Tuesday, March 04, 2014

ANG Director present medals to NY Air Guardsmen

by Tech. Sgt. Michael O'halloran
105th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/4/2014 - STEWART AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- Twenty Air Force Airmen with the 105th Base Defense Squadron here received 29 medals Sunday during an awards ceremony attended by Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clarke III, the director of the Air National Guard.

Clarke presented awards to Air Guardsmen who deployed with the 820th Base Defense Group, Moody Air Force Base, Ga., to provide "outside the wire" base defense at Bagram Airfield, Parwan province, Afghanistan.

"I've done multiple award ceremonies throughout my thirty something years, never one like this; in any capacity, in any place that I've ever served," said Clarke. "It's a historic day obviously for the members themselves, their families, the unit, the New York National Guard, the Air National Guard, and the United States Air Force, and the Nation."

A total of 29 medals were awarded to include; 5 Bronze Stars, 12 Purple Hearts, and 12 Air Force Combat Action Ribbons.

Recipients of the Bronze Star: Chief Master Sgt. David Pritchard, Master Sgt. Shawn Knowlton, Master Sgt. Jose Pena-Rojas, Master Sgt. Michael O'Connell, and Tech .Sgt. Christopher Drews.

Recipients of the Purple Heart: Master Sgt. Shawn Knowlton (2 awards), Staff Sgt. Nigel Darby (2 awards), Staff Sgt. Wiston Rios, Senior Airman Michael Hanson, Senior Airman Kevin Mullings, Senior Airman Amanda Martino (2 awards), Senior Airman Thomas Pulaski, Airman 1st Class Samuel Davies, Airman 1st Class Matthew Zuniga, and Airman 1st Class Marie Ann Raguso.

Recipients of the Air Force Combat Action medal: Master Sgt. Shawn Knowlton, Tech. Sgt. Michael Pacenza, Staff Sgt. John Bellino, Staff Sgt. Dustin Helms, Staff Sgt. Wiston Rios, Staff Sgt. Nigel Darby, Staff Sgt. Vinh Taylor, Staff Sgt. Miguel Nin Jr., Senior Airman Justin Murphy, Senior Airman Amanda Martino, Airman 1st Class Marie Ann Raguso, and Airman 1st Class Matthew Zuniga.

"We are thankful for the manner in which you conducted yourselves under the most challenging of circumstances, we are most thankful for you being here with us today," said Col. Timothy J. LaBarge, the 105th Air Wing commander, during his introductory comments. "That gratitude stands in stark contrast to the immense sadness that we are feeling today, sadness because one of our 105th SFS deployers did not make it back with you. Staff Sgt. 'TJ' Lobraico, a true American hero, may not be physically present in the room with us today, but he is with us spiritually and will be forever ... so if I had to summarize the heart and soul of today's ceremony I would do it with two words - courage and gratitude - your courage and our gratitude."

VA Officials Detail $164 Billion Budget Request

From a Department of Veterans Affairs News Release

WASHINGTON, Mar. 4, 2014 – President Barack Obama has proposed a $163.9 billion fiscal year 2015 budget for the Veterans Affairs Department, a 6.5 percent increase over fiscal 2014, that VA officials said will support the department’s goals to expand access to health care and other benefits, eliminate the disability claims backlog, and end homelessness among veterans.

The budget includes $68.4 billion in discretionary spending, largely for health care, officials said, and $95.6 billion for mandatory programs – mostly disability compensation and pensions for veterans.

“This budget will allow us to continue the progress we have made in helping veterans secure their place in the middle class,” VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki said. “It is a tangible demonstration of the president’s commitment to ensuring veterans and their families have the care and benefits they’ve earned and deserve.”

The $68.4 billion total in discretionary spending includes about $3.1 billion in medical care collections from health insurers and veteran copayments.

“We remain committed to providing veterans the opportunity to pursue their education, find meaningful employment and access high-quality health care,” Shinseki added. “From the men and women of ‘The Greatest Generation’ to the veterans who have returned from our most recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, no one deserves it more.”

VA operates one of the largest integrated health care systems in the country, with nearly 9 million enrollees. It has the ninth-largest life insurance program; makes monthly disability, pension and survivor benefits payments to more than 5.1 million beneficiaries; and provides education assistance or vocational rehabilitation benefits and services to 1.2 million students and mortgage guaranties to more than 2 million homeowners. The department also operates the nation’s largest cemetery system.

Here are highlights from the president’s fiscal 2015 budget request for VA:

Health Care

With a medical care budget of $59.1 billion, including collections, VA is positioned to provide care to 6.7 million patients in the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. The patient total includes more than 757,000 people whose military service began after Sept. 11, 2001.

Major spending categories within the health care budget are:

-- $7.2 billion for mental health;

-- $2.6 billion for prosthetics;

-- $561 million for spinal cord injuries;

-- $229 million for traumatic brain injuries;

-- $238 million for readjustment counseling; and

-- $7.0 billion for long-term care.

Expanding Access

The president’s proposed budget would ensure that care and other benefits are available to Veterans when and where they need them, VA officials said. Among the programs that will expand access under the proposed budget are:

-- $567 million in telehealth funding, which helps patients monitor chronic health care conditions and increases access to care, especially in rural and remote locations;

-- $403 million for health care services specifically designed for women, an increase of 8.7 percent over the present level;

-- $534 million for the activation of new and enhanced health care facilities;

-- $562 million to continue o-going major construction projects;

-- $86.6 million for improved customer service applications for online self-service portals and call center agent-assisted inquiries; and

-- $3.6 million to open two new national cemeteries in Florida and prepare for the opening of two new rural national veterans burial grounds.

Eliminating Claims Backlog

The president’s proposed budget provides for full implementation of the Veterans Benefits Administration’s Transformation Plan -- a series of people, process and technology initiatives -- in fiscal 2015, officials said. This plan will continue to systematically reduce the backlog, they added, and will enable the department to reach its 2015 goal of eliminating the disability claims backlog and processing all claims within 125 days with 98 percent accuracy.

Major transformation initiatives in the budget proposal invest $312 million to bring leading-edge technology to the claims backlog, including:

-- $173 million -- $137 million in information technology and $36 million in Veterans Benefits Administration funding for the next generation of the electronic claims processing system, the Veterans Benefits Management System; and

-- $139 million for the Veterans Claims Intake Program to continue conversion of paper records into electronic images and data in VBMS.

Eliminating Veterans Homelessness

A major strategic goal for the department is to end homelessness among veterans in 2015, officials said. The budget request targets $1.6 billion for programs to prevent or reduce homelessness, including:

-- $500 million for Supportive Services for Veteran Families to promote housing stability;

-- $374 million for the Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, wherein VA provides case management services for at-risk veterans and their families and HUD provides permanent housing through its Housing Choice Voucher program; and

-- $253 million in grant and per diem payments that support temporary housing provided by community-based organizations.

Other Services for Veterans

Other features of the administration’s fiscal 2015 budget request for VA are:

-- $257 million to administer the VA-run system of national cemeteries;

-- $3.9 billion for information technology; and

-- $1.2 billion in construction, cemetery grants and extended-care grants.

Get ready for the return of the raptor!

55th Wing Public Affairs

3/4/2014 - OFFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb.  -- The F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team will perform on base for the first time since 2010 as part of the Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show on July 19 - 20.

The official announcement came last week from Air Combat Command and by adding the F-22 to the previously announced Blue Angels, this year's air show has the makings to be one of the biggest in its 41-year history.

"If you were to ask any air show director what performers they'd like to have at their show, they'd say the Blue Angels and the F-22, so we've nailed it," said Maj. Brian Burger, Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show director.

The F-22 is the world's most advanced operational aircraft. During its performance, it will demonstrate precision aerial maneuvers that only a fifth-generation fighter aircraft can.

"We're pleased to have the most sought-after single ship demonstration act in the world scheduled for our show," said Col. Gregory Guillot, 55th Wing commander. "The F-22 has a unique combination of stealth, supercruise, maneuverability and integrated avionics, coupled with improved supportability. It truly represents an exponential leap in warfighting capabilities. We are anxious for our community to see what the Raptor can do."

"If you've never seen the F-22 live, you really need to make sure and be here for it," Burger said. "It's absolutely incredible."

With the addition of the F-22 Raptor, air show attendees will also be treated to a heritage flight, which demonstrates the proud heritage of military aviation over the past 60 years.

Burger said the full schedule is still being worked on, but he did say that his team has also confirmed appearances by Matt Younkin's Twin Beech 18, Randy Ball's MiG-17, Michael Goulian, Ace Maker Air Shows T-33 and Michael Wiskus among others.

"We're also very excited to have the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, known as the Leap Frogs, as part of our show as well," said Maj. James Lee, Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show air director. "They are comprised of Navy SEALS and will be a great way to start our show both days."

Also new to the Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show this year will be the Flight Deck. This is a pay tent that puts attendees right on the flightline, close to show center.

"Admission is still free to the event, but we wanted to offer something new to folks who are looking to get a little closer to the action, so we've introduced the Flight Deck," Burger said. "A lot of other shows have offered something similar and it's been pretty popular, so we wanted to do it here as well."

As always, the show will once again showcase multiple exhibitors that will give those in attendance unfamiliar with the United States military a deeper look at the day-to-day life of a service member.

In addition to air power, the open house will also feature a kid's zone, which will offer plenty of rides and games for children throughout the weekend.

To keep up with the latest on the air show, please visit www.offuttairshow.com.

59th MDW showcases medical mission to AETC's new boss

by Staff Sgt. Jason Huddleston
59th Medical Wing Public Affairs

3/3/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas  -- Air Education and Training Command's top leader recently visited the 59th Medical Wing to meet with Airmen and senior leaders, and learn more about the scope of its medical mission.

Gen. Robin Rand, AETC commander, viewed several areas throughout the Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center Feb. 24, including the wing's Refractive Surgery Center, Aeromedical Staging Facility and Clinical Research Division. Rand also visited nearby Reid Clinic, whose medical staff cares for more than 86,000 trainees, technical training students, Defense Language Institute and Inter-American Forces Academy students annually.

Rand also hosted commander's calls throughout the day, and had lunch with junior 59th MDW Airmen. His primary message was simple - get to know the Airmen around you, let them know you care about them, and teach each other how to be great Wingmen.

Charged for ensuring the education and training of all Airmen, the general also spoke about the importance of the medical mission in relation to the rest of the Air Force.

"I have a special affinity for medics. I've served with you in combat and know how important military medicine is in combat," said Rand. "I've seen it and lived it first hand and just want to tell you how much I appreciate what you've done for our Air Force and our country."

Of particular significance was the status of several military construction (MILCON) projects at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, to include the new Wilford Hall Ambulatory Surgical Center, the San Antonio Military Medical Center's Hyperbaric Medicine addition and the Reid Clinic replacement.

Maj. Patrick Ryan, of the Air Force Medical Support Agency Health Facilities Division, said it was important to familiarize Rand with the plethora of MILCON projects underway in San Antonio.

"We appreciate the opportunity to showcase the new WHASC to General and Mrs. Rand," Ryan said. "There is a great deal of work underway in JBSA to modernize health care facilities in order to support high quality patient care."

A-10 flyer brings airpower in perspective to ENJJPT students

by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

3/3/2014 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Flying high above ivory clouds is usually the perspective of a pilot, but among the swirling sands and chaos of war, Maj. John Blocher, 80th Flying Training Wing executive officer, would see it up close and personal instead of seeing from the skies above.

During Operation Iraqi Freedom, air superiority would rain hellfire and maverick missiles on enemy forces and strongholds below. The A-10 Thunderbolt II was no exception, and for Blocher, who piloted a plane dubbed the tank killer, he was responsible for bringing that power to the battlefield on the ground level.

As a first lieutenant in the December of 2002, Blocher was assigned as an air liaison officer with the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division, 2-69 Armor Battalion, and experienced combat from a different perspective. During his time as an ALO, Blocher was responsible for being a forward joint terminal attack controller, which had him coordinate close air support from a ground position.

Having come face-to-face with a lethally different reality, Blocher's very existence took a drastic turn.

"It's a life-changing experience. It was something at the time I was not fully prepared to handle," he said. "The proximity, the sights and sounds were impactful."

In the present day, Blocher uses his experience to impart words of wisdom to those at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training course, the world's only multi-nationally manned and managed flying training program chartered to produce combat pilots for NATO.

The reason Blocher shares his story is so the other students can look at the bigger whole of what it means to be an Airmen. During a 80th Flying Training Wing commander's call, Col. Lance Bunch, 80th FTW commander asked him to tell his tale. He had confidence his Airmen could learn from his experience.

He spoke of his time in Iraq, and how he was confronted with decisions he never had to make in his career up until that point.

"I watched a man level an AK-47 at my head and I had to decide whether he was going to die before me or if I was going to die before him," he said.

Having come so close to an enemy force face-to-face provided him with a new appreciation for airpower from the ground viewpoint as the enemy assaulted them with various types of weapons and explosives.

"The cool part was when our battalion sat there and waited and watched while the Air Force wreaked havoc, and then (we) rolled north and never took another shell," he said.

Blocher made sure to emphasize the importance of the overall Air Force mission when it comes to educating new Airmen and pilots in particular.

"They are first of all focused on what is in front and not the big picture, which is appropriate (for the training students), but every once in a while, it's important to look at the horizon and realize why you're here," he said.

For him, meeting the standard is not enough, it's the effort he looks for as the defining aspect of these future pilot's careers.

"It's all the extra details we put into it that matters because we (Air Force) don't accept good enough," he said.

While Blocher described himself as being overwhelmed by the absoluteness of combat, he characterizes his Air Force career as something that strives off of acclimation and aptitude. Regardless of what challenges the student's face, Blocher wants adaptability to be on their mind.

"I want young LT's to have a perspective on what it is to serve," he said. "The quality of person we bring into the Air Force is someone who can overcome challenges."

While operating as an ALO, Blocher attributes his personal belief in God and country as to what kept him going in a war zone, and counts that very same value system today as what continues to keep him pushing forward out of passion for his job.

"I believe in what our country was founded on and I defend that," he said. "If I'm going to defend, I'm going to defend it well."

Airman perseveres, triumphs through multiple obstacles

by Airman 1st Class Robert L. McIlrath
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

3/3/2014 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Transforming from a civilian into today's fighting Airman can entail many unimagined obstacles, but one Airman in particular faced a series of obstacles head-on, neither faltering or failing.

Airman 1st Class Tracy A. Guardado, a 366th Training Squadron electrical systems apprentice course graduate, wasn't deterred by the hurdles she faced forcing her to wash back in class on multiple occasions and almost sent home early. Joining the Air force wasn't a spur of the moment decision. It was something she wanted years before she packed up and left for basic training, but she postponed her plans to tend to family medical issues. Being no stranger to hard work, she was a part-time police officer in New Jersey, part-time volunteer police officer, full time inventory manager at a convenience store, all while attending classes at a local college.

"I wanted to join right out of high school, but my mother was sick, so I went to college instead so I could take care of her," she said.

When her mother passed, she decided to join the Air Force Reserves. Guardado arrived at Sheppard for technical training June 2013. Stepping off the bus, she would meet her military training leader for the first time, which would cement the foundation she would need in the upcoming months. Her MTL saw potential in the quiet young lady among the file and ranks of new Airmen fresh out of basic training.

"I've been her MTL from the very beginning," said Staff Sgt. LaVanda Jennings, a 366th TRS staff member. "When Guardado first got here she was very quiet, very behind the scenes."

Training squadrons have programs to award leadership ropes worn around the left shoulder of Airmen who show potential leadership skills. As the hierarchy goes, green ropes are awarded first to the newest selected leaders. After showing notable leadership skills, they are promoted to wearing a yellow rope. After proving themselves to be the most exceptional leader in the squadron, the possibility of being awarded a red rope exists. There is only one red rope per squadron. Guardado wore a red rope.

"When Guardado became an Airman leader, it brought her out her shell," Jennings said. "Becoming red rope was huge for her, I couldn't imagine having a better red rope."

A week after her arrival, Guardado was soaring through the hierarchy when she became a green rope. The following week, she became a yellow rope. Since most Airmen go the length of their technical training without getting a rope. This proved her leadership abilities and dedication from the start. As the lone red rope of her squadron, her responsibilities increased even more and she was in charge of leading hundreds of her fellow Airmen. Training seemed to be going well until about halfway through when, while running, Guardado was injured.

"I rotated my pelvic bone and I could barely walk," Guardado said. "I couldn't climb the electrical pole."

Most Air Force bases are considered a city within themselves. The electrical network that exists is built and maintain by electrical systems apprentice. Guardado is responsible for the fundamental utility allowing the base to necessary electrical power to complete the mission.

"She never let her injury get her down," her MTL said.

After her injury, Guardado attended several months of grueling physical therapy sessions, doing everything she could to get healthy.

"I had to wait three months before I could start class again," Guardado said.

Walking normal again, Guardado started class, only to face another setback a short time after. In November she came down with pneumonia, which would lead to her being placed on medical hold and being washed back yet again. Airmen refer to this waiting period as "limbo."

"When most Airmen are in limbo, their care factor dissipates," Jennings said. "She had a very good attitude the whole time. Once she has made up her mind that she is going to do something, that's it, she does it."

After nearly one month of waiting to be healthy enough to start class. About two months later, she accomplished her goal and pinned on the coveted occupational badge. She graduated February 2014. Guardado doesn't take all the credit for her resiliency and thinks there were several factors that contributed to her recovery both times. She gained strength from the encouragement of her peers, but she knows the journey would have been a lot more difficult without the professionalism and dedication of her MTL.

"My peers and MTL's kept my spirits high when I was waiting to start back training," Guardado said. "Staff Sergeant Jennings was there to help me through mentally when I got hurt and got washed back and again when I got sick."

According to her leadership, Guardado was leading by example, whether she actually realized it or not, and was inspiring her fellow Airmen through her perseverance. Airman 1st Class Melinda L. Sachs, a 366th TRS electrical power production course student, was a roommate of Guardado's. For the few months they knew each other, Sachs witnessed Guardado's dedication firsthand.

"She knows what she wants and she gets it," Sachs said. "Knowing her has taught me to go after my goals as hard as I can, no matter how long it takes."

After being at Sheppard for eight months, overcoming two injuries and fighting her way to graduation, Guardado left the 366th TRS on her terms as a graduate.

"Leaving here and going back home is bittersweet," Guardado said. "I've learned so much about everything and I've gotten to know everyone really well. Being here has shown me what I want to do with my life."

Guardado will join her Reserve unit and plans on resuming her job as a police officer. In the meantime she will be looking at the possibility of going active duty.

Death on Call: Joint Terminal Attack Controller's Act as Translators

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
JBER Public Affairs

3/4/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- "Kodiak, this is Scarface, in from the east."

"Scarface, this is Kodiak ... cleared hot."

Hot lead from the U.S. Navy F/A-18 Hornet's Vulcan 20-mm cannon strafe 200 feet away from friendly position; striking the enemy position dead on.

It's death on call - wherever and whenever needed.

But the troops on the ground can't exactly radio an F/A-18 pilot. There's a "language" barrier and an entirely different view of the battlefield.

In that gap stands the joint terminal attack controllers, a subset of the tactical air control party community. After a rigorous qualification course, they can direct combat aircraft, calling in air strikes and close-air support.

The 3rd Air Support Operations Squadron is home to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson's JTACs.

"We're subject-matter experts who bring close-air support to the ground fight," said Air Force Capt. Jack Fine, the 3rd ASOS assistant brigade air liaison. "We try to integrate our air support into the ground scheme of maneuver, to provide the air-ground support when organic fire units aren't enough to win the fight."

As the sole representative of air power to the ground commander, the best way to work with other services is to know each other's capabilities and help the ground unit understand what JTAC can do.

"Regardless what uniform we wear, we want them to understand how we can contribute to the mission," Fine said.

The JTAC personnel recently returned from Exercise Cobra Gold 2014 in Thailand, where they worked hand-in-hand with the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, as the brigade demonstrated their unique ability to rapidly deploy and conduct a forced-entry airborne assault.

Once on the ground, the 4-25th IBCT faced a fictional scenario in which they began taking enemy small-arms fire. The JTAC called in two Hornets to provide close-air support and eliminate the threat.

"We're a big force-multiplier," Fine said. "It's not just dropping bombs. Having that eye in the sky directly overhead, to see what else is going on around the battlefield, is what we bring to the fight. That's how we bring the joint picture."

Army doctrine and Air Force guidelines can differ radically. Part of a JTAC's job is to make those methodologies work seamlessly together.

"We're the conduit between the [Air Force and] Army, or any other supported service," said Tech. Sgt. Clayton Davis, TACP noncommissioned officer-in-charge. "We're the middlemen, communicating with guys on the ground and the guys in the air. We have to be flexible enough to operate within the Air Force constraints and the Army constraints, and find that middle ground so we can do our job and execute."

Joint basing helps with the job.

"A lot of our support is during Army exercises, so we tend to focus primarily on the Army," Davis said. "At the end of the day, we're still Air Force, but we can lean on the Army if we need something, and vice versa."

It's a team effort when the JTACS learn how their Army ground tactics work out on the battlefield.

"As a JTAC, your primary responsibility is to advise the ground commander on proper utilization of air power," Davis said. "With that comes a lot of responsibility. When you speak, you need to know what you're talking about, because you're the Air Force representative to that commander. The impact of that for a lower-ranking person is pretty substantial."

JTACs work to be "quiet professionals".

"The reason a lot of people don't know about us is because we typically don't go around talking about ourselves," Davis said. "Most importantly, we have to be approachable to outside people, and we have to say what we mean and mean what we say. We have to know what we're talking about - the worst thing we could do is say the wrong thing and lose our credibility."

Despite the need to be low-key and approachable, JTACs have a lethal job and must keep that in mind.

"We have to have an aggressive mindset," Davis said. "Our job is different, and we need a certain level of aggressiveness to be able to do what we do."

C-130 travels San Antonio highways

by Airman 1st Class Kenna Jackson
Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

3/3/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas  -- While common to see military aircraft in the sky, San Antonio drivers shared the road Sunday with a retired, partially disassembled Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo aircraft as it was towed on highways between Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and the Medical Readiness Training Center at JBSA-Camp Bullis.

The aircraft's four-hour road trip was successfully accomplished through combined efforts of members from the 502nd Trainer Development Squadron at JBSA-Randolph, JBSA-Lackland Security Forces, San Antonio Police Department, Texas Highway Patrol and World Wide Aircraft Recovery.

"The move was definitely a team effort, one that took us about five months to plan and execute," Reimo Estrada, 502nd Trainer Development Squadron project manager, said. "Everything came together though, and we delivered the aircraft with no issues."

Once equipped to immerse the medics in a combat environment, the aircraft will become a vital training tool used by the 937th Training Group's aeromedical evacuation and patient staging course students. AEPS is a week-long course where instructors teach students to load, transport and treat patients aboard a C-130 in contingency, humanitarian and disaster relief environments.

Sunday's move of this 116' asset entailed only the fuselage of the bulky aircraft. According to Kevin Haley, 502nd TDS director, other major parts of the C-130 were transported to JBSA-Camp Bullis since Feb. 12.

"For the replacement aircraft to be prepared and moved the contractor had to remove the C-130's engines, wings, and horizontal and vertical stabilizers to facilitate overland transportation to Camp Bullis," Haley said. "There, the contractors will re-assemble the aircraft and restore it to its non-flying original electrical, electronic and mechanical, functional and operational status."

According to Lt. Col. Charles Cambron, 937th Training Support Squadron, MRTC flight commander, the required plane was scheduled for decommissioning from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard and it was diverted to JBSA-Camp Bullis, by way of JBSA-Lackland. Utilizing designated funds from the Readiness Training Oversight Committee, 502nd TDS fabricators will reconfigure the plane into a state-of-the-art trainer.

"Students in the AEPS course will practice loading and unloading patients on our flightline, as well as putting their clinical skills to the test while running patient scenarios during in-flight simulations," Cambron said. "The C-130 is equipped to simulate the sounds, sights, feel and even smells of actual flight to better prepare our deployers to be more effective for our patients downrange."

About 1,300 students will be trained each year during the course, according to Cambron. He also said that several medical specialties, to include doctors, nurses, administrative staff, medical technicians, officers and enlisted will take the course.

The simulation project is expected to take another two months to complete. In the next few weeks, the team will be busy putting the C-130 back together and ensuring that everything works properly before beginning the process to simulate explosions, smoke and even temperature changes, according to Estrada.

"All the players' determination, whether active duty, civilians or contractors have made this project a success, and their efforts will directly affect the lives of our patients we're sent to bring home," Cambron said.

Sheppard's 82 CS sweeps AETC awards

by Airman 1st Class Jelani Gibson
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

3/3/2014 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- The 82nd Contracting Squadron here, in a good show of excellence, has won all four eligible awards at the Air Education and Training Command level for the 2013 fiscal year.

The awards earned were the Outstanding Contracting Unit award, Outstanding Unit Support of the AbilityOne award, a Special Recognition award and a Small Business Achievement unit award. For the Outstanding Contracting Unit award, the squadron saved $2.4 million in labor costs and an estimated $20 million in annual savings.

For supporting the Ability One program, an initiative that focuses on employing disabled individuals in the services section, the award-winning squadron bested their disabled mandate employee mandate by 12 percent. The squadron's outstanding response and support in the wake of a T-38 crash July 19 earned it the Special Recognition Award.

"Contracting is a customer service oriented mission, our job is to take care of everyone on base," said 2nd Lt. Jonathan Yap, 82nd Contracting Squadron contract specialist. "We are in an environment where civilian and military work great together."

Tech Sgt. Keith Wilson, non-commissioned officer in charge of simplified acquisitions, attributes the squadron's level of success to the autonomy and competency that is expected of each employee that contributes to the contracting mission.

"They can execute from day one," he said. "They're constantly stretched in their thinking capacities."

As the squadron in charge of managing the base's 1,500 contract employees, Mary Whitley, a contracting officer, thinks the awards speak volumes about the type of responsibility afforded to the Airmen.

"They're doing stuff that tech's and master sergeants would be responsible for in other squadrons," she said. "They have the capability to do it."

Todd Raines, a contracting officer, wants to prepare many of the Airmen for a job they may be doing in a deployed location where the stakes are all the more higher.

"When they go overseas, they're going to be by themselves," he said. "We try to prepare them for that as best we can."

Maj. Michael Kennebrae, 82nd Contracting Squadron commander, found no difficulty in putting up his workplace for four MAJCOM awards.

"It was easy to write because we had great people," he said.

While each award signified a major achievement, Master Sgt. Dennis Carr, squadron superintendent, knew the awards said a lot about the work people in the squadron put in each and every day.

"It was great," he said. "Getting awards like this validate all of the hard work they do."

Airmen honor former senior enlisted leaders

by Staff Sgt. Gregory Brook
42nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/4/2014 - Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. -- Airmen gathered to honor the former chief master sergeants of the Air Force with a positional colors ceremony at the Air Force Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy on Gunter Annex Feb. 27. Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Cody presided over the ceremony, and presented the Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force positional colors to several of his predecessors and surviving family members.

The ceremony honored not only the service and contributions of the former chiefs gathered on stage, but the impact all previous 16 enlisted leaders have had on the enlisted force.

The 16th CMSAF, James A. Roy, opened the ceremony by focusing on the meaning of the colors and honoring the chiefs and the enlisted force.

"This is an opportunity to highlight the enlisted force," Roy said. "It's a great day to celebrate the advancement of a professional enlisted force, because to me that's what this flag represents. As we continue to grow as a force, our enlisted Airmen continue to prove they are leaders who can and have often propelled our Air Force into the future."

"The Airmen on stage have carried on a legacy of leadership. They grabbed the torch from the Airman before them and used it to light the path to the future."

Roy charged Airmen in attendance to keep the enlisted legacy alive.

"Every day we will continue to forge new paths," he said. "We will continue to evolve, but we must always take time to pause and remember those paths that we have forged. This flag gives us this opportunity. It is a symbol of how far we have come as an enlisted force."

The first presentation went to the first CMSAF, Paul Airey, who was represented at the ceremony by his son Dale Airey, a retired chief master sergeant.

Airey then donated the flag to the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Hall, also located on Gunter, to honor his father's memory and service.

To close the ceremony, Cody spoke of how proud he is of the enlisted force and the former CMSAF's who have led the force to where it stands today.

"These positional colors represent the more than seven million men and women who have become enlisted Airmen in our United States Air Force," he said. "What a significant day in our history to have these men and their families with us to day. This is a once in a lifetime event for us to all be together."

He closed by expanding on the meaning of the colors and the importance of the enlisted force in the future.

"These positional colors will forever represent each and every Airman and the contributions they made to our United States Air Force and the difference they have made around the world," Cody said. "It is a proud, proud moment for the enlisted force. We stand on the shoulders of giants. That legacy will never be forgotten. But make no mistake about it, every single day, right now today, that legacy goes forward. Our Airmen are defining the future every single moment."

After the ceremony, Sam Parish, the eighth CMSAF, spoke of his faith in the future of the enlisted force.

"If we continue to concentrate on doing the right things at the right times, I guarantee we will have an Air Force that will forge into the future, regardless of size, that will be able to take on any chore or any job that even comes close of being asked of them."

Other former chief master sergeants of the Air Force in attendance or represented by a family member were Rodney McKinley; Gerald Murray; Frederick Finch; Eric Benken; Gary Pfingston (represented by his spouse Marsha); James Binnicker; James McCoy; and Robert Gaylor.

The Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force positional colors was unveiled during Roy's transition and retirement ceremony in January 2013.

New START: 564th MS silos being eliminated

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

3/4/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- The permanent removal of 50 formerly deactivated Malmstrom Air Force Base 564th Missile Squadron Minuteman ICBM III launch facilities, located in Toole, Pondera, Teton and Chouteau counties, has initiated and is scheduled to be complete by early 2015.

Following the initial phase, which included hazardous material surveys and the staging of fill material, the actual removal of launcher closure doors initially scheduled for late March, began in February.

Although all 50 of the 564th MS launch facilities scheduled for elimination were previously deactivated in 2008, which involved the removal of ICBM's from the facilities, silos have remained in caretaker status until now.

"This [silo elimination] is history in the making," said Col. Robert Stanley, 341st Missile Wing commander.

In order to comply with the requirements set by the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty from February 2011, 103 deactivated intercontinental ballistic missile silos - 50 at the 341st MW, 50 at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., and three test silos at Vandenberg AFB, Calif., - must be eliminated by February 2018. Elimination of the 50 F.E. Warren launch facilities began in August 2013 and is scheduled to be complete by December 2014.

Under the New START, the U.S. and Russia are required to have no more than 1,550 deployed warheads; 800 deployed and nondeployed ICBM launchers, submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers and to reduce their deployed ICBMs, SLBMs and heavy bombers equipped for nuclear weapons to no more than 700.

According to Richard Bialczak, 341st MW treaty compliance specialist, although none of the silos have been officially eliminated from treaty accountability, the removal process of the facilities has been ahead of schedule despite sub-zero temperatures.

"The progress is going very well," Bialczak said. "There are several actions that must take place before we achieve that milestone [of permanent elimination]. The [launcher closure] door must get buried but the contractor can't perform that yet due to the frozen ground. Once the weather breaks, they will bury the doors, then there will be a 60-day inspection window that must be complied with before the launchers are officially eliminated."

Although not required by New START, in addition to removing the 103 ICBM missile silos, nine of the 10 missile alert facilities will be eliminated across the ICBM force.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Air Force Civil Engineering Center are eliminating the launch facilities by filling them with earth and gravel, which is an effective and environmentally friendly method of elimination. This method is also more cost effective and poses no threat to public safety.

Following silo elimination, land will be available for purchase by federal, state and local government agencies. Adjacent landowners will then have the opportunity to obtain the land. The last option for acquirement will be through public auction.

AFGSC commander visits Malmstrom

by Senior Airman Cortney Paxton
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

3/4/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, Air Force Global Strike Command commander, visited Malmstrom Air Force Base Feb. 26 in to promote the recent Force Improvement Program initiative.

His one-day visit included a visit with Col. Robert Stanley, 341st Missile Wing commander, meetings with group commanders and chiefs, as well as squadron commanders, a lunch with company grade officers and a Wing all call.

During his all call, Wilson highlighted several points; each one represented by a different photo. Every topic was designed to help the Airmen of Wing One better themselves.

The first in the series of photos was a badge representing a school he attended for six months - a school he said gave him the foundation of what the Air Force believes, which is to be "humble, approachable and credible," he said. "You need to be an expert, you need to be a leader [and] you need to be ready... That's what our Air Force is about."

He also spoke of a certain breed of dog - the bulldog.

"I'm a tenacious little bulldog and I am just not going to let go of that bone," he said. "I am relentless in making sure we get after something, that we're not going to let go of that bone and that we're going to make every place that we are associated with better."

Continuing on with the idea of becoming better, the general spoke of the importance of life-long learning and the necessity of reading, pointing out that, "Unless we keep trying to learn, we become irrelevant to those we're trying to lead," he said.

Wilson then spoke to the members of the nuclear enterprise as a team, showing them a photo of a goldfish swimming in a light bulb reminding them that the goldfish is stuck in the same kind of environment as the nuclear enterprise - a transparent one. He reminded all Airmen that they are held to the highest standards in the Air Force because many people at different levels are constantly looking at them to operate and maintain the world's most powerful weapon system.

The general also spoke of safety, the delegations of jobs and the need for high expectations. He compared the talents of Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb to the accomplishments of the nuclear enterprise and Air Force in general.

"Babe was a machine," Wilson said. "When he stepped up, there was a pretty good chance he was going to knock one out of the park, but there was a better chance that he was going to strikeout... I'm good with striking out - that's what makes us better. It is okay to fail... because occasionally we're going to hit a grand slam. Ty Cobb was known for hits, getting on base and singles - that's how we win games... That's what we're going to do - it's part of this Force Improvement Program - we're going to hit some singles and get some positive momentum. Occasionally we're going to hit one and knock it out of the park, and occasionally, we're going to... [swing] and miss, and I'm okay with that."

His final photos emphasized the need for teamwork, courage by Airmen to stand up for what they believe in and the importance of building and nurturing positive relationships with each other at all levels of command. His very last photo was the Air Force symbol, reminding all Airmen of the importance of the Air Force core values and the need to live according to all three of them.

"Everything those pictures stood for from Jimmy Doolittle with his courage and commitment, with that heritage behind us, with that history behind us, with the amazing history in this room - that's our Air Force," he said. "That's our Air Force's core values. You folks ... make our mission happen every day, and that makes me really proud wearing the same uniform as you."

Wilson's visit to Malmstrom ended with a meeting addressing members in the 13N Air Force Specialty Code career fields, and one final message to the Airmen of Wing One.

"Thank you very much for what you do every day for our Air Force, our nation and Air Force Global Strike Command," he said.

23rd BS supports 5-year-old with cancer

by Airman 1st Class Apryl Hall
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

3/4/2014 - MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -- Capt. Michael DeVita, 23rd Bomb Squadron B-52 instructor pilot, and 16 other members of his squadron shaved all of the hair off their heads to support a young boy fighting cancer, Feb. 21.

It was back in 2008 when DeVita received the devastating phone call that a good friend from pilot training had been killed in an F-16 fighter jet accident at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.

Devita could not believe his ears as 2nd Lt. Dave Mitchell's wife, Kristi, explained that her husband had not ejected in time and had crashed with the jet. At the time of the accident, Kristi was pregnant.

"It was really hard," DeVita said.

Five years down the road, DeVita received more devastating news concerning the Mitchell family. Brayden, the son Lieutenant Mitchell was never able to meet, had been diagnosed with a stage three Wilms tumor, a form of kidney cancer.

Upon undergoing recent chemotherapy treatments, Brayden began losing his hair and his spirits, DeVita said. Due to Brayden's love for airplanes, Kristi reached out to his father's pilot friends for help.

Capt. Corey Preston, a mutual friend of DeVita and Mitchell's from pilot training who is currently deployed, came up with the idea to have different squadrons throughout the Air Force shave their heads in support of Brayden. They would then take a group photo in front of their aircrafts to send to the 5-year-old. Not only would Brayden love receiving all the photos of different Air Force airplanes, but it would also show him that it does not matter whether or not a person has hair, DeVita said.

"It's just an easy thing that we can do to support him," DeVita said. "I was more than willing to do it, and pretty much all the guys in our squadron were too. I'm hoping we can pay it forward and have other people I went to pilot training with that fly other airplanes all do this."

With clean-shaven heads, DeVita and the other 23rd BS Airmen braved the frigid winter temperatures and posed for a photo in front of a B-52, which they will send to Brayden to prove that having hair is insignificant, DeVita said.

"It's just to keep his spirits up and keep him strong so he can fight through the chemo and move on past this," DeVita said. "Hair is a small thing; fighting cancer is a tough thing."

On Feb. 26, Brayden was able to watch Preston alongside 150 other deployed Airmen shave their heads all the way from Afghanistan. The boy was overwhelmed with happiness as he watched via video chat, said his mother Kristi.

"He thinks it is so cool that all these guys are doing this for him," Kristi said. "The other day he said, 'So many people care about me!' It just makes him feel really special."

In hopes the trend will continue in order to keep a constant flow of support for Brayden, DeVita will do whatever he can to ensure the boy's morale stays up, he said.

"What I do every day is easy compared to what Brayden is putting up with," said DeVita. "Hopefully when this is all passed him, he'll grow up and be an F-16 pilot just like his dad and then he can maybe help someone else out one day."

Kingsley adds new, distinctive jet to 173rd fleet

by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
173rd Fighter Wing

3/1/2014 - KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- 
The 173rd Fighter Wing welcomed a distinctive new Air Force F-15C Eagle aircraft to its growing fleet Feb. 7 here.

The jet sports a tan, desert paint scheme rather than the typical grey-blue worn by all the other aircraft at the wing. 

The aircraft comes from the aggressor squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., where it simulated adversary aircraft. Two more aircraft from Nellis are scheduled to arrive between now and June 2014, but those will have the standard F-15 paint. 

"There was a scheduling conflict for [this] aircraft that prevented it from being painted prior to transfer," said Lt. Col. Jeff "Sled" Smith, 173rd Maintenance Group deputy commander. "When asked if we would accept a brown "lizard" paint scheme, we agreed to it!" 

The arrival of this aircraft and six others scheduled between now and June will bring the total number of assigned to Kingsley Field to 32. Smith says seeing the unique aircraft in the skies over Klamath Falls is significant. 

"It's a visible sign to the base and local community that Kingsley's mission is growing despite budgetary challenges across the Air Force and DoD as a whole," he said. 

Col. Jeremy Baenen, the 173rd Fighter Wing commander, says it points toward the Air Force commitment to adding more F-15C pilots to the fleet. 

"In order to produce more pilots the 173rd Fighter Wing has to grow in both aircraft and personnel," he said. "This recently acquired aircraft retains the paint scheme of the 65th Aggressor Squadron where it originated but blends in ANG and 173rd FW emblems. It also symbolizes our desire to grow personnel at Kingsley Field by blending ANG and active duty personnel." 

That growth manifests itself in many ways, among them the former alert facility which went unused by the wing since that mission left the base years ago, is once again a beehive of activity. 

"Building 400 and building 404 have been a necessity in accepting more aircraft," said Maj. Micah Lambert, the 173rd Fighter Wing Maintenance Squadron Commander, of the former alert barns. "We are currently performing two phase inspections there, and one aircraft acceptance with the fourth bay being used for weapons load training and aircraft washes. This facility is also the primary location for NDI [non-destructive inspection] to perform aircraft x-ray. It is a busy facility!" 

And that won't change any time soon; the building is slated for a full renovation of the entire electrical system, HVAC system, and installation of a high expansion foam (HEF) fire suppression system, said Maj. Tim Bruner, 173rd Fighter Wing Civil Engineer Squadron commander. 

With the addition of this aircraft and the four temporarily assigned here from the 144th Fighter Wing in Fresno, Calif., the Kingsley ramp is home to 34 F-15C aircraft, the largest number of aircraft in base history.

SECAF discusses current, future challenges with JBLE Airmen

by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

3/4/2014 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited Langley Air Force Base Feb. 27 to learn about the mission of Joint Base Langley-Eustis and to discuss the challenges facing the Air Force.

"This is my introduction to Air Combat Command," she said. "I have seen nothing but enormous energy from the Airmen here as they describe how excited they are to be a part of the mission."

James' visit comes just nine weeks after the Senate confirmed her as the 23rd secretary of the Air Force. Her arrival to the staff put her directly in the middle of the budget, resource and personnel issues, but James reassured Airmen that her top priority is, and will always be, the people of the Air Force.

"Great people will make great organizations," she said. "Without them, you won't get anything done and taking care of people is fundamental to everything we do."

When it comes to managing the Total Force, the Air Force must continue to recruit the right people, retain the most talented Airmen and develop them into future leaders, she said, highlighting the importance of staying committed to upholding the Air Force Core Values and underscoring them with a culture of dignity and respect.

In addition to taking care of Airmen, the Air Force must also ensure the readiness needs of today are balanced against the readiness challenges of tomorrow, James said. Immediate training, equipment and resource concerns will be constantly evaluated against future technological investments.

"The Air Force must be ready to go against any enemy who may challenge us," James said. "This is a world we can no longer take for granted. We have to prepare."

To ensure the Air Force's position as the world's dominant airpower, James challenged Airmen to make every dollar count at every level.

"As an Air Force we must constantly add value to the American people," she said. "We are entrusted with a lot of money. We owe it to this country to spend it wisely."

With any budget, a gap always exists when attempting to match strategic goals with available resources. The mismatch presented in the 2015 budget required Air Force leaders to make a series of judgment calls resulting in cuts, reductions and restructuring across the service, said James.

One of the most controversial decisions is to gradually retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II. While it has been a "stalwart airplane" for close air support missions, other airframes can provide that same capability, James said.

"In the beginning, the decision troubled me quite a bit," she said. "However, I learned that while the A-10 is important, 80 percent of our close air support missions are handled by other aircraft."

Additionally, the decision was made to keep the RQ-4 Global Hawk and retire the U-2 "Dragon Lady."

"We had to make some hard choices when considering which airframe to cut," said James. "The tipping point was cost. When looking at lifecycle sustainment, the Global Hawk is less costly."

Another decision made to cut costs was to gradually retire the MQ-1 Predator over the next five years, while increasing the combat air patrols of the MQ-9 Reaper. Both are tremendous systems and have done great work over the past 12 years, said James.

James said the refocusing of these resources will also open up opportunities to Airmen currently assigned to the platforms scheduled to be phased out.

"There is always going to be a place for good Airmen in the Air Force," she said. "We need pilots and support staff to take care of these and future airframes," such as the F-35 Lightning II, KC-46 Pegasus and Long-Range Strike Bomber.

The Air Force plans to fully fund flying hours for next year to get those numbers back up because sequestration has degraded readiness, said James. Another challenge will be the reduction of up to 25,000 Airmen over the next five years and the force-shaping measures that will follow these manpower cuts.

The secretary also addressed compensation concerns ranging from pay and BAH to commissary benefits.
"The idea is to push these savings back into other investments that will secure our future and modernization efforts," said James.

"We have to do this," she said. "For a year or two we need to get by with these cuts, while monitoring their impact and ensuring we don't go too far."

James said despite these cuts, she is confident that the Air Force has a secure future and "good days ahead."

"The U.S. military joint force cannot get by without what the Air Force brings to the table," the Secretary said. "We are integral to every aspect of joint operations thanks to terrific Airmen who continue to do great things."

Alaska Air National Guard rescues five near Knik River

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Sgt. Balinda O’Neal
Alaska National Guard

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska (3/4/2014) - Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued five individuals who were stranded near the Knik River after their all-terrain vehicle became stuck in an ice floe.

According to the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the party then used a cell phone to contact Alaska State Troopers who was unable to respond because of night restrictions and the lack of hoist capability.

Support was requested from the Alaska RCC.

"Local rescue teams were unable to reach the victims because of thin ice," said Senior
Master Sgt. Robert Carte, superintendent of the Alaska RCC, Alaska Air National Guard. "A
helicopter extraction was decided to be the safest extraction method."

The Alaska Air National Guard responded by launching an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from
the 210th Rescue Squadron with a team of pararescue personnel from the rescue squadron.
The victims were hoisted one at a time, evaluated by pararescue members from the 212th Rescue Squadron and transported to a local medical facility, where they were released to AST.
After the rescue, squadron members returned to base.

"In this case, the stranded party was lucky to be in cell phone range to call for help," Carte
said. "Due to limited cell service across the state, and because batteries sometimes die, we
always recommend Alaskans file a trip plan with a responsible third party that can notify authorities if you become overdue."

For the mission, the members of the 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded five

Warren youth wins Wyoming's Military Youth of the Year

by Trisha Dean
Youth Program coordinator

3/4/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Austin Babcock, son of Master Sgt. Karl Babcock, 90th Maintenance Operations Squadron, was named Wyoming's Military Youth of the Year at a state event Feb. 21. He received a $1,000 college scholarship and will receive additional scholarships from the University of Wyoming.

Being named Youth of the Year is the highest honor a Boys & Girls Club member can receive. Participants are chosen from their local clubs and compete at state and regional levels. The regional winners will meet in Washington D.C. during September to compete for the National Youth of the Year title.

Austin attends the Youth Programs Teen Center where he is the president of the Keystone Club, a Boys & Girls Club of America character and leadership program. He was nominated by Youth Programs staff for his service to the Teen Center and the community, as well as academic performance and contributions to his family.

As BGCA's premier youth recognition program, Youth of the Year recognizes outstanding contributions to a member's family, school, community and Boys & Girls Club, as well as overcoming personal challenges and obstacles. The recognition program encourages Club members to reach their full potential by achieving academic success, leading healthy lifestyles and contributing to their communities. These extraordinary young leaders are shining examples and living proof that great futures start at Youth Programs and Boys & Girls Clubs.

This summer, Austin will compete against other military Boys & Girls Club members within the Southwest Region. If named regional winner, he will be awarded an additional $10,000 college scholarship from the recognition program's national sponsor.

For more information on the program, contact Trisha Dean, Youth Program Coordinator by email at trisha.dean.1@us.af.mil.

177th Airmen take part in Cajun Care 2014

by Tech. Sgt. Matt Hecht
177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/4/2014 - ABBEVILLE, La. -- Fourteen Airmen from the 177th Medical Group, New Jersey Air National Guard, are taking part in one of the largest Department of Defense community outreach efforts in the South from Feb. 26 to March 6 here during Cajun Care 2014.

Navy and Air National Guard medical personnel are providing free medical, dental, optometric, and pharmaceutical services to residents here and its surrounding communities.

New Jersey Air National Guardsman and Cajun Care Mission Commander Lt. Col. Jamie Ruffing said although their primary mission is ensuring U.S. military medical professionals are able to rapidly establish a functional medical facility, the mission's benefits to the community cannot be understated.

"We will be working in a joint environment, learning each other's military culture and training for a mission which could happen anywhere at any time," she said. "Most importantly, however, we fully expect to become part of this community. This will be our home for two weeks, and the people of Abbeville and the surrounding communities will be our neighbors."

Cajun Care 2014 is a joint ANG and Navy Reserve medical training mission serving the real world medical needs of the medically underserved residents of the Vermilion Parish.

"It's been extremely rewarding to help the community members here," said Master Sgt. Kara Kauffman, 177th Medical Group health systems technician. "They are so appreciative, it makes it all worthwhile."

Vietnam Experience Inspires Vet to Create Delivery Company

By By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Mar. 4, 2014 – Fred Smith served two tours in Vietnam with the Marine Corps, earning the Silver Star, Bronze Star and two Purple Heart medals.

During his wartime service, Smith said, he was impressed with the effectiveness of wartime logistics and Marine Corps leadership values. He thought he might be able to use some of that experience to build a successful business in the civilian sector.

Smith spoke about his wartime experiences during a Feb. 28 event at the Pentagon called "Battlefield to Boardroom." The presentation was part of the ongoing, nationwide "Commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War." Lt. Gen. Raymond Mason, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for logistics, hosted the event and represents the Army as one of the many partners involved in officially recognizing and commemorating the war.

Smith told the Pentagon Auditorium audience that after his Vietnam experience, he went on to found the shipping company Federal Express. Today, he serves as chairman, president and CEO of that Fortune 100 company.

"Everything that went into FedEx that made the business that it is today relates to what I learned in the Marine Corps, and I've always been grateful for that education and for those I've served with," he said.

In 1966, Smith became a platoon leader with the 1st Marine Division in Chu Lai, South Vietnam. He said there was a shortage of officers, so pretty quickly he became commander of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. His rifle company participated in the epic battle for Hue City.

He said that commanding those men was the proudest moment of his life.

Of his Marines, he remarked, "They were the finest group of young men you could ever have -- courageous beyond belief -- and the memory of that is with me every day of my life."

During his second tour in Vietnam, Smith was a forward air controller with Marine Observation Squadron 2 at Marble Mountain.

Those wartime experiences, he said, gave him a deep appreciation for not only the leadership qualities of Marines, but also their organizational structure.

"Our close-air support with Marine Corps A-4s and F-4s was spectacular, unbelievable, bringing precision and coordination to the battle," he said.

When Smith started Federal Express in 1971, one of the first innovations he said he brought was integrating air-ground operations and ensuring everything was well coordinated, from the pickup and delivery folks to the pilots. "Lessons learned during Vietnam played over and over in my mind when we developed the business plan," he said.

Part of that plan development was getting a fitting motto and a mission statement, he said, recalling the famous Marine motto, Semper Fidelis, or "always faithful."

While it’s not in Latin, the FedEx motto is short enough to remember, he said, and fits the mission: "I will make every FedEx experience outstanding."

The Marine colors are scarlet and gold, Smith noted, and the primary FedEx color is purple. Thus, the FedEx motto is known as the "Purple Promise."

Another lesson Smith said he learned from the Marines was ensuring that each operating company of FedEx is managed collaboratively and is capable of operating independently. He said that was his takeaway lesson from observing the military services working together and small-unit leaders being capable of operating independently when the situation called for it.

The process at FedEx for selecting leaders is "rigorous," he said, adding that the company usually promotes from within. "The vast majority of FedEx leaders today started out as pickup or delivery people, or washing airplanes," he added.

Not everyone is leader material, he noted, and they don't necessarily have to be. If they have good technical skills, he said, there's a career path for them at FedEx. With a workforce of some 350,000 people worldwide, not everyone can be a leader, he said.

As in every organization, people at FedEx sometimes get into trouble. The company’s process for handling disciplinary problems dates back to lessons Smith learned from the Marines. Employees can request "mast" up the chain of command, all the way to the unit CEO, he said.

There's also a review board and, he said, and sometimes the board will hand over proceedings to a peer review board made up of those who work with the individual. The peer review board has the power to overturn management's decision.

Smith summed up his business philosophy: "If you take care of the folks, treat them right, put good leaders in front of them, communicate with them, set the example, make sure they understand what's in this for them, make sure they understand the importance of what they're doing, they'll provide that service. Keeping that Purple Promise, and profit will take care of itself."

FedEx recently was named No. 8 on Fortune magazine’s list of the most admired companies, Smith said. "The reason that happened had nothing to do with me,” he added. “It had to do with those 350,000 folks."

Sometimes when Smith is asked to give lectures at business schools, he's asked about the success of his company and why people like to work there. He said they're surprised when he tells them that his greatest learning experiences came from being with the Marines.

Of Marines and service members from all of the services today, he said, "I'm in awe of the quality of the troops and young officers I've had opportunity to come in contact with."

But Smith's experiences with his Marines during the Vietnam War have left an indelible mark on him, including those who were not as fortunate to return.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think about the names of those on the Vietnam Wall," he said, noting that he served with some of them.