Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

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April 2, 2012 at 1:18pm

More than 2,450 Airmen selected for O-4, O-5, O-6

From Air Force Times: The Air Force has selected more than 2,450 officers for promotion to colonel, lieutenant colonel and major.

They were selected during the 2011C Colonel Medical Service Corps and Lieutenant Colonel Nurse Corps and the 2011D Major Line of the Air Force central selection boards, according to a March 29 news release from the Air Force Personnel Center.

In total, 15 out of 92 lieutenant colonels were selected for promotion. Of those selected, 13 selected out of 25 eligible lieutenant colonels in the zone, a promotion rate of 52 percent; one selected out of 16 eligible lieutenant colonels above the zone, a 6.25 percent promotion rate; and one selected out of 51 eligible lieutenant colonels below the zone, a 1.9 percent promotion rate.

Meanwhile, 89 of 427 majors considered for promotion were selected to advance to lieutenant colonel. That breaks down as follows: 78 selected out of a total of 127 eligible majors, a promotion rate of 61.4 percent; three selected out of 83 eligible majors above the zone, a 3.6 promotion rate; and eight selected out of 217 eligible majors below the zone, a 3.7 percent promotion rate.

Filed under: U.S. Air Force,

April 2, 2012 at 1:09pm

Wounded warriors continue service through employment program

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- The Air Force's goal is to retain injured Airmen on active duty. But when this is no longer an option, wounded warriors may explore new opportunities to serve through the Air Force Wounded Warrior Civil Service Employment Program.

The program helps all combat or hostile-related ill, injured and medically separated Airmen transition into Air Force federal civilian employment. It's also one way the Air Force supports wounded warriors throughout the entire reintegration process and journey to a new 'normal.'

"Helping wounded warriors get back on their feet and into the workforce again means a lot to them," said Amelia Ruiz, a human resources specialist at the Air Force Personnel Center here. "Since 2009, more than 150 warriors have requested placement into federal service."

The process of helping a wounded warrior enter federal service is a team effort that involves collaboration between AFPC civilian personnel officials, wounded warrior non-medical care managers, local Airman and family readiness centers and local civilian personnel offices. 

Once AFPC receives notification of a wounded warrior's desire to enter federal service, program managers contact local CPOs to try to match them with current or pending vacancies. Airman and family readiness center officials will help the wounded warrior with his or her resume and provide general guidance on how to transition from the military to a civilian career.

Although officials will try their best to place wounded warriors in a federal career, it's important to note minimum qualifications for a position must still be met, Ruiz said. Additionally, recent changes to the Air Force civilian workforce structure has reduced the number of available vacancies, just as it has for anyone else seeking Air Force employment.

"If a wounded Airmen couldn't be retained on active duty and still wanted to work for the Air Force, we'd do everything we could to make that happen because we owe them for their service," said Nicole Hart, an employment development specialist with the Air Force Wounded Warrior Program. "Otherwise, we still help the wounded warrior find employment in the non-profit or private sector."

To read the rest of the story, click here.    

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

September 9, 2011 at 9:27am

Performance lands Airman on "The Voice"

From Air Force Times:  What started as a half-hour jam session for airmen working the night shift in Afghanistan has landed a staff sergeant an audition for the reality show "The Voice."

Staff Sgt. Angie Johnson has YouTube to thank for all the attention.

Johnson is part of Air Forces Central Command's band Sidewinder. The band performed a quick acoustic set - without microphones or sound equipment - for 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron airmen Aug. 8.

The next day, fans posted a video of Johnson belting out Adele's hit "Rolling in the Deep." By Aug. 18, the video had logged 900,000 views.

It quickly garnered attention from cable and network news. Talk show host Carson Daly called on Twitter for Johnson to audition for NBC's "The Voice," a singing competition Daly hosts and featuring celebrity judges.

Watch the video 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 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 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.

July 27, 2011 at 3:24pm

AF leaders questioned on number of general officers

(Air Force Times)-- A key senator wants to know why the Air Force has proportionally far more general officers than the other services.

Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee's military personnel panel, said he will hold a hearing later this year to find out why the Air Force appears to have a top-heavy force structure.

Webb pointed to Defense Department data showing that the Air Force has one general officer for every 1,058 airmen in the force.

He compared that to the Navy, which has one admiral for every 1,279 sailors; the Army, with one general for every 1,808 soldiers; and the Marine Corps, with one general for every 2,350 Marines.

Webb also noted that the Air Force has more four-star generals than the Army, despite being a significantly smaller service.

That may be in part because the Air Force has uniformed generals performing some jobs for which the other services hire civilians, said Lt. Gen. Richard Harding, the Air Force Judge Advocate General, when Webb asked him about the disparity at a recent hearing.

To read the complete story, click here.

Filed under: U.S. Air Force,

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