Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

August 25, 2016 at 9:46am

18 AF Command team visits McChord

Lt. Gen. Sam Cox briefs Team McChord airmen at an all call, Aug. 19, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Lt. Gen. Sam Cox, 18 Air Force Commander, along with his spouse Mrs. Tammy Cox, and Chief Master Sgt. Todd Petzel, 18 AF Command Chief, visited Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Aug. 16-19, to meet with airmen and discuss the mission here and our impact on Rapid Global Mobility.

During the visit, Cox received mission briefs, flew a local C-17 mission, met with airmen, visited the Child Development Center, met with civic and community leaders and concluded his visit with a Team McChord all call.

"This has been a fantastic opportunity for us to come and spend a little bit of time with some great airmen," said Cox. "This is our opportunity to say thank you and highlight some of the things that you do for the nation."

The capabilities Cox was referring to involve our air drop capability (both combat and humanitarian), the Prime Nuclear Airlift Force mission and Aeromedical Evacuation, just to name a few.

Cox stated that just within the last six years the Air Force's involvement in conflict and disaster relief has evolved and is constantly evolving in response to different scenarios.

"There's a lot of things going on (in the world) and I don't think it's going to slow down," said Cox.

The mission here at JBLM, according to Cox, matters more than we can comprehend.

"The combination of the capability that exists between the airmen here, the C-17s that you fly and the 35,000 soldiers at Lewis is really important," Cox said. "What you do is really important."

Currently the Air Force is the smallest it has ever been since its induction, but the demand for our capabilities is growing, according to Cox.

"The mission has to be done and that's a no fail, every single day," Cox said. "I want you to seek to be the very best at your job, because that's what we need, but have fun doing the job you get to do. Come to work with a positive attitude and don't ever forget the impact that you have."

Petzel also spent time visiting with airmen while on this visit.

"I will tell you the sense of pride that takes place here is inspiring," said Petzel. "What's most amazing is that your most junior enlisted airmen understand their strategic importance. But we need each and every one of you to understand how you tie into the mission each and every single day."

Cox and Petzel both acknowledged the strain put on the airmen as a result of Air Force manning cuts.

As the Air Force grows to meet the needs of our nation they both reiterated our roles in completing the mission.

"We're growing to where we need to be but we cannot do this, (accomplish the mission) without viewing air power as a team sport, that includes active, Guard, Reserve, civilian, and our joint brothers and sisters in arms," said Petzel. "What you do is pretty special, so be proud of that," Petzel said. "You're part of something bigger than yourself, because that's what the Air Force is."

August 25, 2016 at 9:38am

Vietnam vet at McChord preserves history

Capt. Robert Allen, 62nd Airlift Wing historian, poses for a photo in front of an AC-130 Spectre sign in 1972 at Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand. While stationed in Thailand, Allen flew as a navigator in AC-130s over Vietnam. Courtesy photo

Hidden away in the 62nd Airlift Wing history office, works a Vietnam veteran and retired lieutenant colonel. While working daily to preserve McChord and Air Force history, Dr. Robert Allen, 62nd AW historian, holds a rich history of his own.

Allen grew up as an Army brat in the 1950s. His father was a signal officer in the Army and was stationed at various overseas bases including Stuttgart and Mannheim, Germany, throughout his childhood.

Living in Germany following World War II, as a child, Allen witnessed the consequences of war up close.

"There was still much rubble in the city from the war," said Allen. "My friends were living in bombed-out basements with their families. This really spoke to me about the effects of history."

Experiencing the effect of WWII, Allen also experienced living through the Cold War.

"The conversation around the dinner table was often about evacuation options in the case of an emergency," said Allen. "We wondered if we were going to have a Red Army tank crashing through our front door. It was a scary time"

Growing up in this environment, Allen decided to pursue a career in the military and was accepted into the U.S. Air Force Academy.

"The Academy gave me an excellent education especially in technical matters," said Allen. "It taught me good habits and exposed me to many aspects of the Air Force that I wouldn't have experienced in a civilian university."

He majored in history at the academy and graduated in 1969. Upon graduation, he was accepted into the Air Force Academy's Corporative Master's program and went to the University of Indiana to work on his Master's degree in history.

After graduating from the University of Indiana, Allen went to navigator school and then was assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, to navigate in C-130s. While at Little Rock, Allen requested to go on his first tour to Vietnam.

Stationed in Ubon, Thailand, for a year, Allen flew numerous combat and patrol flights as a navigator in the Lockheed AC-130 Spectres over Vietnam.

"It was a very interesting mission and I felt like I was doing something worthwhile," said Allen. "It was sometimes very dangerous. When we flew into the combat zone from Thailand it was called ‘crossing the fence'."  

To prevent being easily targeted by enemy fire, all Allen's missions were flown at night. While flying over Vietnam, they would take fire from small arms, shoulder-mounted missiles and anti-aircraft guns.

"They threw everything but the kitchen sink at us," said Allen. "It was an exciting mission and you had to learn fast if you wanted to survive."

On one of these missions, Allen and his crew destroyed 10 trucks while having more than 2,000 rounds shot at them. For this accomplishment Allen was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.    

"I got to fly with a majority of crew members I trained with, which was unusual, but it was a very good thing we all got along and were competent," said Allen. "Most of us were in our twenties, young and immortal and had a job to do, so we just went back out and did the job."

Despite many successful missions in Vietnam, Allen remembers those he lost.

"I lost twelve airmen; I was the duty officer that launched their AC-130 that was shot down," said Allen. "Really small things can affect the rest of your life. Today their names are on the Vietnam wall (District of Columbia)."

Following his time in Thailand and the loss he experienced, Allen said his next assignment at McChord was one of the best.

Allen came to McChord in 1973 and was assigned to the 4th Airlift Squadron flying C-141A aircraft where here he flew cargo missions throughout the Pacific.  

"I traveled a lot and saw much more of the world that I hadn't seen before," said Allen. "I decided that Air Force aircrew were as close to citizens of the world as you can get, because we traveled to so many places around the globe and interacted with many different cultures."

Allen was assigned to McChord for three years.

He then returned to Tacoma as an Air Force ROTC instructor at the University of Puget Sound in 1983.

"The timing on the assignment was incredible," said Allen. "I never had the same mission twice even though I have forty-eight hundred total flying hours."

In 1993, Allen retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel. He then followed his wife to England where he pursued his doctorate in history at the University of London.       

He returned to Washington in 1998 and taught history at Pierce College in Lakewood. He also volunteered regularly at McChord's retiree affairs office and air museum.

In 2010 Allen, became the 62nd Airlift Wing historian.

"Family, climate and past missions makes this base significant to me," said Allen. "This is my adopted home. I have been to a lot of bases but this is the one I like best overall."

It is important that McChord and Air Force history is preserved, said Allen.

"Our triumphs and perspectives are built on the many achievements and few mistakes made by our predecessors," said Allen. "We must remember both, lest we reinvent or break the proverbial wheel again and again as new personnel arrive at McChord."

Having served more than 20 years in the Air Force and being stationed at McChord, Allen has a unique perspective of McChord's history and his own.

"The Air Force has broadened my horizons by allowing me to try and succeed at many things, meet many people and places," said Allen. "I hope that my legacy at McChord will be a standard of excellence in the history office, as well as helping leaders at all levels find historical foundations which will give them confidence to make future improvements."

Besides being awarded the Air Force Distinguished Flying Cross, Allen has received the Meritorious Service Medal, 11 Air Medals, a Joint Service Commendation Medal and four Air Force Commendation Medals.   

"I have been blessed with many positive attributes and attitudes given to me by family, faith and experience over many years," said Allen. "Along the way, I learned and practiced perseverance, humility and sense of humor." 

August 18, 2016 at 10:57am

KC-46A approved for production

The KC-46A is intended to replace the United States Air Force’s aging fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers and provides vital air refueling capability for the United States Air Force. Courtesy photo

WASHINGTON (AFNS) - The KC-46A Pegasus program received Milestone C approval from Frank Kendall, the under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, signaling the aircraft is ready to enter into production.

Work is now underway to award the first two low-rate initial production lots within the next 30 days.

"I commend the team for diligently working through some difficult technical challenges," said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. "The KC-46 program has made significant strides in moving the Air Force toward the modernization needed in our strategic tanker fleet."

Securing approval to begin low-rate initial production required completion of several aerial refueling demonstrations, to include refueling an F-16 Fighting Falcon, C-17 Globemaster III and A-10 Thunderbolt II off the boom, and an AV-8 Harriar II and F/A-18 Hornet off both hose and drogue systems. The KC-46 also proved its receiver capability by taking fuel from a KC-10 Extender.

Some demonstrations were delayed due to higher than expected axial loads in the boom. Boeing installed hydraulic pressure relief valves to alleviate loads and last month all remaining demonstrations were quickly completed.

"The KC-46 is ready to take the next step," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. "Our Air Force and Boeing team stepped up to meet the recent challenges. I'm especially proud of the employees on the floor of the Boeing plant and employees of all our industry partners, who work every day to deliver game-changing capability to the warfighter. My hat's off to them and our program leads."

The Air Force will soon award contracts to Boeing for two lots, totaling 19 aircraft, and associated spare parts for a pre-negotiated $2.8 billion combined value.

The first aircraft deliveries will be to McConnell Air Force Base, Kansas, and Altus AFB, Oklahoma. A total of 18 tankers are scheduled to be delivered by early 2018.

"I am exceedingly proud of the KC-46 program office for clearing the production hurdle," said Darlene Costello, an Air Force Service Acquisition executive. "We have crossed an important milestone, and I appreciate Boeing's continued focus as they work to finish development prior to first aircraft delivery."

Going forward in the test program, the KC-46 will complete a robust schedule of Federal Aviation Administration and military certification flight testing, including refueling test flights, in order to achieve certification for aircraft in the Air Force and Department of Defense inventory.

August 18, 2016 at 10:42am

Congratulations to ALS Class 16-F

Congratulations to the airmen who graduated Julius A. Kolb Airman Leadership School Aug. 12 at McChord Field. Photo credit: 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - Congratulations to the following airmen who graduated the Julius A. Kolb Airman Leadership School here, Aug. 12.

Senior Airman Evan Brazie, 142nd Maintenance Squadron

Senior Airman Tai Cartwright, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gatdula, 8th Airlift Squadron

Master Arm 2nd Class Joseph Harai, Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion Alpha Company 4th Platoon

Senior Airman Alex Huntsman, 173rd Logistics Readiness Squadron

Senior Airman Zachary Hyde, 627th Communications Squadron

Senior Airman Todd Kolva, 116th Air Support Operations Squadron

Senior Airman Matthew Koscielski, 62nd Maintenance Squadron

Senior Airman Jolie Le, 446th Force Support Squadron

Senior Airman Taylor Mccammon, 627th Security Forces Squadron

Senior Airman Aaron Myers, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron

Senior Airman Wesley Walker, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Senior Airman Veronica Will, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron

Petty Officer 3rd Class Kelly Yost, ANT Puget Sound

Senior Airman Scott Baluch, 5th Air Support Operations Squadron

Senior Airman Malcolm Belton, 62nd Medical Squadron

Senior Airman Leatha Brown, 446th Force Support Squadron

Senior Airman David Herman, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron

Senior Airman Jared Lauderdale, 173rd Logistics Readiness Squadron

Petty Officer 3rd Class Enrique Lemos, MFPU Bangor

Senior Airman Andrew Moon, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron

Cpl. Matthew Nevarez, Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion NBK BANGOR

Senior Airman Michael Richardson, Oregon Air National Guard 173 Fighter Wing

Senior Airman Khanisha Rodney, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron

Senior Airman Ashley Sabir, 62nd Medical Squadron

Senior Airman Timothy Stritzinger, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Senior Airman Christina Watson, 62nd Operations Support Squadron

Senior Airman Lance Wing, 62nd Maintenance Squadron

John L. Levitow: Staff Sgt. Benjamin Gatdula, 8th Airlift Squadron

Distinguished Graduate: Petty Officer 3rd Class Enrique Lemos, MFPU Bangor

Distinguished Graduate: Petty Officer 3rd Class Kelly Yost, ANT Puget Sound

Academic Achievement: Petty Officer 3rd Class Enrique Lemos, MFPU Bangor

Commandant's Award: Senior Airman Scott Baluch, 5th Air Support Operations Squadron

August 11, 2016 at 2:16pm

Civic leader shadows 62nd AW command chief

Chief Master Sgt. Tico Mazid, 62nd Airlift Wing command chief, and Matthew Welch, 62nd AW honorary command chief, visit the McChord Field air traffic control tower July 29 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - Civic leader and local car dealership owner Matt Welch, received the opportunity to shadow the 62nd Airlift Wing command chief for a day, July 29.

Matt and Amy Welch, Auburn Volkswagen owners and Pierce Military and Business Alliance members, were selected as honorary command chief by Chief Master Sgt. Tico Mazid, 62nd AW command chief, and Matt was afforded the opportunity to meet and mentor young airmen as he shadowed the chief and embraced his role as honorary command chief.

"I heard about the program through PMBA," said Welch. "Past honorary commanders kept telling my bride (Amy) and I that we would love it and it's a great thing to do, so I was honored to be asked by Chief Master Sgt. Mazid to be the honorary command chief."

To kick off the day, Welch met Mazid in his office to go over the list of events for the day.

Their first stop was at the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Firefighter Legacy Memorial unveiling and firefighter combat challenge at the McChord Field fire station.

While there, the two witnessed a ceremony honoring the conclusion of Air Force firefighters at JBLM and then met with the participants of the challenge.

Once they left the fire station, Welch was able to sit in on some of the wing's daily meetings.

"Attending meetings with the chief helped me better understand the leadership here," said Welch. "They have a very difficult job that only few can do."

After the morning meetings, Welch joined a panel of leadership to include Col. Leonard Kosinski, 62nd AW commander, Col. Stephen Snelson, 62nd AW vice commander and Mazid, as they visited with airmen from the First Term Airmen Center.

"I am not prior military, but I have a lot of family members that have served and currently serve this wonderful nation," said Welch. "So it was a great honor to sit on the panel with these awesome leaders and talk to the airmen."

Welch followed up the FTAC visit with the Team McChord quarterly awards ceremony and ended his visit with meeting airmen in the McChord Field air traffic control tower.

Welch and Mazid both agreed that they have a built a great relationship and look forward to continuing servicing the airmen here at McChord.

August 11, 2016 at 2:12pm

McChord members summit Mount Rainier

Members of the U.S. Air Force 50 Summits Challenge pose for a photo July 23 at the summit of Mount Rainier. Eight climbers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord summited the mountain to complete the summit challenge for Washington. Courtesy photo

Two climbing friends took on the impossible recently and summited Mt. Rainier as part of the U.S. Air Force 50 Summits Challenge. Air Force retired Chief Master Terry Oshiem and Master Sgt. Kim Brewer summited the mountain July 23, with a team of eight other servicemembers and veterans from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Standing at 14,411 feet tall, Mt. Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington state and one of the 50 summits that was yet to be summited under the 50 Summits Challenge, until now.

"We seek to have airmen coordinate groups to hike the highest area for any state they are stationed in," said Maj. Rob Marshall, 97th Airlift Squadron pilot and 50 Summits Challenge coordinator. "My vision is to proactively help airmen and veterans become stronger mentally, socially, physically and spiritually before bad things happen. Through mountaineering, they have something to fall back on and a community to go to."

The team arrived at Mt. Rainier on July 22 and hiked 4,900 feet in elevation to Camp Muir where they setup base camp.     

"Part of the 50 Summits Challenge is the resiliency aspect behind it," said Brewer. "A lot of people are benefiting from this. People are getting outdoors and reaching their goals."

After only a few hours of sleep, the team left base camp and began their journey to the summit in the dark of night. Split into two teams, team members climbed the mountain roped together.  

"You just get up, it's still dark out, you're climbing, and you just try to focus where your feet are at," said Oshiem. "We had to move in sync. I couldn't let too much slack build up in the rope and couldn't let the rope get too tight."

Climbing for more than eight hours to reach the summit, the team had to cross two crevices more than 10 feet across.

"I think this is important to give back to fellow airmen," said Brewer. "In twenty years in the service, airmen helped me achieve my goals, and I want to help airmen and veterans to achieve theirs."

The team reached the top close to 9 a.m., July 23. With clear skies and the sun shining, they took in the view and enjoyed the moment.

"It took a minute, but once we made it to the summit, it sunk in," said Oshiem. "Summiting Rainier has been on my bucket list for years. Having the opportunity to summit Mount Rainier with a team of veterans like we did was a proud moment."

Longtime friends with Brewer, Oshiem credits much of his success mountaineering to training with Brewer. Together, they have summited Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams and Mt. Saint Helens.

"Brewer asked me if I wanted in, and I said ‘I want in, but I don't know if I'm ready,'" said Oshiem. "I didn't want to be that guy on the rope team to have to turn around because I couldn't make the climb. I'm more comfortable climbing with someone who knows what they are doing."

August 11, 2016 at 2:02pm

'Tacoma Starlifter' historic POW service remembered

Retired Lt. Gen. Vernon Kondra, 21st Air Force commander and former 62nd Airlift Wing commander, speaks during the rechristening ceremony of the C-141 Starlifter, serial number 65-0277, Aug. 6 at Heritage Hill, JBLM. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Bryan Hull

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - Nearly 50 years to the day, members of the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings celebrated the anniversary of the arrival of the first C-141 Starlifter, Aug. 6 at McChord Field.

The McChord Starlifter 50 event featured the rechristening of McChord's first C-141 Starlifter, Tacoma Starlifter, by Kelsey Schmidt, 2016 Miss Washington. Presiding over the ceremony was Sandra Hill, 1966 Miss Washington, who christened the airplane when it first arrived Aug. 9, 1966.

On hand for the historic event were active and Reserve airmen, museum volunteers, retirees and community members, who took time to honor the legacy of the C-141 Starlifter.

"It's great to come out here and reminisce," said retired Senior Master Sgt. Guy Shinkaruk, a former C-141 flight engineer with the 446th AW. "I flew on this very plane. The contributions we made flying C-141s bring back a lot of memories."

For 36 years, the C-141 Starlifter served at McChord Field until the last one was retired April 4, 2002, with more than 46,000 flight hours, according to McChord Air Museum.  

"A lot of things came to mind thinking about what the C-141 was asked to do," said retired Lt. Gen. Vernon Kondra, 21st Air Force commander and former 62nd AW commander. "Vietnam was obviously one. Flying supplies in and medevacs out, it also brought home those who made the ultimate sacrifice."

Operation Homecoming ran from Feb. 12 to April 4, 1973. Fifty-four C-141 missions to Hanoi, Vietnam, brought home 591 prisoners of war.

"I didn't get to fly the airplane at that time, but I did go down to the flight line at Scott Air Force Base and watched those planes return," said Kondra. "I can remember how proud I was seeing those men come off of the C-141. I can guarantee that not one of them complained about the noise or the air conditioning system."

The Starlifter continued to serve in peacetime and war.

During Desert Shield and Desert Storm a C-141 aircraft was landing every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day, for seven months in Saudi Arabia, said Kondra. The cargo and people moved during this time amounted to all of Oklahoma City being moved from one place to another.

"The C-141 was truly a great airplane. But without people, it's just that; an airplane," said Kondra. "It takes everybody; the active-duty and the Reserve. The 62nd AW and the 446th AW have a true partnership. In 2049, McChord will celebrate fifty years of the C-17. If I were a betting man, I would be willing to bet that the 62nd AW and 446th AW will still be second to none."

August 5, 2016 at 12:19pm

Candle-light vigil

Police officers with the Seattle Police Department mounted division, answer questions from visitors at the “Stand with Those Who Serve” annual public safety appreciation event, July 23, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Tech Sgt. Tim Chacon

During a candle-light vigil in 2009 for slain Washington state police officers, Seattle Police Department Detective Carrie McNally was inspired to do something to bring the first responder community together in a positive way.

This idea turned into the "Stand with Those Who Serve" annual public safety appreciation event conducted on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, July 23, for the second consecutive year.

"Our families don't always know why we serve or the reasons that we do our job, and they are scared," said McNally. "This is an opportunity to bring our families out and come together to show them this is the safety equipment we have; these are the people that have my back and I have theirs."

Many Washington state and federal agencies were on-hand to educate and possibly recruit servicemembers transitioning out of the military.  Agencies like the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the FBI, Department of Corrections and many others were available.

"Agencies had representatives at the event to showcase their capabilities and answer questions, said McNally. "Not only for the benefit of their own community, but for potential new additions. All (of them) seeking men and women to join them and they all believe the military is a great source of dedicated leaders that would make great additions to any agency."

The mission of SWTWS is simple: honor the first responder community and give back to those who serve.

"We expect nothing; we always support community events, but we seldom do anything for our own community and our own family, this is that opportunity (to do so)," said McNally.

Although they all belong to the same community, some agencies don't always interact with each other on a regular basis.

Opening lines of communication and creating relationships was one of the biggest benefits of the event, according to McNally.  

"The interaction between the agencies we work with and seeing each other's capabilities allows opportunities for collaboration, (which) is really critical to all our success," said McNally. "There's a lot of organizations that support first responders and it's important that we allow those interactions before something critical happens. All these organizations support the first responder community when something bad happens, and this is a great opportunity for them to get to know each other under positive circumstances, so if something bad happens, they feel comfortable calling them and access those resources."

The importance and impact of first responders and the work they do is something State leadership holds in high regard, showing so by declaring the week of July 23-July 30 as "Stand with Those Who Serve" week.

The proclamation signed by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee states: "The duties, responsibilities, hazards and sacrifices facing the public safety community on a daily basis earn them the respect, admiration and gratitude of those they serve and protect. Washington's public safety personnel from city, county, state, federal and military agencies are critical to keeping our communities safe."

Having a good relationship with the local community and first responder agencies is a priority to the base and its own emergency agencies.

"We have military members who live and work in the community, and if anything happens, the local first responders have lines of communications with the base," said Charles Thornton, JBLM Department of Emergency Services joint operations officer. "This has been an amazing event. Having the event here on JBLM gives the first responder community a secure location and gives military members access to potential future employers."  

In its sixth year the SWTWS annual public safety appreciation event shows no sign of losing support or momentum.

"There is a lot of energy and work that goes into it, but I always know why we do this, so it's worth the work and effort," said McNally.

August 4, 2016 at 11:11am

End of an era

Active-duty and retired Air Force firefighters at McChord Field receive recognition for their service during a memorial ceremony July 26 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Firefighters from the 627th Civil Engineering Squadron memorialized their time serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord July 29, at a memorial ceremony held at the McChord Field Fire Station 105.

The ceremony commemorated the service of Air Force firefighters that have served here and concluded Air Force firefighter's service at JBLM as they are reassigned.

"This ceremony highlighted seventy years of amazing service and the legacy they leave behind," said Col. Leo Kosinski, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. "Many of our civilian firefighters are prior airmen and will carry on this legacy."

By the end of July 2017, all airmen firefighters currently stationed here will be assigned to new bases. The ceremony highlighted their service and payed tribute to all Air Force firefighters that have served.

"During my time as their commander, our Air Force firefighters have definitely demonstrated time and time again, that they are credible engineers, and the many missions we support don't just happen with us," said Lt. Col. Michael Francis, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron commander. "To our Air Force firefighters and their families: I will continue to lead and serve you through this newest change until the very last one of you leaves McChord."

Serving at a joint base, Air Force firefighters have received many unique training opportunities that provides them an additional depth of experience to take with them to their new assignments, said Francis.

"They have had amazing access to training opportunities and real-world experience not afforded to all Air Force firefighters at other installations," said Francis. "This not only makes them better as they respond to on-base medical emergencies, but also as they arrive on scene of motor vehicle accidents along the I-5 corridor to extricate victims and stabilize them for transport, sometimes for life-threatening injuries."        

Reflecting on the accomplishments of Air Force firefighters here, Francis spoke about the many awards and recognitions they've received serving as a joint base.

"Just recently, we finalized the 2015 awards year and once again the Air Force came out on top with Senior Airman Thomas Kaye winning the firefighter of the year award and Master Sergeant Jose Cardenas fire officer of the year award, both at the Department of the Army level," said Francis. "All of these individual accolades would not be possible without the mentorship and deliberate development made by the entire firefighting team - military and civilian - working together."

Celebrating past and present Air Force firefighters who've served here, the ceremony concluded in the unveiling of the Air Force firefighter's Legacy Monument.to be constructed on McChord Field. The monument will represent all the Air Force firefighters that have served here to memorialize their legacy. The monument will be a set of firefighter bunker gear, set in bronze and mounted atop a large rock. On the front of the monument will be a plaque that reads, "This memorial is dedicated to honor the legacy of the U.S. Army Air Corps and U.S. Air Force firefighters who served valiantly at McChord Field from 1946-2017." Below this it will display the Air Force firefighter's motto: "Serving with courage, integrity and pride."   

"I've worked at every station on JBLM and gained great experience from the civilians here through learning different aspects of firefighting," said Senior Airman James Salazar, 627th CES firefighter. "Most of the guys here are prior Air Force and it's good to know they are going to keep that tradition alive and morale high." 

July 29, 2016 at 2:54pm

Airman goes Marines

Master Sgt. Timur Kuzu (foreground), Julius A. Kolb Airman Leadership School commandant, explains course material to students during an ALS lecture July 18, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Traditionally, airmen who are to be promoted to the rank of staff sergeant must attend six weeks of Airman Leadership School as part of their required professional military education. In addition to ALS, one Team McChord airman recently attended the U.S. Marine Corps Corporals Leadership Course.

In a rare opportunity, Staff Sgt. Nicholas Hurren, 5th Air Support Operations Squadron tactical air control party, graduated June 24, from the two-week Corporals Leadership Course held at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Washington.

"One of the biggest things I learned was to be adaptive," said Hurren. "I was pessimistic at first, but looking back I wish I had been more optimistic."

The main subject covered in the course was Marine operations, said Hurren. The course also covered the basics of how to move throughout a battlefield, physical conditioning and instruction on how to properly use a sword and guidon.

Being a TACP, Hurren found many of the principles taught in the course useful in his career field.

"I learned decisiveness and that you aren't always going to make the right decision," said Hurren. "You have to be confident with the decisions you make and own up to them."

Because Hurren had graduated ALS the month prior to the course, he said it helped prepare him for the challenges ahead.

"I feel that ALS helped me gain the knowledge needed for the CLC," said Hurren. "What I learned in ALS was more in-depth, but I was able to easily recall it and apply that knowledge to what I was being taught (at the CLC.)"

Having benefited from the CLC, Hurren said he hopes other airmen also have the same opportunity.

"There is never a part in the training that is negative," said Hurren. "You will always gain something whether it be leadership skills or learning about how we integrate as a joint service to complete the mission."

The initiative to make these professional training opportunities - like CLC - a reality is something that Master Sgt. Timur Kuzu, Julius A. Kolb ALS commandant, says he is passionate about.   

"We all deploy together and we all serve together so why shouldn't we do joint PME," said Kuzu. "We all took the same oath, so we all should be able to attend the same leadership schools."

Although Hurren was the only airman to attend the recent Marine CLC, he did attend the course with a Marine that is now attending ALS.

Cpl. Matthew Nevarez, U.S. Marine Corps Security Forces Battalion, Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, is the first U.S. Marine to attend ALS at JBLM and is slated to graduate in August.

"This course has really required me to have to apply myself," said Nevarez. "Everyone here is trying to better themselves. I feel the same as I would working with fellow Marines."

The experiences airmen and Marines attending these courses receive is invaluable, said Kuzu.

"This is to enhance diversity for students and instructors," said Kuzu. "It's about making more well-rounded servicemembers."

Because of the different coursework taught to students attending ALS, Nevarez will learn in-depth leadership principles and about Air Force requirements for NCOs, said Kuzu.  

"Both courses are designed totally different," said Kuzu. "He is going to gain a new perspective on how to lead and a better understanding of how the Air Force plays a part in accomplishing the mission."

In addition to this Marine, the Julius A. Kolb ALS has also had graduates from the Coast Guard, Navy and Army. ALS regularly works with others services to create opportunities for servicemembers from different branches to attend leadership courses.     

"Being an NCO is a mindset, not a stripe on their arm," said Kuzu. "We are just giving them the tools to develop it." 

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