Thursday, October 22, 2015

Kids step into parent's boots during deployment operations

by Maj. Angelic Ramirez
Space and Missile Systems Center Public Affairs

10/22/2015 - LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, El Segundo, Calif.  -- The Airmen and Family Readiness Center at Los Angeles Air Force Base will host the annual Kids Understanding Deployment Operations event at the Fort MacArthur parade grounds Saturday, Oct. 24 from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in San Pedro, Calif.

The annual event provides military children and teens of families stationed at the Space and Missile Systems Center in El Segundo, Calif., the opportunity to experience the deployment process similar to what their parent(s) go through before heading overseas.

KUDOS is open to children and teens ages 5 to 15 and must be accompanied by an adult. It is open to children of military, Department of Defense and Contractor employees, according to Tech. Sgt. Melvin Morena, 61st Force Support Services and organizer of the event.

While the Airmen and Family Readiness Center offers many programs available to help the service members and families during deployments, KUDOS is specifically designed for children.

"The event will kick off with the children processing through a deployment line; all real-world agencies will be on site to in-process participants. They will receive their travel card, uniform (t-shirt), mobility bag, required medication (skittles and simulated vaccinations) and military orders," said Morena.

Once everybody has processed the deployment line they will be provided an intelligence brief and welcomed by the commander. Participants are broken into groups and led by military members to different stations to learn hands-on military skillsets that include self-aid, buddy care and self-defense techniques. An obstacle course and real world military exhibits will be available with guided instruction and demonstration.

The junior deployers can taste a variety of the Meals, Ready to Eat, apply camo face paint and don mission orientated protective posture, or MOPP gear.

The event will conclude with a small ceremony honoring each participant who will be given a KUDOS dog tag and a welcome home ceremony at the parade field where family and friends can cheer on participants and greet them with welcome home signs.

"It is a one-of a kind event that educates, builds team work, and challenges you both physically and mentally. More importantly, we make the process fun! Fall in for a day in our boots!" said Morena.

For more information or to register for KUDOS, call (310) 653-5428.

9th Army Band inspires, educates through concerts in Sitka

by Mary M. Rall
U.S. Army Alaska Public Affairs

10/22/2015 - SITKA -- The 9th Army Band turned up the volume on their annual Alaska Day Festival participation Oct. 14 and 15 by adding performances at five Sitka schools to the community events the Soldiers traditionally support.

"Each one of us has our own story, and each one of us wants to tell our story, and the way we tell it is through music," said 9th Army Band commander Chief Warrant Officer Michael Krzmarzick, noting that telling the Army's story is a significant aspect of the performances as well.

"The best time that we can do that is by reaching out to younger people to show them that there's a lighter side to the military," Krzmarzick said. "We're not just big guys with guns ... we're human beings, and you can have fun in the military."

This is the first time in about ten years U.S. Army Alaska Soldiers have offered performances in area schools, said Joan Berge, the Alaska Day Festival Committee's military liaison.

Blatchley Middle School music teacher Mike Kernin, 40, has taught with the Sitka School District for 20 years and said he's grateful the Fort Wainwright Soldiers are once again performing in the schools while they're in town.

"I try to maintain a little bit of youth in my old age, but you guys brought a nice vibe to the room, and it's nice to not have to go to YouTube to see cool stuff," he told the band members following their Oct. 14 performance at the middle school. "Most of them didn't have phones, so they were actually watching and listening to you instead of pushing a button and staring at the screen, so it was pretty cool. They were in the moment."

The band's Groovin' Grizzlies brass band and the Vernal Equinox rock band performed a variety of music for area students, shaping their performances to best meet the different tastes and educational needs of the elementary, middle and high school audiences.

"It's great to see the transition from the beginning of the show when you have a group of kids who don't know what to expect from an Army band," Krzmarzick said, explaining students are often anticipating a John Philip Sousa march and are thrown for a loop when they begin performing something by an artist such as Ariana Grande.

"They had a lot of energy, and it was great to have them out here rocking out first period," said Anders Marius, a sophomore who attended the band's Oct. 15 performance at Sitka High School. "There's not a better way to start the morning."

Sitka High sophomore Kincaid Parsons was impressed with Spc. Victor Nichols, who performed as one of Vernal Equinox's vocalists and also played the keyboard
and keytar.

"The keytar - it was insane. I was screaming," Parsons said with a laugh. "I don't know how I'm going to finish my day, because I'm so tired."

School performances are some of the band's favorite missions, said trumpet player Spc. John LaCombe, because the students have an opportunity to become completely involved and engaged in the concerts.

"I just think it's really fun to inspire these kids to show them how much fun music can be, how much variety you can have and that the fundamentals from middle school apply all the way up to the awesome professional world," said trumpet player Sgt. Thomas Borgerding.

The band members also worked a question and answer session into their performance at Blatchley Middle School, which served as an opportunity for the soldiers to encourage the students to hone their musical skills.

"If you don't start when you're young, it can almost get to be too late to catch up. You're going to be competing with other people who've been playing forever," said Staff Sgt. Laura Lamecker following the middle school concert. "You can always start making music, always get better and always practice, but the earlier you start, the easier it is."

Band 1st Sgt. Michael Plachinski was previously stationed in Alaska from 1999 through 2005, and said he has fond memories of the band's performances in Sitka schools. He recalled a letter the band once received from a musician, who told the Soldiers he was inspired to begin his musical career when the 9th Army Band performed at his middle school.

"Maybe there's more of that that's here that we're not aware of," Plachinski said. "We don't get to follow-up with those kind of things, but I hope that the kids go home and they take their horn out and they try to figure out 'Honey I'm Good.'"

The performances will be well worth it if they result in a little extra practice time, Plachinski said.

"It's just great to have you guys come back and start this up again," Kernin added, reassuring the first sergeant that the band's performance is sure to positively impact his students' educational experience.

Kernin said faculty and students alike look forward to having the band perform at the school again next year.

"There's no faking with middle school kids," he said. "If they weren't liking it, you would have known."

F.E. Warren task force gains knowledge through missile test

by 2nd Lt. Veronica Perez
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

10/22/2015 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen from the 90th Missile Wing at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyoming, launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with a simulated reentry vehicle today at 5:45 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time from Vandenberg AFB, California.

The ICBM's reentry vehicle, which contained a telemetry package used for operational testing, traveled approximately 4,200 miles to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

The 18-member Task Force of missile maintainers and missile operators arrived in California in the middle of September to prepare and train for the once-in-a-lifetime endeavor.

1st Lt. Daniel Uresti, 90 MW Task Force missile combat crew commander, said it was an honor to be selected for the operation and almost felt it was too good to be true.

"I didn't believe that I was coming until I actually got here," he said. "Knowing the world is watching our launch is awesome, and as a team we know we have the responsibility to make sure we do our best."

Test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a continued safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent. The launch team worked under direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, located at Vandenberg AFB.

1st Lt. Aaron Bonovitch, 90 MW Task Force missile combat crew commander and operations officer-in-charge, explained how working with the 576th FTS gave him greater insight into his role as a missile operator at F.E. Warren AFB.

"The background and behind the scenes we got to see was eye opening," Bonovitch said. "I learned a great deal from the testing personnel and have a new perspective on our daily operations."

The ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command uses data collected from the test launches for continuing force development evaluation.

Staff Sgt. Johnathon Barron, 90 MW Task Force missile maintenance team chief, said he has a newfound perspective on how his actions impact the global scale.

"It's great to know that I am keeping America safe," he said. "I will be excited to see the data after the test."

The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States' ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.

A huge and critical task for the maintenance team members was assembling the missile into the launch facility, which traveled over 1,000 miles from Nebraska to California, Barron said.

"It took a lot of coordination with the personnel from the 576th and seven full days of work," he said. "I have a better understanding of what Vandenberg does to prep the missile in order to get the accurate data needed, while helping us do our job - it's truly a team effort."

The team of young and seasoned Airmen worked closely together to ensure the missile was prepared to launch. Bonovitch and Uresti agreed learning more about the crucial role of the maintenance team members was invaluable.

"We had the opportunity to watch them install the missile into the launch facility and discussed issues they face when removing or replacing components of the weapons system," Uresti said. "They continue to get the job done despite long hours, long drives and severe weather conditions."

AFGSC's missile bases have crew members standing alert 24-7 year round, overseeing the nation's ICBM alert forces. Test launches are conducted with randomly selected ICBMs from one of the three missile bases, located at F.E. Warren AFB, Malmstrom AFB, Montana and Minot AFB, North Dakota.

"Operational test launches are huge undertakings that require skilled Airmen working together to demonstrate the reliability of the weapon system," said Lt. Col. Rickey McCann, 90 MW Task Force commander. "We are showing our nation, our allies and our adversaries the full capability of the ICBM mission and the dedication and discipline of our ICBM Airmen."

Senior Airman Joshua Isom, 90 MW Task Force electro-mechanical engineer team chief, said the feeling of being involved in such an important operation is tremendous and he's thankful for the experience.

"It feels really great to be recognized and offered the chance to be a part of something not many people in this career field get to experience," Isom said. "As a missile maintainer, it is pretty awesome to help in the mission of providing the President of the United States with a capable nuclear deterrent."

For the members of the 90 MW Task Force, the experience brought them closer together to create stronger bonds that will pay dividends for the Mighty Ninety missile operators and maintenance team members, said 1st Lt. Holley Macpherson, 90 MW Task Force missile combat crew deputy commander.

"We were very honest giving feedback to each other and knowing the different moving parts of our separate tasks will help us both operate better," she said. "It's likely we'll never be able to do anything like this again, but we can take what we learned and share it with our fellow Airmen back home."

Old-school training in a high-tech world

by Tech. Sgt. Nic Kuetemeyer
180th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/22/2015 - Whitehouse, Ohio -- Security Forces Airmen from the 180th Fighter Wing, Ohio Air National Guard conducted old-school land navigation training at Oak Openings Metro Park, here,  Sept. 27.

The training, conducted using traditional navigation techniques such as maps, plot points and compasses, helps Airmen remain proficient with the equipment and art of navigation in austere conditions or in the event of an emergency when technology fails.

Security forces operations officer, 2nd Lt. Sam Thornton, explained why traditional navigation techniques are important to practice in today's world of smart phones and satellites.

"Technology can fail; a battery can die on anything," said Thornton.  "We have a GPS unit you can plug coordinates into and it'll take you right where you need to go, but if you're in a wooded area, the canopy can keep it from working."

The term "land navigation" refers to finding one's way by using maps, plotting points on a grid, counting footsteps to judge distance and using a compass to find direction. It is a very precise process that must be followed exactly in order to successfully find a way through any terrain without the use of Global Positioning Systems, street names or easily recognized landmarks such as buildings.

Thornton explained that going up and down hills, navigating through thickly wooded areas, and crossing rivers can all throw off distance and directional calculations. If an Airman walks a few degrees off the line set by the compass, they could end up very far away from their intended point on the map. In a deployed or combat environment, being able to rely on these techniques could make the difference between reaching safety or not.

"In Security we do a lot of off-base patrols," said Thornton, who helped set up the course and plot points the Airmen needed to reach. "If your vehicle breaks down, you might have to walk and if you don't want to take the road, you can just bring out a map."

180th FW Airmen have a unique training ground available to them in the Oak Openings Metro Park. It contains such highly varied ecosystems like sand dunes and wetlands, presenting a challenging course for Security Forces.

Maintaining trained, qualified Airmen who are ready to deploy is a top priority for the 180th FW. Even though it may sound old fashioned, techniques like land navigation will help the 180th execute the mission at home and abroad.

Tampa mayor recognizes Guardsmen with unusual honor

by Tech. Sgt. William Buchanan
125th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/17/2015 - Jacksonville, Fla. -- Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn honored local Air National Guardsmen by officially proclaiming Oct. 17, 2015, as 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron Day.

This is the first time that a Florida Air National Guard unit has been recognized with a mayoral proclamation of this kind.

The proclamation recognized the 290th JCSS located at MacDill Air Force Base for providing tactical communications systems during times of crisis, war, and natural disaster recovery. Specifically, deployment teams from the 290th JCSS have participated in Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and provided emergency assistance during Hurricanes Andrew, Opal, Charlie, Francis, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis, Rita, Ike, Wilma and Katrina.

"The 290th ... can truly claim that we are Floridians and we belong to the city of Tampa," said Lt. Col. Matthew Giles, commander of the 290th Joint Communication Support Squadron (JCSS). "This is a reminder that Tampa has said 'Thank you.'"

Giles said it's extremely important to recognize the service and sacrifices of his Airmen, their families and veterans who work in the community. So he created a draft proclamation identifying both state and federal missions supported by 290th JCSS Airmen, and requested that the 290th day of the year be named after them.

"I'm excited to be part of such a great unit's that's being recognized this way," Airman 1st Class Brad Reinert said. "Knowing the impact we have for our brothers and sisters in uniform down range, keeping them in communication with who they need, it's very exciting and I'm very proud of that."

Giles said he appreciates everything his Airmen do for the state of Florida and the country, and he will continue to do everything in his power to promote their exceptional performance to the public.

"Over 600 Airmen have been mobilized since 9/11, and this past year, we've deployed Airmen to every continent except Antarctica," Giles said. "This is something to be proud of for everything the squadron has accomplished over the last 32 years."

137 ARW Command Post wins Air National Guard Small Command Post of the Year

by Senior Airman Justin Creech
137th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

10/21/2015 - WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- The 137th Air Refueling Wing command post was selected as the Air National Guard Small Command Post of the Year for the period of Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2014.

The 137 CP received the award for excellence in mission accomplishment and impact, performance and recognition of command post controllers, and training recognition.

"We are very excited to be recognized at the Air National Guard level," said Master Sgt. Barbara Baldwin, 137 CP superintendent. "Everyone worked extremely hard last year and I'm proud of what we were able to accomplish."

In 2014, the 137 CP continued to perform command and control operations as part of a 6-year partnership with the 507th Air Refueling Wing Command Post at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma City, while simultaneously implementing full-time operations here.

Also in 2014, the 137 CP also provided personnel to augment the 507 CP's capabilities and capacity in support of a U.S. Strategic Command exercise.

"I chose to postpone our annual tour with the wing to provide shift coverage to the 507 CP so all of their personnel were able to participate in the exercise," said Baldwin. "The training they received will be instrumental to their success in future exercises. Despite our impending departure, I felt it was important to continue to support them however possible."

They also spearheaded wing-wide preparation for the conversion to a special operations mission by proactively identifying, assessing, and correcting potential deficiencies in communication processes and reporting procedures.

Participation in several activities on base and in the community also contributed to receiving this award. CP controllers participated in unit and community morale events, including several near Christmas, and also helped design a memorial for fallen WRANGB Airmen.

"I think it's very important to be involved in both unit and community activities," said Baldwin. "It helps build relationships and opens communication with agencies and individuals we might not otherwise be exposed to."

Col. Devin R. Wooden, 137 ARW commander, is thrilled with the example 137 CP has set since returning to WRANGB and the ANG's recognition of their efforts.

"Our command post airmen displayed great focus, persistence and perseverance through uncertain times," said Wooden. "The way they finished strong at the close of our air refueling mission and have embraced their new mission in AFSOC serves as an example to all of us. I can think of no finer Airmen to represent the Air National Guard as Small Command Post of the Year for 2014."

114th Fighter Wing awarded 2014 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

by Senior Master Sgt. Nancy Ausland
114th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

10/20/2015 - SIOUX FALLS, S.D -  -- The 114th Fighter Wing of the South Dakota Air National Guard is pleased to be announced as the recipient of the 2014 Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the time period October 1, 2012 to September 30, 2014.

The dedication and commitment of the members of the unit enabled the Air National Guard to fulfill its commitment to the missions of peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, domestic improvement and  ̶  most important of all  ̶  defense of America.

This is the seventh time the unit has received this award for exceptional meritorious service, the last in 2005.

"I'm very proud of the accomplishments of our Airmen, they are extremely deserving of this national recognition and truly represent the best of our nation." said Col. Russ Walz, 114th Fighter Wing commander.

The award is signed by Lieutenant General Stanley E Clarke III, director, Air National Guard.

Colorado ANG participates in Wing Wartime Readiness Inspection

by Tech. Sgt. Nicole Manzanares
140th Wing Public Affairs

10/19/2015 - BUCKLEY AFB, Colo. -- Airmen from the 140th Wing, Colorado Air National Guard, participated in a four-day large scale combat readiness assessment, the Wing Wartime Readiness Inspection at Buckley Air Force Base, Oct. 15 -18.

The WWRI is one of the ways the 140th Wing is implementing the new Air Force Inspection System which is intended to assess each unit exclusively on their ability to perform their specific deployed mission.

"The WWRI differs greatly from any inspection we've had in the past," said Maj. Susan Ruby, 140th Wing Inspector General, "it brings value-added training for each unit." 

Under AFIS, the wing is able to focus on mission readiness and improving mission effectiveness with a series of internally planned inspections and evaluations throughout the year, rather than gearing up for one big Operational Readiness Inspection every few years, as was done in the past.

The new inspection system relies heavily on the Commander's Inspection Program, which is designed to give the wing commander responsibility for the unit's compliance, readiness and ability to execute its mission. The wing commander oversees the wing's Inspector General team, which helps coordinate exercises and inspections to continually assess the wing in four areas: managing resources, leading people, improving the unit and executing the mission.

During the WWRI, the wing's IG team worked with designated inspection team members to create training scenarios and exercises that were specifically tailored to each individual unit's mission.

"We have trained Wing Inspection Team members throughout each organization in the wing," said Ruby. "They designed the exercise scenario for their own team that would stress critical areas so that they could find weaknesses or areas of non-compliance within their organization."

Since each unit was responsible for planning and executing their own plans for the inspection, there were numerous events and exercise scenarios running simultaneously throughout the course of the extended drill weekend.

The 140th Operations Group and 140th Maintenance Group worked together to challenge the wartime flying mission, launching over 50 sorties during a two-day period.

Members of the 140th Civil Engineer Squadron  trained on Status of Resources and Training System reports, shooting the M-4 carbine assault rifle, gearing up to perform chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear readiness training, and working on self-aid and buddy care, while also constructing facilities on a simulated bare base.

"In the Air Force we are one piece on the chess board," said Lt. Col. Jeremy Milliman, commander, 140th Civil Engineering Squadron.  "Our job as an Air National Guard CE unit is to be prepared to deploy; we are exercising our wartime tasks."

This exercise was designed to be realistic, Milliman explained. "It puts our Airmen in the scenario and teaches them to overcome and adapt to a situation, rather than practicing multiple times to perfection and then getting inspected," he said.

Meanwhile, on the other side of base, the 140th Security Forces Squadron filled their days with expeditionary skills training scenarios, flight line intruder exercises, and using the weapons training simulator, in which students were put through lethal and non-lethal force situations.

"What we are assessing our patrolmen on are the basic foundational skills and correct positioning when challenging an individual during use of force simulations," said Master Sgt. Patrick Nay, SFS unit training manager. "This benefits our SF members to be comfortable in using force and to eliminate hesitation time."

Everyone from the inspectors to the lowest Airmen play a part in the inspection. Under the new system, Airmen are encouraged to report to their leadership any time they see something that is not right or in accordance with regulations.

Senior Airman Kathryn Nay, a SFS patrolman, embraced the concept during the SF training. "These are people we trust with our lives and they trust us with their lives. It is important for us to communicate everything we see and be honest with ourselves as a unit so that we can truly improve."

Even members of the 233d Space Group, Greeley Air National Guard Station, joined in and accomplished required training on loading and unloading tractor trailers onto a C-17 Globemaster III from the 183rd Airlift Squadron, Mississippi Air National Guard.

"You need a licensed driver, two load crew members and five Airmen on each side of the truck to back a trailer onto an aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Michelle Scherger, a 233rd logistician. With little room for error, the task tested the entire crew and helped fine tune their process for the future.

All these exercises were only a small portion of the training that units exercised over the long weekend, all with the intent to stress their capabilities, find weaknesses, and fix them.

"After the WWRI is done, it's time to work on the improvement part," said Ruby. "There are three critical things; root cause analysis, corrective action plan and the estimated completion date."

At the conclusion of the WWRI, each unit is tasked to find the root cause of any noted deficiencies, create an action plan to improve, and correct the scenario.

Ruby summed it up after a long and very busy drill weekend. "The goal under the new Air Force Inspection System is to 'inspect to improve', and I think we successfully accomplished that through the WWRI."

165th AW gets Hercules Upgrades

by Tech. Sgt. Amber Williams
165th AW

10/20/2015 - Savannah, Ga. -- The 165th Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard received the first of eight C-130 Hercules upgrades, here, Oct. 15.

The 165th AW will be replacing the C-130H2s to the C-130H2.5 and C-130H3 which are approximately fifteen years newer. The newer aircraft are expected to replace the current fleet throughout 2016.

"Basically, we're getting a newer model of the C-130. With the replacements we are gaining enhanced navigational capability, electronic flight instrumentation whereas before all of our gages were analog, and improved autopilot system," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Drew, Inspector General and C-130 Hercules pilot for the 165th Airlift Wing. "The greatest advancement is that we now have a Master Caution and Warning System which will audibly announce when something could be wrong."

"These upgrades will significantly contribute to how the 165th Airlift Wing executes our State and Federal missions and allow us to be better prepared for worldwide contingencies," said Col. Rainer Gomez the 165th Airlift Wing Commander.  "It also means we will have the ability to sustain operations with newer Aircraft thus allowing us a longer future as a Guard unit."

The 165th Airlift Wing has approximately 1,400 Airmen and supports both State and Federal missions and has deployed in support of worldwide contingencies such as Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring freedom.

Aviano maintainers exceed standards on downrange F-16 inspections

by Tech. Sgt. Joseph Swafford
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

10/22/2015 - BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS -- Airmen deployed from Aviano Air Base, Italy, and assigned to the 455th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron recently completed their 32nd F-16 Fighting Falcon phase inspection, ensuring the aircraft can complete the combat airpower mission here.

Phase inspections are in-depth and accomplished upon accrual of a specific number of flying hours -- in the F-16's case, every 400 hours.

"It's basically scheduled downtime for the aircraft to be inspected more than the normal day-to-day operations would allow," said Master Sgt. Aaron Lerding, a 455th EMXS maintenance flight chief. "There are 635 inspections items that are inspected with every Viper (F-16) phase. Just in the same way that you must change your oil on your car every 3,000 miles and timing belt at scheduled intervals, the phase process is a scheduled inspection that allows us to ensure safe, reliable airpower every 400 flight hours."

Having the capability to complete phase inspections in a deployed environment helps the wing complete its air tasking order.

"Phase is the power house that sustains the ATO," said Maj. Megan Murtishaw, the 455th EMXS commander. "Fighter aircraft have hourly scheduled inspections and by having a phase dock deployed with the unit, it allows for increased aircraft availability which ultimately gives us more combat capability."

Having the capability here is nice but it doesn't come without its deployed challenges.

"Here we have five days to complete the 400-hour phase, whereas back at home station we have nine days," said Senior Airman Kristina Manning, a 455th EMXS maintenance specialist. "We still have to complete everything we do back home, just in a lot less time. Even though we have to get everything done quicker it has to be done thoroughly, the jets here are not just going out on a training mission but for combat missions."

The phase team, which also makes up the Crash, Disabled and Damaged Aircraft Recovery team, had to respond to all in-flight and ground emergencies, Lerding said.

"Often times they would have to drop their tools while working or stop operational checkouts to respond," he said. "Additionally, we also built all F-16 wheel and tire assemblies totaling over 310, which is 300 times the normal rate."

Despite these challenges, the team was still able to complete the 32 phase inspections, which were 33 percent more than the previous two rotations with the same amount of manning.

"They're exceptional maintainers who also looked for ways to make things better," Murtishaw said. "They changed the flow of the maintenance completed during phases to help meet the required timeline. They also implemented a new process where everything is digital during the phase, saving hours on the back end to review forms."

Seeing the jets have an impact on the mission here was a rewarding experience for the phase inspection maintainers.

"It's great to see the jets that we have completed phase on come back after dropping bombs without having any issues," Manning said. "It's amazing to know that we contributed to the jet having 400 more hours of flight time to complete the mission."

Selva: USO Volunteers Offer Hope to Service Members

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, October 21, 2015 — The USO volunteer force brings hope to service members in every corner of the planet, Joint Chiefs of Staff Vice Chairman Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva said here last night at the 2015 annual USO Gala and awards ceremony.

Selva was the keynote speaker at the formal event where an estimated 1,000 dignitaries, military leaders, Congressional members and USO board of governors and sponsors gathered at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.

“It is an absolute privilege to stand before you this evening and say the two words in the English language that are wholly inadequate to this evening’s event: ‘Thank you,’” Selva told the USO volunteers. “Thank you for what you do every day for the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and National Guardsmen who defend freedom and liberty for this nation every day.”

The sun was just casting its morning shadows in the mountains of Afghanistan and dawn had yet to break in Baghdad, the vice chairman said, “But somewhere out there tonight, a soldier, sailor, airman, Marine, Coast Guardsman or a member of our National Guard is defending the freedoms and liberty that you and I hold dear. And we all owe you a debt of gratitude because standing next to that young man or woman is the spirit of the [USO].”

USO Volunteers are Special

USO volunteers touch 75,000 lives every day, Selva said.

The vice chairman said he and his wife recently visited USO volunteers working in mortuary affairs at Dover Air Force Base, where they “provided loving embraces to families who had lost loved ones.”

It takes a special kind of person to open his or her heart to families who are grieving, Selva noted.

“I’m humbled tonight,” he said. “I’m not here as a senior military leader or as an officer in the United States Air Force, but as a citizen of the United States, a member of the greatest nation in the world that is defended by some of the greatest young men and women humanity has to offer.”

Selva thanked the USO for “not for standing in our shadow, but for standing by our side and taking care of us and our families when it’s most important. When we need a little touch of home, we know you will always be by our side.”

2015 USO Awards

The annual USO gala is also a time to honor and recognize volunteers and service members for significant achievements.

The USO volunteer awardees were former Air Force Airman Richard “Dick” Anderson of the USO in Las Vegas, who received the USO Volunteer of the Year, U.S. award; and Air Force Airman 1st Class Eric Chun of the USO in Guam, who was honored with the USO Volunteer of the Year, Overseas.

Senior military leadership presented a service member from each service branch for outstanding and heroic actions.

-- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley presented the USO Soldier of the Year award to Spc. Christian T. Sheers of Beast Troop, 1st Squadron, 33rd Cavalry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

-- Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Robert B. Neller presented the USO Marine of the Year to Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Bednarik of Company E, 2nd Battalion, Recruit Training Regiment, Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego.

-- Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Michelle J. Howard presented the USO Sailor of the Year award to Petty Officer 2nd Class Jessica A. Jusino of the USS Abraham Lincoln, Newport News, Virginia.

-- Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein presented the USO Airman of the Year award to Senior Airman TJ Brantley of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight, 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana.

-- Coast Guard Vice Commandant Vice Adm. Charles D. Michele presented the USO Coast Guardsman of the Year award to Petty Officer 1st Class Angel J. Leott of Maritime Safety and Security, Team Boston, in Boston.

-- National Guard Bureau Chief Army Gen. Frank J. Grass presented the USO National Guardsman of the Year award to Minnesota Army National Guard Sgt. Aaron Burdash of 204th Area Support Medical Company, 347th Regional Support Group, in Cottage Grove, Minnesota.

New resilience program for AMC civilian personnel

by Headquarters Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

10/21/2015 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE,Ill. -- Headquarters Air Mobility Command will initiate a new program this month called the Federal Occupational Health Employee Assistance Program.

The program is a free, anonymous resource available 24/7 to assist federal civilians and Non-Appropriated Fund employees assigned to HQ AMC and subordinate units with emotional, spiritual, social and physical needs.

"The goal is to improve health and functioning as well as workplace performance by providing prevention and intervention tools for civilian employee's problems," said Patricia McDonald, HQ AMC chief of personnel programs.

Similar to the program Military OneSource created for military personnel, EAP provides comprehensive online resources and certified counselors for the civilian workforce and their immediate family. "Employees can refer themselves or can be referred by their supervisor, although participation is completely voluntary," said McDonald. "In addition, employees affected by emotional concerns, drug, alcohol, or other personal problems will be offered up to six confidential visits using professional counselors."
An online website will also provide information on subjects including stress, healthy living, management coaching, legal and financial services.

AMC designed their EAP program based on a similar one created by AFMC in FY2003. The goal of the EAP is to enhance employee and workplace effectiveness through prevention, identification, and resolution of personal and productivity issues. AMC is only the second Air Force major command to offer this type of program.

For 24/7 access to the Employee Assistance Program, visit or call 1-800-222-0364.