Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

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July 22, 2011 at 12:54pm

Rodeo is serious business for 62nd APS team

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Mobility Airmen provide rapid, flexible and responsive global air mobility every day of the year. During Rodeo, however, their ability to provide these capabilities are pushed even further. Teams train for months, refining their skills in the pursuit of perfection.

According to the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron Rodeo Team, this competition is taken very seriously.

"Participating in Rodeo is a big undertaking for our Airmen," said Master Sgt. Robert Code, 62nd APS Rodeo Team chief. "Our leadership could not be more focused on this competition, and our team could not be more dedicated."

The team consists of a team chief and seven members. The members were selected at the end of April after a series of challenging tryouts which included both physical ability and job knowledge.

"We had them complete a three-mile run, push-ups and sit-ups," said Sergeant Code. "We also tested their job knowledge and put them through a board which required them to explain why they wanted to be a part of the Rodeo team."

After the five primary and two alternate team members were selected, training began right away.

"We definitely wasted no time," said Sergeant Code. "I wanted them to be a great team overall, both physically and mentally."

The team started off by running an average of 20 miles per week, with strength building workouts in between. Since the beginning of May, they have added a spin class twice a week and swimming to their routine.

"We train as hard as we want to win," said Staff Sgt. Jason Caro, 62nd APS Rodeo team captain. "It takes a toll on your body eventually. Sometimes you just want to quit, but it's all worth it once you look back and see how far you've come."

Along with a physically demanding training routine, the team focused on job knowledge as well.

"Training for the 2009 Rodeo was different," said Sergeant Caro, who was also on the 2009 Rodeo team. "I feel like what we lack in experience this year, we make up for in physical ability and strength. We're definitely training to know our job as much as possible."

Daily training included driving forklifts and K-loaders, cargo build-up, in-transit visibility and joint inspections. During Rodeo, the team will compete in events such as engine running on and offload, challenge course, 10k forklift driving and pallet buildup competitions.

"During our training, my team has definitely become more proficient," said Sergeant Code. "You can't prepare for every single scenario. Who knows what might pop up, but we've done everything possible to be successful in these events."

In 2005, the 62nd APS won Best Aerial Port Squadron. In 2009, they came back with a few individual awards. According to this year's team, they are aiming to win.

"We've come very far and worked very hard to prepare ourselves," said Sergeant Caro. "We're ready to win."

July 22, 2011 at 10:02am

Reservists undergo SERE training

Staff Sgt. Manuel Lamson (left) demonstrates how to start a fire using a flint knife during a training exercise with aircrew from the 446th Airlift Wing.(Photo by Staff Sgt. Grant Saylor)

You're flying mission-critical supplies to troops in the field behind enemy lines. Suddenly and without warning, your aircraft is rocked by a surface-to-air missile.

The No. 2 engine groans as oil pressure plummets and flames lick the cowling.

The pilot radios a distress call and tells you and your fellow Airmen to ready for a possible emergency landing. Thoughts and fears race through your mind as you prepare to tackle the unknown.

"Where are we? How do we avoid capture by enemy combatants on the ground? How will we survive with no food in freezing temperatures if we're stuck here for days, weeks, months?"

Through the chaos comes a moment of clarity as you recall the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape training you learned at home station. Now your thoughts have purpose and hope.

"No matter what happens, my team and I can get through this," you think.

While it is unlikely you'll ever find yourself in this situation, the SERE instructors with the 446th Operations Support Flight make it their mission to prepare fellow Reservists for such a scenario.

"When you train someone who could potentially end up in harm's way, you're there to give them the confidence and ability to survive and return," said Tech Sgt. Ken MacArthur, 446th OSF SERE superintendent.

"Without that training, there would certainly be more apprehension going into situations where you don't know exactly what to do."

Every three years, 446th Airlift Wing aircrew members are required to satisfy three components of SERE: water survival training, emergency parachute training and combat survival training.

MacArthur and his colleague, Staff Sgt. Manuel Lamson, ensure these Reservists retain the skills that could potentially save their lives.

"This isn't complicated stuff," said Lamson, who spent four years on active duty teaching SERE survival skills at Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane before joining the 446th AW last year. "But can you remember how to do it when you're injured or out of your comfort zone? That's what we want to get across."

Lamson, an Air Force ROTC student at Washington State University in Pullman, said the SERE training is a two-way street. Not only do Reserve aircrew members gain a better understanding of the latest survival gear and how to use it, but the instructors in turn gain knowledge from the aircrews.

"It helps us learn too, because we get to find out what gear they're using when they deploy to the area of responsibility," Lamson said. "This allows us to better tailor the training to suit their needs."

MacArthur lives and breathes SERE. He was an active-duty instructor at Fairchild AFB for 14 years before a break in service took him to the Middle East, where he worked as a contractor teaching SERE to authorized foreign and U.S. military members and civilians.

In 2006 he rejoined the Reserves and took the lead in developing a Reserve SERE training program for the 446th AW.

July 19, 2011 at 5:21pm

McChord to host aeromedical evac conference

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AFNS) -- Hundreds of aeromedical evacuation professionals will gather here July 20 to 21 for the first, U.S.-led international symposium on in-flight medical care.

The International Aeromedical Evacuation/En Route Care Conference features speakers from a variety of countries sharing their stories, advice and lessons learned with hundreds of fellow doctors, nurses, paramedics and medical specialists. Officials expect representatives from 28 nations to attend the event.

"Different countries call it different things, so we wanted an all-encompassing get-together for anyone who provides any level of medical care in an aerial transportation role," explained Col. Beverly Johnson, the Air Mobility Command chief of aeromedical evacuation at the command surgeon general's office. "What's most important is that we all have the opportunity to share with each other information about our respective capabilities. If we're all aware of we can each do, it's easier to come together and work quickly, effectively and seamlessly in a contingency situation.

"Really, it's all about how we can work together to save lives," she added.

The colonel played an instrumental role in creating the plan for evacuating Sailors and Marines after the terrorist attack on the USS Cole in October 2000. A conference like this, she said, would have been especially beneficial back then.

"When nations partner together before an emergency, it becomes a great deal easier to operate during an emergency," Johnson said. "It becomes easier to understand each other, easier to execute the mission and builds confidence among allies. And that's what this conference is all about."

Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., the AMC commander, will be the keynote speaker for the event. In addition, experts from around the Air Force as well as Canada, Germany, Great Britain, Japan, Jordan and New Zealand will address the group on a variety of subjects. Retired Airmen and civilians will also speak to the group.

"I'd like to see people find common ground and understanding when it comes to the aeromedical evacuation mission," Johnson said. "We all have similar challenges and resource constraints, so it's important to find ways to collaborate and help each other. This is especially true when it comes to teaching nations how to build their own AE capability, like in Iraq and Afghanistan."

The AE mission, however, isn't just restricted to wartime use, the colonel pointed out.

"That's one of the other things we want to show some of our international partners," she said. "We had a lot of success working with other countries after the volcano eruption in Iceland and in the wake of the earthquakes in Japan. There are a lot of lessons we all can learn from each other."

Several members of the South Korean air force are attending the conference as observers to learn how other countries perform their aeromedical evacuation missions.

"In Korea, we have limited experience with AE," said Maj. Kyungpil Choi, a South Korean air force flight surgeon. "I'm hoping to learn how other countries train and construct their teams and how they manage their transportation systems. We're pretty excited about it all."

The conference coincides with the lead-up to the 2011 Air Mobility Rodeo, 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.

July 19, 2011 at 3:49pm

McChord teams get fired up for Rodeo

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- The tents are built, the signs are hung, and with Rainier Ranch construction almost complete, the combined 62nd Airlift Wing and 627th Air Base Group RODEO team is ready for action.

"One of the things we might forget about during RODEO is that we are not only a host, but a competitor as well," said Col. R. Wyn Elder, 62nd AW commander, at a team introduction on July 8. "And our team is ready to win!"

The Air Force held its first RODEO in 1956 to showcase the reliability and capability of cargo planes. The bi-annual competition has grown to encompass all aspects of Air Mobility Command, including aerial port, aeromedical evacuation, maintenance, security forces, and for the first time, financial management.

"We've been practicing Self-Aid and Buddy Care, running through financial scenarios and even some M-16 and M-9 training," said Tech. Sgt. Kerry Robinson, financial management team chief. "Our team is more than ready!"

Each team prepares for different RODEO competitions. The financial management team will compete in performance-based scenarios, small arms and a fitness course. The aerial port team will compete in engine running on and offload, challenge course, 10k forklift driving and pallet buildup competitions. The aircrew team will compete in the airdrop, air refueling and joint airdrop inspection events.

"To prepare for RODEO, we did some off-station training last weekend, which included various low-level flying drills and air drops," said Maj. Scott Huffstetler, aircrew team chief. "My team is prepared and we're looking forward to the competition."

The maintenance team will be competing in daily pre- and post-flight observations and refueling events. The security forces team will be competing in combat tactics, combat weapons and combat endurance events.

"This team represents you and what this installation does every single day," said Colonel Elder. "Thank you for all the hard work you've done while preparing for this event."

The 2009 wing RODEO team brought home five awards. They included the best post-flight team, best aerial port challenge course team, best C-17 Globemaster III team, best airdrop team and, the competition's top award, best air mobility wing. This year, the teams hope to build on those accomplishments and take the lessons they've learned back to hone their skills.

"We are so proud of you," said Colonel Elder to the team at the end of the introductions. "We look forward to bringing home those trophies."

December 14, 2010 at 10:32am

Nurse commissioning program seeks enlisted applicants

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Air Force officials are seeking active-duty enlisted Airmen to apply for the fall 2011 Nurse Enlisted Commissioning Program.

The program offers enlisted members an opportunity to earn a bachelor's degree in a high-need academic major. 

Air Force Personnel Center officials will conduct the annual NECP board May 9 to 13 and select up to 50 enlisted members.

NECP students will complete their degree at a college or university with an Air Force ROTC detachment or a college or university with a cross-town agreement. 

Students will commission after passing the National Council Licensure Examination and then attend commissioned officer training and the nurse transition program. Students will attend school year-round for up to 24 consecutive calendar months, including summer sessions.

A cross-town agreement is an agreement between a host school and an ROTC detachment and another school in the local area that contains a clause allowing students to attend a school while tuition and fees are paid by the ROTC detachment.

Eligibility requirements:

  • Be active duty, E-4 and above 
  • Be a citizen of the United States
  • Be commissioned by age 42 
  • Be worldwide qualified 
  • Meet all of the requirements for commissioning 
  • Meet all prerequisites to complete an academic review 

Applicants should have completed 59 semester hours of graded college coursework from a regionally accredited college or university and completed general psychology, nutrition, statistics, anatomy and physiology I and II with labs, microbiology with lab and chemistry I and II with labs.

Interested Airmen must notify AFPC officials of intent to apply no later than Feb. 28. Transcripts for an academic evaluation should be sent no later than March 28, with a final application submitted by April 25.

For more details on application procedures, visit a local base education office.     

December 10, 2010 at 10:05am

446th AES partners with Madigan for exercise

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- EXERCISE! EXERCISE! EXERCISE!

Madigan Healthcare System and 446th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron recently teamed up to work together in a patient reception team exercise held at McChord Field and at Madigan Army Medical Center, Dec. 7.

As part of the exercise, Reservists from the 446th AES and medical Soldiers from Madigan simulated receiving mass patients from overseas that included providing detailed patient care and transportation from McChord Field to Madigan. The focus of the exercise was to establish a patient reception area as part of the Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense Contingency Hospital System for patient evacuation.

The role of the 446th AES was to provide patient care and conduct the patient hand-off from the aircraft to the Madigan medical personnel.

"It's a great opportunity for joint training," said Col. Jan Moore-Harbert, 446th AES commander. "We do these exercises to get a better understanding of the agencies involved and what everybody's roles are, so everyone can communicate properly and focus on giving patients quality care when faced with these types of scenarios."

The squadron has worked with the Army before, but this exercise put them in a different situation with a shorter time element and fewer assets, resulting in having to do more with less.

"We've conducted joint exercises with the Army on many occasions," said Maj. Peter Jorgensen, 446th AES operations officer. "But this one was shorter in duration and we had limited resources. However, it's good to get reacquainted with our Army counterparts and educate each other on our respective missions."

Major Jorgensen played a major function in the exercise.

"My fundamental responsibility as the aeromedical operations officer was to control the aeromedical evacuation activities such as supervising the execution of the AE process and coordinating AE activities to ensure the Air Force part of the mission was safely and effectively accomplished."

His efforts were greatly recognized by one of the main coordinators of the exercise, Lt. Col. Eric Tobiason, Madigan Healthcare System operations officer.

"Major Jorgensen and his team got involved right from the get go," he said. "The Air Force really embraced this (exercise) from the beginning. Major Jorgensen pretty much formed the mission from the aircraft portion to the hangar. We were tremendous in partnering with the execution and realism of the exercise."

Madigan and the 446th AES taught one another how each service operates in an emergency situation such as a mass casualty exercise. 

"We trained new Army personnel on how to load the aircraft, specifics on carrying litters, and the ins and outs of taking care of different patients and loading them on the ambuses," said Master Sgt. Pamela Higgins, 446th ASTS medical technician.

This training gives the services a better understanding of their respective missions. 

"It's really important to be able to do these exercise and work all the specific elements of training," said Colonel Moore-Harbert. "The Air Force has a better idea of what the Army does in a joint environment and it helps break the culture and language barriers between the branches, so we can work together seamlessly."

Overall, Major Jorgensen marks the exercise a success.

"I'm very pleased with the outcome and I feel all of the individuals involved in the exercise had a good experience and got in some great training experience," he said. "Most of all, it gave us the opportunity to learn from one another and develop processes for future events between the Army and the Air Force."

Those future events will happen as early as August 2011. This exercise is a precursor to a much larger exercise that will be taking place sometime in late summer 2011, said Major Jorgensen. It will involve all three medical squadrons from the 446th Airlift Wing and the medical units from the JBLM Lewis Main.

The Reservists from the 446th AES are ready for that challenge.

"This was a great training opportunity for all involved and I know the 446th AES looks forward to the next opportunity to work with our Army counterparts."    

August 17, 2010 at 7:32pm

Sonic booms rattle Sound

Wondering what the window-rattling booms were Tuesday afternoon? The two loud sonic booms heard around the Seattle area shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday were caused by two F-15 jets, Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, told the Seattle Times.

The fighters were scrambled from the 142nd Oregon Air National Guard Wing in Portland.

For more on the story, click here.

Filed under: Training, U.S. Air Force,

June 3, 2010 at 3:33pm

McChord Field I- 5 exit closed this weekend

(446th AW PA) — Reservists traveling northbound on Interstate 5 will not be able to take Exit 125 June 5-6 to access McChord Field for the unit training assembly weekend.

Construction planned by the Washington State Department of Transportation calls for the closure of Exit 125 at Bridgeport Way for northbound travelers.

Alternate gates for reservists include the Housing Gate in the morning only both days, and the North Gate for both morning and afternoon commutes.  Security Forces Reservists will be manning both gates. 

Reservists may also check the status of the construction closure at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic    

March 16, 2010 at 5:14pm

McChord maintainers depart for competition

This week six 62nd Airlift Wing airmen and one 446th AW reservist will compete at the third annual Aviation Maintenance Technology Society's Aircraft Maintenance Professionals Skills Competition March 16-18 in Las Vegas, Nev.

Read more about the competition and the airmen headed there.

March 11, 2010 at 12:15pm

ASE certification available at McChord Field

Automotive Service Excellence Exams will be given at JBLM-McChord Field, May 6-11. The registration fee is $36 per individual and covers the entire testing cycle; each exam costs $28.

For more information, click here.   

Filed under: Education, Training,

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