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April 24, 2015 at 11:07am

Air Mobility Command cancels 2015 Rodeo at McChord Field

Swarner Communications - publisher of the Ranger and Northwest Airlifters newspapers serving Joint Base Lewis-McChord and regional active, reserve and retired military - has always been a big part of McChold Field hosted Air Mobility Rodeos - the biennial, international airlift competition hosted by the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command. We published the daily newspapers serving the Rodeo, sponsored Rodeo events and, of course, covered the event. Unfortunately, this year's Rodeo scheduled at McChord Field has been canceled.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Air Mobility Command announced today that the 2015 Rodeo readiness competition, which was scheduled to take place at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in August, has been canceled.

General Darren McDew, AMC commander, decided to cancel the competition largely because of the high current operations tempo for mobility Airmen and budget constraints.

"During these challenging times, we need to be good stewards of our very limited funds and our Airmen's time," McDew said. "It's unfortunate, but given the circumstances, this is the right decision. We're looking forward to the possibilities of tailoring future Rodeo events, to ensure we're getting the most training and international partnership building value from this event."

It is not the first time Rodeo has been canceled for budgetary or operational tempo reasons. In both 1988 and 2013, Rodeo was cancelled due to budgetary shortfalls, and 2003 was canceled because of worldwide commitments for the Global War on Terror and humanitarian efforts. The last Rodeo event was held at JBLM in July 2011.

"An event of this magnitude could not be successfully completed without the strong relationships built together with our community partners and businesses that support Joint Base Lewis-McChord," said Col. David Kumashiro, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. "We value and appreciate our continued partnerships and very much look forward to the day when we can bring this event back to JBLM and our surrounding communities."

Rodeo competitions are held to train and improve the abilities of U.S. and international partners' air mobility operations skills while building international relationships.

March 18, 2015 at 1:01pm

446th Airlift Wing names Col. Gerry Signorelli second in command

This just in from the 446th Airlift Wing at McChord Field on Joint Base Lewis-McChord

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- The 446th Airlift Wing, the sole Air Force Reserve flying unit in Washington state has selected Col. Gerry Signorelli to be its vice commander, effective April 6.

Signorelli brings 23 years of all-around experience as a traditional [part-time] Reservist, air reserve technician, active-duty Airman, and individual mobilization augmentee to the wing.

"You can't find a military journal published that doesn't boast about the tremendous global impact of the men and women of this wing," he said. "I'm honored to join this outstanding team."

Signorelli said he's grateful Col. Scott McLaughlin, 446th AW commander, trusts his abilities to be his right-hand man, and make a positive impact on the people in the wing.

McLaughlin and Signorelli share history.

"I have had the pleasure of working with Colonel Signorelli," he said. "[He] is eminently qualified to fill a senior leader position at the 446th and has an impressive history of military excellence."

In his previous assignment as the Senior Joint Operations action officer and service lead at Norfolk Naval Air Station, Virginia since October 2014, Signorelli coordinated with Department of Defense agencies to efficiently position assets that support emerging national security interests.

A resident of Rockwall in East Texas, Signorelli is a first officer, and leadership and aviation risk resource management instructor for Southwest Airlines in his civilian career.

He earned his commission through Norwich University's ROTC program in 1991, and earned the distinguished graduate award. Since then, he's held several operational, staff and leadership positions, and tallied more than 8,500 hours in multiple military and civilian airframes.

As the vice commander, Signorelli will be responsible for assisting the wing commander with organizing, training, and ensuring the readiness of nearly 2,100 Reservists.

Signorelli succeeds Col. Richard Grayson, whose retirement ceremony was March 8 after serving as vice commander since 2012, and nearly three decades in the Air Force.

"There's no replacing Colonel Grayson after 27 years of steadfast dedication to the Airmen and mission of the 446th," Signorelli said. "I will do my best to uphold his incomparable service record."

December 20, 2014 at 2:40pm

Air Mobility Command to inactivate 10th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord

This just in from the Air Mobility Command Public Affairs Office. ...

12/20/2014 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Air Mobility Command will inactivate two  C-17 squadrons over the next two years - one at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and one at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. - based on the President's Defense Budget for FY15.

"In this fiscally constrained environment, we have to balance readiness, capability and capacity," said Major Gen. Michael S. Stough, AMC's Director of Strategic Plans, Requirements and Programs.

"To best preserve this capability, the intent is to fund these aircraft back into primary mission aircraft inventory in future years, and transfer them to the Reserve Component -  and we're working with our Air National Guard partners to do that, perhaps even as early as FY16.  We rely on our Total Force partners to meet our global mobility requirements; we couldn't do the mission without them.   We'll continue to leverage the unique strengths of the active and Reserve components to meet current and future requirements with available resources."

The Air Force plans to make adjustments over the next few years to the active duty, Reserve, and Guard components to ensure successful transitions to a leaner force that remains ready for future operations.

The FY15 President's Budget converts 16 AMC C-17s (eight from each base) from primary mission aircraft inventory to backup aircraft inventory. As a result, AMC will inactivate the 17th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, S.C., in FY15; and the 10th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., in FY16.   These inactivations are not new actions, but additional detail on the previously announced budget submission released in March.

Backup aircraft inventory are assigned with no manpower or flying hours. However, they will continue to receive funding needed to support weapon system sustainment. Converting 16 aircraft to BAI removes funding for the personnel and flying hours associated with those aircraft, for a savings of approximately $110M per year.

December 17, 2014 at 2:46pm

Servicemembers held for Ebola monitoring at JBLM go home

Technical Sgt. Joe Greene happily returned home to Montana late Tuesday afternoon.

"I was ready to get back to my family for Christmas," he said during a telephone interview from his home in Montana. "I missed Thanksgiving with them."

One of 15 individuals monitored for Ebola symptoms, Greene spent 21 days in isolation at Joint Base Lewis-McChord North.

The monitored group of servicemembers came from the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. None were from JBLM.

Assigned to the 819th Red Horse Squadron at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, Greene had been deployed to West Africa as this country attempts to tamp down the spread of the deadly disease.

About 2,600 servicemembers are deployed to West Africa, building and operating a number of Ebola-treatment facilities.

A deployable, heavy operational repair squadron, the unit is commanded by Col. Ron Pieri.

The servicemembers entered isolation on Nov. 25 and were released on Dec. 16.

It wasn't as though Greene didn't he know would be held and monitored for the symptoms of Ebola when he returned from his deployment.

"I understood. It's one of the things we gotta do," he said in a matter-of-fact way. "It is what it is."

Greene and the others were not exposed to Ebola-infected patients, and the risk that they are infected was minimal, Maj. Mary Ricks pointed out in an earlier press release.

JBLM could house up to 1,000 quarantined military members and civilian contractors in World War II vintage barracks that until recently were used by Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) cadets during Warrior Forge.

"Yeah, we were in these older barracks," continued Greene. "It wasn't bad.  We had open bays like basic training, a large separate bathroom and showers and a pretty decent dining facility. We were set up pretty well."

Other accommodations included Wi-Fi, cable, movies, video game consoles, books and a tent gym with exercise equipment.

In November, the Department of Defense announced that JBLM would be one of five installations that would provide a monitoring site for servicemembers and civilians returning from missions in West Africa.

The other four locations are the Army's Smith Barracks in Baumholder, Germany; Fort Bliss and Fort Hood in Texas; Fort Bragg in North Carolina; and at an Army base in Vicenza, Italy.

According to the World Health Organization most recent statistics, there have been approximately 18,500 cases of Ebola with more than 6,800 resulting in death.

Back at JBLM and with plenty of time on their hands, the monitored servicemembers did a lot of reading, working out, and in Greene's case, working with wood.

"Yes, I had time so I built some furniture," Greene said.

A medical team from the Madigan Army Medical Center checked the monitored servicemembers twice per day and asked if there was any fatigue or muscle pain.

"The medical folks were superb," Greene added. "In fact, everyone I encountered here at JBLM was very professional, and I think the Army did a great job."

November 21, 2014 at 12:16pm

New chief master sergeants of McChord Field

Col. David Kumashiro, left, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, presents Senior Master Sgt. Erik Johnson with his promotion certificate to chief master sergeant Nov. 19 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Sam Coleman

Three senior master sergeants from McChord Field were selected for promotion to chief master sergeant and part of the top one percent of the enlisted force Nov. 19.

The Air Force released the list of 479 senior master sergeants selected for the promotion and the following Airmen are McChord's newest chief master sergeant selects:

  • Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Frese, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle fleet manager
  • Senior Master Sgt. Erik Johnson, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron blue aircraft maintenance unit assistant superintendent
  • Senior Master Sgt. Jerry Miller, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron passenger services superintendent

The average score for those selected was 671.45, with an average time in grade of 3.21 years and time in service of 21.84 years. The average score for enlisted performance reports was 135. Average decorations score was 24.22, and the average USAF Supervisory Exam score was 69.91. The average board score was 393.84.

Those selected will be promoted according to their promotion sequence number beginning in January of 2015.

September 16, 2014 at 2:55pm

Remembering Our POWs and MIAs: JBLM hosts commemorative ride

Thirty-three bikers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord took part in a ride honoring the 2014 POW/MIA Remembrance Week. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

The bikers showed up.

Some rode in individually; others rode in groups of two or three.

All represented Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"It's one team, one fight, right?" commented Senior Master Sgt. Kenneth Morain as we stood in a parking lot next to Memorial Grove at McChord Field and watched as the riders gathered.

Morain welcomed the airmen and soldiers as they climbed off their Harleys and Hondas.

"I wanted to do something here at JBLM in honor of POW/MIA Recognition Day, and the opportunity to do so just presented itself," he added.

Traditionally observed across the country on the third Friday of September, it is a time for Americans to remember those who were prisoners of war (POWs) or are still missing in action (MIA) and their family members.

The symbol of the day is the POW/MIA Flag.

Designed in 1971 during the Vietnam War by Newt Heisley to honor POWs and MIAs, he created a simply black and white flag featuring a guard tower, barbed wire and the visage of a gaunt young man.

Other than the American flag, the POW/MIA flag is the only one to ever fly over the White House.

More than 78,000 Americans are unaccounted for from World War II; more than 8,100 are unaccounted for from the Korean War, and over 2,500 are unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

"We gather here today to remember our POWs and MIA individuals," said Senior Master Sgt. Sean Judkins.

"They have displayed the core values of our Armed Forces - loyalty, duty respect selfless service, honor courage, integrity commitment, excellence and devotion to duty."

After a short safety briefing by Judkins, the riders headed out to share hot dogs and stories with veterans at the Washington State Soldiers Home in Orting.

>>> Spc. Benjamin Thibodeau, 551st Medical Logistics Company, prepares for a Remembrance Ride to the Washington State Soldiers home in Orting. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

"We ride in their name and honor," said Spc. Benjamin Thibodeau, 551st Medical Logistics Company.

For a schedule of events for POW/MIA Remembrance Week, visit www.lewis-mcchord.army.mil/calendar.html.

September 10, 2014 at 8:52am

McChord Field honors National POW/MIA Recognition Day with a week of activities

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Friday, Sept. 19.

National POW/MIA Recognition Day is Friday, Sept. 19, but at Joint Base Lewis-McChord - McChord Field the respects begin Sept. 15 at Memorial Grove and conclude Sept. 19 at The Club at McChord Field Ballroom. The annual recognition is to remember and honor those who have sacrificed so valiantly for their country.

The week of recognition starts at 11 a.m. with a wreath laying ceremony at McChord Field's Memorial Grove - honoring and paying respects to all POW/MIAs, past and present. If bad weather ensues the ceremony will be moved into the adjacent building.

Motorcyclists will gather at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 16 at Memorial Grove for their annual ride. Last year this was one of the more popular motorcycle rides in the Northwest. It presents a chance for veterans to meet new friends and renew acquaintances with old ones.

People looking for something more physically energetic can meet at 8 a.m. Sept. 17 for a 24-hour Memorial Run at the McChord Field Track. It's open to all members of the JBLM community. This is a fundraising event. For more information, call 253.982.3339.

The week of events winds up Sept. 19 for a POW/MIA luncheon at The Club at McChord Field Ballroom. RSVP required. For information, call 253.982.7161.

In Viet Nam, 2,338 military personal were originally listed as missing in action. Over the years some bodies have been identified leaving 1,875 military personnel still unaccounted for. It is a tradition for Americans to recover their dead but due to the difficult terrain in Viet Nam, bodies were often challenging to locate. Military personnel just yards apart often disappeared into the jungle and foliage.

Numbers of POWs were relativity small in Viet Nam given the size of the forces employed. The Vietnamese held 766 military personal in captivity, the largest number being pilots and crewmen downed over Hanoi. While in prisons, 114 died of wounds. The small number of captured was more a result of logistics rather than brutality. Guerilla forces, often moving fast and light, had no capacity to take prisoners and captives were often eliminated. 

Remembering MIAs and POWs has become a tradition. JBLM-McChord Field is proud to host the events.

September 10, 2014 at 7:37am

Wednesday Morning Joe: Obama's three points tonight, ISIS vs al Qaeda, rocket dodging vehicle, Pixar supercut ...

99th Ground Combat Training Squadron participate in a fragmentation coffee pot training class at Silver Flag Alpha, Nev. This is the last time the course will take place at Silver Flag. Original photo by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen

GRAB A COFFEE POT AND READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 9.10.14 >>>

Tonight, President Barack Obama will outline his plan for combating the ISIS terror group. A senior administration official says he'll focus on three major themes: the threat posed by ISIS, his strategy to address that threat and proposals on how to fight and destroy the militant group.

Obama is reportedly open to ordering airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria targets in Syria in what would be a significant escalation of the military mission against the terror group.

Obama told leaders of Congress that he did not need for them to authorize his strategy to fight Islamic State, before he addresses Americans on the matter.  

The Long War: No end in sight for America in the Middle East.

ISIS vs. al Qaeda: Terror groups battle for hearts of young jihadists.

House members on Tuesday voted to condemn Obama for failing to notify Congress about plans to exchange five Taliban detainees for prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

Russia carried out a successful test of its new Bulava intercontinental nuclear missile today and will perform two more test launches in October and November.

Ukraine's president said today Russia had removed the bulk of its forces from his country, raising hopes for a peace drive now underway after five months of conflict in which more than 3,000 people have been killed.

Russia said emphatically on Tuesday it did not want Ukraine to become a NATO member, describing such a possibility as an "unprecedented challenge to European security."

Ukraine isn't the only place where Russia is stirring up trouble. Since the Soviet Union broke up in 1991, Moscow has routinely supported secessionists in bordering states, to coerce those states into accepting its dictates. Its latest such effort is unfolding in the South Caucasus.

The first veteran provided an exoskeleton that enables him to walk will be in California as part of a veteran's health summit.

The military wants a vehicle that can dodge rockets by itself.

Future Army grenade could kill enemies hiding behind walls.

The Air Force awaits a legal opinion whether an atheist can opt out of the phrase "so help me God" in his re-enlistment oath.

In one of the most ambitious product launches in its history, Apple unveiled two new iPhones, a smartwatch and a mobile payments platform yesterday.

Apple Inc's embrace of wireless charging for its new Watch may be a defining moment for a technology that's languished for years amid competing standards and consumer confusion.

Watch: Frances McDormand and Bill Murray stare at rural things.

Frozen food critic realizes what he's done, quits show mid-episode.

John Oliver gives Russia's horny space geckos a proper musical sendoff.

Trippy toonrific ...

ROYGBIV: A Pixar Supercut from Rishi Kaneria on Vimeo.

LINK: Original photo by Airman 1st Class Christian Clausen

September 9, 2014 at 7:50am

Tuesday Morning Joe: ISIS in US, Homeland Security vs Ebola, US military brain drain, atmospheric CO2 at high ...

An Afghan National Police-Provincial Response Company member readies a coffee pot before other PRC members enter a simulated room during a training session at Forward Operating Base Kutschbach, Afghanistan. Original photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Swafford

GRAB A COFFEE POT AND READ THE MORNING REPORT FOR 9.9.14 >>>

President Obama will go on the offensive against the Islamic State group with a broader counterterror mission than he previously has been willing to embrace.

Degrading, defeating and destroying the Islamic State.

A longtime CIA operative in the Middle East - whose sources are probably as good as you can get - says "I have been told with no uncertainty there are ISIS sleeper-cells in this country."

Helped by the United States and Iran, Kurdish forces and Shi'ite militia are finally beating back Islamic State militants. But the aftermath illustrates the unintended consequences of the U.S. air campaign against Islamic State.

Iran has detained three foreigners suspected of trying to join ISIS forces in neighboring Iraq.

A spokesman for Steven Sotloff's family told CNN the journalist was captured by "so-called moderate rebels" in Syria then sold to ISIS

U.S. and China discuss avoiding military incidents.

U.S. officials believe Russia may have tested a ground-launched cruise missile in violation of the 1987 Soviet-American treaty.

Not Good: A federal investigation has found that Homeland Security is totally "ill-prepared" for something like the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic - or something worse, such as a global Ebola outbreak.

By The Numbers: U.S. military brain drain.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald launches 100-day VA reform plan.

U.S. House could vote this week to avert government shutdown.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he plans to forge ahead with bureaucratic Pentagon reform initiatives despite the uptick of global threats and military activities in recent months.

"Aurora Monsoon" was the first-ever platoon-level bilateral exchange between soldiers of the U.S. Army and the Bangladesh army at the Rajendrapur Cantonment Area near Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Steadfast Javelin II was a large-scale, joint, multinational exercise held on Ramstein Air Base, Germany, which included aircrew from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

DARPA released a video of what its engineers have in mind for its next generation armored vehicle.

Taxpayers cover Coast Guard private-party patrols.

The U.S. Air Force is bringing back its "Aim High" advertising slogan after a 15-year hiatus with the launch of the "I am an American Airman" recruiting campaign Sept. 8.

All eyes in the tech world are turning to Cupertino, California, today as Apple makes its biggest product announcements of the year.

One For The Record Books: Maibam Itomba Meitei has spent 14 years perfecting his record - the most consecutive pinky pullups!

Bad trip: This man pulls out of his garage and straight into a tornado.

Atmospheric CO2 increases have hit a 30-year high.

List: Top earning authors of 2014.

Finally: The size of dinosaurs compared to airplanes, visualized.

Dagnabbit kids!

LINK: Original photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Swafford

September 8, 2014 at 4:20pm

446th Security Forces Squadron airmen impressive at Subway Beast Mode Challenge

Airman 1st Class Parker Gill (front left) and Senior Airman Kyle Knoblock (front right), both from the 446th Security Forces Squadron, surface from a mud trench during the 2014 Subway Beast Mode Challenge Sept. 6. Photo credit: Master Sgt. Minnette Mason

Marshawn Lynch, the Seattle Seahawks rugged running back, would have been on his feet, cheering and clapping.

Airman 1st Class Parker Gill, in his own Beast Mode fashion, overcame a strong challenge and a muddy, 3.5-mile obstacle course to win his wave at the Subway Beast Mode Challenge Saturday at Meadowbrook Farm near North Bend.

Senior Airman Kyle Knoblock, who along with Gill is with the 446th Security Forces Squadron, placed a muddy second in their wave. To win, Gill had to get over, under and through 12 football-themed obstacles that included hills, barriers, water, mud and sludge.

Gill, covered with mud from head to toe, held off his friend and strong field to place first. To even finish the muddy course, runners had to draw on their inner Beast Mode.

The muddy race was sponsored by Air Force Reserve recruiting and proceeds from the race went to Fam 1st Foundation, a program started in part by Lynch, the Seahawks hard-hitting running back whose nickname is "Beast Mode". The foundation's mission is to help put inner city youth out of trouble with the law and on a positive path. The foundation's goal is one of "empowerment and education aiming to build self-esteem and academic learning skills in underprivileged youth."

At the 3.5-mile muddy run challenge, the Air force Reserve recruiters were also on hand to answer questions about the Air Force reserves. The obstacles of the race included slides, walls, mud pits and water for runners to survive and get through.

Whether contestants were desk jockeys, taxi moms or average Joes, everyone had to draw on their inner Beast Mode to finish the race. It was an opportunity for contestants to come out and tear up an obstacle course meant to keep them from reaching the end zone. The muddy challenge couldn't stop Gill and Knoblock.

Gill had to rely on his inner Beast Mode so he could move faster, jump higher and survive the muddy course. And that inner strength is something every reservists draws on to get their job done. Every play, every game, Lynch gives it everything he has. And after a game he donates his time and money to raise awareness through his Fam 1st Foundation about the needs of inner city kids.

Lynch, who avoids interviews with sportswriters before and after games, lets his actions on the field speak for itself.

"I ain't never seen no talking win me nothin'," Lynch said.  

Lynch got the nickname Beast Mode because of his smash-mouth, hard-hitting running style he has with the Seattle Seahawks. Lynch was a first-round draft pick by the Buffalo Bills in 2007 and he became the Bills' first rookie in 30 years to rush for 1,000 yards in a season. Lynch graduated from the University of California as the Bears' second all-time leading rusher with 3,230 yards. 

Lynch partnered with Joshua Johnson, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' fifth-round draft pick in 2008 and later the backup quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers, to start their foundation.

When asked by an ESPN reporter about why his foundation is important, Lynch said, "My city where the crimes is going on, it seems like the kids are getting younger and younger."

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