Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: January, 2012 (30) Currently Viewing: 21 - 30 of 30

January 19, 2012 at 1:49pm

McChord Special Tactics Airmen Receive Combat Medals

Hurlburt Field, FL - More than a dozen Airmen from the same unit were presented eighteen medals recently for meritorious actions in combat.

Fourteen special tactics Airmen from the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., were presented two Purple Hearts and 14 Bronze Stars, five of which were with Valor.

Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, hosted the ceremony, presenting the medals to 10 combat controllers and four tactical air control party members.

The Bronze Star is awarded in recognition of bravery, heroism and meritorious service during engagement with an armed enemy of the U.S. It is the fourth highest combat honor within the military. The Bronze Star recognizes meritorious service while the Bronze Star with Valor recognizes heroism.

The Purple Heart is awarded to those injured or killed in combat.

Fiel commended the Airmen for tirelessly and humbly sacrificing for their country.

"Whenever I speak with a recipient of one of these awards, I always get the response 'sir, I was just doing my job, just doing what I was trained to do,'" Fiel said. "But the reality is that all of you men do so much more than just 'what you were trained to do.'"

Training is a building block, but these Airmen are not merely being recognized for putting their training into play, he said.

They are being recognized for being leaders in their squadron and examples for the next generation of special tactics Airmen, he said.

They are being recognized for their belief in the mission and for the preparation put into planning their missions and executing them in theater.

They are being recognized because they have strong families standing behind them, Fiel said.

Between them, the Airmen have deployed at least 42 times. Their service resulted in the removal of more than 600 enemy combatants from 2009 to 2011, according to their award citations.

The medal recipients are:

Master Sgt. Christopher Grove - Bronze Star with Valor 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor 5th Oak Leaf Cluster

Master Sgt. Douglas Neville - Bronze Star with Valor

Staff Sgt. Tyler Britton - Bronze Star 1st Oak Leaf Cluster

Staff Sgt. Eric Galvan - Purple Heart, Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Mike Kurta - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Christopher Martin - Bronze Star with Valor 1st Oak Leaf Cluster, Bronze Star with Valor 2nd Oak Leaf Cluster

Staff Sgt. Sean Mullins - Bronze Star with Valor 1st Oak Leaf Cluster

Staff Sgt. Michael Orlando - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Verne Patterson - Bronze Star with Valor

Staff Sgt. Matthew Riechers - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Jeffery Salazar - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Ryan Sjurson - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Nathan Vogle - Bronze Star

Staff Sgt. Michael Wilhelm - Purple Heart, Bronze Star 1st Oak Leaf Cluster

January 24, 2012 at 6:14am

446th reservists volunteer to support mortuary

The Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center, Dover Air Force Base, Del., has the sole duty of fulfilling the country's commitment of ensuring dignity, honor, and respect to fallen U.S. troops and the care, service, and support to their families. Since 1996, Reservists from the 446th Force Support Squadron Sustainment Services Flight at Joint Base Lewis-McChord have helped support the Air Force's mortuary mission.

The unit will send five more Reservists to Dover to support the mortuary between February and March. And they volunteered knowing their actual deployment window is right around the corner, knowing they could end up serving another six months there.

"The thought that we have volunteers who want to do things for this nation, shows the best part of who we are as a Reserve," said Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th Airlift Wing commander. "They want to do it to help other people. The fact that they are spending their time helping the families of some of the greatest heroes we've ever seen, makes my heart happy. This epitomizes who we are as a Reserve unit."

Technical Sergeant Michael Bishop is preparing for his fourth deployment to the mortuary - it's the second time he's put his "service before himself" by volunteering outside of his flight's tasking- and he says, it won't be the last.

Technical Sergeant Katie Badowski, 446th FSS Sustainment Services supervisor shares a similar background as Bishop.

"I had been to Dover twice prior to this upcoming deployment," said Badowski who, like Bishop, had deployed to Southwest Asia. "I felt a strong camaraderie with the staff at the port mortuary."

First-time deployers, such as Capt. Carrianne Culy, 446th FSS Sustainment Services operations officer, prepare for the best at the mortuary.

"I have no doubts, I'll be working with a group of outstanding people and for a great commander," Culy said. As simple as it may sound to prepare for a deployment of this delicacy, Culy knows what's ahead of her.

"I went to an orientation course at the port mortuary and felt like it would be a tough, yet worthwhile deployment," she said. "I'm not sure how much longer officer assignments will be available, but I plan on going as many times as they need me to, whether I have a good experience or not."

Filed under: 446th Airlift Wing,

January 24, 2012 at 6:18am

Servicemembers may see fewer tax refunds this year

After a record breaking year saving Joint Base Lewis-McChord Soldiers and retirees over $1 million on filing their tax returns and generating $16.6 million in refunds from the 7,800 federal and state returns, the JBLM Tax Center is preparing for another busy year. However, servicemembers may see fewer refunds this year due to changes in the tax codes including the expiration of the Making Work Pay Credit and in most cases, the First Time Homebuyers Credit. Officer in Charge Capt. Sean Flood hopes to continue Lewis-McChord's accuracy track record while saving servicemembers money.

"We conduct a double quality review of everything before filing," he said. "The more sets of eyes on (the return), the more money you get back."

Last year's returns from McChord Field alone had the third lowest rejection rate of all Department of Defense tax centers in the continental U.S. with only 3.7 percent of returns rejected. As a whole, JBLM had the lowest rejection rate of all major Army installations based on volume.

To ensure accuracy, Flood and his staff stress that customers bring Social Security cards, as well as those of all dependents, to the center.

"The No. 1 reason why our returns get rejected is that the names and Social Security numbers do not match with what the IRS has on file," Flood said.

The tax centers request you bring all of your required paperwork to complete your return before arriving. If not, you will be asked to return another day and not be given line preference. The centers will not print documentation on site. Required documents generally include, but are not limited to, W-2s, 1099-Rs, 1099-INTs and, if applicable, any documentation relating to a rental property or itemized deductions.

The staff consists of 28 servicemembers from the installation and two civilians with tax preparation experience. Military members received training from the IRS' Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program and military-specific tax codes.

Specialist Lucas Sutton of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division is excited that the training will save him money in the future.

"I love that it's a great skill to have beyond the Army," Spc, Lucas Sutton said. "I can forever do my own taxes for free."

JBLM Tax Center is also testing a new program entitled Free Assisted Self-Service Tax Preparation at the McChord location. FAST allows people to file taxes electronically on their own for free with a tax preparation service, including H&R Block Free File, Turbo Tax Freedom and TaxSlayer. A trained staff member will be on-site at the designated computer stations to help users with filing and working with the system.

FAST is best for people with a simple tax return, such as no state tax return, few or no assets, and no itemized deductions. Upon arriving at the McChord Tax Center Office the staff will help you decide if FAST is your best option.

The tax center held its ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday and both tax centers open Monday for all 2012 returns. They are free and open to all active duty servicemembers, retirees, activated reservists and National Guardsmen. Expect a wait, especially the first weeks the center is open and as W-2s become available on MyPay on Tuesday.

Unlike recent years, the tax center will be open on Mondays. Hours are subject to change depending on the volume of people. You can call ahead to see how long the wait is prior to arriving. In the past, early daytime hours were the busiest.

All services are available on a walk-in basis. Appointments are available to those who own rental properties, have foreign source income or other foreign issues, home day care, respite care and for E-9s, O-6s or higher and CW-5s.

January 24, 2012 at 7:01am

My 30 minutes with the AMC command chief

Chief Master Sgt. Richard Kaiser, Air Mobility Command command chief

 It was a cold and snowy Friday afternoon. McChord Field, which somewhat resembled an abandoned ghost town, was covered with more than nine inches of snow.

Amid the unfavorable weather conditions, Air Mobility Command's command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Richard Kaiser, was still able to visit the installation and speak with a few Airmen. One of those Airmen happened to be me.

Talking with a person who has witnessed the Air Force change and improve over the course of nearly 30 years has given me a whole new perspective. I've gained a different sense of pride and meaning in what we as a military branch do. Chief Kaiser's words not only encouraged and motivated me as an Airman, but a person as well.


Chief, tell us a little about yourself.

I'm from Columbus, Ohio, and I'm a huge Ohio State Buckeyes fan. I married my high school sweetheart, Debbie, and we have four wonderful children and three grandsons. I came into the Air Force open general and found out I was selected for a career in public health. After four years, I cross trained into communications and worked in that career field for 17 years.

What are your initial thoughts about Joint Base Lewis-McChord?

It's an amazing place, even with the snow! This transition has worked because of the relationships between the people who make it work. This is a very unique environment, and it's different from what we're used to, but it's working well here because of remarkable people.

What have you learned since you've taken over as AMC command chief?

I've been fortunate enough to witness the level of excellence and selfless dedication among the amazing young Airmen every single day. Recently, we have identified the "why" of AMC... Why do we exist? We answer the call of other so they may prevail. That could mean anything from refueling to saving lives with our aeromedical evacuation or providing hope with our airlift mission. The quiet professionalism throughout our command continues to impress me.

One of the things Comprehensive Airmen Fitness focuses on is resiliency. In what ways can Airmen become more resilient?

Each individual Airmen needs to realize they're part of the Air Force family. One of the pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness is the social aspect, and I think it's important for Airmen to build strong relationships. Airmen who are willing to stretch outside of their comfort zone, try new things and succeed, often become more resilient in the long run. We want every individual Airman to succeed, and we're going to provide the tools and resources to ensure they succeed.

How do you think we can better prepare our non-commissioned officers for expanded leadership roles?

I think our front line supervisors are the most important role in the Air Force. Not only are they executing the mission, but they're also leading and growing the next generation of Airmen. That is a huge responsibility. I think our NCOs can be more confrontational, not in a negative way at all, but in a challenging way. Enhance your Airmen. Give them feedback in a helpful, respectful way. We take our Airmen to the next level with strong and effective leadership.

The Air Force announced new high-year tenure rules which will begin in 2013. What are some suggestions you would make to young NCOs to ensure their careers are progressing in a positive direction?

In one word: Study! Make the most of every single day.

How important has family been in your career?

I would not be a command chief if it weren't for Debbie being such a great command chief's wife. Also, the sacrifices that our children had to make were incalculable. My career really has been a joint venture. You have to be all in it together. I would not be talking to you today were it not for the love and support of my family.

Now that the war in Iraq has ended, in your opinion, what were some of Air Mobility Command's greatest contributions to the effort?

We've played many traditional roles, such as airlift, airdrop and aero medical evacuation. We've also played many non-traditional roles. We've asked our Airmen to step outside of their career fields, such as Airmen who are embedded in joint special operations units. Now that we're out of Iraq, there's a democracy there. That's the bottom line. Also, our Airmen have become better leaders because of their experience in Iraq.

Are there any final thoughts you'd like to share with the men and women of McChord Field?

I'd like our leaders to set the bar high for their Airmen. Provide the tools for them to succeed and then stand back and watch them excel. Give them coaching and encouragement when they need it. You are obligated to help that Airmen become the best they can possibly be.

I'd like for our individual Airmen to stretch beyond their comfort zones and try something new. Accept a new leadership opportunity or sign up for a new class. Find out what you're really capable of. The military makes up less than one percent of this country's population. Each one of our Airmen plays a huge part in the overall mission. Continue to grow and let nothing stand in your way.

January 25, 2012 at 5:40am

Laughlin named busiest airfield in AF for 2011

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, -- A look at a terminal control workstation here Dec. 7, 2011.

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Laughlin was officially announced the busiest airfield and combined air traffic control tower in the Air Force for 2011 on Jan. 10 by the Air Force Flight Standards Agency for having a total of 337,439 operations.

Controlling the busiest airfield in the Air Force is the 47th Operations Support Squadron radar approach control section and tower. The RAPCON was identified as the busiest of 39 facilities with 266,591 operations and the tower was ninth out of 98 towers with 70,848.

"I'm very excited for and at the same time proud of the men and women in Laughlin's RAPCON and Tower who daily dedicate themselves to ensuring the safe execution of Laughlin's flight training mission," said Chief Master Sgt. Howard Teesdale, 47th Operations Support Squadron RAPCON chief controller. "Other than the instructor pilots who sit directly behind and are in control of the students flying the plane, no one comes close to touching the 47th Flying Training Wing's mission of graduating the world's best pilots than the controllers do."

The tower and RAPCON are made up of 69 controllers who control 62 airfields, 10,000 square miles of airspace within 100 miles of Laughlin. Before earning the title as the busiest airfield in the Air Force, they were controlling the fourth busiest in terms of combined air traffic control operations.

Teesdale also noted that Laughlin has been his busiest assignment to date and most complex.

"When your main customer is student pilots, the operating environment we try to provide them is ever changing," he said.

While a high operations tempo and constant change are always there, so is the sense of pride the controllers take in their job.

"I have a duty to help other controllers receive the quality training that will help them," said Airman 1st Class Jennifer Davis, 47th OSS air traffic controller. "This duty extends to myself as well, I am responsible for keeping myself current in all of my training and proficient in the positions I hold. I also have a moral responsibility to perform my job to the best of my ability, to ensure that I provide the best ATC service possible to aid in the pilot training process."

Teesdale explained how here at Laughlin it can get extremely busy at times and doing the unimaginable happens often.

"As with any organization, especially one that shares a singular common goal such as ours, there's a lot of camaraderie, they are a tough crowd and that's because they have to be," Teesdale said. "In the end however, controllers always seem to prevail and come out on top and in my humble opinion this is why controllers are routinely labeled a step above because they truly are."

January 26, 2012 at 7:55pm

Airmen key to new defense strategy

Airmen will play an important role in the joint team's effort to achieve the priorities laid out in the new defense strategic guidance, according to the Air Force's top uniformed officer.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz spoke to members of the World Affairs Council of Wilmington Jan. 19, where he discussed the capabilities the Air Force contributes to the new Department of Defense strategy.

The strategy, which was announced by defense officials Jan. 5, lays out a way forward for the military to defend the United States and its national interests while reducing military spending in a responsible, balanced manner.

Schwartz said he sees the Air Force contributing to the new strategy through the service's four core contributions to the nation's joint military portfolio: domain control; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; air mobility; and global strike.

These four contributions, which are enhanced by the Air Force's superior command and control networks, "have a proven track record of sustaining our nation's military advantage in the face of emerging threats," he said.

"The nation has come to rely on the strategic flexibility the Air Force provides to create desired, timely and precise effects at times and places of our choosing, and your Air Force is committed to providing it, even as current combat operations wind down," Schwartz said.

While the United States will maintain its focus on the Middle East, the defense strategic guidance also calls for a rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific theater, he said.

The Air Force will continue to strengthen its long-standing partnerships in that region, such as those with Australia, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Thailand and the Philippines, and continue developing burgeoning relationships with others like India, Indonesia and Thailand, the general said.

"Through these air force partnerships, we will work to leverage the unique characteristics of airpower to support our nation's, and mutual, strategic interests," Schwartz said.

The new defense strategy also affirms that the United States will maintain its commitments and advance its long-standing alliances in Europe, the general said.

"Working with our European allies, as well as with other global partners, we will seek to develop an enhanced, ‘smart defense' approach that capitalizes on our ability to specialize, share and pool capabilities toward collective effects," Schwartz said.

In addition to strengthening interoperability with selected key global partners, Schwartz said the U.S. military will continue to increase joint interdependence, as seen in ongoing efforts on the Air-Sea Battle concept.

"As potential adversaries are pursuing strategies and investments in technical capabilities that are designed specifically to challenge our access to, and ability to maneuver in, areas where we have national interests, our nation's advantage in establishing and maintaining air superiority, sea control, and access to forward bases is being threatened," the general said.

Air-Sea Battle will help to maintain U.S. freedom of action across the full range of missions, including non-military; enhance power projection capability in defense of U.S. and partner-nation interests; and preserve access to the global commons, Schwartz said.

Leading and pursuing all of these efforts to ensure the U.S. military's readiness in the years ahead is a dedicated team of joint service members supported by their remarkable families, he said.

"I am grateful for your support of our brave men and women in uniform, as well as of their families," Schwartz told the audience. "They have served our country nobly, and continue to serve with great distinction."

January 28, 2012 at 5:39am

CSAF: AF will be smaller but superb force

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz explained the service's contributions to the new Defense Department strategy during a Pentagon press briefing here Jan. 27.

Schwartz said that as the Air Force approaches future constrained budgets, service officials will trade size for quality in order to ensure a ready force.

"We will be a smaller but superb force that maintains our agility, our flexibility and readiness to engage a full range of contingencies and threats," Schwartz said in the news conference, which followed the Defense Department's major budget decisions briefings on Jan. 26.

With Airmen regularly serving jointly and deploying with their coalition counterparts, the Air Force must ensure its unique contributions to national security are preserved, he added.

"Air Force capabilities are clearly instrumental to the major priorities of the new defense strategic guidance, such as deterring and defeating aggression, power projection in anti-access and area-denial environments, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, space and cyber operations, and strategic deterrence," Schwartz said.

Future plans call for the Air Force to reduce its total force end strength by approximately 10,000 personnel, the general said. The changes will be tied to reductions in aircraft and other force structure, and are not being made to simply save money, he added.

Confronted by a complex security environment and significant reduction in defense resources, the Air Force determined that the best path forward was to become smaller in order to maintain and protect a high-quality force, Schwartz said.

"To avoid a hollow force, we must and will protect readiness at any force level and strengthen our integration of the total force team of active, Guard and Reserve Airmen," Schwartz said. "It is our intent, indeed our obligation, to the American people and our Airmen that we will remain the world's finest Air Force in the years and decades to come."

Schwartz said the Air Force supports a new round of base realignment and closures as a way to reduce excess infrastructure, and echoed comments from senior defense officials that the Block 30 version of Global Hawk would be terminated.

"The reality is that the Global Hawk is not less expensive to operate than the U-2," Schwartz said, confirming that the Air Force would continue to use the U-2 rather than the Global Hawk Block 30 as a way to reduce costs. "And in many respects, the Global Hawk Block 30 system is not as capable, from a sensor point of view, as the U-2."

Schwartz also touched on the importance of the nuclear triad, stating "the diversity, the variety and the attributes associated with each leg of the triad actually reinforce each other to a great degree."

Other key programs and investment priorities for the Air Force include the KC-46A tanker, F-35 Lightning II and the future long-range strike bomber, Schwartz said.

"The bottom line is these are important capabilities for the nation and ones that we will make sacrifices in other areas to sustain," the general said.

Schwartz ended the news conference by touching on the importance of America's servicemembers, and their families, to the success of the armed forces.

"I would just like to remind everyone that the real power of our Air Force, like our sister services, is our people, and not only in the excellence that they strive to provide, but also in the commitment that their families offer us on a daily basis," Schwartz said.

January 28, 2012 at 5:43am

McChord's safety down day

The 62nd Airlift Wing dedicated Jan. 27 to focus on safety. According to the Air Mobility Command leadership, the purpose of the day is to raise awareness and focus attention on safe and effective mobility operations.

"This is an opportune time as we come off the holiday 'slow' period to refocus our attention and reinvigorate a safety mindset," said Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., AMC commander, in a letter to the command's leaders.

The day began with an all call in Hangar 9 at 8 a.m. Following the all call, everyone was released to their groups or squadrons.

To allow for maximum participation and to the maximum extent possible, Johns directed that AMC operations and training be limited on safety focus day. This will afford Airmen time to focus on mishap trends and the need to constantly maintain our safety focus in day-to-day air mobility operations.

Specifically, Airmen will attend briefings and discuss issues in their units. Safety down day activities highlighted safety practices and procedures, sound operational risk management and ways to enhance safety and reduce risk on and off-duty.

"Today's safety down day afforded our wing an excellent opportunity to stop and reflect on safe and effective mission accomplishment for all disciplines," said Lt. Col. Jason King, 62nd Airlift Wing chief of safety. "We need to get away from the mindset that accidents are inevitable, and believe that all mishaps can be prevented."

AMC officials expect that the Focus Day will help promote positive trends in terms of complacency, attention to detail and adherence to standards. In addition, they hope it will also highlight key issues requiring the commands attention to continue safe and effective mission accomplishment.

January 30, 2012 at 6:07am

JBLM Airman deploys, keeps ground troops supplied from sky

Senior Airman Jonathan Fabis, a loadmaster with the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, recently deployed to an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia from the 7th Airlift Squadron out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

Fabis, a native of Washington D.C., deployed to the 817th EAS, a C-17 Globemaster III flying squadron and joined a group of airmen ranging in specialties from loadmasters, to navigators to pilots. These airmen are what keeps this highly functional squadron operating.

They work as a team flying thousands of miles to perform an array of missions around their assigned area of responsibility.

Equipped with C-17s, the 817th EAS transport and support coalition forces engaging in combat operations as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, and they also operate in the Horn of Africa.

The squadron's mission is to provide strategic airlift, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout the AOR.

Fabis and members of his team fly missions several times a week, but some of them like certain parts of the mission more than others.

"I always enjoy deployments," said Fabis. "It's a great place to get to know the people you work with and see just how you fit into the larger picture.

"My favorite part of our mission here are the combat airdrops," he continued. "Knowing that I am directly affecting the warfighter on the ground is worth all the hard work."

An airdrop mission is when supplies like food and fuel is loaded onto a plane and then dropped from the back of the aircraft over remote forward operating bases in the AOR.

The supplies are packaged into separate pallets and adorned with a parachute. As the pallet falls from the aircraft, the parachute is released and able to land safely in its projected location. Once on the ground, local coalition forces will recover the supplies.

This is Fabis' second deployment and he has been serving in the U.S. Air Force for more than two years.

January 31, 2012 at 6:44am

Former commander of the 4th Airlift Squadron at McChord accepted into the class of White House Fellows.

First lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden are briefed by White House Fellow Lt. Col. Rodney Lewis

The former commander of the 4th Airlift Squadron at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., is one of four service members to have been accepted into the 15-member 2011-2012 class of White House Fellows.

Lt. Col. Rodney Lewis, a C-17A Globemaster III pilot, began his fellowship in August 2011 when he was assigned to the Office of the First Lady. The program provides those selected with an opportunity to work within the U.S. government, and it is intended to encourage active citizenship and a lifelong commitment to service.

"I think for any Airman to understand how our government works and how you as an Airman fit within the construct of our Constitution is key," Lewis said. "I will have a much better understanding of all three branches of government."

While there, Lewis' primary mission is to help further Michelle Obama's and Jill Biden's Joining Forces program, which is a national initiative that mobilizes all sectors of society to give service members and their families the support they have earned, according to the program's website.

Lewis explained that there are three pillars that make up Joining Forces: employment, education and wellness. The employment pillar focuses on helping veterans and spouses expand employment and career development opportunities, the education pillar helps military children by working with schools to make them more aware of their unique academic needs and the wellness pillar brings attention to critical issues facing veterans and their families.

"We don't work on issues that aren't real. This is about impacting all service members across the board. One of the biggest roles that I play is the understanding of the grassroots level and to put some validity to what we're working on with Joining Forces."

Lewis said one of the highlights of his fellowship was getting the opportunity to meet with a group of business leaders in New York who were interested in finding ways they could employ the talented veterans who are transitioning from the military.

Part of his role during the meeting was "breaking down stereotypes and answering questions about how they could do that," he said. "These individuals have the authority to go out and chart the direction of their companies and say, 'Yes, we are going to hire veterans. That's going to be a part of our strategy.'"

Lewis said he sees similarities between working at the White House and leading Airmen in the Air Force.

"A normal day here is much like being a commander in the Air Force," the lieutenant colonel explained. "I don't think of my day in terms of ending, but being able to create and move forward on the initiatives I'm working on. There are meetings that I will attend on behalf of Joining Forces but really my day is (about) going out and engaging government and private industry to help them understand and shape what the first lady wants to do with Joining Forces."

Lewis was directly responsible for the Defense Department's only prime nuclear airlift force, which handles the nation's most sensitive cargo and provides tactically qualified C-17A crews who stand ready to airdrop combat troops and supplies anywhere in the world.

In 2010, Lewis was awarded the Air Force Association National Medal of Merit for his work supporting children with medical problems in the Pilot for a Day program. He is a native of Oklahoma City, Okla.

The White House Fellows Program was created in 1964 by President Lyndon B. Johnson to give promising American leaders "first- hand, high-level experience with the workings of the federal government, and to increase their sense of participation in national affairs," according to a White House press release.

(Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr. contributed to this story.)

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