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Airmen repair, save aircraft amid enemy mortars

8 EAMS Shank

8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron mission recovery team members hit the ground. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)


by Senior Airman Bryan Swink
379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

11/15/2012 – SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) — A seven-man mission recovery team assigned to 8th Expeditionary Air Mobility Squadron deployed to forward operating base Shank in the remote Logar province of Eastern Afghanistan to complete repairs and recover a downed C-17 Globemaster III.

They recovered the vital aircraft amid daily enemy mortar attacks.

“We knew we had a lot of tireless work ahead of us but didn’t know the extent of the damage until we actually had eyes on the C-17,” said Master Sgt. Roy Lee, 8th EAMS MRT member. “We knew we had to work quickly and efficiently to get that aircraft out of FOB Shank. The base and flightline take mortar fire on a daily basis.”

The C-17 made a hard landing on the short runway and sustained significant damage. Upon the team’s arrival, they discovered the challenge of repairing 12 flat tires, replacing eight brakes and repairing eight break temperature sensors.

The team worked alongside a Boeing Recovery and Modification Services team to properly jack the aircraft off the ground to begin maintenance. After the first day of work, the team replaced all tires, brakes and fixed all the break temperature sensors while mortar rounds sporadically hit the surrounding area.

“The Airmen never lost focus on the mission at hand,” said Tech. Sgt. Gregory Bernett, 8th EAMS MRT member deployed from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash. “They would hit the ground as shrapnel flew across the flightline, but as soon as it was clear, they were back to work without hesitation. They were determined to get this aircraft air ready.”

Two more 8th EAMS MRT members arrived on the second day to repair a fuel leak that was discovered. During the final day of repairs, a mortar landed approximately 150 yards away from the crew. This was the closest impact the team experienced.

“With all the noise on the flightline at the time, we couldn’t hear the ‘incoming’ warnings,” said Lee, deployed from Joint Base Charleston, S.C. “I was stepping off the aircraft when the mortar hit and I instantly felt the concussion of the explosion. The C-130 Hercules parked next to us sustained damage, so we knew we were fortunate.”

The 8th EAMS Airmen completed their mission in two days to ensure the aircraft could be moved out of the FOB.

“We knew we had a dangerous mission ahead of us, but everyone of us were determined to get that aircraft out of there,” said Senior Airman Benny Vickery, 8th EAMS MRT member deployed from JB Charleston, S.C. “It was a great experience that I will remember for years to come.”

The dedicated and tireless work of these maintainers displays the attitude of the Airmen of the 8th EAMS.

“I am extremely proud of my team. As a commander, the one thing that keeps me up at night is when the call comes in to send my people into harm’s way,” said Lt. Col. Louis Hansen, 8th EAMS commander. “When I learned the shrapnel from an attack missed them by mere inches, it really drove this point home. They simply picked themselves up, brushed off the sand and finished repairing the C-17 so we could get it back in the fight. In a word, simply ‘Awesome!'”

Top female AF general tells personal examples of women’s progress in military

Women in Military Service for America


by Desiree Palacios
Air Force News Service

10/25/2012 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — The Air Force’s only female four-star general used examples from her three-decade-plus career to show the tremendous progress of women in the military during a gala dinner celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Gen. Janet C. Wolfenbarger, Air Force Materiel Command commander, was the keynote speaker for the dinner celebrating the more than two million women who have served in the military.

Wolfenbarger was among the first group of women to graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy, in 1980, and told the audience of former and current military women that there was a great fear in the beginning that standards would somehow be lowered by allowing women to attend the service academies.

“So, I, along with my female classmates, spent four years proving that the standards, in fact, would not have to be lowered, and that women could not only survive, but actually thrive in that very challenging environment,” said Wolfenbarger.

In June of 1976, Wolfenbarger and 156 women entered the Air Force Academy as the first female cadets in its history. She remembers that first day as a sobering introduction into how the next four years would unfold. “I remember…walking along a hallway, chit-chatting with another female when an upper classman stopped us and physically threw us against the wall. He got within inches of our faces and yelled, ‘What the hell are you doing talking in my hallway? …It’s safe to say that during the whole first summer I was in a state of shock.”

Wolfenbarger said that people are often curious about the number of women who enrolled versus those who ultimately graduated from that first class. She said that out of more than 150, 97 would go on to graduate, about 10 percent of the class. “Women had the same attrition rate as was traditional with all-male classes.”

Sometimes asked whether she would go through it all again, Wolfenbarger answers with a resounding yes. “It took me a while after graduation to crystalize in my mind the value of the Academy experience. The Academy…really stretched me mentally, emotionally and physically and I came out the other side realizing that I was far more capable than I ever thought I was. That knowledge brought with it a self confidence that I have relied on throughout my military career, as well as in my personal life.”

But as much as a trailblazer as she’s been, Wolfenbarger has wanted to be recognized, not for her accomplishments as a woman, but for simply working hard and accomplishing the mission.

“I served in the acquisition business for most of my 30 plus years. I’ve had the good fortune to work on the leading edge fighter, bomber and transport aircraft programs in the Air Force. I worked on the F/A-22 for eight-plus years, the B-2 bomber for five-plus years, including time as director of the program. I was also director of the C-17 program for two and a half years. I spent time at the Pentagon as the first female and first non-fighter pilot lead F-22 program element monitor for three years.”

She went on to tell the audience of more than 300 about assignments that took her to the top levels of Air Force acquisition, both at the Pentagon and later at the Air Force Materiel Command where served as the vice commander for close to two years, before taking the role in the Pentagon as the military deputy to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.

“So what did I learn? I may not always have a choice in what life brings, but I do have a choice in how I respond. I can choose to be positive or negative – and I’ve learned to consciously choose in every case to react in the most positive manner I can.”

Thanking the audience for their service, some dating back to World War II, Wolfenbarger said that while women have doubled their ranks in the Air Force, there’s still room for improvement.

“The beautiful and thought-provoking ‘Women in Military Service for America Memorial’ has for the last 15 years served as a symbol of national gratitude in behalf of each of us, the more than 2 million female veterans, active duty, Guard and Reserve who, not only survived military service, but thrived.”

ALS class graduates under new curriculum

Airman Leadership School of the United States ...

Airman Leadership School of the United States Air Force (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Staff Sgt. Darnell T. Cannady
18th Wing Public Affairs

7/12/2012 – KADENA AIR BASE, Japan (AFNS) — When nearly 50 senior airmen and staff sergeants graduated from Erwin Airman Leadership School here July 10, they were among the first Air Force-wide to graduate under a new test case curriculum.

Kadena Air Base’s ALS is one of seven schools in the Air Force and the only school in the Pacific teaching the curriculum.

Just like their predecessors, the student Airmen went through numerous uniform inspections, conducted drill and passed tests, but the new course focuses on teaching students what type of leader they are and the best way they can lead their subordinates.

“The focus is more on the individual,” said Master Sgt. Mark James, the Erwin ALS commandant. “It’s important to understand what type of person you are and what kind of dimension you lead from so you can apply that to your subordinate. If you’re not sure of who you are as a person or the kind of leader you are, then it’s tough to translate that to your subordinates.”

A majority of the curriculum changes revolve around discovering what type of person the students are. In order to do that, students participate in temperament personality activities, take leadership assessments and give rankings to flight members on what type of leader they think they are. Then the students have to sit down for face-to-face feedback sessions and explain the rating they gave to their peers.

“It’s a step up from what we previously had; it challenges the students in a new way,” said Tech. Sgt. Damean Moore, an Erwin ALS instructor. “We’re trying to produce a better quality NCO to take care of our Airmen. With the new curriculum, I think our future NCOs are going to return to their work centers better prepared than previous ALS students.”

Another trial to the new senior airman and staff sergeant students who pass through the halls of the PME Center comes from the new communications block of instruction. Previously, students were required to write bullets on a plain document and then discussed the enlisted performance report and performance feedbacks. Under the new lesson, the students fill out every portion of the official Air Force forms and are graded on the different sections. The students also draft decoration citations and briefings about strategic Air Force initiatives and key Air Force leader messages.

“The communications attribute received a major overhaul,” explained James. “Drafting decorations and being graded on all blocks of the EPR and PFW are welcomed changes. It hopefully instills just how important it is to pay close attention to accuracy on all Air Force forms. The level of briefings that the students are expected to deliver have also been taken to a new level. Overall, it is a much more challenging course, but one in which the students are going to leave better armed to handle what is thrown their way as first-line supervisors. Requirements for today’s senior airmen and staff sergeants were handled by technical sergeants and master sergeants just a few years ago.”

In addition to the communication course changes, the students are asked to work in groups more now than in the past. Previous ALS classes may have worked in groups a few times throughout the entire course, but under the new course, students work in groups a few times a week.

“What I enjoy most are the classroom discussions,” said Senior Airman Todd Noel, an ALS student from the 18th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “As we talk more, we all learn different ways on how to resolve different conflicts. That’s the most beneficial to me. That’s how I grow and that’s how I become a better leader — by getting more opinions on how things work.”

The students aren’t the only ones learning from the new curriculum. The change also requires the instructors to take a different role conducting class.

“A challenge to the curriculum has shifted for the instructor, more so in taking a more facilitator role,” Moore explained. “The instructor’s role has lessened in the classroom and put it more on the students to carry on conversations and actually teach and learn from each other. Even though that was the intent of the old curriculum, it’s even more so now.”

To ensure the Air Force’s future leaders are equipped with the right tools to be successful, changes were made to the curriculum.

“The rewrite was necessary,” said James. “It was much-needed and has been received extremely well — especially the ‘What kind of leader am I?’ focus. The focus on the individual and getting their perspective on leadership is a nice change rather than talking about and focusing on all these other great leaders and how they got there. Let’s focus on me, what kind of leader I want to be and what kind of leader I’m capable of being. Once I get that nailed down, then I can focus on these other individuals and how they got to be where they are. Individualized leadership is a key area.”

Today’s fiscally constrained environment also drove the need for some budget and resource stewardship training.

“When you look at lessons like resource stewardship that were never taught at this level, this is something brand new,” Moore said. “Senior airman (promoting) to staff sergeant now learn how to manage resources: money, people and materials. We’re teaching them how to do those things, like when budgets are due and what financial execution plans are.”

Kadena AB’s NCO Academy also implemented a new curriculum earlier this fiscal year. The test case incorporates similar concepts and principles learned in the new ALS course, which also continues through new trial curriculum for the Senior NCO Academy at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala.

Acting undersecretary of the Air Force appointed

7/5/2012 – WASHINGTON (AFNS) — On July 3, President Barack Obama appointed

English: Dr. Jamie M. Morin, Assistant Secreta...

English: Dr. Jamie M. Morin, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force (Financial Management and Comptroller), 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

to serve as the acting undersecretary of the Air Force.

He will serve in this capacity effective immediately and until such time as a new undersecretary is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

Morin said he welcomed the new responsibilities.

“I appreciate the opportunity to make a difference for the Air Force and our nation while also digging more deeply into critical issues like space programs, energy efficiency, (Department of Defense) management reform, and the Air Force budget,” he said. “It will be exciting to work even more closely with great professionals like Secretary Panetta, Deputy Secretary Carter, Secretary Donley, General Schwartz, General Breedlove and our outstanding Air Force leaders here on the Air Staff and around the globe.”

Morin has served as the assistant secretary of the Air Force for financial management and comptroller since 2009.

Marilyn Thomas, the principal deputy in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller, will perform Morin’s duties in SAF/FM while he is serving as undersecretary, except those duties that require action by a Senate-confirmed presidential appointee.

Crashed firefighting-equipped C-130 from North Carolina ANG

A MAFFS about to be loaded into a C-130 in Nor...

A MAFFS about to be loaded into a C-130 in North Carolina in 2008 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

7/2/2012 – PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) — The North Carolina Air National Guard – and indeed the National Guard across all of North Carolina and the country – is grieving today.

The military C-130 equipped with the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, otherwise known as MAFFS, that crashed while battling a fire in Southwestern South Dakota at approximately 6:30 p.m. mountain time Sunday belonged to the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing based at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

There were casualties, and our thoughts and prayers go out to those who were injured and those who lost their lives. The family members of these Airmen are especially on our minds. We will provide further details on the status of the casualties soon.

The cause of the crash has not been determined, and the incident is under investigation. At the time of the crash, the crew was fighting the White Draw Fire near the town of Edgemont, S.D.

As a prudent measure, the MAFFS-equipped C-130s are on an operational hold at the present time.

U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said the agency is deeply saddened by this tragic incident. “The agency fully supports the decision by the military to stand-down its MAFFS operation to address the needs of personnel and families and ensure the safety of the mission when it resumes. The agency will continue to allocate available firefighting assets according to the prioritization of incidents.”

702nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron deactivates at Kandahar Airfield

by Capt. Frank Hartnett

451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

6/20/2012 – KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) — A small group of Air Guardsmen were joined by senior leaders June 18 to celebrate the completion of their deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and to honor the deactivation of the 702nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron here.

The 702nd EAS was activated here July 31, 2011, and charged to operate the C-27J Spartan in direct support of U.S. Army missions in the Regional Command – South area of operations.

During this rotation, the majority of the Airmen from 702nd EAS were from the Maryland Air National Guard. This deployment marked their third rotation to Afghanistan in five years.

The squadron deactivated after flying 3,200 missions, moving 1,400 tons of cargo, transporting 25,000 passengers and executing 71 airdrops, officials said. The achievements are even more impressive since the squadron operated only two aircraft.

“Persistent powerful presence-that’s the mission of the 451st Air Expeditionary Wing, and the 702nd (EAS) has lived up to that statement in every respect,” said Col. Robert Kiebler, the 451st Expeditionary Operations Group commander.

As the 702nd EAS becomes a part of history, the support provided to time-critical tactical airlift will not go with it.

“We will continue to provide world-class tactical airlift in support of operations in Regional Command – South,” said Kiebler.

The U.S. Army 25th Combat Aviation Brigade served as the link for the 702nd EAS to the Army while it conducted operations in Afghanistan. The squadron flew missions that were directed and scheduled by the brigade.

The 25th CAB commander praised the departing Air Guardsmen for adopting his unit’s motto, “We fly for the troops,” during the deactivation ceremony.

“It emphasizes to every Soldier, and now every Airman, that has been in our formation that it’s not about us,” said Army Col. Frank W. Tate, the 25th CAB commander. “It’s not about what is convenient for us. It is about what we can do to take care of that Soldier, Marine, Airman or Sailor on the ground. They are the ones who carry that heavy burden; they are the ones with the most significant challenges.”

Supporting the warfighter was a constant focus of the squadron in its 10 months of operation. The squadron prided itself in providing rapid response in support of the mission.

“We had folks bring in boxes of blood (to the squadron), with crews already at the plane,” said Lt. Col Michael Lunt, the 702nd EAS commander. “We walked it out to the aircraft, and it went out the door to Tarin Kowt.

“You can’t find a better mission than tactical airlift,” Lunt said.

A clear sense of accomplishment prevailed among the unit and leadership.

“This rotation has been for me, and the men and women of the Maryland, Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi, North Dakota and Arkansas Air National Guard, a very challenging, but, in many ways for us, the most rewarding rotation we’ve been on,” Lunt said.

“We feel like we’ve made a difference for the young troops on the tip of the spear.”

Air Force, Republic of Korea allies partner for potential CBRN attacks

English: -Republic of Korea Air Force Lt. Gen....

English: -Republic of Korea Air Force Lt. Gen. Cho Won Kun, Air Force Operations Center commander, flies with the 35th Fighter Squadion out of Kunsan Air Base Sept 10. (Air Force photo/Tech Sgt. John Cronin) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by Senior Airman Brigitte N. Brantley
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

6/14/2012 – KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea — (AFNS) — With the ever-present threat of North Korea so close, Pacific Air Forces and South Korean Airmen constantly train to respond to any potential attacks.

A combined workshop June 7 and 8 gave the allies a chance to strengthen their partnership through demonstrations of the equipment each side uses during chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear (CBRN) attacks.

“If something ever does go wrong, we can respond together and actually make it a joint environment versus saying ‘this is what I’m doing and that’s what you’re doing,'” said Staff Sgt. Kendra Ketonen, 8th Civil Engineer Squadron emergency management journeyman. “We get the benefits of knowing what they have and what they can bring to the fight.”

In addition to the Republic of Korea Air Force 38th Fighter Group and 8th CES from Kunsan, there were also attendees from several other PACAF base, including Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

If North Korea were to make a move, Airmen from these bases would be called in to help defend resources here.

“If we need to work together, we’ll understand and better know how to make connections,” said Senior Master Sgt. Jerome Dubose, 7th Air Force CBRN manager for Korea from Osan Air Base. “In many cases, our Korean partners have the lead so if there’s a war, it behooves us to coordinate with them.”

Like much of their joint training and exercises, a translator was on hand to make sure explanations and discussions were as helpful and thorough as possible.

During the workshop, the Americans and Koreans each provided familiarization of the equipment and procedures they use when responding to an attack.

The Americans gave a detailed walk-through of their contamination control area. The Koreans showed off their decontamination aerial sprayer, which works like a car wash and allows people and vehicles to be ‘deconned’ more quickly.

“We can help each other out to defend this base,” said 1st Lt. Jinki Kim from the 38th FG. He added that much of the equipment and training used for decontaminating is the same.

Throughout the training, one point from both sides was emphasized: working together helps the partnership grow and ensures we are prepared to respond to any situation.