Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: 'Deployment' (28) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 28

April 6, 2012 at 1:46pm

Seasoned Medical Service Corps officer continues to learn on latest deployment

Members of the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron Critical Care Air Transport Team work together to load patients onto a C-130H Hercules for an aeromedical evacuation at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Even with a diverse skill set and years of training and experience, Maj. Peter Jorgensen proves there's always something new to learn.

The 28-year medical professional has held many positions throughout a lucrative career, beginning as an enlisted logistician on active duty, up to his current responsibilities as a Medical Services Corps officer with the 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron here.

Now, the Reservist serves in Afghanistan with the critical role as director of operations for the 651st Expeditionary Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron in Kandahar, overseeing the daily duties of more than 100 people, who support around-the-clock aeromedical evacuations for more than 100,000 NATO troops.

"Major Jorgensen is a dedicated Medical Service Corps officer with a wealth of experience, from his time serving with the (446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron here) and now with the 446th AES," said Col. Janette Moore-Harbert, 446th AES commander. "This experience has allowed him to help facilitate the depth of the patient movement process from the staging facility into the operational and flying element of the AE system. He not only brings that to this current deployment but also to the 446th AES, allowing us to be better patient providers by understanding our partners roles and responsibilities in the ASTS, in order to ensure a seamless and smooth patient movement system." 

With Jorgensen being an air Reserve technician, a full-time Reservist who helps maintain the continuity and combat readiness of the traditional Reservists, thanks Moore-Harbert, not only for contributing to his growth as a 446th AES Reservist, but for allowing him to serve overseas.

"I owe a great deal of thanks to my commander, for allowing me to deploy and grow as a military member," said Jorgensen, a Lakewood resident. "Being an air Reserve technician, it was no small sacrifice for her and the rest of the unit when I volunteered for the deployment." 

Jorgensen easily applies his homestation training to his deployed function.

"This mission is a lot like the way we train in the 446th AES during our exercises and local missions during the month and UTA weekends," said Jorgensen. 

Although he's learning a lot in his current assignment, it isn't his first rodeo. In fact, most of his deployments as an officer with the 446th ASTS are directly tied to his mission with the 446th AES.

"This is my third deployment and I feel right at home here from the fact that I started as a Medical Service Corps officer attached to the 446th ASTS," said Jorgensen. "During my eight years with the ASTS, I had the opportunity to deploy to Balad Air Base (Iraq) in 2006. I was functioning both in the (Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility) as an administrator and as a launch and recovery officer for more than 100 missions. Little did I know at the time, the launch and recovery along with crew management was exactly what we train for in the (446th AES). I can honestly say that my wartime success can be directly contributed to my countless 446th Airlift Wing training opportunities over the years." 

But wealth of experience isn't the only factor which has made Jorgensen's deployment a success. He says bringing out the best in his troops, so they can perform is critical.

"Relationships with your people are key to your success as a leader, and they need to be maintained in order to bring out the best in them- even if it's not their best day," he said. "As an officer, I've become better and more knowledgeable at reading the signs as whether someone is having a good or bad day." 

Even as his deployment comes to a close, Jorgensen still has his eyes on the reason he's there.

"There are a lot of people making huge sacrifices both here and at home for us to be successful," said Jorgensen. "It's been a huge learning experience and one that I look forward to bringing back to my unit and the wing." 

Moore-Harbert stresses her pride in having Reservists, like Jorgensen representing the 446th AES.

"I am very proud of him and his ability to excel and represent the 446th AES anytime and anywhere," she said.    

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

August 10, 2011 at 3:34pm

Airstrike kills Taliban members who caused U.S. helicopter crash

This from Air Force Times: An airstrike involving American fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft killed the Taliban leader responsible for the ambush that killed 38 U.S. and Afghan forces over the weekend, according to the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.

The Tuesday airstrike killed Mullah Mohibullah and another insurgent who fired the shot that brought down a CH-47 Chinook on Aug. 6, killing the 30 U.S. troops aboard.

Military officials announced the airstrike Wednesday morning. Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told reporters about the mission during a video conference at the Pentagon.

Air Force F-16s and an AC-130H, as well as Army AH-64 Apache helicopters conducted the operation, a spokesman for NATO troops in Afghanistan told Air Force Times.

The F-16s dropped GBU-38 and GBU-54 bombs, and the Spectre fired its 105mm and 40mm cannons. The Apaches attacked insurgents with 30mm cannons.

To read the complete story, click here.

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 28, 2011 at 9:30am

Pit bull prevents AF vet from committing suicide

(NY Daily News)-- Air Force veteran Dave Sharpe survived two near-death experiences serving in Pakistan and Saudi Arabia - but it was his six-month-old pit bull puppy that saved his life.

His dog, Cheyenne, licked his ear and brought a suicidal Sharpe back from the brink when he had put his service pistol in his mouth, CBS reported.

"She came up behind me and she licked my ear," Sharpe told the network of the low point he hit after returning. "And she gave me this look of, 'What are you doing man, who's going to let me sleep in your bed? Listen, if you take care of me, I'll take care of you'," Sharpe said.


Cheyenne's divine intervention inspired Sharpe to reach out to other veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder through the P2V (Pets to Vets) organization.

The non-profit matches vets with shelter dogs and cats in an effort to provide companionship.

Sharpe's turnaround serves as the group's prime example of the power of man's best friend.

"Before I met her, I was a wreck," he said of Cheyenne. "I was out of control, I would start fights for no reason."

To see a picture of Cheyenne, click here.

March 25, 2011 at 9:24am

Guard's 116th Air Support Operations Squadron set to deploy

CAMP MURRAY - The Washington National Guard will bid farewell to the 116th Air Support Operations Squadron in a ceremony on Saturday, March 26 at 6:00 p.m. in Building #92 on Camp Murray.

The unit will serve in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and will be
based in Afghanistan.  Approximately 20 Washington Air National Guard
members will comprise the deploying force of the 116th.

"We are extremely proud of the 116th.  They are well trained, experienced
and ready to accomplish any mission they are given," said Major General
Timothy J. Lowenberg, the Adjutant General and commander of the Washington
National Guard.

The 116th is headquartered at Camp Murray and is part of the Washington Air
National Guard's 194th Regional Support Wing.  The citizen-airmen of the
116th are Tactical Air Control Party members; often considered the furthest
extension of Air Force influence on the Army's battlefield.  TACP airmen
deploy into combat with Special Operations teams and serve as close air
support experts, advising ground commanders on the use of Air Force assets
in combat.  They serve as forward air controllers, winning battles by
guiding weapons onto target.

Pre-deployment training for the 116th began last fall and included events at
Fort Irwin, California and Fort Stewart, Georgia.  The deployment is
scheduled to last approximately four months.  Although individual members of
the unit have deployed previously, this is the first deployment in the
squadron's history of this size.     

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 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 6, 2011 at 3:55pm

4th Airlift Squadron returns home

MCCHORD FIELD, JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - More than 120 Airmen from the 4th Airlift Squadron returned Thursday after a 120-day deployment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, New Dawn and Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

The 4th AS Airmen were deployed as the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron to an overseas contingency location in the Middle East.

"Our deployment was a success as a result of the hard work, professionalism and safety-focus of many, including that of our sister squadrons," said Lt. Col. Ira Cline, 816th EAS commander. "We were fortunate to be a part of wide variety of missions including the delivery of M1A1 Abrams tanks into Afghanistan, life-saving aeromedical evacuations, transporting several distinguished visitors including the Secretary of Defense, airdropping more than 16 million pounds of CDS (container delivery system) bundles to remote forward operating bases and flying media and Boeing representatives on the C-17 Globemaster III's two-millionth flight hour. The entire team, top to bottom, simply did an outstanding job. I'm really proud of this group of Airmen."

During their deployment, the C-17 squadron flew 2,204 sorties, equaling more than 12,900 hours, moving more than 48,000 passengers and delivering more than 91.4 million pounds of combat sustainment cargo for U.S. military forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and operations in East Africa.

More on this story in the Jan. 13 edition of The Northwest Airlifter.

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