Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: November, 2011 (25) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 25

November 2, 2011 at 7:17am

Officials continue enlisted DOS rollback program

Air Force officials announced Oct. 28 plans to continue an enlisted date of separation rollback as part of its ongoing measures to manage the force and maintain a quality enlisted corps.

The DOS rollback will accelerate the date of separation for selected Airmen in the grades of senior master sergeant and below with fewer than 14 or more than 20 years of service as of March 31, 2012.

Under the DOS rollback, identified Airmen must separate no later than March 31, 2012 or retire no later than April 1, 2012, if they possess specific reporting identifiers, reenlistment eligibility, assignment availability and grade status reason codes. Commanders will notify Airmen meeting eligibility and in most instances determine which Airman will remain eligible or ineligible for this DOS rollback.

Airmen identified for the rollback and eligible for retirement must submit their retirement request via the Virtual Military Personnel Flight by Dec. 1, 2011.

Airmen with at least 180 days of active-duty service who are separated under the DOS Rollback are authorized transition assistance benefits. Those include 180 days of extended medical care for themselves and their families and an ID card allowing base commissary and exchange privileges for two years.

Those separated with more than six years, but less than 20 years total active service are eligible for one-half separation pay, but must sign an Individual Ready Reserve agreement to serve for a minimum three years following their military service obligation. Those declining to serve in the IRR will be ineligible for separation pay.

The Air Force will not recoup unearned portions of education assistance funds, special pay, unearned portions of bonuses or other monetary incentives under the DOS Rollback Program, officials said. Additionally, most Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits will not be impacted; however, the transferability of benefits to dependents may be affected. Airmen should consult their local education centers or the VA concerning transferability.

For information about this, and other personnel issues, visit the Air Force Personnel Services website at

(Courtesy of the Air Force Personnel, Service and Manpower Public Affairs)

November 2, 2011 at 7:25am

Air Force BDU officially history

There are two things you should not see Nov. 1 -- Halloween costumes and the Air Force Battle Dress Uniform.

In 2006, the Airman Battle Uniform became authorized for wear and a date was set for final phase-out of the woodland camouflage-patterned BDU's.

Previously announced to be effective Oct. 1 of 2011, a more recent Air Force Instruction 36-2903, "Dress and Appearance of Air Force Personnel" pushed the date back to Nov. 1. This applies to all Air Force components.

Other items will simultaneously enter retirement with the BDU's effective Nov. 1 including the
desert camouflage uniform, black T-shirt, black combat boots and tan boots with the ABU outside theater of operations.

The almost 30 year-old duty uniform, originally designed for wear throughout Europe and the Cold War, was worn by all branches of the service until 2005. Starting Nov. 1 only the Navy will be authorized to wear the BDU until its set phase-out date. 

Aside from its appearances, one of the major differences between the ABU and BDU is the maintenance. The new uniform requires very little care, needing only to be washed and hung for drying. 

Furthermore, the boots, now a sage green, full-grain leather boot with rubber heel and toe reinforcements, do not require polishing.

Not all Airmen embraced the changes immediately.

"The (BDU's) featured solid, good-looking creases that looked great with well-shined boots," said Master Sgt. Sam Macaluso, a member of the Nevada Air National Guard 152nd Airlift Wing.

But, even for those who like the creases and the spit-shined boot look, the appeal of less maintenance grew on them.

"We'd often spend our entire guard duty at night getting the perfect shine on those boots," Macaluso said. "It's nice to have boots you don't need to shine and a uniform you don't need to press constantly."

With less time spent on up keeping their uniforms, Airmen are afforded more time to focus on other aspects of their military lives.

"A big benefit is the ABU gives Airmen at schools more time to study, "Macaluso said. "Discipline and standards are important, but I believe Airmen have a lot more than their uniforms to focus on these days."

(Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Eric Ritter of the Nevada Air National Guard contributed to this article.)

November 4, 2011 at 7:11am

Tops in Blue Tuesday features local Airman

Senior Airman James Santos left McChord Field in January as talented trumpet player prepared to tackle one of the most difficult challenges in his life.

He will return to the base next week as a polished musician with more than 10 months of hard work underneath his belt.

The 25-year-old Airman from the 62nd Maintenance Squadron was selected to become a member of the 2011 Tops in Blue tour after wowing judges at the annual Air Force Worldwide Talent Search at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in December 2010.

Tops in Blue continues its 2011 tour with a performance at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Hangar 9 at McChord Field.

The 2011 edition of Tops In Blue is entitled "Rhythm Nation."  The performances will feature music from Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and many more. The show will also pay tribute to the heroes of Sept. 11, 2001 as the performers recognize their sacrifices 10 years later.

"I expected it to be one of the most difficult things I've ever done in my life, and it has been," Santos said via phone last week from Portugal.

In addition to performing, Tops in Blue members work to break down and build up the stage at every stop on tour. They must also fit into their schedule time to rehearse, meet with other Airmen and base leadership and still find time for themselves to relax.

"It's not your average day of work in the U.S. Air Force," said the Vacaville, Calif. native.

But despite the many demands, Santos had cherished the experience. He has visited Belgium, Turkey, Italy, Germany, Spain, England and Uruguay.

"You either sleep or you get to experience the world," Santos said with a laugh.

While Santos admits it has been hard to sacrifice so much of his personal time for the sake of the tour ("I'm a guy that likes my personal time ... it gets difficult.") he said his musical skills have increased tenfold.

"I'm better at the trumpet than I expected to be," he said. "They have professional musicians coming in to teach you. They are there for you to pick their brain."

And although Santos has always been his own toughest critic, he said the tour has helped him build patience when it comes to his own learning curve.

"It pushes you to get better and makes me not focus so much on where I'm lacking," he said.

Santos will likely get a big emotional lift from the stop at McChord Field. His mother will be in attendance to see him play, and some of his coworkers from the squadron's

precision measurement equipment laboratory are also expected to come to the show.

"Those of us who have worked with him are eager to have him back in the area,"

said Master Sgt. Aaron Weslow, Santos' former supervisor. "I'm looking forward

to the show and his return."

"It's hard being away, but it's the mission we signed up for," Santos said.

After the McChord Field performance, the group will travel to Hawaii and then hit the Pacific Rim before heading to several deployed locations for the holidays.

"It will be neat to bring our guys a piece of home," the Airman said. "I'm looking forward to providing something special for them during the holidays."

November 6, 2011 at 6:47am

AFPC podcasts help Airmen understand workforce shaping

From hiring controls to voluntary separation initiatives, the civilian workforce footprint is changing, and Air Force Personnel Center officials are working to provide easy-to-digest information to the workforce.

To help Airmen understand how they are or may be affected by workforce shaping initiatives, the AFPC Civilian Force Integration Directorate has developed several podcasts that describe ongoing initiatives, said Michelle LoweSolis, the civilian force integration director.

The podcasts cover information that ranges from voluntary early retirement authority and voluntary separation incentive pay to reduction in force and transfer of function.

"Our goal is to provide a readily-understandable overview of topics that are often discussed in a very technical and complex manner," LoweSolis said. "These short videos will help employees better understand voluntary separation options as well as how the reduction in force process works."

Go to the Air Force Personnel Services website at to view the podcasts. In addition to the podcasts, VERA and VSIP articles and other personnel information are available on the Air Force Personnel Services site.

November 7, 2011 at 6:38am

Reservist leads active unit

An airlift squadron from McChord Field deployed last week in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn with a Reservist in charge.

More than 100 Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing's 4th Airlift Squadron departed Oct. 26 for a 60-day deployment to the Middle East.

Leading the mission will be Lt. Col. Anthony Angello, who also serves as the 313th Airlift Squadron commander under the 446th Airlift Wing. This deployment marks the first time a Reservist will be commanding an active duty squadron for the 817th EAS.

"It is an honor to be the first Reservist serving as a deployed commander," said Angello, 817th EAS commander. "But for me this is more reflective of our every day operations at McChord Field. We work side by side as a Total Force, so we respect the professionalism, work ethic and preparedness active duty and Reservists bring to the mission. I don't expect us to skip a beat while supporting our operations downrange."

The Airmen will take over operations of the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron.

The unit will operate out of two bases, managing and flying missions concentrated in and around Afghanistan, Iraq and the Horn of Africa, replacing the 8th Airlift Squadron.

Their mission is to provide global strategic airlift, airdrop, aeromedical evacuation and humanitarian relief, to create an air bridge for personnel, equipment and supplies throughout the assigned areas of responsibility.

The 62nd AW's four active duty flying squadrons share responsibility for the deployed squadron and rotate operating the 817th EAS continuously. The deployments allow Air Mobility Command to consistently position assets closer to the action.

November 7, 2011 at 6:48am

AF officials launch respite care program

WASHINGTON - Air Force officials have teamed with the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies to launch the Air Force Exceptional Family Member Program Respite Care Program.

The program is built around providing a break for parents with special-needs children. It allows parents to receive 8-20 hours of respite care per month at no charge as long as they meet eligibility requirements.

The program was launched in July in seven regions with a high concentration of Air Force Families, officials said. The locations include: The National Capital Region; Tacoma; San Antonio; Honolulu; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Charleston, S.C.; and Hampton, Va.

These are currently the only locations where the program is offered, but Air Force officials are working with NACCRRA to identify additional locations.

"The goal is to hit every (continental U.S.) location that needs respite care." said Dianna Hills, the Exceptional Family Member Program manager.

The program is open to active duty, Guard and Reserve (activated for 31 days or more) Airmen, stationed at or near one of the seven locations, officials said. For Families to be eligible for the program, the child must be enrolled in the Exceptional Family Member Program, diagnosed with moderate to severe special needs, 18 years or younger and reside with the Airman.

To apply for the program, contact Child Care Aware at 800-424-2246 or and they will connect the Airman's Family to a local participating agency. The agency will work with the Family to complete the necessary application and assist with connecting the Family with a local respite care provider.

November 9, 2011 at 6:53am

SECAF issues letter to Airmen on handling of remains

Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley issued a letter to all Airmen Nov. 8.

In it, he wrote, "The mission at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operation (AFMAO) is to provide dignity, honor and respect to the fallen and care, service and support to their families. The professionals whose privilege it is to perform this solemn duty take great pride in that responsibility to care for America's fallen.

"However, due to specific concerns raised by AFMAO professionals regarding policies, processes, and procedures, the Air Force conducted an investigation that focused on allegations of mismanagement and accountability," he continued. "The Air Force has contacted the four families directly affected by the investigation and discussed these matters with them personally. If you were not contacted already, you are not one of the impacted families."

Click here to continue reading the full letter.

November 10, 2011 at 5:34am

McChord Airmen clean up local school's garden

Nine McChord Field Airmen rolled up their 
sleeves and strapped on their work boots as they spent a Saturday morning
cleaning and restoring a garden at Madrona School Nov. 5 in Seattle.
Madrona School, part of the Seattle Public School system, is a facility that
educates students from Kindergarten through 8th grade. The school houses a
learning garden that was overgrown and ineffectual.
"Previously, the flower beds were much larger and didn't allow children the
freedom to move around and explore," said Farah Thaxton, Medrona School
principal. "In addition, the garden was so overgrown that it was hard to
figure out what was there."
The Airmen worked for five hours to eliminate all weeds in the garden and cut
down a tree to allow space for new plants. They built wooden flower boxes,
planted new shrubbery and sprinkled mulch which created a path for children to
easily venture through the garden.
"It looks like a completely different garden," said Thaxton. "Our students
will be so excited about it."
The garden is utilized by more than 100 students over the course of a school
year. Activities such as the afterschool gardening club, preschool planting
program and science classes keep the garden a busy place.
"Not only do we teach students how to garden, but they learn how to sustain a
garden in an urban environment," said Thaxton. "We teach them how to plant,
grow and then cook their own food."
As the coordinator and representative for the school project, Staff Sgt.
Steven Seibert, 627th Civil Engineer Squadron, stressed the importance of
giving back to the community.
"As a military member, often times we receive a lot of appreciation," Seibert
said. "Giving back to our local community is a high priority. Stepping further
beyond our local area, to a place like Seattle, is meaningful because they don't
interact with us as often."
"It feels good to know that a couple hours of work will give these kids a
whole new place to learn," said Senior Airman Michael Calderon, 8th Airlift
Squadron loadmaster. "Hopefully we'll be able to come back soon and continue
to help out."
According to the principal, Madrona School has multiple upcoming projects
including painting the interior hallways and library. Nine out of nine
volunteers agree; McChord Field will be happy to provide assistance in the

November 11, 2011 at 6:36am

McChord Field to welcome nuke inspectors

The 62nd Airlift Wing will welcome inspection teams from the Air Mobility Command Inspector General Team and the Air Force Inspection Agency as they arrive to conduct the 62nd AW's Nuclear Surety Inspection, Nov. 15 to 21.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency will also provide oversight of the AMC/IG team's execution of the inspection.

According to Lt. Col. Jason King, 62nd AW chief of wing safety, the teams will evaluate the six "major graded areas" of the Wing's Nuclear Surety Program throughout the inspection: management and administration; personnel reliability program; tools, test, tiedown and handling equipment; safety; emergency exercises and logistics movement.

During the management and administration major graded area, teams will look at wing, group and squadron leadership involvement in the program.

The PRP major graded area will focus on the 4th Airlift Squadron, the 62nd Medical Squadron and the 627th Force Support Squadron.

The tools, test, tiedown and handling equipment major graded area will examine tiedown devices and chains, maintained by the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron.

The safety major graded area will focus on compliance with nuclear safety standards and the Nuclear Surety Managers' management of the program.

An emergency exercise will be used to evaluate aircrew procedures.

Finally, the logistics movement major graded area will evaluate the wing's ability to execute Prime Nuclear Airlift Force missions, including the 4th AS flying the mission, the 62nd Maintenance Group selecting and preparing the aircraft, and the command post's role in monitoring mission movements.

"Our goal is to leave the inspectors with the sense that we're leading the Air Force in continuing to strengthen the nuclear enterprise," said Capt. Will Dabney, 62nd AW nuclear security manager. "We're aiming for the highest ratings possible in the major graded areas, and we're ready to achieve that."

The 62nd AW's Nuclear Surety Program has won an Air Mobility Command and Air Force Safety Award 12 of the last 13 years.

"To put an end to Cold War thinking, we will reduce the role of nuclear weapons in our national security strategy, and urge others to do the same," President Barack Obama said. "Make no mistake: As long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a safe, secure and effective arsenal to deter any adversary and guarantee that defense to our allies."

November 11, 2011 at 6:43am

McChord center helps new Airmen adjust to active duty

Photo by David Poe Staff Sgt. Amaya Talley briefs students as part of the First Term Airman Center program at McChord Field, Thursday.

A year before, and in some cases only months before, many were wide-eyed young people fresh out of high school. Some were 20-somethings looking for a new start. Some slunk in their chairs, some spoke to neighbors in class while their instructors spoke. Some cared more about the new text messages on their phones than anything else, and some had never done a sit up or pushup in their lives.

Today is different. Fresh from Air Force technical schools across the country, McChord Field's First Term Airmen Center at Joint Base Lewis-McChord is the "Go" square on the Monopoly board that is their new duty station. Sharp uniforms, crisp haircuts and military bearing fill the classroom - Airmen from all points of the map. It's here where they get their first tastes of everyday active-duty Air Force life.

"FTAC was originally a place where you would send Airmen that were new to a base to be a labor crew," Tech. Sgt. Monique DuBose, FTAC's NCO-in-charge, said. "They'd come here, maybe see a few things on the base, but would do more of what we called the ‘weeds and seeds' type of projects before they reached their units."

The FTAC program, an Air Forcewide initiative, had more of a workforce approach since its inception in 1976, and DuBose said it was one of the service's top enlisted men who changed that in the late 1980s.

"It was Chief (Master Sergeant James) Binnicker, our ninth chief master sergeant of the Air Force, that said ‘professional development needs to start now,'" she said, pertaining to the Airmens' first days and weeks at their first duty station. "He felt they needed to hit the ground running and it's evolved quite a bit."

While their orders may read otherwise, for 10 days they are ‘F-tackers.' Their new units wait as leadership puts their concerns on the new Airmen as individuals, making sure they have all the tools they need to get started on their careers, both at McChord Field and in the Air Force in general.

"You can't just say over the phone ‘get here and do this,'" DuBose said of incoming Airmen, especially those new to the Air Force, "you need to see their faces. I'm here because I want to make sure everything is taken care of. When they go back to their units, they're ready to go to work."

Instruction includes personal topics such as understanding their Tricare benefits and continuing education programs, learning new resilience tools, as well as checking out the installation's FMWR program.

There's also professional development intended to set the tone for their roles in their new units. FTAC Airmen do PT together, conduct mock PT tests, undergo multiple uniform inspections and safety briefings more as a continuation of healthy habits than a transition to active-duty life. DuBose said the Airmen move on to their units with good understandings of where they are and what they need to do.

"We do everything; if they have pay issues, medical issues, before they get back to work, they'll be taken care of," she said. "Some people leave here knowing they'll deploy very soon; we'll do fit tests for chemical protective gear and let them know what to expect on the deployment line ... that happens here." `

She also said that while the Air Force requires certain blocks of instruction for any FTAC program, there's also room for local instructors to shape their students' experiences, a benefit she said she appreciates as a veteran Airman.

"We've been changing some of the curriculum and adding new things; making it the best for them," she said, "such as the new ‘resiliency piece.' Back in the day we were told to ‘embrace the suck;' these Airmen don't need to do that. They need to know if they're having issues there are places for them to go."

While he may be new to the active-duty Air Force, Airman 1st Class Evan Rosenboom, an Airman with the 62nd Operations Support Squadron and a former Air National Guardsman, said in his final day of instruction he appreciated the program because he knew firsthand on what it's like to be overwhelmed in a new military situation.

"When I came through with the Guard, I had to find out a lot of stuff myself," the aviation resource manager said, "but here they offer this one place for a lot of information."

By publication, Airmen from FTAC Class 11-18 have already checked in at their new shops and are new members of teams across McChord Field. If one Airman's opinion can speak for the class, they and their units are better off thanks to their adjustment time spent with FTAC.

"(The permanent duty station) is a professional setting and this is my job," Airman 1st Class Kierra Harrison, a new Airman with the 10th Airlift Squadron, said. "FTAC has helped me ensure that I'm keeping myself on track - it's work time."


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