Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

May 26, 2016 at 1:00pm

Proving Mobility Guardian

Seven C-17 Globemaster IIIs prepare to depart the McChord Field flight line May 17, to conduct air land and air drop operations as part of a Large Force Exercise at the Mountain Home Range Complex, Idaho. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Naomi Shipley

Seven C-17 Globemasters departed McChord Field Tuesday, May 17, to conduct air land and air drop operations as part of a Large Force Exercise at the Mountain Home Range Complex in Idaho.

"This is a proof of concept for Air Mobility Command's next generation exercise Mobility Guardian," said Maj. Sean McConville, 62nd Airlift Wing Tactics Director. "We didn't necessarily exercise all the capabilities in legacy Rodeo (previous exercises) that we wanted to. AMC leadership asked us to rebuild Rodeo as a flag-level exercise for the Mobility Air Forces."

With a team of five and just a few short weeks, Capt. Chris Wojtowicz and Capt. Joseph Fry, C-17 pilots, successfully coordinated the mission plan for countless aircrews to put their skills to the test during this specific training.

The McChord tails teamed up with F-15 Strike Eagles from the 389th Fighter Squadron and 366th Operations Support Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base to simulate operating in a non-permissive environment.

"We decided to do a joint forcible entry operation as part of Mobility Guardian," said McConville. "It's one of the most difficult skillsets that we have on our docket, and with the focus over the last fifteen years on relatively permissive operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have a significant portion of the crew force - to include the instructor corps - that doesn't even know that they're on the hook for it."

"The Mountain Home Range gives us the airspace and the threat emitters to provide our crews with very high fidelity training. An extraordinary amount of work went into this. Because this is a new thing for a lot of crews here, we wanted to be sure that we were getting it absolutely right."

The F-15s provided detached escort and reactive close air support, a first for McChord local training missions, and the range provided simulated tactical surface-to-air missiles.

The Mountain Home range has both liberal airspace and threat emitters that can replicate hostile radar on a scale that no other base in the region can, according to McConville, which is why this training was unprecedented.

"McChord is leading the way," said McConville. "The AMC commander said he wants us to be ready for operations in semi- and non-permissive environments and to be ready for evolving counter-terrorism threats. This is us doing just that ... four weeks later."

When AMC executes Mobility Guardian, it's not going to be seven C-17s going to execute the mission down in the Mountain Home Range, it's going to be 15 C-17s, 15 C-130s and at least 12 tankers, with a much larger escort package.

"Running through the sortie on a smaller scale gives us the opportunity to build relationships with Air Traffic Control, the 266th Range Squadron, the 389th Fighter Squadron, and it helps us identify some potential stumbling blocks sooner rather than later," said McConville.

This LFE provided more than one first for the McChord C-17 crews.

In fact, it was the first time the crews attempted to connect the data link used by C-17s to the fighter's data link using capabilities in their range.

It was also the first time for a McChord intelligence unit to utilize their Global Rapid Response Intelligence Package in a training scenario.

First Lt. Christy Vachavake, 62nd Operation Support Squadron chief of Intel training, said the GRRIP system is a portable system that attaches to a satellite.

"It can provide access to resources should we need it in an isolated or austere location," said Vachavake. "It is basically an extension of an Intel analyst and it serves as a backup."

The training conducted during this LFE proved to be immeasurable for McConville and the other air crews.

"There are always things to be learned in big exercises," he said. "All in all it was a big win for the 62nd AW because it is the absolute, highest level training that we can get."

McConville said recent operations have seen the C-17 operating in a context that 15 years ago nobody would've ever thought, and by doing this training we are setting up our airmen for success.

"This was Mobility Guardian, but on a smaller scale," he added, "this was a huge win for AMC in general and a case study in the institution of getting it right; leadership at McChord and Mountain Home empowered the operational level to make decisions using existing training resources. What we ended up with was an awesome training opportunity that is greater than the sum of its individual parts."

May 26, 2016 at 12:53pm

Port dawgs run for the fallen

Airmen from the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron start the 62nd APS 5K Memorial Run in formation May 18, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Airmen and families stretched and laced up their shoes as they prepared for the start of a run. With the yell of "go", airmen took off running at this year's 62nd Aerial Port Squadron 5K Memorial Run May 18, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The memorial run, an annual tradition among port dawgs, is done to honor all aerial porters known as port dawgs that have passed on.

"I think most importantly, this is a time to take a moment to honor those who have served before us and their sacrifice," said Maj. Faith Posey, 62nd APS commander. "This builds pride in being part of our career field and solidifies our heritage."

This year's run marks the third consecutive year that aerial porters from around the Air Force have ran to honor fallen port dawgs. This year's run honored five fellow port dawgs from around the Air Force that passed in 2015.

"There are more than thirty locations to include deployed locations across the globe participating in this year's run," said Chief Master Sgt. Jerry Miller, 62nd APS air terminal manager. "I think part of this is about heritage and recognizing we are a better Air Force because of those who have gone before us."

This year's run was very important to McChord Field port dawgs after they recently lost one of their own, said Miller.

"This year is a little more personal because it's also about one of our immediate family members," said Miller. "This hits close to home and our family; we want people to know we haven't forgot about their sacrifice."

Besides honoring fallen port dawgs, the purpose of the memorial run is to raise donations for a good cause through the sale of memorial shirts. Collectively, this year's run generated $5,680 in donations for the Fisher House Foundation through the sale of 380 shirts.

"Here it's about family and building an aerial port community," said Miller. "This is one way we can show we care about our own and are there for them."

Unifying the aerial port community, the run was open to active-duty, Guard and Reserve airmen and their families to run and support each other.

"It's great to get out here with my family and remember those that have gone before us," said Staff Sgt. Zachery Morton, 62nd APS cargo processing supervisor. "It gives us all a common ground to come together as one and to support one another."

Quickly becoming a regular tradition among port dawgs, the run helps build morale and community among airmen, said Staff Sgxt. Addison Richey, 62nd APS passenger services supervisor.

"Every time we can get together for an event, it is bonding time and helps build stronger relationships among us," said Richey. "We are a small family and whenever one of us passes away it impacts us all."

May 19, 2016 at 12:38pm

Leading by example: Capt. J.C. Henry

Capt. Jason Henry (left) learns about the different functions of the R-12 hydrant refueling vehicle from Senior Airman Matthew Bradley (middle) and Airman 1st Class Tyler Marsh (right). Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

After a rocky and bumpy start to adulthood, Capt. Jason Henry, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron operations officer, engaged himself with his local services recruiters and ultimately chose to serve in the Unites States Air Force.

Joining the Armed Forces directly after high school was not in the plans for Henry.

"Prior to coming into the Air Force, I went to Penn State University," said Henry. "I grew up a fan of their football program and Joe Paterno."

Henry said the realization of finally deciding to join the Air Force was when he dropped out of Penn State University because his grades was less than stellar and he had accumulated too much debt from student loans.

"I didn't want to have to drop out," said Henry. "I knew I wanted to make something of myself one day so I decided to explore other opportunities to better myself."

Henry enlisted into the Air Force in 1995 as a weapons troop, then later cross-trained to be a radio operator on the E-3 Sentry (airborne warning and control system) before beginning his commissioning process.

Henry loved the Air Force and knew that he wanted to do more than just serve. He wanted to lead airmen and lead by example.

"Back at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma in 2000, I met then-Capt. Matthew Smith, now Col. Smith, who changed my life forever," said Henry. "He motivated me both personally and professionally and is the apex of what it means to be a servant leader.  He is the officer and man I've wanted to emulate since the first day I met him and has been a mentor to me all these years, and continues to do so to this day."

While working his way through the enlisted ranks, Henry took the Officer Training School route after he finished his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University in 2001.

But it wasn't a smooth transition from technical sergeant to lieutenant for Henry.

"I was turned down for OTS twice," said Henry. "Then I had a board cancelled. I honestly thought about giving up my pursuit of a commission, as I thought to myself ‘Maybe I am supposed to be a chief?'"

But Henry did not give up and stayed resilient. On July 6, 2006, Henry was sworn in as a commissioned officer and pinned on second lieutenant.

"Transitioning from the rank of technical sergeant to second lieutenant will be the best day of my career," said Henry. "My mother, who has since passed, was there to witness the event, and for my mom to know how proud of me she was at that very moment in time when she, my father and wife, pinned on those gold bars, no rank or job I will attain in or after the service will ever compare to it."

Henry said he does not take being a commissioned officer in the USAF for granted.

"I take every opportunity I have to lead and mentor my airmen," said Henry.

All the all hard work and leadership that Henry displayed throughout the 627th LRS doesn't go unnoticed, as he was recognized as the Team McChord 2015 company grade officer of the year.

"It was truly humbling when I was announced as the CGO of the year," said Henry. "During that moment I reflected back on all the successes of our airmen and civilians in the 627th LRS over the last year.  I also reflected on my opportunity to represent our service (Air Force) in Baghdad, Iraq, with the 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kansas supporting our servicemembers on the ground, to include the Iraqis.  I also thought of my wife Robyne and our daughters, Emerie and Ellasyn, for the sacrifices they have made on my behalf to serve in the Air Force."

May 19, 2016 at 12:30pm

Airmen honor fallen MIA

Maj. Amanda Turcotte, McChord Field Honor Guard officer in charge, presents Denis Sprague, surviving son of Airman 2nd Class Conrad Sprague, with the U.S. flag during an honors ceremony. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

A ceremonial guardsman wearing white gloves raises his hand to render a salute as a white sedan pulls up to the curb. He proceeds to the vehicle where he respectfully retrieves an urn containing the remains of a fellow comrade.

The urn holds the remains of Airman 2nd Class Conrad Sprague, which were presented to his family during an honors ceremony May 10, at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington.  

Sprague was one of 11 crewmembers and 41 passengers aboard a C-124 Globemaster II that crashed into Mount Gannet, Alaska, while en route to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, from McChord AFB, Nov. 22, 1952.

For the last 63 years, Sprague was considered missing in action until earlier this year when his remains were identified by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

"The last thing I remember is seeing him the day he got on the plane," said retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Denis Sprague, surviving son of Airman 2nd Class Conrad Sprague. "For all this time he has been MIA, we never got an official ceremony."

Since the crash of the aircraft, no servicemembers from the flight were recovered until after June 2012, when an Alaska National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk crew spotted aircraft wreckage and debris while conducting a training mission over Colony Glacier, immediately west of Mount Gannett.

Since being discovered, recovery operations have taken place every summer, resulting in the recovery of 17 airmen's remains, including Sprague's.

"We heard the news in 2013 and were asked to provide DNA samples," said Denis. "I got notified six months ago that they had uncovered three pieces of my father's remains."

Medical examiners from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used testing conducted by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, along with other forensic evidence, in the identification of Sprague's remains.

"All I've ever had to hold onto was a piece of the plane that was recovered," said Denis. "That's as close as I've been able to come to it."

Because Sprague died while serving, he was given a ceremony with full military honors. The ceremony included a firing party, a flag-folding ceremony, presentation of the colors and the playing of "Taps".

"The reason this was special is because we got to bring a fellow airman home," said Tech. Sgt. Justin Nolan, McChord Field Honor Guard NCO in charge. "It shows the Air Force does care. After decades missing, he was brought back - to me, that's special."

"This was something he deserved - it's a right he earned for his service," said Senior Airman Matthew Feigum, McChord Field Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen. "I hope this provided them a little more closure than they had before."

For Denis, the ceremony was a long-anticipated event that provided a conclusion to that point in his family's history.

"The closure is the most important thing," said Denis. "I wanted some closure on this part of my life that was left wide open for so long. I had some recollection of what happened, but was never able to say goodbye."

A Washington native, Airman 2nd Class Conrad Sprague was survived by his wife Dorothy Jean and his three children Denis, Christopher and Constance. Sprague is no stranger to the community and is related to one of the city of Tacoma's founders - Medal of Honor recipient Brig. General John Sprague.

To Conrad Sprague's family, he died a hero and deserved the honor he received.   

"He was a true hero because he died doing what he thought was right - just like we all are willing to do who put on the uniform," said Denis.

May 19, 2016 at 12:04pm

62nd AW participates in USASOC exercise

Airman 1st Class Jeremy Kosick, 8th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, prepares a C-17 Globemaster III for the arrival of 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers, May 3 at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Tim Chacon

Starting at Pope Army Air Field, North Carolina, and ending at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing participated in a training exercise May 2-3 sponsored by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

The three 62nd AW aircrews flying C-17 Globemaster III aircraft assisted in inserting more than 350 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, over a training area in Texas to simulate how a joint force would infiltrate and seize an airfield in hostile territory.

"This type of training is very realistic of how we would (enter) into a contested area with enemy close by so the troops can secure the airfield for future operations," said Capt. John Shaw, 62nd AW C-17 pilot. "This is about getting a small combat package into a secure area for more troops and cargo later on."

Along with the three 62nd AW C-17s from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, there were three C-17s from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and one from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Also integrated in with the C-17s were C-130 Hercules, a KC-135 Stratotanker, a B-1 Lancer, and a Navy EA-18G Growler.

"It doesn't really get more complex than what we are doing here," said Col. David Owens, 62nd Operations Group commander. "We had close air support integration, bomber integration, mixed formation with the C-130s, there is really nothing else we could add."

Although the plan for the exercise was complex and the timeline for the aircrews was compressed, the exercise was successful.

"It went very well. We were able to get all of the jumpers on the drop zone and they were able to complete their objectives," said Shaw. "The crews were able to a take ninety-five percent solution (from the mission planning cell) and execute it safely and accurately."

There has been and will continue to been an increase in these type of exercises for not just the 62nd AW, but all of Air Mobility Command.

May 12, 2016 at 3:10pm

10th AS inactivation 'bittersweet'

Lt. Col. Nathan Campbell (right), former 10th Airlift Squadron commander, passes the 10th AS guidon to Col. David Owens (left), 62nd Operations Group commander May 6, during the 10th AS inactivation ceremony at JBLM. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Sean Tobin

For the fifth time in its 76-year history, the 10th Airlift Squadron at McChord Field was inactivated in a ceremony here May 6. Prior to this ceremony, the squadron had been inactivated four times and reactivated five times since its inception. It was most recently reactivated at McChord Field back in 2003.

This inactivation was part of a provision of the 2015 President's Budget, which also called for Air Mobility Command to convert 16 of its C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from primary aircraft inventory to backup aircraft inventory status - eight from McChord and eight from Joint Base Charleston's 437th Airlift Wing in South Carolina.

Lt. Col. Nathan Campbell, 10th Airlift Squadron commander, laughs at being sprayed with water after flying his last flight as commander of the 10 AS prior to the unit’s inactivation. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Sean Tobin
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"Today is bittersweet," said Lt. Col. Nathan Campbell, the former 10th AS commander. "While there is some sadness as we bring to close another rich chapter in the history of the 10th Airlift Squadron, it brings me great happiness and pride to reflect on the feats of the incredible men and women of the 10th."

In its nearly 13 years based at McChord, the 10th AS, also known as the "Pathfinders," took part in missions all over the world, to include Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Freedom's Sentinel, and Operation Inherent Resolve.  Additionally, the unit has helped provide aide during global humanitarian crises and has participated in Operation Deep Freeze, working with the National Science Foundation and the United States Antarctic Program.

During the ceremony, Col. David Owens, 62nd Operations Group commander, said the unit has built a legacy of airlift that no other country and very few organizations can compare to. He then reminded those in attendance that, although the unit has inactivated a number of times before, the Pathfinders have always returned.

“My guess is that someday the Air Force will see fit to once again unfurl the flag and reactivate this fantastic squadron,” said Owens. “One thing I am certain of is, no matter when it happens, the airmen of the 10th Airlift Squadron will once again be ready to lead the way.”

May 12, 2016 at 2:54pm

Airmen participate in Fall Protection Focus weeks

Air Force Occupational Safety will sponsor Fall Protection Focus weeks now through May 13, to draw attention to avoidable mishaps due to falls, said Ken Heath, 62nd Airlift Wing ground safety chief.

During calendars years 2011-2015, falls were responsible for 6,724 Air Force injuries that resulted in 42,539 lost work days at a cost of nearly $65 million, according to Air Force occupational safety professionals.

"If people take time to consider safety measures before planning an event, it could prevent a serious accident from occurring," said Heath. "It only takes a few moments to go through the ‘what if?' scenarios to keep things safe."

Throughout the Fall Protection focus period, Air Force occupational safety professionals will remind Team McChord members of the dangers of preventable falls.

"Prevention of fall-related injuries and fatalities through education and awareness keeps our airmen mission-ready," said Bill Parsons, Air Force chief of occupational safety. "Fall-related injuries result not only from activities involving heights; falls occur more commonly on wet surfaces or stumbles over obstacles in walkways. Most falls are preventable if we follow the appropriate safety guidelines and focus on basic safety practices."

During this two-week focus, every individual or unit should take some time to review fall hazards in their workplace and at home. Supervisors can work with unit safety representatives (USRs) to develop events such as a discussion, a presentation, or invite a guest speaker to highlight fall risks.

The 62nd Airlift Wing Occupational Safety office and USRs will conduct spot inspections of workplace fall protection equipment and plans, ladder safety programs, and applicable passive fall protection systems such as railing and barriers during this time period.

Additional guidance, videos and posters can be found on the Air Force Safety Center's webpage: www.afsec.af.mil.

May 12, 2016 at 2:50pm

McChord airmen celebrate Log Fest 2016

Airmen from the McChord Field Honor Guard render honors during the singing of the National Anthem at the 2016 Log Fest Awards dinner, April 29, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Horns blew loudly and sirens wailed as airmen screamed and yelled. More than 500 airmen from Team McChord cheered as this year's Knucklebuster was announced at the Log Fest 2016 Awards dinner, April 29, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

An annual tradition for recognizing maintainers around the Air Force, this year's Log Fest was hosted to recognize Team McChord's best maintainers and the best of the best: Knucklebuster.

"It's about taking time to recognize their hard work," said Senior Master Sgt. Cari Mujica, 62nd Maintenance Group maintenance training superintendent. "Many times airmen feel overworked, underpaid and unrecognized. We want them to know we see what they do every day and appreciate it."

The overall Log Fest winner and this year's Knucklebuster is Tech. Sgt. Jose Cardenas, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief.

"I had no idea - I'm blown away and surprised," said Cardenas. "I am also very grateful for the airmen I work with for nominating me. If it wasn't for their support, I wouldn't have won this award."

There was a total of 72 Knucklebuster nominees this year, nominated from five squadrons and the 62nd Maintenance Group. Unlike traditional award nominees, Knucklebuster nominees are nominated by their peers for high work performance and overall character.

"Knucklebusters are some of the hardest workers on the lowest level," said Mujica. "It was great to throw this informal event to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments."

The event kicked off with a medallion ceremony for nominees followed by a social hour. The medallion ceremony was presided over by Col. John Knack, 62nd MXG deputy commander, and Lt. Col Joseph Muhlberger, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander.

"Working together, this ‘team of teams' provides excellence in rapid global mobility and enables all the other mission partners across JBLM to execute their missions without fail," said Knack. "These teams have succeeded at every part of the mission."

This year's squadron award winners were as follows:

  • Tech. Sgt. Jose Cardenas, 62nd AMXS
  • Airman 1st Class Kyle Schwachter, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron
  • Senior Airman Marcos Ramon, 62nd Maintenance Squadron
  • Senior Airman Kyle Simpson, 62nd MXG staff
  • Senior Airman, Nicolas Barrena, 627th LRS
  • Tech Sgt. Andrew Wenrick, 373rd Training Squadron

May 6, 2016 at 12:07pm

USAF SAPR director visits McChord Field

Maj. Gen. James Johnson is briefed by Airman 1st Class Jacob Osborn, 62nd Aerial Port ramp services apprentice, about training pallets constructed by Osborn and other airmen from the 62nd APS. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

"I ask one question - do we have a problem with sexual assault?" said Maj. Gen. James Johnson, Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office director. Johnson asked this question, along with a number of similar questions, during the 2nd Annual McChord Field Sexual Assault Legal Workshop, April 26, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

During the workshop, Johnson said his goal was not only to inform airmen to changes in the Air Force's SAPR program, but also to get a better understanding of the culture of Team McChord airmen.

The general began his visit having breakfast with airmen from various JBLM units to discuss SAPR and answer their questions concerning SAPR.

Johnson asked airmen where they think the Air Force was today in regards to SAPR.

"I think it's definitely a lot better," said Staff Sgt. Josephine Suarez, 7th Airlift Squadron Aviation Resource Manager. "My squadron commander has a zero-tolerance policy towards unprofessional behavior."

In addition to discussing SAPR with airmen at breakfast, Johnson also provided airmen with career advice.

"What really matters is the work you do and the attitude you bring to your office," Johnson said. "People who are successful master these two things: their attitude and what they can contribute."

After spending the morning at breakfast with the airmen, Johnson thanked each of them for their service and proceeded to the McChord Chapel Support Center to attend the 2nd Annual McChord Field Sexual Assault Legal Workshop. He opened discussion at the workshop asking attendees to provide their perspectives and questions as they relate to SAPR.

"This is a big problem and people are not recognizing it for what it is," Johnson said. "It affects readiness. I think putting a face on sexual assault is key to our success."

Johnson also posed the question: "What is our tolerance?"

"We are a G-rated Air Force," said Col. Leonard Kosinski, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. "But as a service we are a product of our society."

Johnson went on to discuss the Air Force's plans for teaching airmen about SAPR early in their Air Force career.

"When we look at training, Air Force Basic Military Training is the beginning of a life cycle for an airman - they need to be told at BMT what sexual assault is," Johnson said. "Our military training instructors are discussing these things with them because this is the first place we want them to be able to define sexual assault. When they get to technical training, we want them to be able to identify real-world scenarios."

To highlight recent changes made to the Air Force's SAPR program, Johnson discussed reasons for the Air Force's recent implementation of the new Green Dot program. The nonprofit Green Dot organization is contracted by the Air Force to provide violence prevention tools to airmen across the Air Force.

"I gravitated to Green Dot because the evidence shows that it works," Johnson said.

"Green Dot shows airmen how to recognize their barriers and how to overcome them."

Noting the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy, Johnson discussed his efforts towards a comprehensive prevention approach and the importance of training airmen to prevent violence and sexual assault before it happens.

"We have to ensure consistency and standards for our airmen," Johnson said. "We can't have a ‘one size fits all' type of training. We have to develop better screening and intervention programs."

After speaking at the workshop, Johnson listened to feedback given by airmen in breakout sessions. Johnson then thanked the airmen for their participation in the event.

"It was a pleasure to spend time with you and see how important this issue is to you (here at McChord)," Johnson said. "We don't want to ring our hands with this. We want to learn from you and make sure we maximize the work you do."

May 6, 2016 at 12:02pm

McChord Top III hosts family fishing derby

Members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord cast their lines during the Annual McChord Field Top III Children’s Fishing Derby April 30, 2016 at Carter Lake on McChord Field. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

It was a great day for fishing, and families to took advantage of the beautiful weather by gathering their fishing poles and baiting hooks for the Annual McChord Field Top III Children's Fishing Derby at Carter Lake on McChord Field.

This year's Fishing Derby, April 30, saw more than 500 children and volunteers participate in the event.

For the derby, children ages 1 to 14 years old, split into four age groups and fished for an hour-and-a-half for an opportunity to win prizes and trophies.

"This event was a huge success," said Master Sgt. Anthony Urbancic, 627th Logistic Readiness Squadron customer support section chief and Top III representative. "All the children caught at least one fish and I saw a lot of smiles on all the kids faces."

For a lot of the families, this was the first time participating in this event, but there were also repeaters as well.

"This was my first time coming out to the derby," said Staff Sgt. Codi Powers, 627th LRS fuels technician. "I am a huge outdoorsman and I wanted to bring my son out here to experience fishing and become familiar with some outdoor events."

Tech. Sgt. James Lee, Joint Base Lewis-McChord ALS instructor, is a repeater for the event.

"This is a great event put on by an awesome organization," said Lee. "I have been bringing my son out here to the derby for a couple years now and the event gets better and better. I enjoy teaching, so having the opportunity to come out to this event and teach my son about fishing excites me."

Urbancic said he coordinates with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to help stock the lake on JBLM.

"Cater Lake was stocked with more than twelve hundred trout," said Urbancic. "We wanted every child to have a chance to catch fish; to be afforded the opportunity to win trophies and prizes."

For this year's event, trophies were given out for the shortest, longest, and most fish caught for each age group.

Urbancic announced for the event that the shortest fish caught was eight inches, the longest fish caught was 19 inches, and the most caught was 16.

A variety of organizations contributed to the derby this year, including the Team McChord Chiefs Group, the Air Force Sergeants Association, Team McChord Top III, Pierce Military and Business Alliance, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, to help with prizes and trophies for the children.

The USO contributed as well, serving lunch for free to the families who participated.

"If I am still here, I will definitely be attending this event again," said Powers. "My son and I had a really good time bonding. All he wanted to do was catch a fish, and we caught multiple fish."

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