Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: March, 2011 (38) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 38

March 1, 2011 at 3:48pm

446th Reserve flight nurses serve in honor of fallen loved ones … and country

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash.- They serve so others may live. They serve together as Air Force Reserve flight nurses because they both lost loved ones in war and hope they can save families from the same pain they suffered.

They are Capt. Beverly Davidson, native of North Bend, Wash. and 2nd Lt. Noel Carroll, a Des Moines, Wash. resident, both with the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here. Captain Davidson returned to service after a 12-year absence. Lieutenant Carroll joined two years ago.

Captain Davidson's former husband, Master Sgt. Michael Maltz, an Air Force pararescueman, was killed in an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash in Afghanistan in March 2003. Lieutenant Carroll's brother, Staff Sgt. Timothy Davis, an Air Force combat controller, was killed in combat in Afghanistan in February 2009.

"I was an ER nurse, so I already had the desire to take care of patients," said Lieutenant Carroll, an ER nurse at Highline Medical Center, Burien, Wash. in her civilian career. "When my brother died, I knew I wanted to take care of wounded Soldiers."

Captain Davidson also felt the need to take care of injured troops in honor of her former husband.

"Mike gave his life for the rescue effort," said the ER manager at Snoqualmie Valley Hospital, Snoqualmie, Wash. "I wanted to come back to the Reserve as a flight nurse when he died. Now that my sons are grown, I'm finally able to do it."

Col. Jan Moore-Harbert, 446th AES commander, shares her admiration for these flight nurses.

"Both of these women are excellent representatives of the type of people who fly aeromedical evacuations," she said.  "It takes strength of heart and mind, dedication to the mission and self sacrifice, which these two strong women have done both professionally and personally. They both have the strength to give back and support a tremendously important mission and are examples for others to look at in times of personal adversities. They demonstrate the Air Force Core Values- especially Service Before Self. I am proud to serve with both of them."

Individuals like Sergeants Maltz and Davis are the ones who are fighting on the front lines in the Afghanistan mountains. Captain Davidson and Lieutenant Carroll are part of the team, which makes sure these troops get back to their families, so they don't have to share their pain. 

March 2, 2011 at 7:38am

446 AW Reservists work mortuary mission without skipping a beat

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del.- Tech. Sgt. Loren Wells (front row, second from left) and Tech. Sgt. Michael Bishop (front row, right), both with the 446th Force Support Squadron Services Flight, McChord Field, Wash., help the carry team transfer the remains o

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Reservists from the 446th Force Support Squadron Services Flight have been performing various duties with dignity, honor, and respect at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operation Center, Dover Air Force Base, Del. since September 2010. The group has been working around the clock, working in different capacities from performing dignified transfers on carry teams to working at the Fisher House for families of the fallen to managing the operation center.    

March 3, 2011 at 8:19am

McChord field clinic gains services, Airmen gain access




JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- The McChord Clinic at Joint Base Lewis-McChord now offers an opportunity for easier access to physical therapy services thanks to the opening Feb. 28 of the Physical Therapy Clinic for active-duty airmen.

Col. Kevin Kilb, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, and Col. Jerry Penner, Madigan Healthcare System commander, cut the ribbon on the clinic showing the joint-effort behind getting it off the ground. Both commanders lauded the efforts of the staff working jointly to open the new clinic.

"The satellite clinic was originally envisioned to augment Madigan's physical therapy clinic and for the convenience of the Airmen working here," said Vicki Odegaard, McChord Clinic assistant officer in charge. "Many of the services that are unique will still be performed at Madigan, but we have a number of services that can be provided right here."

The clinic is staffed by Michael Hammond, physical therapist, and Michael Taylor, physical therapy assistant, and will see around 25 patients a day. The new office makes getting care faster for the Airmen at McChord Field who now drive a shorter distance to the clinic than they would to Madigan's larger facility on the Lewis-main portion of JBLM.

More than $80,000 in funding for the clinic came through Madigan and the U.S. Army and includes new equipment and renovations to create an appropriate space according to Odegaard. The enthusiasm for the opportunities available with the new clinic is already showing.

"It's pretty exciting, we started seeing patients a few days ago and there are a lot of people coming in already," said Taylor.

Lt. Col. Kerrie Golden is the chief of physical medicine and rehabilitation for Madigan and retains oversight for the clinic. The project to stand up the satellite office was largely coordinated by Tony Munoz, administrative officer for McChord's Clinic, and Odegaard, while Lt. Col. (Dr.) Kristie Lowry, officer in charge of McChord Clinic, was deployed for the past year. 

The clinic will offer neuromusculoskeletal, post-operative evaluations and rehabilitation programs for the spine and peripheral joints. The new equipment uniquely equips the office to focus on exercise and sports-related issues, which are common amongst Airmen. While the patient population for the clinic is currently active duty only there are possibilities to expand who can access the services in the future.

"The clinic will assist Madigan in accommodating workload as enrollment increases across the physical therapy services," said Odegaard. "Depending upon capacity and workload we may be able to incorporate enrolled dependents at the McChord satellite if time, staff and space allow in the future."

The Physical Therapy Clinic occupies the temporary location of McChord's Health and Wellness Center within McChord's medical clinic building. Appointments are by referral from an Airman's primary care physician and are made through the TRICARE Regional Appointment Center by calling (800) 404-4506.

March 4, 2011 at 4:49pm

627th CES Airman's EOD role helped to save lives

Staff Sgt. Mark Walker, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician, was selected as the 62nd Airlift Wing’s 2010 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year. Sergeant Walker was deployed to Afghanistan from September 2009 to April 2010.




JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- For most Americans, the Academy Award winning movie "The Hurt Locker" was just that -- a movie. But for Staff Sgt. Mark Walker, it's his life. 

Sergeant Walker, a member of 627th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, spent part of 2010 diffusing bombs and improvised explosive devicess in Afghanistan, experiencing realistic scenarios depicted in the only Iraq or Afghanistan war movie ever to receive an Academy Award. 

The Airman's role in making Afghanistan a safer place for both U.S. military members and the Afghan people helped earn him the McChord Field 62nd Airlift Wing's 2010 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year honors, awarded last month by the eighth Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force, Sam Parish, during the Wing's annual awards banquet. 

At the banquet, Walker received a C-17 model with his name engraved on it and small monetary gifts from local companies in the surrounding communities. His wife got a parking pass for the commissary and base exchange. 

"She was really, really happy about that," he said.

The 62nd AW looks holistically at Airmen to determine who gets top honors. Such qualities include leadership style and effectiveness, work performance, professionalism and community service. For Sergeant Walker, that encompasses a lot.

Walker loves physical training, and can't get enough of it. The 32-year-old runs in many races around the area, including JBLM triathlons and last year's half marathon, in which he finished fourth in his age group. 

The former youth pastor is very involved in his church, Olympic View Baptist Church in University Place, where he said he receives faith guidance and healing for himself and his wife, Susan, and three children: Kaden, 8; Addie, 5; and Asher, 2. 

"The support of my wife has been huge for me, "Walker said.

When he's not helping out in church, he is navigating the Puget Sound's waterways to find the state's 50 or more camp sites that can only be accessed by a human-powered boat. And if that doesn't keep him busy enough, Walker is fundraising for the Wounded Warrior EOD Organization, a nonprofit that raises money and resources for wounded EOD technicians.

During his deployment to Afghanistan last year, he and other EOD servicemembers raised more than $9,000 for the EOD nonprofit by hosting a decathlon. Walker also makes ceremonial "hell boxes" that he auctions off, and donated $8,400 in 2010 to the EOD Memorial Foundation at the Naval School, Explosive Ordnance Disposal, located at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. 

"This was a good year," Walker said.

His deployment to Afghanistan from September 2009 to April 2010 didn't start off great. Two EOD Airmen were killed and Walker was called in as a replacement for one of them. He said the newly assembled team discussed what would happen if any one of them were next. The concern wasn't about their fate, but their families' futures. 

"All of us are okay with dying, but not okay with leaving our families behind, dealing with the uncertainty," said Sergeant Walker. 

Sixteen names of EOD technicians from all services who died in combat in 2009 were added to the EOD Memorial's wall last year, according to the EOD Memorial website.

Through his three deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Walker has disabled more than 200 bombs; he's lost the exact count. It's not easy to put the bomb suit on and walk up to a suspicious package, or device, or car, wondering if this could be your last moment on the planet, he said. Walker's thoughts as he suited up and started his descent toward a possible bomb or IED were often of his daughter Addie. 

"She's the first thing that would come to mind, but I try to ... focus on the situation," he said. "What we do is a life or death situation." 

To get through it, he has his faith and friends. Whenever he goes on a temporary duty assignment or is on a deployment, he said there is a good possibility he'll see someone he knows. Any stress not relieved from friends can be delivered from faith. 

"With God in my life, He will be able to calm any storms that I may come across," Walker added.

While he knows how dangerous being an EOD technician can be, he wouldn't have any other job in the Air Force. 

"Our team created freedom of movement for the Army in (Arghandab Valley), and while we aren't necessarily fighting, we are making it safe out there for (military and civilians)," Walker said. 

Back at McChord Field, he spends most of his time certifying and training other EOD Airmen as the operations and administrative NCO in charge. McChord's EOD team becomes even more important when the president, vice president or another head of state comes to the area; the Secret Service taps them to inspect vehicle convoys, conference rooms, hotel rooms or other locations as directed. Walker was part of a recent exercise in which a suspicious package was found in the EOD conference room, and he and his team used the scenario to brush up on their tactics, techniques and procedures.

He's working now with three new EOD-qualified Airmen straight from school, helping them get current on certification and training. Walker likes the teaching role, and it is good practice, as he will soon leave 627th CES and head to Eglin to be an instructor at the EOD School. All EOD servicemembers go through Eglin and deploy together in combat, so working with Army, Navy and Marines will be nothing new. 

Before leaving, he wants to see the joint base and Naval EOD community come together for a summer barbecue. 

"I hope in years to come it will translate into joint training, but that's all in the works," he said.

March 4, 2011 at 4:50pm

Honoring our Fallen Warriors




JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- There is one thing that causes everything to pause in a deployed C-17 pilot's day: a fallen American Hero. Usually the first indication that you will be transporting a Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine who has paid the ultimate price is your parking spot. Each parking spot is more or less useful for different types of cargo because of where they are in relation to the other things on the airport.

After you land you will be met by a Chaplain and a Mortuary Affairs representative who give you details about the Fallen Warrior Ceremony. After the cargo is downloaded and the aircraft refueled, the cargo floor is "slicked" meaning the rollers and the rails for cargo pallets are stowed, seats flipped up and the area is cleaned. While deployed it is out of the ordinary to see a completely slick cargo compartment; the cargo compartment is the business end of the airplane. Usually there is cargo chained down in the cargo compartment, or in the process of being moved on or off. But now that the cargo compartment is clean, everything pauses.

After the aircraft's cargo bay is readied, the area behind the aircraft is prepared. Soon all of the chaplains on the base show up, there are maybe ten in all. The color guard unfurls Old Glory and checks their uniforms. A representative sets up two speakers and wires them up to a microphone. From the front of the cargo compartment looking back, my crew is lined up on the right side with me nearest the cargo door and ramp. The Chaplains are behind the aircraft, standing in formation on the left side. The ceremony begins and I call my crew to attention. The color guard marches the flag to the right spot and I give the command for my crew to salute. Next, two columns of military men and women march in, one on each side of the airplane, forming an aisle in between them for the flag-draped transfer case carrying the remains to proceed onto the airplane.

When everyone is in place, the entire formation is brought to attention and then to parade rest. Instead of a hearse, the flag-draped transfer case is brought to the end of the aisle in a brown armored vehicle. The ramp is still. The Chaplain steps to the podium and begins a quick sermon. In it, he talks about the Hero's family, his unit and quotes a Bible verse. He prays for the well-being of the family and prays for courage for the members of the Fallen Warrior's unit.

After the Chaplain's brief remarks a slow version of Amazing Grace begins. The pallbearers march to the rear of the vehicle and take the flag draped transfer case from it. The flag draped transfer case moves towards the airplane and the columns are brought to attention and ordered to salute. In my mind, I follow the music and say the lyrics to myself.

The flag draped transfer case begins up the ramp of the airplane and I command my crew to present arms. We salute, slowly, each of us silently counting to five as we raise our hands into position. The loadmaster makes a sharp facing movement and flips a switch to close the cargo door. As the door closes, "Taps" is playing. It fades out; the loud whir of the hydraulics is a testament to the weight of the door. The crowd outside watches as the door closes and their hero leaves them forever.

As the fallen hero passes in front of us, I wonder about his family, what his last post on Facebook was, and what he might have been doing just 24 hours ago. The flag draped transfer case makes it to the front of the plane, is gently placed on the cargo floor, and the pallbearers are dismissed. The only people remaining are a Chaplain and the highest ranking officer on the base. I give my crew the command to return to attention. The officer and the Chaplain are each down on one knee now, heads bowed, each with one hand on the flag-draped transfer case. After their prayer is finished, they stand back up, face the transfer case, salute one last time and are dismissed. I dismiss my detail and walk back towards the flag draped transfer case silently. The officer and the Chaplain come towards us and shake all of the crew members' hands.

"Thanks for taking him home."

March 7, 2011 at 7:32am

446th AW "of the Year" awardees announced at banquet

U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Wendy Beauchaine, 446th Force Support Squadron first sergeant out of McChord Field, Wash., holds her First Sergeant of the Year trophy from the 2011 446th Airlift Wing Annual Awards banquet, Co-located Club, March 5, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Denise Hauser/Released)    

March 10, 2011 at 8:31am

Two from McChord finalists for AMC's NCOs of the year





SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- The commander of Air Mobility Command, Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., announced in a message March 7 the finalists for AMC's first sergeant of the year and outstanding Airmen of the year for 2010.

Twelve Airmen from across AMC have been selected for the competition. In his message, General Johns said the awards "recognize individuals whose exceptional achievements and leadership qualities set them apart and distinguished them from their peers."

General Johns' message also noted the "competition this year was fierce." 

"All of the candidates demonstrated tremendous leadership and dedication," General Johns said in the message. "Please accept my sincere congratulations to the nominees, and thanks to all the Mobility Airmen for making a positive difference around the world and across the entire spectrum of operations."

Following are the finalists in Airman, NCO, senior NCO and first sergeant categories.

AMC's Airmen of the Year finalists
-- Senior Airman Nichole Link, Headquarters AMC, Scott AFB, Ill.
-- Senior Airman Kristina Zacherl, 6th Air Mobility Wing, MacDill AFB, Fla.
-- Airman 1st Class Jerry Bailey, 92nd Air Refueling Wing, Fairchild AFB, Wash.

AMC's Noncommissioned of the Year finalists
-- Master Sgt. Tanya Hubbard, 60th Air Mobility Wing, Travis AFB, Calif.
-- Master Sgt. Felicia Williams, 436th Airlift Wing, Dover AFB, Del.
-- Staff Sgt. Mark Walker, 62nd Airlift Wing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

AMC's Senior Noncommissioned of the Year finalists
-- Senior Master Sgt. Michael Bouwman, 60th AMW, Travis AFB, Calif.
-- Senior Master Sgt. Patrick Jones, 375th Air Mobility Wing, Scott AFB, Ill.
-- Master Sgt. Kevin Brandt, 62nd AW, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

AMC's First Sergeant of the Year finalists
-- Senior Master Sgt. Stephen Kniffen, 735th Air Mobility Squadron, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
-- Master Sgt. Vincent Lomman, 87th Air Base Wing, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.
-- Master Sgt. Michael Moore, 92nd ARW, Fairchild AFB, Wash.

"Thank you to all of our Mobility Airmen," General Johns said in the message. "Your commitment, initiative and leadership are making a difference around the world. Congratulations again to our finalists, and my best wishes for your continued success."

The finalists will all be visiting AMC in late March to determine the final winners.

March 11, 2011 at 7:36am

Military night with Seattle Mariners

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- The Seattle Mariners professional baseball team is hosting its 9th annual Salute to Armed Forces event April 23. The Seattle Mariners will be playing the Oakland A's in a game that starts at 6:10 p.m. 

Salute to Armed Forces festivities begin at 5:30 p.m., with a special pre-game program honoring the United States Armed Forces, service veterans, and support organizations. 

This year the Air National Guard will represent the Air Force in on field activities, to include first pitch and accepting a plaque honoring the Air Force. 

Reservists can obtain discounted tickets through the 446th Airlift Wing Public Affairs office. Order and pay for your tickets by April 8, by stopping in at the PA office, Bldg. 1214, Room 110 during duty hours. 

Discounted tickets are: View Reserved seats are $10, Field seats are $25 and Terrace Club seats are $30. Reservists who'd like to go as a group should buy their tickets at the same time. Checks or cash only will be accepted. Please make checks payable to "446 Orientation Tour." For more information, call (253) 982-3330.    

March 11, 2011 at 9:46pm

Military gearing up to help Japan following quake




U.S. forces are swinging into action to assist Japan in the wake of a magnitude 8.9 earthquake that struck early this morning.

"We are assessing the situation and positioning forces so that they are ready to respond and provide disaster relief if directed," said Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

Japan has requested U.S. assistance through the State Department.

The USS Tortuga, in Sasebo, Japan, is preparing to load landing craft and to leave for the disaster areas as early as this evening.

The USS Essex, with the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, arrived in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, this morning. The ship is preparing to depart as early as this evening.

The USS Blue Ridge, in Singapore, is taking on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief supplies and preparing to depart tomorrow morning.

The USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike group, at sea in the western Pacific on its way to Korea, can respond if directed.

"We are watching the situation closely and will adjust the track as required," Hull-Ryder said.

Earthquake impacts on 7th Fleet, with headquarters in Yokosuka, Japan, include the following:

-- Ships in port in Yokosuka stationed linehandlers to adjust to water-level changes in Yokosuka harbor. No damage has been reported to any of the ships.

-- Ships in Guam have been directed to leave if possible, or to recall personnel and adjust lines during changes in sea level.

-- Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Force headquarters in Misawa was briefly evacuated. It is without power and operating from a generator.

-- Amphibious Force headquarters in White Beach, Okinawa, moved its watch to higher ground at Kadena Air Base in preparation for a forecasted tsunami.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the earthquake and subsequent tsunami was preceded by a series of large foreshocks over the past two days, beginning on March 9 with a 7.2 magnitude quake 25 miles from today's earthquake, and continuing with another three earthquakes greater than magnitude 6.0 on the same day.

The U.S. Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Eva Beach, Hawaii, has issued a tsunami warning.

"A tsunami has been generated that could cause damage along coastlines of all islands in the state of Hawaii," the warning says. "Action should be taken to protect lives and property."
The zone that produced today's earthquake has produced nine temblors of magnitude 7 or greater since 1973. The largest was a December 1994 magnitude 7.8 earthquake 160 miles north of today's quake that killed three people and injured nearly 700.

President Barack Obama issued a statement this morning pledging any help Japan may need from the United States and announcing that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is preparing for potential tsunami-response operations in the United States and its territories.

"Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis," the statement said. "The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial.

"The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy," Obama added. "We will continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward, and we are asking all our citizens in the affected region to listen to their state and local officials as I have instructed FEMA to be ready to assist Hawaii and the rest of the U.S states and territories that could be affected."

Americans in affected areas who need to contact the State Department can do so by e-mail to japanemergencyusc@state.gov or Pacifictsunamiusc@state.gov. The State Department also is posting the latest travel information for the affected areas on the World Wide Web and via Twitter.

March 11, 2011 at 9:53pm

McChord earns AMC distinguished Nuclear Surety Safety Award




The 62nd Airlift Wing Nuclear Surety Office recently earned the 2010 Air Mobility Command distinguished Nuclear Surety Safety Award. 

"Our mission is very unique, it's different from every other base," said Mr. Tom Thompson, 62nd AW nuclear surety manager and AMC Nuclear Surety Individual of the Year. "Our office is responsible for managing the wing's nuclear surety program." 

The office has won the award every year from 1998 to 2010, with the exception of 2003. The 62nd AW is the Department of Defense's only Prime Nuclear Airlift Force unit. 

"We also monitor the thorough checklists that military members have to follow in order to be cleared for the Personnel Reliability Program," said Mr. Thompson.

Last year, the office ensured the safe delivery of more than 320 thousand pounds, which is more than the weight of 17 average-sized school buses, of nuclear and nuclear-related cargo worldwide. The accomplishment included expertly dealing with six diverse foreign agencies and three United States Government organizations on 12 missions and 19 trainers. 

The 62nd AW also earned the highest possible rating during the most recent Nuclear Surety Inspection in three of six major graded areas, plus 2 "excellent" ratings on AMC's inspection. Wing leadership was highlighted for "unwavering mission focus" on the nuclear surety and PNAF missions. 

During the June 2010 NSI, Col. Thomas Freese, AMC deputy inspector general and NSI team chief, told the 62nd AW team, "Nobody does what you do. There is no room for error when talking about the nuclear enterprise. Thank you for what you do. You did a phenomenal job."

The Air Force Safety Center Functional Expert Visit team declared that "strong leadership, mission focus, a high degree of proficiency and outstanding professionalism are evident throughout the organization" during their recent 62nd AW visit. 

According to Mr. Thompson, the accomplishments cannot be credited to the nuclear surety office alone. He says that without the support of other agencies on base, the mission would not succeed. 

"We work closely with personnel, the medical squadron, the 4th Airlift Squadron and more to ensure the Personnel Reliability Program is managed correctly," said Mr. Thompson. "Everyone works together to ensure the mission is completed."

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