Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: May, 2012 (15) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 15

May 2, 2012 at 7:22am

Air Force Reservist to represent McChord in Warrior Games 2012

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- After throwing the opening pitch at the Seattle Mariners' 10th Annual Salute to Armed Forces game, April 21, Tech. Sgt. Keith Sekora, a 42-year-old Issaquah resident, was on a flight to Colorado to begin training for the 3rd Annual Warrior Games.

Sekora is one of more than 200 servicemembers competing in the 2012 games, which started April 30 and will continue until May 5 at the Air Force Academy and Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

After shrapnel from an improvised explosive device struck the back of his neck during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2010, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician from the 446th Airlift Wing here, suffered a series of four strokes and was left with post-traumatic stress disorder, memory loss, vertigo and loss of feeling on the left side of his body. But that hasn't swayed his confidence in participating in his first Warrior Games.

"I'm overwhelmed with the privilege of being on the Air Force Warrior team," said the 6-foot-6 giant. "Being a member of this team proves to me, that I can still do things and play sports with my disabilities. It also allows me to represent the Air Force and the EOD community and compete against other wounded warriors in the other service branches."

In this year's games, he's scheduled to represent the Air Force Reserve in participating in: the sitting volleyball team, standing shot put and discus, the 50-meter freestyle and the combined 200-meter freestyle relay.

Sekora displayed his true warrior and team-player grit when he was forced to go back to the states early from his deployment, due to his injuries.

"My biggest concern was I felt I abandoned my team by being sent back home early," he said.

Sekora has completed extensive physical therapy and hasn't let the effects of his injuries get the best of him. Last year, he participated in the 2011 Iraq/Afghanistan Run for Remembrance on his recumbent bicycle.

For more information on the Warrior Games 2012, visit http://www.afspc.af.mil/ and click on "Warrior Games 2012." For more information on the 446th Airlift Wing, go to http://www.446aw.afrc.af.mil/ or become a fan on Facebook www.facebook.com/446thAW.

Photo" Gen. William L. Shelton, Commander, Air Force Space Command, takes a discus from Tech. Sgt. Keith Sekora, 446th Airlift Wing, McChord Field, Wash. who is competing in the Warrior Games at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo. April 25. The Air Force encourages wounded warriors to reach for and achieve a rich and productive future, to defeat their illness or injury to maximize their abilities and know that they can have a rich and fulfilling life beyond what has happened to them in service to their nation. (U.S. Air Force photo/Duncan Wood)

May 3, 2012 at 6:46am

116 th ASOS Guard Airman named Outstanding Airman of Year

After serving for a few years as a Security Forces Air National Guardsman, Senior Airman Michael McCaffrey decided to cross train into the joint terminal attack controller career field.

He wanted a position that got him closer to the front lines of the battlefield, he said.

Serving with the Washington Air National Guard's 116th Air Support Operations Squadron out of Camp Murray, McCaffrey got his wish.

Last year, McCaffrey deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as a Tactical Control Party to FOB Mehtar Lam, Afghanistan. While embedded with the U.S. Army Task Force Ironman, McCaffrey was responsible for providing close air support ensuring persistent, precise and lethal airpower for troops in contact. While under fire, he helped guide 26 air strikes resulting in 1,250 Coalition Forces lives saved.

For his heroic actions, Guard officials announced recently McCaffrey is one of six Airmen named the 2012 Air National Guard Outstanding Airmen Of The Year.

During one mission on May 25, 2011, McCaffrey and other JTACs from the 116th ASOS 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.

Throughout a six-hour battle on the mission, JTACs had to dodge bullets and rocket propelled grenades while running between their cover to find out where the greatest threats were coming from and then call in airstrikes on the advancing fighters.

McCaffrey also executed an innovative strategy to employ air power to combat improvised explosive device strikes, resulting in a decrease in attacks.

McCaffrey, who works as a contractor at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., enjoys his job with the 116th ASOS so much, he commutes from California to Washington to be part of the unit.

"Everyone in the (116th ASOS) is committed to the job and loves to train together," said McCaffrey, a Las Vegas, Nev. native who was nominated for a Bronze Star with Valor after the deployment.

McCaffrey will be honored in August in Washington D.C. along with other outstanding members of the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active-duty Air Force.

May 4, 2012 at 8:19pm

McChord Airmen leave Saturday for fly-away exercise

Airmen from the 446th and 62nd Airlift Wings, along with the 627th Air Base Group, will depart Saturday for the field of battle. Exactly where that is remains to be seen as McChord Field Airmen set off on its first fly-away operational readiness exercise this year.

A second fly-away ORE is scheduled for September as active and Reserve Airmen prepare for the operational readiness inspection set for October.

More than 300 Reserve wing personnel from various squadrons will travel on C-17 Globemaster IIIs to the deployed location where they will establish 24-hour operations to simulate being in a combat zone.

"There are several reasons these MOBEXs are valuable," Lt. Col. Ray Luevanos said. Luevanos is 446th Mission Support Group deputy commander and chief of exercise evaluation teams.

"First, it allows us to get away from the everyday distractions of home station. For the most part we can minimize the impact of ‘normal' work stressors like email and phone calls when we leave McChord and allow our ORI team players to focus on the mission at hand," Luevanos said.

"Second, it allows us to test processes that are difficult to assess when we simulate them during home station exercises. Fully processing cargo and passengers allows us the opportunity to see where we can hone our skills and improve upon our processes and planning factors, especially when we remove ourselves from the conveniences of home station amenities.

"Finally, it allows us to immerse our leadership and players into more realistic scenarios. Hearing a bird cannon or a ground burst simulator go off in tandem with a smoke grenade helps instill a sense of urgency when we're doing our best to simulate conditions in a wartime environment," he said.

During the exercise, Airmen were responsible for performing their jobs as well as having required items and gear readily available to use in a moment's notice. Some of the mandatory items include: a gas mask, protective chemical suit and an Airman's Manual.

Each functional specialty will be examined and graded during the ORI in October. Luevanos said the flyaway exercises will afford Airmen the opportunity to preview the Contingency Readiness Training Centers where they may actually experience the ORI. It'll allows them to practice on the very same field that they may have to play the "big game" on.

"The main focus should be on their primary job. The purpose of an ORI is to test the wing's ability to perform its operational mission during a contingency operation. Each one of us doing our jobs keeps that mission going," Luevanos said.

Being familiar with the Airman's Manual, Luevanos said, will help Airmen to continue to do their jobs by being able to mitigate threats, injuries, and other challenges Airmen are likely to encounter in the exercise.

"Keep the big picture in mind (moving the mission) and don't be afraid to make mistakes; now is the time to learn from those mistakes and make adjustments prior to the October ORI," Luevanos said.

May 6, 2012 at 7:15am

McChord Airmen attend 'survive and operate' university

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- With JB McChord's operational readiness exercise just days away, the 627th Air Base Group provided Airmen an opportunity to practice their "Ability to Survive and Operate" skills April 30 through May 2, 2012.

According to Tech. Sgt. Troyann Ernle, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of emergency management, there were 390 participants during the ATSO University.

"Most of the individuals who will be participating in the upcoming ORE were able to attend," said Ernle. "Most of them are primary players but we were able to include some alternates as well."

Airmen spent the first half of the day rotating between eight different stations of ATSO University. Each station included a briefing by a subject matter expert from the respective career field.
"We've got security forces providing weapons, logistic readiness providing training supplies and the Army even helped out by lending some equipment," said Master Sgt. Justin Malan, 627th CES emergency management superintendent. "We were able to recruit Airmen from all different squadrons and career fields so the most accurate information can be relayed."

During the wing plans and programs station, Capt. Brain Dodson, 62nd AW chief of exercises and evaluations, delivered a slideshow briefing to explain the meaning and importance behind an ORE.

"One of the notable points of feedback we received from the February mobility exercise was that people didn't understand the intent," said Dodson. "Our goal for the next one is to provide more knowledge as to why exercises are important. Also, we want to clearly define the expectations and let Airmen know what to expect."

While rotating between stations, Airmen discussed several ATSO topics including self-aid and buddy care, weapons familiarization and force protection conditions.

"This training is much more hands-on and hopefully more impactful than taking an online training course," said Ernle. "We are covering a wide range of topics. This way, we can detect our mistakes during the training portion and fix them for future exercises."

Airman 1st Class Dustin Davis, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief and alternate player in the upcoming ORE, said the ATSO University training was a great refresher.

"We've basically been taught this stuff before, but this is a good memory jogger," said Davis. "I've learned about the chemical decontamination process, but I've never actually seen it demonstrated before today. So that was a big help."

Following the morning of ATSO stations, the 627th CES conducted a mini mobility exercise, which tested the knowledge Airmen had just received.

"They learned all about ATSO this morning, and now we'll get to observe them applying they've retained," said Ernle. "This mobility exercise gives them an idea of what to expect during the actual operational readiness inspection."

Airmen from McChord Field are expected to depart later this week to conduct ORE training at Volk Field, Wis.

PHOTO: Tech. Sgt. Troyann Ernle, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of emergency management, briefs a group of Airmen during “Ability to Survive and Operate” training May 1, 2012, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. “This training is much more hands-on and hopefully more impactful than taking an online training course,” said Ernle. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Leah Young)

May 10, 2012 at 1:42pm

Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III to be next Air Force chief of staff.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced today that President Barack Obama has nominated Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III as the next Air Force chief of staff.

"He's a command pilot who's flown more than 3,400 hours during the course of his career, and he's got a distinguished record that includes multiple combat missions during Operation Desert Storm," Panetta said of Welsh during a Pentagon press conference.

The secretary said as CIA director, he worked closely with Welsh, where he was an associate director for military affairs.

"Over the course of our time working together, I developed a deep appreciation for his wisdom and his counsel," Panetta said of Welsh. He added that as a former Air Force Academy commandant, Welsh "has the right leadership qualities and distinguished background to follow his extraordinary predecessor, [Air Force Gen. Norton A. Schwartz]."

If confirmed by the Senate, Welsh will succeed Schwartz, who the secretary said will retire this summer.

Schwartz has been a transformative leader in his nearly four years as Air Force chief of staff, the secretary added.

"Under his watch, the Air Force has reinvigorated its stewardship of the nuclear enterprise, made important investments in the capabilities needed for the future, and excelled in a wide range of missions, from the operations over Libya to supporting our ground forces in Afghanistan with close-air support" and ISR [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], Panetta said.

At the same press conference, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Welsh is courageous in combat, has business sense and is passionate about developing future leaders.

Welsh currently serves as commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe; commander of the NATO Allied Air Component Command in Ramstein, Germany; and director of the Joint Air Power Competency Center, Ramstein Air Base, Germany.

"Norty is the elder-statesmen of the Joint Chiefs," Dempsey said, adding he has served with Schwartz as Army chief of staff and as chairman.

"In both positions, I counted on his wise and principled counsel," Dempsey said. "But more importantly, the Air Force counted on his leadership at a critical juncture. He delivered, and as a consequence, the Air Force delivers for our nation."

The chairman said he will have more to say about Schwartz in the days ahead. "For today, I will simply say thank you," Dempsey said. "Thank you for being a trustworthy wingman [and] thank you for being our nation's flight lead."

May 12, 2012 at 6:13am

The Military's Spouse of the Year is a MAN

WASHINGTON (AFPS) -- A husband who championed the progression of disability policy and the exceptional family member program received the 2012 Military Spouse of the Year Award here today.

Jeremy Hilton, spouse of Air Force Lt. Col. Renae Hilton, an Air Force Office of Special Investigations agent on Joint Base Andrews, Md., received the award during a luncheon at the Marine Barracks Washington.

Upon receipt of the award, Hilton, who has a daughter with special needs, lauded fellow finalists from the other services, and shared what also inspired his efforts to advocate for military families impacted by illness or disability.

"Five of the six spouses of the year are significantly impacted by a disability or chronic medical condition," Hilton said, adding that about 54 million people, or one in six, in the U.S. are also impacted by a disability.

Hilton explained that any type of family is subject to facing the challenging circumstances brought on by illness, injury or genetic aberration.

"For some, this will happen in a split second, whether from an (improvised explosive device) or from the doctor telling you that something is wrong with your baby," Hilton said. "For others, it will be the shocking realization of the road you're about to travel as you deal with your (multiple sclerosis), cancer or Alzheimer's."

Suzie Schwartz, wife of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz and Paula Roy, wife of Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy, attended and introduced Hilton. Deanie Dempsey, wife of Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, presented Hilton the award.

Founded by Military Spouse magazine in 2008, the Military Spouse of the Year serves as the flagship award for the nation's 1.1 million military spouses. The award recognizes leadership and initiative among military spouses, many of whom continued to bring about positive change on behalf of military families, according to Bianca Strzalkowski, 2011 Military Spouse of the Year.

"I accepted the Military Spouse of the Year award not for something I did in the past, but for something I would do in the future, so I took it very literally that I was representing 1.1 million people," Strzalkowski said.

In addition to Hilton, service-level finalists were:

- El Brown, spouse of Army Maj. Ricky Brown, Ft. Belvoir, Va.

- Stephanie Garaghty, spouse of Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. Brian Geraghty, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

- Tricia Ross, spouse of Navy Lt. Jeffrey Ross, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

- Jennifer Bassett, spouse of Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Josh Bassett, Coast Guard Cutter Alert, Astoria, Ore.

- Christine Gilbreath, spouse of National Guard Army Staff Sgt. William Scott Gilbreath, Redmond Taylor Heliport, Grand Prairie, Texas

May 12, 2012 at 6:17am

McChord pilot wins at Warrior Games, meets Prince Harry

Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera and 1st Lt. Ryan McGuire were the only two Air Force members out of five Department of Defense service members selected to meet Prince Harry of Wales in Washington, D.C., May 7. The prince visited the U.S. to meet injured

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- First Lt. Ryan McGuire, 4th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot, recently won five medals at the 2012 Warrior Games and is also the Air Mobility Command nominee for the 2012 Department of Defense Employee/Service Member with a Disability Award.

On top of these accomplishments, McGuire was also one of five DoD service members selected to meet Prince Harry of Wales May 7 at the British Embassy in Washington, D.C.

"My coach called me out during the middle of volleyball practice, which was unlike her, and acted all giddy," said McGuire, who is a native of The Woodlands, Texas. "She asked me if I would like to go to D.C. to meet Prince Harry and I instantly said, 'Yes.'

"It was a really big honor. I got to go with Master Sgt. Christopher Aguilera and we took a tour of D.C., saw the British Ambassador's Residence and met with Air Force leaders," McGuire continued. "Prince Harry met people in groups of five and he was really concerned about the British team member's impression of the Warrior Games. He was really nice, he said he was looking into bringing the games to his own country and coming back next year, so it was cool to see how impressed he was with the games and the U.S."

The prince, who is also an Apache helicopter pilot in the British Blues and Royals of the Household Calvary Regiment, visited the U.S. to meet the injured service members and to accept a humanitarian prize for his charity work with injured service members.

For McGuire, competing in the Warrior Games was not something he thought he would be able to accomplish. In September of 2009, a rope wrapped around his leg while boating and pulled him out of the boat leading to an amputation on his right leg below the knee. After about eight months of rehabilitation, McGuire faced a medical board in August 2010, and was able to stay in the Air Force with a waiver to fly.

In May 2011, McGuire became the first amputee to complete pilot training and by October of that same year, he was the first amputee to finish C-17 qualification training.

"I definitely did not think I would be afforded all that I have done," said McGuire. "I've had a lot of amazing opportunities with the Air Force. I was part of the inaugural Warrior Games in 2010 and I did not think I would be able to do it again."

More than 200 injured, ill or wounded service members participated in the Warrior Games, hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which featured seven sports including swimming, cycling, wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery, shooting and track and field. The athletic events were held at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

McGuire participated in track and field, swimming and volleyball. For track and field, he participated in the 1,500-meter run in which he earned a gold medal, the 200-meter run and the 400-meter relay race. In swimming, he earned a gold medal in the 50-meter backstroke event, silver medals in the 50-meter freestyle and 100-meter freestyle events and he also swam the 400-meter relay race. Lastly, the Air Force team earned a bronze medal in sitting volleyball.

"It is unbelievable how much the games have exploded," said McGuire, who won three medals at the 2010 Warrior Games. "I did it to see the athletes and to meet new athletes. The games are also good for my injury because it gives me something to compete for and it is therapeutic for me to workout toward a goal."

McGuire has now returned to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., where he is eager to get back to work.

"I'm ready to focus on flying, I'm still really new with only 100 flying hours," he said. "I recently did a medical evacuation mission and it was powerful for me being an injured person to see how the Air Force saves lives, so my goal is to focus on that right now."

May 12, 2012 at 6:19am

'Get 1' referral can get you two tickets to Daughtry in Seattle

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. --  "American Idol," a popular singing competition show, is nearing the end of its current season and will once again launch some talented soul into a music career. However, you don't have to win the competition to enter into a successful music career. Such is the case with season 5 finalist Chris Daughtry.

Daughtry is an American rock band from North Carolina, formed and fronted by Chris Daughtry.

Some lucky Reservists will have the opportunity to see the band Daughtry in Seattle, with backstage passes in hand.

Under the Air Force Reserve recruiting program "Get 1 Now," Reservists who refer a friend to a Reserve recruiter earn rewards. The latest rewards being offered are two complimentary VIP tickets to Daughtry June 3 in Seattle at the Paramount Theatre. The tickets will include backstage photo opportunities for those who earn the tickets.

The "Get 1 Now," program is open to all actively participating Reservists and Air Force Reserve Civilian employees. Referrals are submitted through the "Get 1 Now," Web site, by calling 877-786-2372, using on-line chat, or by e-mail through the "Get 1 Now," Web site.

"What's great is when our personnel tell their friends or family members about their first-hand experience in the Air Force Reserve," said Chief Master Sgt. Scott Terpening, senior recruiter for the 446th Airlift Wing. "It leads to qualified applicants much more often than someone who just stops by a recruiting office with no first-hand knowledge of what it's like to serve."

For more information about the Daughtry tickets, or the "Get 1 Now," program, visit the Web site, or call Terpening at 253-982-3501.

May 19, 2012 at 7:04am

AF BASE to test run new military-wide PCS process

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- Starting at the end of May and going through February 2013, officials here will help test a new procedure to centralize steps military members take to get their permanent change of station orders and other actions prior to out-processing.

The project, spearheaded by the Air Force Personnel Center, will transfer PCS relocation tasks from Randolph military personnel sections to the Total Force Service Center in San Antonio.

"The centralization is part of a bigger initiative to transform personnel services delivery with a goal of saving Airmen time and effort when they access personnel services," said Master Sgt. Andrea Hall, the AFPC Personnel Reliability Program and Air Force Relocations Operations superintendent. "The Air Force Personnel Center is committed to caring for Airmen and one way we do that is ensure they are able to access all personnel services."

As a result of relocation centralization, members will take care of the bulk of their PCS requirements through the Air Force Personnel Services website via the "My Account" function.

Members participating in the test will not go through the local MPS relocations section until their final out-processing appointment, said Staff Sgt. Sara Digennaro, the AFPC NCO in charge of Air Force Relocations Operations.

The TFSC will email permanent party members assigned to Randolph a list of requirements and links to AFPERS that will allow them to digitally send required documents back. Airmen will also be able to interact and ask questions with the TFSC technicians 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Digennaro said.

Local base out-processing items will still be handled using the out-processing checklist on the Virtual Military Personnel Flight website.

"Testing the relocations process centralization is an important step toward reducing the MPS workload while still providing first-class personnel customer service," Hall said. "This test will help identify what can be handled through online services that will determine the way ahead.

"Once members are notified of their assignment, all the actions that come thereafter will be handled by the folks at the TFSC," Hall said. 

AFPC will survey members who change stations during the trial run to gather feedback that can be used to improve the process. The feedback will then be used to determine whether or not to expand centralized relocations to all bases within JBSA.

"(With enough positive feedback) the process could eventually be used throughout the Air Force," Hall said. "We'd be taking a function that's traditionally been accomplished at more than 82 locations and centralize it here at Randolph. If we're successful, it'll be a big accomplishment for the Air Force."

With PCS relocation, Randolph hopes to trailblaze "the way of the future," Hall said.

For now, AFPC personnel are focused on the foreseeable future, late May to February 2013 to be exact.

"As with any new program there will be challenges along the way. However, this process will help determine more efficient ways to use limited resources," Hall said.

May 19, 2012 at 7:15am

62 AW announces master sergeant promotions

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Congratulations to the following technical sergeants who were selected for promotion to master sergeant.

Tech. Sgt. Victor Adams
Tech. Sgt. Michael Applegate
Tech. Sgt. Paul Baumann
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Culross
Tech. Sgt. Edward Danks
Tech. Sgt. Kim Fabian
Tech. Sgt. John Farr
Tech. Sgt. Douglas Fielding
Tech. Sgt. Donald Grable
Tech. Sgt. Chad Graham
Tech. Sgt. Edward Griggs
Tech. Sgt. Mark Hafer
Tech. Sgt. Brian Harris
Tech. Sgt. Thomas Hatch
Tech. Sgt. Ronda Israel
Tech. Sgt. Byron Johnson
Tech. Sgt. Frank Jurusz
Tech. Sgt. Lee Kemp
Tech. Sgt. Roger King
Tech. Sgt. Timur Kuzu
Tech. Sgt. Jeremiah Nath
Tech. Sgt. Kelly Nichols
Tech. Sgt. Ryan Osterlund
Tech. Sgt. Barbara Paine
Tech. Sgt. Katherine Paulson
Tech. Sgt. Jered Pieschke
Tech. Sgt. Richard Sliwoski
Tech. Sgt. Jason Stock
Tech. Sgt. Nicholas Thompson
Tech. Sgt. Christopher Vandenbos
Tech. Sgt. Robert Veitz
Tech. Sgt. Lawrence Volstorf
Tech. Sgt. Roeland Wielinga

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