Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: November, 2010 (13) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 13

November 1, 2010 at 10:55am

November is Military Family Month

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- President Barack Obama signed a proclamation designating November as Military Family Month.

Here is the text of the president's proclamation:

We owe each day of security and freedom that we enjoy to the members of our armed forces and their families. Behind our brave service men and women, there are family members and loved ones who share in their sacrifice and provide unending support.

During Military Family Month, we celebrate the exceptional contributions of our military families, and we reaffirm our commitments to these selfless individuals who exemplify the highest principles of our nation.

Across America, military families inspire us all with their courage, strength, and deep devotion to our country. They endure the challenges of multiple deployments and moves; spend holidays and life milestones apart; juggle everyday tasks while a spouse, parent, son, or daughter is in harm's way; and honor the service of their loved ones and the memory of those lost.

Just as we hold a sacred trust to the extraordinary Americans willing to lay down their lives to protect us all, we also have a national commitment to support and engage our military families. They are proud to serve our country; yet, they face unique challenges because of that service.

My administration has taken important steps to help them shoulder their sacrifice, and we are working to ensure they have the resources to care for themselves and the tools to reach their dreams. We are working to improve family resilience, enhance the educational experience of military children, and ensure military spouses have employment and advancement opportunities, despite the relocations and deployment cycles of military life. Our historic investment to build a 21st-century Department of Veterans Affairs is helping to provide our veterans with the benefits and care they have earned.

We are also standing with our servicemembers and their families as they transition back into civilian life, providing counseling as well as job training and placement. And, through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, our veterans and their families can pursue the dream of higher education.

However, government can only do so much. While only a fraction of Americans are in military families, all of us share in the responsibility of caring for our military families and veterans, and all sectors of our society are better off when we reach out and work together to support these patriots.

By offering job opportunities and workplace flexibility, businesses and companies can benefit from the unparalleled dedication and skills of a service member or military spouse.
Through coordination with local community groups, individuals and organizations can ensure our military families have the help they need and deserve when a loved one is deployed. Even the smallest actions by neighbors and friends send a large message of profound gratitude to the families who risk everything to see us safe and free.

As America asks ever more of military families, they have a right to expect more of us -- it is our national challenge and moral obligation to uphold that promise. If we hold ourselves to the same high standard of excellence our military families live by every day, we will realize the vision of an America that supports and engages these heroes now and for decades to come.

Now, therefore, I, Barack Obama, president of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim November 2010 as Military Family Month. I call on all Americans to honor military families through private actions and public service for the tremendous contributions they make in support of our service members and our nation.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.

Barack Obama

(Courtesy of American Forces Press Service)    

Filed under: News To Us,

November 1, 2010 at 5:02pm

Air Guard adds mental health professionals

ARLINGTON, Va. (AFNS) -- Air National Guard leaders have created a new, wing-level position to provide mental health support to Airmen and their families before and after deployments.

"The Air Guard is the only service component that does not have military members who are mental health professionals or technicians," said Maj. James Coker, the chief of public health and prevention for the Air Guard surgeon's general office. "We do not have that career field in the Air Guard, so (employing) someone who can direct those types of programs is very important."

In addition to the mental health and non-medical support services, these wing directors of psychological health are set to be the point of contact for the Automated Neuropsychological Assessment Metrics program, the Yellow Ribbon program, Air Force suicide-prevention programs and the Air Force resiliency program, when it is fielded.

"These duties, and several others dealing with mental health, will depend upon the needs of the wing and its mission," Major Coker said. "The WDPH will take into account Air Force-unique missions as well as Guard domestic operation issues on an individual basis."  

For more on the story, click here

Filed under: News To Us,

November 2, 2010 at 12:47pm

Amputee to return to pilot training

LAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPS) - A Laughlin officer who lost much of his right leg after a boating accident got word last week that he'll soon return to pilot training here.

Since his accident nearly 14 months ago, Air Force 1st Lt. Ryan McGuire has completed rehabilitation using his prosthetics, completed the Air Force Marathon and competed in the Warrior Games. Since July, he's been back on duty here, but not in pilot training.

"When I first lost my leg, I never dreamed this day would come," McGuire said. "But leadership here has supported me every step of the way, and honestly, they're the ones who gave me this dream to come back."

Air Force Col. Michael Frankel, 47th Flying Training Wing commander, said it was a no-brainer to support McGuire in his efforts.

For more on the story, click here.

Filed under: News To Us,

November 4, 2010 at 2:49pm

McChord airmen chronicle Deep Freeze experience

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Active-duty and Reserve Airmen from the 62nd and 446th Airlift Wings at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., spent a few days supporting Operation Deep Freeze at McMurdo Station in Antarctica and related their experiences to the Defense Department's "Armed with Science" blog recently.

Among the officers who traveled to McMurdo Station were Capt. Jon Waller, a C-17 Globemaster III instructor pilot with the 62nd AW, and Capt. Chris Stephens, a C-17 weapons officer.

"(We spend) the majority of the year flying into the (Southwest Asia)," said Captain Waller, who is on his second season flying for Operation Deep Freeze. "Flying into combat is pretty cool, and landing on dirt runways is pretty cool, but landing out here on the ice definitely takes the cake."

Captain Waller described the night missions as "amazing." 

"It really opens up our capabilities to fly year-round and fly 24 hours a day," he said. "And operations on the ice with (night vision goggles) are not all that much different from what we're used to." 

The key difference might be in the length of the day since it stays sunny 24 hours a day during Antarctica's summer and disappears for months at a time during the Antarctic winter. 

Two other officers, Maj. Bruce Cohn and Capt. Chris Stephens, have also flown support missions.

"Usually, C-17 pilots never get to leave the airfield (at McMurdo Station)," wrote Major Cohn, another C-17 instructor pilot for the 62nd AW. "We fly down from Christchurch, New Zealand, land on the ice runway, offload cargo and depart." 

However, a two-day visit to the station allowed the major to learn more about the base, which is principally operated by the National Science Foundation.

"What appears ... as individual station functions is actually an eccentric mix of people working together to make science happen," he wrote. "The research that's done here spans the gambit from marine biology to climate research and volcanology. After two days of near-perpetual sunlight, breathtaking views and a crash course on McMurdo (Station), I've barely scratched the surface of what happens in Antarctica, but it's 48 hours I will never forget."    

November 8, 2010 at 10:14am

Reserve airman wins AF-level award

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- He's flown more than 4,000 hours of civilian and military flying time, including 230 combat dispatches and 873 hours of combat time. He helped in the rapid response to the humanitarian crisis in Haiti this year, delivering 97,000 pounds of emergency rations. He's a C-17A Globemaster III instructor aircraft commander with the 728th Airlift Squadron here and one of only two squadron pilots who maintain every C-17 special qualification.

...And he's only 30 years old. 

These are just some of the accomplishments that made Capt. Daniel Gasper stand out from the pack to win the Lance P. Sijan Award, an honor bestowed upon Air Force personnel who represent the highest professional and personal leadership standards. He won the award at the Air Force Command Level in September.

"When I heard I won, I was surprised and deeply honored," said Caption Gasper, a Tacoma native. "I was in great company with good nominees. I'm happy I made it to the AFRC level."

Maj. Tim Davis, Captain Gasper's supervisor, said he couldn't think of anyone more deserving of this award. 

"Dan's a 'go-getter,'" said the 728th AS flight commander. "He's very intelligent, volunteers his time without question, is very enthusiastic about his job and is totally committed to 446th Airlift Wing mission." 

Captain Gasper's commitment dates back to 2001 when he was one of the first 728th AS volunteers after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack. The captain is currently on orders for his fifth year, gaining more experience in his new role as assistant flight commander. 

"Any time there's a mobility exercise, he's always first to volunteer," said Major Davis. "I've never heard the word "no" come out of his mouth. Captain Gasper volunteers because he wants to and not out of obligation." 

Striving for excellence comes naturally for Captain Gasper. The nine-year Reservist was recently lauded by Air Mobility Command and U.S. Transportation Command officials for his first-class leadership skills and professionalism. The captain was also nominated for the 4th Air Force Airlift Tanker Association Young Leadership Award and the Reserve Officer Association Junior Officer of the Year Award. 

"I've been blessed to have had many opportunities to further my training with the Reserve right off the bat, with the wing's activation," said the captain. "Being activated set me up for high ops tempo situations and gave me a thirst for more training." 

Captain Gasper said his wife, Jess, has been very supportive of his military duties and time away on temporary duty assignments. He said she was proud and excited when she heard he received the award. 

A Boeing 737 first officer for Alaska Airlines, Captain Gasper attained his Federal Aviation Administration certification as an airline transport pilot and Boeing 737 type ratings. He advanced his flight proficiency by attaining his FAA certified flight instructor certificate. In his military career, the captain recently added his qualifications to teach the Instrument Refresher Course and perform airdrop maneuvers with the C-17. 

Major Davis praised Captain Gasper's enthusiasm to always be one crew qualification ahead of where he needed to be and natural ability to motivate peers and supervisors alike. 

"You can't help but feel motivated when you fly with Dan," said Major Davis. "He sets the tone for the flight. He's always up-beat and it's contagious." 

When he's not flying, the captain can be found volunteering at Harverd Elementary School, Parkland, Wash., where his wife teaches. 

Captain Gasper will be adding a new accomplishment to his collection: that of father. He and Jess will be welcoming their first child any day now.     

November 15, 2010 at 10:04am

AF Times: 4 in 5 airmen passing PT test

This from Air Force Times: Three facts you should know about the new PT test: Officers score better than enlisted airmen, men do better than women and almost half of all airmen score 90 or above - good enough to earn a pass on taking the test every six months.

Through September, more than 150,000 airmen - active-duty, Guard and Reserve - have taken the test, and 82.6 percent of them have passed, a far higher rate than leaders predicted. A passing score is 75 points, with minimums for each component: a 1.5-mile run, push-ups, sit-ups and waist measurement.

After several requests from Air Force Times, the Air Force released the results for the total force as well as by age, gender, officer/enlisted and test components. The service would not give the pass rates by major command.

For more on this story, click here.

Filed under: U.S. Air Force,

November 17, 2010 at 5:32pm

AF officials select preferred alternative base for C-17

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Air Force officials announced their preferred basing decision for eight C-17 Globemaster IIIs Nov. 16. 

The preferred base, approved by the secretary and chief of staff of the Air Force, is Stewart Air National Guard Base, N.Y. Along with the C-17 basing action, 12 C-5 Galaxies assigned to Stewart ANGB will be retired.

"The Air Force has completed its initial analysis of a full range of alternatives and determined that basing the C-17 at Stewart is the preferred alternative," said Kathleen Ferguson, the Air Force deputy assistant secretary for installations. "This is not a final basing decision; it is the alternative we believe will fulfill our mission responsibilities while considering economic, environmental, and technical factors." 

Once the environmental impact analysis process is complete, a final decision will be made.     

November 17, 2010 at 5:42pm

Military says jet wreckage found near Denali

This from the AP: JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Search and rescue aircraft discovered what military officials believed to be the wreckage of a missing Air Force F-22 jet on Wednesday south of Denali National Park in Alaska.

The wreckage was spotted at 10:15 a.m. about 100 miles north of Anchorage, but a helicopter crew could not land, according to Air Force officials. A rescue team was still looking for the pilot, said Col. Jack McMullen, 3rd Wing Commander at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage.

"We're still doing an active search for the pilot," McMullen said. "Perhaps he ejected."

The jet had been in the air about an hour and 20 minutes and was nearing the end of a training run at 7:40 p.m. Tuesday when ground radar lost track of it and another pilot on the mission lost communications, McMullen said.

The pilot, whose name has not been released, had split off from the other jet and was about to do a "rejoin" before they returned to Anchorage as a unit flying about two miles apart, McMullen said.

The other pilot refueled in the air and began searching for the missing aircraft.

The Alaska Air National Guard aircraft joined the search and continued until about 5 a.m. Wednesday. New crews picked up the search.

McMullen said he had no details on the terrain where the crash was spotted.

A helicopter was nearing the crash site as he spoke, McMullen said, and likely will confirm whether the pilot was with the jet.

"We have not confirmed that he is with the plane, so we're going to continue looking for him until we have confirmation of where the pilot is," McMullen said.

If he ejected, he would be prepared for subzero weather.

"They have survival gear," McMullen said. "He's Arctic trained to survive in that environment. He's got the gear on. He's got stuff in his survival kit, so that he could hunker himself down and fight the extreme cold."

The twin-engine F-22 Raptor entered service in the mid-2000s and arrived at Elmendorf in August 2007. It's far more maneuverable and stealthy than earlier jets and can cruise at more than 1 1/2 times the speed of sound without using its afterburner. Its top speed is confidential.

Congress last year stopped production of the plane, built by Lockheed Martin Corp., by eliminating $1.75 billion that would have added seven F-22s to the Air Force's fleet.

An F-22 crashed in March 2009 near Edwards Air Force Base in California, killing the pilot. In July, a C-17 cargo jet from the 3rd Wing at Elmendorf crashed during a training demonstration for an air show, killing all four crewmen aboard.

Filed under: News To Us, U.S. Air Force,

November 19, 2010 at 9:51am

McChord Fitness Center Annex reopens

MCCHORD FIELD, JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The McChord Field Fitness Center Annex reopened Nov. 16 with several new and improved fitness resources for the JBLM community. 

After 10 months of restorations and refurbishment, some of the biggest differences gym goers will notice include remodeled locker rooms, new exercise equipment and an elevated indoor track. 

"The renovations were made to provide Airmen the opportunity to meet the new fitness standards and maintain their healthy 'fit to fight' lifestyles all year round," said Thomas Ward, McChord Field Fitness Center and Fitness Center Annex Facility Manager. 

According to Mr. Ward, this $1.2 million project was conducted to create a more resourceful environment for people to establish convenient exercising routines during the cold winter months. 

"It will directly contribute to the goals of the newly established Comprehensive Airman Fitness program by providing an indoor facility and lots of space for guests to exercise and implement their own individual routine," said Mr. Ward. 

Some other improvements include the removal of the juice bar, which allows more room for cardiovascular equipment. The sauna has also been extracted, creating space to expand both the male and female locker rooms. 

"The extra equipment and larger locker rooms will be able to facilitate more people at once," said Senior Master Sgt. Cleofas Trejo, 627th Force Support Squadron Sustainment Services Flight Superintendent. "These improvements will help introduce more Airmen to a healthy lifestyle." 

Also, the fitness center offers aerobic exercise classes, which will resume at the newly reopened annex at their regularly scheduled times. Kum Jones, a retired Army spouse and frequenter of the McChord Field Fitness Center, said she enjoys the aerobic classes and is looking forward to utilizing the indoor track.

"I love coming to the gym as often as I can," said Mrs. Jones. "I love running, but I don't like treadmills. I can't wait to use that new track!" 

The new indoor track, with its 12-inch corner banks and state of the art cushion turf, provides servicemembers a resource to train for their physical fitness test. Although, accomplishing 1.5 miles takes 28 laps, the new track gives JBLM community members an alternative when choosing how to stay fit.     

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.

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