Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: 'Iraq' (8) Currently Viewing: 1 - 8 of 8

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.    

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 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.    

August 27, 2010 at 10:09am

60 McChord reservists prepare for deployment

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, more than 60 reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing will depart for various locations across Southwest Asia, with about 95 more preparing to head out within the next few months.

For more on what they'll be doing over there, click here.

August 19, 2010 at 2:50pm

Deployed McChord airmen hard at work

Members of the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron deployed to the desert dropped more than 1,192,000 pounds to 22 different drop zones, including fuel, water, food and additional supplies needed by servicemembers on the ground at forward operating bases across the area of responsibility.

The endeavor, called Operation Everest, took place over the course of one week, and was an effort headed by the 816th EAS to "fully exercise the C-17 (Globemaster III) theater drop capability," said Lt. Col. Stephen Ritter, the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron commander.

For more on the mission, click here.

July 6, 2010 at 12:46pm

Soldier charged with leaking video of airstrike

Pvt. 1st Class Bradley Manning, 22, of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division in Iraq, was charged Monday in a case involving a video obtained by, a website that posts leaked documents, according to the news release.

Read more from the Los Angeles Times here.   

Filed under: Iraq,

March 12, 2010 at 12:40pm

McChord airman refurbishes desks for Iraqi kids

Volunteers from the 506th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, sand down pieces of wood during assembly of school desks for local Iraqi children March 6, at Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq. Out of their goal of 100 desks, 25 of them have already been ass

KIRKUK, Iraq -- Sitting at a well-crafted desk may not seem like a big deal to children in the United States or other more affluent parts of the world, but to the children of Kirkuk's school provinces, it is.

Thanks to several volunteers from the 506th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron at Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraqi school children will get to sit in the same style of comfort other children get on a regular basis.

The idea for refurbishing the school desks sprang from a conversation Chief Master Sgt. Tom Pizzi, 506th ECES chief enlisted manager, deployed from McChord AFB, Wash., had with Stacy Barrios, public diplomacy officer, Kirkuk Provincial Reconstruction Team, U.S. Embassy, Iraq.

Originally, the chief wanted to build or paint a school in Kirkuk but learned that security procedures would make that unlikely.

Kirkuk's director of education told Pizzi the desks in the Kirkuk province were in poor shape and could use repairing. The chief also learned from some of the local nationals who work as contractors on base that many of Iraqi school children sit three or four to a small desk.

Initially, the chief and his crew, made up of LN's and CE workers, received 25 desks for repair.

These desks, broken and rusted, were heaped in piles in a field outside one of the local schools. 

One of the LN's picked up the desks and delivered them to the CE compound.

Undeterred by the poor shape of the desks, the crew began welding and sanding the metal frames, cutting and building the wood for the framework and painting and finishing the desks, the chief said.

Tech. Sgt. Douglas Shelton, 506th ECES, deployed from Dover AFB, Del., volunteered his structural expertise to make the desks safer for the children.

"They brought the frame to me and asked my opinion," he said. "I showed them how to round the corners of the desks, so the kids don't hurt themselves." 

The desks are built to seat two children to every desk, but Shelton wanted to add a personal touch.

"I also put dividers in the compartment underneath the desktop so they can feel like they have their own personal space," the sergeant said. "I'd do anything to help the kids. I've seen them at the gates begging for stuff and it just breaks my heart. It's scary seeing kids live like that."

"I don't do it for the glory; I do it because it helps," added Shelton who spent several lunch hours repairing these desks.

To date, 25 of the desks have been assembled and are ready to be delivered to schools in need; however, the chief wants to hit 100 before he leaves next week. 

Pizzi said the new chief enlisted manager for CE agreed to continue the project after he is gone, and several of the crew members from the new rotation have already begun helping out.

"We're building templates for the desks with all the measurements and patterns to make it easy for the next crew to continue the project," said Master Sgt. John Wanner, 506th ECES, deployed from McChord AFB, Wash. "We sent one of the desks downtown to be evaluated, and they [the education director and his staff] were overwhelmed and said they thought it was a brand new desk. That was pretty amazing to hear." 

Pizzi said he has volunteered on many humanitarian efforts before and enjoys making things better for someone else who doesn't have what we have.

"The stuff we have, we take for granted," he said. "If every kid in America could see how these children live, they would appreciate what they have in America."

He also hopes to leave a positive impression on the locals here.

"Those desks are going to live a lot longer in their minds," the chief said. "I hope the fact that the Americans came in and took those beat up, broken down desks and rebuilt them and put them back in the schools will change the mindset of the children and the parents of how they remember the Americans. It's leaving a legacy."    

Filed under: Iraq,

February 16, 2010 at 10:12am

Putting on the miles

The next time you go for a jog in the cool, wet weather of the Puget Sound and complain about the conditions, think first of these two reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing. 

They run nearly every day in the dry, dusty conditions of the desert.

Both are stationed at Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq, and have established a running club on base. The pair is approaching the 700 mile mark and hope to reach it before they return home to JBLM-McChord Field next month.

Read their story here.

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