Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: May, 2016 (13) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 13

May 5, 2016 at 1:42pm

WADS members give 31 units of blood to ASBBC

U.S. Air National Guardsmen from the 225th Air Defense Group, Western Air Defense Sector, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, answered the Armed Services Blood Bank Center Pacific Northwest (ASBBC) call for blood donations, April 30.

ASBBC, located in the Madigan Annex on JBLM, is a tri-service organization that supports the blood requirements for four military hospitals. In this case, the center was in immediate need of additional blood donations, specifically of blood type O negative, in order to fulfill requirements in direct support of military overseas deployments.

"These donations will more than likely support servicemembers on the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan," commented Master Sgt. Traci Barnett, WADS blood drive co-coordinator.

The 31 airmen who rolled up their sleeves to donate blood, will more than likely have their blood available downrange in less than a week, according to Victor L. Shermer, ASBBC blood donor recruiter. O negative blood type is considered a universal red cell donor for all blood types.

According to the American Red Cross, O negative blood is only in about eight percent of the Caucasian population, four percent in the African-American population and Hispanic population, and only one percent in the Asian population. "The fact that three of the thirty-one blood donors are O negative, resulted in WADS providing more than the population norm," said Master Sgt. Malinda Gonnuscio, WADS blood drive co-coordinator. "In addition, we had nine O positive donors, who are also universal donors for people who are Rh positive for any blood type." Even though the ASBBC desired O blood donors, the organization was pleased to also receive two units of B negative blood, which is the rarest, according to Shermer.

Additional information on donating blood can be found at or to sign up to donate, go to

May 5, 2016 at 1:52pm

McChord airmen welcome WWII veterans home

Servicemembers wait in line to greet the World War II veterans as they return home April 25, 2016, at the SeaTac International Airport. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

More than 100 United States Armed Forces members from all branches of service greeted World War II veterans upon their arrival to SeaTac International Airport, April 25.

The servicemembers greeted the veterans as they stepped off the airplane from visiting the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. They thanked them for their service to our country and escorted them down to the SeaTac atrium where they were applauded for their service by more than 500 family, friends and bystanders.

The event was sponsored by the Puget Sound Honor Flight, which was established in March 2013.

According to their website, the Honor Flight Network is a nonprofit organization created solely to honor America's veterans for their sacrifices. They transport military heroes to Washington, D.C., to visit and reflect at the memorials.

"When I found out that there were more than two hundred veterans on a waiting list in the Puget Sound, I knew I had to do something," said Renee Peavey, PSHF co-director. "My husband and I have worked hard to get this hub up and running so we can honor our local veterans and get them back to see the memorials."

More than 20 airmen from Team McChord volunteered their time to greet and escort the WWII veterans upon their arrival.

"It was an honor meeting the veterans and hearing their experiences from when they served," said Airman 1st Class Mason Woodman, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief.

Fifty-two WWII veterans were escorted off the plane and down to the atrium where they received quilts and attended the "Welcome Home Celebration."

"The veteran I spoke with on the way down to the atrium shared some amazing stories from their tours," said airman Jeremy Ilaban, 62nd AMXS crew chief. "I felt honored to be able to be a part of this welcome home celebration."

For many of the veterans, it was the first time they had seen the WWII Memorial. The memorial opened to the public April 29, 2004 and honors the 16 million who served in the Armed Forces of the U.S., the more than 400,000 who died and all who supported the war effort from home, according to its website.

At the end of the welcome home celebration, Peavey thanked all the volunteers for helping and making the event such a success.

"I'm glad I volunteered and got the opportunity to meet and honor these men and women who served our country in World War II," said Woodman. "I am truly humbled to be a part of this event and would recommend to those who haven't done an honor flight to find out when they are and give to those who served before us."

May 5, 2016 at 1:56pm

AMC Rodeo to have new life

An international team arrives at McChord Field during AMC Rodeo 2007. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Air Mobility Command's first-ever Mobility Guardian readiness exercise is planned for July 30, 2017 to Aug. 12, 2017, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The exercise will be one of the most realistic real-world, scenario-driven exercises the command has ever undertaken, said Maj. Gen. Jerry Martinez, AMC director of operations.

"The objective is to execute rapid global mobility missions we see today, as well as those we anticipate in the future, to enhance mobility partnerships," said Martinez. "Exercising with allies we depend on every day will enhance the ability of our Mobility Air Forces airmen to overcome challenges and achieve national objectives."

The AMC commander agreed.

"Interoperability with our joint and allied partners is crucial to be able to move people, planes and cargo into contested environments around the world," said Gen. Carlton D. Everhart, II. "Mobility Guardian will be our premier exercise for U.S. and allied units to train together and improve joint capabilities. We'll train like we fight."

The excitement has been evident in the reactions of partners from the combat air forces and special operations forces, as well as international partners who are already lending time to help plan what will be AMC's preeminent readiness exercise, Martinez said.

"Mobility Guardian 2017 will provide a tremendous opportunity to put all our mobility capabilities to the test," said Martinez. "We're really working hard to expand international participation. This forum will allow participants to share tactics, techniques and procedures essential to maintaining readiness and sustainment in coalition campaigns around the world."

Mobility Guardian 2017 is a completely new exercise and focused on training the full range of capabilities Air Mobility Command provides to the nation," said Capt. Nick Plante, chief of Media Engagement Division.

How that will involve local leaders and supporters of the base has not been determined.

"As the first iteration is over a year away, many of the details to include the level of civic leader involvement are still being planned," Plante added.

May 6, 2016 at 12:02pm

McChord Top III hosts family fishing derby

Members from Joint Base Lewis-McChord cast their lines during the Annual McChord Field Top III Children’s Fishing Derby April 30, 2016 at Carter Lake on McChord Field. Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

It was a great day for fishing, and families to took advantage of the beautiful weather by gathering their fishing poles and baiting hooks for the Annual McChord Field Top III Children's Fishing Derby at Carter Lake on McChord Field.

This year's Fishing Derby, April 30, saw more than 500 children and volunteers participate in the event.

For the derby, children ages 1 to 14 years old, split into four age groups and fished for an hour-and-a-half for an opportunity to win prizes and trophies.

"This event was a huge success," said Master Sgt. Anthony Urbancic, 627th Logistic Readiness Squadron customer support section chief and Top III representative. "All the children caught at least one fish and I saw a lot of smiles on all the kids faces."

For a lot of the families, this was the first time participating in this event, but there were also repeaters as well.

"This was my first time coming out to the derby," said Staff Sgt. Codi Powers, 627th LRS fuels technician. "I am a huge outdoorsman and I wanted to bring my son out here to experience fishing and become familiar with some outdoor events."

Tech. Sgt. James Lee, Joint Base Lewis-McChord ALS instructor, is a repeater for the event.

"This is a great event put on by an awesome organization," said Lee. "I have been bringing my son out here to the derby for a couple years now and the event gets better and better. I enjoy teaching, so having the opportunity to come out to this event and teach my son about fishing excites me."

Urbancic said he coordinates with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to help stock the lake on JBLM.

"Cater Lake was stocked with more than twelve hundred trout," said Urbancic. "We wanted every child to have a chance to catch fish; to be afforded the opportunity to win trophies and prizes."

For this year's event, trophies were given out for the shortest, longest, and most fish caught for each age group.

Urbancic announced for the event that the shortest fish caught was eight inches, the longest fish caught was 19 inches, and the most caught was 16.

A variety of organizations contributed to the derby this year, including the Team McChord Chiefs Group, the Air Force Sergeants Association, Team McChord Top III, Pierce Military and Business Alliance, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, to help with prizes and trophies for the children.

The USO contributed as well, serving lunch for free to the families who participated.

"If I am still here, I will definitely be attending this event again," said Powers. "My son and I had a really good time bonding. All he wanted to do was catch a fish, and we caught multiple fish."

May 6, 2016 at 12:07pm

USAF SAPR director visits McChord Field

Maj. Gen. James Johnson is briefed by Airman 1st Class Jacob Osborn, 62nd Aerial Port ramp services apprentice, about training pallets constructed by Osborn and other airmen from the 62nd APS. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

"I ask one question - do we have a problem with sexual assault?" said Maj. Gen. James Johnson, Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office director. Johnson asked this question, along with a number of similar questions, during the 2nd Annual McChord Field Sexual Assault Legal Workshop, April 26, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

During the workshop, Johnson said his goal was not only to inform airmen to changes in the Air Force's SAPR program, but also to get a better understanding of the culture of Team McChord airmen.

The general began his visit having breakfast with airmen from various JBLM units to discuss SAPR and answer their questions concerning SAPR.

Johnson asked airmen where they think the Air Force was today in regards to SAPR.

"I think it's definitely a lot better," said Staff Sgt. Josephine Suarez, 7th Airlift Squadron Aviation Resource Manager. "My squadron commander has a zero-tolerance policy towards unprofessional behavior."

In addition to discussing SAPR with airmen at breakfast, Johnson also provided airmen with career advice.

"What really matters is the work you do and the attitude you bring to your office," Johnson said. "People who are successful master these two things: their attitude and what they can contribute."

After spending the morning at breakfast with the airmen, Johnson thanked each of them for their service and proceeded to the McChord Chapel Support Center to attend the 2nd Annual McChord Field Sexual Assault Legal Workshop. He opened discussion at the workshop asking attendees to provide their perspectives and questions as they relate to SAPR.

"This is a big problem and people are not recognizing it for what it is," Johnson said. "It affects readiness. I think putting a face on sexual assault is key to our success."

Johnson also posed the question: "What is our tolerance?"

"We are a G-rated Air Force," said Col. Leonard Kosinski, 62nd Airlift Wing commander. "But as a service we are a product of our society."

Johnson went on to discuss the Air Force's plans for teaching airmen about SAPR early in their Air Force career.

"When we look at training, Air Force Basic Military Training is the beginning of a life cycle for an airman - they need to be told at BMT what sexual assault is," Johnson said. "Our military training instructors are discussing these things with them because this is the first place we want them to be able to define sexual assault. When they get to technical training, we want them to be able to identify real-world scenarios."

To highlight recent changes made to the Air Force's SAPR program, Johnson discussed reasons for the Air Force's recent implementation of the new Green Dot program. The nonprofit Green Dot organization is contracted by the Air Force to provide violence prevention tools to airmen across the Air Force.

"I gravitated to Green Dot because the evidence shows that it works," Johnson said.

"Green Dot shows airmen how to recognize their barriers and how to overcome them."

Noting the Air Force's Sexual Assault Prevention Strategy, Johnson discussed his efforts towards a comprehensive prevention approach and the importance of training airmen to prevent violence and sexual assault before it happens.

"We have to ensure consistency and standards for our airmen," Johnson said. "We can't have a ‘one size fits all' type of training. We have to develop better screening and intervention programs."

After speaking at the workshop, Johnson listened to feedback given by airmen in breakout sessions. Johnson then thanked the airmen for their participation in the event.

"It was a pleasure to spend time with you and see how important this issue is to you (here at McChord)," Johnson said. "We don't want to ring our hands with this. We want to learn from you and make sure we maximize the work you do."

May 12, 2016 at 2:50pm

McChord airmen celebrate Log Fest 2016

Airmen from the McChord Field Honor Guard render honors during the singing of the National Anthem at the 2016 Log Fest Awards dinner, April 29, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Horns blew loudly and sirens wailed as airmen screamed and yelled. More than 500 airmen from Team McChord cheered as this year's Knucklebuster was announced at the Log Fest 2016 Awards dinner, April 29, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

An annual tradition for recognizing maintainers around the Air Force, this year's Log Fest was hosted to recognize Team McChord's best maintainers and the best of the best: Knucklebuster.

"It's about taking time to recognize their hard work," said Senior Master Sgt. Cari Mujica, 62nd Maintenance Group maintenance training superintendent. "Many times airmen feel overworked, underpaid and unrecognized. We want them to know we see what they do every day and appreciate it."

The overall Log Fest winner and this year's Knucklebuster is Tech. Sgt. Jose Cardenas, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief.

"I had no idea - I'm blown away and surprised," said Cardenas. "I am also very grateful for the airmen I work with for nominating me. If it wasn't for their support, I wouldn't have won this award."

There was a total of 72 Knucklebuster nominees this year, nominated from five squadrons and the 62nd Maintenance Group. Unlike traditional award nominees, Knucklebuster nominees are nominated by their peers for high work performance and overall character.

"Knucklebusters are some of the hardest workers on the lowest level," said Mujica. "It was great to throw this informal event to celebrate their hard work and accomplishments."

The event kicked off with a medallion ceremony for nominees followed by a social hour. The medallion ceremony was presided over by Col. John Knack, 62nd MXG deputy commander, and Lt. Col Joseph Muhlberger, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander.

"Working together, this ‘team of teams' provides excellence in rapid global mobility and enables all the other mission partners across JBLM to execute their missions without fail," said Knack. "These teams have succeeded at every part of the mission."

This year's squadron award winners were as follows:

  • Tech. Sgt. Jose Cardenas, 62nd AMXS
  • Airman 1st Class Kyle Schwachter, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron
  • Senior Airman Marcos Ramon, 62nd Maintenance Squadron
  • Senior Airman Kyle Simpson, 62nd MXG staff
  • Senior Airman, Nicolas Barrena, 627th LRS
  • Tech Sgt. Andrew Wenrick, 373rd Training Squadron

May 12, 2016 at 2:54pm

Airmen participate in Fall Protection Focus weeks

Air Force Occupational Safety will sponsor Fall Protection Focus weeks now through May 13, to draw attention to avoidable mishaps due to falls, said Ken Heath, 62nd Airlift Wing ground safety chief.

During calendars years 2011-2015, falls were responsible for 6,724 Air Force injuries that resulted in 42,539 lost work days at a cost of nearly $65 million, according to Air Force occupational safety professionals.

"If people take time to consider safety measures before planning an event, it could prevent a serious accident from occurring," said Heath. "It only takes a few moments to go through the ‘what if?' scenarios to keep things safe."

Throughout the Fall Protection focus period, Air Force occupational safety professionals will remind Team McChord members of the dangers of preventable falls.

"Prevention of fall-related injuries and fatalities through education and awareness keeps our airmen mission-ready," said Bill Parsons, Air Force chief of occupational safety. "Fall-related injuries result not only from activities involving heights; falls occur more commonly on wet surfaces or stumbles over obstacles in walkways. Most falls are preventable if we follow the appropriate safety guidelines and focus on basic safety practices."

During this two-week focus, every individual or unit should take some time to review fall hazards in their workplace and at home. Supervisors can work with unit safety representatives (USRs) to develop events such as a discussion, a presentation, or invite a guest speaker to highlight fall risks.

The 62nd Airlift Wing Occupational Safety office and USRs will conduct spot inspections of workplace fall protection equipment and plans, ladder safety programs, and applicable passive fall protection systems such as railing and barriers during this time period.

Additional guidance, videos and posters can be found on the Air Force Safety Center's webpage:

May 12, 2016 at 3:10pm

10th AS inactivation 'bittersweet'

Lt. Col. Nathan Campbell (right), former 10th Airlift Squadron commander, passes the 10th AS guidon to Col. David Owens (left), 62nd Operations Group commander May 6, during the 10th AS inactivation ceremony at JBLM. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Sean Tobin

For the fifth time in its 76-year history, the 10th Airlift Squadron at McChord Field was inactivated in a ceremony here May 6. Prior to this ceremony, the squadron had been inactivated four times and reactivated five times since its inception. It was most recently reactivated at McChord Field back in 2003.

This inactivation was part of a provision of the 2015 President's Budget, which also called for Air Mobility Command to convert 16 of its C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from primary aircraft inventory to backup aircraft inventory status - eight from McChord and eight from Joint Base Charleston's 437th Airlift Wing in South Carolina.

Lt. Col. Nathan Campbell, 10th Airlift Squadron commander, laughs at being sprayed with water after flying his last flight as commander of the 10 AS prior to the unit’s inactivation. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Sean Tobin

"Today is bittersweet," said Lt. Col. Nathan Campbell, the former 10th AS commander. "While there is some sadness as we bring to close another rich chapter in the history of the 10th Airlift Squadron, it brings me great happiness and pride to reflect on the feats of the incredible men and women of the 10th."

In its nearly 13 years based at McChord, the 10th AS, also known as the "Pathfinders," took part in missions all over the world, to include Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Freedom's Sentinel, and Operation Inherent Resolve.  Additionally, the unit has helped provide aide during global humanitarian crises and has participated in Operation Deep Freeze, working with the National Science Foundation and the United States Antarctic Program.

During the ceremony, Col. David Owens, 62nd Operations Group commander, said the unit has built a legacy of airlift that no other country and very few organizations can compare to. He then reminded those in attendance that, although the unit has inactivated a number of times before, the Pathfinders have always returned.

“My guess is that someday the Air Force will see fit to once again unfurl the flag and reactivate this fantastic squadron,” said Owens. “One thing I am certain of is, no matter when it happens, the airmen of the 10th Airlift Squadron will once again be ready to lead the way.”

May 19, 2016 at 12:04pm

62nd AW participates in USASOC exercise

Airman 1st Class Jeremy Kosick, 8th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, prepares a C-17 Globemaster III for the arrival of 82nd Airborne Division paratroopers, May 3 at Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina. Photo credit: Tech. Sgt. Tim Chacon

Starting at Pope Army Air Field, North Carolina, and ending at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, airmen from the 62nd Airlift Wing participated in a training exercise May 2-3 sponsored by the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

The three 62nd AW aircrews flying C-17 Globemaster III aircraft assisted in inserting more than 350 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division, from Fort Bragg, North Carolina, over a training area in Texas to simulate how a joint force would infiltrate and seize an airfield in hostile territory.

"This type of training is very realistic of how we would (enter) into a contested area with enemy close by so the troops can secure the airfield for future operations," said Capt. John Shaw, 62nd AW C-17 pilot. "This is about getting a small combat package into a secure area for more troops and cargo later on."

Along with the three 62nd AW C-17s from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, there were three C-17s from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and one from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Also integrated in with the C-17s were C-130 Hercules, a KC-135 Stratotanker, a B-1 Lancer, and a Navy EA-18G Growler.

"It doesn't really get more complex than what we are doing here," said Col. David Owens, 62nd Operations Group commander. "We had close air support integration, bomber integration, mixed formation with the C-130s, there is really nothing else we could add."

Although the plan for the exercise was complex and the timeline for the aircrews was compressed, the exercise was successful.

"It went very well. We were able to get all of the jumpers on the drop zone and they were able to complete their objectives," said Shaw. "The crews were able to a take ninety-five percent solution (from the mission planning cell) and execute it safely and accurately."

There has been and will continue to been an increase in these type of exercises for not just the 62nd AW, but all of Air Mobility Command.

May 19, 2016 at 12:30pm

Airmen honor fallen MIA

Maj. Amanda Turcotte, McChord Field Honor Guard officer in charge, presents Denis Sprague, surviving son of Airman 2nd Class Conrad Sprague, with the U.S. flag during an honors ceremony. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

A ceremonial guardsman wearing white gloves raises his hand to render a salute as a white sedan pulls up to the curb. He proceeds to the vehicle where he respectfully retrieves an urn containing the remains of a fellow comrade.

The urn holds the remains of Airman 2nd Class Conrad Sprague, which were presented to his family during an honors ceremony May 10, at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, Washington.  

Sprague was one of 11 crewmembers and 41 passengers aboard a C-124 Globemaster II that crashed into Mount Gannet, Alaska, while en route to Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, from McChord AFB, Nov. 22, 1952.

For the last 63 years, Sprague was considered missing in action until earlier this year when his remains were identified by the Armed Forces Medical Examiner at Dover Air Force Base, Delaware.

"The last thing I remember is seeing him the day he got on the plane," said retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Denis Sprague, surviving son of Airman 2nd Class Conrad Sprague. "For all this time he has been MIA, we never got an official ceremony."

Since the crash of the aircraft, no servicemembers from the flight were recovered until after June 2012, when an Alaska National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk crew spotted aircraft wreckage and debris while conducting a training mission over Colony Glacier, immediately west of Mount Gannett.

Since being discovered, recovery operations have taken place every summer, resulting in the recovery of 17 airmen's remains, including Sprague's.

"We heard the news in 2013 and were asked to provide DNA samples," said Denis. "I got notified six months ago that they had uncovered three pieces of my father's remains."

Medical examiners from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System used testing conducted by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, along with other forensic evidence, in the identification of Sprague's remains.

"All I've ever had to hold onto was a piece of the plane that was recovered," said Denis. "That's as close as I've been able to come to it."

Because Sprague died while serving, he was given a ceremony with full military honors. The ceremony included a firing party, a flag-folding ceremony, presentation of the colors and the playing of "Taps".

"The reason this was special is because we got to bring a fellow airman home," said Tech. Sgt. Justin Nolan, McChord Field Honor Guard NCO in charge. "It shows the Air Force does care. After decades missing, he was brought back - to me, that's special."

"This was something he deserved - it's a right he earned for his service," said Senior Airman Matthew Feigum, McChord Field Honor Guard ceremonial guardsmen. "I hope this provided them a little more closure than they had before."

For Denis, the ceremony was a long-anticipated event that provided a conclusion to that point in his family's history.

"The closure is the most important thing," said Denis. "I wanted some closure on this part of my life that was left wide open for so long. I had some recollection of what happened, but was never able to say goodbye."

A Washington native, Airman 2nd Class Conrad Sprague was survived by his wife Dorothy Jean and his three children Denis, Christopher and Constance. Sprague is no stranger to the community and is related to one of the city of Tacoma's founders - Medal of Honor recipient Brig. General John Sprague.

To Conrad Sprague's family, he died a hero and deserved the honor he received.   

"He was a true hero because he died doing what he thought was right - just like we all are willing to do who put on the uniform," said Denis.


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