Monday, May 19, 2014

Tinker NCO is command's top fire officer for 2013

by Staff Sgt. Lauren C. Gleason
507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

5/16/2014 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A fire fighter with the 507th Civil Engineer Squadron here received the 2013 Air Force Reserve Command Military Fire Officer of the Year award May 4.

Colonel Brian S. Davis, 507th Air Refueling Wing commander, presented the award to Master Sgt. Michael D. Bilharz during the May commander's call. The award recognizes individual military fire officers in the rank of technical sergeant and above for superior job performance and outstanding contributions to the fire service.

Bilharz excelled during his six-month deployment and readily took on new leadership roles. He earned the wing's outstanding noncommissioned officer award due to his steadfast performance as station captain and promotion to assistant chief of fire prevention.

In the field, he commanded and monitored 24 emergency situations, safely evacuated all personnel following three suspicious package incidents, and investigated the cause of three fires decided how to best prevent a re-occurrence. He also assisted the city of Moore with disaster relief efforts following last year's EF5 tornado.

According to Gary Bird, city of Moore fire chief, Bilharz went above and beyond, putting the lives of others above his own. "We appreciate his efforts, but mostly his compassionate heart in our city's time of devastation."

This is the third major command-level award win for Bilharz. He was awarded AFRC's Firefighter of the Year in 2010 and Air Combat Command's Honor Guard Program Manager of the Year in 2006.

Reservists aid in patient evacuation during multi-agency national disaster exercise

by Senior Airman Meredith A. H. Thomas
315th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/16/2014 - JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Members of the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here led the charge to provide crucial patient evacuation support during a large-scale national disaster exercise May 14 here and in Greenville, South Carolina.

The exercise, under the coordination of the South Carolina Army National Guard, hinged on an earthquake scenario, which resulted in loss of life, injuries, property damage and displaced victims seeking shelter according to Capt. Lee Knoell, assistant director of operations with the 315th AES and exercise planner for the drill.

"The reserve role during this exercise was to coordinate patient movement," Knoell said. "The AES was responsible for airlifting the patients and providing medical treatment en-route to the safe location set up by the National Disaster Medical System in the Greenville-Spartanburg area."

The NDMS is an all-encompassing entity that brings together several federal, state and local emergency response organizations in times of crisis and mass casualty. The Air Force plays an integral part in these situations by allowing access to cargo carriers and airborne medical technicians for the evacuation of injured individuals.

The 315th AES Airmen, along with participants from the 315th Aerospace Medicine Squadron and active-duty service members with the 628th Medical Group, worked together to analyze and process roughly 50 simulated patients, all played by cadets from five South Carolina Civil Air Patrol squadrons. These patients were evaluated and transported to the flight line from a casualty staging area according to the severity of the injuries indicated on their patient scenario cards. Most of the causalities were made up to look as if they had realistic injuries.

Ambulatory patients rode regular passenger buses, while those that required litter transport were transferred to either an ambulance bus - a large military bus that can be configured to hold patients on litters - or a dual use vehicle specially designed by the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center in Charleston to interface with cargo planes like the C-17 Globemaster IIIs used at JB Charleston.

Transporting the patients carefully and efficiently was of the utmost importance according to Maj. David Ferguson, flight nurse and medical crew director with the 315th AES during the mission.

"We were sure to practice our patient movements and coordinate the litter carries carefully," Ferguson said. "It's also crucial to keep track of your patients, monitor their injuries and get them safely to the evacuation point so they can be seen and treated further."

Patients were transferred from the vehicles to the cargo area of a C-17, which had been configured with a center row of seats for ambulatory patients and a row of stanchions engineered to hold patients on litters. The group was then flown about an hour away to the Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport where the emergency evacuation area had been stood up by the NDMS. Two flight nurses and four medical technicians accompanied the patients on the plane and completed training tasks by providing emergency care while in flight.

In addition, the loadmasters aboard the plane played a major part in keeping patients and passengers informed and safe during the trip.

"We basically just see to it that the aeromedical staff has everything they need to complete their mission," said Master Sgt. Michael O'Brien, Jr., loadmaster with the 701st Airlift Squadron. "We help coordinate the configuration of the plane depending on the needs of the patients and provide the necessary oxygen and electricity requirements for the medical equipment. We also keep track of all the passengers on board and ensure that everyone is following proper safety protocol."

Once on the ground in Greenville, patients were offloaded from the C-17, again under the direction of Ferguson and the AES crew. Local emergency response teams wheeled the litter-bound patients from the plane to the tented emergency care area using unique "rickshaw" carriers.

From there, the patients were immediately processed to be seen at local hospitals with the help of active-duty Soldiers from Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina. The Soldiers arrived on scene early to ensure that the proper systems were already set up and waiting for the arrival of the cargo plane full of casualties. According to Ferguson, this was instrumental in providing rapid patient care and accountability.

"This is such an incredible exercise because it gets the Reserve and active duty of different branches working together, along with state emergency agencies, the Civil Air Patrol, local hospitals and the VA," said Ferguson. "Joint agency exercises usually start off with a little confusion at first, so we practice like this to learn how to coordinate effectively and work together more efficiently when a real disaster occurs."

The exercise offered valuable training insight for the flight crew as well, according to Lt. Col. Mark Jeffrey, 701st AS aircraft commander for the mission.

"The details were a little foggy in the beginning, which is likely how it would be in a real disaster situation," Jeffrey said. "Things were a little bit hectic but that makes for good practice. During an evacuation you could be told that you are transporting 60 patients and 100 could show up. You have to be flexible and willing to adapt."

And Knoell agrees. He said this exercise was a great opportunity to bring all the agencies together for a chance to practice their piece of the emergency evacuation puzzle.

"The first time I participated in one of these exercises, it made me feel really good," Knoell said. "It was reassuring to see multiple governmental agencies coming together under one umbrella to provide care and assistance during a time of crisis. We took the lead in the pre-planning stages to spearhead this event and it turned out to be an excellent training opportunity for all involved."

USS San Juan Returns from Seven Month Deployment

By Lt. Timothy Hawkins, Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS San Juan (SSN 751) returned home to Groton, Conn., May 16, after completing a seven-month overseas deployment.

San Juan's crew of more than 140 Sailors departed Naval Submarine Base New London, Oct. 15, to conduct maritime operations in the U.S. Central and European Command areas of responsibility.

"I am extremely proud of the crew," said Cmdr. Joseph Biondi, San Juan's commanding officer. "They demonstrated their capabilities as both mariners and ambassadors, showcasing our capabilities and strengthening international partnerships."

The submarine made stops in Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Portugal and Spain.

Capt. Vernon Parks, commander of Submarine Development Squadron 12, congratulated Biondi and the crew in a personal message.

"A very hearty well done on a tremendous job in defense of our nation," Parks said. "Your sustained superior performance in missions vital to national security and operations supporting our allied partners and theater cooperation maintained San Juan's legacy of excellence."

Hundreds of friends and family members, including three newborns, greeted returning Sailors on the pier.

Biondi said the crew is excited to return home after seven months at sea. He thanked the families for providing both "spirit and support" and enabling San Juan to excel in a forward operating environment.

"Maintaining a submarine in a forward deployed status is an engineering marvel," he said. "We operated in some of the most challenging and dynamic ocean environments, which is testament to the crew's commitment and talent."

San Juan currently has 18 officers and 130 enlisted Sailors assigned. She was commissioned August 1988 and is the third ship named for Puerto Rico's capital city.

Holocaust survivor shares memories

by Karen Abeyasekere
100th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

5/19/2014 - RAF MILDENHALL, England -- "Those that went to the left stayed alive; all the people who went to the right went to their death," declared Zigi Shipper, a survivor of the Holocaust, describing the endless lines of children and adults sent to concentration camps during World War II as he shared his memories of being sent to Auschwitz, Poland, when he was 14.

Shipper, 84, spoke to Team Mildenhall members April 30, 2014, during a question-and-answer session as part of Holocaust Remembrance Week.

Born to a Jewish family in Poland in 1930, his parents divorced when he was 5. However, back then, divorced was frowned upon.

"I didn't know about divorce; all I knew was my mother left us, and I was brought up by my grandparents," Shipper said. "My grandparents were very religious Jews and to them, divorce was worse than death."

As if losing his mother wasn't bad enough, Shipper wasn't even 10 years old when his father left, escaping to Russia after war broke out in 1939. His father believed only young Jewish men like him were at risk for being taken by the Germans, and that children and the elderly would be safe.

Life in the ghettos

A year later, the Germans forced Shipper and his grandparents to move into the ghettos in the poorest part of their town, Łódź, in Poland.

"There were 150,000 people still left in Łódź when we had to go to the ghetto; a lot of them ran away and hid themselves in small villages," Shipper recalled. "But there was no room for us." Shipper explained that when he lived at home with his family, they had a three-bedroom apartment with facilities such as bathroom and toilet.

"In the ghetto, we had one solitary room in a block, without a bathroom or toilet, and no running water. If you had to go to the toilet, it was down two flights of stairs. Especially when it was 20 (degrees) below zero and you had to pump water in the morning - it wasn't good," he said.

Although Shipper's father attempted to come back and see his son, he couldn't get in to the ghettos in Łódź. The Germans occupied the area, and Jews couldn't travel anywhere as they weren't allowed to go on public transport.

"But in 1941, he managed to get to Warsaw (Poland) to a ghetto there," Shipper said. "That was the last I heard from him."

Taken by the Germans

In 1942, Germans needed people to go to Germany and work, and they asked the Jewish police to supply them but the police couldn't, so the Germans did it themselves.

"We didn't go to work for a week, then they (the Germans) came - from street to street and house to house," the Holocaust survivor recalled. "They took the people they wanted, but my grandmother went into hiding and I stayed because I thought, 'they won't take me.' - I was about 12 years old at the time."

However, the Germans did take him, and slung him onto a truck.

Escape to survive

"But I jumped off; it was the first time I realized how lucky I was, because the lorry wasn't moving. The guards were in the yard and they didn't see me - had they seen me, they would have shot me because I was running away," Shipper declared. "I managed to hide myself and stay there until the evening came, then went back.

"On the lorry, there were babies - that's the reason I jumped off, because there were babies, old people and disabled people. I thought, surely they're not going to take us to work; they're going to take us to the nearest woods and kill us! We assumed that's what happened to the people who actually went on those lorries, because nobody ever heard a word from them," he said.

From April 1940 to August 1944, and while he was still living in the ghetto, Shipper worked in a metal factory in Łódź. He helped make a variety of different items for the German war effort, but as none of them ever got finished, he didn't know what they were.

In 1944 the ghetto was liquidated. All those working in the factory were told they would be taken to Germany to work.

If you're not on the list ...

"That's how I went on the cattle trucks; they took everyone who worked in the factory to Auschwitz, to our 'holiday camp,'" Shipper remarked. "We were the lucky ones because we were on a named list; they called our names and we went to one side.

"But there were other people and they had to go through a selection. Most of them had to go to a little place where there were German SS guards on each sides, pointing right, left, right, left," he said. "All the people that went right, went to their death."

Babies, children and women were sent to the gas chambers. Many of those who weren't murdered died anyway from malnutrition or disease. Others committed suicide.

"I honestly don't know how I got through it," Shipper said.

Auschwitz-Birkenau was an extermination camp which held gas chambers and crematoriums. Within it were different camps, almost interlocking with each other, which were concentration and labor camps.

"Either they sent you to work, or they killed you," he stated. "You couldn't stay there. Luckily, we were only there a few weeks before they sent us to a concentration camp. It was just as bad, but they didn't try to kill you; they didn't try to throw you in the gas chambers. All we did was stand outside and freeze to death. It was near Danzig, Poland, which was even colder than anywhere else, and it was already November."

Struggle to survive

"That was the place where I thought I was going to die. There were a few hundred of us, and the only way to keep warm was to huddle together," Shipper said. "After a certain time, some people from the inside had to move so people on the outside could get in."

Shipper was able to get away from there when he got a job in a railway yard.

"They wanted 20 boys to go to work in a labor camp on the railway. To a certain extent it was better - at night at least it was warm in the barracks and working on the railway lines there's always a chance to steal some food, and we did sometimes," he recalled. "Vegetables - potatoes, carrots, beets - whatever there was. There were no facilities to cook it, but if you're hungry you eat; you don't care."

Shipper made friends in most of the camps he was in. It was an advantage to have friends there; those who didn't, didn't survive.

"This way, if one of us managed to steal something, we used to share it. We looked after each other - if somebody wanted to steal something from us, or wanted to give us a hiding, we were like a family, like brothers. I certainly would not be alive if it had not been for my friends," he said.

A downward spiral

But things began to get worse for Shipper. After working on the railway lines for a while, the Germans took Shipper and the other boys to yet another camp. They didn't know if it was in Poland or Germany. Then Shipper began to get ill.

However, as there were no doctors or medication available, it wasn't until after the war that he found out what was wrong with him. It was a killer disease.

"I had typhus; can you imagine typhus without medication, or water even?" he exclaimed.

Typhus is a disease caused by bacteria. There are two types, endemic and epidemic, both originally thought to be viruses. The disease occurs after fleas or lice from other animals such as rats transfer bacteria to humans. Even though a typhus vaccine existed before World War II, typhus epidemics continued throughout the war, especially in German concentration camps during the Holocaust.

"They came for us in coaches and took us to Danzig (Germany); from there, we had to walk to a Polish port - Gardenia - and (they) put us into barges and told us they were taking us to Germany," Shipper declared. "They slung me into those holds - how I survived that, I'll never know. But had I not been ill, I would have climbed on deck and got some water; it would have been sea water, and that would have killed me, but I'd have done it."

The journey on the barge lasted approximately seven days.

On a voyage to certain death

Before they arrived in Danzig, Shipper and the others managed to get off the barge one evening, when the Germans left for the night.

"We (met) some Danish and Norwegian prisoners-of-war and they took us all across. We could have escaped then, and some people did run away, but I couldn't walk or even stand," he said. "When they took us off the barges we had to walk for 15 km. My friends helped me and they saved my life."

Everyone that had been in the camps when they were liquidated went on a death march.

"Either you walked or you died. If you couldn't walk, or you fell, they shot you," Shipper said, matter-of-factly.

Eventually they arrived at the German port. They were to be put on enormous boats that were moored there.

"We knew what was going to happen because two of the boats were already full with prisoners; one was still empty, waiting for us to go on it. There were planes flying above us; we knew it must be near the end of the war and it couldn't be German planes because they started bombing," said Shipper.

One of the bombs hit a boat. People started screaming and jumping off the boats, plunging to their death.


"Minutes later, people started shouting and waving things. We didn't know why until somebody said, 'Look around you - you're surrounded by British tanks!'" Shipper exclaimed. "That was May 3, 1945, when I was liberated by the British Army."

Shipper was 15.

He crawled over to one of the tanks and asked a British soldier for some water.

"I asked him in German, because I couldn't speak English. Still today I don't know why I asked him in German - my mother tongue at the time was Polish," Shipper said. "But he gave me some water. It was the first water I'd drunk in seven days, having typhus."

The only way he and the others survived on the barge was to eat snow scraped from the floor, as there was no drinking water.

British Army officers came, and told the prisoners that there were no Germans anywhere, and there was masses of food for them to eat.

"We helped ourselves; there were tins of meat, tins of fruit, bars of chocolate, biscuits, cakes - you cannot imagine how much food there was! But our stomachs couldn't take it. People were lying on the ground with a piece of apple or chocolate in their mouths, dead. The officers meant well, but they didn't realize that we'd have a problem," explained Shipper.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger

Suffering and surviving such unimaginable horrors may have proven too much for some. Many may have given up, but the experiences have made Shipper a stronger person.

"You've got no choice. You've got to try to live - you don't want to die, especially as a young child, you think to yourself, 'Only old people die,'" he said. "But it was 95 percent, at least, pure luck that I survived. It was being in the right place at the right time and making the right decision; I didn't know I was making the right decision - jumping off the lorry. Had I not jumped off, I wouldn't be here to tell you."

After the war, Shipper found out his grandmother had died on the day of the liberation of Theresienstadt, Czech Republic. He never found out what happened to his father, and assumed he must have died in the war.

He also presumed his mother was dead, but he was wrong.


Once liberated in 1945, Shipper spent time recuperating in a children's home in Germany. During that time, he received a letter with a British postmark. It was from a woman saying she thought he might be her son, as she gave birth to a child of the same name.

However, she said the year of his birth was different to her son, so she thought the chances of him being the same person were slim-to-none. But she was desperate to know if there was even the slightest chance they could be the same person.

To confirm her thoughts, in the letter she asked him to look at his left wrist to see if there was a burn mark, because her 4-year-old son had one. He checked his wrist, and sure enough, the burn mark was there.

"I knew then that the letter was from my mother," Shipper said.

Shipper came to England in 1947 to be reunited with her. Although he didn't want to live with his mother - she was virtually a stranger to him - he did end up staying in London.

"Although she and my new family did treat me very well, it wasn't home like my grandmother was home," he said.

It was there that he met his wife Jeannette, a French Jewish woman, in a Jewish club, and they married in 1954. They have two daughters, Michelle and Lorraine, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Past, present, future

Now 84, Shipper regularly shares his story in schools, colleges and universities around the country, and feels it vital that younger generations know about what happened and how they can prevent anything similar happening in their lifetime.

"Young people, they're our future," Shipper said. "There's very little we can do about the past, but we can do a lot about the present and the future. I feel they should know what happened, because of racism, bigotry, prejudice and hatred. So I beg young people, do not hate, because hate will ruin their lives.

"At the end of the day, will the people who they hate know? No, so they'll be the ones to suffer. They can make the difference," he said.

Student Uses CPR to Save Man’s Life

By Sharon Holland
Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences

BETHESDA, Md., May 19, 2014 – Their school break was drawing to a close and Army 2nd Lt. Jason Ausman and his roommates, all first-year medical students at the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences here, were looking forward to a carefree day of fun before classes resumed the next day.

Ausman, along with fellow Air Force second lieutenants Taylor Roth and Doug Morte, headed to Jessup, Maryland, for some indoor electric go-kart racing at the Autobahn Indoor Speedway.

Dick Talley, 69, had also gone with friends to Jessup from his home more than two hours away in southern Maryland for a day of Grand Prix-style go-kart racing at the speedway.

Talley and his friends arrived before the medical students and took their turns behind the wheel. After a number of laps, Talley’s go-kart came to a stop and as he stood up to get out, he suddenly felt faint and then blacked out.

Meanwhile, Ausman, Roth and Morte had arrived at the speedway, signed in, and then watched the mandatory safety video before heading to the go-kart area where the previous session’s drivers were just ending their last laps. The students watched the drivers exit their vehicles and noticed Talley collapse.

Ausman, who’d served for eight years as a paramedic, paramedic instructor and flight medic with the Lee County EMS in Fort Myers, Fla., before coming to the university, immediately rushed over to help. In the few seconds it took Ausman to reach him, Talley was lying still and had no pulse.

"They teach you that if a person is not conscious and not breathing normally to go ahead and start CPR," Ausman said. And he did just that, continuing compressions until paramedics arrived, refusing to let anyone take over.

“I have seen lots of people do CPR,” Ausman said. “I have also seen lots do poor CPR, and if there’s a chance for the victim to make it, you’ve got to keep up good perfusion.”

Once paramedics arrived, Ausman told them he believed Talley was in cardiac arrest. Although paramedics initially discounted his diagnosis, a cardiac monitor revealed that Talley displayed signs of ventricular fibrillation, a lethal rhythm that showed that his heart was not beating.

The paramedics, with help from Ausman, began administering life-saving support. A defibrillator was used to shock Talley’s heart, rescue breathing was performed and Ausman continued administering chest compressions.

After a while, Talley’s heart started to beat again. The paramedics loaded him into their ambulance and drove him to the closest hospital, 10 miles away. Ausman had no idea who the man was, where they were taking him and believed he would never know the final outcome.

Talley spent the next six days in the hospital, where he learned the full details of what had happened -- all except the identity of his rescuer.

Determined to thank the man who’d saved his life, Talley reached out to the speedway. The manager contacted dozens of registered riders, including Ausman, asking if any of them had performed CPR at the racetrack. Ausman responded and gave them permission to share his email address with Talley. Within a few days, he received an emotional message from the grateful man.

“Hello, Jason. I am so glad they were able to locate you! Needless to say, you are a very special person in my life now. I have essentially made a 100-percent recovery due to the excellent CPR you so promptly performed on me from the time my heart stopped beating,” Talley wrote.

“Considering the type of heart attack I had, the normal survival rate is about two percent for an out-of-hospital attack. Thanks to you, I am very lucky to be here today,” Talley continued in his message to Ausman. “They did install a defibrillator while I was in the hospital and I am basically cleared to continue to live my life as I was before. I must give you credit for not only saving my life, but that I am fully recovered. I do look at each day a little different now since I am living in ‘overtime.’

“The circumstances that allowed our paths to cross and your actions are as big as life itself,” Talley added. “Just to say ‘thank you’ seems insignificant for what you did for me. Thank you for life itself!”

Talley said that he was sure he would not be alive today if he had had his heart attack anywhere else.

“My friends tell me from the time I passed out until Jason was giving me CPR was about 30 seconds,” he said. “That would have been just about impossible to be in a similar situation where that could happen. I am very lucky to be alive today.”

“Given the circumstances of Mr. Talley’s cardiac arrest, including an eight-minute ‘down time’ in a non-urban setting, the odds of survival would have been less than two percent if he had not gotten bystander CPR,” said Dr. Art L. Kellermann, the dean of the F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine and the author of numerous studies on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

“I’m convinced that the speed and precision with which 2nd Lt. Ausman reacted literally saved Mr. Talley’s life,” Kellermann added.

“Although this incident occurred in public, most cardiac arrests occur in the victim’s home,” Kellerman continued. “In fact, if you learn CPR, the most likely life you will save is that of your spouse, parent or another member of your family. The wonderful thing is that you don’t have to be a medical student like 2nd Lt. Ausman, much less a doctor or nurse, to deliver lifesaving CPR. It’s easy to learn and easy to do. And as this situation proves, you may save someone’s life.”

As a measure of his gratitude, Talley offered to contribute to Ausman’s medical education fund. Ausman, like all USU students, does not pay tuition. He declined Talley’s offer.

“I told him I don’t have any debt from school and I would never take anything from him for helping him out,” Ausman said. “When I was in high school, I saw a man at the beach wash up on shore unconscious but I didn’t know what to do at the time to help him. I began teaching CPR classes and working in health care so that I would never experience that hopeless feeling again if presented with a similar situation. Luckily, when Mr. Talley collapsed in front of me, this time I knew exactly what to do."

Talley said he’s relishing his second chance at life.

“I am currently in cardiac rehab three times a week for the next 12 weeks and I am working out in the gym two times a week,” he said. “My perspective and priorities have changed somewhat since it happened. I am more focused on enjoying life rather than on my financial future and doing ‘business.’ I expect to start racing on Saturday nights again soon and plan on getting my boat ready to sail to the islands for the winter this fall.”

MAFB EOD joins with Montana ANG EOD team for training exercise

by Airman 1st Class Joshua Smoot
341st Missile Wing Public Affairs

5/13/2014 - MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont. -- Members of Malmstrom Air Force Base's 341st Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team joined forces with the Montana Air National Guard 120th Airlift Wing EOD team for an exercise May 7 at Ft. Harrison in Helena, Montana.

Their training was split into two parts. The first part was training on improvised explosive devices that EOD technicians could expect to see overseas, and the second part was training on IEDs that they could expect to see stateside.

"The last two days we were out in the field at the limestone range dealing with overseas type IEDs that you would see in Afghanistan or Iraq," said Master Sgt. Ian Garcia, 341st CES EOD technician. "We are going over tactics, techniques and procedures they would utilize in the field to defeat them."

IEDs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

"IEDs, just the name in and of itself, could be anything in the world," Garcia said. "They can be anything the bomber could imagine."

Some examples of overseas-type IEDs include jugs loaded with five lbs. of unknown bulk explosives or ordnance rounds that have been modified. An example of a stateside IED would be a pipe bomb.

The Air Force Medium-Sized Robot is the primary equipment used by the EOD teams for dealing with IEDs. It is used both for searching and remotely removing hazardous items.

The EOD teams perform their training at Ft. Harrison because it opens up more options for them to practice and utilize their supplies.

"What's great about this range is that we have buildings, robots and supplies here," said Capt. Daniel Blomberg, 341st CES EOD flight commander. "We get to use explosives that we can't normally use on MAFB."

"Our young Airmen don't learn the exact effects of explosives by talking through it," Garcia said. "Out here, they get to see it, set up a charge, shoot the charge and they see the exact results of what happens from that charge. Then they learn what that does and how they can utilize it later on in their career."
Malmstrom and the Montana ANG's EOD teams don't just deal with explosive problems on base, they work with the surrounding communities as well.

"We work with the community a lot," Blomberg said. "We work especially with the Great Falls police department as well as the rest of the state of Montana. We and the ANG are the EOD response force for the entire state. It allows the cities to save money by not having to fund and train an entire bomb squad, because we are nearby and we can come out to work and coordinate with them to take care of whatever the problem is."

"We have a true partnership between 341st EOD team and the 120th EOD team," Garcia said. "We have the same skill set, but we do the same job, just a little different because they're National Guard and we are active duty. At any moment where we have a large scale response, we can be thrown in the mix together as a team to deal with a large IED response. With this type of training venue, it is paramount to us being able to work together in the future as an adhesive team."

Currently Malmstrom has 17 personnel assigned to 341st CES EOD team with several of those individuals overseas doing what they were training for during this exercise.

Cancer survivor becomes pilot for a day

by Staff Sgt. Nathanael Callon
97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

5/16/2014 - ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- John Austin survived infant leukemia, seven surgeries, chemotherapy, respiratory failure and dozens of blood transfusions. He can now add U.S. Air Force pilot to that list.

Thanks to the 58th Airlift Squadron and the Altus Air Force Base Pilot for a Day program, John spent the day exploring airplanes, fire trucks and the base air traffic control tower.

John was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when he was  four months old, and his parents were told that he had a 45 percent chance of surviving to age 5. He completed his treatment in October, and the Austin family is finally beginning to ease into normal life post-treatment. A day full of adventure and exploration was just what they needed.

"He's a typical two-and-a-half year old boy--he gets into trouble, he's silly and funny, he loves planes and dinosaurs, and it has just been really awesome," said John's mother, Kristy. "He's only been off treatment since October, so this is a whole new world for us, just to have him at home playing and being silly. So we're just really excited to get to do normal things with him."

The Austin family, stationed at Tinker Air Force Base, is the first family to take part in the program, which recently restarted after it fell to the wayside a couple of years ago.

The day began with an exclusive fire department convoy from the front gate to the 58th headquarters, where John and his mother rode in one of the big red fire engines from the 97th Civil Engineer Squadron. At the 58th, John received his standard-issue flight suit, donned with U.S. flag, 58th patch, a personalized name patch and a set of colonel insignia on his shoulders.

John earned his pilot wings in a crowded auditorium. U.S. Air Force Col. Bill Spangenthal, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander, pinned them on John's flight suit, and everyone in the room applauded the newest and youngest pilot on base.

The family was then off to the flightline, where John had the opportunity to play in the cockpit of a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft, operate the controls of KC-135 Stratotanker refueling aircraft boom and shoot water from fire trucks. John also watched a military working dog demonstration. He laughed and told the dog, "Good job," as the dog latched onto a bad guy's arm as he was trying to run away.

After naptime, John continued his tour, where he flew in the C-17 simulator. U.S. Air Force Maj. Erick Brough copiloted the simulator, pointed out Mount Rainier, Wash., from the cockpit, and then flew the family over their home in Oklahoma City.

The family was overwhelmed with the support of everyone they met. John's father said that their experience at Altus was what is characteristic of the Air Force family--people caring for each other in a time of need.

"It's nothing but a phone call and everybody wants to be involved," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Keith Hackney, who coordinated John's visit. "Everybody is willing to drop what they're doing for a cause like this."

This was the first of hopefully many special Pilot for a Day visits for children like John, said Hackney. The wing hopes to host a family in need every quarter.

Creativity and a skilled eye keeps the mission running

by Airman 1st Class Tammie Ramsouer
JBER Public Affairs

5/19/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARSON, Alaska  -- The 3rd Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight is doing its part to limit Air Force operational costs on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Aircraft structural maintenance personnel restore the structural integrity of aircraft. This duty requires the use of materials such as titanium, aluminum, steel, carbon-fiber or any other materiel that provides aircraft with refurbished environmental or structural protection.

"Our job is important, because it repairs the structural grade of the aircraft and keeps the aircraft in the air," said Janny Dunlavey, 3rd Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance craftsman civilian. "Our job could vary from repairing a small crack to an entire aircraft wing."

Dunlavey and her peers' job starts by first assessing damage on an aircraft to determine what type of repair is needed. Then they call for a transport for the aircraft to go to a hangar, where the repair crews work around-the-clock shifts to make the aircraft mission ready.

Personnel also repaint the aircraft's exterior to avoid further damage being done to exposed sheet metal. Rather than contracting with a private organization, members simply handle the job themselves.

"When people think of sheet metal, they normally think of nut-plates, rivets and any other material associated with an aircraft's outer hull," Dunlavey said. "We, as aircraft structural maintenance personnel, are charged with the tasks of restoring the body of an aircraft to its original state."

The maintenance personnel not only uses sheet metal, but they also use aluminum, steel, titanium, carbon fiber, fiberglass and many more materials when fixing damages on aircraft.

Airman 1st Class Devid Doronin, 3rd Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance apprentice, said some of the repairs could take from one to two hours and up to three days.

"Airmen must constantly adapt to repair challenges because of the unpredictability of damage to an aircraft," said Tech. Sgt. Donald Penn, 3rd Maintenance Squadron aircraft structural maintenance section chief. "They pride themselves in being able to repair a crack if it's within their capabilities and limitations."

If the repair is beyond the limitations of the shop, they start a Request Engineering Disposition Instruction process, which asks the aircraft manufacturer for authorization to make or repair the part. Pieces that cannot be fabricated or repaired using the REDI process are transported to Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Ga. Robins is the Air Force-owned major repair center and is just one of the major repair facilities that specializes in replacing heavily damaged aircraft material.

"I have only been here a year and two months, and I did not expect to learn the amount of creativity you need in this career field in order to fix these aircraft," Doronin said. "I've built things here that I never would have imagined building."

The pressure is always on the aircraft structural maintenance shop personnel to get the repairs done as soon as possible due to the high-mission tempo rate at JBER, but it's a challenge they said they welcome.

"The highlight of my job is knowing the 3rd Wing's mission is a success when I see those aircraft take-off," Penn said. "At the end of the day, we put those planes back in the sky and we save lives by fixing them correctly."

Pennsylvania Guard Partners With Lithuanian Troops

By Air Force Senior Airman Sergio Diggs
Pennsylvania Air National Guard

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa., May 19, 2014 – The recent Vigilant Guard 2014 domestic emergency preparedness exercise conducted across the state integrated several Lithuanian military and civil response officers as part of Pennsylvania’s long-standing relationship with the Baltic nation.

Hosted by the Pennsylvania National Guard and conducted May 7-16, this iteration of the U.S. Northern Command and National Guard Bureau Vigilant Guard exercise series was the largest to date..

“Our main focus is conventional warfighting and this is a different type of exercise than we usually do back home,” said Maj. Arnas Mikaila, a planning officer in the Lithuania army.

Vigilant Guard is a domestic emergency preparedness exercise that tests the readiness of the National Guard and its ability to work with federal, state and local responders.

Mikaila was one of the commanding officers with the Lithuanian troops who traveled here for Vigilant Guard. He’s responsible for conducting a similar upcoming Lithuanian exercise.

“Personally, I’m able to take some of these experiences back and use them in planning the exercise in October,” he said. “My primary task was to come here and get knowledge and experience from how you would conduct such an exercise, especially on the military cooperation with civilian-emergency agencies.”

The members of the Lithuania armed forces were integrated with Pennsylvania National Guard members and participated in exercise areas such as logistics, engineering, cyber and operations.

Mikaila was impressed with the reality-based field training exercises that were conducted at different locations. “It’s really good to see how you train your soldiers,” he said. “It’s a big exercise that requires a lot of effort.”

Before Vigilant Guard there was Amber Hope, a drill hosted by Lithuania for NATO forces that has included Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers and airmen. The Guard members served as medical instructors, command staff observers, administrators and support personnel.

Last year, Lithuania and Pennsylvania celebrated 20 years as partners in the State Partnership for Peace Program.