Military News

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Face of Defense: Soldier Spreads Joy Through Love for Piano



By Kevin Walston 10th Mountain Division

BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan, December 22, 2015 — Among Army Spc. Anne Lee's earliest memories, she said, is being a young girl staring at the pianist during Sunday church services and wondering what it took to make that kind of music.

“I think I was about 5 years old or so, and I was fascinated by the music she played,” she said. “Every chance I’d get, I’d sneak over after service to sit with her and tap on the keys. Soon afterwards, I started taking piano lessons.”

Today, she’s not only an automated logistics specialist serving here as part of the 1st Armored Division’s Resolute Support Sustainment Brigade, but she's also an accomplished classical pianist who’s performed concerts around the world -- including New York City’s Carnegie Hall.

Cultivating Talent

The daughter of Protestant missionaries, Lee was born Yi Pyung-An in Hwajung, South Korea, and immigrated to Los Angeles at about age 18. Soon, she was given the opportunity to play piano during her father’s church service, and it was then she met Chung Chang-mi.

Chung was already an accomplished classical pianist when Lee met her. She’d come to Los Angeles from New York City to host some piano recitals. Chung had already trained countless pianists, and by chance, happened to attend Lee’s church and heard the way she played, Lee said. Chung would later become her mentor and biggest inspiration for the talents she displays today on the keyboard, Lee added.

“She was the first one who said she thought I had perfect pitch on the keyboard,” Lee said. “At that time, I was playing piano during Sunday services at our church and after service one Sunday, she asked my parents if I could come to her studio and take lessons from her.”

Chung invited Lee to come to New York with her and continue training, Lee said. “It was such a great opportunity, but at that time, my family couldn’t afford for me to move away so I couldn’t go with her,” she added.

Quick Ascendance

Chung decided to remain in Los Angeles for several months to teach, and Lee continued taking lessons from her and learning as much as she could. Lee said she was like a sponge, clinging to Chung’s every move as her fingers floated across the keys. Lee said Chung's teaching intensified her love for an instrument that she said has become a huge part of who she is. And before Chung eventually left Los Angeles to return to New York, she gave Lee a baby grand piano so that she could continue to perfect her talents.

Lee continued to practice her craft and at 19, enrolled in Pepperdine University. After becoming a member of the university choir, she was soon promoted to the position of lead classical pianist.

“When I first met the choir director, I remembered him asking me, ‘Where have you been, because I’ve never heard anyone so young playing like that before!'" she said. “That opened yet another door for me because before I knew it, I was the music director -- and then he hired me to be the lead accompanist for the university’s master choir. He really believed in me and gave me so much confidence, even when I was second-guessing myself.”

Soon, Lee was touring with the university choir across the United States and Europe. She said she remembers some special moments during mission trips to Turkey and Bulgaria that changed her life.

A Greater Cause

“I met so many children during those trips that were super-talented, yet because of economics, never had the chance to explore their talents,” Lee said. “That’s when I decided that I wanted a more meaningful career than just playing music and at about age 30, I met some Korean War vets who really inspired me.”

Lee said it was during those times with the vets who’d sacrificed so much that she realized she wanted to honor them by becoming a part of something bigger. Had it not been for their sacrifices years ago, she said she’d never have had the opportunity to immigrate to the United States.

So, on Aug. 6, 2012, she joined the U.S. Army and is now serving on her second deployment to Afghanistan.
“Having a chance to play the piano for people and have them enjoy it is a part of my religious testimony,” said Lee, who currently serves as the lead pianist for Bagram’s Enduring Faith Chapel’s Protestant Service. “It’s just what God has blessed me with and where he’s leading me as part of his plan. It’s all a part of being something bigger than I am.”

Cherokee Nation honors 188th Wing with visit

by Senior Airman Cody Martin
188th Wing Public Affairs


12/16/2015 - EBBING AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Ark.  -- Cherokee Nation citizens demonstrated traditional aspects of their culture and spoke about their heritage for Native American Indian Heritage Month with a presentation at the 188th Wing Nov. 18.

The program began with a blessing from Crosslin Smith, a spiritual resource person, or medicine man. Smith represented the Cherokee Nation during the Korean War as a member of the 45th Thunderbird Division and is a member of the Keetoowah Society.

Tommy Wildcat, supervisor of the Ancient Village living history exhibit and accomplished Cherokee recording artist, performed on the Cherokee flute following Smith's blessing. Wildcat is renowned for his work on soundtracks that range from Discovery Channel's "How the West was Lost" to Turner Network Television's movie "Tecumseh, the Last Warrior."

After the performance, Joe Crittenden, deputy principal chief of the Cherokee Nation, spoke to the Airmen in attendance about the beautiful country of Cherokee Nation and their traditions. Crittenden served two terms as a Cherokee Nation council member and was elected as deputy principal chief in 2011.

"We want to keep our heritage, our culture and our language alive for as long as possible so we don't lose our being," Crittenden said.

The program ended with a song in the Cherokee language sung by Ja-Li-Si Pittman, the 2015-2016 Miss Cherokee. Pittman is currently the vice-president of the Cherokee Nation Tribal Youth Council and her platform has tackled youth needing strong mentors in school.

Col. Brian Burger, commander of the 188th Operations Group, recognized the participants with a 188th coin and a certificate of appreciation and thanked them for sharing their culture with the unit.

"The 188th made us feel like family," Crittenden stated. "I appreciate them and everything they do for the country."

"The Cherokee Nation has strong ties in the Fort Smith, Arkansas and Oklahoma areas, where many of our members of the 188th reside," said Col. Bobbi Doorenbos, commander of the 188th Wing. "Understanding and appreciating the local culture through programs like this helps to develop longstanding partnerships between the Cherokee Nation and the 188th Wing. We're very thankful for their presence in the community and their commitment to showcasing their culture and heritage to us."

Three awarded in memorial essay contest

by 1st Lt. Sarah Burnett
Air Force Space Command Public Affairs


12/22/2015 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -  -- Three Air Force Space Command Airmen were awarded prizes for their winning essay entries in the 2015 Gen. Bernard A. Schriever Memorial Essay Contest,  Dec. 10, 2015.

The purpose of the contest is to stimulate thought, discussion, and debate on matters relating to how the Air Force and Air Force Space Command  provide space and cyberspace capabilities for the joint force and the nation.

The Lance P. Sijan Chapter of the Air Force Association, in cooperation with Air Force Space Command, sponsors the Gen. Bernard A. Schriever Memorial Essay Contest. The theme for the 2015 Gen. Bernard A. Schriever Memorial Essay Contest was, "how does Air Force Space Command best develop space and cyber Airmen to win tomorrow's fight?"

The Lance P. Sijan Chapter of the Air Force Association provided cash awards for the top three essays.  In addition to plaques, the winning entrant received $1,000, the second place winner received $750, and the third place winner received $500.

A team of six judges, led by chief judge, retired AFSPC commander, Gen. Lance Lord, evaluated the submitted essays and determined winners.  Each of this year's winners presented a five minute summary of the papers at the award ceremony.

Presiding officials at the award ceremony were General John Hyten, Air Force Space Command commander, and Don Kidd, the Air Force Association Lance P. Sijan Chapter president.

The Air and Space Power Journal publishes the top three essays with honorable mentions given to three other notable submissions.

The 2015 Gen. Bernard A. Schriever Memorial Essay Contest winners are:

1st Place - 1st Lt. Christopher  Babcock, 50th Space Communications Squadron; "Preparing for the Cyber Battleground of the Future."

2nd Place - Lt. Col. Ernest Bonner, Flight Ops Division Aerospace Data Facility-Colorado chief;   "Defending Our Satellites:  The Need for Electronic Warfare Education and Training."

3rd Place - Maj. Sean Temple, Headquarters Air Force Space Command Financial Management; "Developing Tomorrow's Space Warfighter - The Argument for Contracting Out Space Operations."

Honorable mention went to:

Air Force Reserve Maj. Elisabeth White, 14th Air Force Space Operations and Lessons Learned Division chief; "Reconsidering the Cyberspace Human Capital Strategy."

Lt. Col. William McCulley, Headquarters Air Force Space Command Defensive Ops Branch chief; "Towards the Battle: Recommendations on Cyberspace Training."

Col. John Wagner, 460th Space Wing commander, and Lt. Col. Nathan Yates, 310th Operations Group deputy commander; "The AOC Model for Space C2: Enhancing the Future of Joint Operations."

The essay contest program was initiated in 2014 and this is the second year of the series.  The annual contest is open to all current Air Force military and civilian personnel, including Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard members.

The top three essays are online now on the Air and Space Power Journal website here http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/Index.asp. Also, the top three essays are published in the November-December 2015 printed edition.

Airmen complete assessment to qualify for Army Air Assault School

by Airman 1st Class Lauren M. Johnson
23d Wing Public Affairs


12/21/2015 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Thirty-nine Airmen from the 820th Base Defense Group here and the 1st Special Operations Security Forces Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., completed a bi-annual Army Air Assault assessment, Dec. 16.

The Army Air Assault assessment is a voluntary, three-day test consisting of six events, each of which must be passed in order to qualify to attend Army Air Assault School at Camp Blanding, Fla.

"We hold assessments to accurately evaluate members who wish to go to Army Air Assault School," said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Joseph Weidenbach, 820th Combat Operations Squadron group air assault program manager. "This ensures the 820th BDG sends the most qualified Airmen to properly represent the Air Force at sister-service schools."

Day one of the assessment consists of a Swiss-seat test, where Airmen are tested on their ability to tie an emergency rappel harness. They then, perform a series of rappels which will prepare them for the Army Air Assault School.

During day two, Airmen went to Camp Blanding, Fla., to complete an Army physical-training test and an obstacle course with nine obstacles.

"I thought it was really fun, but extremely hard and exhausting at the same time," said Airman 1st Class Cristian Ring, 822d Base Defense Squadron fire team member. "Plus, it was raining so that made it even more challenging, but giving up was not an option."

The Airmen returned to Moody for the final day of the assessment where they started out with a 12-mile ruck. After the ruck, Airmen were evaluated on the appearance and order of mandatory items inside their ruck to test their attention to detail.

Although it was an assessment that is designed to be difficult and many were not able to persevere, 17 of the 39 contenders qualified for the Army Air Assault School.

The Army Air Assault School is an 11-day course which consists of physical training as well as education of specialized career skills.

"Airmen should attempt to complete air assault school because upon graduation, you are now part of a unique family," said Weidenbach. "As an Airman, you are then able to provide vital skills to rotary-wing transportation of personnel and equipment."

Vigilant Ready to support the Navy

by Tech Sgt. Efrain Sanchez
156th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


12/18/2015 - CAROLINA, Puerto Rico  -- The 156th Airlift Wing provided logistical and maintenance support to the Navy at Puerto Rico Air National Guard Base Muñiz, Dec 5 thru 11.

Two  C-2 cargo planes flew in from the USS George Washington Aircraft Carrier to drop off navy personnel, and pick up pre-ordered supplies and equipment for the vessel.

The Transportation and Management Office within the156th Logistics Readiness Squadron arranged the unloading, and staging of equipment and supplies as the aircraft arrived on base from the aircraft carrier. The TMO team also assisted the Navy crew in preparation of documentation for hazardous material.

Air Transportation Unit Superintendent Chief Master Sgt. Harry Capó said his team allocated a clear clean working space, and an area for the air crew members to meet and review their flight plans and manifest information.

"We supported them with forklifts to move their cargo," said Capó. "Also we gave them access to the ramp for aircraft maintenance and the156th Security Forces provided around the clock surveillance of the C-2 planes on the flight line."

During their week stay, Senior Master Sgt. Julie Figueroa, Flight Services manager, 156th Operations Support Squadron, coordinated the ramp space and fueling of the aircrafts.

"The ground support provided by the wing went smoothly without any irregularities," said Figueroa. "I have not received any concerns from the Navy and that is a positive sign that we are tracking."

Lt. Desmond Fournier, VRC-30 Detachment 2, Fleet Logistics Support Squadron, U.S. Navy Public Affairs officer said the Navy aircrafts provide logistical support for the USS George Washington by moving needed equipment parts and supplies not readily available on ship.

"The parts are ordered and received here on Muñiz," said Fournier. "We are the connecting link that transports the parts to the ship."

"The reason for our visit is to set up a short term forward logistics site for several days for our needed supplies, cargo and transport of personnel," he said.

"The mission is to provide logistical support for the vessel's journey from San Diego, California to South America and ending on its last leg in Norfolk, Virginia."

The 156th Airlift Wing is always on mission and vigilant ready to give support to its Navy counterparts with essential logistical operations.

Horsham's Attack Wing extends holiday cheer to handicapped adults: First-class festivity delights attendees, Guardsmen

by Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond
111th Attack Wing Public Affairs


12/14/2015 - HORSHAM AIR GUARD STATION, Pa. -- Volunteers from the 111th Attack Wing provided a generous dose of holiday cheer to nearly 60 severely-handicapped adults from the local area during a holiday party at the dining facility here Dec. 13.

The Guardsmen fashioned a full-tilt party complete with a traditional holiday dinner; music and dancing; a visit and photo with Santa Claus; and gifts provided by local Scouting units and personal donations.

"This event is a community outreach partnership with the (111th Attack Wing's) Chiefs Council and KenCrest Community Homes," Tech. Sgt. Danielle Heidrick, part of the 111th Air Operations Group commander's support staff. "The early 1980's is roughly the first time that anyone can date back this event. It started out as just a small get-together with the community hosted by the 913th Airlift Group (a Reserve unit formerly stationed here) serving some snacks - pretzels and popcorn - and small gifts bags for the patients."

Heidrick said that the event evolved from a tiny gathering held in an aircraft hangar to a full-fledged festivity that now serves close to 100 handicapped patients and their caretakers.

"I started helping out back in 1995, so today marks my 20th year doing this," said Capt. Daniel Taylor, the logistics plans officer for the 111th Attack Wing. "When I began, they did this annual party and it was held in a room no bigger than a large office. We used to bring about 20 to 30 [patients in residential services] in and we would have simple snacks; we'd have Santa Claus and give them some hygiene products. But over the past 20 years, how big this has gotten and the amount of support we've received from people is unbelievable."

Taylor said that each year the guests ask volunteers if the Wing will be continuing the tradition for the next year.

So far, it appears the 111th ATKW will preserve the practice of presenting holiday cheer for those who appreciate it most - patients and Guardsmen alike.

"The way the guests look when come in, when they get to have a gift, when they get to sit with Santa Claus, when they take home a hygiene bag - these are the reasons we put our time and our hearts into this event each year," said Heidrick. "This might be the only holiday event they have to get out to attend each year. That's why we do it."

After enjoying their meals, the guests were treated to a visit by Santa Claus, who posed for pictures and distributed the donated gift bags and toys.

While the visitors waited to meet with Father Christmas, they were entertained with holiday-themed and popular music, with many attendees boogying to the tunes.

Members from the 111th Services Squadron and other units prepared for the event months prior and, with the help of other unit volunteers, served the food during the occasion.

"We not only had plenty of food for everyone here today, but we're are actually going to send them home with trays and trays of food," said Senior Master Sgt. Lauren Paul, the service superintendent of the 111th ATKW. "We started preparing for this around September in order to be sure we'd have everything that we'd need, from the food to the gift bags. Everything worked out great; and it seems like everyone is having a great time."

While the guests rejoiced in the food, music and gifts, the Guardsmen reveled in the progression of the event from a simple gathering to a substantial soiree.

"It's awesome," said Taylor. "We're truly blessed to see that we can give back; being able to watch the faces of the individuals. It gets better every year."

Commander of 19th Air Force visits JBSA

by Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem
149th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


12/16/2015 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas -- Maj. Gen. James Hecker, 19th Air Force commander, visited Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, Dec. 10, to observe the people and progress of the 149th Fighter Wing.

The 149th FW was number 17 of 19 visits on the general's schedule before the close of the year.

During his visit, Hecker held an all call where he addressed the members of the wing and praised them for the work they're doing to support the F-16 aircraft mission.

"We couldn't produce the number of fighter pilots we produce without you," Hecker said. He recognized the diversity and varied skills that Air National Guard members bring to the fight, but also challenged them on suicide prevention.

Suicides in the Total Force, including civilians, climbed from 85 in 2014 to 105 in 2015.

"The best leadership advice I've ever gotten is to treat them like your son or daughter...or like your brother or sister," Hecker said.  He explained that by treating people in this way, you'll always have someone's best interest at heart, especially in regards to correction, thereby fostering a more respectful and understanding work climate.

The 19th Air Force commander also didn't shy away from other real issues facing the force today, namely, sexual assault, substance abuse and child predators.

"The people who do this won't listen to what I'm saying, but I'm talking to the 99.9 percent of people who don't do this," Hecker said. "If you witness this, have the moral courage to step in and do something about it because it's cancer to our Air Force."

After Hecker's presentation, wing members had the opportunity to ask questions that ranged from transgender issues to the recent terrorist attacks.

Hecker's advice on the latter was to stay especially alert to your surroundings.

"What we can't do is let them win," he said. "If we hide away in our house and never go out, we let them win. Be vigilant. Don't be scared, but just know your surroundings. Be your own guard for you and your family."

The general concluded saying that the airmen he visits regularly are among the finest, and the active duty force recognize the Guardsmen's superior performance out in the field and the skills they bring to the table.

Many U.S. Troops Serving Overseas During the Holidays



By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, December 22, 2015 — Thousands of U.S. service members and Defense Department civilians are serving around the world during the holidays to protect America, its interests and its allies.

Around 9,800 Americans are deployed to Afghanistan. And roughly 3,500 Americans are deployed to Iraq and Syria to assist in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The Army's 82nd Airborne Division forms the nucleus of the deployment there.

All told, there will be roughly 220,000 American service members serving overseas this holiday season. They operate in more than 100 countries, on every continent.

"I want you to know that you are what I wake up to every morning," Defense Secretary Ash Carter told troops Dec. 19 aboard the USS Kearsarge. "You're what I think about all day. I'm so proud of you and 100 percent, 1,000 percent behind you."

Snapshot of Troops Around the World

The U.S. Navy has 36 ships deployed around the world. The largest is the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman, which has transited the Suez Canal and is headed for operations in the Arabian Gulf. There are more than 5,000 personnel aboard the ship. The Truman will be accompanied by destroyers, each with about 300 crew members. Submarines and resupply ships are also usually part of the equation.

The amphibious ready group centered around the USS Kearsarge is operating in the Arabian Gulf. There are 5,000 sailors and Marines aboard.

Navy ballistic missile submarines operate 24/7 around the world. The submarines are part of America’s nuclear triad, and there are around 150 crew members.

In the Pacific, there are roughly 50,000 American service members based in Japan. Another 28,500 troops are based on the Korean Peninsula.

About 500 service members will be celebrating the holiday season in Australia and more celebrating in Singapore.

Africa has one large base -- Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti -- and there are around 4,000 service members assigned there. Roughly another 1,000 service members are deployed elsewhere on the continent.

More than 64,000 U.S. service members are stationed across Europe -- from Rota, Spain, to the Baltic Republics. The highest number is in Germany, followed by Italy, the United Kingdom and Spain. There are another 3,000 based in Turkey, which is a NATO ally with most of its territory in Asia.

In Central and South America, there are roughly 5,500 service members deployed. U.S. airmen may also be operating to resupply scientists in Antarctica during the holidays.

'The Noblest Thing'

But it is not just overseas that U.S. service members are serving. Some Air Force missileers man the ICBM silos across the American heartland, while other airmen vigilantly defend the space, airspace and cyberspace. Coast Guardsmen must stay ready for incidents at sea.

And while many bases try to limit operations during the holidays, units still have to have on-call duty members prepared to be called to work at a moment's notice. Military police still have to guard the gates, and thousands of military and civilian specialists still have to care for those in hospitals.

America's military members are away from their families "doing the noblest thing you can possibly do with your life, which is protect our people and make a better world for our children," Carter said.