Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: April, 2012 (31) Currently Viewing: 11 - 20 of 31

April 6, 2012 at 1:46pm

Seasoned Medical Service Corps officer continues to learn on latest deployment

Members of the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron Critical Care Air Transport Team work together to load patients onto a C-130H Hercules for an aeromedical evacuation at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Even with a diverse skill set and years of training and experience, Maj. Peter Jorgensen proves there's always something new to learn.

The 28-year medical professional has held many positions throughout a lucrative career, beginning as an enlisted logistician on active duty, up to his current responsibilities as a Medical Services Corps officer with the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here.

Now, the Reservist serves in Afghanistan with the critical role as director of operations for the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron in Kandahar, overseeing the daily duties of more than 100 people, who support around-the-clock aeromedical evacuations for more than 100,000 NATO troops.

"Major Jorgensen is a dedicated Medical Service Corps officer with a wealth of experience, from his time serving with the (446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron here) and now with the 446th AES," said Col. Janette Moore-Harbert, 446th AES commander. "This experience has allowed him to help facilitate the depth of the patient movement process from the staging facility into the operational and flying element of the AE system. He not only brings that to this current deployment but also to the 446th AES, allowing us to be better patient providers by understanding our partners roles and responsibilities in the ASTS, in order to ensure a seamless and smooth patient movement system." 

With Jorgensen being an air Reserve technician, a full-time Reservist who helps maintain the continuity and combat readiness of the traditional Reservists, thanks Moore-Harbert, not only for contributing to his growth as a 446th AES Reservist, but for allowing him to serve overseas.

"I owe a great deal of thanks to my commander, for allowing me to deploy and grow as a military member," said Jorgensen, a Lakewood resident. "Being an air Reserve technician, it was no small sacrifice for her and the rest of the unit when I volunteered for the deployment." 

Jorgensen easily applies his homestation training to his deployed function.

"This mission is a lot like the way we train in the 446th AES during our exercises and local missions during the month and UTA weekends," said Jorgensen. 

Although he's learning a lot in his current assignment, it isn't his first rodeo. In fact, most of his deployments as an officer with the 446th ASTS are directly tied to his mission with the 446th AES.

"This is my third deployment and I feel right at home here from the fact that I started as a Medical Service Corps officer attached to the 446th ASTS," said Jorgensen. "During my eight years with the ASTS, I had the opportunity to deploy to Balad Air Base (Iraq) in 2006. I was functioning both in the (Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility) as an administrator and as a launch and recovery officer for more than 100 missions. Little did I know at the time, the launch and recovery along with crew management was exactly what we train for in the (446th AES). I can honestly say that my wartime success can be directly contributed to my countless 446th Airlift Wing training opportunities over the years." 

But wealth of experience isn't the only factor which has made Jorgensen's deployment a success. He says bringing out the best in his troops, so they can perform is critical.

"Relationships with your people are key to your success as a leader, and they need to be maintained in order to bring out the best in them- even if it's not their best day," he said. "As an officer, I've become better and more knowledgeable at reading the signs as whether someone is having a good or bad day." 

Even as his deployment comes to a close, Jorgensen still has his eyes on the reason he's there.

"There are a lot of people making huge sacrifices both here and at home for us to be successful," said Jorgensen. "It's been a huge learning experience and one that I look forward to bringing back to my unit and the wing." 

Moore-Harbert stresses her pride in having Reservists, like Jorgensen representing the 446th AES.

"I am very proud of him and his ability to excel and represent the 446th AES anytime and anywhere," she said.    

April 9, 2012 at 10:26pm

AF accepting test pilot school applications

Eligible pilots, combat systems officers and engineers have an opportunity to join the ranks of airpower pioneers like Jimmy Doolittle and Chuck Yeager, but they have to apply for U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School to do so.

The 2012 U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School selection board will convene in July to fill openings for July 2013 and January 2014 class start dates. All officer and civilian applications are due to the Air Force Personnel Center by June 1, said Howard Peterson, Air Force Personnel Center pipeline and trainer assignments branch.

The TPS trains pilots, combat systems officers and engineers to develop, test and evaluate the newest aircraft and weapons systems in the fighter, multi-engine, helicopter and remotely piloted aircraft categories, Peterson said.

The 48-week course consists of four closely related curricula: experimental test pilot, experimental test combat systems officer, experimental test remotely piloted aircraft pilot and experimental flight test engineer.

"Competition is always stiff for a test pilot school position," Peterson said. "TPS graduates are future senior leaders who will be in high demand in an era of increasing combat technological advancements on the battlefield."

Minimum eligibility requirements include a flying physical -- class II for pilots and CSOs (including weapon systems officers, rated navigators and electronic warfare officers), and class III for flight test engineers -- certified by the Air Force Materiel Command Surgeon General Aerospace Medicine.

According to Peterson, applicants who do not have a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering, mathematics, physics or a comparable science may apply if they have a master's degree in engineering, and all applicants must have a secret security clearance. Additional criteria are explained in the personnel systems delivery memorandum (PSDM 12-28) on the Air Force Personnel Services website.

"Program requirements change slightly every year, so members who currently have an application on file must submit new applications and waivers, if applicable," Peterson said.

For more information about test pilot school opportunities and other personnel issues, visit the Air Force Personnel Services website at

April 12, 2012 at 7:56am

McChord Airman receives Bronze Star

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Master Sgt. Scott Winchell, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron, was awarded a Bronze Star Medal during a ceremony at April 11, 2012.

Winchell distinguished himself with exceptional meritorious service while during his fifth deployment while serving as the 19th Movement Control Team superintendent from August 2011 through March 2012.

He set the bar for aircraft and surface cargo movements within the unit while leading 14 Airmen and six Soldiers. The team expedited the movement of 60,000 tons of weapon systems, fuel and supplies, 21,000 passengers on 9,000 thousand transport platforms.

While enduring 35 mortar and rocket attacks, he directed increased safety and accountability procedures within the 19th MCT, which is the only landing zone in theater to operate under blackout conditions.

He also uncovered systemic cargo fraud within theater to include 113 illegal weapons and personal goods shipments within the intra- and inter-theater movement process. His logistical vigilance led directly to policy change and scrutinization of cargo planning and execution processes.

"It was a huge accomplishment for me to correct mistakes and make sure they don't happen in the future," said Winchell. "I never imagined I'd receive a Bronze Star for this."

Additionally, Winchell exhibited the highest display of honor as he hand-carried five fallen warriors from the air ambulances in preparation for their final return home to families and loved ones.

"Given his character, not one person is surprised he received this award," said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Childress, 62nd APS passenger terminal superintendent. "He is the kind of person who makes change happen. He knows the difference between right and wrong and he's not afraid to take on a challenge. Everyone knows he deserves this."

Photo: Lt. Col. Robert Farkas, left, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron commander, pins on Master Sgt. Scott Winchell’s Bronze Star during a ceremony April 11, 2012, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. Winchell distinguished himself with exceptional meritorious service while during his fifth deployment while serving as the 19th Movement Control Team superintendent from August 2011 through March 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Leah Young)

April 13, 2012 at 6:51am

Fire department makes room for confined space training

Jessica Hall/JBLM PAO Firefighter Anthony Taylor gets in place as a trapped victim in a C-17 training wing during a recent confined space training on McChord Field.

Firefighter Anthony Taylor crawled down into the C-17 wing and maneuvered himself into a cramped space. With his arms and legs in various holes within the wing, he was ready - to be rescued.

The Joint Base Lewis-McChord firefighters were participating in confined space training last week. The weeklong class included three days of instruction and two days of hands-on scenarios.

While most of the firefighters have had confined space rescue training in the past, this was the first time some of them had ever practiced in a plane wing. The wing they practiced on is actually one that Air Force technicians train on in the 373rd Training Squadron, Detachment 12 facility on McChord Air Field.

For the JBLM Fire Department, it was important to train their firefighters on Air Force equipment.

"We want to make sure that the Air Force is comfortable with us going into the wings," Fire Chief Dean Dixon said.

Last week's training was the second done this month for 48 firefighters. The remaining firefighters will be trained later by instructors from the department. For those participating last week, the course was a good reminder of the skills they already have, as well as a learning experience.

"We're learning that we have some large firefighters," Capt. Tom Wayne said. "This gives us an idea of our capability for certain types of rescues."

There are many jobs to fill during a confined space rescue, including those who go into the space, someone to hand out equipment, another to assess any hazards that may be encountered and others to help pull the person completely out of the space from the outside. Depending on the conditions, firefighters may rotate out every 15 to 20 minutes so as not to tire or be exposed to heat or hazardous conditions.

Instructor Wayne Chapman of CMC Rescue was on hand to teach the confined space rescue class last week. His role during the rescue simulation was to ensure the firefighters were applying techniques learned in class and followed the intricate legal protocols involved in entering confined spaces.

"I'm here to get them to the point where they feel comfortable doing the confined space rescue," Chapman said.

Throughout the training he listened to them problem solve and address the rescue in a number of ways. He would only speak up if they were doing something wrong. But of the first group he saw last Thursday, he said things went very well.

"They are a pretty aggressive group," he said. "We were done early but they want to keep training."

After each simulated rescue, the group would evaluate what worked and what didn't. For the people "rescued," they offered tips on what would have made the rescue easier on them, like rolling them on their stomachs for easier manipulation through the tight spaces.

While the comfort of the patient was important, the main concern for the rescue team is always getting the victim out alive.

For firefighter Chris Rhude, the course was all about ropes, knots, safety and how to work in a toxic atmosphere. Working with the group was an important aspect to get the patient out of the space.

"It's a team approach," he said of rescue missions.

Fortunately JBLM firefighters have not had to respond to a confined space rescue, but if they are called, they will be prepared.

"We all need to know the functions of confined space rescue," Wayne said. "A lot of firefighters still want this class and they will get it later this year."

April 14, 2012 at 6:55am

AFA officials announce team of the year

The Airborne Operations career field is the Air Force Association 2012 Team of the Year, Air Force officials announced April 13.

Annually, AFA recognizes a specific enlisted career field (as well as Airmen in that specialty) that personifies professionalism, technical expertise and leadership.

The following Airmen were selected to represent the airborne operations field for this year's award:

-- Master Sgt. Michael Sailer, 27th Special Operations Squadron, Cannon Air Force Base, N.M.;
-- Tech. Sgt Scott May, 129th Combat Training Squadron, Robins AFB, Ga.;
-- Senior Airman David Pederson, 489th Reconnaissance Squadron, Beale AFB, Calif.;
-- Senior Airman Kathleen Eliseo, 4th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Fla.; and
-- Senior Airman Jared Kordos, 965th Airborne Air Control Squadron, Tinker AFB, Okla.

Award winners will be recognized in May during a presentation ceremony in Washington, D.C. For more information on Air Force recognition programs, visit the Air Force Personnel Services website at

April 14, 2012 at 7:08am

Air Force ends pilot travel card program

The Air Force recently decided to transition existing Controlled Spend Account travel cards to an enhanced Government Travel Card by the end of fiscal year 2012.

"The CSA, a pilot travel card program, provided some enhancements for travelers, but also brought about significant challenges for our most frequent travelers and those with unique mission sets," said Joan Causey, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Financial Operations. "We recognized that for any travel card program to work, it has to work for all travelers. In the end, we were not satisfied that any proposed changes to the CSA program would get us to the desired state for our most frequent travelers."

The actual transition will occur in August and September and current CSA cardholders should continue to use their cards as normal. The transition strategy allows travelers to continue using their "blue cards" without interruption. The card functionality will be converted to a GTC by CitiBank without the need to get a new card. Also, travelers will once again be provided with a permanent credit limit, and there will be no need to call for "temporary spend limit" increases.

One of the enhancements being pursued for the GTC program will be via the Defense Travel System. Default settings will be changed to automatically align most non-mileage expenses to the card. Additionally, the traveler can split-disburse any residual funds to his/her personal account. Finally, as a carryover from the CSA program, CitiBank will upgrade their GTC online system to allow travelers to request electronic fund transfers of credit balances directly to their bank accounts.

"The CSA to GTC transition plan is already in motion," Causey said. "We're planning a brief test in July to ensure all systems are a go. If all systems perform as expected, roughly 300,000 cardholders will be converted during the August and September timeframe."

CitiBank will not process any early transitions and should not be contacted to do so. For more information, contact the 62nd Comptroller Squadron at 253-982-3945 or

April 15, 2012 at 6:45am

Reserve maintainers earn props from AMC

Air Mobility Command has honored two Reservists from the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron here for their outstanding work as associate wing maintainers.

Master Sgt. Jeffrey Daniels and Senior Airman Mailani Akey received the 2012 AMC Outstanding Reserve Associate Maintenance Award, which is given to Reservists from tenant units that carry the AMC mission. Daniels earned his award in the supervisor category, while Akey won hers as a technician.

"I'm very proud of them," said Lt. Col. Luke Upton, 446th AMXS commander. "They're awesome troops. They do a very outstanding job, and it's good to see them finally get recognized. I think it reflects very well on the squadron and also it shows the caliber of the folks we have, here in the 446th AMXS."

Daniels, the 446th Silver Aircraft Maintenance Unit pro-supervisor and night-shift expeditor, gives a shout out to his crew in winning his award.

"I credit the award to all of the technicians who work around me," Daniels said, who came into the Reserve in 1984. "Because if they weren't outstanding maintainers, I wouldn't have received anything."

Daniel's supervisor, Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Steinbacher, 446th Silver AMU section chief, explains what makes Daniels stand out.

"Jeff does a great job," Steinbacher said. "When he's out on the flightline, he expedites for the active duty, Reserve and civilians. The way he works with the active duty makes him stand out. He makes the relationship seamless. This is a true associate award."

Working behind the scenes with AMC's Rodeo last year, Daniels was highly instrumental in making sure the 446th Airlift Wing's Rodeo team and aircraft were prepared, according to Steinbacher. Being the on-scene supervisor during the night shift, he was responsible for all the 446th Silver AMU aircraft on the flightline and assisted the 446th Blue Aircraft Maintenance Unit with aircraft maintenance when needed.

Daniels, reverts back to his technicians in making his job as a supervisor easier.

"Every day, they're launching aircraft for the War on Terror," said the air Reserve technician. "Every day, they're meeting the aircraft flying schedules. They always get the missions out on time. We work hard all night long in preparing the aircraft for the morning flyers."

Speaking of maintenance technicians, Akey embodies the qualities squadron leadership looks for in their Airmen, according to Senior Master Sgt. Cameron Pence, 446th Blue AMU superintendent.

"She has the raw ability to execute the mission and generate results," Pence said. "She also represents the professionalism we want in the unit. Her demeanor and approach to the military couple with her hard work and accomplishments, to make the type of person we look for. Essentially, we try to use the same approach of every nominee. People like her, who are very self contained and competent, possess the high-quality standard we hold in the squadron. In shorthand, she's just an awesome person."

The first-quarter Airman of the Quarter from 2011 credits her former supervisor, Master Sgt. Michael Silva, then the 446th AMXS aircraft electrical and environmental lead technician, with helping shape her into a better maintainer.

"Sergeant Silva was a very tough ART," said Akey, who lives in Gig Harbor. "But I didn't question it because I think he was trying to chisel me into a hardworking Airman- a female who has to compete with all the guys. I thank him for making me a better, stronger maintainer."

Silva explains why Akey stands out.

"Mailani has a great ability to pick things up on the go," said the now, 446th Maintenance Squadron Electrical and Environmental section chief. "She has a great ability to handle high-pressure situations well, which is critical to what we do. She was able to really hit the ground running, which is why she did so well when she deployed to (Southwest Asia)."

Pence doesn't question Silva's efforts either.

"Silva put a tremendous amount of energy in mentoring her," Pence said. "He saw potential in her and was more than willing to take her under his wing and develop her potential."

Silva envisions Akey's future with the squadron.

"I easily see her being a lead role model to her peers and eventually progressing into a senior NCO role," he said. "She's also expressed interest in going the officer route. I can see her easily making that transition as well."

PHOTO: Master Sgt. Jeffrey Daniels and Senior Airman Mailani Akey, both with the 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, McChord Field, Wash., go over flightline expeditor logs during the Reserve weekend, April 1, 2012. Both maintainers won the Air Mobility Command Outstanding Reserve Associate Maintenance Award for 2012. Daniels earned his award in the supervisor category and Akey won hers as a technician. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Jake Chappelle)

April 19, 2012 at 6:22am

Career opportunities for enlisted Airmen available for those up to the challenge

Interesting career opportunities exist for enlisted Airmen who are ready for new challenges and have a desire to take their careers in a whole new direction.

Airmen who want to stay in their career field but want to try something outside their comfort zone can apply for various joint, Department of Defense and special duty opportunities that are advertised on the Equal Plus listing.

"There are many great opportunities with unique and rewarding work environments where Airmen will gain a broader perspective of how the Air Force fits into the big picture," said Tech. Sgt. Jessica Cobb, assigned to the Air Force Personnel Center Mission Support/Joint Department Assignments branch. "There are usually 60 or 70 jobs listed and they vary by career field, experience levels and rank, so Equal Plus may have something right up your alley."

The list is updated daily with such positions as defense awards manager, engineering maintenance technician, administrative assistant to the deputy secretary of defense, executive support supervisor and more.

"Special duty positions run the gamut from instructor to recruiter, but we're really focused on highlighting the DOD assignments," Cobb said. "Most of those positions are in D.C., but the Office of the Secretary of Defense has some overseas positions, too, so that's a possibility."

Finding the perfect position starts with a visit to the Air Force secure site, accessible on the Air Force Portal. From there, go to the Assignment Management System and select the Equal Plus link.

"It's pretty simple, and most Airmen are already familiar with AMS. Even if you're not, though, you just follow the instructions on the site and use the quick links to navigate," said Cobb.

Airmen selected for a DOD or joint assignment can expect to significantly broaden their awareness and abilities, she explained.

"The Air Force is only one piece of a much larger picture," she said. "Having the opportunity to use your skills at the DOD level will improve your understanding of the Air Force role and how the services work with many other agencies to achieve national security goals."

For more information about assignments and other personnel issues, visit the Air Force Personnel Services website at

April 20, 2012 at 6:09am

62nd OG takes spouses up in the air

Frequent deployments, tours of duty, humanitarian missions and training flights may lead loved ones to ask, "What are they doing up there?"

More than 100 loved ones got the chance to find out April 14 when they took to the skies as part of the 62nd Operations Group spouse orientation flight.

The purpose of these flights is to familiarize military spouses with the unit aircraft and mission to enhance their understanding of their Airman's role to the Air Force mission.

"This is just a small way to give back to our spouses," Col. Paul Eberhart, 62nd OG commander, said. "These types of intangible paybacks help to strengthen families because the spouses get a better understanding of the mission and get a chance to see what their loved ones do. It is an investment in the relationships of our Airmen."

This was the first time an orientation flight was hosted for the entire 62nd OG.

"We're excited for this opportunity to show them what we do," Capt. Mike Zinkgraf, 8th Airlift Squadron chief executive officer and one of the planners for the event, said. "We want to ‘wow' them and open their eyes a little. It's also a reward for putting up with us always being away from home."

Before boarding the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, the spouses were treated with a light breakfast and then separated into two C-17s for the flight. Aboard the C-17s, the group watched a forklift loading demonstration followed by a combat off-load demonstration.

While flying, the loadmasters opened the ramp doors and the spouses were able to view Mount Rainier and the Washington state coastline. In addition, they had a chance to sit up in the cockpit area.

The 62nd OG consists of four active duty flying squadrons: 4th, 7th, 8th and 10th AS. These squadrons share responsibility for manning two forward deployed expeditionary squadrons.

The 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron mission is to provide global strategic airlift, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout central and southwest Asia. The 62nd OG also provides manning for the 304th EAS in support of Operation Deep Freeze.

"This was definitely a cool and memorable experience," Amber Whitcomb, wife of Senior Airman Brian Whitcomb, 8th AS instructor loadmaster, said. "My favorite part was when they opened the doors and we were able to look out. This will be something I will look back on and be proud of what my husband does in the Air Force."

April 21, 2012 at 6:43am

Officials implement flexibilities for third round of VERA/VSIP

As the Air Force continues a civilian workforce restructure through voluntary retirement and separation initiatives, officials have instituted new flexibilities to help minimize the impact of downsizing and workforce shaping.

Unlike the previous two rounds, the third round of Voluntary Early Retirement Authority and Voluntary Separation Incentive Pay will allow civilians to fill VSIP-created vacancies at other Air Force installations, provided the losing base can show it saved an employee from involuntary separation. This will allow an exception to Department of Defense Priority Placement Program clearance procedures.

These flexibilities will be used during the third round of VERA and VSIP, which begins May 1, and will help give civilians the opportunity for continued employment. Officials said the flexibilities will be used to the maximum extent allowed.

"We're committed to sustaining excellence, meeting fiscal requirements and minimizing negative impacts on our current permanent civilian workforce and their families," said Michelle LoweSolis, the Air Force Personnel Center civilian force integration director. "These flexibilities will give us an even greater ability to rebalance the skills of our workforce into enduring positions at various installations."

The survey window for the next VERA or VSIP opportunity will open during the first week of May. Applications will be due during the week of May 14, or an earlier date established by local authorities. If approved, applicants will retire or separate by Aug. 31.

"The goal is to have all civilian employees realigned to continuing positions by Sept. 30," said Lisa Cevallos, a human resources specialist at AFPC. "We encourage managers to consider restructuring any vacant positions they have for the placement of affected employees. They should also work with their (civilian personnel sections) on additional flexible processes to help place employees."

Employees should review all available information on the programs at the Air Force Personnel Services website and word search "VERA" and "VSIP." For annuity estimates, employees should go to the AFPC Benefits and Entitlements Service Team automated website, EBIS, to access the retirement calculator.

After gathering information through AFPERS and EBIS, employees should contact their local CPS to discuss their individual situation, and what steps to take if they are offered VERA, VSIP or both.

For more information about civilian employment, voluntary separation programs and other personnel issues, visit AFPERS at


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