Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: November, 2016 (7) Currently Viewing: 1 - 7 of 7

November 3, 2016 at 9:55am

60 years of Antarctic Airlift

The crewmembers of “ICE12” and Team McChord airmen display the U.S. flag Oct. 21, at McMurdo Station, Antarctica. ICE12 commemorated the first ever Air Force Antarctic flight flown 60 years ago. Courtesy photo

On Oct. 21, airmen from Joint Base Lewis-McChord flew from Christchurch, New Zealand, to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, tracing a similar flight pattern to one flown 60 years earlier.

The flight commemorated the first ever U.S. Air Force Antarctic flight flown in a Douglas C-124 Globemaster II, named "Miss North Carolina" Oct. 21, 1956.

"The combination of 62nd Airlift Wing personnel who are readily available and highly proficient in the C-17 combined with the 446th Airlift Wing personnel who have thousands of hours of aviation experience and longevity in Antarctic operations, has allowed Team McChord to safely complete this mission," said Lt. Col. Robert Schmidt, 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander and 62nd Operations Group commander.

The 1956 flight took 12 hours to complete in an unpressurized aircraft. In comparison to this first flight, the Oct. 21 flight named ICE-12, utilizing a McChord C-17 Globemaster III, was completed in just five hours.

"The C-17 flies faster and higher than the C-124, providing more convenient and comfortable service to passengers," said Dr. Robert Allen, 62nd AW historian. "The Globemaster III is also a better cargo platform, carrying more cargo that is easier to unload, as well as having a more precise airdrop capability."

Team McChord airmen have participated in supporting Operation Deep Freeze since 1985, flying the C-141B Starlifter. ODF is the Department of Defense's support of the U.S. Antarctic Program and the National Science Foundation.       

"Support for ODF has evolved naturally as aircraft, equipment and personnel training improved," said Allen. "This has allowed the National Science Foundation to conduct its robust research program with increasing confidence."

ODF is different from any other U.S. military operation, said Schmidt. It is one of the military's most difficult peacetime missions due to the harsh Antarctic environment.

"The operating environment in Antarctica is significantly different from the rest of the globe," said Schmidt. "The remoteness, rapidly changing weather, and harsh climate can create some significant logistical challenges that only the DoD has the capabilities to overcome."

The C-17's unique airlift capabilities provides a premier platform to provide airlift to the most remote austere locations around the world, including Antarctica.

"The C-17, with its extended range fuel tanks, cargo capacity, and short/semi-prepared runway capabilities, is ideally suited for the Antarctic mission," said Schmidt. "The extended range fuel capacity typically allows us to fly all of the way to Antarctica and back without requiring refueling. This not only improves the safety of the mission by giving the crews flexibility during rapidly changing weather conditions, but also reduces the amount of fuel that needs to be shipped to Antarctica each year."

Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, serves as the staging point for deployments to McMurdo Station, Antarctica, a key research and operations facility for the USAP.

Team McChord airmen working with Joint Task Force - Support Forces Antarctica, execute inter- and intra-theater airlift, aeromedical evacuation support, search and rescue, and transportation requirements at NSF's request in order to support the USAP.

"ODF is a unique mission for the Air Force and Air Mobility Command in several ways," said Schmidt. "The success of ODF depends on the Air Force and AMC working closely with the National Science Foundation to develop the best schedules and procedures to overcome the continent's logistical challenges"

Throughout the 2015-2016 season, JTF-SFA directed more than 350 inter/intra-theater airlift missions, moving over 6.5 million pounds of material and transporting approximately 5,500 passengers.

November 10, 2016 at 2:17pm

Maintenance airman delivers airpower

Senior Airman Jamal Agoun, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron instrument and flight control systems apprentice, inspects refuel panel on a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft Nov. 3, 2016, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

With little more than a year on station, one Team McChord maintainer has made quite an impression on his leadership.

Senior Airman Jamal Agoun, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron instrument and flight control systems apprentice, has saved the day more than once, allowing aircrews and aircraft to launch on time.

"His enormous intrinsic motivation to help others has strengthened his dedication to service in the Air Force," said Staff Sgt. Amanda Tissue, 62nd AMXS instrument and flight control systems journeyman. "He is outstanding instrument flight control systems apprentice."

Earlier this year, Agoun displayed his expertise and job knowledge when he identified a faulty piece of aircraft equipment on a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

His exceptional system knowledge enabled him to discover a shorted C-17 heads up display assembly control panel, said Tissue. This prevented the replacement of a HUD assembly, saving the Air Force $390,000 and more than 30 man hours of work.

"I try to show attention to detail and I like to do things the right way the first time," Said Agoun. "By overlooking something small like this could cause issues later and a crew to get stuck somewhere."  

Ensuring the success of one flight already, Agoun also recently helped another crew get airborne.

"Senior Airman Agoun was essential when he assisted a specialist with an engine start problem," said Tissue. "His quick actions expedited the replacement of a damaged ignitor plug enabling the airlift of 2 AH-64 Apaches to Baghram Air Base."

Although the engine problem was outside of Agoun's career field, he offered assistance to help get the aircraft operational.

"I've never been trained on engines, I just know about them from talking to people," said Agoun. "This wasn't my job, I just happened to be out there when it happened."

According to Agoun, providing a helping hand was the right thing to do.

"If I was him I would appreciate someone offering to help me," Said Agoun. "The number one priority is to ensure the jets get in the air."

Besides wanting to do what he feels is right, Agoun said he also wants his work to speak for itself.

"My work is a reflection of me," said Agoun. "I like going to work and like seeing people who know me by my work in a good way."

According to Agoun, he is knowledgeable in his job, because of practice.

"I relate my job to football, I used to work hard during practice and games were easy," said Agoun. "When it comes to training I apply myself and stress myself training, so I don't have to when I'm on the job."

Agoun's supervision have taken note of his work ethic, said Tissue.

"Senior Airman Agoun is an extremely well rounded individual," said Tissue. "He arrived on the base ready to be the best at his job, serve in the community, and lead his fellow Airmen and he has done exactly that. I am super excited to see how far he can go and the things that he can achieve."

November 10, 2016 at 2:22pm

McChord proves mass vaccinations possible

Master Sgt. Petra Nelson, 62nd Medical Squadron dental section chief, administers the flu vaccine to Team McChord airmen Oct. 28, during a point of dispensing exercise at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Tim Chacon

Every year airmen are required to get vaccinated for the flu virus, but not every year do more than 1,200 airmen get vaccinated by one clinic, in one day.

The 62nd Medical Squadron conducted a point of dispensing exercise Oct. 28, at McChord Field to practice providing mass vaccines to the base populace in the event of an outbreak of potentially deadly diseases. Taking advantage of the exercise simulation and the already set up process, the medical squadron took the opportunity to also administer the real-world annual flu vaccine to airmen.

The 62nd MDS did not conduct the exercise because of an actual direct concern for a threat or under the direction of a higher command. They conducted the exercise for readiness preparation for "what if" scenarios.  

"The 62nd MDS does not have an inspection driven obligation to perform this exercise, we do have a moral imperative to remain ready to respond to highly unlikely catastrophic events in order to protect our population, save lives, and prevent suffering," said Lt. Col. Daniel Murray, 62nd MDS commander. "This point of dispensing exercise enables us to do that. Even though they are unlikely, events like this do occur. The only question is ‘will it happen to us?' Since we are unable to answer that question, we must remain prepared and be vigilant in (our) preparation."

The main intent of the exercise was not primarily about the administering of the flu vaccine, but rather proving that large amounts of McChord airmen could be processed through a vaccine line. The addition of the flu vaccine just added to the overall success of the exercise.

"In order to leverage this opportunity to be a ‘win, win, win' we provide the real world flu vaccination," said Murray. "The first win is for the patient who gets protected from a disease that kills more than 36,000 Americans every year. The second win is for the community who is protected from the disease by a high level of vaccination. The third win is for the Air Force, our country and the mission, as readiness rates are significantly improved by providing vaccinations."

The flu, although a routine occurrence, can have a major impact on the Air Force and its members.

"The number one threat that keeps warfighters from being able to execute our nation's defense objectives is disease and non-battle injury," said Murray. "The risk of this is significantly reduced through vaccinations for preventable disease, including influenza."

Attempting to organize, transport, and vaccinate 90% of the base populace is a task that takes multiple units working together and is not easily accomplished by just one unit. Along with the medical portion, a logistical aspect of gas mask inspection was also added to exercise processing line.

"The key to the success of this effort was a spectacular group of people who worked hard as a team; their willingness to collaborate and to work toward the goal," said Murray. "The medical, logistics and communication teams, with the unmitigated support of their commanders, were able to identify issues, develop solutions and create a successful means to achieve the end state of rapid, safe, and efficient vaccination and simulated medical therapy for thousands of patients."

Not only that, but we were further able to leverage the opportunity to ensure yet another readiness item. (It ensured) personnel who have been issued gas masks have current, functional and effective equipment."

Overall the exercise was about readiness, not just for the current flu season, but for any future threats. The airmen of the 62nd MDS and all of McChord train regularly to ensure they are prepared and strive to improve their weakness and identify their strengths.

"The adage goes ‘you play how you practice' so conversely you practice how you play, if we never put this concept to practice we would not know the full limit of our capabilities," said Master Sgt. Kevin Rumph, 62nd MDS operational medical flight chief.  "To establish (our limits) we need max participation because, ultimately the point of this exercise is that it could save lives."

November 17, 2016 at 11:55am

62nd Airlift Wing hosts lecture series

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Cary Hatzinger teaches leadership principles at a Lunch and Leadership Lecture Nov. 4 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

The 62nd Airlift Wing commander's action group hosted a Lunch and Leadership Lecture Nov. 4 at the McChord Chapel Support Center. The first training of the series was held to provide relevant informal leadership advice to airmen of all ranks.

"This is an informal environment for anyone interested in leadership or professional development," said Capt. Nick DeFranco, 62nd AW commander's action group deputy chief. "We hope to create an interactive environment that allows members to engage with speakers."

Slated to occur the first Friday of every month, the Lunch and Leadership Lectures allow airmen to attend while on their lunchbreak and eat there.

"We want a place where people can feel comfortable to go and learn," said DeFranco. "We also want to provide a diverse group of speakers - active-duty, civilian and retired military."

The event's speaker was retired Chief Master Sgt. Cary Hatzinger, former 62nd AW command chief. Hatzinger spoke on the importance of effective communication and healthy relationships in today's world.

"Deliberate, thoughtful and purposeful communications delivered by the most appropriate means is key to leadership and great relationships," said Hatzinger. "Match the method with the situation and the objective."

Event attendees agreed the information presented by Hatzinger was useful and applicable.

"I really like how he presented the evolution of technology as it's progressed over time," said Preston Nealy, 62nd AW judge advocate adverse actions NCO in charge. "He presented the information well and showed the difference of how to identify barriers and opportunities."

The focus of the event was to provide relevant and practical professional development content, said DeFranco.   

"The informal environment and the attendees can drive the topics," said DeFranco. "Discussion is very flexible and two-way conversations are highly encouraged."

Open to all Team McChord personnel interested in leadership related topics, Lunch and Leadership Lectures can be helpful to front line supervisors and leaders in all positions, said DeFranco.

"I think this is awesome for NCOs and officers to help us become better leaders," said Nealy. "This is a good investment for all of us to invest in our leadership and build up airmen."

For the first one of its kind, the training was well attended and the feedback received from the airmen who attended was positive, said DeFranco.

"I think this bridged the gap and connected the dots between different generations," said DeFranco. "This provides another avenue for airmen to pursue professional development."  

The next Lunch and Leadership Lecture is Friday, Dec. 2 at the McChord Chapel Support Center. To find out more information about future events call the commanders action group at 253.982.7832. 

November 23, 2016 at 11:16am

C-17 course relocates to JBLM

A McChord officer wears his U.S. Air Force Weapons Instructor Course patch, Nov. 18, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

Moving the 57th Weapons Squadron and the C-17 Weapons Instructor Course from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst to Joint Base Lewis-McChord will allow the Air Force to repurpose flight hours, increase aircraft maintenance capabilities and enhance training effectiveness.

The move also aligns with one of Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James' priorities - making every dollar count.

The weapons course is managed and facilitated by the 57th Weapons Squadron at JBMDL. Two, five-month classes are conducted yearly, producing 12 active-duty and Reserve component weapons officers.

However, the squadron has no dedicated aircraft assigned and each class requires three to four C-17s at a time to conduct training sorties. This results in additional AMC aircraft and maintenance airmen being temporarily assigned to JBMDL 335 days a year.

"The move will allow AMC to repurpose up to 495 flight hours, return up to 3,500 man-days of capability back to the 62nd Maintenance Group and reduce TDY days, allowing more flexible use of C-17 aircraft," said Lt. Col. Nathan Hagerman, Air Mobility Command Combat Operations division deputy chief.

JBLM has supported the course at JBMDL for a number of years by providing aircraft and maintenance.

"McChord was chosen because the base already has airdrop training capability in place, and a sufficient quantity of C-17 aircraft and simulators," Hagerman said.

The relocation plan will require the renovation of an existing operational building into a schoolhouse. The new classroom will provide a variety of learning tools, security upgrades and will cost approximately $800,000.

"Weapons officers must be prepared to plan, brief, debrief and execute in any environment," Hagerman said. "The classroom will be prepared to upgrade to future technologies based on the needs of the students and individual lessons."

The first C-17 WIC training course at JBLM is expected to start in July 2017.

The 57th WPS was activated in 2003. At the time, the three mobility weapons squadrons reported to the Mobility Weapons School. AMC initially intended to co-locate all three mobility schools at JBMDL where the Mobility Weapons School and Mobility Warfare Center, which later became the USAF Expeditionary Center, were headquartered. In 2006, all WICs were realigned under Air Combat Command and the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center.

November 23, 2016 at 11:23am

AMC takes civics on course immersion

Donna L. Wolfe-Sholes, an AMC civic leader representing Grand Forks Air Force Base, visits with airmen from the 43rd Air Mobility Operations Group on Pope Army Airfield, Nov. 16. Photo credit: Master Sgt. Kristine Dreyer

POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, North Carolina - Air Mobility Command hosted 25 civic leaders from around the command Nov. 15-17, including two representing McChord Field, for an immersion into AMC's mission at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina, and to provide insight into its prominent role enabling joint mission effects globally.

"Air Mobility Command is a global force, enabling joint effects and positive change on a global scale," said Gen. Carlton Everhart, Air Mobility Command commander. "The demand signal for AMC capability will only increase in the future, requiring airman's ingenuity and agility to meet needs and global security challenges on demand."

Aligning with the Chief of Staff of the Air Force's focus on the Air Force's role and responsibility to enable joint mission success, the visit provided insight into the global operating environment as well as AMC's total force support to joint warfighters.

Here at McChord, the civic program is represented by Carlene Joseph, Harborstone Credit Union; and Ken Swarner, The Ranger and NW Airlifter newspapers.

Civic leaders had the opportunity to walk through the Deployment Readiness Cage with the 82nd Airborne and interact with Army and Air Force riggers at the Heavy Drop Rigging Facility. They received hands-on experience building container delivery system bundles with loadmasters from the 43rd Operations Support Squadron.

"I have been an AMC civic leader for four years, and this was one of the best experiences. I really got to see how AMC's role feeds into other branches," said John Hood, AMC civic leader, representing Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. "Anytime you can show the civilian population how AMC supports the joint warfighter or another branch of service, it gives us the complete picture on how the base we support fits into national security."

Civic leaders like Hood provide a unique level of support to AMC and the Air Force.  Through developing relationships with AMC leadership and learning about the air mobility mission, civic leaders help increase understanding and cooperation between the civilian and military community.

November 23, 2016 at 11:27am

Farewell RODEO, welcome Exercise Mobility Guardian

The 19th Airlift Wing Rodeo team boards a C130-J July 17, 2009 during Air Mobility Command’s Rodeo at then McChord Air Force Base. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jim Araos

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - For many years Air Mobility Command was proud to host the AMC RODEO - an international competition meant to showcase our collective Mobility Air Force skillsets in an atmosphere of friendly rivalry and esprit d 'corps.  RODEO was always a popular event, and did well to further build relationships and international partnerships while motivating units to hone their skills and bring back honors.  For a variety of reasons, however, AMC has decided to discontinue the old RODEO construct ... and in August 2017 will unveil its replacement: Exercise Mobility Guardian, to be held at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Whereas RODEO incentivized units to take their best performers from across the Air Force Specialty Code spectrum - operators, maintainers, medical and support airmen - and give them extra "top-off" training to prepare for the competition, Mobility Guardian participants will by design be the "average" airman, who will be tested to employ his or her skills to accomplish the mission laid out in the exercise scenario.  Training time and dollars will therefore be spent developing the broader force instead of focusing those resources on airmen who in many ways need them least.

Mobility Guardian will be AMC's premier exercise, providing an opportunity to "train like we fight" alongside our joint and international partners.  With mission readiness as the ultimate training objective, the exercise is being designed to sharpen our skills in support of Combatant Commander requirements.  The training scenario will include joint forcible entry and airfield seizure ... a joint mission between Air Force airdrop crews and Army Airborne units which will take place at locations across the state.  It will incorporate contingency response and humanitarian relief operations - to include aeromedical evacuation efforts.  It will require air refueling, night vision and low level operations, assault zone landings, air drop and formation flying, and coalition interoperations, concurrently executed under multiple lines of command and control.  Combat Air Forces will participate as well to provide a realistic semi-contested environment, requiring planners and crews to flex their tactics training and coordinate with other friendly assets to locate and avoid enemy threats.  In short, the breadth and scope of Mobility Guardian are large and enable realistic and dynamic training for all participating forces.

This design gives AMC an excellent venue to evaluate how well our training has prepared members to date, while simultaneously providing a training opportunity to improve our ability to plan, command and control, communicate, and execute the mission.  Mobility Guardian will more than quadruple the number of missions flown in typical past RODEOs, increasing both the quantity and quality of training.

Mobility Guardian, like the RODEO of past, will help build partnerships.  To date we have 25 international countries who will attend, 13 of which will participate with forces of their own.  Mobility Guardian, like RODEO, will promote esprit d 'corps as teams work together toward common goals in a challenging environment, planning and executing realistic mobility operations that closely model real-world possibilities.  Finally, Mobility Guardian is already shaping up to be a popular event; interest levels are very high and the number of participants is impressive for this first-of-its-kind event.  Forty U.S. aircraft will be joined by 20 aircraft from our international partners, along with roughly 3,000 airmen, soldiers, marines and Naval aviators who will participate in the exercise.  The coming months will be busy, but will be well worth the effort as JBLM airmen and soldiers prepare to support the next evolution of AMC's showcase MAF event.

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