Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

June 29, 2017 at 2:34pm

AF releases criteria for new valor "V", combat "C" and remote "R" devices

Air Force officials released criteria for the new “V”, “C” and “R” devices, following the secretary of Defense’s Jan. 7, 2016, authorization. Courtesy photo

Air Force officials released criteria for the new "V", "C" and "R" devices, following the secretary of Defense's Jan. 7, 2016, authorization.

Following a comprehensive Military Decorations and Awards Review in 2015, the secretary of Defense implemented several changes to ensure the Defense Department's military decoration and awards program continues to appropriately recognize the service, sacrifices and actions of servicemembers.

"As the impact of remote operations on combat continues to increase, the necessity of ensuring those actions are distinctly recognized grows," DoD officials explained in a memo released Jan. 7, 2016.

The "R" device, which may be affixed to non-combat performance awards, was established to distinguish that an award was earned for direct hands-on employment of a weapon system that had a direct and immediate impact on a combat or military operation. These actions can be performed in any domain but must not expose the individual to personal hostile action, or place him or her at significant risk of exposure to hostile action while engaged in military operations against an enemy of the U.S.; or involved in a conflict against an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in military operations with an opposing armed force in which the U.S. is not an aggressive party.

"Airmen assigned to cyber operations and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operators would be examples of those eligible for the ‘R' device," said Lt. Gen. Gina Grosso, the deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services. "These members create direct combat effects that lead to strategic outcomes and deliver lethal force, while physically located outside the combat area."

The standardization of the "V" device as a valor-only device will ensure unambiguous and distinctive recognition of distinguished acts of combat heroism.

The new "C" device was created to distinctly recognize those servicemembers performing meritoriously under the most difficult combat conditions. To further emphasize the value placed on meritorious service under combat conditions, the "C" device may be affixed to several performance awards earned while serving under combat conditions. Unlike the "R" device, the "C" device may be authorized for sustained performance or service, provided the criteria of personal exposure to hostile action or significant risk of hostile action are met.

All devices may be awarded retroactive to Jan. 7, 2016, the day the Secretary of Defense established the devices.

For more information on Air Force recognition programs, visit myPers, the Air Force Personnel Services website, at https://myPers.af.mil.

June 22, 2017 at 3:22pm

MXG commander speaks at Lunch and Learn

Col. Anthony Clavenna, 62nd Maintenance Group commander, speaks at the Lunch and Leadership Lecture June 16 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Clavenna provided his personal thoughts on leadership and command. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

More than 50 airmen gathered at the McChord Club for this month's Lunch and Leadership series, June 16, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

This month, the Lunch and Learn session featured one of Team McChord's very own. Col. Anthony Clavenna, 62nd Maintenance Group commander, provided his personal thoughts on leadership and command.

"All I've got for you today is my thoughts on leadership," said Clavenna. "I am not an expert on leadership, but I will talk about some of my personal thoughts on what a good leader is and what it takes to be a good leader."

Before Clavenna gave his thoughts on leadership, he requested to be asked questions that he could answer during his lecture.

Throughout his lecture, Clavenna showed photos of people and events that happened throughout his career that helped him become the leader and mentor he is today.

Clavenna said to be a great leader, it is important to know and celebrate why you serve.

"One of the reasons I stand before you today is because of my dad," said Clavenna. "He was a Vietnam-era pilot and served twenty-three years. I grew up in an Air Force family and don't know if I would have joined the Air Force if it wasn't for him."

One airman in attendance wanted to know senior leaders' thoughts on helping airmen build resiliency.

"The way you build resiliency, you've got to keep your family balanced," said Clavenna. "No airman can serve if things aren't good at home. No family or relationship is perfect, you just have to find that happy medium and build on that. Maximizing your family time can help you stay resilient."

Another airman in attendance wanted to know what leadership was doing to help with retention.

"One way we can help retain airmen is to listen to what they are saying," said Clavenna. "We are all born with two ears and one mouth. If we as leaders would just take the time to listen to what our airmen have to say, their innovation and suggestions may be what it takes to make things better, ultimately making the unit a desirable work place."

Clavenna encouraged all leaders to get out there and work alongside their airmen.

"No matter what your career field is, you've got to get out there and work with your airmen for a couple reasons," said Clavenna. "One: You get to learn about the operations; two: You get to see the work environment first-hand; and three: Your airmen start to feel important because their leadership is out there working with them."

Clavenna closed out his lecture by thanking everyone for coming.

"Thank you to everyone for taking the time out of your busy schedule to listen to my thoughts on leadership," said Clavenna. "I really wanted this time together to be valuable for you."

To find out more information about future events, call the commander's action group at 253.982.7832.

June 22, 2017 at 3:19pm

Do you know the enlisted evaluation process?

The Air Force promotion system promotes the most fully-qualified noncommissioned and senior noncommissioned officers based on the quality of their records and other weighted factors, while recognizing an individual airman's potential for advancement to the next rank.

Enlisted evaluation board panels consider more than 35,000 promotion records each year. For airmen holding the rank of technical, master, or senior master sergeant, the Air Force Personnel Center plays a pivotal role in promotion cycles.

Possessing a general understanding of the enlisted evaluation board process is vital for airmen promoting to the SNCO tier.

Board-eligible airmen can view their Data Verification Brief, located in the Virtual Military Personnel Flight, 120 days prior to the board convening date. These dates are published and made available to airmen via myPers. The schedule of dates can be found by selecting "Promotion" from the left side of the myPers enlisted page. The DVB reflects information such as duty history and decoration data that will be displayed to the board.  Members should also use the Personnel Record Display Application, found within AFPC Secure, to view their "As Is" or current-state record for any missing or erroneous documents.

"If airmen notice inaccuracies with their DVB or evaluation record, they need to contact their servicing Military Personnel Section, Commander's Support Staff, or the Total Force Service Center as soon as possible," said Capt. Jason Christie, Air Force Selection Board Secretariat senior recorder at AFPC. "Airmen should also note that their records will not meet the board without their top enlisted performance report, and it might not receive the score it deserves if other documents are missing or inaccurate."

The evaluation board process begins with board member selection. A general officer is charged with overseeing the board, which is divided into panels consisting of one colonel and two chief master sergeants from each respective career field's general category. Air Force Specialty Codes are divided into four career field categories: operations, maintenance, mission support and medical. The largest career fields within each AFSC garner a board member.

"For example, a mission support panel on a senior NCO evaluation board will have one mission support group commander and two mission support chief enlisted managers from the two most prevalent career fields that they will be scoring," Christie said. "Dividing the records in this manner ensures a wide base of knowledge, experience and expertise on each panel, while affording fair and equitable treatment of board-eligible airmen."

Once boards convene, the duration is typically four weeks for master sergeant, three weeks for senior master sergeant, and two weeks for chief master sergeant promotion before the board adjourns. Boards are convened under the provisions of Air Force Instruction 36-2502, Enlisted Airman Promotion/Demotion Programs, and operate for the Air Force chief of staff under direct guidance of the board president. The formal board charges for each board are published on myPers, released no earlier than the public release date for each promotion.

The primary tool board members use to review an airman's record is the electronic Board Operations Support System, or eBOSS. Records appear within eBOSS in three stacks:

The left stack contains the last five years of performance reports filed in chronological order, with the most recent on top. The center stack contains all citations or orders for approved decorations, along with any record of non-judicial punishment, such as an Article 15, filed by the proper authority. The right stack is the evaluation brief. This is a computer-generated, one-page snapshot of the NCO/SNCO's record highlighting information such as date of rank, duty information, service dates, etc., as applicable.

"There are no established time limits for board members to review and evaluate these records," said Christie. "The board stays in session until all records are given equitable consideration."

Members then assign numerical ratings in eBOSS to records using the scoring scale that ranges from six to 10 points, with 7.5 representing an average record. Records earn a panel composite score, the sum of three board member scores, for a minimum score of 18 and a maximum score of 30. All scoring is performed independently by secret ballot without the benefit of discussion between board members, unless a significant disagreement occurs in the scores on a particular panel.

Should a board member identify a record-based matter which raised concern, they are authorized to address the concern with the board recorder who brings it to the attention of the board president. The president may then approve bringing the matter to the attention of all board members. A common disagreement that arises during promotion boards is called a split.

Splits are defined, in AFI 36-2502, as significant disagreements between board members concerning the score of a record, typically a difference in a score of 1.5 or more points between any two panel members. To resolve a split, all scoring stops and voting panel members must be present to discuss affected records. Only panel members with split scores are allowed to change their scores in the process of resolving a split. Final resolution occurs when there is a difference in a score of 1.0 or less points between any two panel members.

"Once the board adjourns, the selection board secretariat forwards composite scores to the Enlisted Promotions Office where they are multiplied by a factor of fifteen," Christie said. "This results in a total board score ranging from 270 to 450."

Board scores represent a partial percentage of total promotion points: 66 percent to master sergeant, and 75 percent to senior and chief master sergeant. That total board score is combined with other "weighted factors," such as decoration points, Promotion Fitness Exam, Skills Knowledge Test and the USAF Supervisory Exam, to formulate a final score.

With final points calculated, an overall merit list within each career field is generated. The quota for each field is applied, with each receiving at least one promotion to the next higher grade. All airmen at or above the cutoff line are then selected for promotion.  

"When the board results are released, airmen can view their "As Met" records online," said Christie. "If an airman is not selected for promotion and has questions, it is highly recommended they contact the Enlisted Promotions Office at AFPC. For some, errors in a record or missing material could have impacted their non-selection and could be grounds for an appeal."

If an appeal is approved, the airman meets the next available enlisted supplemental board. The technicians at the AFPC Enlisted Promotions Office can explain that process in detail.

Airmen should direct all other general questions to the Total Force Service Center at 1.800.525.0102, or via email at AFPC.PB@us.af.mil.

For more information about the Air Force personnel programs, go to myPers. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following the instructions on the Air Force Personnel Center website.

June 22, 2017 at 3:13pm

Wingman saves airman

Airman 1st Class Joshua Jourdan, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron deployment specialist, poses for a photo, June 13, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

It was a normal day for a group of airmen enjoying a meal together until things went from fun to dangerous. Airman 1st Class Chelsea Lowery, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron customer service technician, became unable to breath after she started choking on a piece of food June 5.

Luckily, Lowery was not alone and received assistance from Airman 1st Class Joshua Jourdan, 627th LRS deployment specialist, who quickly performed the Heimlich maneuver, clearing her airway.

"One of us made a joke and she was in the middle of eating when she inhaled the food," said Jourdan. "At first she just started coughing and then the coughing ceased. That's when I knew I had to act."

A scary situation for everyone, the signs of choking and the need for help were clearly present to him, said Jourdan.

"I used to be a life guard in the YMCA a couple years ago and they teach you CPR, first aid, and how to clear an airway," said Jourdan. "I'm thankful it didn't get to a point where I'd have to perform CPR."

The whole incident happened in less than a minute, said Lowery.   

"It was scary that I couldn't catch my breath," said Lowery. "I'm thankful that he was there and able to help me. I think the mindset is that you think this will never happen to you, until it happens."

Having been certified by the Red Cross in CPR, Jourdan said he felt calm and confident in the situation.

"My certification might be expired, but I still remember what to do and when the time comes to use it I remember the steps," said Jourdan. "I performed the Heimlich maneuver and gave her two to three pumps right above the belly button, and she coughed up the food."

In events like this, not everyone responds the same, and keeping calm is important, said Jourdan.

"It's either fight, flight or freeze," said Jourdan. "In those moments, I was just fighting. I acted as soon as the opportunity presented itself."

Not an everyday occurrence, this was not the first time Jourdan performed life-saving care to someone. In 2015, Jourdan was inner-tubing with friends when he came across an individual experiencing heat exhaustion. He immediately began to treat for shock and cared for him until paramedics could arrive.

"I was talking to him the whole time trying to keep him conscious," said Jourdan. "I put him in the shade and had him squeeze my finger so I would know when he was passing in and out of consciousness."

The individual Jourdan treated had been drinking the night before, hadn't had much sleep nor eaten, was dehydrated, and was drinking at the time of the incident.  

"It was a hundred degrees out and he had been throwing up prior to passing out," said Jourdan. "He could have experienced a heat stroke if not treated."

His training and natural instincts kicked-in for both situations, said Jourdan.

"The whole time I was a life guard, I never had to save anybody," said Jourdan. "Any situation can go from normal to horrible in seconds, and it's important to be prepared to react when you notice the indicators of potentially life-threatening factors."

June 15, 2017 at 2:23pm

D-Day touches Rainier Wing

B-24 Liberators assigned to the 446th Bombardment Group of the 8th Air Force during a bombing raid over Germany in 1945. Photo credit: DoD

In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, thousands of Allied troops crowded into ships and crossed the tumultuous waters of the English Channel to invade German-occupied France. Arriving on the shores of Normandy, troops fought a grueling battle for a tiny piece of beach in mainland Europe.

That day was D-Day.

The Allied force at the start of Operation Overlord included 1,200 planes, 5,000 ships and vessels, and nearly 160,000 troops. The invasion was arguably the largest armada the world had ever seen.

But it wasn't just the sea and ground forces that participated during D-Day.

The 446th Bombardment Group paved the way for those troops storming the beaches. The 446th was selected to lead the 8th Air Force in bombing German strongholds along the Normandy coast. This bombardment prepared the Allies in gaining a strategic position in mainland Europe and perhaps the single greatest event of World War II.

"Some folks have this belief that the 446th Airlift Wing has always been just about airlift," said Staff Sgt. Nathan Martinez, a wing historian assigned to the 446th AW. "We were a bombing unit during World War II and it's amazing to know that we played an integral part during D-Day. A lot of people can take pride in knowing that our unit took part in the invasion."

During WWII, the 446th BG flew B-24 Liberators.

From December 1943 to April 1945, the 446th BG took part in 273 combat missions, dropping a total of 33.6 million pounds of bombs on strategic targets across Northern Europe helping to bring WWII to an end.

Whether a glimpse into the future or merely by chance, two 446th BG missions stand out among the rest.

During Operation Market-Garden and Operation Varsity, the 446th BG traded in their bombs for supplies. Flying at tree-top level, some even bringing back branches and leaves, the 446th BG flew into enemy territory to airdrop critical supplies to Allied troops as they marched toward Berlin to bring an end to WWII.

After WWII, the 446th BG went through several transitions and moves until it settled here at McChord Field.

"Our lineage back to the 446th Bombardment Group is certainly a proud part of our history," said Col. Scott L. McLaughlin, 446th AW commander. "Historical anniversaries like this allow us to highlight that lineage and honor those who came before us."

Now designated as an airlift wing, the Rainier Wing carries on the same proud tradition as leaders in the Air Force Reserve. While the Rainier Wing doesn't drop bombs anymore, members of the 446th AW operate the C-17 Globemaster III to provide combat support and humanitarian assistance in some of the most austere places in the world, including the Antarctic. 

June 15, 2017 at 2:20pm

Team McChord gives back

Team McChord leadership and first sergeants prepare plates for airmen and their families at the Hearts Apart dinner, June 6, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Airmen and their families enjoyed a free dinner and an evening filled with a variety of activities at the Hearts Apart dinner, June 6, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The semi-annual event was hosted by the McChord Chapel, commanders, senior enlisted and first sergeants to support families of recently, presently, and soon-to-be deployed airmen.

"I think it's important to provide a support network to the spouses and the children of airmen deploying," said 2nd Lt. David Wallace, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant operations officer and event coordinator. "We are one big community and it's our responsibility to support our servicemembers and their families on and off duty."

The night was Hawaiian-themed and more than 30 airmen and their families were provided a free, catered meal served by leadership.    

"The individual role of servicemembers is essential to achieve the mission, and every family member that enables us to do the mission is just as important," said Col. William Percival, 627th Air Base Group commander. "We value you and thank you for all you do for us."

The informal dinner allowed airmen to attend in civilian attire with their spouses and children. Over dinner, the movie Moana was played on the chapel's big screens to provide entertainment.

"I like that the chaplains come together and put this on for everyone because we don't always hear about stuff going on," said Madison Stebbins, military spouse. "It's nice to know they thought of us and that we can participate in this as a family."

Families taking part in the raffle were given the opportunity to win a variety of prizes, to include board games, camping gear, floatation devices and kitchenware.

"This is the second one I've been to; this was fun, said Stebbins. "The food was good and the kids really enjoyed it."

Volunteers from the 627th LRS added to the fun by manning the dunk tank, face painting and making snow cones.

"I think this was an absolute success," said Wallace. "Whether one person or two hundred show up, as long as we have an opportunity to give back to our deployed families, it's a win."

For more information on McChord Field Chapel sponsored events, contact the chapel at 253.982.5556.

June 13, 2017 at 7:03pm

Airmen set sights on excellence in competition

Staff Bryan Wilson, 116th Weather Flight weather forecaster, fires an M-4 Carbine rifle from a kneeling position during the Elementary Level Rifle Excellence Competition May 31 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Team McChord airmen from Joint Base Lewis-McChord put their marksmen skills to the test May 29-30 during the Elementary Level Rifle Excellence Competition at JBLM.

The competition was hosted by the 627th Security Forces Squadron combat arms section to provide an opportunity for airmen to compete for the U.S. Air Force Excellence in Competition Rifleman Badge.  

"Airmen do not have to have any prior experience," said Staff Sgt. Philip Basalyga, 627th SFS combat arms instructor. "This way career fields that don't shoot all the time get an opportunity to come out and be exposed to shooting."  

Competitors were provided instruction, a rifle, ammunition and targets to fire at. The competition was among 103 competitors, of which only the top 10 percent would receive medals. This is the second competition of its kind held for airmen at JBLM.

Prior to shooting, competitors were given instruction on safety and arms handling at Combat Arms Training and Maintenance on McChord. They were then transported to the firing range located by Solo Point, Steilacoom.  

"This provides weapons familiarization to airmen," said Basalyga. "In my opinion familiarization training is one of the most important things to have in the event an airman needs to use, one of these weapon systems in a hostile environment."

Arriving at the range, airmen received 50 rounds of M-4 Carbine ammunition, safety gear and an M-4 rifle ready for use. Unlike Air Force qualification shooting, the competition was hosted in the same manner as a marksmen competition and instructors were not allowed to assist shooters in the use of the M-4 or provide tips for shooting.

"It's a positive promotion for fire arms and introduces airmen to the world of competitive shooting," said Basalyga. Competitors were given a practice target and nine rounds to zero their rifles at 25 meters to ensure their rifle's sights were accurate and aligned to their field of sight. Following this, competitive shooting began with shooters firing in an unsupported standing position.  

"As a paralegal we don't get to fire often," said Staff Sgt. Preston Nealy, 62nd Airlift Wing judge advocate NCO in charge of general law. "Coming off a four-day weekend, it's great to come out here and hit the range."

After shooting 10 rounds at a target in a standing position, shooters shot 10 rounds at a new target from an unsupported kneeling position. This was followed by shooters firing 10 rounds at a third target from an unsupported sitting position.

"I've never shot in the sitting position before," said Nealy. "Shooting like this for the first time really challenged me and gave me experience in becoming a better marksman."

The last position shooters shot in was the unsupported kneeling position, where they shot their final 20 rounds at their fourth target. The four targets provided shooters the opportunity to make a maximum of 500 points.  

Ten airmen placed in the top 10 percent and will be awarded the U.S. Air Force Excellence in Competition Rifleman Badge to be worn on their Air Force service dress.

The winners are:
Staff Sgt. Franco Pace, 627th SFS
Maj. Jordan Ward, 7th AS
Master Sgt. Christopher Brower, 5th Air Support Operations Squadron
Staff Sgt. Jacob Ley, 627th SFS
Senior Airman Christopher Lowe, 62nd Maintenance Squadron   
Staff Sgt. Curtis Hinkley, 5th ASOS
Staff Sgt. Luis Lira, 627th SFS
Tech. Sgt. Kevin Beers, 446th Security Forces Squadron
Staff Sgt. Bradley Primmer, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron
Tech. Sgt. Jesus Mendez, 627th SFS

June 13, 2017 at 6:54pm

37 years after crash at McChord

F-106A Delta Dart jet fighter is displayed at the McChord Field Heritage Hill Air Park May 5, 2017, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, The F-106 was flown at McChord under the 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron from 1960-1983. Courtesy photo

Nearly 37 years after the crash of an aircraft approaching McChord Field, an aviation archeologist discovered remnants of the crashed jet. David Trojan, an aviation archeologist came across various pieces of Capt. Mark Van Stone's downed Convair F-106A Delta Dart jet fighter after examining the crash site May 3 on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

"Every aircraft accident has a story to tell; it is up to me to discover the facts and fill in the blanks about where they crashed," said Trojan. "The discoveries shed light on those who have sacrificed so much to give us the peace we enjoy today."

Stone flew with the 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron and was killed June 24, 1980, when his aircraft hit a tree on approach to the McChord Field runway.  The jet made a rapid, sudden descent and crashed two miles from the south end of the runway, leaving a debris trail several hundred yards long. It was later determined that during the critical landing phase of the flight, the Central Air Data Computer aboard the aircraft failed and was a major cause of the accident, said Trojan. This was the last crash involving a 318th FIS crew or aircraft before the unit was disbanded at then McChord Air Force Base.

Because of its significance, Trojan said he wanted to determine the exact location of the crash site and any remains of the aircraft. Since the aircraft crashed before the use of GPS and modern accident investigation standards, the actual crash site wasn't well documented.

"Finding anything from an event so long ago is always difficult, especially in the heavily wooded terrain of the Northwest," said Trojan. "Educating the public about the history, the importance of these sites and the sacrifices of those who paid the ultimate price, is what aviation archaeology is all about."

Armed with copies of the official accident report and the latest Google Earth images, Trojan set out to find the exact location. The area of the crash site has changed over the last 37 years and is located on a training range on Fort Lewis.

Trojan discovered that most of the impact site is now buried under layers of dirt. By following the flight path through the woods, he discovered pieces of the aircraft in the surrounding area. It requires the trained eyes of aviation archaeologists to spot the small grey painted parts with rivets sticking up through the ground.

"It is always important to remember our predecessors whose achievements and sacrifices helped us to continue making progress today," said Dr. Robert Allen, 62nd Airlift Wing historian. "Capt. Van Stone's family continues to deserve our support."

In total Trojan found seven small pieces of metal that he determined came from the F-106A. The artifacts that were discovered were left at the site with a small flag to honor Van Stone's sacrifice.

"His service to his country is not forgotten," said Trojan. "I know his story and sacrifice will live on." 

June 1, 2017 at 11:19am

Percival takes command of 627 ABG

Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence (left), USAF Expeditionary Center commander, presents the 627th ABG guidon to Col. William Percival, 627th ABG commander, during a change of command ceremony May 24 at JBLM. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

Col. William Percival assumed command of the 627th Air Base Group, from the unit's outgoing commander, Col. Will Phillips, during a change of command ceremony conducted May 24 at Joint Base Lewis McChord.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, hosted the ceremony for the 627th ABG.

"What an honor it is to be back in my home state of Washington, to preside over today's ceremony," said Bence. "I am truly honored and humbled to be here to transfer this incredible responsibility of command from one outstanding leader to another."

During his remarks, Bence thanked everyone for coming out to witness the ceremony before commenting on both commanders.

Both the leaders sitting on stage today exemplify the ability to lead and inspire," said Bence. "They both have shown that they are committed to building an environment of trust and respect, and both have demonstrated the capability to be trusted to lead the Air Force's most valuable asset and that is our airmen and their family."

After Bence's remarks, Phillips was presented the Legion of Merit, then gave his final remarks to the men and women of the 627th ABG before relinquishing command.

Percival comes to the Pacific Northwest from the 612th Combined Air and Space Operations Center, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, where he served as the chief of Air Mobility Division overseeing a 24-member division where he directed U.S. Southern Command's intra-theater airlift and air refueling operations in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean.

Taking command of the 627th ABG, Percival will be responsible for leading more than 4,500 military and civilian personnel that supports more than 350 units and an installation population of 44,209 military, 15,240 civilian and contract employees, and 54,465 family members.

Percival will also be responsible for managing an annual budget of $438 million and is responsible for installation management, facility maintenance and construction, environmental protection, housing, emergency management, communication systems, security and law enforcement, fire protection, dining, lodging, recreational services, human resources management, supply, and vehicle fleet management.

After Percival received the guidon from Bence, he assumed command, rendered his first salute and gave his remarks.

"Gen. Bence, thank you for this opportunity to lead the men and women of the 627th ABG," said Percival. "To the ABG team, I am honored to be your commander, I am excited to be here, and I am ready to get to work."

June 1, 2017 at 11:00am

McChord testing center develops airmen

Team McChord airmen wait to be tested at the McChord testing center in building 100, May 25, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

From multiple choice promotion exams to simulated flight test, the McChord testing center administers all force development official tests to airmen on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. 

The testing center is responsible for ensuring continuity of official test material and to ensure airmen receive standardized testing for promotion, professional military education, upgrade training and job qualification tests.

"Basically, we do all the testing for courses 14 and 15, and weighted airmen performance system testing," said Oscar Knauss, McChord testing center test control officer. "All of these are very important for personnel because if they don't pass the requirements it affects their career."

Annually, the testing center administers more than 5,000 tests and can issue up to 250 tests weekly.

"For me it's all about helping our airmen," said Theresa Olson, testing center test control officer. "If they have a situation with meeting a deadline, we'll pull strings to get them tested on time."

Enlisted airmen who are promotion eligible take a skills knowledge test and a promotion fitness test annually to promote. These tests are administered by a test control officer and can range from one to three hours.

"It's the number one thing to get promoted and go up the chain," said Knauss. "We do our best to help them do well and get promoted."

Testing isn't always an enjoyable experience for airmen and the testing center works to promote a positive and professional environment for airmen testing, said Knauss.

"I can empathize with airmen because I once had to take the same test as an airman myself," said Knauss. "Testing is really competitive and airmen really have to study and prepare."

Air Force standardized test material provides a fair way for airmen to test for rank, said Knauss.

"Testing is a very fair way to promote because everybody has the ability to study and get promoted," said Knauss. "I think the Air Force's rules for promotion empower airmen by making them responsible for their careers and individual development."

The McChord testing center issues language tests and official certification tests for the civilian work force. These tests include foreign language proficiency, and Federal Aviation Administration. Many of these tests are open to military dependents and retirees.

"I really enjoy seeing the professionalism in airmen testing and knowing that this is giving them the opportunity to advance in their career," said Knauss. "It's rewarding because there are results."

Different from enlisted promotion tests, the testing center also provides testing for enlisted airmen looking to change careers through commissioning or retraining. These tests include the Air Force officer qualification test, test for basic aviation skills and the Armed Forces classification test.    

"Testing plays a huge part in an airman's career every step of the way," said Olson. "We play a big piece in that, so it's important that we provide them the best testing atmosphere possible."

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