Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Beyond the Horizon to Leave Lasting Impact in Panama

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

MEDETE, Panama, June 12, 2013 – As soldiers and airmen wrap up the final weeks of humanitarian assistance projects in isolated regions of Panama during Beyond the Horizon 2013, they’re leaving behind a long-term impact, the commander of Joint Task Force Panama told American Forces Press Service.

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Panamanian children watch from their school as U.S. and Colombian soldiers spread concrete for a foundation for a clinic in Achiote, Panama, during Beyond the Horizon 2013, April 17, 2013. Engineering projects built and medical services provided during the U.S. Southern Command-sponsored exercise will have a lasting impact on the Panamanian people as well as the soldiers and airmen who provided it, said Army Lt. Col. Malcolm Walker, commander of Joint Task Force Panama. U.S. Army photo by Kaye Richey

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The results of the four-month mission will be felt on multiple levels, from the structures built to the medical care provided to the relationships formed between the participating militaries and with the people they are supporting, said Army Lt. Col. Malcolm Walker.

But Walker said his troops are benefiting as well, reaping the benefits of superb training and the gratification of applying their skills to provide tangible support for needy communities.

Walking around a construction site in the tiny village of Achiote in eastern Panama, Walker, an Army reservist from Denver, said the new clinic and five-stall latrine his troops are building for the nearby schoolhouse will go a long way in improving the community members’ quality of life.

Army and Air Force engineers also are expanding a medical clinic in Escobol and building a new health promotion center and dormitory for it during the mission, which concludes later this month.

Walker said the benefit of the larger, sturdier facilities and the impressions left from their construction will extend for generations.

“We are leaving a lasting impact here,” he said. “In the next 30 or 40 years, there may be a parent who is going to that school right now who will remember when the United States came here and built that school.
“They will remember the things the [soldiers and airmen] did -- the helicopter landing, the baseballs they gave out,” he continued. “They will come away with a positive portrayal of Americans, so the next time they meet an American, whether in their town or if they visit the United States, they will have a better first impression.”
Meanwhile, thousands of Panamanian citizens and their families will benefit from the medical care U.S. soldiers and airmen provided during medical readiness training exercises conducted during the past months, Walker said.

The U.S. troops worked hand in hand with medical professionals from Panama’s Health Ministry, delivering specialized care to about 13,000 people in some of the country’s poorest, most underserved regions.

This medical care goes far beyond the treatments provided, Walker said. It is helping the Panamanian government extend its outreach to isolated communities, supporting a national campaign to provide more consistent services nationwide within the next two years.

Throughout Beyond the Horizon, Walker said his service members gained as much as the Panamanian people they served. From a military standpoint, that included unparalleled experience in deploying to and operating in unfamiliar, austere environments.

The challenges of a construction or medical mission get magnified thousands of miles from home, in another country where the people speak another language, Walker said. One can’t run to the nearest big-box store to pick up a missing widget and can’t easily jump onto the Internet to research a difficulty that pops up.

Problem-solving skills become critical to completing the mission, Walker said. “We have got to have people who can adapt to different situations, and you have to adapt quickly,” he said. “They have to work through the issues, work through the language barrier, and do what’s required to get the job done.”

That makes Beyond the Horizon one of the best training opportunities possible outside a combat zone, he said.

“This training could not be duplicated anywhere in the United States on any base or fort,” Walker said. “I cannot replicate being in a foreign country, doing what we are doing here. There is no training scenario where that can happen in the United States.”

As his soldiers and airmen finish out their final two-week rotation of Beyond the Horizon, Walker said, he’s hopeful they’ve broadened their view of the world. Particularly for those who have never been outside the United States before, “this is opening up a whole new world for them,” he said.

But Walker said he also hopes they take home an appreciation of their role as military members supporting a humanitarian mission.

“They are taking away that they can truly make a difference in a community,” he said. “We are here to help people, and they see that there is so much positive good they can do by being in the Army and the Air Force. … They are seeing that they can have a positive impact on these people’s lives.”

Face of Defense: Airman Gets Unusual Gift at Dental Exam

By Sarah Marshall
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center

BETHESDA, Md., June 12, 2013 – When Air Force 2nd Lt. Jennifer Szatkowski came to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center here for a dental exam, she discovered an unusual coincidence that made her visit not so routine.

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Air Force 2nd Lt. Jennifer Szatkowski holds up a decorative brown bag she made for service members more than a decade ago while in grade school. Szatkowski, a second-year medical student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, saw the bag on a bulletin board at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., where she was having her teeth cleaned. Courtesy photo

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While having her teeth cleaned May 3, she noticed two brown paper bags hanging on a bulletin board in the exam room, each decorated with patriotic artwork. She was certain she had made one of them more than a decade ago when she was in grade school. "When I first saw the bag, I thought my mind was playing tricks on me," Szatkowski said. "I couldn't believe something I had made so long ago was hanging on the wall across from me in a dentist office at Walter Reed."

The second-year medical student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences recalled drawing an American flag on the paper bag as part of a project about 12 years ago at her elementary school in Wisconsin, more than 700 miles away. On the bag, she spelled out what she thought "soldiers" stood for: strong, outstanding, loyal, dedication, intelligent, enthusiasm, respected and strength.

The candy-filled bags made their way to the former National Naval Medical Center here, where they were handed out by Red Cross volunteers. Carmen Torres, a registered dental hygienist in the primary care dentistry department, took three bags: one for her father, an Air Force veteran, and two for decoration. They've remained on display in the clinic since she first posted them on the bulletin board, about five years ago.

After Szatkowski's exam, she told Torres, "You're not going to believe what I'm going to tell you."
At first, the dental hygienist thought that maybe Szatkowski was suddenly feeling ill, or had concerns about the screening, but when the lieutenant began explaining that she created the bag, Torres said she was amazed.

"It gave me the chills," Torres said.

Szatkowski remembers drawing the number 50 inside a star next to the flag to show she knew 50 stars were supposed to be on the flag, but she couldn't fit them all. To be certain the bag was hers, she asked Torres if she could take the bag down for a closer look. Szatkowski said they would find "Jenny," lightly written in pencil in the bottom right corner. The inscription was there.

"It was unbelievable that it was still around, and that it had traveled so far, from Butler, Wis.," Szatkowski said.

Now fulfilling her dream of becoming a doctor, Szatkowski said she was moved by the experience, reflecting on what her younger self thought of service members.

"The coincidence is unreal," Szatkowski said, adding that she would not take the bag home with her.
"I would rather have it serve its original purpose of letting America's soldiers know that they are loved and appreciated," she said.

Kadena altitude chamber conducts final operations

by Airman 1st Class Hailey Davis
18th Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2013 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- The 18th Aerospace Medicine Squadron's aerospace and operational physiology flight altitude chamber recently conducted its final operations.

"We're shutting down the chamber because we are transitioning from the altitude chamber to our reduced oxygen breathing device, which we're going to start using in July," said Master Sgt. Eric Kerr, 18th AMDS flight chief. "Because (the Air Force) is reducing the footprint of personnel, we can operate more cost efficiently (with this system), and there is no need to put the students at an increased risk of decompression sickness or sinus issues."

This doesn't mean fliers will not be able to receive their required chamber qualification. Pilots and aircrew required to fly, due to the nature of their job, will receive initial altitude chamber training in the U.S.

The initial or original training stays current for up to five years, and once the flight qualification is no longer current, this new system will support refresher training.

"The ROBD simulates hypoxia, which is what you'd get at 25,000 feet (in altitude), so we'll be able to simulate that with the ROBD rather than exposing them to altitude," Kerr said.

The ROBD also offers a safety component the chamber didn't originally have.

"Our goal is still hypoxia familiarization but we can do it by changing gas percentage instead of pressure," said Maj. Timothy Stout, 18th AMDS aerospace and operational physiology flight commander. "We eliminate the risk to pressure change, evolved gas (and other effects)."

With the ROBD, only the ability to initially train individuals will be lost.

"It won't affect any of our current fliers or current jumpers because those individuals have had initial training," Stout said. "We'll be able to provide refresher training, and the only thing we'll not be able to do is initial aircrew training simply because the requirement remains to go through a hypobaric altitude chamber experience the first time."

With this requirement, individuals will be trained prior to departing the U.S. This will also save money due to manning.

"We can save a lot of taxpayer money on manning and devices just by making sure that before someone departs the states they are current (on training), or they redo their currency before they depart, because they will be current for five years," Stout said.

Brass Tacks Christianity

Roger L. Bradley is “formerly a Baptist Pastor, Minister of Christian Education, US Army Chaplain, and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. His degrees include a BA, MDiv, MA, and MS. Mr. Bradley is a graduate of the US Army Chaplain Officer Basic and Advanced Courses and the US Army Command and General Staff College. His articles have been published in The Standard Magazine,The Chaplain Quarterly, and The Golden Eagle newspaper at the US Naval Air Station, Lemoore, California.” Roger L. Bradley is the author of Brass Tacks Christianity and Beyond!

According to the book description of Brass Tacks Christianity and Beyond! “There is so much time spent on converting new Christians that follow up is often grossly overlooked. What are new believers supposed to do after dedicating their lives to Christ? They certainly shouldn't have to walk the path alone-and yet they sometimes do. Even dedicated Christians waver from the path; we can get so lost in the images of church, religion, and faith that we forget why we're here! It's time to get back to the basic facts and realities of Christianity-back to the "brass tacks," which is exactly what you'll find in Brass Tacks Christianity and Beyond.”

More about Roger L. Bradley

Wounded Warriors Inspire Boston Marathon Amputee

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., June 12, 2013 – Wounded warrior amputees at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center here got a chance today to share the wisdom and experience they’ve gained through tough rehabilitation and prosthetic fittings with a man who lost a leg during the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings.

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Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills speaks with J.P. Norden, right, injured by the second bomb blast during the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings, during Norden's visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., June 12, 2013. J.P. and his brother, Paul, each lost a leg and were burned and pelted with shrapnel while shielding other spectators following the first bomb explosion. Mills, one of only five quadruple amputees from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive his injuries, offered Norden encouragement for his recovery. Mills was with the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division and on his third tour of duty in Afghanistan when he was critically injured on April 10, 2012, by an improvised explosive device while on patrol, losing portions of both legs and both arms. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center photo by Bernard S. Little

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J.P. Norden and his brother, Paul, were cheering on a friend at the finish line of the marathon when they were injured in the second bomb blast. Each brother lost a leg.

The brothers’ surgeon -- Dr. E.J. Caterson, chief of plastic and reconstructive surgery at Harvard Medical School’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston -- recently accepted an invitation from Walter Reed officials to visit and learn about the latest medical and surgical advances in similar blast injuries seen in wounded warriors.

“This is an incredible place,” Caterson said of the Military Advanced Training Center -- essentially, a rehabilitation center and gym.

Caterson brought other hospital staff members and J.P. Norden to learn about blast injury amputations and prosthetics from the wounded warriors and their doctors. Paul Norden also was scheduled to attend, but was unable to do so for medical reasons, his brother said.

“I wanted J.P. to see his peers around him who have gone through the same thing as he did, and I want him to see the incredible energy this place has, the incredible expertise and the motivation to say, ‘Let’s get better,’” Caterson said.
“Walter Reed has the most experience with amputees,” he added. “[The doctors] shared with us their expertise, because there are some difficult decisions we’re making” in fitting patients with prosthetics and providing rehabilitation programs.

While the group toured the center, Army Staff Sgt. Travis Mills, a quadruple amputee, greeted Norden as if he were an old friend. As it turned out, Mills and Norden already had met. Mills said that soon after the marathon explosion, he and a few other wounded warriors from Walter Reed traveled to Boston to inspire the amputee victims.

“We worked out with them and pushed them,” Mills said. “We told them, ‘Hey man, there’s life after amputation.’”

Marine Corps Sgt. Luis Remache, who lost both legs in a grenade attack in Afghanistan, told Norden that challenges always would exist with prosthetics. Norden does not yet have a prosthetic leg.

“It’s all on you,” Remache told Norden. “Set a goal and work toward it. At first, I depended on everyone, and people had to carry me. I wondered how I would ever drive. Now I can hand cycle and swim,” he said.
“Some days you’ll get down, but it all gets better,” advised single-leg amputee Army Sgt. Ryan Long. Long was on patrol in Afghanistan’s Kandahar province when the vehicle in which he was traveling hit a roadside bomb.

“You’ll find the little things in life are really meaningful,” he added.

Norden, whose amputation is below the knee, seemed overwhelmed by the room filled with several dozen wounded warriors who were pushing themselves in their workouts.

“I’m just amazed,” he said of the peer support and energetic atmosphere. “It’s unbelievable that there are so many people like me here, but worse. I see people doing everyday things. It makes me know it can happen. I wish my brother were here.”

Norden said he wants to drive. “But I want to walk again more than anything,” he added.

Because peer support is important for amputees, Caterson said, the Walter Reed staff has military connections in Boston and has offered to find support for the civilian patients.

“The military, besides this visit, has offered support longitudinally for these patients, which is phenomenal,” Caterson said.

6 Little Rock C-130s participate in 10-ship formation

by Senior Airman Rusty Frank
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/12/2013 - LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Little Rock Air Force Base participated and provided aircraft for a joint force exercise with Army units May 31 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

Little Rock was one of more than 10 bases joined with the 82nd Airborne Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team out of Fort Bragg, N.C., for the exercise.

Six aircraft departed from Little Rock AFB and rendezvoused with four more C-130s departed from Nellis AFB, said Capt. Jason Jones, a 53rd Airlift Squadron assistant chief of training.

There were also numerous C-17 and C-130J models dropping equipment and personnel in front of and behind the Little Rock and Nellis 10 ship formation of C-130s dropping personnel. Several different aircraft participated in the exercise, to include the F-15, F-16, A-10, HH-60, KC-135 KC-10, RC-135, EC-130, E-8 and U-2 as actual or notional supporting the mission, said Jones.

One of the main reasons Team Little Rock participated was to train and learn how to work with other services while learning how to provide tactical airlift.

Maj. Drew Skovran, 53rd Airlift Squadron assistant director of operations said he believes this type of an exercise is an opportunity for all aircrew to hone their abilities employing the aircraft.

"I believe Helmuth Von Moltke is first quoted in saying 'No plan survives contact with the enemy,'" said Skovran. "It is the same with training! That is part of the reason we do these large-scale exercises. We never get it perfect, but the more we practice the more we can refine and get it right."

With training and preparation for an operation of this magnitude, every military member is afforded the opportunity to experience how the mission falls into place. "With these large scale exercises, it grows exponentially in complexity," said Skovran. "Everyone involved, from the Army paratroopers we dropped to the Airmen refueling the planes after the exercise, gains knowledge in how they affect the overall grand strategy."

Every participant can find something to take away from in such a big exercise.

"My biggest take away from this exercise is how much planning it takes in order to execute an operation of this scale and the precise timing required for the mission to be successful," said Jones.

The purpose of the Operation Joint Forcible Entry was to test the Air Force's capability to deliver air drops and recover personnel in a war time environment.

Reservists to deploy in support of fires in Colorado

from 302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/12/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- Two Air Force Reserve Command Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped C-130s Hercules and aircrews from the 302nd Airlift Wing have been requested to support firefighting efforts for southern Colorado fires.

Air Force Reserve officials here received official word from the U.S. Forest Service on the night of June 11 and are scheduled to begin flying missions June 12.

The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., provides unique military support to firefighting efforts when requested by the National Interagency Fire Center and approved by the Secretary of Defense. These diverse mission assets are prepared to respond quickly and effectively to protect lives, property, critical infrastructure and natural resources, and can include, but are not limited to, MAFFS, military helicopters and ground forces capable of supporting the firefighting efforts.

"We are ready to support containment efforts today if called upon," said Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, 302nd Air Wing chief of aerial firefighting

Once the launch order is received, the MAFFS-equipped aircraft are expected to fly missions out of Peterson AFB and provide aerial firefighting support to the U.S. Forest Service, as directed by the incident commanders. Those missions were expected to begin as soon as noon.

The MAFFS units are owned by the U.S. Forest Service, one of several federal and state government agencies and organizations with roles and responsibilities in wildland fire suppression that comprise the National Interagency Fire Center based in Boise, Idaho.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

Making the trip: Airmen tackle life at missile facilities

by Tech. Sgt. Mareshah Haynes
Air Force News Service

6/12/2013 - FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- Senior Airman Jacob Petersen is packing for the "trip." Extra uniforms, underwear, socks, some special snacks. He kneels to give his 18-month-old daughter an extra hug and kiss before heading out the door. But Petersen isn't going on a deployment or an extended TDY or school.

On this morning, Petersen is one of about 10 Airmen from his unit at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, in Wyoming, headed out the door for work. But work for this security forces Airman is a lot different than for most of his Air Force counterparts. Petersen and his team of security forces, chefs and facility managers will spend the next three to four days at a remote missile alert facility supporting the underground ICBM mission.

Most of the roughly 15 teams supporting missile alert facilities at this Wyoming base are made up of junior enlisted Airmen, responsible for maintaining, securing and feeding missile crews with missions that cover more than 9,600 square miles over three states.

According to Petersen, the facility he and his teammates will call home for the next 72 to 84 hours is a nondescript building in the middle of nowhere, with a living area, several bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen and a gym area.

Many Airmen who support missile facilities liken the environment to a short deployment, where trips can be isolated and weather conditions, at times, austere. Airmen drive as long as two hours to get to their facility and oftentimes civilization is transformed to open fields with very little else.

"It gets lonely sometimes, but I think a big part of dealing with it is the people you're with," said Airman 1st Class Jake Newinski, a missile support team member at Minot AFB. "I work with some of my best friends, and I think it's the support element that really helps out with being isolated."

Newinski realizes that everyone in the missile arena goes through something similar and, at the end of the day, teams have each other's backs. "In the back of my mind, I know we're not in the missile field by ourselves. We know there are other cops going through the same thing, whether they're at Minot, F.E.Warren or Malmstrom."

Staff Sgt. Ashley Sakurai, is a missile facility chef at Minot AFB who believes life at a remote site is quite a bit different than working as part of a larger team at a traditional dining facility on main base. "It's different for the young Airmen because, when you're out there in the field, you're working by yourself. You are the shift leader, the manager, the worker - it's like doing everything in a dining hall but with only one person. It's a lot of responsibility for a young Airman, but, to me, it's a privilege to be so young and in charge of something so big."

Petersen agrees that, for a young Airman, regardless of the career field, working in a small group, as an Airman, can be nerve-wracking. "Our first alarm was like that. I'm running down an access road, in an open field, by myself, not knowing what is going to happen. Fortunately nothing usually does happen, but when it does we have to be ready. And that's what we train for."

Probably the busiest job at the missile alert facility goes to the facility manager, a jack of all trades, of sorts, whose job is to make sure his support Airmen can do their jobs and ensure the missile teams have what they need to make sure they have mission success 24/7.

"I have three different jobs while I'm at the facility," said Tech. Sgt. Sean Walko, a facility manager at Minot. "I'm also kind of like a mini first sergeant because I have to know personnel issues, deal with a group of personnel, counsel, mentor and things of that nature. I help guide and take care of the facility once the missile crews go downstairs for 24 to 36 hours. Once they go underground, they have absolutely no way of knowing what's going on outside, and I'm the only link."

Staff Sgt. Daniel Khrayzat is a facility manager at F.E.Warren who explains that running a topside facility encompasses much more than simply doing one thing. "We're responsible for checking the water, making sure the sprinklers are good, monitoring the fuel, running the generators and making sure everyone is safe. As MAF managers, we're also the chief of safety, so anything that happens, from a fire to a tornado, we're there to respond."

But, according to Airmen who work along the approximately 32,000 square-mile stretch of northern tier plains and foothills at more than 50 facilities, it's the families of these Airmen who are impacted the most.

Petersen noted that it takes time for family members to adjust. "Now that my daughter is older, I think she's starting to understand and get into the routine like we are. When she sees me packing my bags to go, she's always in there messing up my clothes in hopes that it will make me stay or at least make me leave later. But she understands that I'm going to be leaving that morning."

Sakurai is a single parent at Minot who says it's tough at times to balance between her obligation to the Air Force and her responsibilities as a parent. She credits the Air Force's missile care program for helping provide child care above and beyond the normal hours of the child development center.

"When we got to Minot, he was still very little and didn't understand when I went away for days at a time," said Sakurai. "Now he knows what I mean when I say I have to go to work. He knows that when I pack my bags, he packs his. He says, 'Mommy's going to work, and I'm going to Miss Jane's house.'

"It was very hard at first because I felt very bad and guilty." But Sakurai explained that, like most single parents, she's glad to be in a stable environment, with a "roof over her head, food on the table and stability."

Newinski is part of a security escort team who says that his family and friends help him put his work at remote sites in proper perspective. "To people on a national or world scale, we work on some of the most isolated places on the planet. It makes me proud to be in the field that I am and I feel that the job we do in the military, and with our missiles, is a very important one."

Colorado Guard Troops Battle Black Forest Fire

From a Colorado National Guard News Release

CENTENNIAL, Colo., June 12, 2013 – Personnel from the Colorado National Guard are continuing to assist civil authorities today with firefighting support at the Black Forest fire in El Paso County, Colo.

A total of three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, each equipped with an aerial firefighting bucket capable of carrying and delivering nearly 500 gallons of water at a time, have dropped approximately 30,000 gallons of water on the fire so far.

One LUH-72 Lakota helicopter has also been provided for aerial firefighting coordination.

Thirteen members of the 1157th Firefighting Company (Engineers), along with their firefighting trucks and tenders, are also actively engaged in fighting the fire.

Two Wyoming National Guard Civil Support Team personnel provided an initial commercial Internet and phone support bridge between military and civilian responders until they were relieved by eight airmen from the Colorado National Guard's Joint Incident Site Communications Capability team 16. The JISCC team will continue to support the incident command with communications support as needed.

Additionally, 40 personnel from Colorado's National Guard Reaction Force have been placed at security checkpoints in the Black Forest area.

The Colorado Army National Guard is operating under immediate response authority to assist the El Paso County Sheriff's Department in fighting the Black Forest fire.

"It's always painful to see neighbors in harm's way," said Air Force Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, Colorado’s adjutant general. "That's why domestic operations are one of the most rewarding missions we have in the National Guard. I have every confidence in the Colorado National Guard citizen-soldiers we have supporting civil authorities. Not only are most combat veterans, but they are wildfire veterans from the tragic fires of last summer."

The Colorado Army National Guard helicopters and crews launched from the Army Aviation Support Facility on Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colo., and are members of 2nd Battalion, 135th General Support Aviation.

352nd SOG plans expansion

352nd Special Operations Group

6/7/2013 - RAF MILDENHALL, England -- The 352nd Special Operations Group at RAF Mildenhall, England, will begin an expansion this summer.

Beginning in June, the 352nd SOG plans to start receiving the first two of 10 CV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and the first of 12 MC-130J Commando II fixed-wing aircraft.

The remaining eight Osprey aircraft are scheduled to arrive by the end of 2014, while the additional MC-130J inventory is scheduled to take up to five years for the final aircraft to arrive.

In addition to the aircraft, the 352nd SOG will have an increase in additional U.S. Air Force personnel assigned to the group. Including family members, an increase of about 900 people is expected.

The decision to expand the 352nd SOG is a result of close coordination between the U.K. Ministry of Defence and the U.S. Department of Defense.

"We are welcoming back vertical airlift to SOF in Europe," said Col. Christopher Ireland, 352nd SOG commander. "It's been almost six years since we've had it here, and this modernization of the force improves our efficiency and effectiveness.

"We're increasing in aircraft, operators, maintainers and support personnel," continued Ireland. "With the growth, we'll be able to more-fully support operations requirements and partner nation training opportunities."

The addition of the CV-22s and MC-130Js will enhance the capabilities of the operators.

The Osprey combines the vertical takeoff, hover and vertical landing qualities of a helicopter with the long-range fuel efficiency and speed characteristics of a turboprop aircraft. This versatile, self-deployable aircraft offers increased speed and range over rotary-wing aircraft, enabling the execution of long-range missions. The CV-22 can perform missions that normally would require both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

The MC-130J flies low visibility, single or multi-ship low-level air refueling missions for helicopters and tilt-rotor aircraft. It can also provide infiltration/exfiltration and resupply of forces by airdrop or airland accessing sensitive or hostile territories.

Both the CV-22 and MC-130J primarily fly missions at night to reduce probability of acquisition and engagement by enemy threats.

Training while killing biters

by Eric M. White
910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2013 - GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Roaring overhead at more than 200 mph, 100 feet above watery areas of Williston, N.D. and Grand Forks Air Force Base, N.D., Air Force Reserve C-130H Hercules aircraft from Youngstown Air Reserve Station, Ohio, provided much needed relief during aerial spray missions May 28 to June 7, 2013.

Citizen Airmen from the Air Force Reserve's 757th Airlift Squadron at YARS, home to the Department of Defense's only fixed-wing aerial spray capability, deployed on the mission to train aircrew, pest management personnel and maintenance members in control of nuisance and disease-carrying mosquitoes.

The crews applied larvicide, designed to kill mosquitoes before they're able to fly, in order to improve working conditions and lower risk of vector-borne illness to individuals working and living in and around Williston Army Corps of Engineers property, Williston, N.D., and here.

The Williston region of North Dakota has long had mosquito problems because the Missouri River often floods low-lying areas in the Spring, while Grand Forks AFB is prone to standing water that multiplies mosquito populations. The aerial spray missions' purpose was to lower the number of mosquito bite-related irritations and infections and minimize the threat of West Nile Virus while offering real-world training to the Airmen and other parties conducting the mission.

The highly technical missions required coordination between aircrew flying the C-130s and pest management personnel on the ground and with civilian air traffic to de-conflict airspace. Air Force Reserve Maj. Kirk Mundal, 757th Airlift Squadron entomologist, helped provide coordination by providing ground support and conducted pest population monitoring prior to and after the mission to measure effectiveness.

Maj. Joe George, 757th Airlift Squadron pilot, served as mission commander.

"We had a very successful mission," said George. "The people were very happy to see us and there was a great response. North Dakota had a very wet season, and that creates perfect conditions for a lot of mosquitoes."

The aerial spray team flew 56.3 hours during the operational portion of the missions, covering 8,024 acres.

Airman wins Volunteer Parent of the Year

by Airman 1st Class Ashlin Federick
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/10/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Military personnel have always made community involvement and volunteering a priority and a Dover NCO was recently recognized for his efforts.

Staff Sgt. Jon Meyers, 9th Airlift Squadron flight engineer, received the Capital School District Parent Volunteer of the Year award in a ceremony May 29, 2013, at Dover High School in Dover, Del.

Meyers, who volunteered and coached cross country and track at Central Middle School, is married with two children. His wife Tricia is a certified dental assistant in the 436th Dental Squadron.

The Volunteer Parent of the Year award is an award given by the office of the Delaware governor and lieutenant governor to the parent in the Capital School District community that excels in volunteering and has great achievements.

Dianne Bogle, Capital School District parent engagement and mentoring coordinator, said they give out the parent volunteer awards because the parents put in a lot of time and are not paid for what they do. Research shows when parents are involved the children do better in school.

"It is just our way of saying thank you and showing that we appreciate the hard work that parents put in," said Bogle.

Meyers won the award for coaching the CMS cross country and track teams the past two years and leading them to second and third place finishes at the state-wide invitational tournaments. In the last two years he has contributed more than 500 volunteer hours.

Meyers said coaching is like mentoring because you have to set a positive example for the young athletes.

"A lot of parents I know, I guess like my coaching style because I was very up front and in their face," said Meyers, the native from Hershey, Pa. "I didn't lie to the kids. I told them exactly what they needed to hear whether it was what they wanted to hear or not."

Bogle said Meyers was chosen because he was always there. He attended every practice and every meet.

"A lot of times you have someone who volunteers and they may not be consistent, but he is always there," said Bogle. "If someone were looking from the outside they wouldn't be able to notice a difference between Jon Meyers and the hired coaches that the school has."

Meyers said there are always volunteer opportunities for Airmen on base, but it is important for people to be directly involved in the community because he feels they don't get enough support. He said it may be because the community doesn't have the same email communication support as the base.

"I feel it is important that we Dover Air Force members get out in the community and do great things out there just to give something back to them, because they give so much to us and I think sometimes we forget about that," said Meyers. "I think it is important to show the community that we are here and will help them."

376th EAMXS keep air refuelers flying

by Staff Sgt. Robert Barnett
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2013 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan -- Troops on the ground in Afghanistan are supported by pilots flying A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, F-16 Fighting Falcons, B-1 Lancers and more in the region, until the aircraft inevitably  uses its fuel supply.

KC-135 Stratotankers, flying out of Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan, are used to provide air refueling to aircraft so they can continue their mission. But who ensures KC-135s are able to continue their refueling mission?

That's where the 376th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at the transit center comes in.

"The mission in our unit is to support air refueling," said Master Sgt. Chris Wietecha, 376th EAMXS hydraulic technician. "We get gas down to the combat pilots downrange."

Wietecha mainly works in hydraulics, replacing parts, performing routine service checks and maintaining hydraulic systems. He helps out the crew chiefs that marshal aircraft to get them ready for the next flight. If an aircraft has any malfunction, his unit specializes in working the individual systems of the aircraft. They work everything from the air refueling boom in the KC-135, to the multi-point refueling systems.

"It's a real team concept how we blend it all together," he said. "We break out of our specialties and help each other out. It's working really well."

The maintenance squadron services aircraft that give close air support for the military branches and special operations in Afghanistan. Wietecha's role with the squadron carries a twist--he spends about every other month working in Afghanistan.

"It's really neat," the native of Riverside, Calif., said. "It puts the mindset in you that this stuff is happening. You're working 12 hours every day until the day you go home. It's high tempo based on the amount of flights and how fast we're turning jets. They land and within a few hours we've got them back in the air."

"Sometimes it's more stressful," said Staff Sgt. Kayla Reeh, 376th EAMXS instrument and flight control specialist from Suisun, Calif., who also serves every other month in Afghanistan. "But it's really a good feeling that there are people on the ground getting air support, and we're the reason the air support is even able to be there. Right now, turning wrenches and fixing airplanes is what I love to do. I love my job."

Wietecha and Reeh work directly with the special operations units. They get to see the pilots that fly the aircraft they help maintain.

"When I'm in Afghanistan I really feel like I'm part of the mission," Wietecha said. "I get to be out there turning wrenches with the younger guys, which is pretty neat. I actually put in a request to extend up to another 120 days.

"I love doing the hands-on stuff," he said. "It gets me back to the grass roots of it all. Being in Afghanistan is an eye-opener on how much of an impact we really have. Being at the Transit Center, we're seeing the troops that are going to their missions. Knowing that the aircraft we're sending up are supporting the aircraft that are keeping them safe on the ground; it touches your heart."

Maintenance innovation has potential to save time, money

by Master Sgt. Daniel Butterfield
302nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2013 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Rocks kicked up when landing a C-130 on unimproved runways can damage the fuselage of the aircraft.

To combat this problem, maintainers in the 302nd Maintenance Group here began putting tape on the plane's belly.

In January, they took another step by applying protective tape to the forward landing gear in an effort to extend the life cycle of the struts and in turn save the Air Force money in repair costs.

"The tape was originally approved to help prevent rock damage from unimproved landing strips," said Senior Master Sgt. William Harris, 302nd Maintenance Squadron fabrication flight chief. "The landing gear takes as much or more impact from rocks. We want to prevent as much damage as possible to the main landing gear by applying the tape."

According to Harris, the main landing gear struts cost about $100,000 each and are rated for a four-year lifespan. Getting that much service out of the landing gear struts is rare because of the aircraft frequently deploy to Southwest Asia.

Two years is a more realistic life expectancy of the parts. Harris believes the protective tape will extend the life of the parts to four years and save money by reducing the frequency of replacements.

"To replace a single strut, it takes a two-person team from the Repair and Reclamation section eight hours," Harris said. "That does not take into account all of the scheduling, hangar time and down time that pulls an aircraft off the flying schedule."

The tape is an industrial product made of 36 mm thick abrasion resistant polyurethane elastomeric that resists punctures, tearing and erosion. It comes in a 24-inch by 36-yard roll which is enough to cover 108 struts. It is easy to apply and creates no hazardous air pollutants.

The estimated cost of materials and labor to install the tape on one strut is $100. Unless punctured by rocks, the tape remains in place until the complete serviceable life of the strut. If there is a hole in the tape, maintenance will remove it and then inspect the strut. The tape does not have a designated or set lifespan.

The 302nd MXG has approval from the C-130 Systems Engineering Program Office to apply the tape to the forward struts of aircraft tail No. 7319.

Maintainers will inspect the struts after the first and 10th unimproved runway landing to evaluate the success of the procedure. If successful, the program office will determine the feasibility of adding the tape to the aircraft's rear struts, as well as other aircraft.

"The only issue is that the tape can only be installed on new struts," Harris said. "If it was applied on struts with existing damage, we would only be covering up issues and could result in future mishaps."

Col. James Van Housen, 302nd MXG commander, said, "This operational test is the result of an idea that originated here in the 302nd from our own mechanics and took steadfast determination to bring it to fruition. The first-class care we give our aircraft is not just aimed at extending their life span, but at making ours the best fleet of C-130s in the Air Force."

The end of an era

by Airman 1st Class Ashlin Federick
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/10/2013 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.  -- A security specialist is set to retire after 42 years.

Jay Darcey is a retired chief master sergeant who had 30 years of experience in the Air Force as a law enforcement specialist. He is now retiring from his current job as the base security liaison at Welch Elementary and Dover Air Force Base Middle School after 12 years.

He has been the base security liaison for both schools since Sept. 19, 2001.

During Darcey's time as a security liaison he has had many jobs. He checks people entering the school building to make sure they have access and are authorized. He does walk around inspections, helps with safety patrols and helps the children raise the flag in the morning. He also helps out at the housing gate helping to expedite the school teachers and the school choice children.

"I have been told by security forces that I am a walking entry authorization list because I know 97 percent of the people that come through the gate," said Darcey, a native of Baltimore, Md.

David Santore, Dover Air Force Base Middle School principal, said Darcey is a great liaison between the school and the base. Darcey makes himself an integral part of the school because he works a lot with the children.

"He is fantastic at knowing people's names whether they are a kindergarten student, an 8th-grader or a parent," said Santore. "He does a fantastic job of being the face of the school. He is the first person you see when you walk in. He is very personable and welcoming and will do anything you ask him to do."

Darcey came into the Air Force in 1966 and retired in 1997.

During his time in the Air Force he walked around B-52 Stratofortes and tanker aircraft, worked information security and reported analysis.

"I enjoy working the gate because I get to interact with the young security forces members," said Darcey. "I talk to them and get their story. It is almost like being back on active duty."

Outside of work, Darcey officiates all the intramural sports. He said he loves it because he is still getting to interact with young Airmen and they keep him young and active.

Darcey and his wife Marian, a native of Puerto Rico, are retiring at about the same time. She is a Spanish teacher at Caesar Rodney High School. After they retire they plan to travel to Puerto Rico, Orlando and Europe.

Darcey still plans on volunteering after he retires. He said he wants to volunteer at the retiree office, the base chapel and an organization downtown.

Kathy DeLong, Dover Air Force Base Middle School instructional support teacher, said when Darcey first came to the school she knew he was the man for the safety patrol job. She said she knows the children are safe and protected.

"He makes the kids feel like they have an important job with the flag," said DeLong. "I couldn't ask for someone who is more reliable and dependable."

Darcey said security is a priority and the protection of the children has been his mission.

"I am very fortunate and blessed to have had two great careers in the Air Force and working at the base school," said Darcey. "My advice to the young Airmen would be work hard, have a positive attitude, study and you can go all the way to the top in the Air Force. If you give to the Air Force, the Air Force will take good care of you and your family."

Siblings Reunite for Brother’s Retirement

By Lois Walsh
Eglin Air Force Base

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla., June 11, 2013 – Being part of a large family is not that unusual, but the Maldonado siblings take being part of a larger family -- the Air Force family -- to new heights.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force Senior Master Sgt. David Maldonado, left foreground, poses with his six active-duty Air Force siblings, who gathered at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., for his retirement ceremony, June 7, 2013. U.S. Air Force photo by Sara Vidoni

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
That family got a chance to travel from around the world for Air Force Senior Master Sgt. David Maldonado's retirement June 7 from Detachment 1, 552nd Air Control Squadron, here. It's the first time the siblings, seven of them active-duty airmen, have been in uniform and in one place at the same time since leaving home.

"This means the world to me," David said. "I am so proud of each and every one of my brothers and sisters. Their presence here to celebrate my retirement is just icing on the cake. I couldn't ask for a more joyous way to culminate my 25-year career."

The seven Maldonado children joined the Air Force for the opportunities it afforded them. It gave them a chance to serve their country while earning an education. The eldest, Air Force Chief Master Sgt. John Maldonado, remembers how it all began.

"Dave and I were two of three siblings born to our parents, Juan Maldonado and Judith Ortiz in New York City. Our sister, Denise, never joined the military," said the chief, who is stationed at Aviano Air Base, Italy. "We moved to Puerto Rico in 1981, and after our mom passed away in 1989, our father remarried Sandra Rosario."

Juan, an Army paratrooper, and Sandra had six children together, bringing the total number of Maldonado siblings to nine.

"Dave and I originally joined the Puerto Rico Air National Guard in the mid-1980s," John said. "Dave convinced me we should do this full-time, since we liked it so much. We joined the active duty Air Force together in January 1989, both in the communications-electronics career field," John said. "As our brothers and sisters grew up, they not only looked up to us as role models, but they were also touched emotionally by the events of 9/11," he continued. "Since our roots go back to New York City, they decided they also wanted to join the Air Force."

Besides the chief and David, the Air Force family includes Staff Sgt. Emmanuel Maldonado, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss.; Senior Airman Karla Lucas, Holloman Air Force Base, N.M.; Senior Airman Juan Maldonado, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M.; Airman 1st Class Marcos Maldonado, Camp Darby, Italy; and Airman 1st Class Ernesto Maldonado, Barksdale Air Force Base, La. The youngest sister and Ernesto's twin, Sophy, is in the process of enlisting.

"We always had the company of each other to entertain us and simply pass the time," said Marcos, a munitions system technician.

Karla, an air traffic controller, said the six youngest siblings were homeschooled for about eight years.
"God bless our mother. I don't know how she did it," she said, laughing. "We've been rivals, best friends, worst nightmares and tricksters to each other, but our mother always taught us the importance of our unity and to honor and love, and we are still as close as we were in those days."

Their father dies several years Karla added, but she remembers how he said her older brothers were an inspiration to all of them.

"My father had always shown great pride in what John and David did. He kept us updated on everything they were doing and the impact it had in the world,” she said. “We always had them in our minds as great examples of the Air Force life."

Ernesto, a food service specialist, said his family was the inspiration that led him to an Air Force career when he enlisted in October 2009. He, too, is thinking of making the Air Force a career, because "it's been an amazing experience so far."

"I wanted to be able to share the same joy, passion and interest they have for their jobs and the Air Force, as well as the many opportunities and benefits it had to offer," he said.

Emmanuel, a dental technician, had a similar experience when contemplating the military service as a career.
"My siblings were very supportive of my going to college instead of joining [the Air Force], but I joined because I admired how successful and professional they were, so I was definitely influenced and inspired by them," he said.

John and David's careers crossed paths early on when the brothers were stationed here and at nearby Hurlburt Field from 1989 to 1992. They were reunited again in 1998 when that were stationed together in the 603rd Air Control Squadron at Aviano. The younger airmen haven't had the chance to serve together yet, so gathering as a family for David's retirement, while in uniform, is a special event not just for them, but also for their mother.

"It's such a happy day to have all my children together again," Sandra said with a smile.

While the family patriarch wasn't there physically, the family knows he was there in spirit.

"Dad would be extremely proud," David said. "After John and I entered the Air Force, our dad saw how well we were doing. He dreamed of all of his children entering the Air Force and would have loved to have seen us all in uniform today."

PACAF unveils new strategic plan

Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs

6/11/2013 - Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii  -- The commander of Pacific Air Forces, Gen. Hawk Carlisle, has released his strategy for promoting stability and security in the Asia-Pacific region.

PACAF Strategic Plan 2013 aligns PACAF's priorities with the national rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region, and serves as a guide to prioritize operations within current fiscal realities. It is the result of a collaboration with U.S. Pacific Command, Headquarters Air Force and regional partners and allies.

"As the nation's focus shifts to the Pacific, we needed a comprehensive strategy to guide us in this dynamic and challenging environment," Carlisle said. "This strategic plan centers on three core tenets and five lines of operation to provide unambiguous direction to PACAF members so they understand their role in accomplishing the mission."

The strategy is centered on three core tenets, which are: expand engagement, increase combat capability and improve warfighter integration.

"Engagement is something we are doing every day across the Asia-Pacific region," said Carlisle. "I cannot overstate the importance of working with our allies, partners and the international community to deter aggression and to maintain peace and stability in the region. What I see in the future is increased engagement by rotational forces, focusing across the spectrum from combat capability to humanitarian assistance."

The second tenet, increase combat capability, focuses on investing in U.S. Air Force modernization. Despite current budget challenges, the strategy emphasizes that modernization needs to remain a priority, particularly regarding the F-35, next generation bomber, command and control networks, cyber security, and integrated air and missile defense.

PACAF's third tenet, improve warfighter integration, involves refining the way the U.S. Air Force works together with joint and coalition partners to improve and advance humanitarian assistance capability, meet emerging threats and ensure freedom of movement. According to Carlisle, air, space, and cyberspace superiority are shared responsibilities with allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region.

The PACAF strategy focuses these three core tenets across five critical lines of operation, or broad focus areas for the command. The lines of operation are: theater security cooperation; integrated air and missile defense; power projection; agile, flexible command and control; and resilient airmen.

"Each line of operation will have a roadmap specifically tailored to achieve our desired endstate," said Carlisle. "I want PACAF Airmen to consider these roadmaps my personal, written instructions."

Of all the lines of operation, Carlisle considers resilient Airmen to be the bedrock of PACAF's success.

"Our Airmen, which includes our civilians, are the critical enabler for all of the command's operations," Carlisle said. "We must continue to develop and care for them and their families so they can accomplish the mission."

According to the strategic plan, a resilient Airman is combat ready, comprehensively fit and aware, and cross-culturally competent--committed to making responsible choices.

More broadly, PACAF's resilient airmen line of operation is a holistic approach to readiness. It means achieving a higher state of fitness, maintaining training readiness and having personal affairs in order because Airmen must be ready to deploy at a moment's notice. A PACAF resilient Airman is also aware of personal limitations and recognizes at-risk behaviors, and is supportive of fellow Airmen and their families.

Additionally, they understand that they are the face and voice of the United States at all times, and they are cognizant of the unique capabilities of the joint and Total Force team.

"I challenge our Airmen to exemplify the traits of a resilient Airman," Carlisle said. "At the end of the day, you are our asymmetric advantage over any adversary."

Operation PACANGEL 2013 soars in Vietnam

by Staff Sgt. Sara Csurilla
Pacific Angel 2013-3 Public Affairs

6/11/2013 - DONG HOI, Vietnam -- The United States and Vietnam began humanitarian assistance operations in Dong Hoi, Quang Binh Province, Vietnam, June 10 as part of Operation Pacific Angel.

Operation PACANGEL, which is in its sixth year, is a joint and combined humanitarian assistance exercise led by Pacific Air Forces.

"We are here to provide medical care and engineering services, as well as build better relationships between the U.S. and Vietnam," said Lt. Col. Tom Laitinen, Operation PACANGEL 2013 mission commander. "The more we can build these relationships, both military to military and military to the civilian level, the more it will help us in the event of a regional natural disaster or security crisis, or basically anything that requires cooperation between the U.S and Vietnam."

More than 50 U.S. military members deployed to Vietnam for PACANGEL 2013 to partner with local non-governmental organizations and host-nation military forces to provide various functions, including health-services outreach, engineering civil action programs, as well as various subject matter expert exchanges.

Medical professionals from around the Air Force set up a temporary clinic to provide optometry, dental, women's health, physical therapy and primary health services for at least 2,500 patients, according to Lt. Col. Vanhseng Phanthavong, international health specialist with Pacific Air Forces Headquarters.

PACANGEL 2013 participants are also set to renovate two schools and one district medical clinic by providing structural, roofing, plumbing, electrical and painting repairs.

Although U.S. military members have been working with host-nation military personnel to improve the lives of thousands of people throughout the region since 2007, this is the first multilateral operation to take place in Vietnam, with a member of the Lao People's Army partnering with the Health Services Outreach team.