Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: October, 2012 (7) Currently Viewing: 1 - 7 of 7

October 5, 2012 at 6:36am

McChord Airmen impress at IceFest

People line up to take a tour of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, Sept. 29, 2012 at Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand. The plane, deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, accomodated more than 10,000 visitors from the Christchurch area as par

CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand - Thousands of New Zealanders visited the Christchurch International Airport for a chance to get a glimpse inside the cockpit of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, which deployed Saturday to Christchurch, New Zealand from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in support of Operation Deep Freeze 2012.

Airmen from the 62nd and 446th Airlift wings guided visitors onto the aircraft and answered questions about the plane's capabilities. The tour was one of the many attractions arranged for the city's first ever New Zealand IceFest, an event with Antarctic-themed attractions throughout the city.

The event, which started Sept. 14 and is scheduled to last until Oct. 14, is a celebration of New Zealand's long history with Antarctica.

Upon arrival into Christchurch, the aircraft made a grand entrance performing a low-altitude flyover of various parts of the city. This included a flyover of Hagley Park, in the city center, where hundreds of school children gathered in a large formation to spell the word "IceFest" as a gesture to welcome the jet and its occupants to Christchurch.

The following day, people waited in line for as long as three hours for their chance to tour the jet that will soon be transporting cargo and National Science Foundation personnel to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

"Christchurch is celebrating a century of being the gateway to Antarctica," IceFest director Jo Blair said. "The goal of this event is to showcase our heritage with Antarctica and to help get kids interested in science, as well." Getting a chance to tour the C-17 that will be transporting hundreds of NSF personnel is great for the kids in that respect, she said.

Also in attendance was the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, David Huebner.

"This tour helps put a human face on U.S. military personnel," Huebner said. "Often, people tend to form their opinions from what they see on TV, and this tour is a great way to interact with U.S. Airmen and meet them face to face."

Christchurch got hit hard by the earthquakes in the past couple years and it hurt the city's morale and the people's confidence in the city's future, he said.

"This tour is a very tangible sign of the relationship the U.S. has with Christchurch," Huebner said. "It's great for the city to have friends demonstrate that they care."

Edwina Cordwell, a resident of Christchurch and one of the local attendees on the C-17 tour, described her amazement at seeing the large aircraft maneuver so effortlessly over her home.

"It gives you goose bumps," she said. "Seeing how nimble that huge plane can be. It's almost acrobatic."

Cordwell got choked up describing how she felt seeing the U.S. Air Force visiting Christchurch, especially in light of the devastation the city has suffered over recent years.

"It's quite emotional knowing someone cares," Cordwell said. "Seeing all this is just magical."

According to a representative of the event, more than 10,000 people showed up to tour the aircraft.

The first of 52 main season ODF missions departed Christchurch International Airport Monday, en route to McMurdo Station, Antarctica.

October 5, 2012 at 6:55am

4th AS home after 68-day deployment

Master Sgt. Todd Wivell Leaders of 62nd AW greet 4th AS Airmen returning from deployment as they depart a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at JBLM Monday.

More than 80 Airmen from McChord Field's 4th Airlift Squadron, 62nd Operations Group and 446th Airlift Wing were greeted by family and friends Monday after a 68-day deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

The Airmen were deployed as the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. Their mission was 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 members of the 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron once again knocked it out of the park. I am very proud of all the hard work these Airmen accomplished," said Lt. Col. Jason Ginn, 817th EAS commander. "The efforts of the 4th and their sister squadrons of the 62nd Operations Group combined with our total force brethren of the 446th here at McChord and active duty, Guard and Reserve partners out of Elmendorf and Hickam ensured this was a successful deployment."

During their deployment, the C-17 squadron flew 670 sorties, equaling more than 1,670 hours, moved more than 45,500 passengers and delivered more than 24.2 million pounds of combat sustainment cargo for U.S. military forces in and out of the U.S. Central Command area of operations. In addition, they completed 282 missions with a 96 percent mission effectiveness rate.

"The herculean actions of our Airmen resulted in over 282 combat missions and resulted in the movement of over 24.2 million pounds of cargo and 45,505 passengers in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and the presidential-directed redeployment of surge troops from Afghanistan," said Ginn. "This was a great command experience for me and I hope I have the privilege of commanding these fine Airmen in the future."

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 areas of responsibility.

October 5, 2012 at 7:05am

Reservist busy assisting veterans in need

Courtesy Photo Senior Airman Michelle Mastrorocco

People give to their communities in different ways. Some serve at soup kitchens. Others might read to the blind or coach a youth sport team. But one 446th Airlift Wing Citizen Airman finds joy in helping her own ... fellow veterans.

Senior Airman Michelle Mastrorocco, a 446th Security Forces Squadron patrolman, volunteers as a community outreach leader with the Wounded Warrior Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization designed to assist wounded veterans through a variety of programs and services. They work to encourage injured troops as they adjust to civilian lives.

"Having people like Michelle in the unit remind us why we do what we do," said Senior Master Sgt. Michelle Helpenstell, 446th SFS operations superintendent. "We value service and integrity, and she proves there is always something more that can be done in order to take care of our own."

Taking care of her own gives Mastrorocco gratification.

"There is a certain feeling of fulfillment and satisfaction I get from helping others," said Mastrorocco, who joined the 446th SFS in January 2012. "Community service fosters a sense of belonging and ownership. We are responsible not only for our community and ourselves, but also for each other. Our military community is what we make it. If you volunteer and get involved, it can be pretty awesome."

Volunteering with the WWP isn't her first time helping those in need of assistance.

"I have always been active in the military community, from volunteering in my children's school classrooms, to becoming a certified victim advocate with the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program," Mastrorocco, said. "I believe there are roles that need to be filled. If you have the time and the skills, then you should do all you can to help others and give back to the community."

Mastrorocco, a prior active-duty Airman, has been volunteering for the WWP since early 2012.

The vision of the Wounded Warrior Project is "to foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history," she said. "I wanted to work with them because I believe in that vision."

Mastrorocco doesn't let her successes go to her head.

"It's an amazing feeling when I am able to assist," she said. "I had one client tell me I was an angel after I helped him secure funds to move into an apartment and pay his first month's rent. But I can't spend too much time focusing on the successes I have, because there are always more veterans or family members who need help."

Mastrorocco explains how she and her WWP team contribute to the aid of veterans.

"We recruit volunteers to sign up for events on the Outpost and make sure all pertinent information is posted and sent out," she said. "I also send event information out to various contacts on base to give military members and their families the opportunity to get involved with Wounded Warrior Project events. I also act as a representative of the WWP at community events. We also work closely with and support events held by the Warrior Transition Battalion (at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Main)."

In her full-time civilian career, Mastrorocco assists veterans as an outreach and case manager for Valley Cities Counseling and Consultation, Veterans' Services Department.

"I provide resource and referral information and assistance to veterans, active-duty (service members), National Guardsmen, Reservists and their families," she said.

"We can provide them with referrals to confidential counseling, and assist them with finding housing, emergency financial assistance, education benefits, employment assistance, and anything else they may need assistance with."

Mastrorocco and her coworkers strive not to leave any vets behind.

"If someone contacts us and we can't help them, we'll find someone who can," she said. "There are many resources and benefits available to veterans, military members, and their families. It is our job to help them find those resources and tap into those benefits."

Mastrorocco doesn't plan on abandoning her "service-before-self" attitude any time soon.

"I'm looking at various opportunities that include working with incarcerated veterans and expanding my role with the Wounded Warrior Project," she said. "I would also like to go back and finish my second (master's degree) in counseling psychology, so I can work with veterans in a greater capacity."

Helpenstell puts Mastrorocco's efforts into perspective.

"She takes pride in the thankless," she said. "She recognizes the sacrifices veterans put on the line, and makes sure they don't go unnoticed."

October 6, 2012 at 7:16am

AF names officers selected for promotion

More than 3,200 lieutenants, captains and majors have been selected for promotion, Air Force Personnel Center officials announced today.

Promotion-selects were considered during the July Medical Service Corps lieutenant colonel and major, and line of the Air Force captain central selection boards.

Go to the following links to see the full list of selectees:

Lieutenant colonel:

The boards considered 162 majors, 61 captains, and 3,478 first lieutenants for promotion to the next grade. Results are as follows:

Selection statistics in-the-promotion zone for promotion to lieutenant colonel: 32 selected from 44 considered for 72.7 percent select rate

Selection statistics above-the-promotion zone for promotion to lieutenant colonel: 3 selected from 18 considered for 16.7 percent select rate

Selection statistics below-the-promotion zone for promotion to lieutenant colonel: 3 selected from 100 considered for 3 percent select rate

Selection statistics in-the-promotion zone for promotion to major: 54 selected from 57 considered for 94.7 percent select rate

Selection statistics above-the-promotion zone for promotion to major: 1 selected from 4 considered for 25 percent select rate

Selection statistics below-the-promotion zone for promotion to major: None considered

Selection statistics in-the-promotion zone for promotion to captain: 3,098 selected from 3,333 considered for 92.9 percent select rate

Selection statistics above-the-promotion zone for promotion to captain: 69 selected from 145 considered for 47.6 percent select rate

For more information about promotion opportunities and other personnel issues, visit the myPers website at

October 11, 2012 at 6:40am

AF officials reestablish squadron commander support staffs

Air Force officials reestablished squadron commander support staffs on Oct. 1 to help commanders manage administrative duties and other personnel and knowledge operations functions.

The decision to recreate squadron CSSs was made by Air Force senior leaders during a Corona South conference in February to help squadron commanders who were overburdened by personnel, knowledge operations and administrative support workloads.

To jump start this effort, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Manpower, Personnel and Services was given functional oversight of the CSS organization throughout the Air Force and will be responsible for developing guidance. Group-level knowledge operations personnel will provide initial support for squadron CSSs and be distributed to squadrons according to local requirements and priorities. These personnel will work directly for unit commanders and provide a variety of support functions to squadron leadership and personnel.

Additional billets are scheduled to be added to CSSs in fiscal year 2014. These additional billets will be filled by Air Force personnelists. Senior leaders are also considering options for standardizing Air Force Specialty Codes and grades within each CSS and adding additional manpower in future funding cycles.

"CSSs are the building blocks of strong squadrons. They support commanders and the mission. By rebuilding our CSS, we are helping commanders focus on their top priorities: the mission and the outstanding Airmen who accomplish our mission every day," said Lt. Gen. Darrell Jones, Air Force manpower, personnel and services deputy chief of staff. "This initiative to rebuild unit CSSs will greatly enhance mission effectiveness."

For general information about personnel services and programs, visit the myPers website at

October 17, 2012 at 7:38am

Air Force adopts mascot in the 'Win the War Against Waste' campaign

The Air Force has a new mascot to help its recycling awareness campaign and fight against solid waste.

CHUCK-IT, the recycling mascot, targets children between the ages of 5 and 12 and is the latest addition to the "Win the War Against Waste" tool kit -- an outreach campaign developed to support the Air Force's worldwide environmental objectives for solid waste management.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center recently developed animated CHUCK-IT public service announcements, posters and a sticker -- all available for Air Force installations to download and use locally.

The CHUCK-IT mascot targets children but has appeal for those of all ages, said Nancy Carper, AFCEC's integrated solid waste management specialist.

"Children often get stuck taking out the trash and recycling, so CHUCK-IT brings some fun to this not-so-fun chore," she said.

The tool kit provides Air Force installations with outreach materials to help keep their campaigns fresh as they move toward achieving higher levels of waste diversion, Carper said.

In addition to the CHUCK-IT materials, the kit also includes the Air Force's full color recycling logo, magnet designs, banner designs, poster designs, newspaper articles and other video public service announcements.

The Win the War Against Waste program, started in 1999, continues Air Force efforts to exceed the Department of Defense strategic sustainability performance plan goal. The service is working toward diverting 55 percent of non-hazardous solid waste, not including construction and demolition waste, by 2015 and 65 percent by 2020, Carper said.

In addition to CHUCK-IT and the Win the War Against Waste campaign, Carper encourages Air Force-wide participation in November's America Recycles Day and suggests people check with their installation recycling manager for information on local America Recycles Day events or activities.

"We need to continue to educate all members of our Air Force family on how their efforts -- large or small -- can and do make a difference," Carper said.

"CHUCK -IT helps us reach a whole new demographic and help get children of all ages in the habit of recycling," she said.

For more information on Win the War Against Waste or CHUCK-IT, visit

October 17, 2012 at 7:41am

AF officials releasing enlisted quarterly assignment listing

Air Force officials are releasing the enlisted quarterly assignment listing, or EQUAL, on Oct. 22 for the July to September 2013 overseas assignment cycle.

Enlisted Airmen must update their assignment preferences by Nov. 1 and they will be notified of their assignment selections by Nov. 16.

"We are accelerating the release of the EQUAL list to allow us time to complete the overseas assignment cycle before the Military Personnel Data System upgrade in December," said Michael Kiel, Air Force Personnel Center integrated assignment, applications and training chief. "If Airmen do not update their assignment preferences by Nov. 1, they will not be considered as volunteers for the overseas assignments advertised on EQUAL."

EQUAL posts upcoming assignments by Air Force Specialty Code and rank. Airmen are instructed to review, prioritize and list their assignment preferences based on the EQUAL list. Airmen can update their assignment preferences on the virtual Military Personnel Flight application and view the EQUAL list on the myPers website at Active duty Airmen on temporary duty during the EQUAL advertising period can contact their nearest personnel support office for assistance.

The Air Force is upgrading and transferring MilPDS to the Defense Information Systems Agency's Defense Enterprise Computing Center, and the upgrade project is scheduled to take about 23 days to complete. During this period, MilPDS will not be available.

MilPDS is the primary records database for personnel data and actions that occur throughout every total force Airman's career. MilPDS is also used to initiate Airman pay actions, maintain Air Force accountability and strength data, and support a host of interactions with other Air Force processes and systems that rely on personnel data.

Reserve and Guard members will receive specific instructions from the Air Force Reserve Command and Air Reserve Personnel Center concerning how the MilPDS upgrade will impact their personnel programs. More information is available on the ARPC public website at  

Officials will continue to release additional information and guidance to the Air Force's manpower, personnel, services and pay communities and total force Airmen to continue to educate them on how the service will perform critical personnel and pay tasks during the MilPDS upgrade.

For more information about the EQUAL list or MilPDS upgrade, visit the myPers website at

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