Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: 'Deployment' (28) Currently Viewing: 11 - 20 of 28

January 5, 2011 at 9:39am

7th Airlift Squadron departs on 120-day deployment

MCCHORD FIELD, JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- More than 100 Airmen assigned to the 7th Airlift Squadron departed McChord Field Dec. 28 for a 120-day deployment in support of the Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn. 

"We are a unique squadron deploying at a unique time." said Lt. Col. Eric Carney, 7th AS commander. "We have a lot of responsibility on our shoulders and look forward to executing our mission with the same excellence as our predecessors. This is a great time to be part of the airlift mission and I know our team is ready to excel."

The unit will operate out of a single intra theater base as the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, with a mission focused on providing global strategic airlift, combat airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout their assigned areas of responsibility. 

The 62nd Airlift Wing has four flying squadrons, and each squadron deploys about every 16 months. Constant readiness is a key factor to ensuring a successful deployment with such high operations tempo. 

"We're looking forward to it," said Lt. Col. James Sparrow, 7th AS operations officer. "We've spent many months preparing for this. We're excited and ready to get started. Today is the culmination of all of the preparation."

According to Colonel Sparrow, after the deployment preparations, the squadron will have some down time with their families. Constantly deploying and being away from families can be stressful. However, being able to rely on squadron support and bond with coworkers is an experience in itself.

"I'm looking forward to getting to know my squadron mates and continuing to do our real world mission" said Master Sgt. Chad Neubarth, 7th AS operations superintendant. "My family is prepared, but deployment is never easy. My wife is plugged in with the rest of the spouses from our squadron so she's ready as she can be."

Being able to rely on each other is an important part of a deployment. Especially for those Airmen who have never been through an overseas contingency operation. 

"I'm a little bit nervous-kind of excited to see a new country," said Airman First Class Ryan Karcher, 62nd Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment apprentice. "My family had an early Christmas celebration for me. They gave me a video camera to document my experiences."

The 7th AS is replacing the 4th AS, which is scheduled to return the first week of January. 

"It's our turn, that's the bottom line," said Capt. Christopher Stephens, 7th AS mission planning cell chief.    

January 3, 2011 at 11:17am

Air Force doubles manpower for Afghan attacks

This from USA Today: WASHINGTON - The Air Force has more than doubled the number of airmen in Afghanistan who call in airstrikes, as the use of bombs, missiles and strafing runs has spiked to its highest level since the war began.

The Air Force has increased the number of joint terminal attack controllers - the airmen who work with soldiers to coordinate airstrikes - to 134 last year in Afghanistan, up from 53 in 2009, said Maj. Ike Williams, an operations officer at Air Combat Command in Langley, Va.

The increasing reliance on airstrikes and the troops who direct them comes as the U.S. military has raised its troop level in Afghanistan to 100,000, including 30,000 deployed last year.

To read the entire story, click here.

January 3, 2011 at 10:58am

Family, friends welcome 4th Airlift Squadron home

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - More than 120 Airmen from McChord Field's 4th Airlift Squadron will be greeted by family and friends here Wednesday, Jan. 5, after a 120-day deployment in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Operation 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.

During their deployment, the C-17 squadron flew 2,204 sorties, equaling more than 12,900 hours, moving more than 48,000passengers 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.

With the help of the 816th EAS, the C-17 Globemaster III celebrated its two-millionth flight hour this month. Although Air Mobility Command officials estimate the international C-17 fleet passed the milestone on Dec. 14, the achievement was commemorated on a Dec. 10 airdrop mission out of Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

"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."

November 23, 2010 at 5:04pm

APS reservists prepare to deploy

From left: Staff Sgt. Luis Rosado, a ramp specialist with the 36th Aerial Port Squadron here, Tech. Sgt. Richard Gerren, 36th APS inspector, and Staff Sgt. Michael Pritchett, 36th APS ramp specialist are preparing to deploy to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

JOINT BASE LEWIS - MCCHORD, Wash. -- With record cargo, passenger and air traffic, the 455th Expeditionary Aerial Port Squadron at Bagram Airfield is getting some help from three Reservists with the 36th Aerial Port Squadron, here in supplying the fight in Afghanistan. 

Soon to deploy are Tech. Sgt. Richard Gerren, 36th APS inspector, and Staff Sgts. Michael Pritchett and Luis Rosado, 36th APS ramp specialists. In their first deployment to Afghanistan, these Reservists volunteered to support the air mobility effort in the war's cargo hub, with a mission to move enormous amounts of cargo and passenger traffic in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"There's a lot of pride in serving," said Sergeant Rosado, a Lynnwood, Wash. native who is also a crane operator for a local drywall company.  

"I like the front line," said Sergeant Gerren of his impending assignment as liaison and hazardous material inspector for the 455th EAPS. "It's all an adventure to me," he said. Sergeant Gerren  is also a construction maintenance supervisor for the State of Washington Department of Corrections.

All packed and ready to go, the aerial porters have planned their departure by ensuring their training, personal affairs and finances are in order. Equally important, their families and friends are ready for the mission as well.

"I just want to do my part," said Sergeant Pritchett of his upcoming mission.  "Unfortunately, I may miss the traditional black Friday shopping experience, but I made sure my wife had some extra money on hand," he said. 

Not only do Reservists rely on their military units, they also depend on their civilian employers for continued support during deployments. 

"My civilian employer offered to offset my base pay while I am away, which certainly helps," said Sergeant Pritchett, who is a fiber network field technician with an Oregon-based communications company.

The 455th EAPS is part of the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, which serves U.S. Air Forces Central and provides close air support, combat search rescue, aerial intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and airlift capabilities to U.S. and coalition forces supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.    

November 22, 2010 at 10:25am

Local soldiers, airmen expect to fight until 2014

This from The News Tribune: American forces likely will keep fighting in Afghanistan through the end of 2014 - three years later than the date President Barack Obama announced when he heralded his war plans last year - under a timeline unfurled at a NATO conference in Lisbon, Portugal, this weekend.

The new date sends a message to soldiers and airmen at Joint Base Lewis-McChord that they can expect to continue their role in a dangerous war zone over the next four years.

But while the shift to 2014 has been discussed widely in the media the past few weeks, it doesn't appear to be triggering much talk among local service members yet.

Those stationed at the base have come to expect nearly continuous overseas assignments since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Many don't see that trend changing despite the ongoing drawdown from Iraq and the proposal to scale back in Afghanistan.

"It's always go," said Capt. Dave Braun, 30, of Spanaway. He's a pilot in the Lewis-McChord-based 62nd Airlift Wing who recently returned from a four-month assignment flying into Afghanistan.

To read the entire story, click here.

October 12, 2010 at 11:02am

Pay mistakes for airmen on combat deployments

This from Air Force Times: An audit by the Department of Defense Inspector General uncovered the pay problems, which could total $8.6 million. A follow-up review by the Air Force confirmed problems but not to the extent identified by the Pentagon. The lost amount, calculated using the findings by the service, adds up to $1.63 million.

The DoD IG found mistakes with more than half - 54 percent - of the pay stubs it checked; the Air Force review found problems with 29 percent.

If you apply the DoD IG findings to the active-duty 65,000 airmen who deployed between Oct. 1, 2007, and Sept. 30, 2008, to U.S. Central Command missions, as many as 35,100 airmen received the wrong pay. Even if you use the service's error rate, 18,850 airmen still had the incorrect amount deposited in their accounts.

To read the entire story, click here.

October 8, 2010 at 11:52am

Not enough JTACs to go around

Air Force Times is reporting that the Air Force is training more NATO troops to call in airstrikes because it can't meet the demand from battlefield commanders without ratcheting up the deployment tempo even more for its own small pool of joint terminal attack controllers.

U.S. Air Forces in Europe expects to train 144 JTACs, twice as many as it did last year, according to the report.

Half of the airmen will be from NATO and coalition countries.

"The total number of JTACs required has always been a mystical, magical number that we have always tried to get our arms around," said Master Sgt. Jay Lemley, chief of standardization and evaluation for JTACs assigned to USAFE. "There never was an answer except, ‘We need more.'"

Repeated deployments for JTACs and the requirements in Afghanistan "have really been a driving factor," Lemley said. "We're in a counterinsurgency fight in Afghanistan. It's not a linear battlefield."

For more on the story, click here.

October 6, 2010 at 12:26pm

Reserve aerial port airmen deploy

About 19 reservists from the 86th Aerial Port Squadron deployed in September to support an Air Expeditionary Force rotation to Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq. The reservists are attached to the 321st Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron.

Beyond the 100 plus degree heat, what challenges the aerial porters most is also what gives them the most pride - getting people where they need to go. 

"The biggest thing for us is rest and relaxation passengers," said Master Sgt. Marshall Stokoe, 86th APS. "We make sure we get them out because it's important."

For more on the deployment, click here.    

September 30, 2010 at 12:44pm

McChord airmen support 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron

Airman Christina Gillespie and Tech. Sgt. Tim Raymon discuss weight measurements prior to loading a C-17 Globemaster III in Baghdad, Iraq.(U.S. Air Force Photo/Senior Airman Katie Gieratz)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Tech. Sgt. Tim Raymon is a loadmaster for a C-17 Globemaster III deployed with the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia.

Raymon is deployed from the 313th Airlift Squadron at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. As a member of the 816th EAS, he supports combat airlift operations for operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.

According to his official Air Force job description for the 1A2X1 career field, loadmasters like Raymon accomplish loading and off-loading aircraft functions and perform pre-flight and post-flight of aircraft and aircraft systems. They also perform loadmaster aircrew functions, compute weight and balance and other mission specific qualification duties, and provide for safety and comfort of passengers and troops, and security of cargo, mail and baggage during flight.

Loadmasters like Raymon are skilled in a variety of abilities, the job description states. For example, in determining quantity of cargo and passengers or troops to be loaded and proper placement in aircraft, loadmasters compute load and cargo distribution. They also compute weight and balance, and determines the amount of weight to be placed in each compartment or at each station. To do this they consider factors such as fuel load, aircraft structural limits and emergency equipment required.

C-17 loadmasters also accomplish the initial pre-flight of aircraft according to flight manuals. They pre-flight specific aircraft systems such as restraint rail and airdrop equipment. They also pre-flight aerospace ground equipment and apply external power to the aircraft. Additionally, they perform in-flight and special mission specific duties as required.

When supervising aircraft loading and off-loading, loadmasters like Raymon ensure cargo and passengers are loaded according to load distribution plan. They direct application of restraint devices such as restraint rails, straps, chains and nets to prevent shifting during flight. They also check cargo, passengers and troops against manifests, ensure availability of fleet service equipment and brief passengers and troops on use of seat belts, facilities and border clearance requirements.

In the deployed environment, loadmasters like Raymon are trained to conduct cargo and personnel airdrops according to directives. They are trained to attach extraction parachutes to cargo and platforms and inspect cargo and platforms, extraction systems and connects static lines. They also check tie-downs, parachutes, containers, suspension systems and extraction systems to ensure proper cargo extraction or release.

To do their job while deployed or at home station, loadmasters have to maintain a wide array of mandatory job knowledge, the job description states. They must know the types, capacities and configuration of transport aircraft, emergency equipment and in-flight emergency procedures, personal equipment and oxygen use, communications, current flying directives, interpreting diagrams, loading charts and technical publications, border agency clearance dispensing and preserving food aboard aircraft, and cargo restraint techniques.

September 9, 2010 at 10:40am

McChord combat controllers receive medals

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Seven combat controllers assigned to the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron received several medals Wednesday for their accomplishments while engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan.

Read more here.

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