Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: March, 2012 (25) Currently Viewing: 21 - 25 of 25

March 21, 2012 at 7:23am

4th Airlift Sqn: Fast in the air, quick in the water as well

Courtesy photo

On his frequent trips to deliver cargo to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, Maj. Todd Risk would hit the pool as part of his daily physical training regiment.

Risk, a C-17 Globemaster III pilot with the 4th Airlift Squadron, began noticing that other pilots from his squadron had a similar affinity for swimming laps at the pool.

"I started putting two and two together," said Risk, a Lacey resident. "I knew that the (base championship) swim meet was coming up."

After the flying squadron captured the 2011 Joint Base Lewis-McChord Swimming Championships, Risk began recruiting a team of swimmers to defend the squadron's title. Back at the squadron headquarters on McChord Field, Risk would make the rounds and continue building excitement for the swim meet.

"I was asking everybody (to compete)," he said with a laugh.

He eventually assembled a team of pilots and spouses - most with experience swimming competitively in college. Capt. Eric Santroch swam at the Air Force Academy. Capt. Kathryn Shroyer coaches youth water polo and is constantly in the pool. Shroyer's husband, Brandon, also a C-17 pilot, played water polo at the Academy.

"It's pure luck we have so many swimmers," Risk said.

Risk's determination paid off as the 4th AS won the 2012 Joint Base Lewis-McChord Swimming Championships at Soldier's Field House Jan. 31. Risk captured an individual title in the 500-meter freestyle, and the team won 16 of 25 events to repeat as installation champions.

While Brandon Shroyer and Capt. Dayle Hartung couldn't make it because they were away flying, the team added a couple of spouses and didn't miss a beat.

"It was so nice to have the females, because they dominated," Risk said.

Katherine Shroyer led the females with four first-place individual finishes as well as two first-place relay finishes. Shroyer won the 100 individual medley, 100 freestyle, 200 individual medley and the 50 freestyle to repeat as overall top female swimmer.

Capt. Christopher Slauson, his wife Faye, Capt. Jane Elzeftawy and her sister, Anna, also turned in strong performances to help lead the team to victory.

Despite the fact Risk was the only one actively training for the meet, the team dominated nevertheless.

"The whole thing was to just get everyone out there and into the pool," he said. "Everyone on the team is all really self-driven. They literally just jumped in the pool and pulled it out."

While the team constantly turned in strong swims throughout the meet, nobody really knew how the standings would play out until the very end.

"We knew we were doing well throughout the meet," Risk said. "When we found out we won we were ecstatic."

Photo cutline: The 4th Airlift Squadron swim team of Capt. Christopher Slauson, Faye Slauson, Capt. Kathryn Shroyer, Maj. Todd Risk, Anna Elzeftawy, Capt Jane Elzeftawy and Capt. Eric Santroch, from left, celebrate their 2012 Joint Base Lewis-McChord Swimming Championships at Soldier’s Field House Jan. 31.

March 22, 2012 at 8:00am

History-making Op Deep Freeze 2011-2012 season concluded for McChord

Following the redeployment of the last two C-17 Globemaster IIIs to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y., the personnel participating in the 2011-2012 edition of Operation Deep Freeze can lay claim to yet another successful and history-making season.

ODF is the U.S. military's support to science and research activities conducted by the U.S. Antarctic Program. ODF is a joint, inter-agency operation under the direction of the National Science Foundation and led by Lt Gen Ted Kresge, Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica commander.

"Deep Freeze is one of our toughest missions, requiring strong leadership and precise teamwork by the deployed joint force on the ice in Antarctica and at Christchurch, New Zealand. Year after year, the JTF-SFA proves it can excel and successfully operate in any environment and take on any challenge," said Lt. Gen. Kresge. "I'm rarely surprised at the extraordinary accomplishments of this team, but this year is truly an exception and I'm beyond proud of all the hard work this team has done for the National Science Foundation."

During the 2011-2012 season, six ski-equipped LC-130 Hercules aircraft from the 109th Airlift Wing, Stratton Air National Guard Base, N.Y. flew 359 missions between McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and 18 inland Antarctic destinations, transporting more than seven million pounds of cargo and fuel and more than 1,600 passengers. In addition, C-17A aircraft from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord flew 72 inter-continental missions between New Zealand and McMurdo Station, carrying over six million pounds of cargo and more than 5,000 passengers.

Tasked with providing a major component of logistical support to many Antarctic locations, JTF-SFA aircraft also responded to requests for assistance on multiple occasions in support of the NSF and New Zealand Rescue Coordination Center.

On June 28, for the first time in history, a C-17 aircraft performed an operational mid-winter landing at McMurdo Station with the aid of night vision goggles. Having to navigate around massive ash clouds from volcanic activity in Chile and facing -42° F temperatures in McMurdo, the crew, in cooperation with a Pacific Air Forces Critical Care Air Transport Team, performed an evacuation of a critically-ill program participant to New Zealand.

In August during winter fly-in missions, JTF-SFA was instrumental in coming to the aid of a seriously-ill program participant at the US Amundsen-Scott South Pole station where air temperatures below -60° F prohibited any aircraft landings. The C-17 airdropped two bundles of urgently-needed medical supplies.

On Dec. 15, the Russian fishing trawler Sparta became stranded in heavy sea ice and struck a submerged iceberg, tearing a hole in its hull. An LC-130 aircraft was called upon to provide aerial reconnaissance of and communication links to the vessel, allowing for a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130 aircraft to later airdrop three parcels on an ice floe next to the ailing ship. Less than a month later, seven crew members severely injured in a fire aboard the South Korean-flagged fishing vessel Jeong Woo 2 were transported to McMurdo Station, where they were triaged and treated by U.S. Air Force and contracted medical personnel, and airlifted to Christchurch via an LC-130 aircraft.

Throughout the season, C-17 and LC-130 aircraft carried participants from the Australian, Italian, New Zealand, and South Korean Antarctic programs under scientific collaborative agreements with the NSF.

Transportation was also provided to such dignitaries as the Prime Minister of Norway, King of Malaysia, U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, Director of the National Science Foundation, the commanders of U.S. Transportation Command and Air Mobility Command, and a Congressional delegation, among others.

Maritime activities in Antarctica began in January with the arrival of the NSF-contracted Russian icebreaker, Vladimir Ignatyuk. The icebreaker cut through 12 miles of ice in preparation for the arrival of the Military Sealift Command-contracted fuel tanker, Maersk Peary, on Jan. 27. The Peary off-loaded more than 6.75 million gallons of fuel and departed McMurdo Station on Feb. 2.

Following the departure of the Peary, the MSC-contracted MV Green Wave arrived McMurdo on Feb. 14, carrying over 300 units of USAP cargo representing the program's annual food, parts and other supplies. Peary also carried the 331st Transportation Company's Modular Causeway System. Unusual winter conditions resulted in McMurdo's seasonal ice pier being insufficient for supporting cargo operations (it was sound enough to allow fuel off-load to proceed normally). The ice pier situation resulted in an urgent request by NSF for assistance through U.S. Transportation Command, answered by the U.S. Army.

True to their motto "causeway or no way," 42 soldiers assembled the causeway in challenging weather conditions. It was the first construction of its type in extreme cold-weather and icing and permitted the off-load of nearly seven million pounds of cargo and a backload of more than 8.7 million pounds of retrograde cargo. This substantial cargo transfer was assisted by the Navy Cargo Handling Battalion-One sailors from Williamsburg, Va., who worked around-the-clock to complete the cargo transfer in just eight days while battling sub-freezing temperatures and sustained Antarctic winds.

"You cannot say enough about the dedication of these Soldiers and Sailors. Their actions speak volumes about their character and their caliber," said Gen Kresge. "Really, it's been a remarkable season--from beginning to end. The whole JTF-SFA team displayed unprecedented flexibility in accomplishing the mission. After two years with JTF-SFA, I've certainly learned there are no limits to what this joint force can do."

For 54 years the NSF has depended on the skills and unique abilities of Airmen, Soldiers, and Sailors to ensure safe delivery of life-sustaining fuel and cargo for research scientists and residents in Antarctica. The 2012-2013 ODF season will begin in August 2012 or as directed by the NSF.

Photo: An MV Green Wave arrives at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, on Feb. 14, 2012, carrying over 300 units of United States Antarctic Program cargo representing the program's annual food, parts and other supplies during Operation Deep Freeze, the DoD’s support activity to the National Science Foundation-managed USAP. (Courtesy photo)

March 25, 2012 at 6:55am

Air Force officials announce third round of VERA/VSIP

In its continuing effort to meet the Defense Department requirement to maintain civilian manning at fiscal 2010 levels, the Air Force is offering a third round of Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Payment beginning May 1.

"The Air Force recognizes the invaluable contributions of our civilian workforce, but also recognizes the fiscal constraints under which the Department of Defense and the government as a whole are operating," said Maj. Gen. Sharon Dunbar, the Director of Force Management Policy. "Our civilian workforce is near required target levels, and we're focused on fine tuning the force while taking care to minimize the effect on our current permanent civilian workforce and their families."

As the Air Force continues the fiscal 2012 civilian workforce restructure, round three of VERA/VSIP will be used to further realign and rebalance the civilian force. In addition, the Defense Civilian Personnel Advisory Service has granted a temporary waiver exception to the Priority Placement Program to expand the use of VSIP across installations. The Air Force Personnel Center will be providing additional details to the Civilian Personnel Sections on the waiver criteria.

Civilian employees will receive VERA/VSIP eligibility surveys from their local CPSs May 1, and applications are due the week of May 14 or an earlier date established by local authorities. Applicants approved for this round of VERA/VSIP will need to separate no later than Aug. 31.

"We are committed to maximizing voluntary separation measures to preclude involuntary actions," Dunbar said. "However, as we progress toward the end of the fiscal year, it is apparent some bases will need to rebalance the skills of their workforce into other enduring positions."

The processes available to rebalance or re-skill the work force include using reduction-in-force procedures to determine employee placements rights into enduring vacancies as well as providing the flexibility to waive qualifications for more placements. In that regard, the bases will begin their preparations for submitting their requests for approval to use RIF procedures so as to have their employees realigned to the continuing positions by Sept. 30.

March 29, 2012 at 4:11pm

Carter Lake Elementary hosts kindergarten orientation May 16

Clover Park School District will begin enrolling kindergartners for the 2012-13 school year beginning Monday, May 14. Carter Lake Elementary School, 3415 Lincoln Blvd SW on JBLM McChord Field, will host its Kindergarten Parent Orientation Wednesday, May 16 from 4:45 to 5:30 p.m. This meeting is for parents only. Parents are strongly encouraged to come and learn about the opportunities their children will have next school year.

For more information, call 253-583-5210.    

Filed under: Education, News To Us,

March 30, 2012 at 6:25am

Newly selected 97th Airlift Squadron commander shares vision

For most of his career, Garin Tentschert has both led and learned by example.

After hearing he'll be taking the reins as 97th Airlift Squadron commander at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, the lieutenant colonel plans on continuing that approach to take charge of the overall manning, health, morale and discipline of the 100-person flying unit. Tentschert will take the mantle of leadership during the squadron's change of command ceremony Saturday.

"Based on his stellar record and recent performance as (446th Operations Support Flight) commander, I asked Tentschert to take the staff from Lt. Col. Scott Weichert (the outgoing 97th AS/CC) as he pins on colonel and leaves the group," Col. James Dignan, 446th Operations Group commander, said.

Tentschert said he's excited and up for the responsibility of filling Weichert's shoes.

"Scott did a great job," Tentschert, a Maple Valley resident, said. "I had the privilege of watching and working with him in the squadron. Of course I have big shoes to fill. I intend to continue supporting and striving for mission success, but in order to do that effectively, it really means each member of the squadron being supported, challenged, rewarded, happy, and taking care of each other."

In order to achieve this goal, Tentschert said he'll have to keep his eyes and ears open and continue to be in learning mode for his term as commander.

"My vision is to really listen to what the squadron members have to say," the former 446th Airlift Wing team chief in Air Mobility Command's Rodeo 2009 said. "They know what they're doing, so I have to empower them to do it."

After filling in as 97th AS commander while Weichert was deployed last year, Tentschert feels he has a great head start.

"I'm very grateful for that opportunity, because it gave me a different perspective of how talented everybody in the squadron is," he said. "It clued me in on the amazing culture this particular squadron possesses. I got the rare opportunity to practice before the ‘real' work begins."

Tentschert talked about leaving his mark for the better.

"I'd like to look back and be proud knowing I made a positive difference in people's lives and executed our mission to a level that would make our public proud," the flight operations duty officer for Alaska Airlines said. "I believe most of the public holds a special place for our military and appreciates what we do and realizes we do it for them."

Dignan stresses the perfect dilemma wing and operations group leadership faces when making selections for command positions.

"As we saw with our last squadron commander board and interviews, we had a very strong pool of applicants and the competition was tough for the positions," Dignan, who lives in Gig Harbor, said. "It is a delicately coordinated movement to place our great wealth of talent where it is needed most. Obviously it is a good predicament to have ... a wealth of homegrown talent."

Tentschert appreciates making the cut and reminds himself why he continues to serve.

"I'm lucky ... extremely lucky and carry a pride and sentiment for this place and its people," Tentschert said. "I can't find a better group of professionals and just all around great folks I enjoy being around. It's one of the primary reasons I'm still in the Air Force Reserve."

Photo: Lt. Col. Garin Tentschert, center, chief pilot with the 97th Airlift Squadron, and Maj. Kristi Forbes, left, a flight nurse with the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, both out of McChord Field, Wash., discuss balancing their Reserve and civilian careers with their family roles on King TV Seattle's New Day Northwest hosted by Margaret Larson, April 20, 2011. New Day Northwest is an hour-long show with the goal of informing and entertaining the public with current events. (U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Denise Hauser/Released)

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