Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: January, 2011 (20) Currently Viewing: 11 - 20 of 20

January 18, 2011 at 12:45pm

New AF vice chief of staff takes office

WASHINGTON (AFNS)  -- Gen. Philip M. Breedlove took over as vice chief of staff of the Air Force Jan. 14, succeeding Gen. Carrol H. "Howie" Chandler who held the position since August 2009.

General Breedlove most recently served as the Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, plans and requirements, a position he held since August 2009.

The vice chief of staff assists the chief of staff with organizing, training, and equipping 680,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces serving in the U.S. and overseas. General Breedlove also presides over the Air Staff and serves as a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Requirements Oversight Council and Deputy Advisory Working Group. 

General Breedlove holds two master's degrees, one from Arizona State University and one from the National War College, and a bachelor's degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Among his many assignments, General Breedlove served as the 3rd Air Force commander at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

The general is a command pilot with more than 3,500 flying hours, primarily in the F-16 Fighting Falcon. He has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal and the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters.    

Filed under: U.S. Air Force,

January 19, 2011 at 4:02pm

Purple Hearts for 2 airmen injured in war zone

This from Air Force Times: A security forces officer and a joint terminal attack controller injured in Afghanistan each received the Purple Heart on Wednesday from the Air Force's top officer.

More than 300 airmen looked on as Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz presented the honor to Capt. Gil Wyche and Senior Airman Brandon Cullen Towle during a visit to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Wyche, a security forces officer assigned to the 966th Air Expeditionary Squadron, received shrapnel wounds during an insurgent attack on his base in Jalalabad in mid-November. Fighters using small arms and grenades rushed the perimeter of Forward Operating Base Fenty. Despite the wounds, Wyche and his team repelled the attack.

"We knew where we were going and we knew it was a hotbed," Wyche, deployed from RAF Lakenheath, England, said in a news release. "But, nothing can prepare you until the bullets actually start flying, grenades start getting thrown on top of you, and you start firing back. My guys responded very well."

Towle, a JTAC assigned to the 817th Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron, was working out at the gym at FOB Connolly in Nangarhar province in early January when an indirect-fire round exploded near him. Shrapnel pierced his upper thigh. He ran to cover in a bunker, where medics treated the wounds.

Towle then began calling in airstrikes that helped end the assault.

"This wasn't the first time these guys attacked us," said Towle, who is in the fifth month of his six-month deployment from Pope Air Force Base, N.C. "I just wanted to eliminate the threat once and for all."

January 20, 2011 at 9:12am

Afghanistan airdrop levels set record in 2010

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) -- Mobility Airmen supporting operations in Afghanistan airdropped 60.4 million pounds of cargo airdropped throughout the country, setting a record.

In all, the 60.4 million pounds is nearly twice the previous record year of 2009, where just over 32.2 million pounds of cargo was airdropped, Air Forces Central statistics show.

Experts attribute the increase to the surge of an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan between December 2009 and August 2010. In those nine months, AFCENT stats confirmed more than 40 million pounds of cargo were airdropped. 

Throughout Afghanistan, the mountainous areas, remote operating locations and limited infrastructure have made the need for airdrops a necessity. That necessity has grown with more troops on the ground. According to a Jan. 12 Department of Defense news report, "numbers of U.S. troops and civilians, allied trainers and combat forces, Afghan army and police trainees all increased" in Afghanistan by more than 100,000 in 2010, compared to previous years. 

Since 2006, the annual amount of airdrops has nearly doubled each year. According to the AFCENT statistics released Jan. 19, the amount of airdrop poundage in Afghanistan over the past five years are 3.5 million in 2006, 8.12 million in 2007, 16.57 million in 2008, 32.26 million in 2009 and 60.4 million in 2010.

"These airdrops are critical to sustaining ground forces at austere locations where other means of re supply aren't feasible," said Col. David Almand, who served as director of the Combined Air and Space Operations Center's Air Mobility Division in 2010. "This continued sustainment of our warfighting forces is key to counter insurgency operations, which require persistent presence and logistics." 

The mobility Airmen assigned to support those airdrops missions have said they are proud to be able to directly support those "boots on the ground" with the supplies they need, no matter where in Afghanistan they are operating.

"It's very humbling to have such an impact on the war effort," said Staff Sgt. T.J. Grover, a C-130J loadmaster deployed with the 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. "Especially when you hear about people on the ground who have close to nothing, and we make their day if we even fly in something that's bare-minimum, but it's still a step above what they had. These guys at forward operating bases aren't getting stuff because they want it; they get it because they need it."    

January 21, 2011 at 2:27pm

Nutrition class gives Reservists food for thought

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- It may be easy to associate words like potassium citrate, sodium hexameta phosphate, monosodium glutamate and titanium dioxide with a chemistry experiment. But it may come as a surprise to know they are just some of the more common ingredients found in a typical diet today. The names of these ingredients may sound like a mouthful, but having an idea of what they are and how they help the body reach peak performance could be a slice of heaven to Reservists in the 446th Airlift Wing. 

That's where Tech. Sgt. Casey Muilenburg and Senior Airman Jennifer White, diet technicians with the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, come in.  They run an hour and a half nutrition and weight management class every other Reserve weekend to help Airmen understand proper nutrition and weight management techniques. 

"We want to give Reservists resources to help them make better eating choices," said Sergeant Muilenburg, nutritional medicine NCO in charge. "We show them how to choose healthy foods, read food labels, understand the percentage rates the Air Force use as standards, and set realistic goals. Our parents and grandparents gave us the tools, and this class is a refresher to help Reservists remember healthy food is out there," said the Redmond, Wash., native.     

For more on the story, click here.

January 25, 2011 at 4:12pm

Construction on McChord Field gate begins Feb. 10

JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. -- Joint Base Lewis-McChord McChord Field main gate will be undergoing a major facelift starting Feb. 10.

JBLM Directorate of Emergency Services Chief of Installation Access Larry Freeman said everything is in place to begin work on the main gate.

"Starting Feb. 10, the Woodbrook Housing Gate will be back open for business," Mr. Freeman said.

As soon as the housing gate reopens, another gate project is set to begin.

"At the main gate at McChord they are going to start setting up cones, barriers and signage for that construction," Mr. Freeman said. "They'll start setting up late in the afternoon on Feb. 9."

The gate will be open to traffic that day, while crews place signs and cones. 

The traffic revisions that will affect motorists at McChord's main gate will begin Feb. 10, he said, the day the Woodbrook Gate is scheduled to reopen.

"They'll be working on the canopy at the main gate and the guard booths as well as everything that's underneath the canopy," Mr. Freeman said.

The access control point will remain in operation throughout construction, with some lane shifting of the inbound and outbound lanes, he said.

"It will initially close both of the inbound lanes," said Mr. Freeman. "They'll be closed Feb. 9 until April 17."

During that time, the two outbound lanes will exist as one inbound and one outbound lane, he said.

"After motorists get past where the canopy currently is, we're going to route traffic back to the inbound lanes and then we'll have our guards set up to check IDs and screen vehicles before we allow them to enter the installation," Mr. Freeman said. "We won't sacrifice security for convenience."

Alternate routes are designed to minimize delays, he said.

"We're going to extend the hours for the Woodbrook (housing area) Gate," said Mr. Freeman. "For the entire duration of the project, we'll have the gate open from (5 a.m.) to (7 p. m.), Monday through Friday."

The housing gate will continue to be closed on weekends and federal holidays, he said.
North Gate will remain in operation and will mirror the hours of operation of the Woodbrook Gate.

"We're hoping people will use the Woodbrook Gate and North Gate to get on and off McChord," said Mr. Freeman.

If people use the alternate gates and plan for some delay, the traffic flow during construction should be close to normal, he said.

"Phase 2 is where we're going to have to close down the two outbound lanes starting April 18 and lasting until May 2," Mr. Freeman said. "During this phase we will convert the two inbound lanes at the main gate to one inbound lane and one outbound lane." 

Throughout construction the McChord Field Visitor Center will remain in operation, though using other offices for routine transactions is recommended. 

Vehicle registration will not be conducted at the McChord Field Visitor Center during the duty day during construction, Mr. Freeman said. Vehicle registration at the visitor center will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and all day on weekends and federal holidays. During the construction, Building 100 will be the primary location to obtain decals on McChord Field.

Starting Feb. 4, the public can use the following Web address to obtain additional information about the construction project:http://www.lewis-mcchord.army.mil/des/le_home.htm 

January 26, 2011 at 4:45pm

Airmen, civilians honored at quarterly awards luncheon

The following Airmen and civilians were honored at the 62nd Airlift Wing/Team McChord Quarterly Awards Luncheon on Jan. 20.

Civilian Quarter of the Year Category IA: Lori Brisson, 62nd Medical Squadron; Kathleen Wipple, 627th Force Support Squadron. Civilian of the Year Quarter Catergory IIA: Roy Osman, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron; Robert Snyder, 627th FSS.

Civilian of the Year Category IIB: Kelly Williams, 62nd Maintenance Squadron.

Airman of the Quarter: Airman 1st Class Courtney Nicholas, 62nd Operations Support Squadron; Senior Airman Just Perran, 5th Air Support Operations Squadron.

Noncommissioned Officer: Staff Sgt. Brandon Hower, 62nd OSS; Staff Sgt. Andrew Cox, 5th ASOS.

Senior Noncommissioned Officer: Senior Master Sgt. Curtis Stanley, 62nd AMXS; Master Sgt. Shane Hobrecht, 5th ASOS.

Junior Company Grade Officer: 1st Lt. Marc Marmino, 62nd Operations Group; 1st Lt. Monica Carter, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron.

Company Grade Officer: Capt. Summer Kolcum, 62nd AMXS; Capt. Patrick Lamie, 5th ASOS.

Honor Guard Member of the Quarter: Senior Airman Michael Robinson, 62nd MXS.

January 27, 2011 at 3:31pm

Murray is first woman in Senate history to lead VA committee

This from Air Force Times: Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the new Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee chairwoman, uses the word "needs" rather than "wants" to describe the things that must be done to help the nation's veterans.

The 60-year-old daughter of a disabled World War II veteran, Murray has been an active committee member since 1995 and a fierce critic of the bureaucracy that faces veterans and their families when they try to get benefits, use veterans hospitals or get other aid from the Veterans Affairs Department.

Murray, who succeeds World War II veteran Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, is the first woman in Senate history to lead the committee. She has worked on issues involving female veterans and believes there is much more to do to help women, but her goals go far beyond that.

"I have never turned down a job because it is too hard," said Murray, a member of the Senate leadership who was elected to a fourth term in November. "I know we have World War II veterans who have needs today, Vietnam veterans who are aging, and we have a new population of veterans coming home who need disability checks, need employment and need VA services that work better. I intend to really have the committee be a place where veterans have a voice and an advocate."

VA has made strides toward becoming more veteran-friendly, she said, but the department still doesn't always work for veterans.

"I think the people at VA have the right intentions," she said, but budgets, bureaucracy and employee attitudes all contribute to a feeling among some veterans that they are poorly served.

To read more, click here.

Filed under: Defense News, Veterans,

January 28, 2011 at 9:57am

Air Force, NASCAR renew partnership

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Air Force recruiting officials announced Jan. 21 that they are renewing the NASCAR partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports and the No. 43 car for the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. 

"This is our tenth season in NASCAR and we look forward to competing and winning with the Richard Petty team," said Brig. Gen. Balan Ayyar, the commander of the Air Force Recruiting Service. "This is a high-performing atmosphere that aligns with the leadership, technology and competitive spirit of our Airmen and Air Force, and we're excited about NASCAR's efforts to reach a broader audience. We certainly intend to go beyond the race track to reach supporters and fans and emphasize the speed, power, precision and teamwork that is common to both NASCAR and the Air Force."

The Air Force is both a primary and associate sponsor of the No. 43 car, driven by A.J. Allmendinger, a 29-year-old driver with two Top 5 finishes and eight Top 10 finishes in the No. 43 car during the 2010 season. The car will feature the Air Force paint scheme in two of 36 NASCAR points races this season. 

Air Force recruiting officials plan on activating the sponsorship both on and off the track with Air Force flyovers, swear-ins of new enlistees, involvement in pre-race activities and school visits with the No. 43 show car. The show car will travel to recruiting events at local high schools, promoting mechanical and technical careers to the nation's highest performing young Americans who may be interested in serving in the United States Air Force. 

"The Air Force is proud of the partnership we have had with Richard Petty Motorsports," said Col. Michael J. Tillema, AFRS chief of strategic marketing and communications. "They are perhaps the most respected team in NASCAR and they have been strong supporters of the Air Force. We share a strong set of core values, hard work, discipline and the desire to win."    

Filed under: News To Us, U.S. Air Force,

January 31, 2011 at 8:30am

Cadet who lost leg keeps piloting dream alive

This from Air Force Times: SAN ANTONIO - Cadet Matt Pirrello would jump out of an airplane again in a heartbeat. And he hopes to get that chance someday.

Seven months after a parachute accident that severed his right leg and broke his left one, Pirrello is going forward with his life - learning to walk again here at the Center for the Intrepid and Brooke Army Medical Center, determined to get back to college and earn his Air Force commission.

"Becoming an officer is a goal I've had, and I don't see why this should stop me," said Pirrello, 20. "Plus, I'm pretty competitive. I'm just keeping my fingers crossed and doing what I have to do."

Last summer, after wrapping up his first year at Ohio University, Pirrello went to the Air Force Academy for the basic parachute training course.

On June 25, Pirrello had five jumps to make. The first one went well and Pirrello climbed back into the UV-18B Twin Otter with nine others for Jump No. 2.

As the plane flew over the drop zone, Pirrello stepped out and flew the parachute canopy within allowable limits until setting up for his final approach to the landing point, according to a report by Air Force investigators.

But Pirrello was so focused on where he was supposed to land that he forgot to monitor the windsocks, which would have shown crosswinds from the west. Not monitoring the windsocks, according to the report, led to "under-control of the canopy and failure to correct for winds to the west, which is a procedural error that was a major factor in the mishap."

To read the complete story, click here.

January 31, 2011 at 11:54am

Local Reservists return home from various deployments

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash.- More than 30 Air Force Reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing, who deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn, returned home Jan. 24 after four-month mobilizations.

The Reservists, who served in locations from Europe to Southwest Asia, are returning to their families and civilian careers in Pacific Northwest towns from Wilsonville, Ore. to Everett.

These Reservists performed a wide spectrum of duties and services because one of the capacities of the 446th AW is providing ground support during overseas contingencies. This particular group of heroes came from the aeromedical evacuation, aircraft maintenance, cargo handling, and logistical career fields, making up diverse personnel who are experts in their respective crafts.  

While Reservists like Senior Airman Vikash Prakash, 86th Aerial Port Squadron, were working a minimum of 12-hour shifts, six days a week, moving more than 8,000 passengers, 1,000 tons of cargo and supplies on more than 600 aircraft, including moving an Army brigade of 170 Soldiers, 97 tons of their cargo on seven C-17s and eight C-130s, at a high operations tempo at Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq, their families had to deal with their own stressors with little assistance.

"My wife was pregnant with our fourth child while I was gone," said the Camano Island, Wash. resident. "I check in with her every day and fortunately, she was able to handle it without me. I can help her out now that I'm back because the baby is due March 17."

Reservists not only have to deal with the stress of being away from their families, but also leaving their civilian employers behind.

Tech. Sgt. Brendan Caldwell, 86th APS, who also deployed to Kirkuk AB is fortunate to have an employer who supports the military and the Reserve mission.

"I'm an operations supervisor for Alaska Airlines, which is similar to my job with the aerial port" said the Seattle resident. "I'm able to apply skills that I get from deployments such as leadership skills day-to-day tasks like tracking incoming aircraft and making sure ground operations run smoothly. My military experience skills set is one of the reasons I got my job and they've always supported me with my military duty." 

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