Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Face of Defense: ‘Magic’ NCO Reaches Airmen, Veterans

By Air Force Senior Airman Aubrey White, Joint Base Langley-Eustis DoD News Features, Defense Media Activity

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va., November 25, 2015 — From a distance, Air Force Master Sgt. Scott Fridinger, the first sergeant for the Air Combat Command Communications Support Squadron, looks like any other senior noncommissioned officer; his uniform is in order, military-issued silver glasses frame his eyes, his hair trimmed with precision.

But what makes Fridinger unique is what he carries in his briefcase and how he uses its contents to connect with those he encounters every day.

“I can’t sing, I have no rhythm, I have no musical talent -- no talents whatsoever, so why not do magic?” Fridinger joked. “When you do the tricks people always say, ‘How do you do that?’ But you don’t really want to know because it ruins it.”

Fridinger began practicing magic after a high school trip to New York where he visited a magic shop. It wasn’t until he spent years polishing his craft, and with a lot of encouragement from his wife, that he thought of expanding his audience.

“When I met [my wife] I had a briefcase full of card tricks and she was like, ‘Why don’t you do more with that?’” Fridinger recalled. “Now I have a room full of magic tricks. I have magic stuff in my car; I’m always prepared to do something.”

Reaching Airmen

When he’s not teaching magic classes to children or entertaining his own four children, Fridinger said his magic also allows him to reach his airmen from a different angle.

“Most of them love it,” he said of his coworkers. “I would love to see all the [senior noncommissioned officers] do an open show for the airmen in the dorms. From my perspective, magic builds that personable authority where they trust you and they like you so they want to come to you with their problems. The airmen will see their leaders as people.”

According to Fridinger, not all of his tricks are for simple amusement. He also performs magic with specific messages geared toward enhancing the pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness and the Air Force core values.

“Depending on how far you want to go, I have stuff that has built-in messages. I gave one to an Air Force recruiter that he could do when he’s meeting people,” he explained. “I’m not a gospel magician, but I try to do stuff that has a message at the beginning and a message at the end so it’s not just entertainment.”

During one of his squadron Comprehensive Airmen Fitness days, Fridinger visited the Hampton, Virginia, Veterans Affairs Hospital and entertained veterans suffering from a variety of ailments. The magician said he believes it’s important to give back to the community that has given so much to him.
“If you have something you really love and enjoy, find a way to give it back to the community,” Fridinger said. “It’s not just good for them; it’s good for you too.”

Blood brothers and sisters support each other

by Senior Airman Jonathan Bass
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/20/2015 - SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- A crimson streak leaves an Airman's arm and is collected in a bag. The gift is stored away safely, to save a life sometime in the future.

The Armed Services Blood Program operated a blood drive here, Nov. 18, at the Fitness Center, collecting blood donations from Team Shaw members. This was the ASBP's first drive at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.

Being stationed near Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, Germany, Master Sgt. Stephanie Field, 51st Intelligence Squadron first sergeant, saw first-hand how much of a need there was for blood.

"I was able to support the transition of injured members landing at Ramstein (Air Base, Germany) and being transported to the LRMC, many of them coming in as critical, and all of them needing blood," said Field.

The ASBP is the official blood collection, manufacturing, transport, and transfusion program for the Department of Defense, according to the ASBP website.

They provide quality blood products and services for all customers in both peacetime and war. Tasked with collecting, processing, storing, and transporting blood to ill or injured veterans and their families, worldwide, for all the branches of the military, the ASBP has been collecting blood for the military since 1962.

Donating blood can be a perfect real-world example of exemplifying Air Force values.

"In less than an hour you can put someone else's needs before your own," said Field. "What better way to emulate Service Before Self, donating blood so that others may live."

Since its inception, the ASBP has provided more than 1.5 million units of blood to treat battlefield illnesses and injuries. Blood is also collected and distributed to family members of service members, extending their reach to the community. Beyond the military community, the ASBP donates blood during natural disasters and is called upon during times of crisis or humanitarian missions.

"The blood collected here at Shaw will be packaged, processed, and ultimately sent to support those injured in theater," said Field. "It makes me smile to think that the blood collected here will end up at the LRMC; the place where I first learned about the ASBP and how impactful blood is on our brothers and sisters in arms."

For more information about the ASBP, visit:

The donation only takes a few minutes, one prick of a needle, and a moment of temporary pain to save a life.

E-3 Block 40/45 deploys to combat theater.. The Wait is Over

by Darren D. Heusel
Tinker Public Affairs

11/20/2015 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The long-awaited, highly anticipated deployment of the E-3 "Sentry" Airborne Warning and Control System Block 40/45 aircraft is finally over, with the arrival of the first upgraded weapon system to a combat theater of operations.

The first E-3G arrived in Southwest Asia Nov. 18, marking the deployment of the most comprehensive modification to the weapon system in its 38-year history. The changes improve communications, computer processing power, threat tracking and other capabilities.

The $2.7 billion upgrades replace some hardware and software that dates to the 1970s, signaling a game-changer to airborne surveillance and air battle management.

"This modification represents the most significant upgrade in the 35-plus year history of the E-3 and greatly enhances our crewmembers' ability to execute the command and control mission, while providing a building block for future upgrades," said Col. David Gaedecke, commander of the 552nd Air Control Wing, which flies the E-3.

To date, nine of the 27 E-3s assigned to the 552nd ACW have received the modification and have met their crew certification on the Block 40/45 systems.

"This is the initial combat deployment for the capability after numerous exercises," Col. Gaedecke said. "Crews will be able to process tactical information, providing combatant commanders with increased situational aware-ness."

The Block 40/45 provides operational and technological reliability, maintainability, supportability, and integration of future technologies and growth opportunities.

In addition, the new modifications automate previously manual functions and improve the amount of data that E-3 aircrews can receive and share with allied forces on missions such as counterdrug surveillance.

"This upgrade takes computing capability from 1970s technology to current day," Gaedecke said. "Tied with the Deployable Ground System, this allows both operators and intelligence personnel capabilities far beyond [the older model] 30/35."

The upgrade has been a partnership between the 552nd ACW, the E-3 System Program Offices at Hanscom AFB, Mass., and Tinker AFB, the Oklahoma City Air Logistics Complex, which performs the modification, and the Boeing Co., the prime contractor.

The E-3G model reached Initial Operating Capability on July 28, 2015, and the OC-ALC went into full-rate production shortly thereafter, a milestone marking the start of faster upgrades for the remainder of the airborne surveillance and battle management fleet.

While the E-3Gs have been flown in counterdrug operations for U.S. Southern Command and in homeland defense missions as part of Operation Noble Eagle, they have yet to be flown in active combat missions until now.

Col. Gaedecke has previously laid out the plan for the aircraft to participate in Red Flag in August and, if all went well, deploy the weapon system in combat this fall.

"While our tactics, techniques and procedures employing this new capability continue to be refined, exercises like Red Flag allowed crews to gain experience with the system, which included capabilities unavailable with 30/35," he said.

Known for its signature black-and-white rotating radar dome that sits on top of the aircraft, the E-3 provides all-weather surveillance, command, control and communications needed by commanders of U.S., NATO and other allied air defense forces.

In support of air-to-ground operations, the Sentry can provide direct information needed for interdiction, reconnaissance, airlift and close-air support to friendly ground forces. It can also provide information for commanders of air operations to gain and maintain control of the air battle.

As an air defense system, E-3s can detect, identify and track airborne enemy forces far from boundaries of the U.S. or NATO countries. It can direct fighter-interceptor aircraft to enemy targets. The E-3 is designed to respond quickly and effectively to a crisis and support worldwide deployment operations.

With its mobility as an airborne warning and control system, the Sentry has a greater chance of surviving in warfare than a fixed, ground-based radar system. Among other things, the flight path can quickly be changed according to mission and survival requirements.

The E-3 can also fly a mission profile for more than eight hours without refueling. Its range and on-station time can be increased through in-flight refueling and the use of an onboard crew rest area.

"Now that the E-3Gs have been deployed to a combat theater of operation, AWACS will continue to be relevant in the battle space of the future," Col. Gaedecke said.

"Deploying to the combat theater is the culmination of many hard hours, learning and building standard operating procedures to execute the mission in any combat or contingency environment," he said. "What the E-3 brings to the fight is essential to our combat commanders, both in the air and on the ground."

The 552nd ACW is home to the E-3, with 27 of the fleet's 31 AWACS aircraft being housed at Tinker.

The fleet continues on its upgrade timelines, with a rate of approximately five aircraft being modified each year.

The 552nd ACW will continue to operate out of their current forward operating location for operations in Afghanistan as part of Operation Freedom Sentinel and against ISIS in Iraq and Syria as part of Inherent Resolve.

Colonel Gaedecke said the new E-3G will begin flying combat missions immediately.