Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: March, 2013 (7) Currently Viewing: 1 - 7 of 7

March 11, 2013 at 7:41am

First AF woman 4-star comes full circle

FORT MEADE, Md. (AFNS) -- Young Janet Libby was definitely someone going places at Beavercreek High School near Dayton, Ohio. She was in the National Honor Society, on both the German and Ski clubs and a soccer athlete as well.

But even those friends and well-wishers who would have signed her senior yearbook with words like "you'll go far," and "you'll be a success in life," could never have imagined that the young daughter of an Air Force pilot would go on to become the first female in the Air Force to attain the rank of four-star general, and only the second in military history.

Today, Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger has come full circle from those Beavercreek roots as the commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, a major command at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just a few miles from where she graduated from high school. She is responsible for more than 80,000 Airmen and civilians worldwide, along with a $60 billion annual budget, leading an organization that supports the warfighting efforts through state-of-the-art technology, weapon systems management, systems development and evaluation and a global supply-chain management system.

It didn't take long following her graduation from high school for Wolfenbarger to make her mark. After a suggestion from her dad a year earlier, she applied and was accepted in 1976 into the first class at the Air Force Academy to accept women.

"The Air Force Academy was an opportunity for me to be stretched in so many ways: physically, mentally and emotionally," said Wolfenbarger at a women's conference in San Diego in 2011. "It was an opportunity to prove to myself that, in fact, I could withstand those kinds of experiences, and come out on the other end realizing that I was far more capable than I ever thought I would be. The experience gave me a belief in myself that I have relied upon ever since."

Commissioned as a second lieutenant in 1980, she has spent most of her career in the acquisition field, leaving her imprint on the purchase, testing and implementation of the F-22 Raptor, the B-2 Spirit and the C-17 Globemaster III programs. She went on to earn a master's degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in aeronautics and astronautics.

Although Wolfenbarger is proud of her accomplishments and the direction women are headed in the Air Force, she said that she never wanted to be recognized for simply being a woman. "I wanted to do well and be recognized because I worked hard," said Wolfenbarger. "I did the very best I could at every job I held."

During the early 1980s, when Wolfenbarger was in the early stages of her career, she told stories of women who could be discharged for getting pregnant or even adopting a child. There were also many more career fields closed to women at the time. She believes that over the past three decades, women have made tremendous strides.

"We now have, not only maternity leave, but also paternity leave for our service members," she said. "Also, when I joined, there were a host of career fields closed to women, but we can now, as a service, proudly say that we have 97 percent of our career fields open to women."

Even though Wolfenbarger believes many women entering the Air Force today may take for granted their equal status, she said there are still areas of progress yet to be overcome.

"I think one of our challenges when we serve our country is that there is such a drive to support our nation in whatever mission we are assigned. I think there has to be a constant reminder that we all have to search for that work and life balance because, in the end, it is our families, our friends and our health that we have to rely on when our careers are over."

March 13, 2013 at 3:21pm

Air Rodeo Canceled

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. - Air Mobility Command announced today that Rodeo 2013, which was to take place at McChord Field in the summer, is cancelled.

Rodeo, sponsored by AMC, is the Mobility Air Force's readiness competition. Rodeo competitions are held to train and improve the abilities of U.S. and international partners' air mobility operations skills while building international relationships.

Gen. Paul Selva, AMC commander, decided this week to cancel the competition because of budget shortfalls.

"Given the fiscal uncertainty and current budget cuts, this was the right thing to do," said Selva. "It is very unfortunate we have to cancel. This is an important and uniquely useful event for mobility air forces and our international partners. We'll get back to holding Rodeo as soon as we can."

The first airdrop competition for units of the active-duty force occurred in April 1962, when the Military Air Transport Service held a MATS-wide Rodeo at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. McChord Field has been the host for the past four Rodeo competitions.

"We recognize that this decision will impact many outstanding businesses and community leaders throughout the South Sound," said Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. "Their support for Rodeo and the competitors over the years has been outstanding. Our Airmen have benefited tremendously from the community support for decades and we sincerely hope to continue our partnerships with the community in whatever capacity possible. Simply put, we can't be successful without the support provided by our local community."

This is not the first time Rodeo has been cancelled. The two most recent examples are Rodeo 2003, which was called off because of worldwide commitments for the war on terrorism and humanitarian efforts. In 1988, it was canceled because of budget shortfalls.

Three air mobility symposia originally scheduled for the week before the competition are also canceled, officials said.

More than 20 U.S. teams and a dozen allied nations were looking to travel to Washington state in late July for Rodeo 2013 to participate in events that would challenge the capabilities of airlift and air-refueling aircrews, as well as maintenance, aerial port, and aeromedical evacuation. Those participants are being notified of the cancellation through appropriate channels, officials said.

March 15, 2013 at 2:11pm

Airman named best military firefighter

Christopher Gaylord/JBLM PAO Senior Airman Steven Soto was named IMCOM’s 2012 Military Firefighter of the Year.

Senior Airman Steven Soto is shy and quiet. But make no mistake - if something comes up, he'll probably be the first to volunteer.

That, one of his superiors said, is the attitude that recently earned him the honor of 2012 Military Firefighter of the Year for the Army's Installation Management Command.

"I can't think of a time he's not involved in something," said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Maxwell, Joint Base Lewis-McChord military deputy fire chief, who oversees more than 30 Air Force firefighters and fire officers supporting JBLM's six fire stations. "If you need something done, he's the first one with his hand up. He's a go-to Airman."

The good news came via email March 1 directly from the IMCOM fire protection office. Soto didn't even know he'd been submitted.

Military Firefighter of the Year, one of several categories that make up the Department of Defense's Fire and Emergency Services Annual Awards program, recognizes the best of the field from each service and in the end, distinguishes one winner.

If fortune remains in Soto's favor through the next level of competition, he'll be the first member of the Air Force ever to earn the award at the Department of the Army level. DA results are scheduled to be released sometime next week.

In years past an Airman wouldn't be seen competing with Soldiers at DA. But joint base realignment, which has placed Soldiers and Airmen together in the same stations, has changed the game.

This year, award guidance for the program's individual categories states that "military firefighters at joint base assignments where their service is not the lead component shall compete in the lead component award process." Fire Chief Dean Dixon, the senior fire chief for JBLM's Fire and Emergency Services, said this is the first year joint installations have sent their top contributors for competition.

"It's a huge sense of pride," Maxwell said. "This department does great things on a daily basis."

IMCOM's four regions encompass the U.S., Europe and Korea. JBLM award submissions first competed against candidates from other stations within the Central Region - an area of responsibility that covers the majority of installations across the U.S.

JBLM's Fire and Emergency Services emerged as the region's Large Fire Department of the Year, and one of its fire officers, Tech. Sgt. Thomas Anderson, was named the region's Military Fire Officer of the Year.

Only Soto, however, was victorious at the command level.

"It's more of an honor than anything," said Soto, 25, who joined the Air Force in 2010 and was assigned to JBLM in February 2011. "I just go out there and do my job, and do it to the best of my ability."

Judges based their decisions on awards packets submitted by the nominees' supervisors that highlight accomplishments, job performance, tactical competency, leadership ability, initiative and resourcefulness. It details how he led fellow firefighters into a home quickly and without hesitation to extinguish a kitchen fire. He had control of the nozzle.

Winners are often difficult to choose, said Maxwell, who reviewed every JBLM packet. But when it came to Soto there was no question.

"Everybody in the department does outstanding work, but he just happens to be a little ahead of his peers," he said.

Among all firefighters Maxwell has worked with in his 23 years as an Air Force firefighter, Soto stands out. "I'd put him right at the top of the list."

Maxwell said Soto frequently trains other Airmen at his station on job-related tasks, while finding time to finish his associate degree through the Community College of the Air Force - an achievement most don't see until they are technical sergeants or higher.

"It took me 10 years," he said.

But Soto also works a second job. That's not in his packet.

The guidance for submitting nominees states that off-duty efforts not in support of a department don't count toward an award.

Firefighters at JBLM work 48 hours on and have the following 48 hours off. But unlike most who recharge at home, Soto heads to an auto parts store, where he stocks and delivers parts.

"I do what I do for my family," Soto, said. The father of two works eight hours a day at the store to help pay for his wife's college whenever he's not on shift at Station 105 on McChord Field. "They depend on me."

He credits his selflessness to his mother.

"My mom always did everything she could to make sure me and my sisters had everything we needed," he said, part of the reason he never stops moving.

"I'm a person who doesn't like to sit still," he said. "I plan to make the Air Force a career, and why am I going to just make my way by and hang behind the curtain instead of putting myself out front?"

But like most who are quiet and humble, Soto isn't letting any accomplishment - even Military Firefighter of the Year - go to his head.

"I'm not going to sit here and think about it," he said. "I'm just going to keep on moving with what I know I need to get done. It just makes me want to keep doing what I'm doing."

The Department of Defense is scheduled to announce winners for the awards program no later than March 31. When it does, said Dixon, who oversees the more than 160 firefighters operating on JBLM, he's not sure how the awards ceremony will play out if Soto wins at DA.

"Do the Air Force stand up, then the Army?" He said, chuckling. "I don't know."

March 26, 2013 at 6:32am

62nd AW honors local widows of Vietnam veterans

Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd Airlift Wing commander, shows Dorine Rogers, widow of a Vietnam veteran, a certificate honoring her March 23, 2013 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The 62nd Airlift Wing hosted a ceremony March 23 to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their family members living in the local area.

During the ceremony, 16 widows of Vietnam veterans were presented with a certificate of honor from the Department of Defense. The ceremony is part of the DOD's commemoration of the Vietnam War's 50th anniversary, which began May 28, 2012 and is a 13-year program dedicated to paying tribute to Vietnam veterans.

"A grateful nation thanks and honors you and your family for your service and sacrifice," said Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd AW commander and presiding officer for the ceremony. "Your husband answered our nation's call and proudly served in the footsteps of previous generations of American servicemen and women. It is a privilege to present you with this certificate of honor in recognition of the patriotism, service and sacrifice of your husband and family."

Elder emphasized the importance of the ceremony, which among other things, provides an opportunity for current servicemembers to remember and thank those who served before them.

"Your husbands served during a very difficult time and I wish I could thank them personally for their service," he said. "I can't do that, but I can extend my thanks through you and for everything you have done to serve your country."

Many expressed gratitude and some were even surprised when they first took a glance at the certificates.

"I wish my husband was here to see this," said Janis Elliott, one of the honorees. "The certificates looked very nice and the ceremony was great."

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and "in conducting the commemorative program, the Secretary shall coordinate, support, and facilitate other programs and activities of the federal government, state and local governments, and other persons and organizations in commemoration of the Vietnam War."

March 28, 2013 at 5:52am

McChord's 4th Airlift Squadron deploying

The 4th Airlift Squadron is scheduled to
deploy March 31 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

More than 60 Airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing's 4th AS will depart for a
60-day deployment to the Middle East. They will be accompanied by Airmen
from Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam,
Hawaii. 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 Southwest Asia. They are replacing the 8th AS,
which is scheduled to return in early April.

The mission of the 817th EAS 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.

March 29, 2013 at 7:05am

New IG at McChord Field outlines purpose

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- As your newly appointed wing inspector general, I wanted to introduce myself and provide a brief overview of the IG office complaint inquiries function.

The term "inspector general" has been used historically in various governments and militaries throughout the world to denote an independent agency that ensures combat readiness of subordinate units. The lineage of the U.S. Air Force IG began with the American Army of 1777 and was established as an official Air Force function in 1948 by Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, the Air Force Chief of Staff at the time.

Vandenberg defined the IG mission as "determining the combat and logistic effectiveness of the Air Force, ensuring the maintenance of discipline and security, and investigating matters involving crime and other violations of public trust." Subsequently, the Goldwater-Nichols Act of 1986 institutionalized the IG for both military and civilians within the Department of Defense.

As McChord Field IG, we manage and execute the Air Force Complaint Resolution and Fraud, Waste and Abuse Programs. We analyze complaints for appropriateness and determine investigative requirements; refer non-IG issues to the appropriate commanders or agencies; coordinate Congressional inquires; and notify senior officials and leadership of issues. IGs do not determine guilt or innocence, do not take sides, and are not anyone's personal advocate. IGs are impartial and thorough fact finders working independently to resolve complaints quickly and objectively in order to resume focus on mission performance.

Anyone may submit a complaint to any IG within the Air Force or DOD. However, individuals are encouraged to begin at the lowest level. According to Air Force Instruction 90-301, Inspector General Complaints Resolution, paragraph 2.1.2, "Complainants should attempt to resolve complaints at the lowest possible level (as appropriate for the circumstances) using supervisory channels before addressing them to higher-level command channels or the IG."

The two types of complaints the IG focuses on are reprisals and restrictions.

- Reprisals are unfavorable personnel actions, including withholding favorable personnel actions, taken or threatened against a member for making or preparing to make a protected communication. Protected communication is when a member communicates what they reasonably believe to be a violation of law or regulation to any person in the member's chain of command, first sergeant, command chief, chief master sergeant of the Air Force, inspector general, member of Congress, or personnel assigned to DOD audit, inspection, investigation, law enforcement, equal opportunity and family advocacy organizations.

- Restriction refers to efforts made to deny a member from making a protected communication to a member of Congress or an IG.

Serving as your local IG office, we stand ready to provide unbiased and timely complaint resolution. You can reach your McChord Field IG office via our website at

March 30, 2013 at 6:50am

AF taps 2,560 for promotion to major, lieutenant colonel, colonel

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- More than 2,500 captains, majors and lieutenant colonels have been selected for promotion, Air Force Personnel Center officials announced today.

Eligible officers were considered during the December CY12C Colonel Biomedical Science Corps/Chaplain/Medical Service Corps, CY12D Lieutenant Colonel BSC/CHAP, and CY12C Major Line of the Air Force/BSC/CHAP central selection boards.

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

Lieutenant colonel:

Selection statistics are as follows:

In-the-promotion zone for colonel:
BSC - 16 selected from 34 considered for 47.1 percent select rate
CHAP - 3 selected from 8 considered for 37.5 percent select rate
MSC - 9 selected from 17 considered for 52.9 percent select rate

Above-the-promotion zone for colonel:
BSC - 0 selected from 34 considered
CHAP - 1 selected from 15 considered for 6.7 percent select rate
MSC - 1 selected from 19 considered for 5.3 percent select rate

Below-the-promotion zone for colonel:
BSC - 1 selected from 60 considered for 1.7 percent select rate
CHAP - 0 considered
MSC - 1 selected from 45 considered for 2.2 percent select rate

In-the-promotion zone for lieutenant colonel:
BSC - 43 selected from 77 considered for 55.8 percent select rate
CHAP - 12 selected from 18 considered for 66.7 percent select rate

Above-the-promotion zone for lieutenant colonel:
BSC - 5 selected from 93 considered for 5.4 percent select rate
CHAP - 2 selected from 11 considered for 18.2 percent select rate

Below-the-promotion zone for lieutenant colonel:
BSC - 3 selected from 175 considered for 1.7 percent select rate
CHAP - 0 considered

In-the-promotion zone for major:
LAF - 2,287 selected from 2,574 considered for 88.9 percent select rate
BSC - 118 selected from 140 considered for 84.3 percent select rate
CHAP - 19 selected from 26 considered for 73.1 percent select rate

Above-the-promotion zone for major:
LAF - 30 selected from 399 considered for 7.5 percent select rate
BSC - 8 selected from 15 considered for 53.3 percent select rate
CHAP - 1 selected from 7 considered for 14.3 percent select rate

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


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