Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: 'Air Mobility Command' (46) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 46

July 11, 2013 at 6:32pm

Air Mobility Command can save you money

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Analysts here took the spirit of "Every Dollar Counts" seriously - more than 395 million times over.

Improvements to the way intra-theater airlift is done in Afghanistan are saving taxpayers between $300 million and $398 million a year after a team of air transportation professionals found a way to realize gigantic savings, and fast.

The team of analysts from Air Mobility Command, U.S. Transportation Command and U.S. Central Command found stunning efficiencies by developing better predictive models that reduce the need for commercial aircraft to augment U.S. military planes.

Here's what they were dealing with.

Read more...

June 23, 2013 at 2:45pm

Air Rodeo competition set for 2015

The 19th Airlift Wing Rodeo team boards a C130-J July 17. They will be participating in Air Mobility Command's Rodeo 2009 in a readiness competition at McChord Air Force Base, Wash., July 19-24. U. S. Air Force photo: Senior Airman Jim Araos

Air Mobility Command has started preliminary planning for the next Mobility Air Force's Rodeo readiness competition, targeting July 2015.

Brig. Gen. Scott Goodwin, Air Mobility Command director of operations, said the biennial event is important despite the cancellation of this summer's Rodeo for budgetary reasons.

"We see direct benefits from Rodeo competitions, and those impacts have been felt globally," he said. "Rodeo lets us continue to develop skills of our Airmen and their ability to work with international partners for those unplanned events that happen throughout the world."

U.S. and allied nation teams typically travel to every two years to Washington state for Rodeo to participate in events that challenge the capabilities of airlift and air-refueling aircrews, as well as maintenance, aerial port, and aeromedical evacuation Airmen.

June 20, 2013 at 1:31pm

Could you be the next AMC Icon?

First Lt. Nicole White, from Scott Air Force Base, accepts her first place award after performing for a crowd of more than 200 at the Scott Air Force Base club Oct. 25, 2012. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane

Air Mobility Command is searching for the next AMC Icon.

The AMC Icon program is loosely based around the hit TV program, American Idol.

All AMC installations will conduct base level talent shows during July and August. Local contestants compete for $1,000 in cash prizes. The top finishing Air Force vocalist will then compete for $2,000 in cash prizes at the command level.

This year's Icon will see one substantial change from previous years.

Base finalists will not travel to Headquarters AMC at Scott AFB to compete in a live performance.

Instead, AMC installations will submit a video of their finalist's performance to be judged by our expert panel of celebrity judges.

All videos will also be posted online for all to view. The top three finalists will receive cash awards of $1,000, $600 and $400; respectively.

The AMC Icon program also features a special category for those Air Force members not stationed on or near an AMC host base. AMC affiliate participants can enter by forwarding a music video showcasing their talents. Cash awards are available in this category as well, and the winner will also compete in the command finals.

Interested participants are encouraged to contact their base Force Support Squadron Marketing office for additional information including your base's local competition. Local base shows are open to all ID card holders 18 and older.

May 16, 2013 at 10:24am

Air Mobility Rodeo tentatively off for 2014

A U.S. airmen marshals in a KC-135 for the 2011 Air Mobility Rodeo, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., July 23. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Dayton Mitchell

As you know Air Mobility Command postponed Air Mobility Rodeo 2013, which was to take place at McChord Field in this summer. Rodeo, sponsored by AMC, is the Mobility Air Force's readiness competition. The competitions are held to train and improve the abilities of U.S. and international partners' air mobility operations skills while building international relationships.

Word just came down from AMC that Rodeo 2014 might not happen either.

"Rodeo 2014 is tentatively off," said a spokesperson from the 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office who contacted AMC. "Rodeo happens every two years. It was scheduled to take place this summer at McChord Field. With the budget sequestration, Rodeo was postponed. According to AMC, it's tentatively not scheduled for the summer of 2014, although official word won't be released until sometime next week."

It looks as if Rodeo won't return to McChord Field until 2015.

This is not the first time Air Mobility Rodeo has been cancelled. The two most recent examples are Rodeo 2003, which was called off because of worldwide commitments for the war on terrorism and humanitarian efforts. In 1988, it was canceled because of budget shortfalls.

August 8, 2011 at 10:28am

Deployed crew performs 'unmanned' refueling

SOUTHWEST ASIA  -- The deployed environment admittedly is a mostly male world. For a day though, a deployed KC-10 Extender crew made it an all-female day, as all four crew positions were held by females, truly making their mission "unmanned."


"I've been in the Air Force for six years and it's almost impossible to get an all-girl flight," said Staff Sgt. Lindy Campbell, a boom operator and flight air refueler for the 908th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron. "I've always wanted to do this. We work in a male-dominated career field, so when we figured it was possible to do it here, I jumped at the opportunity. It was nice to fly with my sisters."

One reason it is almost impossible to have an all-female crew in the KC-10 is the fact that Staff Sgt. Sarah Lockley is the only female KC-10 flight engineer in the Air Force.

"It is a very rare occurrence," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Moss, the 908th EARS commander. "While the number of women in the KC-10 has increased over the years, and every crew position has women represented, there is currently only one active-duty female flight engineer in KC-10, so this crew composition is extremely rare."

The KC-10 mission is solely based out of Travis Air Force Base, Calif., and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. In the case of the female flight, two Airmen from each base made up the team. Campbell, a Sacremento native, is an Air Force Reservist.

"Today's flight was awesome," Lockley said. "We've never had [Airmen from both] Travis and McGuire, [and] active duty and reservists all combined in one flight. It was great to see how other bases and active duty and reservists work together. It was great crew dynamics."

The aircraft commander noticed the group's chemistry was different than normal as well.

"It went well today," said Capt. Lindsey Bauer, 908th EARS, KC-10 aircraft commander. "Nothing against guys, but we had a relaxing time. Having four girls in the cockpit was nice. We were all on the same level. It was a break from guys. We are around them all the time. It was nice to see how all females worked each of their crew positions. The meshing together of our crew went smoothly. I think the female thing had something to do with that."

For the women, the mission wasn't about doing something that's never been done. It was more about bonding and changing things up for a day.

"It wasn't about doing a 'first', although it's rare," said 1st Lt. Jen Carter, 908th EARS, KC-10 pilot. "We usually have no more than two females on a given day. It was a morale booster for us, and today it was a morale booster for the plane we refueled."

Although the flight was special for the women, getting the job done was their top priority. The crew kept busy performing several air refuelings on the mission.

"Our job is very important," Bauer said. "It keeps the war effort going. If we weren't up there able to give them gas, the receivers would have to go back and refuel costing them hours from doing their job. When we told them they were getting refueled by an 'unmanned' KC-10 they laughed and felt special. People were stoked that an all-female crew was giving them gas."

Moss said he noticed a change in his squadron, too.

"All of the women on the crew were absolutely brimming with excitement over this mission," Moss said. "Their enthusiasm was contagious to the other crews as well. Everyone knew how much it meant to them and fully supported their efforts. Anytime an entire unit can get behind the initiative of a few motivated Airmen, everyone wins."

Moss thinks events like this can serve as an example of just how far women have come in the military as well.

"I think it's great," Moss said. "The role of women in the military has increased greatly over the years, and the presence of women in all [Air Force specialty codes] has expanded to the point that sometimes we forget how far they have had to come. However, my young daughter unintentionally reminds me every day that she needs women to look up to; she needs women to prove that nothing is impossible; she needs female role models. I think an all-female crew shows her that another potential obstacle to her dreams no longer exists."

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 29, 2011 at 4:29pm

'Top Shot' competitor hits bullseye at Rodeo

Staff Sgt. George Reinas, a sniper-qualified Airman in the Air Force, practices a scenario on a range on Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., on July 27. (Photo by Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCHORD, Wash. - In season two of The History Channel's television show "Top Shot," Staff Sgt. George Reinas was a finalist for the show. He is also one of two certified Air Force snipers who are managing the Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 advanced marksmanship competition.

"I'm more than happy to be here to help bring awareness to the Air Force sniper program and support the competition," he said.

The Top Shot show, which concluded airing in April, is a competition where shooters "have to display mastery of weapons from all eras of human history, from primitive rocks to sophisticated firearms," the shows description on history.com shows. Additionally, contestants employed "some of the biggest munitions ever featured on the series, including the Gatling gun," and they "endured grueling physical tests to stay in the game."

Going into the competition, the Mount Laurel, N.J., native stated on his biography for the show, "I'm big, I'm mean. I'm going to destroy the competition." By the end, he said he made a lot of good friends.

"The show certainly changed my life," Reinas said while out on a shooting range on Joint Base Lewis-McChord where he was leading the advanced marksmanship event while wearing a sniper's "ghillie suit." "Through the show I was able to show the skill set of my career field as an Air Force sniper and highlight the Air Force."

During one of the events of the Top Shot competition, competitors had to complete a 1,000-yard shot with a .50-caliber sniper rifle. Of all the competitors, Reinas was the only one to hit the shot on target with only one bullet. In his career, Reinas said his longest successful shots taken with sniper rifles include a 1,200-yard shot with an M-24 and a 2,500-yard shot with a .50-cal.

"One shot, one kill," Reinas said. "That's how we're trained as a sniper. That was definitely my favorite moment on the show."

For Rodeo 2011, Reinas and fellow sniper Senior Master Sgt. Nathan Brett, also of the 421st CTS, did their own "show" in finding the advanced marksmanship team. The 11 teams competing also had to complete a 1,000-yard shot but it was with an M-24 sniper rifle.

"We wanted to see the teams complete the course of fire we designed so we could truly see who was the best," said Reinas, who is a security forces combat skills instructor for special weapons and tactics at the 421st CTS.

"It was great to see these teams participate as well," he said. "I've also made some new friends."

Since he starred in Top Shot, Reinas has made a lot of friends. He said he gets a lot of "friend requests" via the social media platforms and it seems like he's always on the phone. As a matter of fact, Brett jokingly said he might be the "most photographed" guy around lately.

Regardless, Reinas said he's happy to have been a part of the Top Shot show, and to be at Rodeo 2011 with fellow instructors from the Expeditionary Center.

"We brought a great bunch of people here," Reinas said. "They are the best at what they do."

And Reinas' friends and others might also agree and add that he's a "top shot" at what he does as well.

"George is great at teaching, being an Air Force sniper and being an Airman," Brett said. "He's also pretty good at being on TV."

Reinas joined the Air Force in early 2003 and his first assignment was a one-year tour to Kunsan Air Base, Korea. From March 2004 to February 2010, Reinas was stationed at then-McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., where he worked in a security forces unit. In 2010, he joined the staff at the U.S. Air Expeditionary Center's 421st Combat Training Squadron at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.

July 28, 2011 at 12:51pm

McChord C-17 named in honor of Medal of Honor recipients

Retired Army Col. Bruce Candrall, a Medal of Honor recipient, was a guest observer as a newly-crafted C-17 Globemaster III is dedicated the “Spirit of the Medal of Honor” July 26 at McChord Field. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Michael Battles)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- A new C-17 Globemaster III was named for all Medal of Honor recipients at a ceremony here July 26, 2011, during Air Mobility Rodeo 2011.
 
The naming ceremony is a time-honored Air Force tradition of dedicating aircraft to significant places, events and people. Previous honorees include prisoners of war and missing in action service members as well as Purple Heart recipients. Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr, Air Mobility Command commander, officially dedicated the C-17 as the "Spirit of the Medal of Honor." Retired AF Col. Joe Jackson and retired Army Col. Bruce Crandall attended the ceremony.

"The Congressional Medal of Honor serves as a symbol of courage and military heroism in defense of America's freedoms," said Bob Ciesla, Boeing C-17 program manager. "Likewise, whenever this C-17 flying the insignia of the Spirit of the Medal of Honor lands, the spirit of America's bravest will land with it, bringing hope, saving lives and preserving peace." "It's humbling to be here in the presence of America's bravest patriots," Ciesla added.

Johns expressed his gratitude to both service members for what they contributed to our military and country.

They were called upon unexpectedly when it mattered most, said Johns.

And they did it without regards for themselves. During the ceremony Johns and Ciesla, along with Jackson and Crandall, unveiled the new C-17, which will join the fleet at Joint Base Lewis-McChord Ciesla also presented Johns and the MOH recipients with a lithograph from the employees of Boeing as a thank you for the service and sacrifice that they give to their country.

July 26, 2011 at 5:48pm

Culinary excellence on display at Rodeo

Tech. Sgt. Danielle Sloan, a flight attendant from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., squeezes honey on peaches during the culinary skills competition July 25 at Air Mobility Rodeo at McChord Field. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Christine Jones)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, WASH. -- For the first time in the history of the Air Mobility Rodeo, Air Force flight attendants competed against each other in a culinary arts competition July 25-27.

Although the primary role of flight attendants is to facilitate the safe evacuation of passengers in case of an emergency on board the aircraft, the Airmen are also responsible for providing meals. The competition gave them the chance to show off their skills at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., as part of Rodeo 2011.

Five teams from around the Air Force cooked a beef lunch or dinner with a dessert for the panel of judges, who rated the meals based on taste, creativity and presentation. In addition, Chief Master Sgt. Seina Enwright and Staff Sgt. Cat Wilkerson, both flight attendants themselves, observed the cooks to ensure all food items were prepared safely.

"As career enlisted aviators, we have a role in the mobility mission, so it only made sense to have our folks compete at Rodeo," said Enwright, who is also the functional manager for flight attendants at Air Mobility Command headquarters, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. "Having this opportunity also gives our Airmen the chance to learn from each other. There are a few training courses available for flight attendants, but none of them teach how to cook on board an airplane, so most of what we do is on-the-job training or collaborating and learning from one another."

The teams competing were:
- 54th and 73rd Airlift Squadrons, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.
- 1st AS, Joint Base Andrews
- 99th AS, JB Andrews
- 76th AS, Ramstein Air Base, Germany
- 310th AS, MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

The competitors had $400 to shop for all their ingredients the day before they cooked. They were allowed to bring some specialty equipment, but for the most part had to use what was available to them. When it was their turn, each two-person team had three hours to prepare and serve a meal to the judges and several members of the fire department, who donated use of their kitchen for the event.

Tech. Sgt. Dani Sloan and Staff Sgt. Amy Gillilan, an active-duty Airman, represented the only Total Force team in the event. Sloan, a Reservist, and Gillilan had practiced cooking their chosen meal for people at Scott AFB several times beforehand, charging people a modest fee to cover costs. Because they'd figured out exactly how much of each ingredient they needed, their team only spent half of their allotted budget to produce a tri-tip steak, ranch-style beans, roasted corn and for dessert a grilled peach with vanilla bean and mascarpone topped with honey.

"We were inspired by Rodeo and wanted our dish to reflect that, so we grilled a lot," Sloan said. "But we were also inspired by our backgrounds. I'm from Northern California, so we went with tri-tip, a very West Coast cut of beef; Amy's from Georgia, so we had a Georgia peach for dessert."

"We put a lot of thought into what we were making," Gillilan added. "We were way outside our comfort zone cooking here, so our hope is that all the thought and effort we put into the planning and execution will pay off."

The event was part of Air Mobility Rodeo 2011, a biennial international competition that focuses on mission readiness, featuring airdrops, aerial refueling and other events that showcase the skills of mobility crews from around the world.

The winners of each competition will be announced in the closing ceremonies July 29.

July 25, 2011 at 1:34pm

International participants add spice to Rodeo competition

The Belgium air force team waves its flag in support of fellow teammates at the Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 "Fit to Fight" competition, July 24 at McChord Field. (Photo by Senior Airman Brianna Veesart)

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- At the opening ceremonies for Air Mobility Rodeo here July 24, among the nearly 3,000 mobility personnel in formation around the McChord Field flightline were service members from more than 25 nations.

Those international partners each carried their country's flag to their formations creating what one person announced as a "sea of flavorful colors." That may also describe what the international partners bring to Rodeo 2011 environment -- flavor.

There are seven countries participating in events at Rodeo - Belgium, Netherlands, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Sweden. Additionally, there are more than 20 countries observing competition.

Countries observing Rodeo competition include Argentina, Australia and Canada, as well as India, Israel, Poland, Singapore and New Zealand. For the first time, the African nations of Algeria, Botswana, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Africa are observers for Rodeo. They also attended the International Airdrop Symposium that was a lead-in event to Rodeo 2011.

Lt. Col. David Mackenzie, deputy director for U.S. Air Forces Africa's Plans and Requirements Directorate at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, is working with the African observers at Rodeo. He said their participation at the symposium and observing Rodeo is critical to partnership building not only internationally, but also for the African Union.

"For the attendees from Africa, they are looking to build or improve upon an airdrop capability for their air forces," Mackenzie said during the symposium that also took place here July 19-21. "By attending...these five countries gain insight to procedures and methods of airdrop.

"More specifically, their attendance also helps them understand more about humanitarian airdrops in support to the African Union," Mackenzie said. "In the long term, it's about Africans helping Africans from the knowledge they gain here."

Lt. Col. Pine Pineaar from the South Africa air force, who as an observer will not only learn from the airdrop symposium but also from observing Rodeo airdrop events, noted the importance of airdrops for humanitarian purposes.

"The value of airdrops in humanitarian missions cannot be underestimated," Pieneaar said. "Although the cost (of airdrops) may be high, the value of human life is higher."

Though some like Pieneaar are at Rodeo 2011 for the first time, others are making repeat appearances. For Adjutant Joris Retty, a C-130 loadmaster from the Belgium air force, this year marks his third Rodeo. He was previously here in 2005 and 2009. When one of his teammates fell ill, he jumped at the chance to come back and help coach the rest of his team.

"Nothing motivates me more than the spirit of competition," the E-7 said. "It's great to meet people from other nations and socialize. I actually went to loadmaster school at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, so it's nice to be back in America. I can't wait to get started."

Besides the opening ceremonies for Rodeo, the first event that included the international competitors was the "Fit to Fight" competition. This event has five-person teams who complete push-ups, sit-ups and a mile-and-a-half run.

During that first event, one observer stated "spectators cheered, waved banners and even dressed in costumes," and, "chants in several languages also echoed all around."

It's that "flavor" that was reflected in Col. R. Wyn Elder's welcome to the teams in the opening ceremonies.

"To all teams and our international participants, we are honored by your presence today at our competition," said Elder, who is the 62nd Airlift Wing command at McChord Field. "Let camaraderie define victory."

(Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski and Senior Airman Abigail Klein also contributed to this story.)

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