Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

October 20, 2016 at 10:03am

Q&A with new 446th AW command chief

Chief Master Sgt. Kenellias Smith. Photo credit: Maj. Brooke Davis

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - Chief Master Sgt. Kenellias Smith is the new command chief at the 446th Airlift "Rainier" Wing.

In an announcement to the wing, Col. Scott L. McLaughlin, 446th AW commander, wrote, "Chief Smith has an impressive professional background and history of excellence. I am thoroughly convinced he will do outstanding things for the 446th Airlift Wing."

Members will get to meet Smith during the October Unit Training Assembly. He took a little time for a question-and-answer session about topics ranging from his leadership style to enjoying the Pacific Northwest.

Q: What would you like the men and women of the Rainier Wing to know about you and your leadership style?

A: I am very much a servant leader by default. Of course situations may dictate a different approach to get the job done in certain cases, but leadership is all about doing what's needed to prepare, equip, inspire and motivate our airmen.

Q: Can you tell us a little about your career leading up to this point?

A: Sure, started at Barksdale Air Force Base as a propulsion tech on B-52 and A-10s; moved over to phase inspection on B-52s and A-10s as shop chief, then over to Maintenance Analysis as a superintendent. As an additional duty, I became a Senior Non-Commissioned Officer Leadership Course Facilitator.  Then I transferred to the 301st Fighter Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, Naval Air Station Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base, Texas, as Propulsion Superintendent on F-16s. After that, I moved into the role of the 301st Maintenance Squadron Superintendent. Now I'm very excited to be a part of the 446th here in the great Pacific Northwest.

Q: What do you like most about being a citizen airman?

A: The feeling that comes along with being able to support and defend our country. I always have a huge smile on the week following a UTA when I'm approached with the question, "So what did you do this weekend?"

Q: In general terms, what do you think are some challenges that citizen airmen have to face and how do you as a command chief plan to help address those challenges?

A: Some of the challenges I believe we have stem around empowering our airmen to be leaders at all levels. The commander and I have discussed some ideas already. The plan is to engage the senior leadership and revitalize a few things to help. More to come!

Q: The Rainier Wing has a lot of outdoor-type folks here who enjoy climbing, biking, hiking and competing in athletic events like the Iron Man. Do you have any hobbies and interests you'd like to share?

A: Well I have officially been in the area for a year, so got here just in time for last winter. I've come to enjoy hiking but by no measure am I an expert. Tried trail biking just a few weeks ago and didn't get far ... the trail ate my bike alive! I ended up pushing it back and had to tighten up a few things. I will attempt it again soon.

Q: What do you consider your top priorities as the command chief?

A: Airmen, airmen, airmen. ... want to get out and meet our folks, learn all about them and what they do. I know the 446th has amazing people doing remarkable things.

Q: Anything else you'd like to add?

A: I'm excited to be a part of the 446th and I look forward to being a part of the Rainier Wing's mission.

October 20, 2016 at 9:57am

McChord's newest Pilot for a Day

Ben Lambertson views the cockpit of a C-17 Globemaster III during his Pilot for a Day visit Oct. 7 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

Benjamin Lambertson, a local 10-year-old, was recently honored as Pilot for a Day by the 4th Airlift Squadron, receiving a hero's welcome from the moment he arrived at McChord Field, Oct. 7.

According to the McChord Field Air Force Association, which is responsible for funding and child nominations, the purpose of the program is to provide a meaningful, positive experience for a medically challenged child (6-14 years old), who has been prohibited from enjoying the normal joys of childhood.

"We really take our jobs here at the AFA very serious," said Robert Branscomb, AFA Chapter 334 Pilot for a Day chairman. "Our motto is ‘A special day for our special kids,' and we truly embrace that here at the chapter."

After multiple trips to the hospital with complaints of headaches, Ben was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm.

After treatment, Ben's aneurysm is less than half the size it was and his prognosis is great.

To start the tour off, Ben along with his mother, Michelle; father, Paul; and sister, Maddie, were met at the McChord visitor center by Tech. Sgt. Mandy Fessel, 4th AS loadmaster.

Fessel then took Ben and his family back to the 4th AS for a quick meet-and-greet with members of the squadron and received a brief on their mission for the day.

From there, Ben and his family went over to the McChord Field military working dog kennels, where the family had a chance to interact with the canines and observe working dogs doing some obedience training and bite work.

Once they finished up with the MWD, Ben and his family were shuttled to the McChord fire department for a fire demo, then toured the air traffic control tower. The Lambertson family continued with tours of Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape, and Aircrew Flight Equipment sections.

After finishing up with AFE, the newest 4th AS pilot had lunch with the Air Force Association and members of the 4th AS in their heritage room.

From there, the family received a mission brief before heading over to the C-17 flight simulator.

"I really loved the flight simulator," said Ben. "We got to fly the plane and do a lot of cool stuff. I could have stayed in the simulator all day."

As a finale to the day, Ben and his family had the opportunity to see an actual C-17 Globemaster III and take photos in the cockpit before heading back to the 4th AS for cake and ice cream.

"I want to thank the 4th Airlift Squadron, not only for what you do on a daily basis of protecting this country, but for doing something special like this for people who really need something special like this," said Paul. "You guys do something really special here and this day has really touched us. The fact that you guys do this for a lot of people is truly impressive and kind, and we thank you for that. We will remember this day forever."

October 20, 2016 at 9:52am

Salutes for October

A salute to our 446th Airlift Wing airmen who have been promoted. U.S. Air Force photo

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - Congratulations to our fellow Rainier Wing airmen who have been promoted.  


Master Sergeant

Thomas Chamberlain, 36th Aerial Port Squadron

Bryan Thuman, 446th Civil Engineering Squadron

Lisa Ellison, 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron

Lindsey Coffelt, 446th Maintenance Squadron

Technical Sergeant

Andrew Prowant, 86th Aerial Port Squadron

Jonathon Vinson, 446th Civil Engineering Squadron

Buddy Bennett, 446th Airlift Wing Staff

Jeffrey Odegard, 446th Force Support Squadron

Staff Sergeant

Richard Eckhart, 86th Aerial Port Squadron

Prince Lariosa, 86th Aerial Port Squadron

Steve Kwak, 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron

William Starks, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Nickolas Rollins, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Leatha Brown, 446th Force Support Squadron

Senior Airman

Alyssa Martinez, 446th Force Support Squadron

John Karrick, 446th Operations Support Squadron


Bora Ros, 36th Aerial Port Squadron

October 14, 2016 at 10:43am

Roving clinics start flu season vaccinations

The 446th Aerospace Medicine Squadron will be providing roving immunization clinic services during Unit Training Assemblies starting in October.

Immunizations will be in injectable form only as nasal versions aren't available for this season.  The AMDS will also give all immunizations, including influenza, in the clinic, building 691, during normal UTA duty hours Saturday from 7:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Sunday from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m.

Immunization Schedule:

Oct. 15:
Time: 7:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. Location: 36th Aerial Port Squadron Class Room, building 1405
Time: 8:30 a.m.-9:30 a.m. Location: 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Conference Room, building 1141

Oct.16: (After the Commander's Call):
Times: 9 a.m.-10 a.m., 11 a.m.-noon, and 2 p.m.-3 p.m. Location: McChord Base Theater

Nov. 5:
Time: 7 a.m.-8 a.m. Location: 446th Operations Group Auditorium (hallway outside), building 1216
Time: 8 a.m.-9 a.m. Location: 86th Aerial Port Squadron Class Room, building 1405
Time: 9 a.m.-10 a.m. Location: 446th Maintenance Squadron Fabrication Flight, building 745
Nov. 6:
Time: 8 a.m.-9 a.m. Location: 446th Force Support Squadron, building 1205, room 112

October 14, 2016 at 10:40am

Annual Sports Day at McChord Field

Lt. Col. John McQuade, 627th Air Base Group deputy commander, speaks to Team McChord airmen during the Annual 2016 McChord Field Sports Day event Sept. 30 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

Airmen assigned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord jumped into a morning of sports and comradery during the Annual 2016 McChord Field Sports Day at JBLM, Sept. 30.

Before the day of events started, participants met at the McChord Field Fitness Center to sign-in and listen to opening remarks given by Lt. Col. John McQuade, 627th Air Base Group deputy commander.

"Thanks to each of you who signed up to participate and represent your respective squadrons," said McQuade. "Sports day provides a series of events and activities to promote fitness and esprit-de-corps for our airmen, so let's take this time to get refreshed and have a fun and eventful day."

After the conclusion of opening remarks, airmen lined up outside of the fitness center to participate in the "Green Dot" 5K run before kicking off a long day of sporting events.

"All of the events were specifically designed to give participants a good mix between sports, fitness and fun-themed events," said Tech. Sgt. Jacqueline N. Cunningham, 627th ABG fitness section chief and Sports Day lead POC.

The day was split into a morning and afternoon session with lunch provided by McChord Field and the United Service Organization.

The events of the day began with the run and included sand volleyball, basketball, dodge ball, kickball, ultimate frisbee, one pitch softball and a Warrior Challenge.

"There was an event for everyone during Sports Day," said Cunningham. "I tried to cover all aspects of fitness. If you were a runner, we had an event for that. If you liked sports, we had events for that. If you liked lifting, we had the Warrior Challenge. If you weren't too keen on any of that, we also had a Fitness Fair where airmen could get information on services offered on JBLM that could increase Comprehensive Airman Fitness."

Squadrons were able to participate in up to three sporting events.

At the end of the day, travelling trophies were awarded to the squadrons that placed first, second and third.

"I look forward to sports day every year," said Airman 1st Class Dashwan Smith, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron power production apprentice. "It was a good day of unity and comradery, and a great way to kick off the weekend."

October 14, 2016 at 7:06am

C-17 missions still continue into Afghanistan

Passengers rest on a C-17 Globemaster III during a transport mission in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel in Southwest Asia Sept. 30. The C-17 is the newest most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force. The C-17 is capable of rapid strategi

SOUTHWEST ASIA The imposing C-17 Globemaster III moved through the darkness during a longer trip than is typical at the Rock, the busiest aerial port in the area of responsibility. The flight was headed to Afghanistan – another example of the steady and enduring requirements of Operation Freedom Sentinel.

“The main priority of this mission was the transport of deployers — civilians and military alike,” said pilot 1st Lt. Scott Szalejko. “In this specific mission, most of the passengers were deploying to a base there, or returning to a well-deserved rest and recovery. Flying, in general, may seem monotonous to most people, but flying anywhere there is an increased threat requires the crew to ensure all the extra precautions are taken, from both the pilot and loadmaster sides.”

Freedom Sentinel airlift missions are much longer flights than those to Iraq. Flight time spans about 3-and-a-half hours. And crews may make up to four or five stops in that country while they shuttle cargo and passengers, said Maj. Virgil Steele, commander of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, Det. 1.

“A C-17 can hold 18 pallets of cargo,” Steele said. “We handle intratheater airlift missions and, more specifically, theater direct delivery.”

Scores of passengers sat in the Globemaster’s cavernous cargo bay Sept. 30, along with about 31 tons of cargo. The 816th EAS flies the C-17 missions from the Rock from such stateside locations as Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Joint Base Dix-McGuire-Lakehurst and Joint Base Charleston, S.C., and made stops at multiple locations in Afghanistan. Despite its size, the C-17 can land on airstrips as short as 3,500 feet. That kind of reliability also required prompt and precise work on the part of the aircrew.

“If we don’t perform our duties correctly and in a timely manner, those deployers, potentially, won’t reach their destination on time, which could mean their respective units could be undermanned until they arrived,” Szalejko said. “When the main priority of the mission is the transport of passengers, the objective of the crew is to quickly and safely get those people to where they are needed.”

Steele said the crews respond to varying demands from locations throughout the theater.

“There’s an ebb and flow with the user requirements,” he said.

Those “user requirements” include taskings from the Army and from the Tanker Airlift Control Center located at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. While more cargo and passengers are being moved in and out of Iraq, the missions to Afghanistan still involve as much urgency. Steele illustrated that the mission demand is still steady from Afghanistan, noting that’s roughly a third of the 816th’s missions support Freedom Sentinel.

October 13, 2016 at 4:26pm

In the shadow of 88201

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado - I've been in the Air Force almost 10 years now and if you are like me, you keep and collect the special objects that have followed you around the service. For me it is the flag I commissioned under, the coins I collected from various commands, and the photos of friends and missions. They are a physical reminder of the past, the good parts and the hard ones.

Similar to our connection with flags and coins, we have a special relationship with our flying machines in the Air Force. We paint our names and units on the sides and we imbue them with the legacies of our past.

In addition, there is a tail number that always gives me pause, and causes me to stop and reflect on a key moment in my life. I'll never forget the first ride I took on a C-17 Globemaster III from McChord Air Force Base, tail number 88201, January 2014.

Just before takeoff, we held a fallen hero ceremony on the ramp in Bagram, Afghanistan. Capt. David Lyon, my teammate and wingman on that deployment, had been killed along with two others by a vehicle-borne improvised explosive in Kabul a few days after Christmas. Eight of us carried our friend onto the ramp of 88201.

Lyon was the best among us. Before he was killed, Dave was in charge of training a unit of Afghan commandoes to carry out convoys throughout Afghanistan. He was the type of person you wanted to have as a leader and a teammate, especially for a warzone mission like that.

During his time at the Air Force Academy, he was a renowned athlete and brought the same drive, talent and excellence to the battlefield in service of the mission. Dave could draw the best out of all of us, either with a well-placed word of encouragement or leading by example. Everyone knew he cared about the team and the success of the mission, and Dave was always out front as every great leader should be.

I will never forget how cold it was in the shadow of 88201 as we got ready to leave Bagram, how grey it was when we landed in Dover, or how easily it could have been me taking that last ride home. Like many who lose a teammate in combat, I will forever wonder why it was him and not me. The darkest moments of my life were in the cargo bay of 88201 taking Capt. Lyon home. He was a true hero.

I've taken a few other rides on tail 88201 and seen it around in my travels since that first flight. That same bird was my freedom flight out of theater a few months after Dave was killed and it took me back to Afghanistan on another tour not long ago. Somehow that jet always seems to find me.

No matter what though, that airplane reminds me of my friend. It reminds me of the sacrifice he made and how well he lived all the way to the end. It reminds me to put my heart into my work and make it count for my teammates the way he did.

On Dave's headstone at the Air Force Academy the inscription reads, "No Greater Love."

He lived it. So if you see tail 88201 in your travels, think of Dave and remember to make it count.

October 7, 2016 at 7:31am

Aerial Port uses X-ray vision capabilities

Air Force Passenger Terminal representatives from around the world met at the McChord Air Field Passenger Terminal for training led by the International Air Transport Association recently at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The 15 Airmen attended the training to update their outdated X-Ray training that helps them identify prohibited and potentially hazardous items in luggage.

The 62nd Aerial Port Squadron is in the process of updating its X-ray machine web-based training program and with the help of the Air Force Expeditionary Center at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., it will be implemented Air Forcewide next year.

Technical Sergeant Talitha Banks, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron Passenger Terminal training manager, said it was time for Air Mobility Command’s X-ray training to be updated.

“The web-based training program we have is well over 15 years old,” Banks said.

Banks said the training is so outdated that it has a simulated bomb threat illustrated with dynamite conspicuously sticking out of a teddy bear.

“It wasn’t giving anyone the impression of the severity of the impacts of knowing what you’re doing when you’re looking at an X-ray,” Banks said. “That was the piece that we needed to fix.”

Last year, the 62nd Airlift Wing had an inspection and the 62nd APS passenger terminal failed a portion of the inspection. The inspector put a knife in a boot and it was missed because the Airman working the X-ray machine wasn’t trained properly.

“That sparked something,” Banks said. “We then reached out to bases all over the world and it was a big problem throughout AMC as well.”

With the help of Col. James Clavenna, 62nd Maintenance Group commander, the 62nd APS was able to fund the training and have an International Air Transport Association representative out in a short amount of time.

The association, who trains the Transportation Security Administration and whose goal is to “support aviation with global standards for airline safety, security, efficiency and sustainability,” came together with aerial port members from across the Air Force to learn how to better identify objects during X-ray processing.

And those key lessons are not a part of their current training, but it is being changed now to reflect more current threats.

Staff Sergeant Sabrina Spratt, 62nd APS passenger service supervisor, said the training was beyond beneficial for her.

“We spent three days training versus 30 minutes on a computer based training to learn about this,” Spratt said. “We were able to associate real-world items with hazardous items in the luggage, which better helped us identify them. The IATA representative expressed the level of importance security has on an aircraft, which gave us more of an understanding of how important it is.”

Banks and Spratt said that although they never want to imagine having to use this training real world it is not that farfetched.

“We are evolving to new threats and future threats,” Banks said. “Nobody expects anything bad to happen, but the key is to have the knowledge under our belts to prevent situations like that before they happen.”

October 6, 2016 at 9:57am

AMC consolidates with MAC

Air Mobility Command and Military Airlift Command joined Oct. 1 to form one geneological line. Photo credit: 62nd Airlift Wing

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Illinois - The secretary of the Air Force announced recently that Headquarters Air Mobility Command will consolidate with Headquarters Military Airlift Command, effective Oct. 1.

With this, AMC will add 51 years to its history, tracing its lineage back to May 29, 1941, and the Air Corps Ferry Command.

"This consolidation makes AMC the oldest major command in the Air Force," said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart, AMC commander. "For more than seventy-five years, Mobility airmen have been critical to growing global reach and operational agility for the joint warfighter. As we inherit the rich history of MAC, we will continue to build upon their legacy through our dedication to rapid global mobility."

The Air Force established the Air Mobility Command in 1992 as part of a post-Cold War reorganization that inactivated three major commands: Military Airlift Command, Strategic Air Command and Tactical Air Command. These three major commands were replaced with two new major commands: Air Mobility Command and Air Combat Command.  

Through this change, AMC received the airlift and aeromedical evacuation mission from MAC along with the air refueling mission from SAC.

During that same year, U.S. Strategic Command was established as a unified command of the Department of Defense. As a result, the Air Force authorized the use of the SAC emblem while AMC used the MAC emblem and ACC used the TAC emblem. Although this decision helped preserve the emblems of the Air Force's inactivated commands, there was no lineage connecting the new organizations and the old ones with their predecessors.

"This created confusion as an emblem should belong to one organization only," said Ellery Wallwork, AMC command historian. "In 1992, the Air Force reorganized to acknowledge the diminishing traditional division between strategic and tactical missions. This inappropriate use of another organization's emblem continued to cause confusion over the separation of AMC and MAC ever since."

In 2009, the Air Force redesignated and reactivated the inactivated SAC as the Air Force Global Strike Command.

In an effort to eliminate the confusion and validate the use of past command emblems, the Air Force Historical Research Agency advocated for the AMC consolidation with MAC along with the ACC consolidation with TAC, said Wallwork.

Now that MAC and AMC share one genealogical line, the history of the two organizations will remain a part of the Air Force's active history.

"AMC now shares in the honors and campaign streamers earned by MAC," said Wallwork. "All of this does not lessen the creation of AMC in 1992 which still highlights the mission merger of MAC's airlift and aeromedical evacuation with SAC's air refueling force creating the strong mobility team that has been so successful in meeting today's global peacetime, contingency and humanitarian missions."

October 6, 2016 at 9:52am

Airman honored by Red Cross

Jenna Hanchard, host and reporter from KING 5 TV station, presents the 2016 American Red Cross Water Rescue Hero Award to Staff Sgt. Matthew Siegele, 627th Force Support Squadron. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

The American Red Cross South Puget Sound Chapter hosted their annual 2016 Heroes luncheon Sept. 28 in Tacoma.

This year, the local chapter honored individuals from the community at the Hotel Murano Bicentennial Pavilion in Tacoma, with more than 400 members of the community gathered together to honor and recognize them for their heroic acts.

"I want to thank each and every one of you for coming to this event today," said Jenna Hanchard, host and reporter from KING 5 TV station. "Today we will be recognizing six individuals who did the unthinkable and sacrificed themselves to save lives."

Every year, the American Red Cross hosts an event, a community celebration honoring local individuals and organizations who've made a commitment to creating safer, stronger communities and providing help when disaster strikes.

In the audience was special guest Bonnie Bush, Executive Director of American Red Cross, who gave the welcome speech before the award recipients were called to the stage to receive their award.

"Our Heroes Luncheon is a way for us to honor inspirational community members and to give our profound thanks to those who perhaps wouldn't otherwise be recognized," said Bush. "It's all about celebrating people who have made our community a better place to live."

Bush wrapped up her speech thanking all the award recipients for their sacrifice to the community and gave a special thanks to all who serve in the Armed Forces.

Staff Sgt. Matthew Siegele, 627th Force Support Squadron sports and fitness NCO in charge, was the first of six individuals to be recognized at the Heroes luncheon.

"Our first award this afternoon goes to someone who spends his life ensuring the community and our nation is safe," said Hanchard. "Sgt. Siegele didn't need to be in uniform to put his life at risk for someone else."

Siegele received the 2016 Water Rescue Hero Award for his heroic act he performed, Jan. 1, when a little girl fell through the ice on Carter Lake on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"I am glad I was there," said Siegele. "All the training I've received through my years in the Air Force prompted me to react accordingly, ultimately saving her life."

After the audience watched a video on his story, Siegele proceeded to the stage, received his award and said a few words.

"I am honored to be here today to accept this award," said Siegele. "I am very humbled to share this stage with the people who have protected this community, not for the recognition, but for making our community better. I want to thank everyone who put me in for this special award, and I thank each and every one of you who came out today to support all the award recipients and the American Red Cross."

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