Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: April, 2010 (12) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 12

April 1, 2010 at 1:51pm

McChord veteran a Paralympian

Here's a great story about a former combat controller (and WSU grad) who was stationed at McChord. He had an accident which damaged his spinal cord but he's now a star skier. Read more here.

Filed under: Health, U.S. Air Force, Veterans,

April 2, 2010 at 8:38am

Space A on the Patriot Express

As Osan's 731st Air Mobility Squadron begins to prepare for the re-establishment of the Patriot Express making its way through Korea, details are becoming available on the projected days and times of routes to connect passengers with Japan and the United States. 

There will be two Patriot Express missions here, and while there are projected times and dates, all Air Mobility Command missions are subject to change without any prior notification. The estimated date of the first departure mission is April 7. 

The first route is scheduled to arrive here from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Misawa Air Base, Japan on Mondays at 12:20 p.m. It will leave the next day, Tuesday, with a 6 a.m. Space-A roll call time, bound for Misawa AB and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. 

The second route is scheduled to arrive here from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Yokota Air Base, Japan on Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. It will leave the same day for Kunsan Air Base, with a Space-A roll call time of 10 a.m. (prior to the aircraft arrival). The aircraft will then come back through Osan via Kunsan at 10:50 a.m. Thursday, with Space-A roll call time for departure to Yokota/Seattle-Tacoma of 9 a.m. Thursday. 

"Once the Patriot Express is back in service, the flight times will be as steadfast as any AMC flight can be," said Tech. Sgt. Robert Wooley, 731st AMS and Osan Passenger Terminal representative. "However, these times may still go through several changes before the first Patriot Express aircraft arrives here in April, so if your booked against one of these missions or planning on flying them as a Space-A, make sure to refer to your booking agent for show times or call the Osan Passenger terminal for an update 72 hours prior."

The new Osan Joint Reception Center will be the hub for all passengers traveling AMC after it is completed in late summer 2010, but for now, the 731st AMS asks for patience with the facilities at the current passenger terminal, which was designed to handle primarily mission-related flights with limited Space-A capability. 

"The terminal, in its capacity to move large amounts of passengers, is limited since we are a small location" Sergeant Wooley said. "It provides the necessities for business and that's about it. We are doing our very best to ensure as many amenities are available as you might find in a large terminal, but in some cases these will be limited, if available at all."

Sergeant Wooley added that the 731st AMS is working with AAFES to bring an additional food option to the passenger terminal, but that parking, telephones and internet access will be limited, with the nearest ATM at the Base Exchange. 

April 8, 2010 at 12:48pm

Chamber seeks nominees for citizen-soldier awards

The Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber will recognize the Howard O. Scott Citizens of the Year at its 29th annual presentation May 4.

The chamber is currently seeking nominations for the award.  Guidelines are as follows:

1. A Reservist or National Guard member, any service;

2. A resident of Tacoma or Pierce County;

3. Professional in both military and civilian occupations;

4. An exemplary volunteer in the community

5. Additional consideration given if the nominee is an employee of a Chamber member or owns a business that is a Chamber member.

Nominations should be no longer than two pages (no photos).  While military professionalism is important, this is usually a given standard, according to a letter from Gary Brackett with the chamber.  As such, he recommends the nomination focus on the nominee' s volunteerism in the community.

Selection of the honoree will be made by the Military Affairs Committee of the chamber.  Wing Reservists' nominations should be submitted to Lt. Col. Anna Sullivan, 446th AW Public Affairs, in Bldg. 1214.  Deadline for submitting nominees to public affairs is April 19.

Courtesy 446th AW Public Affairs

April 16, 2010 at 10:25am

Free makeovers at McChord BX

The Carol's Daughter beauty products counter inside the McChord Field BX is offering free makeovers from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday (April 17).

Spots are limited and those interested are encouraged to call (253) 582-3110 to make an appointment.

Filed under: News To Us, Health,

April 21, 2010 at 12:23pm

Air Force to launch robot space plane

The X-37B, the Air Force's new unmanned space plane scheduled to launch Thursday, will test a new batch of reusable technologies, including new silica re-entry tiles, as well as "other technologies that are sort of one generation beyond the shuttle," one program official said.

High-tech stuff. Unfortunately, it won't come close to McChord Field. The craft is scheduled to land at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., when it completes the mission. 

Read more about the craft and its mission here.

Filed under: U.S. Air Force,

April 22, 2010 at 11:12am

McChord's 8th Airlift Squadron prepares to deploy

(62nd AW PA)- More than 100 airmen from the 8th Airlift Squadron will soon deploy to the Middle East in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. For approximately 120 days, the unit will operate out of a single base, managing and flying missions concentrated in and around Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa. 

The McChord Field airmen will take over the operations of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. The mission of the 816th EAS is to provide global strategic airlift, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout their assigned areas of responsibility.

For more on the upcoming deployment, click here.

April 26, 2010 at 10:50am

McChord's Walker making SW Asia more comfortable

SOUTHWEST ASIA -- At a moment's notice things can change. A country can rise up and overthrow its government. A volcano can erupt polluting the skies with ash and grounding more than 100,000 flights. A small air base in Southwest Asia can suddenly find itself bedding down hundreds of transient troops because of circumstances out of its control.

For the lodging staff here at Commando Village, the transient housing area, the recent political upheaval in Kyrgyzstan and the natural disaster in Iceland has been an eye-opener as the Airmen work around the clock ensuring the hundreds of Airmen and Soldiers temporarily displaced due to these situations have a roof over their heads and beds to rest on.

"The lodging staff here is by far the greatest group of men and women I have ever worked with," said Senior Master Sgt. David Walker, 386th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron lodging superintendent, deployed from McChord Field. "They work hard to get the job done and have a great attitude doing it. They care about the mission and it shows."

The six-person staff, which has recently recruited a few volunteers due to the influx of transient military members, is responsible for ensuring all guests have safe and clean housing, bedding and working amenities. 

"There's always something to do here, especially with the recent influx of people," said Airman 1st Class Dustin Kimbrough, 386th EFSS services journeyman, deployed from Fairchild AFB, Wash. "It seems like it's always something different too. We can do grunt work such as clearing a storage tent one minute and computer data the next. The best part about working here is it keeps us on our toes."

Tech. Sgt. Willie Andino, 386th FSS Commando Village lodging assistant manager, deployed from Barksdale AFB, La., said communication and organization are key to making the lodging operation a success.

"There are a lot of moving parts out here which really make good communication critical," said the Grand Rapids, Mich. native. "Assigning a non-flyer to a flyer tent or male to a female tent are examples [of what could go wrong with poor communication]. Most of our customers are tired from traveling and just want to go to sleep when they get here as they pass the time until their next flight. With hundreds of people to keep track of, organization is also critical in ensuring everything runs smooth."

The NCO, now on his eighth deployment, added that with customer service at the forefront of their job, from in-processing and out-processing transient members to assisting guests throughout their stay, the Commando Village staff does its best to make guests as comfortable as possible in the deployed environment. 

"I really enjoy the customer service aspect of our job and trying to help people," he said. "We do our best to ensure our customers are happy during the short time they're here."

Andino and his coworkers said that one of the biggest challenges they face downrange is the diversity of their career field.

"Services troops can be tasked to work at lodging, the fitness center, dining facility or recreation center regardless of their present job at home station," he said. 

At his home station, Andino works at the fitness center, while Airman Kimbrough, an Albuquerque, N.M., native, works at the dining facility.

"I've actually never worked in lodging before, so this experience has been a welcome challenge for me," said Kimbrough, who is on his first deployment. "There isn't really time to learn in this environment, you just have to know what you're doing, which I seem to have picked up along the way. You have to adapt and overcome."

Walker, who has been in the services career field for just over 25 years, said he is proud of the work his staff has put forth over the past few months contributing to such an important mission.

"Rest is absolutely critical to the mission and our staff here is making sure our transient folks get just that - a clean, comfortable place to rest before moving on to the next location," said the Spokane, Wash., native. "Ultimately, they are keeping morale high and high morale is a force multiplier."    

April 26, 2010 at 1:30pm

New base list for C-17s announced

According to a story on the Air Force's Web site, Air Force officials released Friday the candidate basing locations and the criteria they used to determine the candidate basing locations for additional C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

The list of candidate bases was approved by the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force: Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport in Martinsburg, W.V.; Memphis International Airport, Tenn.; and Stewart International Airport, N.Y.

The basing criteria were approved by the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force and considered factors such as mission requirements, airspace, facilities and infrastructure, support capacity, environmental impacts and cost. 

Site surveys will be conducted and the formal environmental impact analysis process will begin, allowing communities around each candidate base to participate and provide input. Based on the results of these efforts, officials expect to announce the preferred locations in November 2010. 

Once the environmental impact analysis processes are complete, Air Force officials will announce the final basing decisions. The announcement is anticipated in June 2011.    

April 27, 2010 at 1:20pm

Silver Stars for STS airmen

Approximately 13 medals will be awarded to Airmen of the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, McChord Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, during a ceremony here at 9 a.m. April 29. The medals are being awarded for combat actions during the deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

During the ceremony, Staff Sgt. Sean Harvell will be the first Air Force combat controller to receive two Silver Star medals in a single ceremony. The Silver Star is the nation's third highest decoration for valor.

Staff Sgt. Evan Jones, also a combat controller, will also receive a Silver Star. Both Airmen are being recognized for their actions during firefights against enemy forces in Afghanistan.

Additionally, eight Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts will be presented to the special tactics Airmen during the ceremony presided over by Gen. Norton Schwartz, Air Force Chief of Staff, and Lt. Gen. Donald Wurster, Air Force Special Operations Command commander.

AFSOC's combat controllers are battlefield airmen assigned to Air Force special tactics squadrons. They are trained special operations forces and certified FAA air traffic controllers. The mission of a combat controller is to deploy, undetected, into combat and hostile environments to establish assault zones or airfields, then provide conducting air traffic control and fire support. Special tactics operators' unique capabilities place them in high demand for missions involving command and control, direct action, counter-terrorism, foreign internal defense, humanitarian assistance and special reconnaissance.

Their motto, "First There," reaffirms the combat controller's commitment to undertaking the most dangerous missions behind enemy lines by leading the way for other forces to follow.  Since the beginning of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, between 270 and 290 combat controller Airmen have answered their nation's call to duty.  These warrior Airmen have received two Air Force Crosses (one posthumously), nine Silver Stars, and more than 200 Bronze Star Medals with and without the Valor device.

April 29, 2010 at 3:53pm

Aiding injured motorist ‘just the right thing to do,' Airman says

Doing the right thing seems automatic for some people.

Staff Sgt. Nigel Norcisa, a C-17 loadmaster at McChord Field, is one of those people.

Norcisa grew up in an Air Force family in Dover, Del. His father's guiding philosophy influences his life to this day.

"Nigel, never look down on a man unless you are extending your hand to help him up," his father used to say.

Norcisa put his father's advice to work on the streets of Tacoma recently.

While driving to a dinner date, the 32-year-old Airman spotted a car driving erratically.

"It veered to the left, barely missing an oncoming car and then piled into a telephone pole," Norcisa said.

Immediately, he pulled over to help the driver.

"It was an automatic reaction. I thought about it later. Had that been my mother, sister, father or someone I knew in that car, I would hope that others would help. It's just the right thing to do," Norcisa said.

Trained in first aid, Norcisa jumped into action.

He found the driver slumped over and in a state of confusion.

"He was an older gentleman, and the airbags had deployed and hit him squarely in the face. I pulled him out and seated him on the curb. The engine was still running and smoking, so I shut it off. I looked in the front seat and found his glasses," Norcisa said.

The rapid inflation of air bags striking the driver full in the face had created some bloody bruising around his eyes. Neither car had a first-aid kit, so Norcisa improvised with some paper towels. After following up with a few short questions concerning the driver's welfare, Norcisa called 911. Norcisa stayed with the driver until emergency medical help arrived. He gave them contact information and later spoke with an investigating police officer.

Colonel Glenn G. Rousseau, 8th Airlift Squadron Operations Group commander, recognized Norcisa's actions by presenting him with a commander's coin.

Captain Adam Schubert has known Norcisa for about four years. He said assisting an injured motorist is characteristic of Norcisa's personality.

"He's a great Airman," Schubert said.

"Staff Sergeant Norcisa is a natural-born leader. He could have just continued to drive by, but that option didn't even enter his mind. It doesn't surprise me that he rendered immediate assistance to the driver in Tacoma," Schubert said.

Norcisa will soon take an assignment at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., as a C-17A Globemaster III instructor loadmaster, with the 58th Airlift Squadron.

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