Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

June 24, 2016 at 4:59pm

Precision down to the millionth

Staff Sgt. Jeff Burns, 62nd Maintenance Squadron precision measurement equipment laboratory technician, calibrates a piece of equipment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Team McChord airmen provide global airlift on a daily basis, and airmen from the 62nd Maintenance Squadron Precision Measurement Equipment Laboratory contribute some uncommonly known services to make that happen.

The PMEL shop, part of the 62nd MXS test measurement diagnostic equipment flight here, is responsible for calibrating equipment that is used in virtually every phase of maintenance on McChord Field and throughout numerous government organizations in the Pacific Northwest.

The airmen from the PMEL shop use exacting attention to detail to take measurements in increments as small as millionths to ensure equipment is properly calibrated from torque wrenches for C-17 maintainers to jet engine test cells in Oregon.

"Many people think we just do pressure gauges and torque wrenches," said Senior Master Sgt. Jessica Stevens, 62nd MXS test measurement diagnostic equipment flight chief. "We have a very large scope of responsibilities and a wide variety of equipment we calibrate."

The PMEL shop provides services for customers, such as the U.S. Coast Guard District 13, the Oregon Air National Guard, and the Western Air Defense Sector.    

"We are a customer-focused organization," said Master Sgt. Daniel Thomas, 62nd MXS PMEL section chief. "The four things we ensure for every piece of equipment is safety, accuracy, reliability and traceability. This is our goal and mission."

With this approach and Department of Defense-wide force reduction, the PMEL shop had to make dramatic changes to perform more efficiently with less airmen. Over the last two years, the shop's manning has been reduced from 33 airmen and civilians to a team of 22 people.     

"When we started losing people, we changed our operating mindset," said Thomas. "We looked at how we could streamline processes and improve turnaround time with less manning."

With this mindset, the PMEL shop identified that their quality assurance program could be improved. The shop's quality assurance process used to require regular inspections of a large number of items being serviced. This created an increase in the amount of time it took to perform simple processes and delayed the turnaround time for jobs. Identifying this as ineffective, the PMEL shop decided to implement a more efficient process that focused on only inspecting and evaluating jobs more prone to errors.

"We started to focus on risk areas to identify jobs more prevalent to have issues," said Thomas. "This helped us reduce man-hours and our customers with turnaround time."

In addition to this change, the PMEL shop also helped reduce man-hours needed for servicing customer equipment by taking a greater initiative to evaluate customer inventories and assist in recommending better equipment.

"We are constantly looking to find alternative solutions for customers' equipment that are more reliable and have longer calibration cycles," said Thomas. "We want our customers to have more efficiency when buying new equipment."

One example of this initiative recently, was PMEL advising the 62nd MXS aerospace ground equipment flight in purchasing new type of gauges that would be more reliable and have longer calibration cycles, said Stevens. The purchase resulted in more than 1,000 PMEL man-hours saved yearly.     

"One of my goals is to help customers to examine their inventories for ways to better their efficiency," said Thomas. "With a reduction in our manning, we have to think smarter."

With saving time on man-hours and bettering processes in mind, the PMEL shop has also been diligently working to identify jobs that can be automated and implementing automation processes to calibrate and distribute equipment faster.

"Turnaround time ties into equipment availability rates and shows us the total percentage of equipment that is being used to further the mission by the customers," said Thomas. "We want to get equipment out of here fast as we can so they can accomplish the mission."

Many of these processes are worked on and developed by airmen in the flight, and can take up to a few months to complete, but once approved have resulted in saving thousands of man-hours for the flight and the Air Force as a whole.

The end result is calibrations that would usually take a few days, being completed in a few hours, said Thomas.       

Since 2014, the McChord Field PMEL shop has reduced its turnaround time for calibrations from 12 days to less than seven.

"Since I've been here, we have always been focused on striking a good balance between efficiency and effectiveness with a leaner force," said Thomas. "If there is one thing we have internalized here, it is not doing more with less but rather doing the best job we can with what we have."

June 23, 2016 at 10:10am

Ultimate Champion

Air Force veteran Master Sgt. D. Reese Hines competes in archery for visually impaired people. Photo credit: EJ Hersom

From June 15 until today, about 250 wounded, ill and injured servicemembers and veterans representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and United Kingdom armed forces competed in shooting, archery, cycling, track and field, swimming, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

To earn the Ultimate Champion title, athletes competed in their respective disability classifications in five sporting events. Each service branch was allotted two slots, one for a man and one for a woman. Service branches also earned team points based on the designated competitors' results in their events. The Ultimate Champion was the athlete who earned the most points in the five events.

Surprised to Win

Master Sgt. D. Reese Hines, a first-time DoD Warrior Games competitor, said he was surprised to end up as this year's Ultimate Champion.

"It's pretty overwhelming," he said. "I knew they put me in for it, but I didn't know what kind of chance I had. I just had the mindset that I would go in and do my best and try hard. I had people throughout the week trying to tell me my rankings, but I tried to separate that from what I was doing. I just wanted to focus on the singular event."

Hines said he also enjoyed sharing the experience with his sons, Aiden, 2, and Gavin, 10. The boys "were at the archery event, and as soon as I shot my last arrow, they both came up and gave me hugs," he said. "I was pretty surprised they came up that quickly. Just watching them smile and be happy and then watching them walk around with my medals on, it's pretty special. This will definitely be one to remember for a long time."

Hines said he was inspired to try out for the Warrior Games by his girlfriend and teammate, medically retired Air Force Master Sgt. Kyle Burnett, who earned the Ultimate Champion title last year. He said there may be some teasing now that they both have won the award, but he acknowledged that she did motivate him to win it.

"It was definitely nice to have that goal to work toward - not just the individual events, but overall. It's special," he said. "I saw her award when we first started dating, and she told me about it. I didn't think much about it, but I saw how proud she was, so that's something I took away. It's nice to have that same feeling now."

June 23, 2016 at 10:07am

Airman pursues equestrian passion

Maj. Jennifer Jones, 627th Communications Squadron director of operations, removes her riding gear from her horse, Campari, June 4, 2016, at the Summervale Premier Dressage show in Roy, Wash. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

A small gathering of spectators watch silently as a horse and its rider slowly round a corner of the course and gracefully go into a new set of movements. The rider is formally dressed and commands the horse with ease as they transition from each movement.

An airman and competitor, Maj. Jennifer Jones, 627th Communications Squadron director of operations, competes regularly in equestrian sporting events like this called dressage competitions.

Jones said she always loved horses as a kid, but was encouraged to pursue sports by her parents. In her teen years, she played soccer and later rugby at the U.S. Air Force Academy, in Colorado. Upon graduation from the academy, she followed her passion and began taking riding lessons and bought her first horse named Monaco.

"He was a great horse and he taught me a lot about riding," said Jones. "He wasn't the bravest horse, but he helped me grow as a rider."

After buying Monaco, Jones began competing in equestrian competitions such as Western Pleasure, Hunt Seat, Show Hunter, Eventing and cross-country equestrian. While working an Air Force assignment in Florida, her horse Monaco suffered an injury tearing one of his ligaments in his left front leg which led to very long recovery period and ultimately ended in Jones having to retire him as a competition horse.  

"Though it seemed to be fully recovered, he kept tearing the ligament whenever we began training," said Jones. "He kept getting hurt so we decided to let him just be a horse."

The loss of her horse and a friend in a sense was hard on Jones. She lost touch with riding for more than three years.

After being assigned to JBLM, Jones decided to start taking riding lessons again and reignited her passion for riding.

"That's when I realized I really needed another horse," said Jones. "I couldn't learn as fast training on other horses as I could on my own."

Jones then began her search for another horse. This led her to travel to a number of states looking for the perfect fit. Six months into her search, she found the right one. She found Campari, also known as Cam.

"We just hit it off. The owner was surprised at how well he responded to me riding him," said Jones. "He was just a little bit temperamental."

Over the last two years, Jones and Cam have been training and competing in dressage events nationally.

"He's calmed down a lot with me," said Jones. "I want to get him out to Prix Saint George this year, which is the next level of competition."   

Jones and Cam completed their first dressage competition June 4-5 at the Summervale Premier Dressage show in Roy, Washington. Jones placed third in the show and will compete again July 22-24 at the DevonWood Equestrian Centre's dressage show in Sherwood, Oregon.

"We are off to a rough start this year," said Jones. "He can do better than me at this point, so it's frustrating. The only thing he does incorrect is that he wants to do things in his own time."

Jones trains three-to-five times a week with her coach and is part of a dressage team called SKM Dressage.

"Cam gives me a really good outlet to do something entirely my own," said Jones. "I work really hard at this and he will work as hard as I ask of him. He gives me as much fun as I can handle."

Dressage is one of the highest levels of equestrian training and requires riders and their horses to be proficient in a variety of technical movements and to perform according to high dressage standards, said Jones.

"Competition judges look at the form of the horse, how he walks, accepts commands, if they are fluid in their movements, and the overall harmony between the rider and the horse," said Jones. "They look at how well you carry out the dressage principles."

Jones plans to eventually compete at the international level and eventually in the Olympics.

Although her training has made her a better rider, Jones says that it has also affected how she handles challenging circumstances in her professional and personal life.  

"Doing this makes me a much more patient person; there is one thing I've learned from riding and that is things don't always have to happen right now; you can always ask again," said Jones. "I think that this makes me a much more balanced person."

Airmen under Jones are in agreement that she is enjoyable to work with.

"I think she is a great communicator and good at setting goals and guidelines for the squadron," said 1st Lt. Bradley Graves, 627th CS client services and networks officer in charge. "She is very clear about letting us know where we are at and how we are doing as a unit."  

Having progressed as a rider, Jones credits many of her accomplishments to the support she receives from her squadron.

"They always make it possible for me to take the time I need to be with Cam," said Jones. "If it wasn't for their support we wouldn't be this far along the road."  

Having reaped the benefits of pursuing her passion from riding, Jones said she encourages others to do the same.

"Get out there and find something that can create a light in yourself," said Jones. "The Air Force needs more people to be bright."

Those that work with Jones feel inspired by her training.

"She embraces the opportunity to risk failing by competing; it encourages airmen to go out and do the same," said Graves. "It is important for airmen to have something other than work."   

Having competed in equestrian events throughout the course of her career, Jones said she is thankful to the Air Force and the support of the airmen she's worked with.

"I've been supported every step of the way," said Jones. "When my horse was injured, they allowed me to take time to get him the care he needed."

"I've never been in a place that didn't support my interest and that didn't allow me to do the things I loved."

June 23, 2016 at 10:02am

Retirement 101

Confused by changes to the retirement system? Go online for the answers. DoD photo

Online training designed to educate airmen about the new Blended Retirement System, the Defense Department system with changes on the current military retirement system, is now available via Joint Knowledge Online course number P-US1330. The course is also available to those without a Common Access Card - to include family members - via an alternate website.

The BRS was enacted into law in the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, and will go into effect Jan. 1, 2018. All currently serving members are grandfathered into the current military retirement system. However, those with fewer than 12 years of service as of Dec. 31, 2017, or Air Force Reserve component members with fewer than 4,320 retirement points, may choose to "opt in" to the BRS during the designated opt-in period from Jan. 1, 2018 through Dec. 31, 2018.

"The BRS is a major change for our airmen," said Brig. Gen. Brian Kelly, the Military Force Management Policy director. "Although the majority of airmen serving today will not fall under BRS, it is important for all airmen, either as leaders today or as leaders tomorrow, to understand the changes that will impact airmen in the future."

The BRS Leader Training is a 30-minute course designed to provide basic familiarity with the key components of the upcoming retirement system and the timeline for implementation. It is designed primarily for Air Force leaders at all levels, but is also open to all airmen and others who wish to learn more about BRS.

"Education is key in providing airmen the information they need in order to make informed decisions about the BRS," Kelly said. The Defense Department is on track to provide three additional courses with more detailed information within the next 18 months.

An "opt-in" course is targeted at those eligible to opt into the new system. To learn more about the Blended Retirement System, visit militarypay.defense.gov.

June 23, 2016 at 9:58am

TACPs are best of both worlds

Air Force Staff David Peterson, a tactical air control party airman with 5th Air Support Operations Squadron, prepares to transmit information to a simulated aircraft during a TACP competition at JBLM, June 15. Photo credit: Sgt. Cody Quinn

Spend a moment on Joint Base Lewis-McChord and you will hear the siren wail of an Air Force jet pierce the sky. The steady roar from McChord Field has become part of the daily rhythm for area residents.

It would be easy to assume the Air Force's sole focus is putting their planes into operation.

"Soon as I joined the Air Force, people asked me what plane I fly," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Adam Long, a tactical air control party specialist with 5th Air Support Operations Squadron. "We're their direct ground troops. We're a little bit blue and a little bit green. We're teal."

TACP airmen are members of Air Force special operations and embed with ground units to direct airstrikes. The 5th ASOS personnel are frequently attached to deploying units, and competition helps maintain their readiness and keep their skills honed, according to Long.

Long was responsible for organizing JBLM's annual Tactical Air Control Party competition, June 14-16.

"We're keeping our TACPs competitive. It's a check on learning," Long, a native of Mercer, Pennsylvania, said. "The end-all be-all is bragging rights."

Two months of planning went into creating a competition that would simultaneously challenge the participants' minds and bodies.

"This establishes a baseline of where our learning is at," said Tech. Sgt. Daniel Staggs, a weapons instructor with 5th ASOS and Cincinnati native. "We want to take what our best have gotten right and wrong and apply those lessons to our training."

Participants were ranked on their completion of each leg of the competition, with equal emphasis given to physical ability and job knowledge.

"It's a different type of competition," Long said. "There will always be guys who crush two or three of the physical events, but not the others. Those people won't be the winner."

TACPs spend over six months training prior to entering the career field. With so much training under their belts, keeping their abilities sharp poses a challenge.

"They learn these skills during our technical school," said Tech. Sgt. Brian Jackson, a grader for the competition with 5th ASOS from Elkhart, Indiana. "Regular training like this helps improve their proficiency."

Competitors were challenged to create a makeshift antenna, pass multiple physical tests, and create tactical air missions while enduring 19-hour-long days and catching a rare nap while in the field.

Long won last year's competition, and with the victory, the responsibility to plan this year's iteration. He walked the different stations offering support and encouragement while his fellow TACPs tackled each challenge.

"You get invested in the competition," Long said. "You want to see them perform well. It's tough not being out there."

TACPs, while being Air Force personnel, are stationed on the Army side of JBLM. This gives them the unique distinction in the military world.

"We can reach out to our Air Force counterparts for support," Long said, after mentioning units from McChord had provided medical support for the competition. "We're better prepared because we have more resources, Air Force and Army, to reach out to."

TACP airmen are a melding of Army and Air Force, much like JBLM itself. This duality runs to the core of everything these grounded airmen do.

"You can't rely on being physically capable and not be competent in your technical skills," Long said. "You need a good balance."

June 16, 2016 at 9:24am

Canadian partners

Royal Canadian Air Force Sgt. Wes Ramsay, 8th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, speaks to Army SPC. Dakota Truscott, 82nd Airborne Division, on a 62nd Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III at Pope Army Air Field, N.C. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Naomi Shipley

For the last few years, Team McChord has participated in a joint partnership with the Royal Canadian Air Force exchange program, geared toward loadmasters and pilots.

For two of those years, RCAF Sgt. Wes Ramsay, 8th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, has been part of Team McChord and has participated in various C-17 missions including the recent Exercise Swift Response 2016 in Europe.

The exercise was a large-scale multi-national exercise, which included thousands of participants from 10 NATO nations.

Ramsay is a full qualified loadmaster and performs the same duties on the jet as any other "load."

The only significant difference between him and the other loadmasters at McChord, aside from his accent, are the patches on his flight suit, otherwise he's just another part of the crew.

Lt. Col. Jaron Roux, 62nd Operation Support Squadron commander, said Ramsay's presence on the aircraft and exercise is a direct (local) example of reinforcing our NATO partnership at McChord.

"Ramsay is an asset to the team," said Roux. "He is an exceptional loadmaster; he brings a Canadian perspective to the team and by working with him we are truly embracing the coalition we train for in exercises like Swift Response. We are strengthening that bond."

Ramsay said the challenges in the integration stem mostly from language differences.

"It was a whole new language and a whole new culture," said Ramsay. "It's the same aircraft, same job, and it's pretty much the exact same rules, but it's a different understanding."

Ramsay said that out of all the missions he's flown in his career, the mission to Poland for Exercise Swift Response 2016 sticks out because it's a realistic training scenario.

"This mission is probably the best memorable one I've done," said Ramsay. "We're planning a real scenario; we're loading the aircraft to the maximum extent possible and we're conducting air drops. We're training like we should fight."

Ramsay said working with aircrew, including at McChord, creates a tight-knit bond.

"It's a family with integrity," Ramsay said. "We hold each other accountable and each member has to hold themselves individually accountable, because we're flying thirty thousand feet in the air and essentially everyone has to back each other up, because every day you'll need each other."

The best part of the day for Ramsay and his crew is when the mission is complete.

"It's a good feeling when we find out that nobody got injured and everything landed where it was supposed to land, and overall, everything was a success." 

June 16, 2016 at 9:20am

Maintainer mentors cadets

Senior Airman Jason Washington, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance journeyman, flies a Cessna plane June 4, 2016, at Pierce County Airport. Courtesy photo

For one airman, it didn't take him long to realize that mentoring Civil Air Patrol cadets was something he was greatly interested in.

Senior Airman Jason Washington, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron aerospace maintenance journeyman, saw mentoring CAP members as an opportunity to give back to the community and get some flight hours.

The Civil Air Patrol is a federally supported nonprofit corporation that serves as the official civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force. CAP has provided 75 years of support to emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs.

"CAP was something I was always interested in, even before the Air Force," said Washington. "I always was interested in the Air Force and CAP, but CAP wasn't really built up where I was from."

Washington said when he got to McChord Field in 2013, he did some research on the CAP program.

"Once I got out here and started going to the meetings, it seemed like a really cool volunteer opportunity to help these cadets out," said Washington.

Washington is a testing and leadership officer for the cadets. He administers the tests needed for the cadets to get promoted to the next rank.

"Their rank structure is very similar to ours (Air Force)," said Washington. "These kids range from the ages twelve to eighteen and are competing for rank. So I am administering the test, whether it's a physical training test, drill, or whatever test they need to complete for promotion."

Washington has volunteered more than 100 hours of his personal time developing and mentoring cadets, but stresses that although that is important, he is focused on CAP's biggest mission, which is search and rescue.

"My main focus in CAP is the search and rescue mission," said Washington. "I am a fully qualified scanner, which means when we go out on search and rescue missions, I am the person sitting in the back of the aircraft actively looking for whatever it is we are looking for."

Washington has volunteered more than 50 hours to help the CAP and Washington Department of Transportation with search and rescue missions, but is working his way up to become a mission pilot.

"I'm slowly working my way to become a mission pilot," said Washington. "Right now, I am in mission observer school. I will be done with mission observer school the end of May, then I will work on becoming a mission pilot since I am a private pilot in the civilian world."

The Brooklyn, New York, native, did pilot training in high school. He had a job at a movie theater and that helped him pay for his flight hours.

Washington said he sees this volunteer opportunity as a gateway to his main goal in life, and that is to be a pilot in the Air Force.

"My main goal is to be an Air Force pilot," said Washington. "I am going to Embry Riddle University pursuing my Bachelor's in Aeronautics right now."

Washington said that once he finishes up his degree within the next two years, he will apply to officer training school and see if he can get a pilot slot.

"I've loved every minute of this opportunity to mentor these cadets," said Washington. "Not only do I get to impact their lives, but I also get to continue to do something that I love, and that is to fly planes as well."

June 16, 2016 at 9:17am

McChord's first shooting competition hits the mark

Capt. Douglas Arnett, 62nd Airlift Wing assistant staff judge advocate, fires an M9 pistol during the Excellence-in-Competition event June 2, 2016, on the range at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tim Chacon

For the first time ever at McChord Field an M9 pistol Excellence-In-Competition event was sponsored by the 627th Security Forces Squadron June 2, 2016.

The marksmanship competition open to all airmen, had 109 competitors and awarded badges to the top 10% of shooters.

Although the EIC is a competition, that is not the sole purpose for the event.

"The EIC is not just about the competition portion," said Staff Sgt. James Kirk, 627th SFS combat arms instructor. "It's also to get the base more involved in shooting and improve their familiarization with the weapons."

The EIC allowed any airmen interested the opportunity to get some hands on time with weapons.

"The majority of the base populace doesn't fire (weapons) on a regular basis," said Kirk. "Some fire more than others, but this allows airmen to come out and get practice while engaging in a friendly competition."

The competition portion consisted of 30 total rounds, with an additional 10 rounds for warm up and familiarization firing. Airmen fired single handed-single action, double handed-single action and double handed-double action.

Airmen shot from a distance of 25 meters and were scored based of proximity to the center of the target. The center ring being worth 10 points and descending in points the further out from center the shot hit.  A perfect score for the course-of-fire was 300 points

Even though the event had been talked about for nearly two years and planned for months there was still some uncertainty about how the day's events would unfold.

"We didn't know how it was going to go because it was the first time it's been held here, but it went well," said Kirk. "People showed up ready to compete and with a lot of energy. You could tell they enjoyed it."

The low score for the top 10% cut off was 265 and the high score was a two way tie of 281.

Maj. William Booth, 62nd Operations Group Standards and Evaluation deputy chief, was one of the two shooters to score 281. As a former competitive shooter with the U.S Air Force Academy shooting team Booth had experience in this situation.

"Things like the timing, breathing and pacing I use is not what most people use when shooting, so I think that helped," said Booth. "CATM did an outstanding job putting this together. Whether you are a first time shooter or an expert it's fun to put some rounds down range."   

Do in part to the success and positive response from this year's competition a plan to conduct the rifle EIC next year is already in the works. More information will be released when a timetable is set. 

June 16, 2016 at 9:13am

A swift response

Paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division load their equipment into a 62nd Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III on Pope Army Air Field, N.C., June 6, 2016. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Naomi Shipley

Three McChord air crews demonstrated their air mobility capabilities by delivering more than 250 82nd Airborne Division soldiers, Polish and British Forces and their equipment to Poland during Exercise Swift Response 2016, June 7.

Exercise Swift Response 2016 is a significant month-long military crisis response annual training event for multinational forces in the world that includes more than 5,000 participants from 10 North Atlantic Treaty Organization nations including the United States.

C-17 air crews with the 4th, 7th and 8th Airlift Squadrons at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, flew in formation with several other C-17 crews from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to work with other units to provide tactical airlift support to the Army and our allies in Europe.

The flight from Pope Army Air Field to the drop zone in Poland took more than nine hours and required some serious preparation.

One C-17 in particular flown by Lt. Col. Jaron Roux, 62nd Operation Support Squadron commander, carried more than 72 paratroopers, a rigging platform, a British Howitzer and an Army Humvee.

And in the dark of the night, Roux, his crew and the other air crews loaded their aircraft and departed on their 4,000-mile journey over international waters with one common goal; to provide safe and reliable rapid global airlift.

All three of the McChord tails received fuel from the KC-10 or KC-135 air refueling tankers midflight to enable their mission, since the aircraft necessitated additional fuel to prevent having to land for it.

The flawless 15-minute-long execution performed by the KC-10's crew for Roux and his jet allowed for 80,000 pounds of fuel to be transferred to the jet while maintaining their route.

Just a few hours later, the crew was put to the test, yet again.

When the back door of the C-17 opened for the equipment air drop in Poland, the nearly 100 Army soldiers inside the jet looked on in awe.

With the swift pull of a parachute out of the back of the aircraft, a few seconds later, the equipment was gone.

Next up was the paratroopers.

One by one, with the assistance from the jump masters and two C-17 loadmasters, the paratroopers began to jump from the side doors of the C-17.

All paratroopers and their equipment made it safely on the ground to perform their tactical training.

Army Capt. Justin Schumaker, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Brigade 82nd Airborne Division, was on the aircraft to support the paratroopers and assist in their jump.

"Everybody did really well," said Schumaker. "These guys jump at least once every three months, but it's not every day they get to jump into Poland. They were definitely excited."

Roux said overall, the McChord air drops were very successful.

"We executed the plan," said Roux. "The crews were always where they needed to be and when, to provide safe and reliable global airlift.

The exercise provided an opportunity for all partners to train like they fight.

"Whenever we go to a fight, we are never alone," said Roux. "It will always be a joint effort with our coalition partners."

June 13, 2016 at 4:02pm

A day to remember

Daniel Duffy (left) and Nicholas Duffy (right) sit in the cock pit of a C-17 Globemaster III at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, May 26. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Naomi Shipley

The 4th Airlift Squadron welcomed the two newest Team McChord ‘honorary' "Pilots for a Day," Nicholas and Daniel Duffy on May 26 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

McChord's Pilot for a Day program invites children of all ages, military or civilian, to be a guest of the 62nd Airlift Wing and one of McChord's squadrons for an entire day. The program strives to give each child a special day and a break from whatever challenges they may face.

The brothers, who have overcome their own personal challenges, were accompanied by their parents Angela and Sgt. Stephen Cid, 66th Theater Aviation Command, Washington National Guard.

The brothers started the day at the McChord Field Fire Station where they were able to put on fire fighter gear and explore the fire station, as well as put out a simulated aircraft fire.

After the fire station stop they were given a military working dog demonstration, visited the McChord air traffic control tower and the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron.

Following a catered lunch, the brothers were able to experience a simulated parachute freefall with a Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape specialist.

From there they toured a C-17 Globemaster III and had a chance to sit in the cock pit. They then transitioned from the C-17 to the flight simulator where they had a chance to participate in a C-17 simulation fight.

Staff Sgt. Brooke Breeden, 4th AS C-17 loadmaster, started coordinating the day's events nearly two months before it occurred.

"In the past I've been part of small portions of the Pilot for a Day program," said Breeden. "I wanted to experience the whole thing and see the children's faces. I wanted to give them something good to remember forever."

The boys' father Sgt. Stephen Cid, said the day's events were nothing short of perfection.

"It was seamless," said Cid. "Everyone was waiting and prepared for us."

Cid said he knows just how much time and effort it takes to get this type of facetime with military members who have important jobs to do.

"Today it wasn't about everyone's mission, it was about this mission right here, today was about the boys," Cid said. "There could've been many reasons for them to say ‘no' or they couldn't support it, but they did. They (the boys) went where most people don't get the opportunity to."

Angela Cid, the boys' mom, said the biggest event to happen all day was the boys were the center of everyone's attention.

"Today was all about them," said Angela Cid. "They were glowing all day."

She said watching them interact with people who have her respect was humbling.

"The boys respect people in uniform," said Angela Cid. "To watch these individuals who are in charge of so many important things was incredible. There is no amount of thank you's that I can say to express my gratitude."

Stephen Cid said he's been in the military for 18 years and until this day he had never seen the inside of an air traffic control tower or the cock pit of any aircraft.

"I can't thank everyone who has played a part in this enough," said Cid. "We will be talking about this for a long time to come."

In the parent's words, busy airmen slowed everything down for two little boys who usually the world speeds up and passes by.

Nick's favorite part of the day was food and his brother Daniel's was the flight simulator.

Daniel said the simulator gave him the feeling of actually flying a plane, nerves and all.

"I was stoked," said Daniel. "It was amazing. All I'm going to say is ‘God bless the 4th AS'."

Nick said that aside from the incredible food and snacks the best part of the day was being treated with respect.

"I felt like I was older than I actually am," said Nick. "It felt good."

The day concluded with pizza and ice cream and some farewell words from the unit.

"We are all happy to have you here," said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Scott, 4th AS commander. I know you've both faced some challenges in life but you've embodied our motto (Fly, Fight, and Live Proud) by overcoming the struggles. We're proud to have you here as part of the fighting fourth."

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