Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Presidential Inaugural Support Remains Vital Military Mission

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2012 – The U.S. military takes great pride in the centuries-old tradition of supporting the presidential inauguration and recognizing the president as commander in chief, the deputy for inaugural support said here today.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Jim Scanlan, with Joint Task Force National Capital Region, discussed the history of inaugural support with The Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service, and offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the planning involved for the 57th presidential inauguration, slated for Jan. 21, 2013.

Military involvement in ceremonies welcoming a president “dates back to the very first inauguration, when the militia and Revolutionary War veterans escorted then-President [George] Washington to New York for his inauguration,” Scanlan said.

“President [John F.] Kennedy’s inauguration, in 1961, is what’s known to be the largest where there were actually 30,000 participants -- 15,000 of those being military,” he said.

In contrast, the general said, the 57th presidential inauguration will have about 5,000 service members involved and a total of 12,000 participants.

Scanlan called the inauguration a “showcase” event that demonstrates “what a great nation we have” to the world and recognizes the president, as elected by the people.

“It’s truly an honor for a service member to have the opportunity [to participate in the inauguration],” he said. “This is the first time that I’ll ever have the opportunity in a 27-year career to support the inauguration.”
“And … to have that opportunity to participate in an event, that really, we look at as something the entire world watches,” Scanlan added.

Scanlan explained why inaugural support remains “absolutely vital” and is still a relevant military mission today.

“It provides us an opportunity to recognize the president as the commander-in-chief,” he said, “and it provides us an opportunity, as the 5,000 or so members that participate, to represent the more than two million total force members that are serving worldwide.”

Scanlan described how support for the ceremony usually works, noting the support alone is a week-long process, and “it’s really not just one inauguration proceeding.”

“The inauguration itself is a very long day,” he said. It normally starts with a church service, he said, then proceeds through the procession down to the Capitol, followed by the swearing-in ceremony, a luncheon, a parade and finally an inaugural ball during the evening.

Scanlan also noted there are minor differences for an inauguration when a president has been re-elected.
“The big one being that there won’t be a departure of the outgoing president,” he said. “It’s one of the things that we plan for. If there is a new president, we have to arrange for the departure of the outgoing president.”
“But that’s not a factor [now],” Scanlan said. “Everything else is pretty much the same for the most part.”
The general discussed the primary duties of service members who are part of the inaugural support.

“We provide ceremonial support to all the events -- that could be in the form of a color guard, or a musical ensemble,” he said. “And then actually the day of the inauguration, ceremonial support in the form a street cordon, and of course, the parade itself.”

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta, Scanlan said, has guidelines on what ceremonial support the joint task force provides.

“The secretary of defense designated the commander of U.S. [Northern Command] as the commander responsible for providing all the military support to the inauguration,” he said. “And then Joint Task Force National Capital Region is actually coordinating all of that.”

In these austere times, Scanlan said, the task force has gotten “more efficient and more effective over the years” in planning and providing support. Other challenges include the “sheer magnitude of the event,” potential weather changes and the crowd turnout, he added.

Due to these and other unforeseen circumstances, Scanlan said, planning began about a year ago, with the first “augmentees” arriving in April, and some set to arrive “as late as January 7.”

So the military continues to carry on a long tradition of supporting and recognizing the commander-in-chief as the world looks on.

“It’s an honor to be here,” Scanlan said. “For all the service members, it’s just a great opportunity for us to recognize the president as the commander-in-chief.”

Wolf Pack takes on Beverly Bulldog 13-1

8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/7/2012 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Airmen continue operations during the peninsula-wide operational readiness exercise, Beverly Bulldog 13-1, Nov. 6, 2012. Exercise Evaluation Teams test elements of wartime operations and how efficiently servicemembers activate and respond to enemy forces.

The base's day-to-day operations are carried out along with the base exercises to provide realistic training environments mimicking wartime operations. These exercises include self-aid and buddy care, evacuations, par-sweeps, mass casualty response, aircraft generation and mission oriented protective posture training.

Osan colonel receives Bronze Star Medal

by Airman 1st Class Alexis Siekert
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/7/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to personnel in any branch of the military service who distinguished themselves by heroic or meritorious achievement or service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy.

Lt. Col. William Bryant, 7th Air Force plans and strategy deputy director, earned the Bronze Star Medal after his year-long deployment to Ali Air Base, Iraq, and Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas, 7th Air Force commander, presented the medal to him Oct. 26, 2012.

"On behalf of the US Air Force, I congratulate your courage and heroism," Jouas said. "I am honored and privileged to be able to present this award."

From Jan. 21, 2011 to Dec. 15, 2011, Bryant led a diverse group of Airmen from 19 different career fields ranging from airfield operations and civil engineering to security forces in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn.

The general credited Bryant for not only being courageous, but for also being humble in recognition.

"With the modesty that is characteristic of this humble professional, he would hardly hesitate to claim that, he was merely performing as he was trained," Jouas said. "And he is accepting the honor on behalf of the entire team that worked with him."

Bryant humbly accepted the award but gives all the credit to his team.

"Coming from a fundamentally avionic background, the deployment was an amazing opportunity to see all the career fields operating," Bryant said. "Working with all the Airmen of different backgrounds was a great experience. I have a bunch of really outstand people in my group. It was amazing watching them do what they had to for the mission."

According to his citation, Bryant orchestrated the beddown of fourteen different types of manned and unmanned fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft from seven different agencies into one organization.

Bryant also led the movement of 56,000 personnel and more than 14 million pounds of cargo, while supporting over 40,000 combat support air missions from a decaying airfield he kept fully operational thorough $879,000 worth of repairs and improvements even during rocket attacks that caused damage.

"We were attacked while I was there, but we were fortunate to not have a single person injured," Bryant said.

During his tour, Bryant's Airmen helped train the Iraqis to take over the airfield after the U.S. service members left.

"My team did amazing things," he said. "They deserve the recognition."

US, ROK forceds defend the perimeter

by Airman 1st Class Alexis Siekert
51st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/6/2012 - OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- Defenders with the 51st Security Forces Squadron worked with Republic of Korea Army 4th Battalion 51st Division soldiers in a counter surveillance scenario to deny opposing forces entry to the base during operational readiness exercise Beverly Bulldog 13-01 at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Nov. 6, 2012. This marks the first time ROK Army has participated in this kind of U.S. Air Force exercise at Osan. The week-long exercise tests Osan Airmen's abilities during a heightened state of readiness while providing combat ready forces for close air support, air strike control, counter air, interdiction, theater airlift, and communications in the defense of the Republic of Korea.

AFGSC commander gives top-level view at Global Strike Challenge

by Kate Blais
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

11/7/2012 - SHREVEPORT, La -- In a speech to a crowd comprised of the "best of the best," Lt. Gen. Jim Kowalski, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, provided a big-picture view of Global Strike's role within U.S. strategic deterrence Nov. 7 during the third-annual Air Force Global Strike Command Technology and Innovation Symposium at the Shreveport Convention Center.

Addressing Global Strike Challenge competitors and leadership from around the command, Kowalski conveyed the Command's mission, while instilling the importance of what Striker Airmen do every day.

"We brought you here because you are the best of the best," Kowalski said. "We're trying to give you a big picture and then send you back to the your units so you can share with them, not only a keen knowledge of what you do, but also share the message that what you do is very, very important."

As the only Air Force major command that provides forces directly to the President of the United States, Global Strike Command has been entrusted with the special responsibility of ensuring safe, secure and effective nuclear forces.

Kowalski outlined the current state of the Command's conventional and nuclear assets, including the importance of sustaining the 20-year-old B-2 Spirit, the 60-year-old B-52H Stratofortress, the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile and the UH-1N Huey.

"This year we celebrated the Year of the B-52," said Kowalski, "60 years since the first delivery and 50 years since the delivery of the last airplane.

"In that decade industry gave us 744 B-52s," he continued, "There are 76 left but there's plenty of life left in that airframe."

Sustainment and future Command endeavors - including development of a long-range strike bomber and ground based strategic deterrent, as the follow-on to the Minuteman III - will in part depend on fostering a culture of innovation.

To do that, Kowalski challenged Global Strike Airmen to be part of the solution, instead of the problem.

"We need to have a culture of innovation starting at the lowest level," said Kowalski. "I need to hear what your best ideas are."

Mentioning Strike Now, a program designed to gather innovative ideas straight from Airmen, Kowalski continued, "it's a program to help foster a culture of 'yes we can" as opposed to the current culture of 'no we can't.' We've got to figure out how to make things better."

With a view from the top, Kowalski conveyed the intent that every symposium attendee brings back to their home base not only the tactical lessons learned from competition, but the reasons why Global Strike Command exists and contribution every Striker Airmen has to the mission.

We are committed to making sure that the future is better for all of you, concluded Kowalski, "and better for this nation because of the capability that we bring every day."

Ninjas leave Soldiers seeing stars in Japan

By Staff Sgt. Jamie Witt
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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CAMP IMAZU, Japan (11/7/12) - Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team out of Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, along with Japanese Ground Self Defense Force (JGSDF) members watched in awe as performers demonstrated the weaponry and skill of ninjas during a presentation on Nov. 5 at Camp Imazu, Japan. The show was part of the first of two culture days, an important part of Orient Shield 12.

The four performers demonstrated the use of weapons including throwing stars, swords and the kusarigama, a chain and sickle combination that consists of a weight on one end of the chain and a sickle on the other. The ninjas exhibited the weapons through explanation and performance of their capabilities. Upon completion of the show, the U.S. Soldiers and JGSDF members practiced throwing stars and took photos with the performers.

Ninjas, more commonly known as shinobi in Japanese culture, hold both historic and mythical significance. The ninjas were present in feudal Japan during the 15th century, fulfilling roles such as espionage and assassination. Although there are historical records of ninjas, those facts are difficult to separate from legends and myths.

Sgt. Sidney Dodson of Arlington Heights, Ill., with the 2nd Battalion, 14th Cavalry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, was one of the audience members.

“It was awesome,” he said. “I really enjoyed getting to see them in action, especially the exploding throwing star and the rope.”

Dodson said training with another nation’s force during Orient Shield was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, especially because he was working as an interpreter.

“I never did this kind of job before coming here,” he said. “It just blew my mind. It was an honor.”
Orient Shield is a field training exercise designed to enhance interoperability between U.S. and Japanese units at the lowest level, emphasizing combat readiness of both forces while strengthening their relationship. Orient Shield 12 is slated to end Nov. 7.

Army National Guard gets new command chief warrant officer

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

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ARLINGTON, VA. (11/7/12) - Chief Warrant Officer 5 Gary Ensminger began his new duties Oct. 29 as the Army National Guard’s new command chief warrant officer.

Before being selected as the new command Chief warrant officer, Ensminger served as the force integration readiness officer for the Tennessee Army National Guard.

Although he will be working for the director of the Army National Guard, Ensminger said he is representative of the 54 states, territories and District of Columbia.

“I will serve as his advisor and relay the needs and the concerns of the Warrant Officer Corps,” he said. “Warrant officers are all about being a part of an integrated unit, bringing our technical expertise into the mission, but we are just one part of any unit.”

To learn just what the Corps needs, Ensminger said he will be on a listening tour for his first months, but coming directly from the state level he is confident he can quickly understand what the needs are.

“I want to make sure that I work with the state command warrant officers and understand their concerns, and then bring those concerns to the national level,” he said. “I also want to get out there to the schools where the warrant officers go for their training and education to work to develop some good programs that could benefit the states and the Army National Guard, because the Guard is a whole different bird than the active component.”

“We have different needs and requirements as traditional Soldiers,” said Ensminger, who is working at the Army National Guard Readiness Center in Arlington.

Aside from education, Ensminger hopes to alleviate issues of personnel end strength within the states as well.
“Some states are doing great and some are not,” he said. “Units are deploying without a warrant officer and I don’t want units to have to deploy without warrant officers in those [military occupational specialties].”

Ensminger said he will have some big shoes to fill, but the transition will be an easy one since he feels like his goals are in line with what the senior leaders of the Army National Guard have also.

Having served in the National Guard since 1980, Ensminger said he is blessed to have had the opportunity to serve in the positions he has held throughout his career. Ensminger came into the Guard through the Reserve Officer Training Course at Tennessee Tech University and after a few years, switched to the Warrant Officer Corps.

“I’ve been a warrant officer for the vast majority of my career and I have truly enjoyed it,” he said. “The Guard has been good to me.”

Ensminger said he looks forward to his new duties, and that he is confident that he and the leadership of the Army National Guard will be able to further the needs of the Corps.

“I’m here to represent the states and I want to help further develop that relationship between the active component, the National Guard Bureau, and the 54 states, territories, and District of Columbia,” he said.

"They're long days, they're hard days, but it's really rewarding"

By Spc. J.p. Lawrence
42nd Infantry Division

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NEW YORK (Nov. 6, 2012) -- When the National Guard members of Alpha Troop, 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry came to Rockaway, N.Y., their mission was to distribute food and water to New Yorkers recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

Their mission expanded, however, as residents have come up to them with various ways they could help in the community.

"It's things that aren't necessarily in our mandate, but it's things that are helping people get back on their feet," said Capt. Frank Engel, troop commander for the 2-101 Cavalry. "Stuff you would do for regular neighbors, if you lived next door."

The Guard members of the 2-101 Cavalry are part of a force of more than 4,500 service members of New York's volunteer military forces, mobilized by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to help civilian authorities in recovery efforts.

People have asked Engel's Soldiers to do things such as checking up on homes or visiting at-risk individuals. Some of his troops, Engel said, drove to help fill prescriptions for people in the area.

The Guard Soldiers of 2-101 Cavalry, based out of Geneva, N.Y., were able to know of these needs by talking to residents and working extensively through civilian organizations in the area.

"There is a lot of need here," Engel, a Little Falls, N.Y., resident, said. "The tough part is finding a solution to that need and finding the right person to help solve that need."

The unit sought to coordinate with "every contact that we could possibly get," said 1st Sgt. Robert Davis, senior noncommissioned officer of A Troop, 2-101 Cavalry.

"Sooner or later you get a grasp on which ones make a difference, so whenever you need something, you go to those people," said Davis, a Leroy, N.Y., resident.

The 2-101 Cavalry recently found a need while manning a distribution point in Breezy Point. After doing an analysis of the needs of the community, they introduced an active-duty Marine Corps engineering unit to their contacts in Breezy Point.

The Marines, members of the 8th Engineer Support Battalion from Camp Lejeune, N.C., then pumped storm water from homes, roads and public spaces.

These efforts are comforting, said AJ Smith, a community leader and life-long resident of Breezy Point. Deep pools of standing water have sealed off whole sections of the community, cutting access to at-risk homes and making recovery efforts difficult.

"Just the efforts of pumping that street has made our ability to get stuff done a lot quicker," Smith said. "We just need that constant help getting that stuff removed. It's making people feel like life is returning, slowly but surely."

Talking to local residents has also led to improvements in the distribution lines. These lines now offer rubber boats, cleaning supplies, gloves and clothes. Engel said working these lines -- which are staffed by firefighters, police officers, civilian authorities and military members of various branches -- has been a rewarding experience.

"My guys really like working here," Engel said. "They're long days, they're hard days, but it's really rewarding to see the things our guys have done, because it's really amazing."

Couriers Ensure Prompt, Secure Delivery of Classified Materials

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Nov. 7, 2012 – A vintage 12-inch action figure now found only on the Internet depicts the stereotypical defense courier, complete with a black brief case, handcuffs, cell phone and secret papers.

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Air Force Staff Sgt. Kelly Adler, right, goes over customer service training with Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Evan Seller at the Defense Courier Station at Royal Air Force Station Mildenhall, Great Britain, Feb. 14, 2012. Adler is one of six airmen and Seller one of four sailors assigned to the station, one of 18 operated around the world by U.S. Transportation Command’s Defense Courier Division. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jerilyn Quintanilla

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Air Force Col. Darryl Stankevitz, chief of U.S. Transportation Command’s Defense Courier Division, quickly dispels the “G.I. Joe Defense Courier” image as he kicks off orientation classes here for service members selected to join the elite corps of defense couriers.

“I tell them, ‘You all thought that when you were coming out here that you would get your own briefcase and set of handcuffs,’” he said. “Well that’s not it. That’s not how we really operate.”

With a heritage dating back to the Military Postal Express Service that moved highly classified and sensitive mail abroad during World War I, the Defense Courier Division remains true to its original mission.

“We move anything that is highly sensitive or classified that our government needs us to move,” Stankevitz said. “It can be anything from an envelope all the way up to large crypto[logical] equipment that’s thousands of pounds.”

One might think the development of the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, better known as SIPRNet, would make most personal deliveries a thing of the past.

Not so, Stankevitz said. That’s because the vast quantity of highly classified messages, documents and images the Defense Department relies on to conduct its day-to-day business would consume so much computer bandwidth that it would overwhelm the classified network, he said.

“There is still a lot of material that must be physically hand-delivered -- partly to ensure that the SIPRNet can keep going,” Stankevitz explained. “Given how much has to be transmitted, real-time, for different operations and events going on, sometimes there’s more that needs to be moved than you can physically do, electronically.

“And it is actually quicker for us, at times, to move some of that physically with our couriers, because of the volume of what we are carrying,” he added.

In addition, many of the courier deliveries involve equipment used to run the Defense Department’s secure networks and cryptologic operations, he said.

“These are items that have to be kept secure while in transit,” Stankevitz said. “It’s not something that you can put in the mail or hand off to [a commercial parcel service] because there could be a risk of tampering in transit. That’s why we need to send a courier.”

The 235 soldiers, sailors and airmen who make up the Defense Courier Division are assigned to 18 stations around the world that maintain 24/7 operations and several other substations. Collectively, according to John McAllister, deputy director, they move about 1.5 million pounds of material annually -- made up of about 80,000 pieces ranging from envelopes, referred to as “flats,” to giant crates transported using the division’s own vans, trucks and tractor trailers.

Although the “James Bond” mystique may be misleading, the couriers operate according to a strict Transcom instruction designed to protect the classified material they handle, store and transport. Working in two-person teams, they are required to maintain constant physical or visual contact with their shipments. The couriers can’t be out of each other’s sight for more than 15 minutes. And contrary to popular assumption, they carry weapons only when traveling through a combat zone.

Couriers typically fly on military, contract or commercial aircraft. But increasingly, especially for deliveries within the continental United States and Europe, they drive the shipments themselves using the courier division’s own fleet of vans, trucks and tractor trailers, Stankevitz said.

“Even though you may think traveling by air would be faster, sometimes you have to rely on the availability of aircraft and their timing,” he noted. “So sometimes it is actually quicker and more convenient for us to use one of our vehicles and drive it on the road.”

McAllister said he spends much of his time planning out missions in the courier division’s operations center. “What are we carrying? How big is it and where does it need to go?” he said. “Those are really the only questions we need to know. We don’t need to know what’s in the package.”

In fact, couriers never know what they are carrying. “What we do know is that it is all highly sensitive material,” Stankevitz said. “It’s some of the most-sensitive material that our nation has.”

Just as computers have changed the nature of many courier shipments, they have helped make the process faster and more efficient. Introducing technology similar to that used by commercial shipping companies, courier division planners now consolidate shipments whenever possible so they can dispatch a single courier team to make deliveries to a single destination.

“Ten years ago, every station was independent,” McAllister said. “But over the years, there has been greater and greater visibility through a centralized command center. We set up a network and started to merge requirements.”

Planners now collaborate with the State Department’s Diplomatic Courier Service, particularly when servicing countries where the U.S. military has no status of forces agreement, McAllister said.
“It all comes down to, what needs to move and who is in the best position to move it, through the interagency,” he added. “So we do a lot of cooperation through the interagency to make the most-efficient move possible.”

These and other efficiencies have made a big impact in the courier division’s bottom line, Stankevitz said, eliminating duplication and reducing costs. Adopting a new air transportation system saved the division $1 million a year, he noted, while having couriers hitch rides on other Transcom air missions eliminated the need for a $4.3 million air carrier and air taxi service contract.

“We’ve become much more efficient in the way we do business,” Stankevitz said. “Our operating cost, which directly ties to what we charge our customers, has dropped about 40 to 45 percent, because of actions we took.”

As he’s witnessed evolution within the Defense Courier Division, Air Force Master Sgt. Delano Lucas still calls it the best job a service member could ever have.

Like all couriers, he came to the field from another military specialty, in his case, he said, attracted by the “chance to do something different.” He added what’s kept him in the career field has been the opportunity to broaden his military portfolio while working in a joint command.

“When you are progressing through the grades, your potential is based on not only what you have done, but your potential to lead effectively in the next grade,” he said. “And what better way of actually displaying that talent and character trait than by going and executing in something that is outside your normal [career field]?”
Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Moon said he “jumped at the chance” to join the courier division 14 years ago and has never looked back. He currently serves as chief of the Baltimore Station at Fort Meade, Md., the largest of 18 worldwide, where he oversees 35 fellow couriers.

“It’s much better than I could have expected or hoped for,” he said.

McAllister summed up much of the allure. “Traveling the world delivering top-secret material. It is not a bad way to tell your cousins what you do,” he said.

Another big motivator, Lucas said, has been the opportunity to operate almost autonomously with a level of responsibility rarely afforded a mid-level or senior noncommissioned officer.

“[Couriers] are not only seeing a lot of things and doing something different, but they have an incredible amount of responsibility -- just those two people carrying some of the most-sensitive material that our nation has,” he said.

Stankevitz agreed, adding, “Being entrusted with that is a huge responsibility.”

It’s a responsibility he expects to continue long into the future.

“Changing requirements may change how we operate and where we operate out of, but we will still continue to operate,” Stankevitz said. “Overall, we are still going to see a demand for our business for the foreseeable future.”

AF leaders send birthday messages to Marine Corps

11/7/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy salute the Marine Corps on its 237th birthday Nov. 10.

Donley wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Navy stating, "On behalf of the men and women of the United States Air Force, congratulations as you celebrate the 237th birthday of the United States Marine Corps.

"Generations of Marines have faithfully demonstrated the honor, courage, and commitment that will always remain the hallmarks of the Corps. Those who wear the emblem of the Eagle, Globe, and Anchor today are adding new chapters of valor to the Corps' history that will inspire generations to come.

"America's Airmen are proud to protect our Nation's freedoms alongside the men and women of the United States Marine Corps. We wish you all the best as you celebrate this important day."

Welsh wrote a letter to the Commandant of the Marine Corps stating, "On behalf of the Airmen of the United States Air Force, congratulations to the Leathernecks of the United States Marine Corps as you celebrate 237 years of selfless service to our Nation.

"The Marines have served as the Nation's elite fighting force since before America declared her independence. That tradition of excellence remains in your Service today, with each Marine symbolizing the pinnacle of honor, courage, and commitment, inspiring the generations who follow.

"The men and women of the U.S. Air Force are proud to serve alongside their Marine brothers and sisters in the defense of freedom and the American way of life. Semper Fi!"

Roy wrote a letter to the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps stating, "I'm writing to wish a Happy Birthday to the United States Marine Corps. For hundreds of years, brave and valiant Marines have protected our country in the air, on land and at sea. Americans have come to rely on Marines to be most ready when the Nation is least ready.

"Marines have served with bravery and made selfless sacrifices for 237 years. Since the Corps' founding at Tun Tavern in 1775, Marines have served with honor, courage and commitment. From the American Revolutionary War to current operations in Afghanistan, Marines have remained focused, ready and willing to answer our nation's call.

"On behalf of Airmen everywhere, thank you for your service. We look forward to working together to continue to bring the fight to the enemy."

Pentagon Officials Provide Storm Response Update

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2012 – The Department of Defense is a fully integrated partner in the federal, state, and local response to Hurricane Sandy and is appropriately postured to provide additional assistance to civilian authorities as a result of the northeaster currently sweeping through the mid-Atlantic and northeastern United States, defense officials reported today.

To address potential issues that may result from the northeaster, DOD has kept significant capacity in the region to provide emergency, temporary power and pumping capability and to distribute fuel, food, cold-weather clothing and other comfort items as requested by civil authorities, officials said.

DOD's response to Hurricane Sandy continues, officials said. Significant updates over the past 24 hours, as of 11 a.m. EST, include:

-- U.S. Transportation Command has delivered 354 power restoration vehicles and 449 technical personnel on 64 missions from California, Arizona, Nevada, and Washington to Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y.; Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.; and John F. Kennedy International Airport, N.Y. Seven more flights are scheduled today from McChord Air Force Base, Wash., to McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
-- Since Hurricane Sandy struck the east coast, Air Force, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard C-17 Globemaster IIIs, C-5 Galaxies, C-27J Spartans and C-130 Hercules have flown nearly 200 sorties, moving more than 700 passengers and approximately 3,000 tons of cargo. The Air Force delivered equipment, supplies and crews ranging from teams of power company employees and blankets to generators, water pumps and utility trucks being used to restore power to areas devastated by the disaster.
-- Marine Corps pump teams assigned to the 19th Engineering Battalion, Fort Knox, Ky., pumped 256,000 gallons from basement areas at three apartment complexes in Queens, N.Y., and are continuing operations in the same neighborhoods. Air Force teams provided pump support to the New York City Fire Department in Brooklyn and at the Rockaway Waste Water Treatment Plant. A Navy dive detachment is providing pump support at the World Trade Center. Army divers are assisting with assessments at Craven Point, and Amtrak Substation in Kearney, N.J.
-- The USS San Antonio and the USS Carter Hall repositioned from Breezy Point, N.Y., due to storm warnings. The USS Wasp will weather the storm at anchor.
-- Navy and Marine Corps teams have begun pumping operations in Breezy Point, N.Y.
-- Navy divers assisted with surface and underwater infrastructure assessments, evaluating storm damage to Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook. Navy personnel also assisted with debris cleanup operations at the station.
-- Marine teams are removing debris from locations and routes in Staten Island and at the Hoboken Ferry Terminal.
-- The secretary of defense approved the use of a fourth vessel, the Maine Maritime Training Ship, State of Maine, to provide accommodations and meals to first responders in New York City. The TS State of Maine will join the TS Empire State, TS Kennedy, and Ready Reserve Fleet Vessel SS Wright already at anchor in New York City.
-- Over the past 24 hours, the Defense Logistics Agency delivered one million meals to JBMDL and Floyd Bennett Field, N.Y., and 850,000 gallons of fuel to Federal Emergency Management Agency-supported sites s throughout the affected region. DLA is providing 600,000 meals, 600,000 bottles of water, propane, and diesel fuel to support 11 American Red Cross sites in New York and New Jersey.
-- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for water drainage operations at 14 sites. To date, seven sites have been completed, seven sites are being pumped and engineers expect to complete operations at two sites in the next 24 hours. The Corps of Engineers has processed more than 470 requests for power restoration services to date.
-- More than 7,100 National Guard members are supporting the governors of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia. These National Guard troops continue to provide critical assistance to local first-responders and FEMA with damage assessments, route clearance, power generation, fuel distribution, debris reduction and removal, search and rescue, delivery of essential equipment and supplies, support at evacuation shelters and first-responder bed-down locations, and the employment of unique engineering capabilities.
-- The New York National Guard has 4,248 people and more than 600 vehicles on state active duty supporting relief efforts. The New York National Guard is conducting 20 point-of-distribution missions, which have provided 115,000 cases of meals, 62,283 cases of bottled water and 31,558 blankets to date.
-- The New Jersey National Guard has 2,011 people on state active duty supporting relief efforts. New Jersey National Guard members are assisting emergency responders with fuel distribution, with over 170,232 gallons distributed since Nov. 2. Guard members also distributed 6,618 blankets, 1,740 cots and 3,648 towels throughout the state. The New Jersey National Guard is assisting law enforcement agencies with security support in Monmouth and Ocean counties.

DoDEA Names Daniele Massey 2013 Teacher of the Year

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2012 – Daniele Massey, an Algebra I teacher for students at Vilseck High School in Germany, is the Department of Defense Education Activity’s Teacher of the Year, DODEA officials announced today.

Massey is a military spouse and accompanied her husband to Vilseck in 2006, where she was offered her first DoDEA teaching position. Before moving to Vilseck, she taught at Fayetteville Technical Community College in Fayetteville, N.C. She is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education and mathematics, and continued her education at Central Missouri State University, earning a Master of Science degree in college student personnel administration.

“We are honored to name Daniele Massey as our DoDEA Teacher of the Year,” said DoDEA Director Marilee Fitzgerald. “As a military spouse, she is well-acquainted with the impact of the unique military lifestyle on the education of our children.”

Fitzgerald lauded Massey’s impact in the classroom and said she has changed the lives of thousands of children worldwide.

Massey was selected as the Bavaria District Teacher of the Year and was then selected by a panel of DoDEA leaders, which included the 2012 DoDEA Teacher of the Year, Angela Wilson. Wilson was one of four finalists selected to compete for the title of National Teacher of the Year.

Massey said she believes in developing and fostering personal connections with students, parents and community members to help students achieve success. She co-teaches Algebra I “flipped-mastery style teaching.” The flipped classroom involves students using the internet, videos and reading to receive much of their information at home, so class time can be used for student/teacher interaction instead of lecturing.
“I want students to take ownership of their learning,” Massey said.

Outside of school, Massey dedicates her time to volunteering in the community through various events and clubs. Massey and her husband, Army Maj. Adrian Massey, have two daughters.

The DoDEA Teacher of the Year program recognizes and promotes excellence in education. The competition is the oldest awards program for teachers in the country.

Teachers may be nominated by a peer, administrator, parent, student or community member. Nominees complete an application packet and submit it to a selection panel at a DoDEA district office, where one applicant is chosen as the district teacher of the year. A second, central panel then selects the DoDEA Teacher of the Year from among the district winners. The DoDEA Teacher of the Year competes for the title of National Teacher of the Year.

DoDEA plans, directs, coordinates, and manages pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education programs for Department of Defense dependents who would otherwise not have access to a high-quality public education.

DoDEA schools are located in Europe, the Pacific, the United States, Guam, Cuba and Puerto Rico.
DoDEA also provides support and resources to local education activities that serve children of military families throughout the United States.

Panetta: Election Over, Mission Remains

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2012 – With the 2012 presidential election concluded, the Defense Department continues to be “squarely focused” on the mission of national defense, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta wrote today in a message addressed to the department’s military and civilian workforce.

The message reads:

“This week, millions of Americans exercised their most important responsibility as citizens and participated in the electoral process.

“Throughout the campaign season, we at the Department of Defense have been squarely focused on our mission of defending the nation. Now that the campaign is over, we will stay just as focused on that critical mission.

“America's elected leaders, in turn, now have the responsibility to do everything possible to ensure that we succeed in our mission.

“As the country moves beyond the 2012 election, DOD personnel should take heart in one thing that will always unite the American people, and that is their strong support for the millions of men and women in uniform who put their lives on the line to defend and keep our country safe.

“Let us renew our pledge as a Department to keep fighting for a safer and stronger future for the United States, and to ensure this always remains a government of, by, and for all people.”

New Rules Help Troops Gain Commercial Driver’s Licenses

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2012 – Service members who are licensed to drive a range of military vehicles now have an advantage gaining a commercial driver’s license, a senior defense official said.
Frank C. DiGiovanni, who directs the Defense Department’s office of training readiness and strategy, recently told The Pentagon Channel and American Forces Press Service the licensing development is “the second piece of something that was passed last year.”

In 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enacted the commercial learner's permit rule. It allows states to substitute two years of safe driving experience in qualifying military vehicles for the skills-test portion of the commercial driver’s license test.

DiGiovanni said the Military Commercial Driver’s License Act of 2012, which took effect in October, adds another boost for service members with military licenses who seek civilian credentials. The new legislation permits states to issue commercial driver's licenses to members of the Armed Forces who are stationed in a state, but not a resident of that state.

Because they move frequently, service members often maintain one state of residency. Service members who leave the military while living in a state other than their state of residency would previously have had to wait 30 days to a year to earn residency, DiGiovanni said.

He offered an example of the new act’s provisions: suppose a service member is stationed in Texas but plans to leave the military and move to South Carolina. That person -- if he or she has the required driving experience -- can take the written commercial driver’s license test in Texas while still on active duty, receive a license, and then transfer the license to South Carolina later on, DiGiovanni said. All 50 states have reciprocity agreements for commercial driving licenses, he noted.

The law applies to all active duty, reserve, National Guard, and Coast Guard members. About 10,000 truck drivers, mostly soldiers and Marines, separate from the military each year, according to defense officials. Tens of thousands of other motor vehicle operators, who may drive a vehicle as an additional duty, may also be affected.

DiGiovanni noted commercial license requirements vary by state, so service members should learn the specific rules for their state of residence.

He added each state is funded through the Department of Labor for a veterans outreach coordinator.

“You need to go to the website for a state that you’re interested in, and search for the veterans outreach coordinator home page,” he said. “… That should help you with what’s available state-by-state.”

DOD offers overall transition assistance through its revamped Transition Assistance Program, he said, which is the first place that service members very close to separating should check to determine what help they can access and what mandatory requirements they face in transition.
DiGiovanni noted DOD is working through its credentialing and licensing task force to incorporate post-military career planning throughout a service member’s career cycle:

-- After initial technical training, when “there are many licenses and credentials that could be gained, once an individual graduates,” he said.
-- After a few years’ military experience. “Many [commercial] licenses and credentials also require experience, so that would be another time that we would look to have policy, or provide some guidance on counseling of our service members as to what their opportunities are,” the director added.
-- Finally, when a service member first considers leaving the military, “… maybe a year to two years out, we would begin to talk to them about how they could leverage the skill sets they’ve learned while serving their country into something that could be useful to them as a career outside of the military, in the private sector,” he said.

His office, he said, is working to develop and set policy to “help energize the services to provide that kind of counseling and guidance and awareness across a service member’s career.”

DOD’s credentialing and licensing task force was created at the request of the White House, DiGiovanni said, but while his office puts policy in place, “in reality, we’re really providing guidance. In the end, it’s each of the services, and manpower, personnel [and] reserve affairs secretariats that really have the actions to implement what we’re doing as a department … to make sure our veterans are prepared to serve in the private sector.”

The department’s entire veteran employment effort, he said, is intended to honor veterans’ service to the country, and to help them transition successfully to post-military life.

“I think [through] the 10 years of conflict, and the fact that we’re downsizing the force, the fact that almost 300,000 people a year leave the Department of Defense -- that we’ve realized that this really is important to us, to look at individuals throughout their entire service,” he said.

DOD also gains something by helping service members to transition successfully, DiGiovanni noted.
“Getting certain licenses and credentials … [broadens] one’s perspective, and therefore enhances the professionalism of the force,” he said.

The second advantage the department gains, he said, is in recruiting capability.

As the department’s licensing and credentialing efforts move ahead, recruiters can point out to prospective military drivers that they’ll not only receive military skill training but also transferable, private-sector job qualifications, DiGiovanni said.

Vandenberg Fire Department takes gold, bronze in international challenge

by The Vandenberg Fire Department

11/5/2012 - VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- A team of six Vandenberg firefighters competed in an international touring and television sports event Oct. 26-29 in San Diego, Calif.

According to the event's official website, The Firefighter Combat Challenge, otherwise known as, "the toughest two minutes in sports," seeks to encourage firefighter fitness and demonstrate the rigors of the profession to the public.

"The teams must wear full bunker gear and the SCOTT Air-Pak breathing apparatus as pairs of competitors race head-to-head," said Dan Ardoin, Vandenberg Fire Department division chief. "Wearing the gear simulates the physical demands of real-life firefighting while the teams are performing a linked series of five tasks including climbing a 5-story tower, hoisting, chopping, dragging hoses and rescuing a life-sized, 175 pounds 'victim.' Teams are racing against themselves, their opponent and the clock," Ardoin said.

Last weekend's national level FFCC event was only Vandenberg's third time competing  in a challenge that has been around for 21 years, spawning over 500 challenges.

"Usually we're unable to send a team to this competition because all of our potential competitors are working," said Mark Farias, Vandenberg Fire Department chief.

This year, the Vandenberg team was able to take home gold and bronze in several categories.

"Our team placed exceptionally well in all events," Farias said. "Marissa Halbeisen won first place in the female category and she also placed third on a coed tandem team event with Manny Villegas. Our entire Vandenberg team placed fourth overall."

Don't underestimate this Vandenberg Fire Department team. According to the chief, they are a force to be reckoned with.

"We're so new to this competition, that in years past we brought our own equipment and ran the obstacles wearing real gear," Farias said. "Actual fire equipment is heavier than the training equipment the competition allows. Even though this made our times slower, we still placed well nationally. The Vandenberg Fire Department is an extremely fine-tuned, synergistic machine. I'm proud of each and every one of them and I'm excited for them to show the world what we're made of at the worldwide firefighting competition later this month."

Halbeisen and Villegas will represent Team Vandenberg at the Firefighter Combat World Challenge XXI held at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, from Nov. 12 - 17.

AF safety chief shares vision

by Darlene Y. Cowsert
Air Force Safety Center Public Affairs

11/7/2012 - KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AFNS) -- With two months in the seat as Air Force Chief of Safety, Maj. Gen. Margaret H. Woodward doesn't need a palm reader to glimpse the future.

"It is absolutely essential that safety is embraced as a core value in preserving combat capability," Woodward said.

The Air Force's success in reducing mishaps over the past 10 years has leveled off, while the cost of losing a single Air Force asset has grown exponentially. "It's time to take our mishap efforts to the next level," Woodward said, "and that will be driven by a proactive safety approach.

"We've always practiced active safety by managing known risks and hazards," Woodward said. "Now, we're transforming Air Force safety by studying leading indicators of mishaps, while continuing to investigate trailing indicators identified by safety investigations and applying trending data."

Woodward noted that the transformation will take a concerted effort at all levels. "That's exactly why a safety culture must be embedded as a core value at every level.

"Our work as Airmen is inherently risky, but we pay attention to those risks and mitigate the risks as much as possible," Woodward said. "We've done such a good job at reducing mishaps that we've made it look easy. It never gets easy; we have to keep looking for ways to further reduce risks by identifying those mishap precursors before the next mishap."

Though on-duty risk mitigation has improved, Woodward points to the need for a stronger safety culture to influence sound risk management during off-duty hours, when the majority of active duty mishaps occur.

Woodward has served more than nine years as a commander - a third of her career - and served twice in combat. "Losing an Airman to something preventable is the most tragic thing," she said, "and I hope to do everything I can in this job to prevent other commanders from having to experience that.

"Sometimes Airmen take unnecessary risks and make mistakes, particularly during off-duty hours," she said. "We can't protect Airmen against bad choices, but we'll continue to use new methods to train, educate and influence them so they have the knowledge and ability to make good decisions based on risk management.

"Safety is about preserving combat capabilities," she said. "If we don't think in those terms every day -- on and off duty -- we're not doing our job."

Woodward is a command pilot with more than 3,800 flying hours in trainers, tankers and cargo aircraft. As the Air Force Chief of Safety, she's responsible for oversight of development, execution and evaluation of all Air Force aviation, ground, weapons, space and system mishap prevention, and nuclear surety programs and policies.

From her office at the Pentagon, Woodward directs about 150 safety experts and specialists at the Safety Center here who conduct research to promote safety awareness and mishap prevention, oversee mishap investigations and manage, develop and conduct all Air Force safety and risk management courses.

From Afghanistan to Sandy, Transcom Synchronizes Support

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Nov. 6, 2012 – As Hurricane Sandy hurtled menacingly toward the New Jersey shore last week, the staff in U.S. Transportation Command’s sprawling fusion center weren’t resting on their laurels waiting for a call for help.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Maj. Charles Ward, U.S. Northern Command joint military operations officer with U.S. Transportation Command, mans his station in the Transcom Fusion Center Nov. 2, 2012, as Air Force Lt. Col. Ron Shouse checks a map location. U.S. Transportation Command photo by Bob Fehringer

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The center serves as the central point for synchronizing, collaborating, monitoring and executing Transcom’s global transportation and distribution network, explained Air Force Col. Rob Brisson, who oversees its day-to-day operations.
The staff – more than 300 representatives from throughout Transcom, all 10 divisions within its J3 operations directorate, every service component, every other combatant command and several Defense Department agencies -- ensures the smooth, timely and uninterrupted flow of troops, equipment and supplies around the world, Brisson said.

Meanwhile, they keep a close eye on what’s happening around the world to anticipate and prepare for the next requirement, even before a combatant commander has issued it. That, Brisson said, ranges from the drawdown in Afghanistan, an effort already begun and expected to intensify leading up to December 2014, to less predictable events such as Superstorm Sandy.

A recent visit to the classified fusion center proved to be a relatively “quiet day,” by Transcom standards, Brisson said. Members of one of the largest divisions, dubbed “J3 East,” peered into computer screens or gathered in small groups to discuss Transcom’s highest operational priority: supporting the mission in Afghanistan.

As Transcom’s Sustainment Division focuses on keeping deployed forces throughout Southwest Asia -- and around the globe -- supplied with everything from food to ammunition, the J3 East team concentrates on deployments and the daunting task of redeploying troops and their equipment, Brisson explained.

The J3 East team also has responsibility for planning Transcom support U.S. European Command, U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Special Operations Command.

Across the room, its sister division, “J3 West,” is dedicated to planning transportation and logistics support to U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Southern Command, U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Strategic Command.

Several of the division staff had been participating via computer in Exercise Global Thunder 2012. The annual Stratcom exercise, with an emphasis on nuclear command and control, is designed to train forces to deter, and if necessary, defeat a military attack on the United States.

But as a different kind of adversary – the largest Atlantic hurricane on record – roared north on a trajectory targeting New Jersey, J3 West’s Northcom branch quickly turned its attention there.

Anticipating a role if the states turned to the federal government for help, Transcom already had stood up a joint planning team to project what Northcom might request. Based on past disaster responses, the team knew Transcom could be called on to do anything from providing airlift support to delivering military forces, supplies or water, distillation or sanitation capabilities, Brisson said.

“This is not just us back there going, ‘What if?’” he said. “It is a bunch of people sitting back there, looking at lessons learned from the myriad of other hurricane support efforts that we have done, and putting together a coherent initial plan to provide support.”

The order ultimately came down when the affected states turned to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which in turn approached Northcom for U.S. military support. Based on its planning, Transcom already was ready to move out when Northcom issued the requirements.

The Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, Transcom’s airlift component, was called on beginning Oct. 31 to fly sorties in support of relief efforts, delivering personnel and equipment as well as Department of Health and Human Services personnel, reported Army Maj. Charles Ward, the Northcom joint mobility operations officer at Transcom.

Transcom’s Joint Enabling Capabilities Element also deployed its Joint Public Affairs Support Element and Joint Communications Support Element.

As of today, Transcom has conducted 78 air missions, delivering more than 630 personnel and 3,000 short-tons of vehicles, equipment and relief supplies in support of relief operations, command officials reported. Included in Transcom’s deliveries to the stricken region were about 200 line, bucket, drill, digger, pickup and work trucks; pump equipment and generators; and more than 30,000 blankets.

In addition to HHS employees, Transcom transported search-and-rescue, public utilities, and dewatering experts, as well as engineers and veterinarians, officials said. In addition, Air Mobility Command has postured aeromedical evacuation support forces for rapid deployment, if required.
“The value Transcom brings is that we maximize the pace of the response to alleviate suffering and help those affected get back to a normal state of life as soon as possible,” Ward said.

As the fusion center’s J3 West division focused on support for Super Storm Sandy and J3 East, on Centcom’s ongoing requirements, the rest of the staff went about its daily business overseeing the rest of the massive Transcom mission around the world.

During any given day, they oversee operations as Transcom’s organic and commercial partners move 26 ships and load and unload another nine ships. They conduct 100 railcar shipments, 2,000 truck cargo shipments, 2,000 household goods movements, 900 airlift sorties, 97 operational air refueling sorties, seven air evacuation sorties and 30 courier deliveries.

To Brisson and his staff, it’s all in a day’s work. “We do a lot around here. But you can see the enthusiasm behind it, and the fact that we are all very proud of what we do,” he said. “We are the peaceful professionals who sit back behind the supported commander and do what we need to do to effect a mission that needs to get done.”

(Bob Fehringer and Christine Pesout of U.S. Transportation Command contributed to this article.)

First African-American Academy grad passes away

11/6/2012 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) -- The first African-American to graduate from the Air Force Academy passed away Nov. 5 at his home in Lolo, Mont.

"The United States Air Force Academy is saddened to learn of the passing of one our most notable graduates, Chuck Bush," said Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, Academy superintendent. "Our hearts go out to Tina, Chip, Kyra, Bettina and all of the Bush family.

Charles Vernon Bush, Class of 1963, entered the Academy with his two African-American classmates, reporting as a cadet in June 1959.

He distinguished himself as a squadron commander, a member of the Academy's debate team, and a member of the Cadet Wing champion rugby team.

Having received academic course credits from Howard University, Bush was accepted into a special joint Academy/Georgetown University master's program, commencing with graduate courses in his senior year, which included his oral comprehensives in the Russian language.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1963, Bush received his Master of Arts degree in International Relations from Georgetown University in June 1964, and was inducted into the Georgetown chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society.

He then attended Air Intelligence Officers School, and served at Westover Air Force Base, Mass., where, among his other activities, he taught undergraduate political science courses at American International College. After becoming fluent in the Vietnamese language at Sanz Language School in Washington, D.C, he was assigned to Vietnam in 1967 as an intelligence officer.

In Vietnam, he was responsible for the deployment and operations of six intelligence teams operating from a number of sites, including Saigon, Bien Hoa, Nha Trang, Pleiku, Da Nang and Can Tho. The teams were involved with significant intelligence operations, particularly involving the attack on Tan Son Nhut Air Base during the Tet Offensive of 1968, and the defense of the Marines and South Vietnamese at the Battle of Khe Sanh.

Returning to the United States in May 1968, Bush was again assigned to Headquarters Air Force Special Projects Production Facility, at Westover AFB, as chief of the technical analysis division. He resumed teaching political science courses at American International College.

In 1970, Bush resigned his commission and then attended Harvard Business School, majoring in finance. He spent the rest of his professional career in numerous business enterprises, serving as manager and senior corporate executive in such companies as Merrill Lynch-White Weld Capital Group, Max Factor and Hughes Electronics.

Included among his many distinguished business and academic activities, Bush was an Academy Falcon Foundation Trustee and a guest lecturer at the Academy's Department of Management. He was a diversity consultant for both the Air Force and Air Force Academy.

Bush received many accolades in both his military and civilian careers. While in the Air Force, he received the Bronze Star Medal, Joint Services Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

"A member of the Class of 1963 and the first African-American graduate, Mr. Bush's courage and commitment to enhancing diversity in the United States military will pay itself forward for many generations," Gould continued. "The Academy family is truly proud to call Mr. Chuck Bush one of our own."

Air Force leaders issue Veterans Day message

11/7/2012 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy send the following Veterans Day message to the Airmen of the U.S. Air Force:

"Our Air Force's success is founded in the sacrifice of generations who served before. This Veterans Day, we honor and thank more than 22 million American veterans, including four million veterans of the United States Air Force.

"Every veteran, past and present, has a story. Some served in wartime, others during moments of peace; many were volunteers, others were called; some served a matter of days, while others gave their life's work to the profession of arms. All deserve our deepest gratitude.

"The men and women of our Armed Forces fought for and some gave their lives to secure the freedoms we enjoy today. For their sacrifice in service to America, our Nation owes a debt of appreciation that can never be repaid. Our veterans' families also deserve our collective thanks -- their support makes the service of their loved ones possible, and their presence strengthens every man and woman in uniform.

"Standing on the shoulders of veterans past, today's Airmen -- YOU -- continue to reach beyond what was once thought possible to discover and employ innovative airpower solutions for America. Every day you answer the Nation's call, whether in the skies or combat theaters abroad, in space or cyberspace, on the ground delivering relief and hope to families in need, or here at home protecting America's airspace. Your continued commitment to defend and preserve the cause of freedom will ensure that future generations continue to enjoy the liberties we cherish today.

"For all you have given to America and to its great Air Force, and for your service yet to come, you have earned our Nation's thanks. On this Veterans Day, take time to thank those in your families, communities and workplaces who have served America and defended her ideals."

JB MDL hosts engineers clearing flood waters

by Capt. Sybil Taunton
U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center public affairs

11/7/2012 - JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. -- A team of nearly 50 Air Force civil engineers from duty locations across the country pulled together to form the 331st Air Expeditionary Group this week, to pump flood waters affecting New York coastal communities following Hurricane Sandy.

The 331st AEG assembled here Saturday, with engineers from Hurlburt Field, Fla.; Joint Base Andrews, Md.; Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.; Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho; and Ellsworth AFB, S.D.; led by a command team from Nellis AFB, Nev. The team received additional equipment contributed by Offutt AFB, Neb., and Holloman AFB, N.M. and staged out of JB MDL facilities to support relief operations.

"The whole Joint Base MDL community has been extremely responsive and helpful in facilitating our support mission currently taking place in the New York City area where flood waters have devastated communities," said Col. Darren Bishop, 331st AEG commander and the 99th Mission Support Group commander from Nellis AFB. "The Resource Control Center equipped us with extra cots and sleeping bags for forward deployment, the 305th Air Mobility Wing gave us hangar space to stage assets, the87th Civil Engineer Squadron gave us trailer hitches and fixed office heat for us, the Logistics Readiness Squadron cut emergency fuel keys for us, and the list goes on and on."

According to Bishop, the 331st AEG is part of a joint service mission supplying forces to "Task Force Pump" to ensure Department of Defense pumping assets are pooled and utilized effectively and efficiently to support relief efforts. The task force has partnered with the New York Fire Department to determine the priority in which locations should receive pumping support to remove flood waters from critical areas.

"This team is a combination of Red Horse and Prime BEEF engineers from several locations, and we were all eager to respond and help out in any way we can to provide relief to these communities that have lost so much during this disaster," said Capt. Eric Rosenlof, Officer in Charge of the 331st AEG engineers sent to Fort Hamilton, N.Y., originally assigned to the 823rd Red Horse Squadron out of Hurlburt Field, Fla.

The 331st AEG split up into several teams in order to provide pump support in various locations at once. The first team arrived at the Rockaway, N.Y., Wastewater Treatment Facility and learned quickly how important their mission was going to be.

"We were told that we need to help clear water from one tank to another so that each tank can be cleaned of sludge and debris, one at a time," said Staff Sgt. Paul Clayborn, originally of the 823rd Red Horse Squadron from Hurlburt Field, Fla. "Each of the four tanks being cleared holds 500,000 gallons of water and blockages in these tanks forces sewage water back into the bay, so we need to help get them cleared out as soon as possible."

Another team removed water from a parking lot down the road in Rockaway, then made their way to Breezy Point to help families clear flood waters from their homes.

"Breezy Point is one of many hard hit areas and is still without power and water as most of the homes are badly damaged or destroyed," said Master Sgt. Steven Rector, team lead originally of the 366th CES from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. "Our team helped local residents pump out driveways and submerged areas so residents could salvage and recover personal property."

Eleven miles away, the next team arrived in Coney Island to pump water from basements ravaged by the storm, while a fourth team cleared water from a parking garage in Brooklyn.

"Local residents have tried for the last week to pump the parking garage out with little success," said Tech.l Sgt. James Duhon, team lead originally of the 633rd CES from JBLE, Va. "Our team had it pumped half way down in the first couple hours before identifying a water main break inside the garage keeping it from being emptied. The water break was isolated and shut-off and pumping operations resumed. By late afternoon the basement parking garage was drained and our task was completed."

After the first day of pumping operations, with more to be done, a timeline for how long these efforts will continue is unclear.

"I can't offer a forecast as to how long the 331st AEG will be here," Bishop said. "But I can tell you that we are honored to be doing this mission and will stay as long as we can to support relief operations."