Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: '446th Airlift Wing' (70) Currently Viewing: 21 - 30 of 70

February 4, 2011 at 12:17pm

Alternate routes available for McChord Field commuters

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Construction at the McChord Field Main Gate begins Feb. 10. Traffic revisions at the gate, accessible from Interstate 5, Exit 125, will impact all travelers entering or leaving the installation at Bridgeport Way until the work is completed.  During the period of construction the traffic lanes in the area of the McChord Field Main Gate and the Visitor Center will be constricted to one lane inbound and one lane outbound.  

To mitigate traffic impact and minimize delays, additional routes will be available for McChord Field commuters and residents:

  • Woodbrook Housing Gate, recently closed for construction, will re-open Feb. 10. Extended hours of operation, from 5 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday - Friday (except federal holidays) will remain in effect until the McChord Main Gate construction is completed. The gate is accessible from Interstate 5, Exit 124.
  • North Gate, recently opened to offset the impact of the Woodbrook Housing gate closure, will remain open during McChord Main Gate construction. Hours of operation will be 5 a.m.-7 p.m., except federal holidays. The gate is located at the north end of McChord Field, and is accessible from Interstate 5, Exit 127 via Highway 512 (at Steele St., proceed southbound to 112 St. S., then turn right - the gate will be ¾ mile ahead, to the left), or via the South Tacoma Way/Interstate 5 overpass (from exit, proceed southbound on South Tacoma Way/Pacific Highway, and turn left to continue east on South Tacoma Way. The gate on east side of the Interstate 5 overpass).

The McChord Main Gate will remain open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, during construction- but traffic will be reduced to one lane in each direction. Commuters are especially encouraged to use alternate routes, when possible.

Starting Feb. 4, the public can obtain additional information about the construction project at: is scheduled for completion in May.

February 3, 2011 at 10:24am

Reservist helps spouse battle cancer while serving in Iraq

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash.- When Air Force Reservists prepare for deployments, common items they double-check might be, updating wills and powers of attorney, making sure their finances are in order, medical clearances, making sure they have the proper equipment and supplies, and ensuring the well being of their families before the Reservist departs.

But one Air Force Reserve family was thrown for a loop when a special cargo handler with the 446th Airlift Wing from Wilsonville, Ore., found out his wife of 11 years was diagnosed with breast cancer the week before he deployed to Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq, in August 2010.

"It scared me and I cried for hours," said Candice Currier, 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. Plus, 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."

In order for her husband, Tech. Sgt. Chris Currier, 86th Aerial Port Squadron, to proceed with the deployment, he, his family and his squadron leadership had many conversations.

"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.

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.

"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 make 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." 

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, to include 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 waiver his love and desire for me as his wife."

Although a biopsy confirmed the absence of cancer, Candice will begin radiation treatment at the end of February.

January 31, 2011 at 11:54am

Local Reservists return home from various deployments

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash.- More than 30 Air Force Reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing, who deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn, returned home Jan. 24 after four-month mobilizations.

The Reservists, who served in locations from Europe to Southwest Asia, are returning to their families and civilian careers in Pacific Northwest towns from Wilsonville, Ore. to Everett.

These Reservists performed a wide spectrum of duties and services because one of the capacities of the 446th AW is providing ground support during overseas contingencies. This particular group of heroes came from the aeromedical evacuation, aircraft maintenance, cargo handling, and logistical career fields, making up diverse personnel who are experts in their respective crafts.  

While Reservists like Senior Airman Vikash Prakash, 86th Aerial Port Squadron, were working a minimum of 12-hour shifts, six days a week, moving more than 8,000 passengers, 1,000 tons of cargo and supplies on more than 600 aircraft, including moving an Army brigade of 170 Soldiers, 97 tons of their cargo on seven C-17s and eight C-130s, at a high operations tempo at Kirkuk Air Base, Iraq, their families had to deal with their own stressors with little assistance.

"My wife was pregnant with our fourth child while I was gone," said the Camano Island, Wash. resident. "I check in with her every day and fortunately, she was able to handle it without me. I can help her out now that I'm back because the baby is due March 17."

Reservists not only have to deal with the stress of being away from their families, but also leaving their civilian employers behind.

Tech. Sgt. Brendan Caldwell, 86th APS, who also deployed to Kirkuk AB is fortunate to have an employer who supports the military and the Reserve mission.

"I'm an operations supervisor for Alaska Airlines, which is similar to my job with the aerial port" said the Seattle resident. "I'm able to apply skills that I get from deployments such as leadership skills day-to-day tasks like tracking incoming aircraft and making sure ground operations run smoothly. My military experience skills set is one of the reasons I got my job and they've always supported me with my military duty." 

January 25, 2011 at 4:12pm

Construction on McChord Field gate begins Feb. 10

JOINT BASE LEWIS MCCHORD, Wash. -- Joint Base Lewis-McChord McChord Field main gate will be undergoing a major facelift starting Feb. 10.

JBLM Directorate of Emergency Services Chief of Installation Access Larry Freeman said everything is in place to begin work on the main gate.

"Starting Feb. 10, the Woodbrook Housing Gate will be back open for business," Mr. Freeman said.

As soon as the housing gate reopens, another gate project is set to begin.

"At the main gate at McChord they are going to start setting up cones, barriers and signage for that construction," Mr. Freeman said. "They'll start setting up late in the afternoon on Feb. 9."

The gate will be open to traffic that day, while crews place signs and cones. 

The traffic revisions that will affect motorists at McChord's main gate will begin Feb. 10, he said, the day the Woodbrook Gate is scheduled to reopen.

"They'll be working on the canopy at the main gate and the guard booths as well as everything that's underneath the canopy," Mr. Freeman said.

The access control point will remain in operation throughout construction, with some lane shifting of the inbound and outbound lanes, he said.

"It will initially close both of the inbound lanes," said Mr. Freeman. "They'll be closed Feb. 9 until April 17."

During that time, the two outbound lanes will exist as one inbound and one outbound lane, he said.

"After motorists get past where the canopy currently is, we're going to route traffic back to the inbound lanes and then we'll have our guards set up to check IDs and screen vehicles before we allow them to enter the installation," Mr. Freeman said. "We won't sacrifice security for convenience."

Alternate routes are designed to minimize delays, he said.

"We're going to extend the hours for the Woodbrook (housing area) Gate," said Mr. Freeman. "For the entire duration of the project, we'll have the gate open from (5 a.m.) to (7 p. m.), Monday through Friday."

The housing gate will continue to be closed on weekends and federal holidays, he said.
North Gate will remain in operation and will mirror the hours of operation of the Woodbrook Gate.

"We're hoping people will use the Woodbrook Gate and North Gate to get on and off McChord," said Mr. Freeman.

If people use the alternate gates and plan for some delay, the traffic flow during construction should be close to normal, he said.

"Phase 2 is where we're going to have to close down the two outbound lanes starting April 18 and lasting until May 2," Mr. Freeman said. "During this phase we will convert the two inbound lanes at the main gate to one inbound lane and one outbound lane." 

Throughout construction the McChord Field Visitor Center will remain in operation, though using other offices for routine transactions is recommended. 

Vehicle registration will not be conducted at the McChord Field Visitor Center during the duty day during construction, Mr. Freeman said. Vehicle registration at the visitor center will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and all day on weekends and federal holidays. During the construction, Building 100 will be the primary location to obtain decals on McChord Field.

Starting Feb. 4, the public can use the following Web address to obtain additional information about the construction project: 

January 21, 2011 at 2:27pm

Nutrition class gives Reservists food for thought

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- It may be easy to associate words like potassium citrate, sodium hexameta phosphate, monosodium glutamate and titanium dioxide with a chemistry experiment. But it may come as a surprise to know they are just some of the more common ingredients found in a typical diet today. The names of these ingredients may sound like a mouthful, but having an idea of what they are and how they help the body reach peak performance could be a slice of heaven to Reservists in the 446th Airlift Wing. 

That's where Tech. Sgt. Casey Muilenburg and Senior Airman Jennifer White, diet technicians with the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, come in.  They run an hour and a half nutrition and weight management class every other Reserve weekend to help Airmen understand proper nutrition and weight management techniques. 

"We want to give Reservists resources to help them make better eating choices," said Sergeant Muilenburg, nutritional medicine NCO in charge. "We show them how to choose healthy foods, read food labels, understand the percentage rates the Air Force use as standards, and set realistic goals. Our parents and grandparents gave us the tools, and this class is a refresher to help Reservists remember healthy food is out there," said the Redmond, Wash., native.     

For more on the story, click here.

January 13, 2011 at 12:15pm

Reserve SF Airmen depart for training tour

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Reservists from the 446th Security Forces Squadron are headed to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, to conduct their annual training tour Jan 10. Two squads deployed to support the 647th Security Forces Squadron in Hawaii.

The teams are integrating into flightline security, base police operations and support for the alert aircraft area, as well as providing training in combat arms, said Master Sgt. Lenny Deboma, 446th SFS operations manager. 

"Their 15-day annual tour provides our team with an opportunity to not only perform day-to-day security operations, but also allows the relief necessary for members of the 647th SFS to gain additional time for training," said Sergeant Deboma. 

Many of their past annual training tours have supported air shows, rodeos, and other missions within the continental United States, said Sergeant Deboma. 

"This is the first time our unit has been off shore for an annual training tour in more than seven years," said Sergeant Deboma.

Working with the 647th SFS also provides an opportunity to work side-by-side with the Navy at the joint base. 

"These folks have worked with many different branches of service and they are very adaptable and have a lot of knowledge, especially with their experience deployed to Kirkuk, Iraq," said Master Sgt. Carlos Duell, 446th SFS flight chief. "Most of our unit is coming back off two rotations in Iraq and this is a good time to work together again," he said. "We are fired up and ready for the mission."    

January 12, 2011 at 4:56pm

446th AES reservists go Hollywood

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. — Did you know we have movie stars in the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron?

During the summer of 2010 our fellow Reservists were deployed to Andrews Air Force Base, Md. where they were met by an IMAX film crew. As it turns out, the Reservists from McChord Field and the 45th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron from Travis Air Force Base, Calif. contributed to the production of a movie being shot in IMAX 3D format all the while conducting their everyday mission. 

The Reservists spent a day with the film crew getting shots of what the AES does best, preparing patients for transport. They also provided sound bites to the film crew as they read off checklist items into the microphone. 

"It was kind of exciting seeing how a film is shot and seeing how art could imitate life." said Maj. Lorenza O'Daniel, 446th AES flight nurse.

This unique opportunity to open the doors to the public will provide a look as to how patients are stabilized and relocated. This exposure is one that provided the flight nurses with an opportunity to share an aspect of the Air Force story that the public very rarely get out. 

"I tell friends that I'm a flight medic and they don't understand." said Senior Airman Caleb Heder, 446th AES. "They had no idea there is medical care between the battle field and getting home." He continues "They don't make the connection between the two, and it will be very cool to show them this production." 

The movie titled "Rescue" revolves around disaster relief both on the ground and by air. "Rescue" captures the dynamics and drama of disaster response, giving the audience an insider's view of a truly remarkable force for good in a world that is increasingly in need of it.

"Rescue" is currently in production and has a tentative release date of May 2011. It will be available in both 2D and 3D IMAX large film format.    

January 11, 2011 at 11:42am

446th CES reservist wins AF level award

We profiled Master Sgt. Glen Tuttle when he won this award at the command level. He recently went on to win the award at the Air Force level as well. Read on. 

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- If the gifts of this recent holiday season were measured by the number of awards decorating the mantle of the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron's Explosive Ordnance Disposal Flight, then Master Sgt. Glen Tuttle might be confused with Santa Claus. 

In November, the 446th CES EOD Flight NCO in charge was named the Air Mobility Command Outstanding Civil Engineer Air Reserve Component NCO manager of the year.

In December, Tuttle competed for the award at the Air Force level. And won.

"Glen is one of those individuals who does a few things extremely well and most things really well," said Lt. Col. David Walter, 446th CES commander. "He is an exceptional individual, and this award is just further recognition of that."    

December 28, 2010 at 11:28pm

McChord to receive new C-17 integrated training center

According to Air Force Magazine Online, the Air Force has awarded Boeing a $44 million contract to supply C-17 integrated training centers to three Globemaster bases, the company announced.  
Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, will receive the first ITC in the first quarter of 2012. McChord Field, which has 54 C-17s, will receive the second system in the third quarter of 2012, and an undisclosed third location will receive the third in early 2013.
"We are proud to add to the Air Force's training capability and support warfighter readiness with these new devices," said Mark McGraw, who oversees Boeing's training systems.
The ITCs consist of a weapon systems trainer, pilot and co-pilot station, loadmaster station, and related courseware and support equipment. The contract could be worth up to $72 million if two options are exercised.   

December 27, 2010 at 9:48am

McChord crew active in Operation Deep Freeze

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zeland (AFNS) -- An Air Force Reserve C-17 Globemaster III from the 728th Airlift Squadron out of McChord Air Force Base, Wash., is supporting Operation Deep Freeze by serving as a bridge for cargo and personnel moving between Christchurch, New Zealand, and McMurdo Air Station, Antarctica. 

The C-17 and its aircrew perform three to four round trips per week between the two locations. During each flight, the crew must navigate through difficult weather before landing on an ice runway at McMurdo. 

"This is probably the most dangerous peace time mission that we do" said Maj. Casey Guerrero, a C-17 pilot who has flown to Antarctica eleven times, "It's just that the weather changes so rapidly in Antarctica."

The ice cold and unpredictable weather is the biggest concern during the flights to Antarctica. The crew takes a number of precautions to ensure the aircraft is serviceable in the austere conditions. They turn on the hydraulic pumps early to make sure the fluid is at a proper temperature, and they cycle the flight controls while the aircraft is on the ground to ensure they stay above forty-five degrees. 

Another major concern is the lack of places to land on the route to McMurdo.
"There is nothing between Christchurch and Antarctica" Major Guerrero said, "so we have to watch our cold weather procedures, and if we have any kind of emergency we have to fuel-plan correctly so we can make it back to Christchurch." 

The crew has a predetermined point of safe return during each flight. At this point they check the weather and determine whether to press forward or turn back and return to Christchurch. Although the weather in Antarctica might be good for landing when the C-17 takes off from Christchurch, the rapidly changing weather has forced the crew to turn back a number of times. 

"It all depends on the weather," Major Guerrero said. "It's luck, nothing we can control."

The flights are a part of Operation Deep Freeze, an annual operation that supports the U.S. Antarctic Program and the National Science Foundation's research at sites throughout the Antarctic continent. The Joint Task Force - Support Forces Antarctica operation is led by 13th Air Force and includes strategic inter-theater airlift, tactical deep-field support, aeromedical-evacuation support, search and rescue response, sealift, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port cargo handling and transportation requirements.    

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