austere location and that this increases our ability to coordinate and work in close proximity to the U.S. Army and their coalition counterparts," Malan said. "The ability to operate out of an austere location allows us to extend the range and reach of our combat capability, access additional target sets and provide extended long-range support to other assets involved in contingency operations."
"The A-10 was specifically designed with a more robust landing gear system to handle the stress of take-offs and landings on an unimproved surface and high-mounted wings above the fuselage to prevent damage from foreign objects and debris that may be laying on the runway and taxi surfaces," Malan said.

At the end of the training, the aircraft had successfully landed and took- off from the dirt runway with the guidance of the CCT, ultimately qualifying three pilots in austere landing.

Although the rare training was not part of Green Flag-West, the 357th FS took advantage of resources already in the area and coordinated the operations with Fort Irwin and the 22nd STS.

"A-10 pilots do not normally conduct this type of training," Malan said. "I've only done it twice in the 17 years I've been flying the A-10 and I know most A-10 pilots have never done it. We try to take advantage of every opportunity to get additional pilots qualified and increase the experience of those pilots that are already qualified."
In the U.S. Air Force aircraft inventory, there are many aircraft with the capability to land on austere runways, including the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and rotary aircraft. The A-10 is the only fighter-type aircraft with this ability.

RAF Mildenhall joins 100th BG Veterans in New Orleans reunion

by Senior Airman Victoria H. Taylor
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2015 - RAF MILDENHALL, England-- -- Aug. 17, 1943, nine aircraft, 90 men lost at Regensbuerg, Germany.
Oct. 8, 1943, seven aircraft, 72 men lost in Bremen, Germany.
Oct. 10, 1943, 12 aircraft, 121 men lost in Munster, Germany.
March 6, 1944, 15 aircraft, 150 men lost in Berlin, Germany.
May 24, 1944, nine aircraft, 90 men lost in Berlin, Germany.
July 29, 1944, eight aircraft, 72 men lost in Merseburg, Germany.
Sept. 11, 1944, 12 aircraft, 100 men lost in Ruhland, Germany.
Dec. 31, 1944, 12 aircraft, 111 men lost in Hamburg, Germany.

They weren't the first to arrive in the United Kingdom during World War ll. They didn't fly the most missions over Europe, drop the most bombs from their B-17 Flying Fortresses or, as many believe, suffer the greatest casualties. They obtained awards and earned recognition, but other groups won more.

Numbers alone did not make the group one of the most notorious combat units in the history of the U.S. Air Force. However, eight significant missions did, earning them the name "The Bloody Hundredth."

Nearly 72 years later, 27 veterans of the 100th Bombardment Group, alongside their families, historians, volunteers and enthusiasts joined together for a long weekend Sept. 24 to Sept. 27 in New Orleans, La., but dropping bombs was not on the reunion's itinerary.

"[We all] have a personal story to tell," said Dan Rosenthal, 100th BG Foundation president and son of World War ll veteran Robert "Rosie" Rosenthal. "Whether it's a first-hand account or an experience recanted by our fathers and grandfathers; whether we uncovered a box of medals in a bedroom bureau or a forgotten journal in the attic; all these things create a tapestry of our shared history. And these stories, both real and intimate, must be kept alive."

Held in a different location every other year for more than 40 years, the reunion gives the opportunity for vets to tell their stories, visit old friends and share a few laughs while participating in an eventful schedule.

Even the New Orleans muggy heat didn't stop the veterans and families from sporting their leather flight jackets to the kick-off event. Members were able to tour not only a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to RAF Mildenhall, but also the B-17 Flying Fortress "Movie" Memphis Belle, both sporting the distinct Square D tail flash.

The Bloody Hundredth's past and present was represented by more than just aircraft. A group of Airmen currently stationed at RAF Mildenhall attended the event, and were afforded the opportunity to spend time with the legacy members.

"It was an extremely humbling experience," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Michael Faux, 100th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker flying crew chief. "Being able to speak with the individuals and their children and grandchildren about the things aircraft maintainers and pilots had to do back then and things we do now was amazing. It was a lot of fun comparing our daily duties from then to now."

Faux said he met a crew chief who had worked on both B-17s and KC-135s, and the stories he shared left the staff sergeant astonished.

"The things crew chiefs did during his service made my jaw drop," Faux said. "One story was him removing skin from one B-17 to put it on another that had encountered battle damage." It isn't a task that has to be done these days.

Despite the difference and decades separating their service in the Bloody Hundredth, there was an undeniable connection between members of the historic unit.

"Every single person I met at the 100th Bomb Group Reunion inspired me to keep our traditions alive and never forget where we came from," Faux added. "More importantly, the men and women who've paved the way for all of us still flying the Square D."

New Orleans is also home to the National World War ll museum, where the visitors were able to spend time absorbing the vast amount of information and artifacts spread about the three separate buildings, and enjoy an evening symposium recounting the first airborne humanitarian food aid mission in history.

Although the weekend's main focus was the get-together amongst the veterans, Ryan Neel, 16, nephew to World War ll veteran Clay McIver, was astounded by everything he was taking in.

"It's an honor to meet all these amazing men. Hearing their stories and just trying to imagine what they must have seen when they were just about my age, I didn't realize how much it was going to impact me emotionally," said Neel. "I've been learning things that you can't read in history books, and it's an experience I'll never forget."

Without losing steam, the events ran throughout the weekend. From business meetings to presentations, to music and dancing after an extravagant dinner, the occasion never had a dull moment.

"Why do I keep coming back to these reunions?" World War ll veteran Frank "Bud" Buchmeier asked with a huge smile growing larger on his face. "To see how much older all these guys got since the last one!"

More than 300 people accepted the invitation for the reunion and though it was meant to be a long weekend, most felt that it ended too soon. All exchanged their goodbyes ensuring each other they would meet again in two years' time, but hold dear the experiences they shared.

"My father has been gone for precisely 15 years," said Chip Culpepper, son of World War ll veteran Conley E. Culpepper. "But because of the 100th Bomb Group veterans, reunion organizers, volunteers and presenters, I truly felt that I was able to spend an entire weekend with him. For that, I'm humbly grateful."

Pushing Freedom

by Capt Jose A. Quintanilla
721st Aerial Port Squadron

10/5/2015 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- After 21 difficult stages covering a grueling distance of 3,360 kilometers, this year's Tour de France came to a conclusion as competitors from 22 teams crossed the finish line. The teams rode 225 kilometers daily for three weeks over both flat and exceedingly mountainous and challenging terrain.

Unlike the majority of racing sports where a single competitor wins the race by crossing the finish line in first position, in the Tour de France, each team has eight riders and a leader. The eight riders, known as domestiques, set up their leader for the win. They are charged with protecting, setting the pace and chasing down attacks by other teams for their leader to succeed.

"These guys know full well they, as individuals, are not there to win," said Senior Master Sgt. Wayne D. Donnelly, the 721st Aerial Port Squadron superintendent, during a recent squadron commander's call. "Their job is to create a clear path for their leader to speed forward past the competition, in essence, pushing him across the finish line."

Donnelly further assimilated this style of teamwork to what we do within the Air Force, where as supporting functions, we enable the mission to be executed - thus "Pushing Freedom" across the globe.

The 721st APS, located at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is responsible for the movement of passengers, aircraft fleet servicing, command and control operations, and moves more than 62 percent of Department of Defense cargo in support of five combatant commands.

Over the summer, 721st APS Airmen were challenged with uploading an open staircase truck and two fire engines onto a C-17 Globemaster III in support of President Barack Obama's visit to Africa. Our air transportation personnel sprang into action and developed aircraft load plans, requested updated Air Transportability Test Loading Agency letters and planned and coordinated the upload of these three critical assets with other base agencies.

With only four inches of clearance between the two fire engines, 721st APS Ramp Services personnel took extreme caution to ensure the vehicles were uploaded on the C-17 in a safe and timely manner. Communication was critical between the spotters, operators and aircraft loadmaster during the entire upload, which proved critical to mission success.

Having executed a timely and safe upload, the C-17 crew departed Ramstein AB en route to Kenya prior to President Obama's arrival. However, the 721st APS was still on the clock and ready to support President Obama when he passed back through Ramstein AB the following week. The APS Airmen executed flawless material handling equipment support and fleet servicing operations on Air Force One, ensuring President Obama was able to meet his other commitments.

And so, just as the Tour de France teams, we may not always be the ones crossing the finish line in first place, but our supporting actions are critical in placing our leaders in a position to make a positive impact in the world and in doing so, we are the ones who are "Pushing Freedom" across the globe.

Air Force pilot takes local veterans flying in vintage P-13 Stearman aircraft

by Airman 1st Class Jessica B. Nelson
9th Reconnaissance WIng Public Affairs

10/1/2015 - Beale Air Force Base, Calif. -- For the past three and a half years the Aerospace Museum of California and its volunteers have displayed and maintained a very unique P-13 Stearman. The plane is owned by Lt. Col. Andrew McVicker, 9th Operations Group deputy commander.

"The P-13 Stearman is open cockpit so typically flying it in the winter isn't much fun," said McVicker. "Initially I envisioned just putting it on loan through the winter but when I found out I was deploying in the spring they offered to continue to store the plane for me while I was gone."

As a gesture of appreciation for looking after his plane while he was deployed, McVicker took eight museum volunteers flying in his P-13. The first of which was a WWII veteran.

"I learned 72 years ago this month how to fly a Stearman when I was in the Army Air Corps," said Maynard Nelson, a WWII pilot.

Nelson served as a B-24 pilot in the Army Air Corps during WWII. The P-13 Stearman planes were used as trainers for all pilots, service wide. Nelson reflected on his time flying the Stearman in an interview on Wednesday.

"You had to push the airplane to its limits," Nelson said. "You needed to know everything the plane could do, and what enemy airplanes could do so you could play your own strength in a dogfight."

The volunteers at the museum have watched over the P-13 for more than three years. Most of them are veterans and share a special interest in this plane.

"The volunteers keep an eye on the plane, making sure delicate parts are kept safe while people view the plane on display," McVicker said. "The museum made a nice placard that tells the history of the aircraft and how it was used when it was in military service, and the volunteers will help interpret that for the visitors."

Many volunteers had personal experiences with the P-13 Stearman while they served. The excitement the volunteers expressed when exiting the cockpit after their flight was clear.

"It was very generous of McVicker to give us rides in his plane," Nelson said. "I have hundreds of pictures of the people I've taken on flights when I owned a Stearman, and the pictures just don't do justice to the experience."

77 Air Base Wing transfers to AFGSC

20th Air Force Pubilc Affairs

10/5/2015 - F.E. WARREN AFB, Wyo. -- The 377 Air Base Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, became part of 20th Air Force Oct. 1, 2015 as it shifts from Air Force Material Command to Air Force Global Strike Command.

The 377th ABW, along with the 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, and the 7th BW from Dyess AFB, Texas, moved into AFGSC as part of a consolidation of missions into AFGSC numbered air forces.

The consolidation of the 377th along with the three AF ICBM wings into 20th AF is specifically intended to help streamline the nuclear enterprise by placing operational mission support within the AF's nuclear major command.  The move of the B-1s from the 28th BW and the 7th BW from Air Combat Command into 8th AF will consolidate all the AF's bombers into one NAF within AFGSC.

Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, commander of 20th AF, said "The U.S. Air Force is always seeking to improve the way we do business.  The transfer of the 377 Air Base Wing highlights the continued improvements the Air Force is making in the nuclear enterprise to ensure we remain the most credible, capable and reliable force for our Nation."

General Weinstein further stated that the nuclear capabilities of the U.S. military form the backbone of U.S. national security.

The realignment of the 377th ABW is designed to enhance operational and maintenance support to multiple organizations, providing vital expertise within the nuclear enterprise, to include:  The Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories, The Air Force Research Laboratory, The Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center, The Space and Missile Systems Center, The Air Force Inspection Agency and The Air Force Safety Center.

The move of the 377th to 20th AF will not affect employment within the surrounding communities of Kirtland AFB and will primarily be administrative in nature.  The 377 ABW will continue to serve as the host installation for various tenant units at Kirtland AFB. Approximately 1,796 military and government civilians will be realigned from AFMC to AFGSC, but will still remain at their current positions.

Weinstein added, "The stewardship of Kirtland AFB under Air Force Material Command was second to none.  We are proud to welcome the 377th to 20 AF and we will strive to continue their superb legacy and warfighter support to our Air Force."

Rivet Joint crew earns 2015 General Jerome F. O'Malley Award

by Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake
55th Wing Public Affairs

10/1/2015 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- The Air Force Association recently recognized an RC-135V/W Rivet Joint flying crew as the 2015 General Jerome F. O'Malley Award winners.

Each year, the title is given to the best reconnaissance crew in the U.S. Air Force.

The award's namesake was a U.S Air Force pilot who was stationed in several reconnaissance wings. O'Malley acquired more than 5,000 flying hours during his thirty-plus years of service.

"I am extremely proud of what our Fightin' Fifth members are doing on a daily basis around the world and this team certainly deserved to be recognized for their actions," said U.S. Air Force Col. Marty Reynolds, 55th Wing commander.

This year's winning crew was comprised of Airmen from the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron, 97th Intelligence Squadron, and 55th Intelligence Support Squadron. They were recognized for their actions during their deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in 2014.

As stated in the award citation, their outstanding contributions ensured dedicated airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance coverage was available to support American and coalition forces attempting to locate a downed pilot who had been captured by enemy fighters.  Their actions also supported the larger efforts of OIR.

"This crew answered the call as our wing has done now for more than 25 straight years in the CENTCOM AOR," Reynolds said. "I'm truly humbled and honor to be their teammates and I congratulate them on their honor."

They received the award in conjunction with the 2015 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition in National Harbor, Maryland.

Shelter from the storm: Barksdale welcomes East Coast visitors

by Airman 1st Class Curt Beach
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

10/2/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- Hundreds of aircrew and a fleet of more than 65 aircraft including F-15E Strike Eagles and KC-135 Stratotankers arrived here, Oct. 1-2, to avoid potential damage from Hurricane Joaquin along the East Coast.

The aircraft and their crews are from the 916th Air Refueling Wing and 4th Fighter Wing at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, and will be sharing space on the Barksdale flightline through the weekend.

"It is with great pleasure that we welcome our fellow combat warriors to Barksdale Air Force Base and the Shreveport-Bossier Area," said Col. Kristin Goodwin, 2nd Bomb Wing commander. "We are primed to ensure Seymour Johnson Airmen have a comfortable stay as we welcome them with Barksdale's southern hospitality."

Hurricane Joaquin, a Category 4 storm with winds up to 130 mph, battered the Bahamas and was initially forecasted to move toward the U.S. and through the Carolinas. Governors have declared states of emergency in at least five states due to potential flash flooding regardless of the storm's path.

"It's great that the Air Force has facilities where aircraft can escape to in order to evade harm or weather elements," said William Flentge, 2nd Operations Support Squadron airfield manager. "It's nice to have a facility that can accommodate fighter aircraft. We've had extensive improvements to the airfield pavement over the past two years."

Barksdale's B-52 Stratofortresses will not be adversely affected by the visiting aircraft, and flight operations will continue as scheduled, Flentge said.

Last year, Seymour Johnson's aircraft were relocated to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as a precautionary measure to protect them from Hurricane Arthur.

"I want to personally thank everyone in advance for their efforts to keep the Airmen, families, the base and defense assets safe in the coming days," said Col. Mark Slocum, 4th FW commander.