Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: February, 2012 (24) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 24

February 2, 2012 at 6:24am

Air Force leaders publish new strategy document

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz released the 'Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets' white paper Feb 1.

"The Air Force has made the hard choices to closely align with the new strategic guidance in our FY13 budget submission by trading size for quality," the leaders stated. "We will be a smaller but superb force that maintains the agility, flexibility, and readiness to engage a full range of contingencies and threats."

The Air Force strategy document provides an overview of the way forward for the present and future Air Force. The Following areas are outlined in the document: The Air Force new strategy; force structure; readiness; modernization; more disciplined use of Defense dollars; and taking care of people.

"It is our intent, indeed our obligation, to the American people and our Airmen to remain the world's finest Air Force in the years and decades to come," Donley and Schwartz penned. "Innovative and adaptable, America's Air Force will continue to meet emerging challenges and ensure the security of the Nation and its bright future."

To read the 'Air Force Priorities for a New Strategy with Constrained Budgets' click here.

February 2, 2012 at 6:26am

446th Airlift Wing receives recognition from U.S. Congressman

U.S. Congressman Adam Smith (left) recognizes members of the 446th Airlift Wing in receiving the Meritorious Unit Award

Military members usually don't mind receiving credit for a job well done. That recognition is even more meaningful when it's given by one of the nation's leaders.

That's why U.S. Congressman Adam Smith presented a recognition letter to the 446th Airlift Wing, Washington State's only flying Reserve unit, for earing the Meritorious Unit Award. Although the wing won the award last year, Smith took time out of his busy schedule to personally recognize the wing here, Jan. 30, 2012.

The wing flew more than 9,700 missions in more than 42,000 flying hours, averaging 2,000 missions every four months to 11 different Iraqi airfields to earn the award again.

"It's an honor to recognize the 446th for its performance and its commitment to serving the United States," Smith said in his presentation. "I ask that my colleagues in the House of Representatives, please join me in congratulating the 446th Airlift Wing for receiving the Air Force Meritorious Unit Award."

Col. Bruce Bowers, 446th AW commander accepted the letter on behalf of the wing.

"I think it was very gracious of Congressman Smith to take time out of his busy schedule to make this presentation to Congress and then to us here at the wing," Bowers said. "It shows how passionate he is about supporting the people and the mission here. I truly appreciate him recognizing our Reserve Airmen and their civilian employers."

Mission support units, such as the 446th Civil Engineer and 446th Security Forces Squadrons mobilized for deployments, in which they provided security and emergency response at strategically critical air bases in Iraq.

The Meritorious Unit Award, established in 2004, recognizes organizations for outstanding achievement and service in direct support of combat operations on or after Sept. 11, 2001. It is given to units that have displayed outstanding devotion and superior performance of exceptionally difficult tasks, setting themselves above other units.

"The 446th directly contributes to national objectives and continuously demonstrates their combat readiness as they fulfill global peacetime and wartime operations," said Smith. "For this, my constituents and I are most grateful."

February 2, 2012 at 6:29am

DOD working toward fully functional prosthetic arms

A robotic arm, dubbed "Luke," after the Jedi with the mechanical hand, served as the centerpiece for a Jan. 31 discussion here regarding advancements in prosthetics.

The robotic arm is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-funded project, in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs. The goal of the project is to restore functionality for individuals with upper extremity amputations. The project is still in development.

"The original goal for the program, back when we got started in 2005, was to create, within this decade, a fully functional motor and sensory upper limb that responds to direct neural control," said Dr. Stewart Coulter, during the 2012 Military Health System Conference at the Gaylord National Hotel and Convention Center, from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2.

Coulter, who serves as the general manager at DEKA Research and Development Corporation in Manchester, N.H., also has the role of product manager for the revolutionizing prosthetic arm system to provide improvements in functionality and usability for wounded warriors and others.

The DEKA arm has 10 degrees of movement, and features moving fingers, wrist, elbow and shoulder. All those parts move with electric motors, which are controlled by the user with signals from a foot-based controller.

But Coulter said it's easy to confuse the advances being made in prosthetics with science fiction.

"A lot of people have seen, for instance, the Terminator movies, and sometimes forget that those aren't actually real," Coulter said.

The standard for prosthetic arms up until now has been "two to three degrees of freedom," Coulter said, which is not much different than a prosthetic arm that features a hook.

"You see the hand open and close, you're seeing elbow flex, you might see a wrist rotate but not much more than that," Coulter said. "You're seeing low torque, but you're not seeing any feedback to the user."

In addition to degrees of freedom in prosthetic movement, Coulter said work being done to combine multiple individual prosthetic movements into single, more fluid movements. He also said there is work being done to find better ways to attach prosthetics to the user's body.

"These are the three areas that need to be resolved," he said. "If you can't address making the arm have the capability, if you can't address the control seam part, if you can't address how you attach it to them, it won't do any good to address two of the three."

The various grips are also important.

"If you want to be able to use a drill, there's a whole different grip," Coulter said. "So now we have a grip that will let you close the index finger independently like that. And you ought to see somebody's face light up who hasn't used a drill in 20 or 30 years."

One of the hard parts about this, he said, is finding a way to control a system, given the fact there's now 10 degrees of freedom in the arm.

"Current ones are done with myoelectric controls, so they'll use residual muscles and it's very difficult to do that," he said. With the DEKA arm, they are using foot-based controls.

"This provides a pretty good level of control, without relying on someone else to do it, relying on a joy stick, or relying on using their other arm to control it," he said.

Coulter said his team works very closely with a number of people who have used the arm system, and he says they've let the team know what works, and what needs to be fixed.

"We've done clinical studies over the life of the program to improve design and to confirm we got it right," he said. They now have more than 4,000 hours of use time on versions of the arm system.

"This has really given us the experience with the people who'll have to use it," he said.

Coulter said it's fun to have a group of engineers sit and design something but even more fun to have people use it.

"It's been tremendous to work with them and give them the chance to say what activities they want to do," he said. "We've let five people take it home for two weeks, see what they think of it, come back and tell us what's going on."

The feedback, he said, has been very positive.

"They want to do the things that are important to them, such as, going out to a restaurant and eating with chopsticks or a fork, playing golf, holding a trumpet and playing it, leaning up on a lamppost with an outstretched arm, holding a baseball, or reaching up to the top shelf and picking up a glass of water and holding it level as it's brought down to drink," he said.

"To hear them say, 'Yes, I can use this for things I couldn't get done before,' is exactly what we're pushing for here," Coulter said.

February 3, 2012 at 7:24am

STS Airman gets great welcome

As Staff Sgt. Verne Patterson stood on the stage of the base theater at McChord Field and received his Bronze Star with Valor, those in the audience watching waited patiently to show their excitement.

When the opportunity presented itself for people to cheer for the 22nd Special Tactics Squadron Airman, the place got loud.

Patterson, son of Senior Master Sgt. Barbara Adams, a Reservist with the 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron, was honored at a ceremony Jan. 10 at the base.

Fellow Reservists with Adams' unit and the 446th Airlift Wing came out in force to show their support.

"They all watched him mature and grow up over the years," said Adams, who will celebrate her 26th year with the unit in October. "They're all so proud of him. He feels very supported."

The Bronze Star is awarded in recognition of bravery, heroism and meritorious service during engagement with an armed enemy of the U.S. It is the fourth highest combat honor within the military. The Bronze Star recognizes meritorious service while the Bronze Star with Valor recognizes heroism.

Patterson, 30, took classes at Highline Community College and worked as a delivery driver after graduating from Spanaway Lake High School. But he enlisted in the Air Force soon after, following in the footsteps of his grandfather, an Air Force special operations Airman, and his father, a highly decorated Vietnam helicopter pilot who passed away 17 years ago.

"I supported him in everything he did," said Adams, who works full-time as an ER nurse at Tacoma General and the University of Washington Medical Center.

Although Patterson's mission with the 22nd STS has him gone quite often, Adams said her son has a ton of support behind him.

"I see his children and his wife more than I see him," she said. "We're pretty close."

There is also great support network within the squadron.

"They really take care of each other," Adams said. "It's like another family for him."

Patterson was injured during a deployment about two years ago, but he hasn't let it slow him down.

"He's always been that type of kid," the proud mother said. "He bounces back fast and doesn't let anything get to him."

And while it's often Adams who's the one gushing about how proud she is of her son, Patterson isn't shy about letting his mom - who has deployed six times in her career - know exactly how he feels about her.

"He's proud of what I do," she said.

February 4, 2012 at 6:03am

62nd AW wins AMC safety office of the year

The 62nd Airlift Wing Safety Office recently earned the 2011 Air Mobility Command Safety Office of the Year Award.

"This is a win for the entire wing," said Lt. Col. Jason King, 62nd AW chief of wing safety. "Each and every Airman's effort to safely accomplish the mission made 2011 one of the best years on record for McChord Field. Every Airman played a part, and every Airman should be proud."

Last year, the office operated 53 C-17 Globemaster IIIs and launched more than 12,000 sorties without a major mishap. By spreading awareness and involving everyone from commanders and supervisors down to individual Airmen, all ground mishaps were reduced by 17 percent.

The office received an "excellent" rating during the Unit Compliance Inspection with zero flight safety discrepancies. Also, during a no-notice Limited Nuclear Surety Inspection, the office garnered an "outstanding" rating with four total strength areas.

"Strengthening the nuclear enterprise remains a top priority for our service and our nation," said King. "The professionals at McChord Field are leading the way with passion and a culture of continuous improvement like never before."

In addition to the office award, two safety professionals were individually recognized. Tom Thompson was named AMC Safety Civilian of the Year and Capt. William Dabney was named AMC Nuclear Surety Individual of the Year.

"It is such an honor and so humbling just to be nominated," said Thompson. "The civilians within the office here are such professionals and are so good at what they do, that to be nominated from among that group was just a tremendous honor. Then to win at the AMC level was just so humbling that I was speechless. Even though it is an individual award, I think it is a great testament to the quality people we have here."

February 4, 2012 at 6:34am

McChord's operational readiness exercise design a little different

Team Silver or Team Blue? Actually, it really doesn't matter which team you support, as ultimately it's Team McChord that will benefit from the upcoming operational readiness inspection.

The 446th Airlift Wing, 62nd Airlift Wing, with support from the 627th Air Base Group, will head out to the "war" Feb. 10-17 in the first of three team practices for the October Air Mobility Command Inspector General Operational Readiness Inspection.

This first practice is here on the home field - McChord Field. And it won't be like any operational readiness exercise you've seen before. Team Silver and Team Blue will alternate days between straight up training and working in the "deployed" environment.  Individuals will find out which team they're assigned to next week.

"What will happen is that on Monday of the exercise, work hours are 6 in the morning to 6 at night. So, folks will be arriving into the play area, both Blue and Silver for initial reception and bed down," said Lt. Col. Diego Wendt, 446th AW chief, exercises and evaluations.

Prior to the initial reception and bed down Feb. 13, both Reserve and active-duty Airmen will process for deployment Feb. 11-12.

"The 'war' kicks off Tuesday morning. Team Blue will have 12 hours of war, while Team Silver will have 12 hours of training, to include ATSO (ability to survive and operate), mask fitting, self-aid buddy care; it's a really robust training plan," Wendt said.

Wednesday, Team Silver fights while Team Blue does training. Thursday the teams will switch.

"Friday, we have a shortened war and a shortened training event. Everything wraps up on Friday. The one thing we opted not to exercise, because it's artificial anyway in a local event, is the redeployment. So what we did by giving up the exercising of the redeployment is we bought ourselves an extra day of war and real useful training," explained Wendt.

The main objective of this ORE, according to Wendt, is to fully test Team McChord's initial response and the deployment process. So that means every ORI-tasked function and personnel will process Saturday or Sunday on the Reserve weekend, including active-duty Airmen. About 695 people are expected to process.

"Everyday we'll expect people to be on base between 5:30 in the morning and 5:45 in the morning; whether it's a war day or a training day," said Wendt. "The war days, the warriors will report to the O'Club, where a shuttle will leave at 5:45 to transport people to the 300 area.

On training days, people will go to Hangar 9, where they'll need to be at 6 in the morning."

For the initial bed down Feb. 13, everyone will go to the McChord Field Club in the order of their chalks for deployment.

In the war zone (play area), there will be no cell phones; don't even bring them, according to Wendt.

"And don't bring food, not even snacks. MREs (meals-ready-to-eat) and a hot lunch will be provided in the war area," Wendt said. "Bring cash, because MRE's cost $4.55 each. You can buy them in the initial processing line on Saturday or Sunday (pre-order them), or you can buy them when you check in through personnel in the war zone."

On training days, Wendt recommends people show up with a good breakfast already in them, and to bring snacks. There will be only one hour for lunch.

When working on a training day, Airmen need to ensure they bring with them any computer-based training certificates for the self-aid buddy care and Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear and Explosive training.

"We call this our Bang for the Buck plan," said Wendt. "The most valuable objective is to train for the first time, as a joint base with our 627th and 62nd partners. The real value of this is that the Reserve brings an extraordinary amount of experience to the table and we're looking forward to the opportunity to train."

In addition to the training "deploying" Airmen will receive, exercise evaluation team members will receive training as well.

"We're looking forward to the opportunity to train EET members to create a standardized grading process so when we go to the May fly-a-way, we're all grading from the same criteria," said Wendt. "We want to raise up inspectors who will provide an ORI/AMC IG level inspection for the May and September fly-a-ways."

Photo: Reservists from the 446th Airlift Wing, McChord Field, Wash., process through a deployment line here before leaving for an exercise. Both Reserve and active-duty Airmen will process much like this for the operational readiness exercise Feb. 11-12, 2012. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Grant Saylor).

February 7, 2012 at 6:47am

Obama Nominee Could Become Air Force’s First Female General

President Barack Obama has nominated Lt. Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger to the rank of general, and as commander of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta announced today.

The promotion would make Wolfenbarger the Air Force's first female four-star general.

"The secretary strongly supports the president's nomination, and he believes that General Wolfenbarger is an outstanding Air Force officer," Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today. "The fact that she would be the first woman to wear a fourth star in the Air Force, if confirmed, is a testament to her skills, experience and dedication."

If confirmed by the Senate, Wolfenbarger would become the military's second female officer to receive four stars behind Army Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commander of Army Materiel Command, who was promoted to general in 2008.

As the military deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition in the Pentagon, Wolfenbarger is responsible for research and development, test, production, and modernization of Air Force programs worth more than $40 billion annually.

A 1980 Air Force Academy graduate, Wolfenbarger began her career in acquisitions as an engineer at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla. She has held a variety of assignments at headquarters Electronic Security Command and Air Force Systems Command.

Wolfenbarger has had oversight of the F-22 program at Wright-Patterson and in the Pentagon, and was program director for the B-2 aeronautical systems at Wright-Patterson. She commanded the Aeronautical Systems Center's C-17 Systems Group, Mobility Systems Wing.

Wolfenbarger was director of the Air Force Acquisition Center of Excellence at the Pentagon, then served as director of the Headquarters AFMC Intelligence and Requirements Directorate at Wright-Patterson. She was the vice commander of Air Force Materiel Command at Wright-Patterson before taking her current position.

Wolfenbarger holds master's degrees in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and in national resource strategy from the National Defense University.

February 9, 2012 at 6:33am

Congratulations to McChord's quarterly award winners

Congratulations to the following members of the 62nd Airlift Wing and Team McChord who earned a quarterly award for the months of October through December 2011.

Airman of the Quarter

62nd AW: Airman 1st Class Bradley Bardsley, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron
Team McChord: Senior Airman Michael Walter, 627th Security Forces Squadron

Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter

62nd AW: Tech. Sgt. Miles Haroldson, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Team McChord: Staff Sgt. Devin O'Donnell, 373rd Training Squadron

Senior Noncommissioned Officer of the Quarter

62nd AW: Master Sgt. Eric Daniels, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron
Team McChord: Master Sgt. Donald Hood, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron

Junior Company Grade Officer of the Quarter

62nd AW: 2nd Lt. Joseph Crisostomo, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
Team McChord: 1st Lt. Chaola Harris, 627th Force Support Squadron

Company Grade Officer of the Quarter

62nd AW: Capt. Jonathan Dedic, 62nd Operations Support Squadron
Team McChord: Capt. Mica Myers, 627th Communications Squadron

Civilian Category Ia

62nd AW: Janet Johengen, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron
Team McChord: Katrina Hinnenkamp, 22nd Special Tactics Squadron

Civilian Category IIa

62nd AW: Lowell Mooney, 62nd Operations Support Squadron
Team McChord: Karen Van Pelt, 627th Force Support Squadron

Civilian Category IIb

Anthony Bamba, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron

Honor Guard Member of the Quarter

Tech. Sgt. Jason Elliot, 627th Security Forces Squadron

February 11, 2012 at 7:37am

FTI continues to transform food delivery for Airmen

The Air Force Food Transformation Initiative began at six pilot locations a little over a year ago, and the ground-breaking initiative continues to make progress in redefining how food is delivered to today's Airmen.

In its first year, Airmen at the FTI pilot locations experienced revamped menu options, healthier selections, new aesthetic dining room designs and increased operating hours.

"(FTI) is improving the manner in which we deliver meal choices, food quality, speed of service, and the overall dining experience to our personnel," said Daniel Ginsberg, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for Manpower and Reserve Affairs. "We will continue working with Congress, the secretary of defense, Air Staff and (Air Force) Services personnel in promoting and introducing FTI to other Air Force locations at the right time, sequence and manner."

Campus-style dining
Air Force Services officials said a top FTI success is the campus dining implementation, which allows Airmen on meal cards to eat at FTI-contracted, nonappropriated-fund food and beverage operations. This gives Airmen in the dorms the ability to eat at locations based upon personal preference and helps save them time if they work far from the dining facility. Pilot installations have served nearly 50,000 enlisted Airmen to date.

"Travis Airmen have embraced the campus style of dining," said Master Sgt. Kevin James, the 60th Force Support Squadron sustainment services flight superintendent at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "Our Airmen enjoy the varieties provided by FTI and have consistently expressed positive comments about the additional options, especially the 'Wingman's' and the Knucklebuster Café."

Campus dining is also a huge hit at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., said Lawrence Hornback, the 45th FSS chief of community services flight.
"Our single Airmen love being able to use their meal card at any one of five food and beverage operations run by our FSS team," Hornback said.

A sense of community
Another FTI success was enhancing a sense of Air Force community at the pilot locations by allowing civilians, families and retirees to eat at dining facilities along with total force Airmen.

"Without a doubt, the number one success since the start of FTI (at Patrick AFB) was allowing the larger base population to eat at our Riverside Dining facility," Hornback said. "Our number of customers have tripled, and our entire workforce raves about the selection, quality and price of food."

Allowing the installation community to eat at dining facilities resulted in an increase of total meals served from 1.42 million to more than 1.95 million customers served for all six pilot locations combined during the first year. Additionally, the number of Airmen using meal cards increased by more than 133,000 meals during the first year.

During the first year, pilot locations increased dining facility hours of operation from an average of 55 hours per week to an average of 110 hours per week, providing more accessibility to customers.

Two pilot locations took accessibility a step further by incorporating food kiosks, called provisions on demand, to provide grab-and-go hot and cold food and beverages for Airmen working far from dining facilities. Officials said they will continue to review additional locations for PODs.

The future
The second year of the initiative includes renovating pilot location dining facilities to further enhance food delivery. Instead of traditional cafeteria-style serving lines, the renovations will add serving stations such as salads, sandwiches and pizza, allowing customers to proceed directly to their station of choice, James said. A "Cooking Light" area will provide made-to-order, nutritious menu entrees for those desiring healthy dining options.

"The days of waiting in line for a sandwich while the chef is busy serving from the snack line are done," James said. "FTI renovations will provide our customer base an improved dining experience and our chefs the resources to provide better service to the Travis community."

Additionally, the pilot locations will implement branded concepts at NAF food and beverage operations including "Wingman's" at the enlisted and collocated clubs, "Tenpins" at the bowling centers and "Fairways" at the golf courses.

Other pilot locations include Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska; Fairchild AFB, Wash.; Little Rock AFB, Ark.; and MacDill AFB, Fla.

For more information about Air Force food service operations and other quality of life programs, visit or

February 11, 2012 at 7:39am

New Air Force song recordings ready for use

New recordings of The U.S. Air Force Song are available for use in official military ceremonies. The new recordings, one with vocals and one instrumental-only, respect the original character, lyrics and melody of the song, but are designed to promote more successful performances of our service song by military members around the world.

As of Feb. 6, the old recordings have been removed from the Air Force Portal and the new recordings posted in their place under "Air Force--Sights and Sounds--Air Force Song (Instrumental) and Air Force Song (Choral)." 

Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs officials request that all Air Force Bands, the Air Force Public Affairs Agency, and any other USAF or DOD organization with recordings of The U.S. Air Force Song posted on their organizational sites replace the old versions with the new.

Any questions may be directed to Senior Master Sgt. Jessica Wheeldon at (703) 695-0019 or DSN 225-0019.


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