Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: December, 2015 (6) Currently Viewing: 1 - 6 of 6

December 17, 2015 at 9:57am

Rainier War

Eleven C-17 Globemaster IIIs line up on the Moses Lake runway, Dec. 10, after a Large Formation Exercise airdrop during ”Rainier War” at Moses Lake, Washington. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

In today's military, aircrews have to be trained and ready to handle any type of combat scenario, and recently, members of McChord Field and other bases participated in an exercise titled "Rainier War" to help them hone their skills.

Aircrews from Joint Base Lewis-McChord; Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; and Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, departed from McChord Field, Dec. 10, to participate in a Joint Forcible Entry exercise over Moses Lake, Washington.

Rainier War is a semi-annual Large Formation Exercise, hosted by the 62nd Airlift Wing, designed to train aircrew under realistic scenarios that support full spectrum operations against modern threats and replicate today's contingency operations.

A heavy container delivery system cargo drops out the back of a C-17 Globemaster III during the Rainier War, Dec. 10, over the Rainier drop zone. The aircrew dropped multiple loads of cargo onto the DZ in support of the Large Formation Exercise, known as Rainier War. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox
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"We launched eleven C-17 Globemaster IIIs to train and hone our combat and humanitarian mobility delivery skills," said Col. Leonard Kosinski, 62nd Airlift Wing commander.

Once the aircraft launched and were in the air, aircrews began preparing their aircraft for its large formation airdrops.

Before the formation performed the heavy container delivery system airdrops, the aircrews performed low-level flying prior to arriving at the drop zone in Moses Lake.

"I enjoy watching the success of our hard work," said Staff Sgt. Joseph Timpson, 10th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "Practice makes perfect, and when you train all the time, specifically on airdrop missions, you expect everything to be perfect."

The Rainier War exercise included the large formation airdrops and a larger formation of C-17s before heading back to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"This was a very challenging exercise and lots of important learning took place," said Kosinski. "It was incredibly realistic and challenging training needed to ensure we are ready whenever and wherever our Nation calls."

December 17, 2015 at 1:08pm

'Love' cookies dropped

Tech. Sgt. Michael Luna, 7th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, collects cookies during Operation Cookie Drop Dec. 9, 2015 at McChord Field. Luna volunteered to help box cookies for the Team McChord Operation Cookie Drop. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

With the holidays fast approaching, this can be a challenging time for many airmen living in the dorms who are still becoming accustomed to being away from their families, and for some it can be the first holiday away from home.

Team McChord reached out to these airmen with Operation Cookie Drop 2015.

Operation Cookie Drop is a program in which base residents and community members donate homemade cookies to be hand delivered during the holidays from the McChord First Sergeants to the airmen in the dorms.

Team McChord answered the call for the amount of cookies it received and delivered to the airmen Dec. 9-10, at the McChord Field Chapel Support Center on McChord Field.

"This event was a huge success," said Chika Kosinski, wife of Col. Leonard Kosinski, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. "The amount of donations we received really shows how much people care about the airmen."

This was the first year that Operation Cookie Drop has been a big base-wide event and it showed in more than 12,000 cookies collected.

Katy Rhode, wife of Senior Airman Brandon Rhode, 62nd Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeyman, has been an advocate for this program since her arrival at Joint Base Lewis-McChord four years ago.

"For the past three years, Operation Cookie Drop was a much smaller event," said Rhode. "We wanted it to be a bigger event, so we started planning and asking for cookie donations a lot earlier than before."

Many military members live far from family and friends and the holiday season can be a lonely one. Part of the purpose of the cookie drop was to show airmen living in the dorms that, while they are away from home, people still care.

"It is important to show that we support our own airmen," said Rhode. "I loved being a part of the Team McChord Operation Cookie Drop."

December 17, 2015 at 3:26pm

Air Force announces aviator bonuses

Eligible active-duty aviators have until Sept. 30 to apply for the fiscal year 2016 Aviator Retention Pay or Critical Skills Retention Bonus programs, Air Force officials announced Dec. 15.

"The cost to train and develop our airmen is a significant investment for the Air Force," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh, III. "These incentives are cost-effective methods to retain a sufficient force of skilled and experienced aviators to meet our current and future requirements."

Air Force leadership, having advocated through the Office of the Secretary of Defense and to Congress for increased authority, announces that for the first time, the fiscal 2016 National Defense Authorization Act is authorizing remotely-piloted aircraft pilots to be paid using the same authorities as all other aviators. This new legislative authority cannot be implemented until cross-service guidance is drafted and approved. In the meantime, the Air Force will offer a Critical Skills Retention Bonus to those career RPA pilots (18X) whose undergraduate RPA pilot training service obligation is expiring.

Officers who have earned an aeronautical rating prior to attending Undergraduate RPA Pilot Training (URT) are eligible for an identical bonus offering under the fiscal 2016 Aviator Retention Pay program outlined below. The combination of bonuses now allows the Air Force to compensate all RPA pilots at the same level regardless of aeronautical rating.

"It is important to ensure RPA pilots receive a bonus that is equitable to other pilots," said Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James. "Therefore, we worked closely with OSD to implement the CSRB for them and with a commensurate amount this year. These airmen are making extremely important contributions to the fight; we need these professionals to stay with us and we're committed to retaining them in our force."

In fiscal 2016, RPA pilots who have accumulated six years of aviation service after completion of undergraduate RPA pilot training are eligible for a bonus of five annual installments of $25,000, with the option to receive 50 percent of the bonus total payable up front. Once the new authorities and cross-service guidance are available, RPA pilots will be eligible to transition to longer bonus periods matching those currently available to other aviators.

Depending on the aviator category and length of the ARP contract, incentives will vary from $15,000 to $25,000 per year with some categories eligible to receive 50 percent of the ARP total payable up front.

Similar to the fiscal 2015 program, airmen who will complete their Undergraduate Flying Training active-duty service commitment (ADSC) anytime in fiscal 2016 may submit an application to the Air Force Personnel Center to lock in a contract under the fiscal 2016 ARP program terms and conditions.

Airmen applying for these bonus programs should typically expect to see payments within three weeks after final approval of their application and processing by DFAS. Complete eligibility requirements and application instructions are available on the myPers website.

December 23, 2015 at 3:53pm

Ups and downs of mil-to-mil

Juy Payne focuses on hanging an ornament on her family Christmas tree in Mountain Home, Idaho, Dec. 5. For Juy, this is the first time she has been separated from her mother due to a deployment. Photo credit: Airman 1st Class Jessica H. Evans

Being in the military often means sacrificing many things one can take for granted. Holidays and birthdays are times people expect to spend with loved ones, but that's not always possible for service men and women.

Training, temporary duties, deployments and everyday responsibilities can run into family time. It becomes a norm. But what about military members married to other military members? With double the commitment to service, quality time is precious.

After being together for 11 years, Tech. Sgt. Zachary Payne, 389th weapons expeditor and Staff Sgt. Joselyn Payne, 391st weapons team chief, both with the Aircraft Maintenance Unit, have spent nearly half of their relationship apart.

With Joselyn typically working days and Zachary working nights, they are left to make the best of the weekends, often their only time to see each other.

"Being mil-to-mil, we knew what we were getting into when we first started dating," Zachary said. "We understood it going in and knew what to expect whenever we first got together."

Instead of looking at the separations as a negative, they look at their understanding of being mil-to-mil as a benefit in their relationship.

While they may understand the sacrifices and separations, their children sometimes don't. With already busy schedules, adding their two young children into the mix is a mission all on its own.

"We try our hardest to do things on the weekends to have them included, even if it's just at the house and (they're) helping me with dishes or laundry," Joselyn said.

Despite the demanding needs of working on the flightline, the Payne's never doubted starting a family together.

"I don't think it ever came to a ‘Let's wait' or ‘We don't want to have kids,'" Joselyn said. "We always knew we wanted to have children and I always knew I wanted to be a mother and be in the military."

Realizing the obstacles their jobs presented, they knew it would be difficult and require teamwork to successfully build their family.

The already difficult task is even harder for their children to deal with, Zachary said.

At the age of 7, their son is gradually starting to understand what it means to have active-duty parents; their 2-year-old daughter is still too young to grasp it.

"It's easier for me to leave (Zachary) because we're both adults; we both understand the job, we both understand what we're getting into," Joselyn said, "But when it comes to sitting down with a child and being like, ‘Alright, Mommy's leaving for work, Mommy won't be back for a while,' they don't get it ... my son gets it, but it's not like it's easier."

Zachary recalls his first time deploying as a father. "My first time was kind of rough because it was our first child ... I missed a lot," at a loss for words, he reiterated, "Yah, it was real hard the first time."

Although Joselyn was at home, it was equally difficult for her; she had to figure out how to be a parent on her own.

"It was eye opening," she recalled. "It was basically like being a single mother."

Without the benefits of modern technology, and thousands of miles in between, it was just as difficult for Zachary. They both learned to lean on their friends and coworkers through their struggles.

In the event they both deploy - which has happened - they rely on the support of their families to make it possible.

"We have a job to do," Zachary said. "We have to deploy and we have to figure it out; we have to kind of think on our feet and we've been very lucky that our family does support us and help us out as much as they can."

While grandparents, aunts and uncles have all stepped up to the plate, it's just not the same as Mom and Dad being there, Joselyn explained.

After missing so many milestones and inevitably more to come, on a daily basis, Zachary fears the resentment his children may grow to have.

"Well, they're going to throw it in our face and we know that," he chuckled.

Joselyn realizes resentment is a normal phase for most children, but is hoping the children can be more understanding when it comes to their absences.

"Hopefully they're grateful for what we do," she said.

December 23, 2015 at 3:58pm

Airmen honor POW

Airmen from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Force Honor Guard lift the casket of 1st Lt. Joseph Moser from a hearse at his funeral Dec. 11 at Woodlawn Cemetery in Ferndale, Washington. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

It was mid-afternoon on a sunny day as seven airmen stood motionless in a moment of silence to honor one of their own. More than 500 family members and friends watched as airmen from the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Air Force Honor Guard removed the flag from 1st Lt. Joseph Moser's casket at his funeral in Ferndale, Washington, Dec. 11. Moser passed away Dec. 3.

Moser was not only an Army Air Corps World War II pilot, but also a former prisoner of war.

"It was an honor to do this, and I hope they feel better knowing we did everything to honor him in the best possible way," said Senior Airman Joseph Sanchirico, JBLM Air Force Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen. "Presenting the honors to the next-of-kin and being the face of the Air Force to the family was an honor."

The JBLM Air Force Honor Guard performs many ceremonies, but not usually for servicemembers who are as well-known as Moser, Sanchirico said.

Moser was presented the Distinguished Flying Cross in a January 2009 ceremony at JBLM, 65 years after his service in World War II where he distinguished himself in aerial combat, extraordinary achievement and heroism. A simple mistake on the paperwork prevented him from receiving the medal earlier.

Moser was shot down during his 44th combat mission Aug. 13, 1944, while flying a P-38 Lightning aircraft. Afterward, he was captured by Nazi forces and held in the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp. Just a few days before he was scheduled for "extermination," he was moved to a German POW camp. He was held as a prisoner for more than six months before being repatriated.

"It was a privilege to have the opportunity to participate in today's ceremony," said Capt. Maxfield Shea, the flag presenting officer for the honor guard. "Lieutenant Moser exhibited heroism in a way that people can only hope to strive for today."

As the honor guard folded the flag, three World War II vintage aircraft roared over the cemetery. Family and friends shared tears of sadness and pride as "Taps" was played and rifles fired to present arms in honor of Moser.

December 30, 2015 at 3:01pm

Airmen discover vehicle issues

Maintenance vehicles can potentially impact the mission as much as maintainers. Without the proper maintenance equipment, the mission can be delayed or even halted. With the current operations tempo sustained at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, mission delays or stoppages can negatively impact the lives of individuals on any continent.

One of these vehicles frequently utilized by the 62nd Maintenance Group is a Bobtail, which is a single-cab truck with a pintle hook-style tow hitch, used for towing heavy maintenance equipment. Some of the aircraft maintenance equipment this vehicle is commonly used to tow includes liquid oxygen carts, nitrogen carts and light carts.

During the course of his everyday duties, Airman 1st Class Brandon Reed, 62nd Maintenance Squadron aircraft ground equipment apprentice, discovered a problem with the pintle hook of one of the Bobtail vehicles.

"When I got ready to unhook (a fuel bowser), I noticed the pivot bolt was hanging by the lanyard that it is attached to," said Reed. "When I released the quick release pin, the pintle hook fell apart."

For military use on aircraft flight lines, some small modifications are required on the Bobtail vehicle for safety purposes. One of these safety modifications is the addition of a lanyard on the pintle hook, which prevents the loss of the pin by connecting it to the pintle hook. The placement of the lanyard caused the problem, Reed discovered, because the lanyard was attached to the pivot bolt, preventing the pivot bolt from being properly secured. Specifically, not enough threads of this pivot bolt were exposed once the nut was installed.

"Airman 1st Class Reed discovered, during the course of his normal duties, that the primary pintle hook of his Bobtail was missing some crucial hardware, specifically the nut on the pivot bolt which secures the top half of the pintle hook assembly, holding everything in place, which includes the equipment being transported," clarified Master Sgt. Michael Applegate, 62nd MXS AGE flight chief.

Upon further inspection by the 627th Logistic Readiness Squadron's vehicle management flight, it was discovered that the placement of the lanyard was installed the same way on 14 different Bobtail vehicles. While all Bobtails had the required hardware, the lanyard has since been relocated on all vehicles to ensure there is adequate thread protrusion between the hinge bolt and nut.

Reed enlisted in the U.S. Air Force last year and has been stationed at JBLM for less than a year. After he began working on the family farm at age 6, he eventually gained mechanical experience working on and repairing the farm equipment. He desired a maintenance career, and enlisted with a contract for the AGE career field.

"Reed's work ethic and mechanical aptitude has impressed me since day one, not to mention his natural responses to situations which are outside the norm," said Applegate.

Since his discovery, Reed has been lauded by his leadership in the AGE flight and coined by Col. Leonard Kosinski, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, for his attention to detail.

"It makes me feel proud of what I do. If I would have not noticed the issue or ignored it then I could have potentially lost the piece of equipment I was towing and caused major damage to an aircraft resulting in high damage costs and delayed missions," said Reed.

Undoubtedly, Reed realizes the significance of his discovering this issue, and the positive impact it has on the mission at McChord Field. His hard work and attention to detail has not gone unnoticed and it seems he will have a bright future.

According to Applegate, "With this type of start to his career, the sky's the limit."

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