Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: July, 2011 (43) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 43

July 1, 2011 at 6:00am

Rodeo scenario at McChord tests emergency response

Photo by Ingrid Barrentine Personnel from JBLM DES respond to a simulated Air Force plane crash on the McChord Field flightline Tuesday. The scenario, designed to evaluate and validate the competence of joint base’s emergency management personnel, ensu

Joint Base Lewis-McChord tested its ability to respond to a simulated Air Force plane crash on the McChord Field flightline Tuesday for the first time in the joint base's young history. The scenario, designed to evaluate and validate the competence of joint base's emergency management personnel, ensures the base is ready to react immediately should the real thing ever happen.

Using Air Mobility Command's upcoming Rodeo international military airlift competition as the backdrop for the simulated crash of a 62nd Airlift Wing C-17 Globemaster III, the Major Accident Response Exercise assessed JBLM directorates' speed, communication and coordination to put out the fire, treat casualties, secure the site and clean up the debris. Mannequins placed in a field near the simulated burning aircraft represented "dead" airplane crew members.

The crashed C-17 ran off the runway and into a construction crew working near the flightline, causing several injuries that required substantial medical attention. The plane's explosion upon impact resulted in injuries to several children a half-mile away at Holiday Park.

More than 60 people volunteered to participate for the exercise, said Dana Lockhart, Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security.

The installation's multifaceted response honed relationships between medical, fire, security forces and readiness personnel. Within minutes of the crash, personnel from the Directorate of Emergency Services, 627th Security Forces Squadron and Madigan Healthcare System were on the scene.

Firefighters put out the fire, evaluated casualties, and delivered the most grievously injured individuals to Madigan paramedics standing by. Security forces set up a cordon around the perimeter, and recovery personnel gathered the wreckage and collected the casualties.

"The expectations were for the exercise to (happen) safely and that we learn we can work together as a joint base," Lockhart said.

The exercise took two months to plan, and validated the emergency response skills of the team of Army, Air Force and civilian employees. Lockhart was pleased that common objectives were achieved while executing the contingency plan.

"The joint base is testing something that no one in this setting has done before," Lockhart said. "It's good to have that communication and see how well (all) sides can work together."

The exercise does not conclude preparedness disaster training and exercises on the joint base. A major earthquake exercise is in development for next year, along with an oil spill cleanup operation.

"Exercises test how well we are able to communicate as a joint base and work together regardless of the type of incident we are dealing with," Lockhart said.

A training byproduct of joint basing is how traditional Army and Air Force assets find best practices or create new ways to tackle major incidents like Tuesday's scenario. For instance, JBLM uses the National Incident Management System for disaster response, which the Air Force started using before the Army. It's the sharing of information that makes first-time exercises like this one easier for both sides to conduct.

"Just the process of building this exercise has advanced a long way in developing the (joint base) relationship," said Ed Wood, DPTMS.

July 1, 2011 at 6:52am

MCCHORD, Total Force Airmen successfully MEDEVAC Antarctic worker

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand ??" Maj. (Dr.) Aaron Fields, Critical Care Air Transport Team leader, and Maj. Alane Garlisi, 18th Aeromedical Evacuation Sqaudron detachment commander, prepare to off-load a National Science Foundation contractor aboard a C-17 G

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand -- Utilizing night vision equipment and navigating around volcanic ash hazards, a C-17 Globemaster III and crew from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, alongside aeromedical evacuation and Critical Care Air Transport Team Airmen, successfully evacuated an ailing Antarctic government contractor June 30. The contractor, who was transported to a local hospital for further treatment, received in-flight care from Airmen assigned to the U.S. Air Force-led Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica, which is a joint service, ongoing Department of Defense activity in support of the National Science Foundation. NSF is the lead agency for the U.S. Antarctic Program. "Within the scope provided by NSF policy and direction, JTF-SFA coordinates with inter-agency and international partners to provide air and maritime cargo and passenger transportation throughout the Antarctica joint operations area," said Lt. Col Edward Vaughan, JTF-SFA Joint Operations and Plans chief.

"A request for medical assistance was channeled to the joint task force and we quickly coordinated with U.S. Transportation Command and U.S. Pacific Command to provide dedicated airlift and medical personnel to the contractor operating at McMurdo Station." Active Duty, Guard and Reserve Airmen attached to this mission assembled the full range of medical and support capabilities and less than 18 hours after being notified of the mission arrived in Christchurch for staging. The crew, comprised of a CCATT, an aeromedical evacuation team, pilots, loadmasters and maintainers, planned side-by-side with interagency partners as they faced the challenge of safely evacuating the patient out of the Antarctic. "The main focus for us was to stage the crew to successfully perform the aeromedical evacuation," said Chief Master Sgt. Connie Hoffman, JTF-SFA Joint Operations and Plans superintendent. "There were so many variables that we had to deal with and consider, from local earthquakes to the hazard of volcanic ash and severe weather in Antarctica -- the combination of elements faced here makes these types of missions a little more challenging." According to the chief, the long-standing relationship between the National Science Foundation and JTF-SFA made for streamlined and rapid stand-up of JTF operations here in Christchurch and led to successful mission execution. The U.S. Air Force's C-17 Globemaster III, known for its ability to rapidly conduct tactical airlift and ambulatory patient movement, successfully delivered the ailing patient to Christchurch medical personnel at approximately 8:30 p.m. local, traveling more than 4600 miles. "Flying into Antarctica is always a challenge, though we have the training and experience to make operations such as this one routine," said Lt. Col. Robert Wellington, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander, permanently stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. "Use of night vision goggles is a core competency of C-17 crew members and by developing and refining procedures over the last 4-years we were able to successfully our mission in a dark, arctic environment." According to the colonel, the team couldn't have accomplished the mission without the tremendous support of Joint Base Lewis-McChord Active Duty and Reserve operations and maintenance units, Air Mobility Command and the Tanker Airlift Control Center, Pacific Air Forces and 13th Air Force, and Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica. For Capt John Fowler, CCATT critical care nurse, this mission underscores the great capability and responsiveness that exists within his unit and the U.S. Air Force at-large. "While we faced several weather hazards and operated in austere conditions today, our team of Airmen came together quickly to provide support to our interagency partners," said the captain. "This is what we train to do everyday - integrating with our aeromedical evacuation teams and providing intensive care unit-like capabilities to the [C-17 Globemaster III].

I'm extremely proud that we were all able to come together to make this one happen." JTF-SFA forces consist of active duty, Guard and Reserve personnel from the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard as well as DOD civilians and attached non-DOD civilians. As a joint service, inter-agency operation, most of the military aircraft and ships used are coordinated and provided by the Commander, U.S. Transportation Command and then attached or assigned to the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command for mission execution.

July 3, 2011 at 6:04am

AF food transformation pilot locations begin campus dining concept

Airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., make their choices from the newly upgraded salad bar Oct. 6, 2010, inside the base’s Hercules Dining Facility. The Food Transformation Initiative, or FTI, is a pilot program designed to provide Airmen with impro

SAN ANTONIO (AFNS) -- Airmen at the six Air Force Food Transformation Initiative pilot installations will experience more variety for their meal choices when the program expands to a campus-style dining concept this summer.

The initiative, known as FTI, is a pilot program launched in October 2010 with a goal to better serve the dining needs for today's Airmen. The pilot locations are Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Fairchild Air Force Base, Wash.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; MacDill AFB, Fla.; Patrick AFB, Fla.; and Travis AFB, Calif.

Campus-style dining will launch at Patrick AFB and MacDill July 5.

Currently, Airmen who are part of the essential station messing program are only authorized to use their meal cards at the installation dining facility. Under FTI's campus-style dining concept, Air Force Services Agency officials said Airmen will be able to use their meal cards at most force support squadron nonappropriated fund dining venues, expanding their ability to eat meals at several locations.

"Today's Airmen want a variety of dining choices and quality meals at a reasonable price," said George Miller, AFSVA food and beverage operations chief. "Offering Airmen more dining options throughout the installation not only gives them more freedom, but creates a community atmosphere."

FTI initially fostered a greater sense of community when the pilot installation dining facilities opened in late 2010 to all members of the installation, including civilians, family members, contractors and retirees. Additionally, the dining facilities added new and healthier menu options and increased operating hours to allow diners more time to eat meals throughout the day.

Campus-style dining is just one more aspect of this initiative to re-engineer the Air Force dining delivery model for the first time in nearly 64 years. FTI also incorporates nonappropriated food venues such as clubs and bowling centers and golf course snack bars.

"Services is committed to delivering exceptional quality of life programs to our Air Force communities," Miller said. "This is just another exciting initiative we developed to ensure our most important asset, our people, is taken care of. We will continue to make changes and improve upon this program to deliver even more benefits and efficiencies."

For more information about Air Force foodservice operations and other quality of life programs, visit www.usafservices.com or www.myairforcelife.com.

July 3, 2011 at 6:09am

VA officials issuing first payments to family caregivers

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Department of Veterans Affairs officials will send out more than $430,000 in stipend payments in July to nearly 200 family caregivers of veterans. These family caregivers were the first to complete their caregiver training under the program of comprehensive assistance for family caregivers. The first payments to 96 recipients were issued July 1.

"This is a long-awaited day for many family caregivers who diligently worked to achieve this landmark legislation to enhance services for family caregivers," said VA Secretary Eric K. Shinseki. "I am proud VA can now offer direct support to the loved ones who give the veterans we serve a greater quality of life by allowing them to remain at home surrounded by family and friends."

Family caregivers will receive an average $1,600 in monthly stipend payments. The initial payments will average $2,500 because the first stipend checks are retroactive to the date of application. The amount of the stipend is based on the condition of the veteran and the amount of care he or she requires as well as the geographic location where the veteran resides. An additional 80 stipend payments will be released from the U.S. Treasury on July 8 bringing the total to 176 family caregivers receiving the stipend in July.

"We continue to process and approve applications on a daily basis" said Deborah Amdur, VA's chief consultant for care management and social work. "It has been profoundly gratifying to receive messages from family caregivers about the value of this program."

Since May 9, nearly 1,250 caregivers of veterans who were seriously injured in the line of duty on or after September 11, 2001, have applied for the program. A core caregiver training curriculum is a required component of the program. This comprehensive training, which was developed by Easter Seals specialists in collaboration with VA clinical experts, has received many positive comments from family caregivers. In addition to the training, eligible family caregivers also can access mental health services and are provided health care insurance, if they are not already entitled to care or services under a health plan.

Veterans may review the criteria for eligibility and download the family caregiver program application (VA CG 10-10) at www.caregiver.va.gov.

The application enables the veteran to designate a primary family caregiver and secondary family caregivers if needed. Caregiver support coordinators are stationed at every VA medical center to assist with coordinating the training or assist caregivers in locating available services.

Support for all caregivers is also available via the national caregiver support line at 1-855-260-3274. Caregivers of veterans from all eras are encouraged to use the website and support line to learn about more than two dozen supportive services VA officials offer to family caregivers.

July 3, 2011 at 6:13am

Lighter ABUs to help airmen beat heat in 2012

Air Force Master Sgt. Garrett Maynard pours water over the head of Staff Sgt. Andrew Lewis following the obstacle course run at the U.S. Air Force Academy during Air Force Space Command's Guardian Challenge 2010. The Airmen are with the 50th Security.

FROM AIR FORCE TIMES...

A lighter, more comfortable airman battle uniform is on the way.

By this time next year, those heavy cammos will be just a bad memory if you plunk down the money to replace them.

The Air Force's top personnel officer announced the new uniform in a June 14 interview with Air Force Times.

"We've been working for a while on a lighter-weight material, and it's due to be out in the spring of 2012," said Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services at the Pentagon.

The improved airman battle uniform doesn't look any different from the current ABU but weighs less because of its fabric, according to uniform officials.

SEE THE REST OF THE STORY HERE

July 3, 2011 at 6:33am

Ready for Rodeo at McChord?

McChord Field’s Heritage Hill, with the addition of dozens of tents and a few hundred barrels of hay, is quickly being transformed into Rainier Ranch. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Leah Young)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing, 446th AW and 627th Air Base Group have begun preparing 'Rainier Ranch' to host the multitude of United States and International teams when they arrive at the end of the month.

The installation will host Air Mobility Command RODEO 2011, and competition is set to take place from July 23 to 29. McChord Field's Heritage Hill, with the addition of dozens of tents and a few hundred barrels of hay, is quickly being transformed into Rainier Ranch.

"Rainier Ranch is where all competitors for the upcoming Air Mobility Command RODEO will gather and celebrate their victories and console each other in their losses during the competition," said Master Sgt. Steve Stone, 627th Civil Engineering Squadron/Department of Public Works operations superintendent.

The international competition focuses on readiness, and features airdrops, aerial refueling and other events which showcase the unique and wide-ranging capabilities of military security forces, and aerial port, maintenance and aeromedical evacuation personnel.

"Every single Airman from the civil engineering squadron is out here with gloves on, helping us prepare for RODEO," said Sergeant Stone. "We also have Air Force Academy cadets, Airmen from the aircraft maintenance squadron and a handful of Reservists. It truly is a joint effort."

Construction began June 20 and Rainier Ranch should be ready to go by the second week of July. According to Sergeant Stone, it's one of the best things about RODEO.

"Each evening, this place will come alive with live music, fire pits and volleyball matches," he said. "Basically, it's just a good time with our brothers and sisters in arms from all around the world."

July 4, 2011 at 6:21am

Air Force chief of staff announces 2011 'Vector'

The Air Force's senior military officer released his vision for the future in the CSAF Vector 2011, which highlights the service's unique contributions to national security and also provides updates and the way ahead on the Air Force's priorities.

"A year ago I presented a vision for our Air Force," Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said. "That same vision remains: I see our Air Force rising, strong and capable -- an Air Force consistently and reliably delivering Global Vigilance, Reach and Power for America -- in what is likely to be a very challenging future.

"We made a lot of progress last year, but there is still much to accomplish," he said. "This Vector provides an update of where we have been and where we still need to go as the world's greatest Air Force."

In his Vector, Schwartz discusses the strategic environment and challenges facing today's Air Force, to include budget pressures.

"In the coming years, our nation and our Air Force will face a budget environment unlike anything we have encountered in decades," he said. "As elected officials consider what to do about the growing federal debt, pressure will mount to reduce defense spending.

"The Air Force will play a role in the solution, but not by retrenching or continuing business as usual on a reduced scale," he said. "My pledge for the coming year is to strengthen unit readiness and avoid a creeping hollow force that provides only the illusion of Global Vigilance, Reach, and Power.

"Yet, even as we operate aging systems, many Air Force capabilities require modernization to help us shape and respond to a very challenging future," the general said. "We must make difficult choices to balance near-term operational readiness with longer term needs, and fit all of that into a more affordable package."

The first step to achieving that balance is to reaffirm the Air Force's commitment to its Airmen and its mission, Schwartz said.

"We take pride in having a diverse, highly trained and educated force, and will continue to devote the necessary time and resources to develop Airmen who are prepared, individually and collectively, to solve the challenges of the future," he said.

The Vector also highlights the Air Force's unique contributions to national security, which the general said Airmen must understand, appreciate and be able to articulate.

"While we conduct many missions, there are four unique Air Force contributions that define us: gaining control of air, space and cyberspace; holding targets at risk around the world; providing responsive intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; and rapidly transporting people and equipment across the globe," Schwartz said. "We carry out each of these unique, advanced capabilities through an unmatched global command and control network.

"Collectively, they not only distinguish our Air Force as the preeminent air and space power, they also bolster the United States ' reputation as the world's most responsive and capable strategic actor," he said. "The nature of the rapidly changing security environment demands that we focus on sustaining these enduring contributions."

Schwartz's Vector also provides an update on progress made and the way ahead toward sustaining the Air Force's five priorities of continuing to strengthen the Air Force nuclear enterprise, partnering with the joint and coalition team to win today's fight, developing and caring for Airmen, modernizing inventories and training, and recapturing acquisition excellence.

"Guided by a common vector and the coming year's emphasis on unit readiness, we will continue to train and educate our people while we execute today's missions and work hard to develop the next generation of capabilities that will shape the future security environment," the general said. "Paired with the complementary capabilities of our Joint and coalition partners, we will ensure our Air Force remains poised to preserve peace and to provide Global Vigilance, Reach and Power for today's fights and for generations to come."

To read the CSAF Vector 2011 and other senior leader viewpoints, visit the information section on AF.mil at http://www.af.mil/information/viewpoints/index.asp.

July 6, 2011 at 6:39am

Washington state JTACs guide air strikes, turn tide during major battle

Senior Airman Michael McAffrey patrols alongside a field near Khanda Village in Laghman province, Afghanistan June 18, 2011. Airman McAffrey is a joint terminal attack controller with the Washington Air National Guard's 116th Air Support Operations Squadr

NURISTAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan (AFNS) -- Airmen from the Washington Air National Guard directed multiple airstrikes May 25 helping a significantly outnumbered U.S. Army and Afghan National Security Force unit fight through an ambush and free a district center from insurgents.

Joint terminal attack controllers from the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron, in communication with coalition aircraft, directed aerial attacks on enemy positions while U.S. and Afghan soldiers fought to drive insurgents from Do Ab, a tiny village in Nuristan province, Afghanistan.

Approximately 40 U.S. service members, including two JTAC Airmen, and about 20 of their Afghan counterparts went to Do Ab after intelligence reports indicated insurgents had overrun the district center.

The Airmen and Soldiers from the 133rd Infantry Regiment, Task Force Ironman, 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, TF Red Bulls, fought through a massive ambush from an enemy force numbering in the hundreds, killing more than 100 insurgent fighters in an intense 72-hour battle.

The service members involved said the most amazing part of the whole conflict, though, was there was not one coalition force casualty. The Airmen from the Washington ANG were the key to the battle, they added.

"If they hadn't been there dropping bombs, I don't know that we would have gotten out of that valley," said Army Sgt. Edward Kane, an infantry team leader. "The enemy was getting closer, and their shots were getting more accurate."

The Airmen spoke modestly of their involvement in the mission.

"We were very lucky," said Tech. Sgt. Tavis Delaney.

Delaney and Senior Airman Michael McCaffrey were the two specially-trained members of the U.S. Air Force Tactical Air Control Party inserted with the Soldiers that day.

The Army leaders and rank-and-file members the JTAC Airmen support said there was much more than luck at work during the fight.

JTACs are trained to work alongside Soldiers to control precision air strikes on the enemy. In Afghanistan, their work is critical to saving U.S. and Afghan lives, said Maj. Raed Gyekis, the 116th's Air Liaison Officer.

He said the training and preparation a JTAC undergoes is strenuous, combining many of the top specialized schools from both the Army and Air Force.

The geography of the valley made it extremely challenging for coalition forces.

"This is a fairly remote valley, surrounded by high canyon walls," said Lt. Col. Chris Adamson, the 116th ASOS squadron commander. "It had been a while, nearly two years, since any American forces had been there."

"Do Ab is a remote area with a small district center, comparable to a small town courthouse in America," he said. "Not much else is there."

Adamson said his Airmen and the 133rd's Soldiers faced a lot of uncertainty pertaining to the mission.

"We received several reports indicating that the local Afghan police had been overrun by 400 to 500 Taliban fighters, but the information was of questionable value," he said.

"The mission came down quickly," recalled Gyekis. "Headquarters wanted to know what the situation in Do Ab really was. Our Army unit had very little time between notification and mission execution."

"Maj. Gyekis told me to grab Mac and be ready to go for a three-day mission, at the helicopter, in 52 minutes," said Delaney, the lead JTAC.

Delaney and McCaffrey boarded CH-47 Chinook helicopters with the platoon. When the helicopters touched down in the narrow canyon floor next to a rushing river, the Airmen said they were tactically in one of the worst possible spots, one where an ambush could easily happen. The Soldiers and Airmen were in a valley surrounded by steep canyon walls. However, it was the only suitable landing zone in the narrow canyon.

"There was no good cover or concealment on the landing zone," said Army 1st Lt. Justin Foote, the platoon leader for Recon Platoon.

The 116th ASOS JTACs have navigated some of the most difficult terrain in eastern Afghanistan, in the shadow of the Hindu Kush mountain range.

"This was some of the worst terrain," Delaney said, "and exactly where I would choose to place an ambush if I was the enemy."

Which is exactly what happened.

"As soon as we got off the helicopters, we started taking fire from every direction ... rocket propelled grenades, AK-47, machine guns and mortars," McCaffrey said. "They held all the high ground surrounding the landing zone."

For the Army, there was nothing to do but seek cover and return fire. Nonetheless, cover was sparse, and the enemy was so high above the coalition forces they could use plunging fire to shoot over what little cover the Soldiers had. The JTACs, knew these first minutes were critical for their unit's survival.

"The Army laid down suppressive fire on all the enemy locations, while Delaney and McCaffrey hastily requested more firepower," recalled Master Sgt. Rob Lee, another 116th ASOS JTAC who was working the headquarters' radios.

Sergeant Lee relayed their urgent requests and quickly got Navy and Air Force strike aircraft overhead to support his pinned-down teammates.

Within a short time, while under fire, Delaney began to guide jets to drop the first bombs onto the heavily-armed enemy surrounding his embattled unit. The bombs continued to fall for the next seven hours.

Meanwhile, Apache and Kiowa attack helicopters also joined the fight even as the enemy continued to attack. The Soldiers fended off the enemy attack in the landing zone area for the better part of an hour before moving to a better position.

With Delaney and McCaffrey guiding bombs onto the enemy positions, the small infantry force escaped the open landing zone. They took cover in a nearby series of abandoned Afghan mud huts and rock-walled animal pens.

For six hours, they, along with their Afghan National Army counterparts, fought off the enemy. Meanwhile, the enemy continued to swarm around them in the mountains above. The Soldiers did not know it at the time, but the enemy had heavily fortified fighting positions: trenches dug into solid rocks that were chest-high.

The Soldiers said they continued to fight, but as the enemy drew closer, the air strikes began to take their toll on the overwhelming enemy force that had them surrounded and pinned down.

Despite a deadly hail of bullets kicking up dust at their feet and RPGs exploding nearby, Delaney and McCaffrey continuously ran between the huts to figure out where the greatest threats were coming from and then control airstrikes on the advancing enemy fighters.

The Taliban targeted the JTACs each time they sprinted across open ground.

"Every time Sergeant Delaney lifted his foot, a bullet kicked up dust in the footprint he had just left," McCaffrey said.

Meanwhile, Airmen at FOB Mehtar Lam did their best to support their fellow Airmen in the fight in the valley at Do Ab.

"We loaded a bunch of emergency helicopter resupply 'speedballs' full of more ammo, water and food for the guys," said Master Sgt. Dave Glisson, a 116th ASOS member helping push assistance forward to Delaney and McCaffrey. "But only a few were successful getting dropped off due to the heavy amount of gunfire in the battle. Several aircraft were shot up in the effort."

"It got to the point where the enemy had maneuvered within 200 meters of the team," said Tech. Sgt. Jaime Medina, another 116th ASOS JTAC. "Tavis made the gutsy call to recommend a danger-close mission to the ground commander."

Dropping massive bombs that close to U.S. forces, just outside the bomb's maximum effective range, left no room for error by the pilots, and was a very difficult decision to make.

"It had to be done, however," Delaney said. "We were in direct danger of being overrun."

The bombs shook the entire team.

"We felt it hit, rocks flew by our heads, dust erupted everywhere and all sound seemed to stop for several seconds," McCaffrey said.

The Soldiers and Airmen said the bombs made the difference in the battle.

The efforts of the pilots also were crucial to helping save the lives of the platoon, added Army Staff Sgt. Luke Chatfield, a joint fires observer who worked hand in hand with the JTACs during the battle.

"I give a lot of credit to the pilots, both helicopter and fighters," Chatfield said. "They came in under fire each time we needed them to, and they were getting shot at and still were able to get on target time and time again and didn't hesitate. We had fixed-wing come down the valley lower than any fixed wing I've ever seen before, and they were getting shot at there, too, and they didn't care."

"The 116th ASOS and Washington ANG have had members deployed nearly continuously since Sept. 11, 2001," Gyekis said, "We have members who humbly wear the Silver Star, Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other awards for valor for their service to the nation. What these two did that day is right up there with the very best of those."

After a final burst of enemy resistance, the battle ended, almost as suddenly as it began.

"For the next several days, we secured the district center and conducted patrols through the villages," Delaney said. "We didn't receive any more gun shots."

Adamson said the two Airmen had not only survived a well-laid ambush, but had turned the tables on the enemy. They used their wits and skills to bring air power to bear on an overwhelming enemy force, and in the end, their actions were pivotal to bringing every single one of their brothers-in-arms home, he said.

All of the men of the platoon were pulled out three days afterward, exhausted and humbled by their good fortune.

"I couldn't be prouder of what our Washington guardsmen did to bring those Soldiers home safely to their families," Adamson said.

"What Delaney and McCaffrey did that day was both extraordinary, as well as expected from each of our JTACs," Gyekis said. "We spend years preparing for days like this. They were the right men in the right spot at the right time. We train so that each of our teams can be thrown into a meat grinder like Do Ab and do what those two did. We are fortunate to have a lot of men of their caliber in our unit ... and they were all jumping at the chance to hop on a helicopter and get up there and help Tavis and Mike out during this battle."

The day after the platoon returned to their forward operating base, several of the Army soldiers and leaders individually approached Delaney and McCaffrey's team leader, Gyekis.

"Your two JTACs saved our lives," they told him.

Gyekis recalled how one of them had tears in his eyes when he recounted the story, and how his wife and children had Delaney and McCaffrey to thank for his safe return.

"Those Soldiers words," Delaney said, "are the highest compliment you could ever pay one of our JTACs."

July 6, 2011 at 6:44am

Air Force officials launch FSS gift card program

SAN ANTONIO (AFNS) -- Air Force Services Agency officials here said the joy of giving is a little easier after the launch of an Air Force-wide gift card program.

Installations worldwide now provide Force Support Squadron gift cards available for use throughout all FSS activities. Officials said the cards are simple to purchase and easy to use, giving Air Force members special purchasing power.

"The overwhelming benefit of the new gift card is the convenience," said Frank Black, the AFSVA chief of community programs. "It takes the worry out of what to give someone for a special occasion. The card can also be used for anything FSS activities offer, from lunch at the bowling center to white water rafting down the Colorado River."

The gift cards are sold at many FSS point of sale outlets. The patron decides how much to load on the card, from $5 to $1,500. The cards are reloadable, and balances can be checked anytime online at www.myfssgiftcard.com.

"Patrons will also be glad to know the FSS gift card never expires and penalty fees are never assessed," said Fred McKenney, the AFSVA food and beverage division chief. "That means people can take as much time as they want to use the card."

FSS gift cards are standardized so they can be used at any installation regardless of where they're purchased. Officials said the gift card program is easier to manage than coupons and FSS bucks. Additionally, the cards are more durable than paper coupons and can be swiped like credit cards.

For more information about FSS gift cards, visit www.myfssgiftcard.com or call a local FSS.

July 6, 2011 at 6:49am

Air Force EWO graduates from Navy Growler training at Whidbey

U.S. Air Force Capt. Cole Davenport (left), an electronic warfare officer with Fixed Wing Electronic Attack Squadron 129, and Navy Lt. Adamantius Kouloumoundras (right), a VAQ-129 EA-18G Growler pilot, prepare for a flight at Naval Air Station Whidbey Isl

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho (AFNS) -- An electronic warfare officer became the first Air Force EWO to graduate from the 10-month-long Navy EA-18G Growler training at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., June 28.

Capt. Cole Davenport, who is with the 390th Electronic Combat Squadron, completed his first training sortie Sept. 7, 2010.

"It marked the beginning of a transition from the EA-6B Prowler to the EA-18G Growler for the 390th ECS, and continues the Navy and Air Force cooperation in the Joint Electronic Attack arena," said Maj. Don Keen, the director of operations for the 390th ECS, which is attached to the 366th Fighter Wing here.

The Air Force has worked with the Navy for 16 years since the EF-111 Raven was retired, leaving the Air Force with no fighter-type electronic warfare aircraft other than the EC-130H Compass Call. It is with the Navy's EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler that Air Force electronic warfare officers can gain knowledge and better prepare for the future.

"The Navy gives us a really hard time about being in the Air Force and they pick on us for some of the ways we talk, and some of the things we do," Davenport said. "But, they are a joy to fly with and they are very professional. Flying in the Growler is an awesome opportunity."

During the extensive training, students learn the basics of the aircraft and emergency procedures inside a simulator, as well as perform familiarization flights.

"They'll start with the academics about all the different aircraft systems, and then go to the simulator to start practicing what they've learned," said Maj. Martin Rann, an EA-6B Prowler instructor with Fixed Wing Electronic Attack Squadron 129. "As their training progresses, they may have academics in the morning, a flight in the afternoon or even two flights a day."

During the air-to-air portion of training, students learn basic fighter maneuvers similar to "dog-fighting," air combat maneuvering, intercepts and, finally, electronic warfare.

The students are taught to locate and jam emitters, radar systems and other communications, as well as how to employ anti-radiation missiles designed to go after any radars that are radiating, Rann said.

After completing training, personnel are spread out amongst five EA-6B Prowler carrier squadrons. There will also be Air Force officers in the expeditionary EA-18G Growler squadrons later this summer.

"I look forward to joining the fleet and going out and employing with the Air Force, Navy and Marines and actually getting to go out and do the mission," Davenport said.

The 390th ECS has 18 personnel with weapon systems backgrounds from current and previous officers that consist of F-111, EF-111, F-4G, F-15E, F-15C, F-16, A-10, B-1, B-52, RC-135, EC-130, AC-130, U-2 and RQ-1 aircraft.

"A lot of people know the Air Force is here," said Capt. Alain Martinez, an EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare officer with Fixed Wing Electronic Attack Squadron 140. "But when they see us flying the aircraft, a lot of the people are surprised and impressed that we are supporting the Navy, Marines and the electronic attack arena."

After completing a three-year tour, Air Force personnel return to their designated aircraft and continue to pass on the wealth of knowledge received in the joint environment.

"The men and women we have here at the 390th are truly unique in the aspect that they understand the joint nature of today's fight," said Lt. Col. Karl Fischbach, the 390th ECS commander. "We deploy and fight as a joint team, and the young captains, even lieutenants, experience that on a daily basis here with the Navy. It truly is a joint team/joint mission area, and these guys really understand that and develop as Airmen and electronic warfare officers. They can bring a lot back to the Air Force."

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