Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: September, 2011 (13) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 13

September 1, 2011 at 12:18pm

KIRO flies with 446th AW crew into Afghanistan

KIRO-TV hitched a ride with a 446th Airlift Wing crew of Reservists for a mission into Afghanistan. 

They split the trip into four parts, all of which are airing on Channel 7 this week. 

You can watch a couple of the stories that have already aired here

September 4, 2011 at 8:06am

Airman magazine moves to digital home

Airman magazine entered a new era Sept. 1 with the release of its final hardcopy edition and the unveiling of its new digital home.

Airman is being re-launched as a new website and, while the Web address remains, the site has a fresh format and improved functions, officials said.

In addition to the stories and photos in the print magazine, visitors to the site will notice additional content. Publishing digitally, the Airman staff will be able to provide more and different kinds of stories, officials said.

For example, the print version for September includes a block of stories on the changes in the Air Force since 9/11 with two expansive photo features, a look at Operation Noble Eagle, the personal perspective of a wounded warrior and statistics from overseas operations. On the web, this special 9/11 content is supplemented with an interview with Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. Norton Schwartz and a question and answer piece with Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James Roy. Additionally, throughout the month of September, the Airman staff will post additional perspectives from Airmen directly involved in or affected by 9/11 and a story on the changes in Air Force technology in the past decade.

In another example of a new storytelling feature available in the digital magazine, a multimedia video accompanies the print and photo tale of Lester West, a barber who has cut the hair of military trainees at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, for the past 50 years.

Airman, the official magazine of the United States Air Force, has been in circulation since 1957. It has changed publication size and frequency many times over the years, having been a quarterly, monthly and, most recently, bi-monthly print publication.

As the staff moves forward into digital publishing, their goal is to continue providing Air Force readers with Airman's trademark feature-length stories and high-quality images while embracing new technologies and new ways of telling the Air Force story, officials said.

September 7, 2011 at 5:50am

September 11th, 2001: Where were you then? Where are you now?

"Where were you when the world stopped turning on that September day?" Country singer Alan Jackson poses a question we will hear a lot this weekend. Looking back ten years at a defining moment in our country's history, we ask, "Where were you?"

I was deployed for Operation Joint Forge. While on the phone coordinating the arrival of another chaplain, I first heard the news. "Sir, are you aware of what's happening in the United States today?" Soon the Public Announcement system instructed no one was to leave the hangar. We gathered at the Morale Welfare and Readiness lounge where I sat beside the commander and watched events transpire half a world away. Planes crashed. Buildings collapsed. Our world changed.

Where were you when 9/11 happened? Like the attack on Pearl Harbor and the assassinations of President Kennedy or Martin Luther King Jr., it is the event that defines our era. Anniversaries give us pause to remember. Where were you? Who were you with? How did you feel? What did you do?

One year after the attacks, the chapel at Lajes Field in the Azores was standing room only as we remembered the tragic incidents that happened only a year earlier. Tears were shed. Emotional wounds were redressed. Mutual support was given. Resolve was strengthened.

Perhaps the question we need to ask ten years later is, "Where are you now?" Physically, you are wherever the military has sent you to serve our country. But where are you emotionally? Where are you spiritually? It helps to do a self-check every now and then.

Healing takes time. I must confess I still have a bit of anger whenever I have to remove my shoes at the airport. I still shed a tear inside when I look into the faces of those who have lost a loved one defending freedom. I marvel every day at the selfless dedication of our men and women in uniform and their families. And I still pray, "God, bless the USA."

What about you? Where were you then? Where are you now?


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

September 11, 2011 at 7:00am

CSA card personal use unauthorized

Policy changes concerning the use of the Air Force's new Controlled Spend Account cards were spelled out in a policy letter from Headquarters Air Force Aug. 26.
Effective immediately, personal use of the CSA is not authorized.

The CSA is the program the Air Force implemented this year to replace the Government Travel Card. Initially, personal use of the new CSA card was allowed if there was a residual balance remaining on the card after the travel voucher was filed.

As of now, the CSA card may only be used for expenses related to official government travel. After an individual has filed a travel voucher within five days after their official travel (per Joint Federal Travel Regulation, appendix O) or during inprocessing following a permanent change of station, any balance remaining on the card can be obtained by the traveler through one of the following options:

- Electronic transfer to a personal account through Citi's on-line access system or by calling them directly
- Withdraw the balance via an ATM (there is a two percent fee)
- Request a check by mail by calling Citi, or a check will be automatically mailed to the cardholder after 60 days of account inactivity

Any questions or problems can be handled through individual unit agency program coordinators.

September 12, 2011 at 6:38am

446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron Reservists provide care globally

Master Sgt. Michelle Anderson, (center) a medical administrator with 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., transports a patient from a C-17 Globemaster III to an ambulance on the Ramstein Air Base, Germany flightline Aug. 24

As the KC-135 Stratotanker carrying patients landed on the flightline at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, two 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron Reservists were there to provide care and comfort. 

Maj. Timothy Kelly of Portland, Ore., and Master Sgt. Michelle Anderson of Spokane, Wash., are both deployed to the 86th Airlift Wing's Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility. They are serving three and six month tours as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The wartime mission of ASTS is to provide command, nursing, and specialty functions for up to a 250-bed CASF, rapidly deploy resources for mental health triage and traumatic stress management, critical care expertise, and support assets augmenting aeromedical evacuation missions.

"Our job here is to receive and send out patients currently serving downrange," said Anderson. "At my home station I'm a medical administrator. Here everyone works with patients, it doesn't matter the career field."

"We are actually doing the mission here versus training," said Kelly, a pain management specialist in civilian life. "We are performing the duty that we train for."

Kelly and Anderson met an aircraft carrying patients that arrived from Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. They helped transport the injured from the aircraft to the ambulance that would take them to the hospital.

"The patients we receive here are far from home and they are scared," said Anderson. "It warms my heart to be able to provide them some comfort once they arrive."

"Our home unit provided us with excellent training for this deployment," said Kelly. "It is a very rewarding job."

September 12, 2011 at 6:41am

86th APS Reservists display selfless service by extending deployment

Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Garrelts, 728th Air Mobility Squadron ramp supervisor, places luggage on a conveyor belt Sept. 6, 2011, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Garrelts is currently deployed here from the 86th Aerial Port Squadron, McChord Field, Wash., a

Loyalty and pride carry different emotional meanings for people. For instance, fully restoring an older automobile to its original showroom stature and then taking it out for a long drive is what makes a car enthusiast beam with pride. For others, it's volunteering at a local homeless shelter, tutoring underprivileged children at the local elementary school, or for some it could be serving in the military. 

The meaning of loyalty for six Reservists from the 86th Aerial Port Squadron is extending their deployments at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey after already helping to move 24,000 tons of cargo, 15,500 passengers, 13,000 pallets, and loading about 450 C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

Master Sgt. Alfredo Navarro, Tech. Sgt. John Garrelts, Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Cunanan, Staff Sgt. Daniel Wheeler, Senior Airman Eric Braun, and Senior Airman Daniel Henderson deployed in April to support the 728th Air Mobility Squadron, Incirlik AB and instead of coming home, they have added another six months to their current tours of duty.

"I want to be able to contribute in any possible way to get the job done and bring our troops home," said Navarro, 86th APS security manager. "I miss home and my family, but I'm doing my best to serve my country and make them proud."

The University Place resident serves as the night duty officer for the Air Terminal Operation Center at Incirlik AB.

"I volunteered to extend because I enjoy the mission here," said Navarro.

For Tech. Sgt. John Garrelts, an ATOC senior controller with 86th APS, the deployment was about selfless service.

"It was a tough decision," said the father of three. "But a chance to help the new individuals coming into my section have a smoother transition, as well as letting someone else remain home with their family through the holiday season were my reasons for extending."

Senior Airman Daniel Henderson, 86th APS ramp journeyman, lengthened his deployment for continuity; not to mention being part of something larger than him.

"I know the job and the people here," said the Spokane resident. "Plus, I am proud to be part of something that is going to help in the world and not just my backyard. I signed up knowing that I would be away from home a lot and I would do it all over again."

Navarro uses his experience for personal growth that he can bring back home.

"The job I'm doing is a new experience for me," said Navarro, who works for the Social Security Administration in his other life as a civilian. "I have never worked in ATOC before, so it is a new skill that I can bring home with me. I also want to get more technical and leadership experience."

Helping ensure cargo gets where it needs to be in a timely manner is what helps keep Garrelts going.

"I get the chance to send life-saving equipment to people who need it and allow them to return home safely," said the Springfield, Ore., resident. "It makes me feel good and full of pride that I'm allowed to help my country."

Garrelts credits a strong supporting cast and an internal drive on assisting his fulfillment of the additional deployment time.

"Without the support of my family and home unit, none of this would be possible," he said. "It is an honor to serve."

September 14, 2011 at 6:47am

US News & World Report ranks Academy No. 1

The U.S. Air Force Academy is ranked top in the nation by high school guidance counselors, second in the nation in aeronautical and astronautical engineering and came away with several more top-tier rankings in the U.S. News & World Report's Best College Rankings for 2012.

The magazine released its rankings Sept. 12.

A new category added this year, high school counselor rankings, ranked the Academy No. 1 among liberal arts colleges. 

"In spring 2011, we asked guidance counselors from all the high schools in U.S. News's 2010 Best High Schools rankings as well as from the largest private independent schools nationwide, to tell us which national universities and national liberal arts colleges they think offer the best undergraduate education to their students," According to U.S. News and World Report. "They rated the universities on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being the top score) or marked 'don't know' if they were unfamiliar with that particular college."

The Academy ranked second-best in the nation in aeronautical and astronautical engineering among undergraduate programs, for the 11th consecutive year. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's main campus in Daytona Beach, Fla., retained the top spot, while its Prescott, Ariz., campus came in third this year.

The Academy tied for the No. 5 ranking of best undergraduate engineering programs, with California Polytechnic State University and the U.S. Naval Academy.

One of the Air Force Academy's other engineering programs, electrical engineering, also earned the No. 5 slot in this year's rankings of undergraduate electrical engineering programs.

The Academy also received several other rankings. It's tied for No. 33 in the national liberal arts colleges rankings and under that category came in at No. 3 for Top Public Schools. The Academy also ranked No. 55 among best undergraduate business programs.

"The school has 74 percent of its classes with fewer than 20 students, and the student-faculty ratio at United States Air Force Academy is 8:1," according to the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

This is the third time this semester the Academy has been ranked among the top universities in the nation. Forbes ranked the Academy No. 10 in the nation on its 2011 America's Best Colleges List that was released Aug. 3.

Also, the Princeton Review released their The Best 376 Colleges book Aug. 2, which ranks the Academy No. 5 in the nation in professor availability and ranks the Academy's administration as No. 9 in the nation.

September 22, 2011 at 3:32pm

Airmen, Soldiers receive resilience training

Dr. John Cacioppo, Center for Cognitive and Social Neurosciences, tests soldiers gives a survey on how to watch out for suicidal signs in soldiers during Resiliency Training held at JBLM.

In 2010 the Air Force's Air Mobility Command launched the Comprehensive Airman Fitness concept to be what Air Force Gen. Raymond E. Johns, Jr., AMC commander, said would be "not a program, but an approach to better equip you to handle stress." Joint Base Lewis McChord's continued dedication to joint readiness carried on his vision as Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing joined Soldiers from multiple Lewis-McChord Army units for Military Resilience Trainer instruction at John "Bud" Hawk Education Center, Sept. 12 through today.

Servicemembers received special insight on the training as Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, director of the Army Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, served as the master instructor and led the initial plenary session.

Cornum said CSF has been well accepted for several years within Air Combat Command but this Spring Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, Air Force chief of staff, decided that Comprehensive Airman Fitness would be the model for the Department of Defense, and the Army is motivated to support that effort in joint environments.

The CSF director, who in 1991was a prisoner of war while held by Iraqi forces in the closing weeks of Operation Desert Storm, said training the Airmen and Soldiers received was based on CSF's beliefs in being proactive, rather than reactive in dealing with adversity.

"The whole point of the program is to treat psychological health and fitness the way we treat physical health and fitness," she said. "For example, it's important to know CPR when someone has a heart attack, but a more beneficial thing to do would be to teach people about exercise, lipids, and blood pressure so that they never have a heart attack to begin with - that's what resilience is."

Technical Sergeant Monique Dubose, an Airman from the 62nd Airlift Wing and NCOIC of the First Term Airman Center at McChord Field, said one of many things she enjoyed about the course was that though the trainers and facilitators were Soldiers, the curriculum was universal.

"It's been very enlightening as these are skills you can use in both your personal and professional life," she said. "It's for all military members, as well as those at different ranks and levels. It'll be good for the Airmen because there's a focus on being proactive in dealing with different obstacles they may have early on."

The First Term Airman Center staff helps new Airmen transition from basic training and technical school environments to their first duty stations. Dubose said because of her leadership position at the center, which is a starting point for all of McChord's new junior Airmen, she'll be able to spread good practices and play an important part in building a culture of resiliency here.

"I get almost 30 new Airmen every week and I can see where these skills will help them along in their careers," Dubose said. "For example, with ‘real-time resilience' we've learned about using evidence and or optimism when we have real-time instances and start getting negative thoughts."

To overcome a challenge a veteran Airman like herself may have "evidence" of past accomplishments from which she can draw determination, but even younger servicemembers can apply "optimism" toward overcoming a task. She said she's motivated to pass on these newly-acquired skills.

A former drill sergeant at Fort Benning, Ga., Staff Sgt. David Larson, a squad leader from 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, said he started to hear about Army CSF in the training lanes as fellow drill sergeants returned from other MRT courses.

"They had good things to say, but I figured it was just ‘the Army was trying something new,'" Larson said. He admitted he was skeptical about the effectiveness of CSF's "whole person" care approach, but soon realized he was wrong and said he's looking forward to applying resilience skills in many areas of his life.

"Here we are after Day 3 and I've learned a massive amount of things about the program, and about myself," he said. "I've already been thinking about how I'm going to integrate these approaches into my squad, my battalion, my Family and my personal life."

He said he fully believes CSF teachings will be absorbed by junior Soldiers, making it important for NCOs and leaders to remain open-minded - starting with himself.

"I think that as a leader, if I effect change in myself, I'll effect a change in the Soldiers around me," he said, adding that he feels CSF fundamentals can better servicemembers' lives "as long as people at the top believe in it and implement it."

Cornum said there are currently more than 6,000 facilitators and trainers throughout the Army and CSF's plan is to almost double that number in FY 2012.

For more information on CSF, visit

September 24, 2011 at 7:02am

Officials reduce officers eligible for upcoming lieutenant colonel SERB

Voluntary retirements have resulted in the removal of two competitive categories from the upcoming October 2011 selective early-retirement board, Air Force officials announced Sept. 12.

Lieutenant colonels in the Chaplain and Medical Services Corps competitive categories are eliminated from meeting the fiscal 2011 selective early retirement board. Lieutenant colonels in the Line of the Air Force competitive category who were twice deferred for promotion will continue to meet the SERB scheduled for Oct. 24 to 28.

The SERB is part of the Air Force's Force Management program, which blends voluntary and involuntary programs to meet the Air Force's congressionally mandated ceiling of 332,800 Airmen. The program is necessary because of a 16-year high in retention.

The deadline to apply for voluntary retirement passed on Sept. 2, but applications are still being processed for those who applied before the deadline.

Officers selected for retirement by the SERB will be required to retire effective no later than Mar. 1, 2012.

For information about specific skills needed by the Air Force Reserve or Air National Guard select embedded links. Detailed SERB eligibility criteria are on the AFPERS website at; do a keyword search for "SERB." Additional information on FY11/12 Force Management Programs is also available on the site. First time users will need to create an account with a username and password.


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