Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: November, 2011 (25) Currently Viewing: 21 - 25 of 25

November 26, 2011 at 6:28am

McChord Airmen clean up local school's garden

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- 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 future.

November 26, 2011 at 6:33am

446th AW welcomes new maintenance commander

Air Force Reservists change locations almost as much as the active force. They go where they are needed, and where the command can benefit most from their skills and knowledge. Some move across the state, while others move clear across the country.

Col. Alan Lerner joined the 446th Airlift Wing family Oct. 1 as the 446th Maintenance Group commander. He and his wife Catherine relocated to McChord Field from the 512th Airlift Wing at Dover Air Force Base in Del.

Lerner said he has been working in maintenance for 26 years, and enjoys working with and leading maintainers. Throughout his career, his focus has always been taking care of his people.

"My priority is to mirror the active duty as much as we can, and to be strong wingmen," said Lerner. "We have to work within the limits of an eight-hour day, but we will do the best we can. The Reservists here are trained well and are able to provide continuity to the active force."

Chief Master Sgt. Tim Meyer, 446th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron superintendent, who has been with the unit for 26 years, said he was impressed with Lerner as soon as he met him and plans to help him get settled in and learn the way of the 446th AW.

"The first thing I noticed about him was his professionalism," said Meyer. "He will fit easily into this associate wing because he brings a lot of command knowledge to the group."

While at Dover, Lerner supervised the maintenance of the C-17 Globemaster III as well as the C-5 Galaxy. He said he prefers working with the C-17.

"The C-17 has better mission capable and home station reliability rate, " he said. "They launch on time to meet the daily schedule. It is a newer aircraft designed with maintenance in mind, and has a quicker turn-around rate. The C-5 was designed to carry heavy loads a long distance. Reliability was not a focus then as it has been in the last 25 years."

Lerner said the AFSO 21 program at the 512th AW is very successful he would like to see various aspects of the program continued here. Since the C-17 is 20 years younger than the C-5, it needs less maintenance, but places like the ISO dock and back shops can still garner great benefits.

Along with the AFSO 21 process, Lerner was actively involved in the training and preparation for the Operational Readiness Inspection with the 512th AW, which prepared him well for next year's ORI here.

"We will participate and I have no doubt we will do well. It was a similar package there, and the same will be expected here."

Lerner has plans to get into the groove of the high ops tempo of the 446th AW. In his down time, he would like to explore the local area, he said.

According to Lerner, the area here is much bigger than the area he lived in near Dover AFB. There was more of a hometown feel there, while here there is a much larger population, with more options and events to take advantage of and enjoy.

"I'm glad to be here," said the new Puyallup, Wash. resident. "My wife lived here before we were married and the opportunity to come back made her very happy. Until I retire, this is home and I plan to enjoy and take full advantage of everything the Pacific Northwest has to offer."

November 26, 2011 at 6:35am

CAP cadets to participate in Wreaths Across America

It might be cold and it might be raining on the morning of Dec. 10, but a group of local Civil Air Patrol cadets will be out in force putting wreaths on the graves of local veterans.

It's all part of Wreaths Across America, a week-long collection of events made possible by thousands of volunteers who organize local ceremonies, raise funds to sponsor wreaths and participate in the events. The celebration receives no government funding, and the cost of the program is paid for by individual wreaths sponsors, corporate donors and volunteer truckers.

The week features special memorials for Pearl Harbor, Bunker Hill, Charleston Naval Shipyard and a wreath for every victim of 9-11 in New York City, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pa.

Locally, Civil Air Patrol cadets, as well as senior cadets, will be putting wreaths on the crosses at the military cemetery at Covington.

"It's a real honor for them to participate in it," said Lt. Col. Lorraine Robertson, the McChord Field squadron's executive assistant who has participated in the wreath-laying event for the last few years.

In the weeks leading up to the event, CAP cadets have set up tables at the McChord B/X and sold wreaths.

"A lot of times, people will come up and purchase a wreath and ask the cadets to lay it on a grave for them," Robertson said. "They think it's quite an honor for them to be able to it."

In past years, Gold Star mothers and fathers at the Covington cemetery have greeted cadets and handed out cookies and hot chocolate to express gratitude for their efforts, Robertson said.

With the CAP's involvement, which began in 2006, in the Wreaths Across America has ballooned from a local and limited operation to a national passion. Last year, more than 161,000 wreaths were placed on the graves of American Soldiers in observances at 405 cemeteries and memorials across the nation.

"This is where the CAP should be," said Maj. Gen. Amy Courtner, CAP's former national commander. "Through this event we memorialize those who gave the ultimate sacrifice, while we honor those who are still with us."

The ceremony before the wreath laying at the Covington cemetery starts at 9 a.m. For more information on Wreaths Across America, visit

November 27, 2011 at 6:20am

West Pierce Fire & Rescue shows military support

Airmen and Soldiers from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., stand with West Pierce Fire & Rescue chief Ken Sharp at a fire commissioner meeting, Nov. 15, 2011 in Lakewood, Wash. Reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing out of McChord Field were presented with

MCCHORD FIELD, Wash. -- Three Reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing received recognition from their employer, West Pierce Fire & Rescue during a fire commissioner meeting at Station 21 in Lakewood, Wash., Nov. 15, 2011.

Lt. Col. Robin Richardson, 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron commander, Lt. Col. Dennis Woxen, 446th AW inspector general, and Tech. Sgt. Lance Nelson, a 728th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, were given certificates of appreciation for their military service.

"We got certificates for being employees of the fire department and serving in the Reserve," said Woxen.

As a token of gratitude, the Airmen reciprocated.

"I presented Ken Sharp, the fire chief, with an Operation Iraqi Freedom coin, reflecting his support for the 446th (AW) members who worked for him during that campaign," said Richardson, a firefighter and emergency medical technician.

Soldiers from the JBLM 4th Stryker and 16th Combat Aviation Brigades, were on hand to represent their respective community connector partners from Lakewood and University Place to accept proclamation plaques from WPFR.

"The proclamations were to honor the military and that (WPFR) will support the military and what they do," said Woxen, a WPFR firefighter and paramedic. "But the 446th (AW) Reservists, along with other Reservists and Guardsmen were honored for serving in the military and being firefighters as well."

Lt. Col. William Downing, represented the 4th Stryker Brigade for Lakewood and Lt. Col. James Faulknor, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade accepted the proclamation for University Place.


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November 30, 2011 at 9:52am

Team McChord to host ‘Wingman Day’

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.  -- Taking care of your Wingman is fundamental in today's Air Force culture. Wingman Day, scheduled for Dec. 2, 2011, is an all-day event dedicated to reinforcing the Wingman concept.

The goal of the day is to build resilient Airmen and focus on unit health through the Resiliency Program. Resiliency is defined throughout the installation as the ability to withstand, recover and grow in the face of stressors and changing demands.

Airmen will be in their physical training gear, uniform of the day, as training begins with a mandatory Team McChord all-call in Hangar 4. The training will include 62nd Airlift Wing and 627th Air Base Group leadership discussing Wingman culture principles. They will encourage McChord personnel to get involved, stay alert and take action to protect each other.

"This is a great opportunity for us to take care of our people and create a stronger, more resilient team," said Chief Master Sgt. Gregory Warren, 62nd AW command chief. "The Wingman concept is a way of life. It's about more than one day; it is a culture of Airmen taking care of Airmen each and every day."

Following leadership remarks, the team will receive briefings from multiple agencies, including the Master Resilience Trainers. The trainers will discuss the Comprehensive Airman Fitness Program and introduce squadron resiliency trainers. The CAF program at McChord focuses on overcoming relationship, parenting and work obstacles, coping with grief and anxiety, achieving greater physical health and bolstering optimism.

According to Tech. Sgt. Monique DuBose, Team McChord Comprehensive Airmen Fitness master resilience trainer, two new initiatives will be introduced during Wingman Day: "Hunt the good stuff" and "Active constructive responding and praise."

"These initiatives focus on countering negative bias to create positive emotion and building strong relationships using praise to promote winning streaks," said DuBose.

After the all-call, teams will break out into smaller groups within their squadrons or units. Resiliency trainers from each squadron will determine which areas of the resiliency program to focus on.

"I think the resiliency training we received is invaluable and everyone should get it," said Tech. Sgt. Angelique Joiner, 62nd Operation Support Squadron master resilience trainer assistant. "I'm definitely looking forward to helping out the master resilience trainers."

Finally, the teams will break for lunch and then regroup for the Wingman Day run.

"The last Wingman Day was really helpful," said Staff Sgt. Mallory Paul, 62nd AW Protocol deputy. "I'm looking forward to hearing the new topics, especially some new information about resiliency."


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