Thursday, August 01, 2013

Air Force seeking ideas to solve real-world challenges

by Air Force Recruiting Service

8/1/2013 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas  -- For the first time in its history, the U.S. Air Force is seeking input from the public to help solve three real-world, unclassified projects.

Known as "The Air Force Collaboratory," the Air Force's newest STEM initiative goes live Thursday on The educational online platform will offer the public an opportunity to engage with Airmen.

"We are excited to showcase this newest initiative for open collaboration with the public," said Col. Marcus Johnson, Strategic Marketing Division chief. "The goal of this project is to inspire STEM-inclined students and educators to engage, collaborate and solve real-world challenges faced by our Airmen today."

This experience will also highlight the breadth and variety of technologies the Air Force works with.

"These real world projects will highlight current and future Air Force technologies," said Johnson. "Technology changes the way we fly, fight and win. We want to illustrate the high-tech nature of the Air Force through this project."

The Air Force Collaboratory features three projects that will challenge participants to be creative and inventive as they work to find solutions.

· The first project, "Search and Rescue 2.0," which will be active for collaboration from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30, solicits participants to develop new technologies through rapid prototyping for search and rescue operations to help save lives trapped in collapsed structures.

· The second project, "Mind of a Quadrotor," which will be active for collaboration from Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, challenges participants to help build a system that allows a quadrotor to navigate its surroundings with minimal human interaction.

· The third and final project, "Launch of GPS IIF," which will be active for collaboration from Oct. 1 to Nov. 30, tests participants to determine the most effective location within the GPS satellite constellation to launch the Air Force's newest GPS satellite.

"We seek the best and brightest to help the Air Force develop innovative and unique ideas that will enhance our Airmen's capabilities to accomplish their missions," said Johnson. "Through collaboration, we can create solutions using creative thinking and problem solving skills. There are no bad ideas, so we ask those involved to voice them. Your ideas can help save lives."

301st Fighter Wing begins flight operations at Alliance

by Senior Airman Melissa Harvey
301st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

7/31/2013 - ALLIANCE, Texas -- The 301st Fighter Wing will begin flight operations at Fort Worth Alliance Airport July 31 and continue through August, as much needed repairs are made to Carswell Field on Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base.

Aircraft began moving from the base to FWA Monday and the runway portion of the construction project will begin soon, canceling all but a select few local flights while the runway is under repair.

"Our runway is beyond its service life (normal is 10 years, we are at 14) and requires major repairs," Capt. Jason Kitchen, 457th Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge. The runway " breaking up creating a FOD (foreign object debris) hazard to all aircraft that use our runway."

This move is the most economically responsible way to continue the 301st FW's mission and provide training. Some of its Airmen are scheduled to deploy later this year, says Brig. Gen. Ronald B. Miller, 301st Fighter Wing commander.

"The wing is preparing for a deployment and both the operations and maintenance groups have many flight related requirements to complete in August," said Miller.

During the runway maintenance period, more than 100 servicemen and women from the 301st FW will perform duties at Alliance Airport to secure, operate and maintain the 20 aircraft at their temporary home.

In order to minimize impact on the local community the 301st FW does not intend to conduct night flights and will transport many of the personnel to Alliance to ease congestion.

Devildog 101: Airman completes Corporals Course

by Airmen 1st Class Victor J. Caputo and Jarrod M. Vickers
22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

7/31/2013 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Joint professional military education is quickly becoming a more common event at many military installations across the Department of Defense.

One Airman here at McConnell Air Force Base decided to follow the joint-route by taking the U.S. Marine Corps Corporals Course as part of her preparation for promotion to staff sergeant.

"They told me there were going to be a lot of classes," said Senior Airman Shalamar Coleman, 22nd Air Refueling Wing knowledge operations manager. "It was going to be two weeks, including weekends, so I thought I was going to be very, very busy. At the same time, I didn't know we were going to be writing papers like we did. It was awesome. I definitely learned a lot."

Coleman spent two weeks working in tandem with Marine corporals from across the nation, learning about Marine traditions, land navigation, guidon etiquette and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program.

"There's a lot of practical application that we need to do after each class," she said. "For the operations portion of the class, we had to learn how to do different hand signals, different formations like fire team, squad team formations."

The group was also taught how to hand draw maps of the terrain in order to navigate unfamiliar territory at night, one of Coleman's favorite parts of the course, she said.

The opportunity to participate in MCMAP, which does not have an Air Force equivalent, was not wasted on Coleman.

"It's awesome, I absolutely loved it," said Coleman. "I got to 'belt-up.' They said if I want to keep belting-up, I could actually come back and train with them more, so I will definitely take them up on that."

The course did offer her many challenges, whether it was managing her time between the Corporals Course and her college classes or keeping pace with the Marines in the physical activities.

A particularly challenging part was a four-mile run with the group's sergeant major.

"It was the first time we did a formation run instead of breaking us off between a slow group and a fast group," she said. "We ran the first mile in about seven minute and 15 seconds and I was like 'Oh no, I can't do this.' So I fell back a little bit and that's when the instructors were like 'Oh, so this is what you're going to do? You better catch up; you better catch up!' So of course I did. I finally caught up and finished the run."

Not only did she overcome the physical training differences of the braches, but she also didn't let the fact she is an Airman and they are all Marines get in the way of the group's training.

"She adjusted to us well, we adjusted to her well," said Marine Corps Corporal Joshua Ellenburg, Corporals Course student. "The rivalry between branches was always there, but it was all fun and games and she held her own well."

Just as Coleman was the lone Airman in a Marine course, a Marine sergeant will soon be enrolled in an Airman Leadership School class here.

Joint enrollement is one of the ways PME instructors are seeking opportunities to diversify each Airman's education, training and career.

"If any Airman has the opportunity to take this course I highly encourage it," said Coleman. "It's something that you'll never be able to experience in your lifetime again. How many times are you able to go to a Corporals Course?"

A tribute to a warrior, patriot and hero to all Airmen

by Gen. Mark A. Welsh III
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff

8/1/2013 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- I am the very proud son of an American fighter pilot, one of that treasured group who served in three wars, built an Air Force, and gave it an enduring example of courage and mission success.

My dad was a hero. As a young man, I asked him who his combat heroes were; he gave me only two names. One was Major General Frederick "Boots" Blesse and the other was Colonel George E. "Bud" Day. My dad was not easily impressed, so I knew that if they were his heroes, they were very, very special men. I was right.

Earlier this year, my wife Betty and I had the distinct honor of attending Boots Blesse's funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. And earlier this week, I heard that Col "Bud" Day had also "flown west." Our Air Force is in mourning. We know we can never replace him, but today, as he is laid to rest, we can honor him.

Many of you know his story. He fought in the South Pacific as a United States Marine in WWII and later became the Air Force's most highly decorated warrior. He was a Medal of Honor recipient with nearly 70 decorations, which span three wars and four decades.

The medals say a lot about Bud Day, but they cannot capture his unbreakable spirit, the life-saving impact he had on his fellow prisoners during his time in captivity, and the inspiration he has been to countless Americans who've been fortunate enough to have heard his story or shaken his hand.

In Vietnam in 1967, Major Day commanded a squadron of F-100s, the "Misty" FACs (Forward Air Controllers). Theirs was one of the most dangerous combat missions of the war, and they suffered high casualties.

On August 26 Day was shot down and captured. Seven days later, despite having a dislocated knee and a badly broken arm, he escaped captivity and evaded the Viet Cong for 10 days. He was recaptured just two miles from a US Marine Corps camp at Con Thien. Getting so close to freedom only to be recaptured would have broken the will of most men. Not Bud Day.

He was eventually moved to a prison camp known as The Plantation, where he was tortured daily, and was later moved to the Hanoi Hilton. Due to his resistance and toughness, Day became an inspiration to other POWs. His roommate at The Plantation, Senator John McCain, wrote, "He was a hard man to kill, and he expected the same from his subordinates. They (his roommates) saved my life--a big debt to repay, obviously. But more than that, Bud showed me how to save my self-respect and my honor, and that is a debt I can never repay."

In 1973, after more than five and a half years in captivity, he was released. The damage by the enemy permanently scarred his body, but his spirit emerged unbroken. A year later he was back on flight status, he became vice commander of the 33th Tactical Fighter Wing, and retired from active service in 1976.

Col Bud Day spent a great amount of his remaining years sharing his story with our Airmen, young and old. Over the past 22 years, many of those Airmen have experienced multiple combat deployments themselves, leaning on the lessons Col Day passed on to all of us, including his two sons, who proudly serve.

He deeply understood the challenges we face as a military service, "trying to keep America aware of the fact that Airpower has been a substantial reason that we exist as a free nation."

I spoke with Col Day on the phone a couple of months ago, simply to introduce myself and thank him, on behalf of our entire Air Force, for his remarkable lifetime of service. I hung up feeling incredibly proud to be an Airman, and grateful that my real-life hero was even more impressive than I had imagined.

Future Airmen will honor his name and treasure his story, not because of the awards and buildings named in his honor, but for the legendary character, the unbreakable spirit and the values he demonstrated each and every day.

Airmen today strive to embody the same honor, courage, and integrity shown by Col Day and those who fought beside him. And we honor the sacrifices they made in the spirit of airpower and freedom.

"Push it up" Sir...we're still following your lead.

Face of Defense: Ghana-born Marine Realizes Dream to Serve

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Joshua Grant
Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C., Aug. 1, 2013 – Like so many before him, a personnel and administration student here once dreamed of coming to America for a better life.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Marine Corps Pfc. Andrews Nsenkyire leads students in formation at Camp Johnson, N.C., July 26, 2013. Nsenkyire joined the Marine Corps soon after coming to the United States from his native Ghana. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joshua Grant

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
That dream became a reality last year for Marine Corps Pfc. Andrews K. Nsenkyire.
Nsenkyire is one of only 5,832 applicants from Ghana, a West African country of more than 24 million citizens, who won the opportunity to apply for an immigration visa in 2012. Five months after graduating from high school, he received word from a teacher that he had won the immigration visa lottery.

“I was happy,” Nsenkyire said. “I wanted to come to the United States to join the military so I could bring my mother, four brothers and sister here. If it weren’t for that, I wouldn’t be here.”

To pay for paperwork and travel expenses, Nsenkyire sold almost all of his personal belongings, including his computer, television and motorcycle. He even rented his room to raise money. He was able to pay for the paperwork, and his visa sponsor bought him the ticket for his May 4, 2012, flight to the United States.

“The first thing I asked when I got here was, ‘How hard is it to join the Army?’” Nsenkyire said. “They told me it’s not like Ghana. In Ghana, you have to pay money for the forms to join the Army.”

When he went to the recruiting station with a friend who was trying to join the Navy, a Marine Corps recruiter stopped and talked to him, Nsenkyire said, but he told the recruiter he wanted to join the Army.

“It was the first time I had heard about the Marine Corps. We don’t have Marines in Ghana,” he said. “The recruiter tried to convince me, but I wasn’t really into it, until I asked my brother what he knew about Marines. He just said one thing; the Marines are the best fighting force in the world.”

Just two months after coming to the United States, Nsenkyire began his paperwork to join the Marines.

“I was supposed to go on April 8,” Nsenkyire said. “I was always talking to my recruiter -- I wanted to go early. One day he called me and said he got room in the schedule, and I was shipping out in January.”

Nsenkyire graduated from boot camp and Marine Combat Training early this year, and he is slated to graduate as an administration specialist here tomorrow.

“He is very focused. He’s wanted a leadership position since he arrived here and currently is a squad leader,” said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Alondra Coiradas, one of Nsenkyires’ personnel administration instructors. “After finding out a little bit more about him, it amazes me that he just wanted to be a Marine.”

Upon graduation from personnel administration school, Nsenkyire will serve at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C.

Air advising in retrospect

by Staff Sgt. Torri Ingalsbe
Air Forces Central Command Combat Camera

8/1/2013 - KABUL, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- What do you get when you combine Afghan maintainers, American advisors, contractors and Russian helicopters? One of the most rapidly advancing mission sustainment capabilities in Afghanistan.

"The overall quality of maintenance, training and Afghan motivation has greatly increased," said Master Sgt. William Hensley, a 440th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron intermediate maintenance inspection adviser.

Hensley is currently serving his second year-long rotation to Kabul, Afghanistan, in an advisory role, working with Mi-17 Helicopter maintainers. Three years ago, he was a quality assurance adviser for the Afghan air force.

"When I was here before, I started the quality control/quality assurance process in place now," he said. "The idea of quality assurance just wasn't here before."

He emphasized the importance of QC programs in Afghanistan as well as stateside.

"The Afghans have accountability of the work they do," Hensley said. "They know someone will look at it, so they do the best work they can. It's no different than the QC process at home."

The process has allowed for more Mi-17's to be available for missions supporting ground forces, casualty evacuation and supply movement.

"We've established maintenance timelines as we've further developed the QC/QA process," Hensley said. "We're able to keep aircraft flowing in and out of the maintenance and QC schedule, so they're not all down at one time. This allows leadership to plan missions based on available aircraft."

Hensley uses his previous deployment as a building block to train and mentor the Afghan maintainers.

"About 85 percent of the Afghans remember working with me before," he said. "It allowed me to build on relationships I already had with them. That's a huge advantage when working in an advisory role."

Hensley has an optimistic outlook for the future of the Afghan Air Force, and said he hopes to be able to see how much further they will come.

"Progress is always going to be here," he said. "They are steadily improving all the time. I know they're going to get better, and maintenance is what they're doing the best. I would jump at the opportunity to come back."