Wednesday, April 16, 2014

‘Birdies for the Brave’ Tees Up Support for Vets, Families

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., April 16, 2014 – Known for its plush landscape and daunting 17th-hole island green, the Professional Golfers’ Association Tour headquarters here also boasts a flourishing military outreach program for total force military members and their families, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday.

Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia visited Tournament Players Club Sawgrass to meet officials from “Birdies for the Brave,” which offers complimentary admission, lessons and more for active duty, Guard and Reserve and retired service members and their families at select PGA Tour, Champions Tour, and Tour events.

John Flaschner, public relations and community outreach director for The PGA Tour and the Tournament Players Club network, said Birdies for the Brave fundraising efforts have benefitted nine military homefront groups supported by PGA Tour players.

“Our entire mission is just to say ‘thank you’ to military men, women and their families, Flaschner said, adding that in 2012, as part of the Joining Forces initiative, the White House named Birdies for the Brave among the top 20 military-friendly charities in the United States.

Pro golfer Phil Mickelson and his wife, Amy, originally created Birdies for the Brave to support troops who suffered combat injuries, Flaschner said, noting that Mickelson pledged to the Homes For Our Troops and Special Operations Warrior foundations $100 for each birdie and $500 for each eagle he makes.

Today, the PGA Tour has more than 100 tournaments on all three of its tours, including the Tour for up-and-coming players and the Champions Tour for players over age 50.

And Birdies for the Brave is at 32 tournaments out of 45 on the PGA Tour, with a presence of six each on the and the Champions tours, Flaschner noted. “Our goal by 2018 is to have a presence at all of these tournaments,” he added.

Birdies for the Brave has partnered with organizations such as Operation Shower, a charitable program out of St. Louis that coordinates with base ombudsmen and local stores to set up surprise baby showers for expectant mothers whose spouses are underway or deployed. Donations include cribs, dressers and other necessary baby supplies.

Battaglia commended Birdies for the Brave’s connection of role-model athletes to military veterans and their families. Flaschner said his main motivation is to give back to service members who have committed their lives to freedom and bravery.

“Whether it’s mortgage-free home donations to wounded service members and their families or the donation of service dogs to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, our fundraising events have raised more than $13 million for military homefront charities that directly benefit military members and their families,” Flaschner said. “And to see their gratitude for us when they’ve given so much is just overwhelming.”

The nine military homefront groups and their supporting Tour players are:

-- Homes for Our Troops and Special Operations Warrior Foundation: Phil Mickelson;

-- Operation Homefront: Corey Pavin;

-- Navy SEAL Foundation: Jerry Kelly, Vijay Singh and Frank Lickliter II;

-- United Through Reading: Rory Sabbatini;

-- Military Warriors Support Foundation: Ted Purdy and David Toms;

-- Green Beret Foundation: Bubba Watson;

-- K9s for Warriors: David Duval and Bob Duval; and

-- Feherty's Troops First Foundation: Rod Pampling.

Face of Defense: Son Follows in Air Force Parents’ Footsteps

By Air Force Senior Airman Nicole Sikorski
39th Air Base Wing

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey, April 16, 2014 – Most recruits catch their first glimpse of the military lifestyle upon arrival at basic military training, when they hurry off of a bus to the sound of loud commands from their new military training instructors.

Forced to put their civilian ways behind them, the trainees are dressed in nameless uniforms and sneakers, signifying their common Air Force beginning.

For most trainees, the extreme structure comes with a sense of shock, but 19-year-old Ruben Gawan has known the Air Force structure throughout his childhood and adolescent life. Having been a military family member for his whole life, he said, he always has known he would follow in the footsteps of his parents, who are both Air Force chief master sergeants.

Gawan will begin his enlisted Air Force journey this summer when he leaves for Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

"Seeing my parents wake up and put on a uniform every day makes me feel like I should wake up and put on a uniform, too," he said.

Gawan grew up on Aviano Air Base, Italy; Hill Air Force Base, Utah; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Robins Air Force Base, Ga.; Travis Air Force Base, Calif.; and here. Although moving from base to base was challenging, he said, it became somewhat exciting.

"Earlier in life, it was rough to make friends and then leave," he said. "After a couple times, it became normal."

With help from his Air Force family in the community, Ruben always has made the most of the ongoing changes such as permanent changes of station and deployments, said his mother, Chief Master Sgt. Lori Gawan, the 39th Mission Support Group superintendent. "There has always been someone around to help while I was gone or while his dad was gone," she added.

Having two parents in the military has come with hardships, such as deployments and temporary duty assignments, Ruben said.

"It was different not having my mom there for Christmas or birthdays," he said. "It was hard, but I got through it. It taught me to be patient and mentally strong."

Although there were times they were apart, Ruben said, he and his brother, Nathaniel, have remained positive because the time they do spend together is always worth the wait.

"Both of my parents are very family oriented," he said. His close friends also helped him cope with the inevitable changes, he added.

Ruben said his interest in enlisting in the Air Force was sparked when he moved to Pennsylvania for a year to attend Pennsylvania State University. The change to civilian life, he said, verified that the military was the path for him, as the longing for his past close-knit community encouraged his decision to wear the uniform his parents wear. The airman battle uniform means much more than just a common denominator in his childhood, he said.

"It symbolizes a different kind of respect," said he explained. "It shows you are defending something you can't exactly see."

His father, Chief Master Sgt. Phillip Gawan, the 728th Air Mobility Squadron superintendent, is especially excited to see his son wear the uniform.

"When my son Ruben shared his decision to join our Air Force, I was overwhelmed with emotions and excitement," he said. "Who wouldn't want their child to become a member of the world's greatest Air Force? I was happy, because I know the one thing that our Air Force does best is take care of its most valuable assets -- our airmen."

Ruben said has learned more than how to adapt to change and the traits required to be a great leader.

In his mother’s eyes, he already has shown leadership qualities he will need in his Air Force career.

"He realizes it's not just about him," she said. "It's about the bigger picture -- the team effort that he will be a part of. None of us do it by ourselves."

With the support of his parents and their friends who are a part of Incirlik Air Base Chief's Group, Gawan has a lot of support in his decision to enlist. His family and mentors in the chief's group have provided him with guidance that comes with many years of military experience, he said.

Along the path of change that has led him to his decision to enlist, he added, he realized that his Air Force family will go far beyond his parents.

From Planes to Trains

by Senior Airman Jared Duhon
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/15/2014 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Retiring after 20 years of service may seem like a far off dream for some, but one enthusiastic Team Dover loadmaster has not only accomplished this dream, but has also landed his life-long dream job once he retires.

Tech. Sgt. Doug Beish, 436th Operations Support Squadron C-5M Super Galaxy loadmaster trainer, will retire April 25, 2014. He has accrued 5,872 flight hours during his 20 years of service and will soon be transitioning into a career as a railroad conductor.

"It is an exciting time for me," said Beish. "It has been exciting being a loadmaster. I've been able to work with the other military branches, helping out on an international scale, and even earned a bronze star from it. But, I can't wait to get on the train."

Beish's love affair with trains began when he was a young boy growing up in Dover. His grandfather and great-grandfather worked as welders for train manufacturers and while growing up he would spend many summers with his grandfather and the trains he worked on. This sparked a passion in his heart for not only real size trains, but model trains as well. He currently owns, works on and plays with more than 200 model train engines, train cars and train accessories.

"I remember always having model trains setup around the holidays," said Beish. "I liked being able to fix them and customize them to match the trains I saw running up and down the Delaware tracks. The first train set I bought, while in the military, was an Operation Iraqi Freedom set when the war started."

During Beish's childhood, many of his friends were the children of military members which drove his passion for his first career.

"I originally wanted to be a pilot," said Beish. "Luckily, a few of my neighbors were loadmasters and I was able to see the job they did. I decided I wanted to be a loadmaster after that."

Beish joined the U.S. Air Force Reserve in 1994 and switched to active duty in 1996. During his first eight years Beish was stationed at Dover AFB. After a tour at the NATO Air Base in Geilenkirchen, Germany, he returned to Dover in 2008 when he started working with Master Sgt. Padoyable Greaves, 436th OSS loadmaster training manager.

"He is a good person, very energetic and a hard worker," said Greaves. "I am very happy for him and his new chapter in life. It is a loss for the Air Force, but it is a good opportunity to do something else he loves."

Retirement will not only allow Beish to pursue his dream job, but he will also be able to spend more time with his family. He is married and has four kids.

"We were married in April 2004 and moved to Germany that June," said Tanya. "The past 10 years I have watched him grow and succeed in everything he has set his mind to. I am very proud of my husband. I am glad to not have to worry about him every time he deploys. And I'm glad he was able to pursue his dream of being a train conductor."

Beish said he feels like a kid waiting to look under the Christmas tree as his retirement date approaches. He said he is brimming with anticipation.

"My family and I are extremely excited that I will be retiring soon," said Beish. "I have grown quite a bit since joining the military; learning about responsibility, drive, and determination as well as demanding perfection out of myself. How many people can say they were able to retire from their dream job and go into another dream job? Or even get their dream job in the first place."

Dover Airmen take on NHL veterans

by Airman 1st Class Zachary Cacicia
436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

4/15/2014 - NEWARK, Del. -- Many amateur hockey players grew up with aspirations to play professionally in the National Hockey League against the best players in the world. The vast majority will never accomplish this. Airmen from a Team Dover hockey team were however given the opportunity to play against some NHL legends.

The Dover Air Force Base Eagles battled the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni Team as they raised money for the Fisher House Foundation and the Flyers Alumni charities April 12, 2014, at the Pond Ice Arena in Newark, Del.

The Flyers Alumni team is made up of retired NHL players who at one point in their career played for the Philadelphia Flyers. Such notables that participated in this charity game included two members of the infamous "Broad Street Bullies," Bob "Houndog" Kelly, left wing, and Joe Watson, defenseman, both members of the Flyers back-to-back Stanley Cup championship teams in 1974 and 1975. Others playing on the ice included five-time NHL All-Star Brian Propp, left wing, Mark Freer, center, Andre Faust, left wing, Frank "The Animal" Bialowas, left wing, and many others.

"We play a lot of games for charities throughout the area, and we always like to get out to support worthy causes," said Watson. "This is our military and it's nice to be involved, trying to help them out with what they're trying to accomplish."

Through the years, the Flyers Alumni Association has maintained a tradition of giving back to the Delaware Valley community. Charities that have been supported in the past include: St. John's Hospice, Ronald McDonald House, March of Dimes of South New Jersey and Junior Achievement of Delaware.

The Eagles played for the Fisher House Foundation. This foundation, which is best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans' families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. They served more than 22,000 families in 2013 and more than 200,000 since the foundation's inception.

The stands filled up with spectators, raising $2,400 for the cause.

The game itself was not a pretty sight for the Eagles; failing to score during the first period, the Eagles were down 6-0 by the start of the first intermission.

"We are playing against former professionals here, so more than likely we were going to lose," said Jeff Kach, Eagles goalie. "But this is for charity; we are out here to have a good time and raise money for a great cause."

The beginning of the second period started with a Flyers Alumni shooting-fest. They tallied six additional goals until Sam Ernst, Eagles center, slipped one past Scott Shaw, Flyers Alumni goalie. Unfortunately, it would be the only goal the Eagles put on the board.
According to Watson, since 1984, the Flyers Alumni team has only been defeated four times. So it is not surprising that the game would end in an overwhelming Flyers Alumni victory with a score of 21-1.

"This was one of those once-in-a-lifetime experience; being able to come out and skate with these guys [Flyers Alumni] that have skated their whole lives and have played professionally," said Matthew Lothrop, Eagles center and captain. "I couldn't have asked for more. Losing or winning, it was all for charity."

This was the last of three charity games that the Dover Eagles played this season. On Jan. 26, $1,130 was raised for wounded Delaware police officers, sheriff deputies and state police officers, in a game that pitted them against the Fraternal Order of Police hockey team that ended in a dramatic 9-9 tie. March 23, saw the Eagles fall to the University of Delaware Blue Hens, American Collegiate Hockey Association men's division 2 team, in a 16-5 defeat that raised $3,200 for the Fisher House Foundation.

With the addition of the $2,400 from the Philadelphia Flyers Alumni Team game, the Dover AFB Eagles raised $6,730 this season for charity.

Through Airmen's Eyes: Language enabled airman program 'perfect' for lieutenant with five languages

by Jodi Jordan
Air Force Culture and Language Center Outreach team

4/15/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- For many Americans, being bilingual is an admirable feat. Proficiency in five languages, though, is a whole other level - a level that one contracting officer at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. has achieved through lifelong learning.

"Learning a language and maintaining it is like running. The 'secret' of improving your running performance is by running some more," said 2nd Lt. Abror Samatov. "The same goes with a foreign language - practice and persistence."

Samatov used both practice and persistence in acquiring Russian, Turkish, English, Azerbaijani and Ukrainian, and he sustains his language abilities through participation in the Language Enabled Airman Program. LEAP is a career-long language program that sustains, enhances and uses the existing language skills of Airmen. Many program participants, like Samatov, are native speakers, either born in other countries or from families who spoke languages other than English in their homes.

LEAP is designed to build a "bench" of cross-culturally competent foreign language speakers for the Air Force, said program administrators. "We don't take Airmen out of their 'day jobs,' said Zachary Hickman. "LEAP builds Airmen's ability to do their 'day jobs' in another language - a vitally important ability in today's global Air Force."

Samatov grew up in Uzbekistan. The country lies at the historical crossroads of many different nations and civilizations. There, Samatov interacted with many different cultures and ethnicities. He began learning Russian in secondary school and moved on to English and Turkish in high school.

In 2005, Samatov came to the U.S. His passion for languages, in particular Turkish, led him to look for Turkish-speaking communities in order to practice with native speakers. Along the way, he picked up two more languages.

"I learned Azerbaijani, which resembles Turkish," Samatov said. "I learned Ukrainian in the same way I did Azerbaijani - through Russian. Both Azerbaijani and Ukrainian are from the Slavonic lingo family, so it was easier for me to gain knowledge of the Ukrainian. Also, I have a few friends from Ukraine here in the U.S., who I try to practice with."

The lieutenant said that his language skills have been useful in his personal and professional life.

"I have met and made a lot of friends here and abroad. I was the President of the Asian Pacific American Heritage Committee at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., for two consecutive years," Samatov said. "The members of the APAHC came from diverse cultural and national backgrounds. Knowing most of their languages made me a better leader." He also recalled how his language skills got him out of a tight fix once.

"My luggage was lost at the Istanbul airport as I was traveling to Turkey in 2008," Samatov said. "Since I was pretty good in Turkish, I managed to resolve the matter. Seeing the faces of airport officials when I suddenly switched from English to almost fluent Turkish was priceless!"

Additionally, Samatov's language skill and cross-cultural competence help him be a better contracting officer. "My career field has a high deployment rate. My linguistic abilities are necessary and essential when dealing with foreign entities and individuals during contingency operations," Samatov said. "By constantly improving my language capabilities through LEAP, I'll be better equipped to establish solid relationships with our partners overseas."

Wolf Pack weapons to load up pen-wide competition

by Senior Airman Armando A. Schwier-Morales
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/16/2014 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea  -- Every year, weapons load crews from the South Korean peninsula gather to compete for the title of the best in Korea; but how did Kunsan's 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons loaders get there?

Two teams, one from the 35th Aircraft Maintenance Unit and another from the 80th AMU, were chosen to represent the Wolf Pack during the annual competition held at Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, Apr.26, 2014.

"First of all, I would have to say I'm proud of the manner in which all of our weapons load crews perform each and every day," said Chief Master Sgt. Shawn Hughes, 8th Maintenance Group wing weapons manager. "The crews put a lot of time and effort into preparing for each competition, but due to the magnitude of the Peninsula Load Competition, each load crew will practice the load multiple times preparing themselves both physically and mentally."

The load crew members representing the 35th AMU load crew are Staff Sgt. Adam Evans, Senior Airman Christopher Webb and Senior Airman Trenton Metyk. Loaders representing the 80th AMU include Staff Sgt. Traumaine Cox, Senior Airman Ryanted Duarte and Senior Airman Stephen Jervis.

The Airmen will be competing against several other weapons load teams from the Republic of Korea air force and the 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron in Osan Air Base, RoK.

To compete, Airmen had to demonstrate their ability to load weapons on an F-16 and pass both a knowledge examination and dress and appearance inspection.

"We each have, or should have, a desire to prove our mettle," said Master Sgt. Louis Famiglietti, 8th Maintenance Group weapons standardization superintendent. "We want to know we can be great at something if we work hard enough to achieve it. These crews aren't picked by accident - make no mistake, they have done their time and have earned their shot."

The weapons standardization section prepares Airmen daily by providing guidance, training and feedback. The standardization team is comprised of NCOs with a great deal of experience in handling the challenges presented within this career field.

The insurmountable amount of knowledge provided by the standardization team ensures load crew members are ready for anything.

Even with all the training provided, WSS doesn't stop there - they ensure Airmen are ready for the pen-wide event by hosting quarterly competitions, such as the recent 1st Quarter Load Competition held Apr. 11, 2014.

According to Famiglietti, the quarterly competitions give Airmen a chance to feel the pressure and become accustomed to having an audience.

"I watched one of my load crews win the pen-wide load back in 2009," said Famiglietti. "It was such a fantastic event with a great atmosphere. I really want my crews to experience it for themselves."

Bragging rights and pride are on the line, but Kunsan Airmen know the load competitions are part of training needed to complete the Wolf Pack mission.

"We all know the stakes of not being ready to wage war," said Famiglietti. "These Airmen have deployed and know people's lives depend on their being ready. Launching an aircraft quickly can be the difference between life and death for our comrades in arms. This responsibility is never taken lightly."

According to the crews, after four quarterly competitions and plenty of practice they feel ready to take the fight north, and maybe educate others on their way, April 26.

"Even though the load will take less than 30 minutes, they will have put many hours into preparing for the 'Big Show,'" said Hughes. "I'm confident our weapons load crews will represent Kunsan well."

Langley AFB F-22s partner with Kadena F-15s, JASDF

by Senior Airman Maeson L. Elleman
18th Wing Public Affairs

4/16/2014 - KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- F-22 Raptors from the 94th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Va., partnered with 44th Fighter Squadron F-15 Eagles and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force out of Naha Air Base April 4.

For the first time since the F-22s arrived on Kadena in January, the three units trained on defensive counter-air and multi-lateral integration operations in order to improve interoperability and bolster readiness.

"I think we've made great strides throughout the course of my career in making sure we can execute jointly and execute with a coalition, and nothing but goodness can come out of it because if we do end up going to war, that's the way we're going to fight," said Lt. Col. Darren Gray, 94th EFS F-22 instructor pilot. "We're always ready, but even more so after deployments like this."

Gray, who's flown with the Air Force for 18 years, said the greatest advantage to working with different air frames, services and nations is the exposure to different tactics, techniques and procedures.

"We've worked with F-18 Hornets, we've worked with Harriers, we've worked with the Eagles and we've worked with the JASDF," Gray said. "We work with a lot of different folks, and it's been great because everybody does things just a little bit differently. Making sure you work out any potential issues and finding that common ground in training makes it easier to execute in the event we have to go to combat."

JASDF Capt. Jun Fukuda, a 10-year F-15 pilot from the 204th Squadron stationed at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, said he enjoys working with the U.S. forces and feels the training benefited the Japanese forces as well.

"The scale and procedures we implemented this time helped us to train and evaluate better, since it was more practical and efficient," Fukuda said. "We cannot conduct similar training by ourselves. Through this training, we deepen mutual understanding of our capabilities, including aircraft capabilities, which help enhance our ability to execute the mission."

Though the training proved fruitful for both the American and Japanese forces, Fukuda said it wasn't met without challenges.

"It was very beneficial training for us, since it is rare to train with F-22s," Fukuda added. "I wish we could continue to have more opportunities to train with them. We identified some challenges such as how we work together to execute the mission in an efficient way, especially with F-22s."

One challenge that presented itself during the training was the ability to effectively communicate.

In an airborne combat mission, communication can quickly become the make-it or break-it for mission success. While the two American squadrons have tacked down integration sorties, Gray said it hasn't been as simple to work with the JASDF because with two very different native languages, it's not hard to imagine why confusion could set in without proper continuity.

"We've been coming here just about every year for the last four or five years, and so integrating with the Eagles ... we've pretty much got that," Gray said. "When you're dealing with partner nations where English is their second language, that's what becomes a challenge.

"Because communication is so important in air-to-air combat where everything is so dynamic, if you say the wrong thing at the wrong time, it could have catastrophic results and can lead to mission failure," he continued. "You need to make sure the contracts you establish are very simple and very executable, especially when you're dealing with the Japanese. They speak good English; it's just that much more difficult. If I tried to fly while speaking Japanese, we'd have no chance at success. My hat's really off to those guys. They executed the contracts and did everything we expected them to do, and they are professional aviators."

In addition to valuable integration training, Gray also said during their time here, the deployment has developed the 12-Raptor squadron in several other areas.
"Being at Kadena has been incredible because we had eight guys going through upgrade training - whether it's flight lead or instructor pilot - and we got every single one of those upgrades done," Gray said. "They were able to experience things that we just can't experience at home. It just makes you that better of a pilot when you're exposed to things that are not the norm. That's what makes us the best Air Force in the world."

Slain Airman's life remembered, honored after hit-and-run

by Staff Sgt. Nicholas Rau
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

4/15/2014 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- Team Buckley members honored the life and memory of deceased Senior Airman Michael S. Snyder, 460th Space Communications Squadron cyber transport journeyman, in a ceremony April 14 at the base chapel.

"SrA Snyder epitomized the Airman spirit," said Lt. Col. Hew Wells, 460th SCS commander. "He eagerly attacked his duty responsibilities, sought out new and challenging opportunities, and confronted obstacles with enthusiasm and determination. His upbeat attitude and ever-present smile were infectious.

"My thoughts and prayers go out to the Snyder family and to the men and women of the 460th SCS as we mourn the loss of a dedicated Airman," the commander added. "A tragic accident and senseless loss of life, we recognize SrA Snyder's honorable and faithful service to our country as a proud member of our United States Air Force."

Snyder, an El Paso, Ill. native, was 23 years old and had been at Buckley for two years before he was killed by an alleged drunk driver while on his motorcycle the night of April 9. A 460th SCS motorcycle safety representative, rider and enthusiast, Snyder was known to always wear the proper personal protective motorcycle gear and reflective items each time he took his bike out.

Despite all the precautions he took, Snyder's life was tragically taken from him. However, it is not only how he was lost that will be remembered, but more importantly, how he lived.

"Snyder was a great guy, a stellar Airman and a huge contributor to the shop; not just with his work ethic and technical abilities, but his easy going spirit brought a welcomed light-heartedness to the shop atmosphere," said Tech Sgt. Eugene Budnik, Snyder's previous noncommissioned officer in charge. "Thinking of his big smile and ears, goofy walk, and distinctive laugh, which I could always hear all the way in my office, makes me smile -- that's how I'll always remember him. He will be sorely missed."

With a great attitude and a sense of humor, Snyder raised the spirits of those in the office and took new Airmen under his wing as a mentor, explained Staff Sgt. Jenna Saenz, 460th SCS cyber transport supervisor who worked just a desk away from Snyder. He loved making others laugh and inviting people to the gym to work out with him, even if sometimes his co-workers might jokingly tease him about showing off "his guns" in a workout shirt.

While Snyder was making his work center better by improving morale, he was also demonstrating a desire to take on additional leadership opportunities.

"He would take on projects because he wanted to be seen as a leader," Saenz said. "He didn't shy away from the challenge and exceled at everything I gave him. He really set the example for others to follow and would go out of his way to help you if you needed it. He made me strive to be a better NCO. He is going to leave a void in this shop."

From an Airman who would joke about every day being his birthday to a wingman who constantly tried to improve the lives of those around him, Snyder certainly will leave a void in everyone he touched. But for the serviceman whose positive attitude defined who he was, it is the legacy he left that can never be forgotten.

Security Forces Airmen participate in tactical training

by Staff Sgt. Stephenie Wade
375th Air Mobility Wing, Public Affairs

4/16/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- More than 40 Security Forces members from across Air Mobility Command, Air Combat Command and Air Force Space Command participated in training to enhance weapons and tactics skills April 7 through 11, 2014 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

"In today's environment threats such as active shooter are realities," said Master Sgt. Peter Maraia, AMC SF Budget and Resources Manager. "Defenders must be tactically sound and experts with the tools of their trade in order to effectively eliminate such threats "Ken Good, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, and his instructors teach weapons and tactics principles that can be modified and applied to any hostile situation."

The company, Progressive Combat Solutions, trains military and law enforcement personnel preparing them to respond to acts of violence, criminal encounters and sudden attacks using the decision-making process known as the OODA (Observe, Orient, Decide and Act) Loop, a concept originally coined by the Air Force.

Col. Randall Richert, AMC Chief of Security Forces said, "Everyone in Air Force has to qualify on weapons including security forces; but this training is geared specifically towards enhancing the proficiency skills of the Security Forces career field so they can get really good at using a weapon and apprehending members with proper force because it is their primary job. We want to make sure the Security Forces Airmen are experts with the tools they use for defending themselves and the members on the base during incidents."

The Airmen conducted live fire marksmanship at the base firing range and force-on-force with dye-marking cartridge rounds allowing them to hone their tactics. According to one Airman, this is the most beneficial training he has participated in since joining the military. Senior Airman Terrell Brandon from McConnell AFB, Kans., was one of the many SFS members selected to participate.

"Every day we learned something different whether it was shooting techniques or force-on-force," said Brandon, a Security Forces trainer. "This training is different because there is more force-on-force. The training I have participated in the past consists of 'I am up, you see me, I am down' scenarios. Here we learned how to communicate and shoot at the same time rather than one or the other. It was as realistic as possible without shooting live rounds at each other."

Brandon said they practiced firing positions, stances and drills, learned different ways to conduct force-on-force training and new ways to enter and clear rooms and buildings.

"The instructors did a great job putting it into perspective," said Brandon. "I hope to see more training opportunities like this available in the future."

After each war the military has had the tendency to lose certain skillsets they gain during combat. The Air Mobility Command Chief of Security Forces is creating training to retain combat skills learned in recent wars while getting back to the basics and polishing garrison skills the Airmen use for day-to-day duties.

"The goal of the training is that the SF members attending will take what they learned here back to their units to teach other SF members, improving the skills of the Airmen who are not so proficient," said Richert. "For the next six to eight months we [AMC] plan to document the progress of Airmen who receive the training to see what it is we can do better with the goal of expanding the training across the whole Air Force."

JSTARS Recap team holds industry week

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

4/15/2014 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- With the Air Force's Joint STARS recapitalization initiative gaining speed, aircraft and communication companies from around the country gathered for an industry week at Hanscom AFB, Mass., April 7-10, 2014.

More than 100 participants from 35 companies attended the event where a series of government briefings, presentations from small business sub-contractors, one-on-one sessions with government representatives and a networking lunch took place.

"The purpose of the event was to open a dialogue with industry representatives and engage in discussion about the results of the latest JSTARS request for information," said Maj. Kate Stowe, aircraft and communications team lead. "We received some great technical information to help us move forward and identify the solutions for the program."

The JSTARS Recapitalization team intends to field 16 modern aircraft with an on-board battle management command and control suite, advanced communication subsystem and an updated sensor. The recapitalized system will also interact with all elements of the theater air control system, which includes JSTARS and AWACS aircraft, control and reporting centers and air operations centers.

According to program officials, some of the specific items they are also looking into include a Federal Aviation Administration-certified flight deck, an air refueling capability and an airframe that would accommodate a 10- to 13-person aircrew.

During the event, attendees received a first-hand look at several business jet class aircraft that were on display from prospective contractors.

In addition to airframe possibilities, industry representatives discussed other solutions ranging from communications to power capabilities to integration.

Stowe emphasized that "this is not a development program" and the Service intends to use mature communication solutions. "We need the ability to swap new modes of commercial hardware without major redesign or modifications to infrastructure," she said.

The industry week is part of the risk reduction phase where the Air Force uses existing contracts to define interfaces, refine requirements, enable demos and issue preliminary designs.
The Air Force also hopes to utilize open systems architecture to promote competition, which will enable new capabilities to be added quicker and more affordably throughout the JSTARS's life cycle.

"Overall the event was a huge success, and we are very thankful to all the companies that participated," Stowe said. "The government needs industry's help if we are going meet the warfighters' needs on time. Over the next few months we will continue to gather market research through meaningful interaction with industry."

Exercise Obangame Express 2014 Commences

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Herman, Obangame Express Public Affairs

LAGOS, Nigeria (NNS) -- Naval forces from the United States, Europe, South America and Africa commenced the multinational maritime exercise Obangame Express, April 16.

Obangame Express, now in its fourth year, is designed to improve tactical expertise and cooperation among West and Central African nations in order to enhance those maritime forces' collective ability to deter illicit activity and maritime threats in the Gulf of Guinea.

The weeklong exercise will take place in two areas near the coasts of Nigeria and Cameroon. There will be an inport preparatory phase and then the 31 participating ships will go to sea to test maritime security skills.

"Every nation represented here today plays a critical role in regional maritime security and we all know that no one nation alone can ensure safe maritime operations," said U.S. Navy Capt. Nancy Lacore, Obangame Express exercise director. "It is through exercises such as Obangame that nations can work together to lay the foundation for the regional cooperation that will ensure the safety and security of military, commercial and civilian operations at sea."

While the Nigerian navy hosted the opening ceremony and is providing the port facilities for a number of the participating ships, senior leaders and participants recognize this is truly an international collaborative event, and that maritime security in the Gulf of Guinea requires a collaborative effort.

"In light of recent challenges in the Gulf of Guinea, our collaboration between the countries of the Gulf and our international partners - U.S. Africa Command and U.S. Naval Forces Africa - has resulted in this event meant to develop individual capacities and to secure the maritime area," said Nigerian navy Rear Adm. Aoa Ikioda, chief of plans and policy for the Nigerian navy.

Obangame Express aims to test a wide variety of skill sets such as visit, board, search and seizure, medical response, radio communication, and information sharing across regional maritime operations centers. Participants will execute tactics and techniques within scenarios that mirror real world counter-piracy and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

"The United States remains absolutely committed to collaborating with and supporting Nigeria in its ongoing efforts to increase maritime safety and security in the region. We have a very strong and enduring relationship with the Nigerian navy, and we deeply appreciate your lead role in bringing the many nations of the Gulf of Guinea together to work cooperatively," said James Entwistle, U.S. ambassador to Nigeria.

The exercise is one of four U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa facilitated regional Express-series exercises under the international collaborative maritime capacity building program Africa Partnership Station (APS). These regional maritime exercises serve to test skills learned from previous APS training events and ongoing efforts to increase proficiencies in maritime security operations.

African partners expressed the importance of this type of collaboration and continual improvement in maritime security skill sets to achieve a safer and more secure Gulf of Guinea.

"This exercise is designed to encourage countries in the Gulf of Guinea, and to a very large extent the rest of Africa, to work together and ensure interoperability of communications and shared maritime domain awareness information," said Nigerian navy Rear Adm. Si Alade, flag officer commanding Western Naval Command Nigeria.

Twenty nations are participating in Obangame Express, including Angola, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, The Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal, Republic of Congo, Sao Tome & Principe, Spain, Togo, Turkey and the United States.

The U.S. Navy's first, joint-high speed vessel, USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1), and its embarked crew of military personnel and civil service mariners will participate in Obangame Express along with 30 ships. Spearhead is deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations for its maiden deployment in support of the APS program and maritime security operations.

B-1B software upgrade will ensure future warfighting capabilities

by Jet Fabara
412th Test Wing Public Affairs

4/15/2014 - EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- In order to keep the B-1B Lancer's capabilities ready to operate now and well into the fast-paced integrated battlefield of the future, the 419th Flight Test Squadron began testing Sustainment Block 16A software upgrades here April 1, to work in conjunction with the long-range bomber's recently added glass cockpit configuration.

The SB 16A software is a fielding configuration that will enhance the glass cockpit introduced as part of the B-1 Integrated Battle Station modification, increase Link 16 capabilities and provide a leap in situational awareness for the B-1 operators. Link 16 allows all Link 16-equipped military aircraft, as well as naval and ground forces, to interact and exchange overall tactical pictures in near-real time.

"The SB 16A configuration is expected to improve situational awareness to all crew members, increase the maintainability of the B-1B and provide data link capabilities to the field," said Capt. Carlos Pinedo, 419 FLTS B-1 Test Pilot and flight commander. "Major software enhancements include improved integration between the B-1 offensive avionics system, various onboard sensors and the data link, which results in improved battlespace awareness for both the B-1 aircrew and fellow strike package assets.

"The new displays allow aircrew members to seamlessly pass information and accomplish tasks that were once crew-position dependent," he continued. "The overall result is improved situational awareness and a reduction in crew workload, leading to improved combat effectiveness. The improved sustainability of the B-1B as a result of this program will help maintain the Air Force's long-range strike capability for many years to come."

According to Raymond So, 412th Test Engineering Group project lead engineer, the focus of the test squadron after April 1 is to identify any deficiencies as early as possible so that the customer has time to resolve issues and provide the warfighter with the best available product.

"The greatest challenge for the team [currently] is to understand the software maturity and requirements flowing into SB 16A. The new displays and interface will have such a great impact on B-1B tactics and situational awareness that the team is learning and identifying how the new aircraft will be used," added So. "This has also changed our testing philosophy. We have had to adapt our testing to the new system that we are given."

Pinedo noted that the squadron plans to test the upgrades in four phases, in which the final phase will be the configuration that the warfighter will see.

"SB 16A testing builds on and merges prior tests, which included, but are not limited to, the Integrated Battle Station with the new glass cockpit design, updated Inertial Navigation Systems and the B-1B Radar Reliability and Maintainability Improvement Program," Pinedo said. "The flight and ground tests will be accomplished in four phases, each relating to a different software drop -- ultimately resulting in the first operational fielding of the new cockpit design."

According to the test team, SB 16A testing is projected to end in February 2015.

8,800 Reservists to get Hepatitis B vaccinations

4/16/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASe, Ga. -- Approximately 8,800 Air Force Reservists will get Hepatitis B vaccinations due to a recent change in Department of Defense immunization rules.

The Defense Department is now requiring all servicemembers be immunized against the Hepatitis B Virus (HBV), which causes a potentially fatal liver disease. 

According to the Air Force Reserve Command Surgeon General's office, reservists born prior to 1990 are in the zone for the vaccinations. The Air Force has vaccinated all new accessions against Hepatitis B since 2002, as well as health care workers and most deployers, but there are still several thousand Airmen at risk for this disease.

The Aeromedical Services Information Management System has been updated to comply with this requirement. Medical information records for those requiring the immunization series will have a yellow flag until the series is complete, SG officials said. Reservists have one year to complete the three-shot series.

Airmen identified for the vaccinations will be scheduled for the series. The second vaccination is given one month after the first dose and the third dose is given five months after the second dose.

Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable blood-borne viral infection. It is a serious viral disease that infects the liver. HBV spreads through the blood and other bodily fluids of an infected person. The primary risk factors that have been associated with infection are unprotected sex with an infected partner, birth to an infected mother, unprotected sex with more than one partner, men who have sex with other men, history of sexually transmitted infection, and illegal injection drug use.

Hepatitis B can present itself in two ways. Among adults with acute Hepatitis B infection, less than two percent fail to clear the virus within six months after infection and develop a chronic HBV infection. The acute (short-term) illness symptoms include loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting, tiredness, jaundice (yellow skin or eyes), and pain in muscles, joints and stomach. Among adults, about half of newly acquired HBV infections present with symptoms while one percent of reported cases experience acute liver failure and death. The chronic (long-term) infection may lead to liver damage, liver cancer, and death. Infants and young children usually show no symptoms. However, chronic infection is more common in infants and children than in adults. A person who is chronically infected can spread the virus to others, even if they don't look or feel sick.

Service members can check their IMR status online by visiting the Air Force Surgeon Generals website at

PJs rapidly respond during Open House

by Airman 1st Class Betty R. Chevalier
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

4/15/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Six pararescuemen assigned to the 48th Rescue Squadron were first responders at a scene during D-M's Thunder and Lightning over Arizona event on April 12.

During the event, an individual suddenly had a heart attack and fell over. The episode happened directly in front of the 48th RQS display, which expedited life saving procedures.

"We were all working the static display," Adam said. "The first thing we heard was somebody screaming and a guy just fell over. Jesse and I both ran up to him, followed by everyone else."

When they arrived to the patient, they noticed he was unconscious. Since the gentleman had fallen and hit his head, the PJs initially checked to make sure he hadn't received any injury from the fall then rolled him onto his back to further assess.

Jesse recalled the patient making noises that sounded like his tongue was blocking his airway.

"We rolled him onto his right side to protect his airway," Jesse said. "As we rolled him over, we witnessed him stop breathing. Adam checked his pulse, which was weak. At that point, we yelled back for gear."

Kenny brought over a backboard, oxygen, medical pack and monitor.

"Once we realized he wasn't breathing anymore, we inserted a nasal pharyngeal airway to keep the tongue from blocking his airway, but that wasn't helping," Kenny said. "NPA is a small tube that goes in the nose."

They began ventilating him using a bag valve mask (BVM) and a face mask attachment while the King laryngeal tube was set up.

"We determined that he wasn't breathing on his own and kept checking his pulse," Adam said. "We all verified that he had no pulse and at that point started CPR while a few of the other guys started to intubate him."

Intubation is the process of a tube being inserted into a patient's airway via the mouth to assist with breathing.

Once intubated, they attached the BVM to the end of the tube and began ventilating him. They then applied pads to analyze the patient's heart rhythm. They stopped CPR compressions to get an accurate reading on the monitor and saw the patient had ventricular fibrillation. V-fib is a condition when the heart has uncoordinated muscle contractions.

Upon recognizing this, the PJs made the decision to defibrillate the patient. After the initial shock, they immediately resumed compressions.

"I did another 30 compressions on him and then rechecked his pulse," Adam said. "I checked his carotid, brachial and radial arteries, which were good and strong."

The patient started breathing on his own after the compressions but remained unconscious. Soon after, they discontinued ventilation while giving continuous care.

Not long afterward, the PJs transferred care over to the fire department for transport to the hospital.

The PJs credited their training and paramedic experience for being able to act in this situation. The patient received a fighting chance to survive thanks to the quick response time by the PJs.

U.S. Ship Responds to Scene of Korean Ship Sinking

Navy News Service

SEOUL, South Korea, April 16, 2014 – The U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship USS Bonhomme Richard is responding to the scene after the passenger ship Sewol sank near the island of Jindo off South Korea’s southwestern coast.

The ship had more than 450 people aboard and was traveling from Incheon, South Korea, to Jeju island at the time of the incident.

Bonhomme Richard has established communications with the South Korean on-scene commander and is standing by to assist as required. The ship was on a routine patrol in waters west of the Korean Peninsula.

"When we were alerted to the accident, we immediately diverted to the scene to render assistance," said Navy Capt. Heidi C. Agle, commodore of U.S. Amphibious Squadron 11. "However, the efficiency of the Korean response eclipsed the immediate need for our assets. We are standing by to provide support as requested by the on-scene commander."

Bonhomme Richard is forward-deployed to Sasebo, Japan, as part of the U.S. 7th Fleet. With its embarked Marine expeditionary unit, the ship is capable of both combat and humanitarian operations.