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April 2, 2012 at 4:47pm

Family pins new Reserve vice commander

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. - Newly promoted Col. Rick Grayson gets pinned on by his family March 30 at McChord Field. Grayson is the new vice commander for the 446th Airlift Wing. In his civilian life, Grayson is a 737 first officer for Alaska Airlines, and lives in Gig Harbor with his wife and two children.

(U.S. Air Force photo by 2nd Lt. Denise Hauser)    

January 24, 2012 at 6:14am

446th reservists volunteer to support mortuary

The Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center, Dover Air Force Base, Del., has the sole duty of fulfilling the country's commitment of ensuring dignity, honor, and respect to fallen U.S. troops and the care, service, and support to their families. Since 1996, Reservists from the 446th Force Support Squadron Sustainment Services Flight at Joint Base Lewis-McChord have helped support the Air Force's mortuary mission.

The unit will send five more Reservists to Dover to support the mortuary between February and March. And they volunteered knowing their actual deployment window is right around the corner, knowing they could end up serving another six months there.

"The thought that we have volunteers who want to do things for this nation, shows the best part of who we are as a Reserve," said Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th Airlift Wing commander. "They want to do it to help other people. The fact that they are spending their time helping the families of some of the greatest heroes we've ever seen, makes my heart happy. This epitomizes who we are as a Reserve unit."

Technical Sergeant Michael Bishop is preparing for his fourth deployment to the mortuary - it's the second time he's put his "service before himself" by volunteering outside of his flight's tasking- and he says, it won't be the last.

Technical Sergeant Katie Badowski, 446th FSS Sustainment Services supervisor shares a similar background as Bishop.

"I had been to Dover twice prior to this upcoming deployment," said Badowski who, like Bishop, had deployed to Southwest Asia. "I felt a strong camaraderie with the staff at the port mortuary."

First-time deployers, such as Capt. Carrianne Culy, 446th FSS Sustainment Services operations officer, prepare for the best at the mortuary.

"I have no doubts, I'll be working with a group of outstanding people and for a great commander," Culy said. As simple as it may sound to prepare for a deployment of this delicacy, Culy knows what's ahead of her.

"I went to an orientation course at the port mortuary and felt like it would be a tough, yet worthwhile deployment," she said. "I'm not sure how much longer officer assignments will be available, but I plan on going as many times as they need me to, whether I have a good experience or not."

Filed under: 446th Airlift Wing,

September 1, 2011 at 12:18pm

KIRO flies with 446th AW crew into Afghanistan

KIRO-TV hitched a ride with a 446th Airlift Wing crew of Reservists for a mission into Afghanistan. 

They split the trip into four parts, all of which are airing on Channel 7 this week. 

You can watch a couple of the stories that have already aired here

July 29, 2011 at 5:05pm

62nd, 446th Airlift Wings win three titles apiece at Rodeo 2011

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - The Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 competition drew to a close here with the 97th Air Mobility Wing earning the "Best Air Mobility Wing" title during the awards presentation for the air mobility competition July 29.

In the closing ceremonies, the Rodeo commander addressed the thousands of people who had traveled from around the world to the biennial competition.

"We came to learn everything we can and work hard. Today, we hope to have a little fun as well, as we honor the competitors and their efforts," Brig. Gen. Rick Martin said.

In his address during the closing ceremony, the general called Rodeo "an opportunity to get together with our teammates from across the Air Force and around the world - to trade lessons learned and build camaraderie; to increase readiness and improve our military capability."

"We never know where we'll be operating next, whether it's aeromedical evacuation, support after a natural disaster, or delivering cargo, passengers or troops where they're most needed," Martin said. "The more partnerships we can build around the globe, the better we can perform our mission.

"That's what makes Rodeo so important," he added.

The following teams were named the winners at Rodeo 2011:

- Best Air Mobility Wing -- 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

- The Knucklebuster Award, which recognizes the maintenance team with the highest standards of professionalism, dedication and mutual respect for competitors: 439th Airlift Wing, Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass.

- Best Aerial Port Team -- 62nd Airlift Wing/627th Air Base Group, Joint Base Lewis-McChord

- Best Security Forces Team -- Team McGuire, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

- Best Contingency Response Operations Team -- 621st Contingency Response Wing, Joint Base MDL

- Best Financial Management -- 375th Air Mobility Wing, Scott AFB, Ill.

- Best Aeromedical Evacuation Team -- 446th Airlift Wing, Joint Base Lewis-McChord

- Best Aerial Refueling Team -- 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus AFB (Receiver) and 92nd Air Refueling, Fairchild AFB, Wash.

- Best International Team -- Belgium

- Best C-5 Wing -- Team Dover, Dover AFB, Del.

- Best C-130 Wing -- 314th Airlift Wing, Little Rock AFB, Ark.

- Best C-17 Wing -- 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus AFB

- Best KC-10 Wing -- Team Travis, Travis AFB, Calif.

- Best KC-135 Wing -- 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus AFB

- Best Airland Wing -- Team Dover, Dover AFB

- Best Tanker Wing -- 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus AFB

- Best Airdrop Wing -- 97th Air Mobility Wing, Altus AFB

The other award winners are:

Best C-5 Air-To-Air Refueling Team: Team Dover

Best C-17 Air-To-Air Refueling Team: 97th AMW

Best KC-10 Air-To-Air Refueling Team: Team Travis

Best KC-135 Air-To-Air Refueling Team: 121st Air Refueling Wing, Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio

Best C-17 Air Drop Team: Team Alaska

Best C-130 Air Drop Team: 314th AW (C-130H)

Best C-17 Short Field Landing Team: 97th AMW

Best C-130 Short Field Landing Team: 302nd AW, Petersen AFB, Colo.

Best Joint Airdrop Inspection Team: Team Pope

Best C-17 Backing & Combat Offload Team: 15th WG, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii

Best C-130 Backing & Combat Offload Team: 317th Airlift Group, Dyess AFB, Texas

Best C-5 Aircrew: Team Dover

Best C-17 Aircrew: 97th AMW

Best C-130 Aircrew: 314th AW (C-130H)

Best KC-10 Aircrew: Team Travis

Best KC-135 Aircrew: 121st ARW

Best KC-10 Cargo Loading Team: Team McGuire

Best KC-135 Cargo Loading Team: 121st ARW

Best C-5 Preflight Team: Team Dover

Best C-17 Preflight Team: 62nd AW/627th ABG

Best C-130 Preflight Team: 317th AG

Best KC-10 Preflight Team: Team Travis

Best KC-135 Preflight Team: 22nd ARW, McConnell AFB, Kan.

Best C-5 Maintenance Skills Team: Team Dover

Best C-17 Maintenance Skills Team: 437th AW, Joint Base Charleston

Best C-130 Maintenance Skills Team: 314th AW

Best KC-10 Maintenance Skills Team: Team Travis

Best KC-135 Maintenance Skills Team: 97th AMW

Best Maintenance Skills Team: 314th AW

Best C-5 Maintenance Team: Team Dover

Best C-17 Maintenance Team: 437th AW

Best C-130 Maintenance Team: 314th AW

Best KC-10 Maintenance Team: Team Travis

Best KC-135 Maintenance Team: Team MacDill

Best Aerial Port Challenge Course Team: 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany

Best C-5 Engine Running Offload: Team Dover

Best C-17 Engine Running Offload: Dover C-17 ERO Team

Best C-130 Engine Running Offload: 910th AW, Youngstown-Warren Air Reserve Squadron, Ohio

Best In-Transit Visibility: 62nd AW/627th ABG

Best Joint Inspection Team: 621st CRW

Best 10K Forklift Operator Team: 521st AMOW

Best 25K Halverson Loader Team: Team Travis

Best Pallet Build-Up Team: 317th AG

Best Advanced Designated Marksman/Sharpshooter: 621st CRW

Best Combat Tactics Team: Team McGuire

Best Combat Weapons Team: 446th AW

Best Combat Endurance Team: Team Alaska

Best Fit-To-Fight Team: Team Ramstein

Best Aeromedical Evacuation Contingency Team: 446th AW

Best Aeromedical Evacuation C-17 Configuration Team: 302nd AW

Best Aeromedical Evacuation KC-135 Configuration Team: 302nd AW

Best Flight Attendant Emergency Egress Team: 99th AS, Joint Base Andrews, Md.

Best Flight Attendant Culinary Team: Team Ramstein

Best Flight Attendant Team: Team Ramstein

Best Contingency Operations ERO Team: 615th CRW, Travis AFB, Calif.

Best Contingency Operations HELAMS Team: 621st CRW

Best Contingency Operations SPICE Team: 621st CRW

Best OSA/VIPSAM Precision Landing Team: Team Ramstein

Best OSA/VIPSAM DV Block in Team: Team Ramstein

Best OSA/VIPSAM Team: Team Ramstein

Best T1 Low Level/Airdrop Team: 47th Flying Training Wing, Laughlin AFB, Texas

Best T1 AR Team: 12th FTW, Randolph AFB, Texas

Best T1 Team: 14th FTW, Columbus AFB, Miss.

July 22, 2011 at 10:02am

Reservists undergo SERE training

Staff Sgt. Manuel Lamson (left) demonstrates how to start a fire using a flint knife during a training exercise with aircrew from the 446th Airlift Wing.(Photo by Staff Sgt. Grant Saylor)

You're flying mission-critical supplies to troops in the field behind enemy lines. Suddenly and without warning, your aircraft is rocked by a surface-to-air missile.

The No. 2 engine groans as oil pressure plummets and flames lick the cowling.

The pilot radios a distress call and tells you and your fellow Airmen to ready for a possible emergency landing. Thoughts and fears race through your mind as you prepare to tackle the unknown.

"Where are we? How do we avoid capture by enemy combatants on the ground? How will we survive with no food in freezing temperatures if we're stuck here for days, weeks, months?"

Through the chaos comes a moment of clarity as you recall the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape training you learned at home station. Now your thoughts have purpose and hope.

"No matter what happens, my team and I can get through this," you think.

While it is unlikely you'll ever find yourself in this situation, the SERE instructors with the 446th Operations Support Flight make it their mission to prepare fellow Reservists for such a scenario.

"When you train someone who could potentially end up in harm's way, you're there to give them the confidence and ability to survive and return," said Tech Sgt. Ken MacArthur, 446th OSF SERE superintendent.

"Without that training, there would certainly be more apprehension going into situations where you don't know exactly what to do."

Every three years, 446th Airlift Wing aircrew members are required to satisfy three components of SERE: water survival training, emergency parachute training and combat survival training.

MacArthur and his colleague, Staff Sgt. Manuel Lamson, ensure these Reservists retain the skills that could potentially save their lives.

"This isn't complicated stuff," said Lamson, who spent four years on active duty teaching SERE survival skills at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane before joining the 446th AW last year. "But can you remember how to do it when you're injured or out of your comfort zone? That's what we want to get across."

Lamson, an Air Force ROTC student at Washington State University in Pullman, said the SERE training is a two-way street. Not only do Reserve aircrew members gain a better understanding of the latest survival gear and how to use it, but the instructors in turn gain knowledge from the aircrews.

"It helps us learn too, because we get to find out what gear they're using when they deploy to the area of responsibility," Lamson said. "This allows us to better tailor the training to suit their needs."

MacArthur lives and breathes SERE. He was an active-duty instructor at Fairchild AFB for 14 years before a break in service took him to the Middle East, where he worked as a contractor teaching SERE to authorized foreign and U.S. military members and civilians.

In 2006 he rejoined the Reserves and took the lead in developing a Reserve SERE training program for the 446th AW.

June 2, 2011 at 10:23am

446th AW set to welcome new wing commander

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash.- Almost four years after taking command of the 446th Airlift Wing back in September 2007,  Col. William Flanigan will be passing the wing flag to Col. Bruce Bowers in the middle of June.

Colonel Flanigan will serve as the Crisis Action Team director at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. Colonel Bowers is currently the deputy director, Air Space and Information Operations, Air Force Reserve Command at Robins Air Force Base, Ga.

"Working here didn't feel like work," said Colonel Flanigan. "In fact, it was more fun than anything. I really loved being here."
Brig. Gen. Mark Kyle, 4th Air Force commander, March Air Force Base, Calif., will bestow Colonel Bowers the responsibility of organizing, training, equipping, and readiness of the wing with nearly 2,100 people and Reservists who are capable of deploying anywhere in the world, 365 days a year for combat, training and humanitarian efforts.

"(My wife) and I are thrilled beyond words for this assignment," said Colonel Bowers. "It is truly a dream come true. I look forward to working with the Airmen, Soldiers and civilians of the 446th and 62nd Airlift Wings and Joint Base Lewis-McChord. The mission assigned to these great Americans is vital to this nation and to our way of life. I am truly honored."

Colonel Bowers entered the Air Force in 1981 and was commissioned though Officer Training School, Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. A senior command pilot, he has more than 9,000 hours flying military aircraft, including the C-17.

The official assumption of command is scheduled for the morning of July 9 on the Reserve weekend.

May 13, 2011 at 12:27pm

Airdrop levels in deployed areas reach 25 million pounds

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- In 2010, an additional 30,000 U.S. forces poured into Afghanistan as part of a "surge" to further stabilize the area. As a result, statistics show, that level of forces may also be the leading reason why airdrop levels in 2011 are averaging around 6.25 million pounds dropped a month.

Through the first four months of 2011, statistics tracked by the Air Forces Central's Combined Air Operations Center in Southwest Asia show there were more than 25 million pounds of cargo airdropped for Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. That figure nearly matches all the airdrop totals from 2006 to 2008 in the same region.

The current annual record for airdrops is 60.4 million pounds dropped from 2010. Records aside, mobility Airmen are focused on meeting the needs of the warfighters on the ground.

"We're flying round-the-clock missions, mostly air-land and to and from lots of little austere Army air fields throughout the country," said Capt. Andrew Thomas, 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron C-130 Hercules pilot at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, in a January 2011 AFCENT news report by combat correspondent Tech. Sgt. Stacia Zachary. "We're also doing airdrops here (at a rate) of about one to two drops per day."

The C-130 Hercules isn't the only Air Mobility Command-style airframe supporting deployed airdrop operations. The C-17 Globemaster III is also a part of the effort. In deployed locations, C-130s and C-17s are a part of expeditionary airlift squadrons at numerous bases throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.

Both airframes use a variety of ways to deliver the airdrop cargo. For example, since March 2010, C-130s perform "low-cost, low altitude," or LCLA, airdrops where they airdrop bundles weighing 80 to 500 pounds with pre-packed expendable parachutes in groups of up to four bundles per pass. The drops, reports show, are termed "low-cost" to reflect the relative expense of the expendable parachutes. "Low-altitude" describes to the relative height from which bundles are released from the aircraft.

There's also the Joint Precision Airdrop System, or JPADS, that guides airdrop bundles to their drop zones using the Global Positioning System technology, and the Improved Container Delivery System, or ICDS, that allows for improved precision by factoring in the altitude, wind speed, wind direction, terrain and other circumstances that might affect the drop.

Also, for example, a C-17 Globemaster III can carry up to 40 CDS bundles for a combat airdrop mission. Each of those bundles are often built by U.S. Army parachute riggers who jointly work with the Air Force airlift community to get them delivered to ground troops in remote regions of Afghanistan.

If statistics continue at the current average of 6.25 million pounds per month, 2011 will be a new record year with more than 75 million pounds airdropped.    

April 22, 2011 at 11:18am

446th AW Reservists on KING-5 TV

SEATTLE -- Lt. Col. Garin Tentschert, chief pilot with the 97th Airlift Squadron, and Maj. Kristi Forbes, a flight nurse with the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, both out of McChord Field, Wash., discuss balancing their Reserve and civilian careers with their family roles on King TV Seattle's New Day Northwest hosted by Margaret Larson, April 20, 2011.

New Day Northwest is an hour long show with the goal of informing and entertaining the public with current events. Reservists of the 446th Operations Group particitpated as part of the audience.

For photos and a link to the interview, click here.     

April 1, 2011 at 9:53am

Operation Deep freeze sets records

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- For the third year in a row, the McChord Field contingent to Operation Deep Freeze set records for most missions, flying hours and cargo hauled in Antarctica.

Up to thirteen Reservists per rotation from the 446th Airlift Wing here, along with Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing, rotated in and out of Christchurch, New Zealand from August 2010 to February 2011, providing airlift of cargo and personnel into and out of McMurdo Station. Antarctica. 

Operation Deep Freeze, which the 446th Airlift Wing supports flying the C-17, is the U.S. military's support of science and research activities conducted by the U.S. Antarctic Program at McMurdo Station Antarctica.

At the beginning of the season, known as WINFLY, McChord crews moved more than 490 passengers and 442 thousand pounds of cargo. 

This season also marked the first time C-17 crews planned and flew four missions using night vision goggles, extending their capability to deliver supplies anytime in the season.

The Airmen from McChord, operating as the 304th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, airdropped cargo at the South Pole Station in December, providing proficiency training on such missions for both the air and ground crews.

"Year after year, the men and women of the Joint Task Force execute their mission in this challenging environment, whether by land, sea, or air. Their work supports important scientific research by the NSF and the USAP." said Col. Paul Sheppard, deputy commander, Joint Task Force-Support Forces Antarctica (JTF-SFA). "Antarctica is no place for complacency. The impressive safety records of the LC-130, C-17, and heavy sealift assets are evidence that our military support forces do their jobs smartly."

"The pace and complexity (of this season) was very similar to past seasons; until the earthquake," said Chief Master Sgt. Jim Masura, 446th Operations Group. 

Deployed personnel were subject to the unknown force of Mother Nature. Several groups were exposed to earthquakes, including the 6.3 magnitude quake which destroyed most of the central business district and killed over 180 people. No McChord personnel or equipment were damaged.

"In the past, Christchurch was similar to what you find at home - stability. You knew you had a bed, hot water, food, and etcetera. After the earthquake, you were not sure what you were coming back to at the hotel. Did the group have food, safe shelter, and a hot shower before they flew. The staff had to factor all of this into the decision process."

Not only did the Reserve and active-duty Airmen support the U.S. National Science Foundation, they carried participants from the Italian, New Zealand, Australian, Russian, Norwegian and French Antarctic programs. 

The crews also participated in an Australian Rescue Coordination Center-directed search and recovery effort of a downed French helicopter near the French research station in October, 2010. Rescheduling passengers and adjusting fuel loads, the C-17 flew over the search area en route to McMurdo, but saw nothing due to bad weather. On its return to Christchurch, the aircrew again piloted the C-17 over the search area, where an accompanying Australian AP-3C Orion surveillance aircraft crew spotted the crash scene.

But the most difficult mission of the season, at least for Chief Masura, was the last one.

"The final mission is tough knowing that other than one more flight by the Australian A319, they (the scientists at McMurdo Station) would not have any more support or see any new people until late August. You just hope they have everything they needed," said the Chief.    

February 10, 2011 at 6:14am

Family battles adversity on two fronts during deployment

From left to right, Candice, Christopher, Cheyenne, Savannah, and Tech. Sgt. Chris Currier, 86th Aerial Port Squadron, McChord Field, Wash., were reunited as a family in January 2011. Candice battled breast cancer while her husband was deployed to Iraq fr

On the same day his deployment orders started, his wife's own mission was defined. His mission was to support Operation New Dawn as NCOIC of air freight at Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq and her mission was to survive breast cancer in Oregon.

Tech. Sgt. Chris Currier, 86th Aerial Port Squadron, and his wife Candice learned of her breast cancer diagnosis Aug. 27, 2010. He departed for Iraq seven days later.

"I knew in my gut it was breast cancer," said the 22-year Air Force Reserve veteran. "I found the lump a few days before when my hand brushed by her breast as we cuddled in bed that morning. It was the size of a pea, but as my hand brushed by it, I knew what it was."  

That was Aug. 14. 2010.

Within 13 days of discovering the lump, Candice received the news from her doctor.

"It scared me and I cried for hours," said Candice Currier, a mother of four. "But I knew how strong I was and the support I had from my family and best friend gave me all the strength I needed to get through."

Together, the two decided that Chris would go on the 120-day deployment. Before making the decision, conversations were held with his family and his squadron leadership.

"We knew that their sister-in-law and family friend would give her the support she needed, like watching their children while he was gone," said Chief Master Sgt. Christopher Dietz, 86th APS air transportation manager. 

Other factors going into the decision were the less emotional, practical aspects of deploying.

"We knew the tax-free income, along with the TRICARE benefits, would be needed to get through this," said Sergeant Currier.

Knowing they would be able to stay closely in touch also helped.

"I knew that being able to communicate with my husband through e-mail and Skype would help me feel like he wasn't as far away," said Candice.

Over the course of Candice's seven chemotherapy treatments, Chris felt her pain during the harder moments, but also her relief when she was doing well. 

Candice even infused the situation with some light-hearted fun.

"She had a hair-pulling party with the kids," said Sergeant Currier, referencing the hair loss that often comes as a result of chemotherapy. "Then she went and had her head shaved."

Candice made note of her intention to shave her head in one of her many e-mails to Chris, but seeing her on Skype after the deed was done still came as a surprise.

"Hearing her on her down week was the hardest part," said the Intel contractor. "Knowing how defenseless she was, was hard. But when I found out she was pulling through, it was a great relief. Knowing that the people I deployed with were there for support was also a relief."

Chief Dietz showed his support by taking a trip to Oregon to check on the family and making sure Candice was doing okay.

"I went down there on Candice's birthday, Oct. 25, to drop off some truffles and check on her," said the Olympia, Wash. resident. "The commander (Lt. Col. Tim May) and the first sergeant (Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Mack) also called her a few times. We were relieved to find out she was going to be okay, not only for her sake, but for her family." 

According to Candice, all the support was a huge factor in getting through her treatments.

"Tech. Sgt. Tracy Sheridan (86th APS) called four times a month to talk for hours," said Candice. "And Chief Dietz would call regulalry to check up on me."

Sergeant Currier's supervisor from his civilian job, stopped by at Christmas to check on the family and drop off gifts. 

"That was a nice surprise. People say they'll stay in touch (during tough times), but often times they don't as their own lives interfere," said Sergeant Currier.

Throughout the entire process, the couple never doubted her strength in getting through her illness. In fact, it made their relationship grow stronger.

"I knew from the start she was going to pull through," said Sergeant Currier, the veteran who's been through four deployments, including Operation Desert Storm. "She will not take 'no' for an answer. Without a doubt, this has made me a better husband, a better (noncommissioned officer), and has made us stronger."

Candice sums up their relationship through the troubled time.

"Most certainly it has made our relationship stronger," she said. "I had to let Chris see the raw side of me by letting my guard down and trusting that his love would still stand. He showed me his true feelings every time we talked and no matter what my insecurities about my looks or feelings were, he didn't waver in his love and desire for me as his wife."

Although a biopsy confirmed Candice is cancer free, she'll begin radiation treatment at the end of February. Sergeant Currier returned from Iraq Jan. 21 and he plans on sticking with the deal he made with his family - no more volunteer deployments.

For both, the missions they embarked on last fall come to a close in 2011 - mission accomplished.

Filed under: 446th Airlift Wing,

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