Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: August, 2010 (27) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 27

August 2, 2010 at 6:55am

4th Strykers help refurbish school

Staff Sgt. Benjamin Forshey, a platoon sergeant with 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, holds a pencil as a mass of hands spring toward him during a school opening in Malahma July 24. Local children no longer have to walk nearly 10 ki

TAJI, Iraq - Nearly three years ago, one of the largest operations of "The Surge" in Iraq took place as coalition forces launched Operation Phantom Thunder against insurgents operating throughout the country. 

However, on June 17, 2007, one day after the operation began, insurgents struck back against coalition forces, the government of Iraq and the people of Taji, sending a message of violence and destroying more than a year of hard work spent improving the educational facilities in the area.

Just days before its grand opening, insurgents set off explosives inside the walls of a newly built school in Malahma, leveling much of the building, which had been under construction since 2006.

The destroyed school remained abandoned over the next few years due to high levels of insurgent activity around the area and the services of the coalition forces being needed elsewhere.
Recently, a decrease in violence, brought on by a partnership between U.S. forces and a strengthened Iraqi Security Force, has allowed the school to be refurbished.

The project was passed on to 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment leaders by their predecessors and work began almost immediately to refurbish the school and give local children a safer way to obtain an education.

Prior to the project's completion, children had to walk nearly 10 kilometers to get to the nearest school, taking chances traveling along a busy highway.

Even though the Malahma School was closer, the environment was not conducive to learning, said 1st Lt. Eric Richards, an assistant fire-support officer with 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf. Regt.

Richards recalled walking through the school for the first time before reconstruction began and was how he was struck by its state of disrepair.

"It looked horrible," said Richards, a Lacey, Wash., native. "The whole middle portion was gone. [The contractors] actually built about 50 percent of the structure as it stands right now," he said.

In an effort to boost the local economy, local contractors were hired to refurbish the school, a project totaling $500,000.

Reconstruction began in mid-April and concluded a few weeks ago, with the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony conducted July 24.

Lt. Col. Mike Lawrence, commander of 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf. Regt., assisted in cutting the ceremonial ribbon for the new school and spoke during the ceremony.

"This structure shares a long history from origination of local concerns for the area, insurgent activity resulting in its destruction, and the perseverance of the Iraqi people to see the project to completion," said Lawrence.

For Soldiers with 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf. Regt., 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, who are slated to be the last combat brigade in Iraq before the Aug. 31 responsible drawdown of forces, the school's opening is an indication that major improvements have been made over the past few years and serves as a final stepping stone for U.S. forces on their way back to the States.

"It's a good capstone for the deployment," said Richards. "We're leaving soon, and this has been the best project that we've had thus far."

August 2, 2010 at 6:57am

4th Stryker's MI officer leads the way

United States and Iraqi Army and Air Force members pack into the cabin of a King Air 350 aircraft, an intelligence, security and reconnaissance asset used by IAF to monitor its operational environment, July 20 to receive a brief on the aircrafts capabilit

BAGHDAD - Nearly four years ago, a horseback-riding instructor walked into a Temecula, Calif., recruiter's office looking to prove a point: she wasn't too girly for the Army.

Now at the end of her first deployment, 1st Lt. Kimberly Brown's work isn't about proving anything to anyone; it's about improving the capabilities of the Iraqi military.

Brown, a Long Beach, Calif., native, was the mastermind behind a gathering of Iraqi Army and Iraqi Air Force intelligence officers at the New Muthana Air Base. 

The 6th IA Division officers had never met up with their IqAF counterparts even though the Iraqi air base is a mere 15-minute drive from their compound.

"Seeing the Iraqi Army and Air Force working together at that low of a level-it's not something you see every day," said Brown, the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division collection manager. "As far as we know, it hasn't happened yet on the operational level within the 6th IA and from what the 87th (Iraqi Air Force) Squadron guys said, this is the first time."

Brown stood by and smiled as she watched IqAF teach their sister service about the King Air 350, one of the unit's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance assets.

The 6th IA Div. currently relies on U.S. forces ISR assets that soon will dwindle in number with the drawdown of forces. 

This drawdown makes it essential for the two groups to frequently interact because the Air Force-owned ISR assets are critical to Iraqi Soldiers on the ground conducting missions.

Brown explained she thinks their service-specific missions had kept them apart in the past. 

"I think they're both so focused on their individual missions and [they're] progressing so quickly," said Brown. "However, they're progressing in their [own] lane."

Both U.S. and Iraqi service members packed into the cabin of the aircraft and learned about the surveillance capabilities and how it is used to monitor any situation on the ground from the skies.

During the visit, groups took turns inside the aircraft and IqAF officers on the ground explained exterior features to interested IA officers, which Brown said she was very happy to see.

"It shows that they respect each other," she said. "They want to help each other and they want to work together for the good of this country and the good of the people around them."

The catalyst for the event occurred during the course of several routine briefings on intelligence collecting with their Iraqi counterparts, where Brown and her team stumbled upon some useful information.

"We found out that the Iraqis had their own ISR assets and we started digging around into it," she said.

She began working with Capt. Sean Reynolds, an Iraqi Training and Advisory Mission- Air Force member, to request Iraqi ISR and eventually became a part of an Iraqi ISR working group. 

The group, made up of U.S. intelligence and operations officers from brigade level and higher, regularly discuss how to assist the Iraqis in acquiring and using ISR assets. 

"We have strengthened our partnership through this working group," said Brown.

Through the ITAM-AF, she asked if it would be possible for them to give the Iraqis training to supplement the briefings she and her Soldiers had been giving for the past five months.

The idea of a static display of an ISR aircraft came about and was proposed to the ITAM and IqAF, who agreed to display the King Air 350.

Two weeks after Brown's request, the Iraqi Soldiers took their first steps onto the Iraqi air base.

Following the day's event, Brown returned to her desk in the brigade tactical operations center and went back to her duties with the knowledge that her initiative led to a new line of communication between the two services. 

"It was very rewarding," said Brown. "Even if I don't make a difference to the masses, I know that the effort that we have put forth here will make a difference in the lives of individuals and those individuals are what can affect the masses."

Brown, a reserve Soldier on a three-year Active Duty Operational Support assignment with 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., said she hopes to maintain her active duty status because she loves what she does and the people she works with. 

However, the horseback-riding instructor underneath the Army uniform hopes to someday work in an equestrian unit in the military, joining together her love of animals with being a Soldier.

August 2, 2010 at 7:03am

Awards ceremony to honor selfless service of civilians

Selfless service will be recognized and celebrated when three more names are added to the Civilian Hall of Fame on display at the I Corps Headquarters building Thursday.

Major General John D. Johnson, acting I Corps commanding general, will host the awards event at the American Lake Community Center's Lakeside Lounge. Joint Base Lewis-McChord Public Affairs spokesperson Brendalyn Carpenter said honoring the civilians who have made a difference is key to a cohesive military community.

"The nominees were selected by command for contributions and service throughout the community," Carpenter said.

The Civilian Hall of Fame was created to recognize and show gratitude to those who have gone above and beyond to support and aid JBLM service members, she said.

"They represent the most giving and supportive people," Carpenter said. "These are community members who show how much they care and put Soldiers first."

Vicky Mohler is being recognized for her tireless efforts founding, managing and pro- moting Support America's Armed Forces, an organization that supports the health, welfare and morale of deployed troops.

Mohler organized Operation Santa in 2004 to support her son's Marine Corps unit then deployed to Iraq. Since then, she has channeled a self-proclaimed passion for helping others into countless hours volunteering on behalf of Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen downrange.

The 42nd Military Police Brigade nominated Mohler.

Mike Fried volunteers on a full-time basis with the 201st Battlefield Surveillance Battalion and supported JBLM Soldiers for more than 13 years.

He mentors S1 personnel on the functions of the S1 shop. Fried supports all unit functions and gives sizable contributions so that unit children receive holiday gifts at unit parties.

Fried served with distinction in the Army for more than 40 years and retired as a chief warrant officer 5 in October 1996.

Denise Dhane started "Operation Make a Soldier Smile" with her husband, Col. (Ret.) John Dhane, in 2005.

She organized and sent thousands of care packages to Soldiers deployed in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Dhane also led a campaign to provide returning single Soldiers with welcome home packages. The 6th MP Group (CID) nominated Dhane.

Since its beginning, 12 members of the civilian community have been added to the Civilian Hall of Fame honor roll.

Nominees are selected by senior Corps and garrison staff officers and may include business leaders, heads of civic organizations, local government leaders or any individuals who have shown great support for Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

August 3, 2010 at 3:21pm

Memorial tomorrow for 17th FIRES soldiers

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Family, friends, Service members and

the Joint Base community will remember Soldiers who died while in

support of Operation Enduring Freedom with a ceremony to be conducted

Wednesday, August 4, at 3 p.m. in the JBLM North Chapel.

Staff Sgt. Conrad A. Mora, 24, of San Diego, Calif., Sgt. Daniel Lim,

23, of Cypress, Calif., Specialist Joseph A. Bauer, 27, of Cincinnati,

Ohio, and Specialist Andrew L. Hand, 25, of Enterprise, Ala. died July

24, at Qalat, Afghanistan, of injuries sustained when insurgents

attacked their military vehicle with an improvised explosive device.

They were assigned to the 5th Battalion, 3rd Field Artillery Regiment,

17th Fires Brigade, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The battalion deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring

Freedom in October, 2009.

August 4, 2010 at 8:49am

2-1 Cav. closes up shop in Iraq

Lt. Col. Rick Heyward, the commander of 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, signs the paperwork transferring authority of Joint Security Station Tarmiyah and Mushada to Iraqi security forces, July 29

BAGHDAD - When 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, arrived at Joint Security Station Tarmiyah in January 2010, there were still empty shell casings scattered on the rooftops and in the guard towers; a misleading sign as to what they would encounter over the next year.

As the third and final 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, unit to serve in Tarmiyah during Operation Iraqi Freedom, the squadron had the honor and privilege of transferring authority of JSS Tarmiyah to the Iraqi security forces, along with a sense of stability that hasn't been seen in the area in many years.

JSS Tarmiyah was established at the beginning of the coalition offensive known as "The Surge" when U.S. forces strategically placed security stations in areas that were under the control of insurgents. This was done to help connect U.S. forces with the local people and root out the insurgency.

Tarmiyah was considered one of the hubs of the insurgency and the last stopping point on the northern smuggling route where insurgents brought weapons and foreign fighters into the capital city.

During the brigade's first deployment in 2007 to 2008, Soldiers with 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, inherited JSS Tarmiyah from 2nd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment. However, it was not where 2-8 Cav. had originally set up.

Soldiers relocated the outpost after insurgents had driven multiple vehicle-born improvised explosive devices into the original structure and then tried to overrun it Feb. 19, 2007. 

Outnumbering the U.S. Soldiers, they killed two and wounded another 28 of the 36 surviving Soldiers on that day.

Just seven months after the attack, 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Regt., with the help of 2nd Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, swept through the town during Operation Raider Riviera. 

Clearing the area of insurgents was to be the beginning of the "clear, hold, build" strategy that became instrumental to the success of the surge and put Iraq on the path toward long-term security.

It was a dangerous time in 2007. When Soldiers went out on missions, they kept a vigilant watch for the "Tarmiyah sniper."

Staff Sgt. Thomas Martin was a squad leader with Company C, 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Regt., and said he remembers one time when his platoon had a run-in with the sniper.

"We were actually pulling [security] on the JSS. I was in the TOC running the radios and then we received fire from the mosque, which was [pretty much] directly across from us," said Martin, who now serves as a liaison for his battalion in the brigade tactical operations center at Camp Liberty.

The company commander at the time called for helicopter gunship support while another squad went out to investigate, he said. During the engagement, the squad continued to receive enemy fire, which resulted in the death of a U.S. Soldier.

Throughout their time at Tarmiyah, the unit continued to suffer casualties from the phantom sniper, leaving the men wary whenever they went out on missions.

"Every platoon was very aware of his presence and if you dismounted, you took precautions," said Martin.

Years later, 2nd Sqdn., 1st Cav. Regt. Soldiers walked past the mosque near the JSS that was known as the sniper's hideout, knowing how dangerous it used to be, yet not necessarily fearing that they would become his next victim.

The hard work and sacrifices made by 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., in 2007-2008 allowed for the squadron to face a less hostile environment in 2009-2010.

"[We] made a very good name for ourselves there," said Martin. "By the time we left, we were able to shop at some of the local shops and feel safe about it."

"All in all, the general populace started to embrace us and see that we weren't there to hurt them," he added.

Martin remembered the time a local mother fed him and his squad after they had commandeered her home for a mission.

"My squad got picked to pull an SKT - Small Kill Team - one night on this doctor's office," recalled Martin. "So we moved in under the cover of darkness, on foot, and when we got there, we set up upstairs.

"Our interpreter told the family to stay downstairs and we were staying the night. After five hours of being there, the male was nowhere around, so the female actually made food for us and brought it up."

Martin said he shared a similar sense of human decency as that Iraqi woman.

"If it had been my house and I'd have been in the same situation, I think I probably would have done the same thing," he said.

The lasting effects of the security situation in Tarmiyah he and the other members of his unit have recently enjoyed didn't come without a cost.

"I don't want to talk about it," is a common response by many of the Soldiers who lived on the JSS during the brigade's previous deployment and worked to make the city safer. Some who do choose to talk about it do so with a detached, stoic approach, carefully choosing their words as if attempting to avoid stirring up raw memories they carried with them after leaving the palm groves and city streets of Baghdad.

The Soldiers are quick to recall specific checkpoint names and numbers, however, but say they don't remember a lot of what happened during the previous tour in Iraq. Even while telling stories they do remember, a distant look settles on their faces as they recall certain events. 

But others involved in the clearing of Tarmiyah speak more openly about it.
Master Sgt. Jonny Resseguie, then a platoon sergeant with 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf. Regt., compared the push into Tarmiyah to his battalion's operations in Rashid and Dora, where they spent the first five months of the deployment.

"It's not like we [had] bloodlust or anything ... We're here to fix the problem, get things on the way to where it is, and then we're going to go on to the next worst problem ... which is what that tour was all about," said the five-year 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., veteran.

Company C, 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf. Regt. was attached to 4th Bn., 9th Inf. Regt., to assist in clearing operations throughout Tarmiyah. Meanwhile, the rest of 2nd Bn., 23rd Inf. Regt., spearheaded operations in Muqdadiyah in the Diyala province.

By the end of the tour, 4th SBCT, 2nd Inf. Div., lost 54 Soldiers. For some Soldiers still with the brigade, returning to these hard-fought areas for another deployment has been an emotional experience, but one that has also offered healing.

"There's always that need to feel some sort of closure when you go through something like we did for 15 months the last time we were here," said Resseguie, as he recalled the tough combat he and his men encountered in the Rashid area, Dora market area, and in Muqdadiyah. "It's nice to go back and see it doing better and see [this] is the ground that they fought for, this is the ground that they died on, and this is where it's at now."

While he never had the opportunity to return to Dora, Rashid or Muqdadiyah, he was able to close the book on Tarmiyah by attending the transfer of authority ceremony held on the very JSS he and his men had helped protect.

"That was my chance to get a little closure," said Resseguie. "It helps out a little bit."

Being able to drive along the roads to Tarmiyah without anything blowing up, knowing all those horrendous acts were in the past and now seeing locals cultivating the land shows the difference in the times, said Resseguie. 

"It says right there the momentum that 4-9 started back then and was carried on by the follow-on units which culminated with 2-1 Cav. [is] amazing work," he said.

For others, such as Martin, the only closure necessary is to make it through this deployment with the hope that he'll never have to return.

"I've been there, done it; that's it. The past - I survived. My guys survived," he said. "It's just a dot on a map now."    

August 4, 2010 at 3:38pm

New Deputy to be welcomed tomorrow

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Joint Base Lewis-McChord will welcome

Brig. Gen. Lloyd Miles, the new I Corps Deputy Commanding General,

during an America's Corps Honor Ceremony Thursday, August 5, at 4 p.m.

in front of the I Corps Headquarters.

Brig. Gen. Miles was commissioned as an Infantry Officer in May 1980 at

the United States Military Academy. He has been stationed at Fort

Carson, Colo.; Germany; Fort Campbell, Ky.; Fort Leavenworth, Ks.;

Carlisle Barracks, Pa.; Schofield Barracks, Hawaii; U.S. Southern

Command in Miami; and the Pentagon. He has served overseas with

Multinational Force Observers, Sinai, Egypt; Task Force Falcon, Kosovo;

and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom when he commanded 2nd

Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, Schofield Barracks, Hawaii.

Before coming to Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Brig. Gen. Miles served as

the Director of the Iraq Training and Advisory Team-Army for United

States Forces-Iraq, Operation Iraqi Freedom.

August 5, 2010 at 4:22pm

Undersecretary impressed with JBLM

Dwayne Calhoun, a Stryker Reset Facility instructor, talks with Joseph Westphal during a tour of JBLM, Monday. Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Piper

An Army leader left Joint Base Lewis-McChord this week impressed with what he saw.

The second highest-ranking civilian at Department of the Army noted Monday evening the breadth and tempo of activities on the joint installation.

Joseph Westphal, the under secretary of the Army, spent Monday and Tuesday reviewing JBLM and I Corps programs, receiving briefings, promoting an officer and sharing lunch with newly redeployed Stryker Soldiers. His impression at the end of the first day, he said, was of "the tremendous variety of things going on here."

Westphal used an exclusive interview with the Northwest Guardian to renew the Army's commitment to some crucial priorities and to thank service members who prosecute the nation's wars and the families who wait for them. He specifically addressed the 18,000 JBLM-based Soldiers and Airmen who deployed during the past 12 months.

"Their country has great appreciation for what they do, and that is a very important marker because we need the support of the people of this country for our Army to be as successful as it is," Westphal said.

"Folks are really appreciative of what they've done ... They ought to be very proud when they come back, of the support they have of the American people, from Congress, and certainly ... from their commander in chief."

One tangible way the nation shows its appreciation, he said, is in its total commitment to thorough reintegration of deploying service members.

"We are so committed to it that we have focused all of our efforts to ensuring that transition (from deployment to non-combat life) is a healthy, positive one," Westphal said. "Soldiers are coming back with a great deal of issues related to ... injuries they've received in combat or the stress of being away from their families."

Army medical organizations have increased the pace and span of available services for returning service members. There are more resources available than ever before, but more remains to be done.

"We're getting better at this," the under secretary said. "But it's something that we can't pat ourselves on the back and say ‘OK, we got it.' We've got to continue to know it better, understand it better and be more supportive."

Another area in which Westphal acknowledged JBLM has made important strides is its environmental programs. But like reintegration, more effort is required.

"Our Army's commitment (to the environment) needs to be stronger," Westphal said. "I think in the last nine years we have struggled in supporting the missions, supporting our war fighters, and we have not put enough resources, not put enough attention to this. And I think we are going to do that now."

The Army's environmental priority reflects a national priority, he said.

"We are deeply committed, not only in the Army but across the government, to doing more to be energy sustainable, protect the environment and enhance our way of life," said Westphal, a former professor of environmental science.

"There are installations like this one that have shown the way ahead, that have been innovative, creative and have put resources behind it," he said. "We (can) use these as models across the country. The Army is committed to it, but we need to be more aggressive in allocating resources to moving out on these areas, particularly on the energy side."

The under secretary had more praise for JBLM for its success in joining Army and Air Force cultures under the Defense Department's Base Realignment and Closure program. The process was still underway, he said, but he called the joining of the former McChord Air Force Base and Fort Lewis "remarkably uneventful - in the sense that you don't have percolating to headquarters, departments of the Army, Navy or Air Force, big issues that we need to contend with to resolve. Those are positive signs so far.

"There are going to be more and more challenges down the road," Westphal said, "but I think we'll find a way to address them."

To help address future challenges, Westphal has begun regularly coordinating with his counterpart under secretaries of the Navy and Air Force.

"(We) are also working very closely together for the first time," he said. "That's never happened before. We're meeting on a regular basis, engaged in all aspects of work, trying to be more joint. And one of the areas we're going to pay a lot of attention to is the joint-base issues."

At the mid point of his visit, Westphal clearly approved of the activities on JBLM.

"(There are) a lot of very exciting things going on," he said. "And as always, (I am) very proud of the Army and how organized it is and how well it manages different problems at different times."

Westphal is no stranger to the Pacific Northwest. As acting secretary of the Army in 2001, he visited Fort Lewis during the formation of the Army's first Stryker brigade. He also attended a series of meetings in Seattle as assistant secretary of the Army for civil works about a variety of environmental issues concerning salmon and dams on the Snake and Columbia rivers.

August 5, 2010 at 4:24pm

Gig Harbor supports the 201st MI

Lieutenant Col. Roy Robbings, 201st BfSB Rear Det. commander, lifts a box of goods to be distributed to Soldiers redeploying from Iraq during the next several weeks.

Not all Soldiers have loved ones to welcome them home from deployments. In an effort to make sure no Soldier comes home feeling unappreciated, the mayor of Gig Harbor and his wife are making sure no Soldier goes home to an empty barracks room.

The community of Gig Harbor pulled together and collected hundreds of snacks and toiletries for Soldiers assigned to 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. The two are partnered through the military's community connector program, which helps build relationships between members of the community and the military.

The community gathered goods for 500 of the brigade's Soldiers who are scheduled to return Joint Base Lewis-McChord in late August and early September. Many of those Soldiers are single and will be calling otherwise empty barracks rooms "home."

Lieutenant Col. Roy Robbings, 201st BfSB Rear Detachment commander, said the community's collection will help Soldiers get settled while letting them know they are appreciated.

"They don't have to worry about getting immediate stuff they need," Robbings said. "It's just a token of letting them know the community cares about them and is thinking of them," Robbings said.

Robbings' wife, Tina, said the idea came up during one of the weekly town meetings she and Roy attend in Gig Harbor.

"With so many of our Soldiers being gone, (the community) wanted to show their support by doing something," Tina said. "We're not allowed to ask for anything, but we gave them a few ideas based on what others were doing, and they came up with this."

Dianne Hunter spearheaded the project with support from her husband, Mayor Chuck Hunter. The two started by asking friends for donations of snacks and toiletries.

"I sent e-mails to my friends, who sent them to their friends, and then I had a couple comm-unity groups who helped," Dianne said.

By the end of three months, a spare room in their home was packed wall-to-wall with bottled water, cookies, coffee, toiletries and other breakfast foods. Dianne said she was pleased to have met her goal of collecting enough for 500 Soldiers to "get by" for the first week of being home.

"We are very supportive out here of lots of different things going on, but we all really appreciate the service members," Dianne said.

Roy said being partnered with Gig Harbor has been an enlightening experience. In addition to his troops receiving support in the form of homemade cookies and other care-package goodies, the troops have gained insight to the civilian community.

"We're a very insular, enclosed community, and we don't always see what's on the other side of life," Roy said.

Mayor Hunter said the civilians also benefit by learning more about the military with its presence during weekly meetings.

"The average citizen doesn't really understand what's going on, and by coming to the meetings, it gets a little interaction going and people understand the role of what the military's doing for us," Chuck said.

"They help us so much with things like the annual Christmas tree cutting and other events, and we really want to show our appreciation by giving back," he said.

August 5, 2010 at 4:47pm

ACLU releases documents claiming government spying

The Olympian has the report here.

August 5, 2010 at 4:50pm

McChord Training: Baker Life Chute - or how to get out of the control tower quickly

Airman 1st Class Ryan Johnson, an air traffic controller assigned to the 62nd Operations Support Squadron, prepares to evacuate from the McChord Field tower during an emergency training exercise here Aug. 3. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Abner Guzman)

Air Traffic Controllers from the 62nd Operations Support Squadron conducted a bi-annual familiarization exercise August 3 to train for emergency evacuation. 

"The Baker Life Chute is to be utilized as an alternative escape route in the event of a fire," said Tech. Sgt. Jordan Applegate, the NCOIC training and standardization manager.

According to Sergeant Applegate, the Baker Life Chute has never been needed at an Air Force Base since it's creation in the early 1990's. However, similar emergency escape routes have been used in oil rigs around the country.    

More photos here.

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