Military News

Thursday, October 08, 2015

AF announces Operation Colony Glacier casualty recovery



By Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs, / Published October 08, 2015

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- The Air Force announced on Oct. 8, the names of two service members who have been recovered from a C-124 Globemaster that was lost on Nov. 22, 1952.

Capt. Walter Perrin Tribble and Airman 2nd Class Bernis F. White have been recovered and their families will be offered burial with full military honors.

On Nov. 22, 1952, a C-124 crashed while en route to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, from McChord AFB, Washington. There were 11 crewmen and 41 passengers onboard. Adverse weather conditions precluded immediate recovery attempts. In late November and early December 1952, search parties were unable to locate and recover any of the service members.

On June 9, 2012, an Alaska National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk crew spotted aircraft wreckage and debris while conducting a training mission over the Colony Glacier, immediately west of Mount Gannett. Three days later another Guard team landed at the site to photograph the area and they found artifacts at the site that related to the wreckage of the C-124. Later that month, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and a joint task force team conducted a recovery operation at the site and recommended it continued to be monitored for possible future recovery operations.

In 2013, additional artifacts were visible and every summer since then, during a small window of opportunity, Alaskan Command and Alaska National Guard personnel have been supporting the joint effort of Operation Colony Glacier.

Medical examiners from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used testing done by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory along with other forensic evidence in the identification of the service members. DNA testing continues to identify the remaining personnel. The crash site continues to be monitored for future possible recovery.

For more information, please contact the Air Force public affairs at 703-695-0640. For service record specific information, please contact the National Archives at 314-801-0816.

WWII flying ace encounters new generation of aircraft



By Sean Kimmons, Air Force News Service / Published October 08, 2015

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- The World War II flying ace looked wide-eyed at the instrument panel of an F-35 Lightning II simulator, as a pilot hovered the virtual fighter jet above a warship and safely landed it.

“It’s so much beyond my comprehension,” Tom "Ginger" Neil, Britain’s highest-scoring living ace, said of the aircraft’s fifth generation design, which also has stealth features. “It’s a new world entirely.”

Seventy five years ago, a 20-year-old Neil flew a Hawker Hurricane for the Royal Air Force, shielding his homeland against thousands of German bombers in the Battle of Britain -- the first ever battle decisively fought in the air.

“We didn’t think strategically or anything like that,” Neil said of his fellow pilots in the No. 249 RAF Squadron, who were as young as he was. “We were immersed with day-to-day fighting. All we were able to do is duck and weave to preserve our lives.”

Neil survived tense dogfights in the four-month battle that left more than 40,000 people dead. He was later credited with shooting down 14 enemy aircraft in the war -- most of them during the battle that ended Oct. 31, 1940.

Bomber raids

One day that remains vivid in his mind was Sept. 15, 1940, when Adolf Hitler ordered a fierce bombing campaign ahead of an expected invasion.

As two major German bombing raids were launched on London, Neil and others were dispatched up to 20,000 feet in the sky to stop them. In the enemy formation, Neil said he focused on a Dornier Do 17 bomber and fired at it, causing the crew to abandon the damaged aircraft.

“I just saw whirling arms and legs coming at my direction from the back of the aircraft,” Neil said of watching them parachute out. “I thought they were going to hit me.”

German fighters also attacked him and he returned fire as best he could as he swooped toward the bombers again.

“Everything happened so quickly. You were being attacked by enemy fighters at the same time and also shot at by other members of the bomber formation,” Neil said, adding that his Hurricane only suffered minor damage.

Around 60-80 German aircraft were shot down that day, Neil said, four of which credited to him.

“You shot at them when and how you could, and hopefully you’d hit something,” he said.

New generation

Decades after his historic run with propeller-driven aircraft, the 95-year-old former wing commander toured an F-35 simulator that trains pilots on the Air Force’s newest fifth-generation fighter jet at the Lockheed Martin office Oct. 7.

Neil, nicknamed Ginger from his auburn-colored hair as a young lad, was astute as he probed to know more of the aircraft, even if his hair has since faded to white.

He recalled that in a Hurricane he could spot an enemy aircraft within a few miles. But an F-35 pilot could be aware of an enemy aircraft hundreds of miles away, officials said.

“It’s unbelievable, mind boggling,” Neil later said of the F-35. “It means a lot to me now that I’m a little more conversed on it.”

Although pilots engaged in dogfights may be absent in today’s warfare, many believe air superiority of the United States and its allies is still being threatened as other nations boost defense spending.

“The gap is closing,” said British Capt. Peter “Willy” Hatchett, assigned to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Program, who showed Neil the simulator. “We can’t rest on our laurels.”

Hatchett, who has flown a Hurricane in airshows, said he was honored by the presence of a fighter ace of Neil’s caliber.

“For me, being involved in the military and the projection of power in the modern age, to meet somebody like him, who put his life on the line and who really came through when the going was tough, is very special,” he said.

The first batch of F-35 jets is expected to be operational by summer 2016. At least 12 countries are slated to purchase the aircraft.

The Air Force is set to be the largest F-35 operator, with more than 1,700 F-35A aircraft that’ll work alongside the F-22 Raptor, the branch’s other fifth-generation fighter.

Pentagon Annual Awards Ceremony Honors 9 Top Employees



By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, October 8, 2015 — Nine Defense Department were honored today for their service, dedication and professionalism to help make the world “a safer and better place” for Americans today and those who will follow, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said here.

In a Pentagon ceremony, the deputy secretary honored eight employees with DoD’s Distinguished Civilian Service Awards at the 60th annual event, and the ninth employee with the 11th annual DoD David O. Cooke Excellence in Public Administration Award.

“You bring honor to the tradition of the civilian workforce and public service,” Work told the honorees. “Your dedication strengthens our country’s security and prosperity.”

Awards Mark DoD’s Highest Honors

The Distinguished Civilian Service Award is the highest recognition DoD can give, and it is presented to a small number of civilian employees whose careers reflect exceptional devotion to duty and significant contributions of broad scope in policy, scientific, technical or administrative fields that increase effectiveness and efficiency, DoD officials said.

For non-managerial career civilian employees with three to 10 years of civilian federal career service, the David O. Cooke Award recognizes future federal executive potential that exemplifies the namesake’s talents. Cooke’s 55 years of federal service included about 44 years with DoD, where he is recognized as a public official who championed a cooperative spirit and improved operations, officials said.

Honorees Rose Up to DoD Challenges

“We face many challenges as a department, a military and as a nation, but these individuals exemplify the qualities and determination that allow us to meet these challenges head-on,” Work told award winners, their families and coworkers.

Each honoree excelled while fulfilling DoD’s critical mission to organize, train and equip a joint force that is ready for war and is operated forward to preserve the peace, the deputy secretary said.

Work said he was proud of the initiatives the honorees developed with a focus on warfighting while also saving DoD billions of dollars in a time of shrinking budgets and fiscal uncertainty.

The past few years have been particularly challenging for the civilian workforce, the deputy secretary noted.

“We’ve gone through government shutdowns, furloughs [and] we’ve had unprecedented budget uncertainty,” he said. “And throughout this period of political and budgetary gridlock, the civilian workforce has continued to do the job [it] has always performed.”

Given such issues, the deputy secretary said the “entire” Pentagon leadership is grateful for its civilian workforce.

Civilians Vital to Defense Mission

DOD civilians are absolutely critical to the military mission and as important to U.S. national security as those in uniform, Work said.

“There are some people who say government employees are overpaid and underworked,” he said. “That is total nonsense. I would defy anyone in this great nation and especially those who question just how hard our governments civilians work to come here for one day, get in their shoes, and try to go through the uncertainty and great turmoil we all face, and try to make that claim.”

2015 Honorees

The recipients of the 60th annual DoD Distinguished Civilian Service awards are:

-- Virginia Beall, head of campaign analysis and modeling in the assessment division, Chief of Naval Operations;

-- Kathleen Brest, senior medical acquisition advisor, Army Medical Materiel Development Activity;

-- Charles Hans, supervisory senior intelligence officer, operational assessment group, non-state threats division, joint intelligence operations center, Defense Intelligence Agency;

-- Donna Hightower, deputy product manager, unmanned aircraft systems project office, Department of Army;

-- Frederick Moorefield Jr., director, spectrum policy and programs with DoD’s Chief Information Officer;

-- Lynda Rutledge, deputy program executive officer, fighters and bombers, Air Force Lifecycle Management Center, Department of Air Force;

-- Daria Stafford, live-fire test and evaluation staff specialist, DoD’s Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation; and

-- William Underlet, division chief for the Iran, Iraq and Syria division, deputy directorate for politico-military affairs Middle East, J-5 Office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The 11th Annual DOD David O. Cooke Excellence in Public Administration awardee is:

-- Chelsea Goldstein, combating weapons of mass destruction planner, Defense Threat Reduction Agency.