Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: May, 2011 (31) Currently Viewing: 11 - 20 of 31

May 10, 2011 at 7:04am

Blue bike program gets McChord Field moving

As we enter the summer months, temperatures will rise, barbeques will ensue and the newly implemented Blue Bike Program will give servicemembers a healthier way to commute around McChord Field.

"We're offering a transportation alternative for our Airmen who don't drive," said Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Warren, 62nd Airlift Wing command chief. "Also, we want to reduce vehicle traffic and get some cars off the road."

The idea was presented by a group of junior Airmen and other members of Team McChord during a five-day Air Force Smart Operations for the 21st Century single Airmen summit in early 2010.

"Basically, we pointed out the fact that the base lacks transportation alternatives," said Senior Airman Thomas Robinson, 62nd Operation Support Squadron air traffic controller. "The facilities on base are rather spread out and it takes awhile to walk from place to place. This program gives Airmen who don't drive a quicker mode of transportation."

The program began May 6th with the placement of five bikes at each of the four different locations across McChord Field: the 500 series dorms, the 1100 series dorms near the Pub and Deli, the 446th Airlift Wing headquarters and the United Services Organization near the passenger terminal. 

"We're implementing four locations to start," said Chief Warren. "If the demand is great, we can set out more bikes and add locations as needed. We're looking forward to hearing the feedback."

While at the four locations, the bikes will remain unlocked and supervised at all times. Servicemembers using the bikes must provide their own lock and helmet. 

"This program is largely based on the honor system," said Chief Warren. "We're trusting that the bikes will be used appropriately, kept on McChord Field in designated areas and returned to the designated locations at the end of the day."

The blue bikes are to be used only on McChord Field anywhere but the housing area. Servicemembers are the only personnel authorized to use the bikes at this time. Before using the bikes, riders must fill out a liability form at Adventures Unlimited. 

"The liability form says the Air Force is not liable for the risks associated with riding the bicycle," said Chief Warren. "It also says riders must follow the rules of the road, wear a helmet, wear reflective gear if need be, not ride the bikes after dark and use proper hand signals." 

The bikes will be available during the summer months, tentatively scheduled for May through October. Hopes and goals for the program include reducing traffic, providing an alternative means of transportation and possibly improving fitness scores. 

"This program is not only a green initiative, but a great fitness booster as well," said Mike Verbik, Adventures Unlimited recreational assistant. "It will encourage Airmen to get out of the dorms, get them moving and enjoy where they live."

Adventures Unlimited is located in building 739 and can be reached at (253) 982 - 2206. With the program currently active, servicemembers are encouraged to fill out a liability form and use the bikes to travel around McChord Field. 

"This is a really great program about Airmen helping Airmen," said Chief Warren. "I hope it continues to grow and evolve into something that really works."

May 10, 2011 at 7:13am

446th Reserve hydraulic technicians give working under pressure a whole new meaning

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Eric Madlangbayan, an aircraft hydraulic technician with the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, McChord Field, Wash., deftly pulls a lever to open a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft troop door during his aircraft hydraulics ins

Hydraulics is the term applied to engineering compressed liquids, including gases. 

Ask any aircraft hydraulic technician with the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, what it's like working with compressed, greasy liquids at pressures of up to 4,000 pounds per square inch (or PSI) , and he or she will likely say, just have a sense of humor and go with the flow, literally. 

For Tech. Sgt. Louie Baird and Senior Airmen Jalearnchi Sirisin and Eric Madlangbayan, 446th AMXS aircraft hydraulic technicians, a typical day at the office includes troubleshooting, removing, repairing, overhauling, inspecting and installing aircraft hydraulic systems and their components. This range of functions highlights how essential these technicians are to ensuring the hydraulic system of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft remains in tip-top shape and ready to roll ... or fly.

"The work we do is messy," said Airman Sirisin, a resident of Lacey, Wash and five-year veteran of the Air Force Reserve. "We replace parts. We search for broken, leaky components, and we have to be careful in whatever we're doing." 

Additionally, aircraft hydraulic technicians diagnose malfunctions, correct defects, advise on any problems while maintaining the systems, and determine the most appropriate maintenance procedures. Attention to detail and a patient demeanor are definite pluses. 

"In this job, you've got to be physically fit and comfortable working in confined spaces or at high elevations," said Sergeant Baird. The Lakewood, Wash., native serves as a full-time Air Reserve Technician in the same capacity. 

Aircraft hydraulic technicians are a close-knit team. Because hydraulics entails working with fluids under high pressure, safety is always paramount. The Wingman Concept is 100 percent operational with aircraft hydraulic technicians. 

"What brings us together as a team is that we're trained to be comfortable doing our jobs, regardless of who's around," said Airman Madlangbayan, a first-year Engineering student at Olympic College, Bremerton, Wash. "Working in a potentially life-threatening job means we have to look out for one another. We have to know we're all working safely." 

Sergeant Baird said the aircraft hydraulic technician career field is comparable to aircraft mechanics in the civilian job market. For Reservists interested in becoming an aircraft hydraulic technician, Sergeant Baird recommends taking airframe and powerplant certification and industrial hydraulic courses, currently available at community and technical colleges, like Clover Park Technical College or Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. 

May 12, 2011 at 5:32am

AF Officials announce E-7 selection stats

 -- Air Force officials selected 6,618 of 19,538 eligible technical sergeants for promotion to master sergeant for a selection rate of 33.87 percent.

The average score for those selected was 335.21, with an average time in grade of 4.58 years and an average time in service of 15.91 years. The average score was based on the following point averages: 134.13 for enlisted performance reports, 11.24 for decorations, 72.46 for the promotion fitness examination and 60.45 for the specialty knowledge test.

The master sergeant promotion list will be released May 19 at 8 a.m. CDT on the Air Force Personnel Center's website and Air Force personnel services website under enlisted promotions. Airmen can also access their score notices at the same time on the Virtual Military Personnel Flight and Air Force Portal.

Those selected for master sergeant will be promoted according to their promotion sequence number beginning in August 2011. 

As a reminder, selections are tentative until the data verification process is complete, which is no later than 10 days after the promotion release date. AFPC officials will notify Airmen through their military personnel sections if their selection is in question.

For more information about personnel issues, visit the Air Force personnel services website at

(Courtesy of Air Force Personnel, Services and Manpower Public Affairs)

May 12, 2011 at 4:43pm

Wall dedication honors former 8th AS commander

PHOTO BY Ingrid Barrentine Gen. (retired) Duane Cassidy, center, visits with his son, Col. Mike Cassidy, during the 8th AS dedication ceremony at the squadron headquarters.

The 8th Airlift Squadron at McChord Field of Joint Base Lewis-McChord has moved people and cargo across the world in giant C-17 Globemaster IIIs for more than 10 years now. Their pilots have flown to austere locations like Antarctica and ensured air and supply dominance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And the person they have to thank for helping ensure the C-17 became the Air Mobility Command's aerial powerhouse? That would be the man whose face appears on the walls of the squadron's newly updated auditorium.

The 8th AS dedicated its briefing room to the proclaimed "father of the C-17 and modern-day airlift mission," retired Gen. Duane H. Cassidy. Before serving as the first commander of Transportation Command, Cassidy commanded the 8th AS from 1972 to 1974. The unit invited the retired four-star general back to unveil the result of the two-year auditorium renovation named after him and show off a detailed pictorial history memorial exhibit of Cassidy's career and accomplishments.

"Most of the airplanes I flew are up on pedestals now, which means either I'm very old or the airplanes are very good," Cassidy said. "I'm honored to add my name on it."

One quote on the mural, prominently displayed at eye level, best portrays how respected Cassidy was by the Airmen in the 8th AS.

"Whenever he spoke, people listened, and not just because he was the commander; they listened because he had something to say."

The renovated auditorium named in Cassidy's honor features dual projection screens and seating for about 100 people.

Commander Lt. Col. Stephen Ritter opened the dedication ceremony in his typical Southern-style analogy. Our lives are like an individual string on the back of a tapestry, he said. People don't realize all the other strings that cross around that one string.

"The impact you've had has impacted so many lives," Ritter told Cassidy. "I can't tell you how much I have looked forward to this day."

Cassidy's career spanned 30 years and included his serving as the commander-in-chief of the U.S. Transportation Command and Military Airlift Command. Cassidy said his favorite assignment was as the squadron commander of the 8th AS at McChord, he said.

"This is my best assignment, and clearly it will be the best for you," he told the filled-up room of 8th AS Airmen. "We just had fun every day, even when times were tough."

After retiring, Cassidy has spent the past 15 years working for the private sector in transportation industries - rail, trucking and air. Corporate executives have asked him how private-sector leadership stands up to military leadership.

"You just can't compare them," Cassidy told the assembled crowd. "The private sector has good management, but is weak in leadership. Management is necessary, leadership is essential."

The 8th AS came to McChord Field in 1947 as the 8th Troop Carrier Squadron. The unit received C-141 Starlifter aircraft and flew regular missions in Vietnam starting in 1966. The unit was pivotal in moving troops, families and equipment out of Vietnam at the end of the war. It then took on its current mission of providing disaster relief and humanitarian aid throughout the world. This was a major part of Cassidy's mission as commander.

"No one gets the opportunity to serve our country and the countries of the world as you do," Cassidy said to current 8th AS Airmen.

May 12, 2011 at 4:49pm

‘Tonight Show’ host Jay Leno entertains troops at JBLM

Photo by Spc. Jarrett Branch ‘Tonight Show’ host Jay Leno performs Saturday for troops at McChord Field.

Roaring engines from C-17 Globemaster III aircraft were drowned out by thunderous roars of laughter from the hundreds of servicemembers and their families who came out to enjoy the comedic stylings of funny man Jay Leno at Hangar 4 on McChord Field Saturday.

"Jay Leno is an awesome supporter of the Reserve (Air Force) and the military overall," said Lt. Col. Bryan Winter, commander, Western Recruiting Squadron. "The event itself is a ‘Get One Event,' meaning we are promoting awareness of the Air Force Reserve."

Though everyone came out to enjoy Leno's polished, stand-up routine, his take on the follies of life served more than one purpose. It helped create awareness of the importance retention and recruiting play in day-to-day world of military life.

Some servicemembers felt privileged to have someone of the internationally famous Leno's stature take time to give credit to those serving in the military.

"It makes me feel amazing," said Chief Master Sgt. Glen Barnes, chief of advertising for Air Force Reserve Command Recruiting Service. "When we do get the chance to work with them (celebrities), you don't even think about the time you put in because you already know the amount of time that the artist is freely giving up in order to show their support for the military."

McChord Field will not be Leno's only stop, nor will Leno be the only entertainer the Air Force Reserve Recruiting Command brings to military members.

"Jay Leno is part of Tour for the Troops, and certain artists like Kid Rock, Carlos Mencia, Usher, Ludacris and other artists will be coming around to thank the Guard, Reserve and active-duty servicemembers for doing what they do," Barnes said. "Air Force Reserve Recruiting brings these artists to different places and makes it (performances) happen."

"These shows give servicemembers the chance to enjoy a small aspect of what being a Reservist is all about," Barnes said. "The opportunity to become a Reservist will broaden their horizons. If someone is thinking about becoming (one), the first thing I tell them is talk to a Reservist. No one knows what it is like to have that job better than someone who actually is a Reservist.

Events like these help keep qualified people in the service, Barnes said.

"The message I always give is that the grass might look greener when your getting ready to separate, but you have to explore all your options," Barnes said.

"I tell folks that all the time. The Air Force reserve may not be that perfect fit for you, but if you don't open those doors you will never know," he said.

May 13, 2011 at 12:27pm

Airdrop levels in deployed areas reach 25 million pounds

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- In 2010, an additional 30,000 U.S. forces poured into Afghanistan as part of a "surge" to further stabilize the area. As a result, statistics show, that level of forces may also be the leading reason why airdrop levels in 2011 are averaging around 6.25 million pounds dropped a month.

Through the first four months of 2011, statistics tracked by the Air Forces Central's Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia show there were more than 25 million pounds of cargo airdropped for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. That figure nearly matches all the airdrop totals from 2006 to 2008 in the same region.

The current annual record for airdrops is 60.4 million pounds dropped from 2010. Records aside, mobility Airmen are focused on meeting the needs of the warfighters on the ground.

"We're flying round-the-clock missions, mostly air-land and to and from lots of little austere Army air fields throughout the country," said Capt. Andrew Thomas, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in a January 2011 AFCENT news report by combat correspondent Tech. Sgt. Stacia Zachary. "We're also doing airdrops here (at a rate) of about one to two drops per day."

The C-130 Hercules isn't the only Air Mobility Command-style airframe supporting deployed airdrop operations. The C-17 Globemaster III is also a part of the effort. In deployed locations, C-130s and C-17s are a part of expeditionary airlift squadrons at numerous bases throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Both airframes use a variety of ways to deliver the airdrop cargo. For example, since March 2010, C-130s perform "low-cost, low altitude," or LCLA, airdrops where they airdrop bundles weighing 80 to 500 pounds with pre-packed expendable parachutes in groups of up to four bundles per pass. The drops, reports show, are termed "low-cost" to reflect the relative expense of the expendable parachutes. "Low-altitude" describes to the relative height from which bundles are released from the aircraft.

There's also the Joint Precision Airdrop System, or JPADS, that guides airdrop bundles to their drop zones using the Global Positioning System technology, and the Improved Container Delivery System, or ICDS, that allows for improved precision by factoring in the altitude, wind speed, wind direction, terrain and other circumstances that might affect the drop.

Also, for example, a C-17 Globemaster III can carry up to 40 CDS bundles for a combat airdrop mission. Each of those bundles are often built by U.S. Army parachute riggers who jointly work with the Air Force airlift community to get them delivered to ground troops in remote regions of Afghanistan.

If statistics continue at the current average of 6.25 million pounds per month, 2011 will be a new record year with more than 75 million pounds airdropped.    

May 14, 2011 at 5:48am

Precision engagement for Airman with Camp Murray's 116th Air Support Operations Squadron

(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Desiree N. Palacios)

Mention the term "air strike" these days and a lot of people think you're talking about playing "Call of Duty," a popular combat-style video game. In the game, players call in virtual air strikes on their opponents as a reward for earning a certain number of kills.

But for Staff Sgt. Kenneth Walker, there's nothing pretend about it. Calling in air strikes is what he does for a living.

He's a tactical air control party member with the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, an Air National Guard unit out of Camp Murray, Wash. TACPs are specialists that advise ground forces on aircraft employment and capabilities and direct combat aircraft onto enemy targets. They typically work in teams of two and deploy with Army combat units.

"Basically, we're the liaison between ground forces and aircraft," Sergeant Walker said. "We communicate with the infantry guys and the guys in the air to get bombs on target where they're needed."

This might sound routine, but it's not. Being a TACP means being a highly trained, highly skilled Airman who is adaptive, quick on his feet and great at multi-tasking. Just to become a TACP and earn the coveted black beret, Airmen must pass an initial skills course, a combat survival course, a basic parachutist course and an advanced special tactics course. In all, this is 32 weeks of rigorous, down-and-dirty training.

"It's definitely a lot," Sergeant Walker said. "But it's all stuff we need to know when we're out there doing this for real."

When TACPs aren't deployed and doing their job for real, they participate in exercises to practice their skills and stay certified in required tasks. The latest was the National Guard Bureau's Joint Quarterly Training Exercise at Fort Stewart, Ga. Here, TACPs from the 116th ASOS practiced working with Army infantry units and calling in close-air support aircraft, ranging from A-10 Thunderbolt IIs to F-18 Hornets and HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters.

"It's great to work with real aircraft and see live rounds hitting targets," said Tech. Sgt. Benjamin Santiago, a TACP with the 116th ASOS. "Simulations are fine, but the real thing is always better."

But the exercise doesn't just give the TACPs some valuable hands-on training; it also lets them check a very important box.

"We have requirements to control aircraft every 90 days and direct the release of ordnance every 180 days to stay current on our certifications," Sergeant Santiago said.

"Participating in exercises like this lets us meet those requirements."

And meeting these requirements is often difficult. Being a Guard unit, Airmen assigned to the 116th ASOS must balance the demands of their day-to-day civillian jobs with those of the military.

"We have to meet the same requirements as our active duty counterparts, but we're doing it part time," Sergeant Walker said. "So we only get half the time to do what the active-duty guys are doing, and that is challenging at times."

There are deployments, too. TACPs are in high demand in Afghanistan, and 116th ASOS schedulers are routinely sending tactical air controllers over there.

"We've got some guys slated to go here soon, so we'll make sure they get priority when it comes to staying certified," Sergeant Santiago said. "And the training will pay off over there, too."

These men know what they're talking about. In one six month period in 2009, Sergeant Walker's three-man team called in more than 300,000 pounds of bombs in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan.

"It was about a battle every day," he said. "Sometimes two or three a day."

Sergeant Walker attributed the team's success to the rigorous, in-depth training it received prior to leaving: slogging through mud, spending nights in the rain and getting bombs and bullets on target.

"When things start happening for real, you just react and do your job," he said. "But then you sit back and think, 'Man, I'm glad I went through the suck in training so I was prepared here.'"

To be a TACP means to be versatile, too. They are Air Force elements, but spend the majority of their time working with the Army and other services.

"So not only are we highly trained specialists, but we have the joint aspect to our mission that is also pretty unique," Sergeant Santiago said. "But it's a good relationship ... we help them and they help us."

Another good relationship is the one they have with each other. Being a special tactics unit, TACPs are a close-knit, "get-each-other's-back" kind of team. This is due, in large part, to the nature of the business.

"You spend a lot of time together and learn to rely on each other," Sergeant Santiago said. "And the stresses of the job really bring you together so we're almost like some kind of crazy, dysfunctional family."

Still, the TACPs wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's one of the draws to [being a TACP] and one of the reasons I am one," Sergeant Walker said. "You develop some strong relationships and great friendships here that you miss when you leave."

So, while the average TACP might not be very good at playing video games like "Call of Duty," he is good at keeping real Soldiers safe by calling in very real, and very deadly, precision air strikes.

May 16, 2011 at 6:19am

Tricare TV

Starting now TRICARE beneficiaries who want to learn more about their health care plan and how it works can get short, relevant tips once a month with the launch of TRICARE TV.

            TRICARE TV is an important addition to TRICARE's social media program.  The videos are short and easy to follow, ranging in length from two-to-four minutes. The first episode called "What Is TRICARE?" gives beneficiaries an overview of TRICARE health care plans and some of the special programs offered. 

            TRICARE is already active on social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, and TRICARE TV joins another electronic option - the weekly award-winning Beneficiary Bulletin podcast.  Together, they all provide beneficiaries timely updates on TRICARE benefits in a variety of convenient formats.

            To view TRICARE TV, beneficiaries can visit TRICARE's YouTube channel or  Subscribe to get e-alerts when a new episode is posted by going to or through the e-mail link at the TRICARE media center.    

May 17, 2011 at 4:27pm

Congratulations to McChord's ALS School Class 11-D

Airmen from Class 11-D at Airman Leadership School pose for a class photo at McChord Field, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. The class graduated May 12, allowing them to become Non Commissioned Officers and leaders in their various career fields. (U.S. Air

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Congratulations to the following Airmen who graduated Julius A. Kolb Airman Leadership School May 12 at McChord Field, Wash.

Senior Airman Eric Barton
Senior Airman Jeremy Beaman
Senior Airman Daniel Beggin
Senior Airman Shaun Brown
Senior Airman Jonathan Burt
Senior Airman Chad Close
Senior Airman Frederick Delacruz
Senior Airman George Denley
Senior Airman Michael DePue
Senior Airman Eric Eastman
Senior Airman Christopher Frady
Senior Airman Michael Garlit
Senior Airman Grant Hadrava
Senior Airman Ciara Horn
Senior Airman Joseph Jacobs
Senior Airman Samuel Johnson
Senior Airman Frances Kriss
Senior Airman Kristin Lee
Senior Airman Anthony Manalo
Senior Airman Nolan Mortensen
Senior Airman Galang Pham
Senior Airman Adriana Phillips
Senior Airman Christopher Riordan
Senior Airman Sherilyn Rucker
Senior Airman Brian Smith
Senior Airman Donovan Stewart
Senior Airman Ashley Thompson
Senior Airman Angel Valentin
Senior Airman Nathan Vogle
Senior Airman Nicholas Willoughby

Award Recipients
John L. Levitow Winner: Senior Airman Jonathan Burt
Commandants AwardWinner: Senior Airman Nathan Vogle
Academic Achievement Award Winner: Senior Airman Daniel Beggin
Distinguished Graduate Award Winner: Senior Airman Nathan Vogle
Distinguished Graduate Award Winner: Senior Airman Jonathan Burt
Distinguished Graduate Award Winner: Senior Airman Daniel Beggin    

May 19, 2011 at 3:18pm

Armed Forces Day free for active military at Museum of Flight

The Museum of Flight begins a program of free admission for active military personnel with I.D. and up to five members of their family on Armed Forces Day, May 21. The discounts will continue through Labor Day 2011. Events on May 21 include the 8:30 a.m. opening of a new exhibit of scale models of World War I aircraft, a military flag raising ceremony in recognition of Armed Forces Day at 11 a.m., and a 2 p.m. lecture about the use of Zeppelin airships in war and peace.

8:30 to 10 a.m. - Preview of the Holtgrewe World War I Model Aircraft Collection

Active military and their families are invited to the opening preview of the Dr. Logan Holtgrewe World War I Model Aircraft Collection. Holtgrewe spent seven years meticulously making over 400 scale models representing virtually all of the aircraft flown in World War II. The collection will be on permanent exhibition in the World War I gallery of the Personal Courage Wing.

11 to 11:45 a.m. - Flag Raising Ceremony with Museum President and Military Groups

Armed Forces Day will be recognized with a flag raising ceremony by Museum officials and representatives of U.S. military branches, veteran and POW/MIA. The Museum of Flight President & CEO, Doug King, will introduce representatives from the Air Force Association, Navy League of the United States, Association of the United States Army, and POW/MIAs, who will present new military flags to the Museum, to be flown above the navy fighter jets displayed on the Museum's south lawn. The University of Washington ROTC Honor Guard will present the colors.

2 p.m. - Lecture on The History of Airships in War and Peace

In conjunction with the opening of the Dr. H. Logan Holtgrewe World War I Aircraft Model Collection exhibit, airship historian Dr. Horst Schirmer will give a presentation on the history of Zeppelin dirigibles in war and peace. Schirmer advised Holtgrewe in the making of a 13-foot-long scale model of the World War I L-30 Zeppelin for the new exhibit. Schirmer has nurtured a life-long interest in airship history, and he is possibly the only person still alive who flew on the ill-fated Hindenburg dirigible.

For more information, visit

Recent Comments

abigail said:

you are say about this Air Force highly recommends absolutely right and i appreciate your...

about Air Force highly recommends renters insurance

nurisahi juan said:

This is real take it serious, my name is marian i, who will believe that a herb can Cure...

about JBLM soldier completes ALS

Ken Beseau said:

Its always a treat to be able to get on base and all of the planes from around the world come...

about AMC Rodeo to have new life

Electrician Rochester NY said:

Thanks for giving us nice info. Fantastic walk-through. I appreciate this post.

about Don't be shocked: 446th electricians find the spark

thomas candey said:

way to go usaf soon will be flying a kc46 air craft made right here in everett wash.not france...