Northwest Military Blogs: McChord Flightline Chatter

Posts made in: May, 2016 (13) Currently Viewing: 11 - 13 of 13

May 19, 2016 at 12:38pm

Leading by example: Capt. J.C. Henry

Capt. Jason Henry (left) learns about the different functions of the R-12 hydrant refueling vehicle from Senior Airman Matthew Bradley (middle) and Airman 1st Class Tyler Marsh (right). Photo credit: Senior Airman Divine Cox

After a rocky and bumpy start to adulthood, Capt. Jason Henry, 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron operations officer, engaged himself with his local services recruiters and ultimately chose to serve in the Unites States Air Force.

Joining the Armed Forces directly after high school was not in the plans for Henry.

"Prior to coming into the Air Force, I went to Penn State University," said Henry. "I grew up a fan of their football program and Joe Paterno."

Henry said the realization of finally deciding to join the Air Force was when he dropped out of Penn State University because his grades was less than stellar and he had accumulated too much debt from student loans.

"I didn't want to have to drop out," said Henry. "I knew I wanted to make something of myself one day so I decided to explore other opportunities to better myself."

Henry enlisted into the Air Force in 1995 as a weapons troop, then later cross-trained to be a radio operator on the E-3 Sentry (airborne warning and control system) before beginning his commissioning process.

Henry loved the Air Force and knew that he wanted to do more than just serve. He wanted to lead airmen and lead by example.

"Back at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma in 2000, I met then-Capt. Matthew Smith, now Col. Smith, who changed my life forever," said Henry. "He motivated me both personally and professionally and is the apex of what it means to be a servant leader.  He is the officer and man I've wanted to emulate since the first day I met him and has been a mentor to me all these years, and continues to do so to this day."

While working his way through the enlisted ranks, Henry took the Officer Training School route after he finished his undergraduate degree from Oklahoma State University in 2001.

But it wasn't a smooth transition from technical sergeant to lieutenant for Henry.

"I was turned down for OTS twice," said Henry. "Then I had a board cancelled. I honestly thought about giving up my pursuit of a commission, as I thought to myself ‘Maybe I am supposed to be a chief?'"

But Henry did not give up and stayed resilient. On July 6, 2006, Henry was sworn in as a commissioned officer and pinned on second lieutenant.

"Transitioning from the rank of technical sergeant to second lieutenant will be the best day of my career," said Henry. "My mother, who has since passed, was there to witness the event, and for my mom to know how proud of me she was at that very moment in time when she, my father and wife, pinned on those gold bars, no rank or job I will attain in or after the service will ever compare to it."

Henry said he does not take being a commissioned officer in the USAF for granted.

"I take every opportunity I have to lead and mentor my airmen," said Henry.

All the all hard work and leadership that Henry displayed throughout the 627th LRS doesn't go unnoticed, as he was recognized as the Team McChord 2015 company grade officer of the year.

"It was truly humbling when I was announced as the CGO of the year," said Henry. "During that moment I reflected back on all the successes of our airmen and civilians in the 627th LRS over the last year.  I also reflected on my opportunity to represent our service (Air Force) in Baghdad, Iraq, with the 1st Infantry Division from Fort Riley, Kansas supporting our servicemembers on the ground, to include the Iraqis.  I also thought of my wife Robyne and our daughters, Emerie and Ellasyn, for the sacrifices they have made on my behalf to serve in the Air Force."

May 26, 2016 at 12:53pm

Port dawgs run for the fallen

Airmen from the 62nd Aerial Port Squadron start the 62nd APS 5K Memorial Run in formation May 18, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Senior Airman Jacob Jimenez

Airmen and families stretched and laced up their shoes as they prepared for the start of a run. With the yell of "go", airmen took off running at this year's 62nd Aerial Port Squadron 5K Memorial Run May 18, on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

The memorial run, an annual tradition among port dawgs, is done to honor all aerial porters known as port dawgs that have passed on.

"I think most importantly, this is a time to take a moment to honor those who have served before us and their sacrifice," said Maj. Faith Posey, 62nd APS commander. "This builds pride in being part of our career field and solidifies our heritage."

This year's run marks the third consecutive year that aerial porters from around the Air Force have ran to honor fallen port dawgs. This year's run honored five fellow port dawgs from around the Air Force that passed in 2015.

"There are more than thirty locations to include deployed locations across the globe participating in this year's run," said Chief Master Sgt. Jerry Miller, 62nd APS air terminal manager. "I think part of this is about heritage and recognizing we are a better Air Force because of those who have gone before us."

This year's run was very important to McChord Field port dawgs after they recently lost one of their own, said Miller.

"This year is a little more personal because it's also about one of our immediate family members," said Miller. "This hits close to home and our family; we want people to know we haven't forgot about their sacrifice."

Besides honoring fallen port dawgs, the purpose of the memorial run is to raise donations for a good cause through the sale of memorial shirts. Collectively, this year's run generated $5,680 in donations for the Fisher House Foundation through the sale of 380 shirts.

"Here it's about family and building an aerial port community," said Miller. "This is one way we can show we care about our own and are there for them."

Unifying the aerial port community, the run was open to active-duty, Guard and Reserve airmen and their families to run and support each other.

"It's great to get out here with my family and remember those that have gone before us," said Staff Sgt. Zachery Morton, 62nd APS cargo processing supervisor. "It gives us all a common ground to come together as one and to support one another."

Quickly becoming a regular tradition among port dawgs, the run helps build morale and community among airmen, said Staff Sgxt. Addison Richey, 62nd APS passenger services supervisor.

"Every time we can get together for an event, it is bonding time and helps build stronger relationships among us," said Richey. "We are a small family and whenever one of us passes away it impacts us all."

May 26, 2016 at 1:00pm

Proving Mobility Guardian

Seven C-17 Globemaster IIIs prepare to depart the McChord Field flight line May 17, to conduct air land and air drop operations as part of a Large Force Exercise at the Mountain Home Range Complex, Idaho. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Naomi Shipley

Seven C-17 Globemasters departed McChord Field Tuesday, May 17, to conduct air land and air drop operations as part of a Large Force Exercise at the Mountain Home Range Complex in Idaho.

"This is a proof of concept for Air Mobility Command's next generation exercise Mobility Guardian," said Maj. Sean McConville, 62nd Airlift Wing Tactics Director. "We didn't necessarily exercise all the capabilities in legacy Rodeo (previous exercises) that we wanted to. AMC leadership asked us to rebuild Rodeo as a flag-level exercise for the Mobility Air Forces."

With a team of five and just a few short weeks, Capt. Chris Wojtowicz and Capt. Joseph Fry, C-17 pilots, successfully coordinated the mission plan for countless aircrews to put their skills to the test during this specific training.

The McChord tails teamed up with F-15 Strike Eagles from the 389th Fighter Squadron and 366th Operations Support Squadron at Mountain Home Air Force Base to simulate operating in a non-permissive environment.

"We decided to do a joint forcible entry operation as part of Mobility Guardian," said McConville. "It's one of the most difficult skillsets that we have on our docket, and with the focus over the last fifteen years on relatively permissive operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we have a significant portion of the crew force - to include the instructor corps - that doesn't even know that they're on the hook for it."

"The Mountain Home Range gives us the airspace and the threat emitters to provide our crews with very high fidelity training. An extraordinary amount of work went into this. Because this is a new thing for a lot of crews here, we wanted to be sure that we were getting it absolutely right."

The F-15s provided detached escort and reactive close air support, a first for McChord local training missions, and the range provided simulated tactical surface-to-air missiles.

The Mountain Home range has both liberal airspace and threat emitters that can replicate hostile radar on a scale that no other base in the region can, according to McConville, which is why this training was unprecedented.

"McChord is leading the way," said McConville. "The AMC commander said he wants us to be ready for operations in semi- and non-permissive environments and to be ready for evolving counter-terrorism threats. This is us doing just that ... four weeks later."

When AMC executes Mobility Guardian, it's not going to be seven C-17s going to execute the mission down in the Mountain Home Range, it's going to be 15 C-17s, 15 C-130s and at least 12 tankers, with a much larger escort package.

"Running through the sortie on a smaller scale gives us the opportunity to build relationships with Air Traffic Control, the 266th Range Squadron, the 389th Fighter Squadron, and it helps us identify some potential stumbling blocks sooner rather than later," said McConville.

This LFE provided more than one first for the McChord C-17 crews.

In fact, it was the first time the crews attempted to connect the data link used by C-17s to the fighter's data link using capabilities in their range.

It was also the first time for a McChord intelligence unit to utilize their Global Rapid Response Intelligence Package in a training scenario.

First Lt. Christy Vachavake, 62nd Operation Support Squadron chief of Intel training, said the GRRIP system is a portable system that attaches to a satellite.

"It can provide access to resources should we need it in an isolated or austere location," said Vachavake. "It is basically an extension of an Intel analyst and it serves as a backup."

The training conducted during this LFE proved to be immeasurable for McConville and the other air crews.

"There are always things to be learned in big exercises," he said. "All in all it was a big win for the 62nd AW because it is the absolute, highest level training that we can get."

McConville said recent operations have seen the C-17 operating in a context that 15 years ago nobody would've ever thought, and by doing this training we are setting up our airmen for success.

"This was Mobility Guardian, but on a smaller scale," he added, "this was a huge win for AMC in general and a case study in the institution of getting it right; leadership at McChord and Mountain Home empowered the operational level to make decisions using existing training resources. What we ended up with was an awesome training opportunity that is greater than the sum of its individual parts."

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