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Archive for the ‘Air Force’ Category

563d RQG Airmen Rescue Injured Mexican Fishermen

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. —

Airmen from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base’s 563d Rescue Group traveled more than 1700 miles, to save two critically injured Mexican fishermen onboard the Mazatun fishing vessel, July 10, 2019.

 The fishermen were injured when their vessel’s crane collapsed more than 1300 miles southwest of San Diego in international waters at approximately 8 p.m., July 9. Fishing nets obstructed Mazatun’s propellers during the incident making the boat unable to transit under its own power. The two severely injured fishermen were transferred to Mazatun’s sister ship, Tamara, who began making the three day journey to the nearest land, a Mexican naval outpost on Socorro Island located more than approximately 840 miles away.

 Due to the severity of the injuries and the ship’s isolated location, an urgent request was made for the specialized skills of U.S. Air Force Rescue. In response, the 563d RQG deployed multiple HC-130J Combat King II aircraft from the 79th Rescue Squadron to Tamara as it sailed to Socorro Island, July 10. Pararescuemen from the 48th Rescue Squadron parachuted from the HC-130J into the ocean. They intercepted and boarded the Tamara, and provided trauma care for the injured fishermen. They quickly stabilized the patients and offered continued care for the rest of the voyage to Socorro Island.

 “The relationship that was built with the captain of the ship allowed a seamless integration of our PJs medical capabilities to be able to provide the best treatment for the two injured fishermen,” said Capt John Conner, 48th RQS flight commander of flight 3. “It also allowed us the opportunity to work how we were going to transfer the patient on the ship to Socorro Island. That relationship was key.”

 Tamara reached Socorro harbor Friday evening, July 12. The pararescuemen transferred the fishermen to the Mexican naval medical clinic on the island where they would stay overnight. The next day an air ambulance transported them to Mazatlan, Mexico for further treatment.

 “The unsaid skill Air Force Rescue offers is the ability to solve difficult problems in a timely fashion. This mission highlights rescue professionals’ ability to network within the 563d RQG, 355th Wing and a greater Tucson medical community to solve an incredibly difficult problem, and continue solving problems throughout the mission’s execution which can be seen by the infil methods, follow-on aerial resupply, and transfer of care/exfil conditions,” said Captain Michael Erickson, 48th RQS director of operations. “Air Force Rescue’s successful execution of the mission demonstrates one of the ways Davis-Monthan’s culture of readiness and problem solving skills can support the greater joint force and our mission partners.”

 “This is the longest domestic rescue the 563d RQG has accomplished,” said Lt. Col. Scott Williams, 79th RQS commander. “The unique nature and location of the accident required specialized care, and I’m proud of the job our entire team did to ensure these men returned home to their families.”

By A1C Kristine Legate, 355th Wing Public Affairs

Tyndall AFB leads way in authorizing shorts on flight line

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. —

Working any job on the flight line can be an arduous task, but scorching heat and thick humidity can easily raise the temperature to triple digits along the long strip of pavement before sunrise.

Chief Master Sgt. Brent Salvadori, 325th Maintenance Group (MXG) superintendent, devised a way over the past 18 months to keep Airmen comfortable in the heat, without sacrificing mission accomplishment.

The 325th MXG Airmen are officially approved to wear shorts on the flight line when the temperature exceeds 80 degrees outside of a climate controlled area.

“When asked the question, ‘Should I?’ my response is simple, ‘It’s what my Airmen want, and this is what Chiefs do,” said Salvadori. “We make things happen for our Airmen. This who we are, and this is what we do.”

The idea originated from the 95th Aircraft Maintenance Unit deployment to Al Dhafra Air Base in southwest Asia, said Salvadori. The AMU was permitted to wear shorts while they were deployed and upon return Salvadori reached out for the local guidance authorizing Al Dhafra’s shorts to integrate them at home station. 

“After review, it was time to roll up my sleeves and get to work,” said Salvadori. “It was a long journey, as with any time you try to change something this drastic. But, when you peel the onion back, our fellow aircraft maintenance contractors and depot civilians have been wearing shorts in the same industrial environment while performing the same maintenance actions. So, why not Airmen?”

The shorts are incredibly beneficial and serve as a cooler alternative to wear during the day while the heat and humidity is unbearable, said SrA Michael Conard, 325th MXS Aerospace Ground Equipment journeyman.

Through this effort other bases, such as Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada, Homestead Air Reserve Base in Florida, Beale AFB and Edwards AFB in California and Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina are utilizing this idea for their flight lines.

This new attempt at innovation for flight line Airmen embodies their motto of #AWESOME: Always With Excellence Supporting Our Mission Everyday.

By Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum, 325th Fighter Wing

USAF Officer Training School Braces For “Godzilla” Class

Thursday, July 18th, 2019

I attended a reasonably sized OTS class in 1996. We were organized into only three trainee Squadrons and we lived in the dorms which I later stayed in for Squadron Officer School. Even though here were only two to a room, it was pretty tight.

In the early 2000s, OTS got its own compound out on the old flight line at Maxwell AFB. Even so, I don’t know how they’re going to house a class this size.What’s more, OTS is set up in a “inmates running the asylum” scheme. This requires the upper class, which is halfway through OTS, to assume many of the duties normally fulfilled by a training cadre. If the upper class is substantially smaller than the lower class, supervision will suffer. Granted, over half of the new OTs will be prior service, but even then, the number of those right off the street will be larger than an average class.

The undertaking is so big, as of last week, many did still not yet have orders to attend OTS.

It’s going to be a tough go; for everyone involved. I wish everyone good luck!

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. —

This past March, Air University’s Officer Training School celebrated the graduation of its largest class in school history: 340 officer trainees. Just a few months later, though, the radar is reading a class more than twice that size.

What is being dubbed the “Godzilla” class, OTS Class 19-07 will push the school to its maximum capacity by tipping the scales with the expected arrival of 800 officer trainees in mid-July.

OTS is considered the “shock absorber” for Air Force officer accessioning, said Lt. Col. Erick Saks, 24th Training Squadron commander. The school works with the Air Force manpower directorate and Air Force Recruiting Service to meet any projected shortfalls in the number of commissioned officers from the service’s other commissioning sources — Air Force ROTC and the Air Force Academy — based on the needs of the Air Force.

For the Godzilla class, OTS nearly tripled the typical number of seats allotted for active duty line officers, going from about 170 to 500, the majority of the increase. The 800 officer trainees coming in will be split between OTS’s two training squadrons, the 24th TRS and Det. 12. Previously, each squadron typically received a class of 250-300 OTs.

OTS leadership, however, does not expect the increase in trainees to cause a decrease in quality of training.

“It’s not just about getting numbers out, it’s about making sure our trainees leave here with the skills they need to be great officers,” said Capt. Kaitlin Daddona, 24th Training Squadron assistant director of operations for training. “That’s what we’re really focusing on with this many people in one class.”

In order to make sure operations continue to run smoothly, communication and coordination have been key in preparation of the class, Daddona said.

With the abnormally high number of trainees coming in, otherwise routine aspects of the OTS schedule, such as meal times and lectures, have required more forethought and planning due to the nature of the beast.

Communication and coordination are important, especially when there are only six military training instructors to take on Godzilla.

Master Sgt. Bobby Johnson, OTS MTI, said that tackling this monster of a class will help develop himself and his team into “masters of controlled chaos” and make them gain the ability to problem solve while in the presence of hundreds of future Airmen.

Molding almost a thousand civilians into Air Force leaders at once can sound like a daunting task, but the OTS team sees it as an opportunity to become laser focused on cohesion and developing into better leaders right alongside their very own Godzilla.

“The best part of this has been being able to open up those lines of communication so that we can connect and build relationships with the partners that we have, whether it’s here on base or within Montgomery,” said Daddona.

The team at OTS believe that they are up to the task, but they fear the class will take a major toll on the school’s facilities.

Capt. Curan Clonch, 24th TRS assistant director of operations for standardization and evaluations, said that the facilities are going to take the biggest hit from Class 19-07.

“We can anticipate all of the things that may happen, but there’s not much we can do as far as preventative maintenance,” he said.

While the hype of this class has created a paradigm shift in the OTS staff’s mindset, the school’s goal remains the same.

“Even though Godzilla seems like a terrifying beast, we recognize the importance of getting these officers through and giving them the training that they need,” said Daddona. “As long as our trainees are leaving pumped and ready to be officers, then we did our job.”

By Senior Airman Alexa Culbert, Air University Public Affairs

Aircrew Gets New Anti-Smoke Goggles

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. (AFNS) —

If smoke starts filling up a C-130J Super Hercules aircraft, the aircrew reach for their anti-smoke goggles. For more than 20 years the ASGs have been a basic four part system, until now.

With innovation, the new ASGs are now a three-part system. The suspension frame itself is still made the same with the nape pad attached, while the goggles and oxygen mask portion have been upgraded.

“The ones that we are replacing have the same basic frame, but the goggles and the oxygen mask are two separate pieces,” said Tech. Sgt. Ronald Patton, 403rd Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment craftsman. “Before, you would need to put the oxygen mask over your mouth and nose, then pull the frame up and place the nape pad at the back of your head. Once that was in place you would put the goggles on and pull the straps on both sides to tighten them.”

The way the new ASGs work is still the same concept, except now the goggles and oxygen mask are one piece, so when you place the oxygen mask over your nose and mouth, the goggles are put on at the exact same time, saving time and making them quicker to put on and operate.

“The new masks are made similar to ones that firefighters use,” said Master Sgt. Ray Reynolds, 403rd OSS aircrew flight equipment supervisor. “The older goggles had a narrower field of view, while the new ones allow the aircrew to be able to use their peripheral vision.”

As a part of the AFE duties, they are required to make sure the equipment operates the way it is supposed to, be able to fix the equipment and replace any parts as needed.

Patton said that when the new ASGs came in, the manufacturer sent a ‘fix’ in with the mask to ensure they operated as designed. This ‘fix’ was a single screw that needed to be replaced on the front of the mask.

“Every part on the ASG system is replaceable, which helps to make sure they last,” Reynolds said. “Looking at the order of parts that could be damaged from easiest to hardest. The first thing is the hose, the second thing being the communication cord and the third is the microphone and then onto the remaining parts.”

AFE technicians are also required to test the pull disconnect on the air hoses to ensure that they will not come unattached from the oxygen hose on the aircraft too easily. This pull test requires a minimum of 12 pounds to a maximum of 20 pounds of pull before the hose on the mask would release, ensuring that there is some resistance before it disconnects.

If the disconnect is not between the 12 to 20 pounds of pull, then they have to fix the connector to correct the amount of pressure to meet the requirement, Patton said.

“We are also required to conduct pre-flight, post-flight, periodic maintenance, 30-day and 120-day inspections on the ASGs,” Patton said.

The 30-day inspections consists of basic checks. A visual examination is conducted and they look for cuts, tears, abrasions, discolorations, rust, anything other than normal, looking for anything that is obviously defective. A cleaning is done and the components are tested to ensure they work.

The 120-day inspection is the same inspection, but with a full break down of all of the components and a deep clean, checking the integrity of the components that you cannot see, Reynolds said.

“It is not that the old ASGs were replaced because they were faulty, they worked exactly as they were designed to. It seems like they just needed to improve on the integrity of the system itself,” Patton said. “Will it operate better under stressful situations, will it be easier to repair if it does break, does it have as many subcomponents that can break, does the aircrew member find it easier to don, and can the aircrew operate better in the environment, were questions that they asked when designing the new system.”

To improve the ASG system, they took a mask similar to a firefighter’s mask and the quick don suspension frame and made it one system, then they added the communications portion, Reynolds said.

“So they are doing something right, because if they hadn’t created this one, the ones that we have still work. I have been in this career field for more than 30 years and this is only the third version that I have seen,” Reynolds said.

“While the older ASG masks still work and some are still located on our C-130J aircraft, we are working to replace them on all of the aircraft” Patton said. “We currently have six sets in service and have replaced more than half of the 815th Airlift Squadron’s ASGs with a new quick don system and we expect to have them all of our aircraft by the middle of August, after the current inspection cycles are complete.”

By Jessica L. Kendziorek, 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Shorts Coming To Nellis AFB Flightline

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

According to information received by the Facebook group Air Force AMN/NCO/SNCO, maintenance crews at Nellis AFB near Las Vegas will soon be donning shorts.

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For once, this makes sense. It’s extremely hot at Nellis in the summer and our allies, and contract maintenance, have been doing it for decades. Additionally, Services has been wearing something similar, along with polo shirts, for decades as a special duty uniform.

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The email says that the shorts are the 5.11 Stryke model (below), but the attached photo is of the classic 5.11 Tactical Short (above). Ostensibly, they will be in Dark Navy.

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Hopefully, this will catch on and we’ll see a more suitable work uniform for maintenance personnel, across the Air Force.

New USAF Special Warfare Symbol

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2019

This is the symbol for the new Air Force Special Warfare careerfield (Enlisted is 1Z and Officer is 19). It’s surrounded by the latest versions of the enlisted beret badges, including the new Special Reconnaissance AFSC, which replaces Special Operations Weather Team*.

The SR AFSC has already transitioned to 1Z with Pararescue and Combat Control to follow suit later this year. Along with a new AFSC, they are said to get new job titles as well. TACP and Air Liaison Officers will remain as is, at least for now. Special Tactics Officers and Combat Rescue Officers are supposed to become Special Warfare Officers.

The three new 1Z shredouts as well as STOs and CROs currently wear different colored berets. The plan is transition all to a completely new shade of Grey; Gunmetal. Once again, TACP/ALO will remain in Black berets. That is supposed to change this Fall concurrent with the amalgamation of active duty Pararescue Squadrons into Air Force Special Operations Command. Along with the current Special Tactics Squadrons they are supposed to transition into Special Warfare Squadrons. However, the beret transition is at the direction of the current AF Chief of Staff, General Goldfien. Many at the unit level feel that their heritage is being stripped away and don’t want to make the change, hoping the next CSAF won’t enact the change once he’s in place late this Summer.

As for this new symbol, don’t expect it to be used officially for anything. Guardian Angel used the globe wings for years as a morale symbol. Even so, do notice anything odd about it?

*Never fear, rumor has it Army SOF will soon once again have actual weather support as required by the Key West agreement thanks to Air Combat Command, which is standing up a Flight of Weather Parachutists, just like the old days. Rumor was bad. ACC has no intention of supporting Army SOF. Any support will come from AFSOC weather, remotely.

AFSOC U-28A Aircraft Named “Draco”

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2019

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. —

After more than 13 years in service, the U-28A intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft officially received approval in May for the naming convention of “Draco”.  

Draco is the Latin term for dragon. Most aircraft commonly have a name after their numerical designation, such as CV-22 Osprey. 

Col. Robert Masaitis, 492nd Special Operations Training Group commander, Draco pilot and former commander of the 34th Special Operations Squadron at Hurlburt Field, commented on the process of naming the aircraft.

“From my time in the community (2010-2012), we were split between a couple of schools of thought on the official naming of the U-28,” said Masaitis. “Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, the AFSOC commander at the time, had told us we ought to name the aircraft. Between the two, then later three squadron commanders, we could agree that ‘Draco’ was probably the obvious choice. I’m glad to see we’re bringing this initiative to fruition after all this time, as the U-28 has become so much more than the single-engine, non-descript ‘utility’ aircraft we brought into the service over a decade ago.”

The mission of the Draco is to provide manned fixed-wing tactical airborne ISR support to humanitarian operations, search and rescue, conventional and special operations missions.

 “This is fantastic recognition of an aircraft and community,” said Brig. Gen. William Holt, AFSOC special assistant to the commander. “Draco has changed the very fabric of our AFSOC DNA and will continue to be our premier ISR platform for years to come.”

The Draco reached a historic milestone on June 22, 2018, when the AFSOC aircraft reached the 500,000 flying hours mark.

Lt. Col. Chad Anthony, 319th Special Operations Squadron commander, commented on the capabilities of the aircraft.

“Over the battlefields of the global war on terror, Draco has come to mean unparalleled special operations intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support, especially to the men and women on the ground in the line of fire,” said Anthony. “Aircrew and special operators who have flown and worked with the Pilatus U-28A have known it as Draco since its first combat deployment in June 2006.”

Maj. Caitlin Reilly, a U-28A Draco pilot and AFSOC director of operations executive officer, commented on the importance of the name approval and the Draco community.

“All of us in the U-28 community today are humbled by the vision and expertise of the U-28A plankholders (the original founders of the program),” said Reilly. “They created something that had never been done before, and it has evolved into an asset that is now one of the ‘minimum force requirements’ of our nation’s elite SOF teams on their ‘no-fail’ missions.”

The Draco is an integral part of AFSOC’s light tactical fixed wing fleet.

Col. Andrew Jett, 492nd Special Operations Wing commander, former 34th SOS commander and Draco pilot, commented on the significance of the name. 

“Our partners may not have known the personal names of the crewmembers, but they always know Draco,” said Jett. “There is a tremendous amount of recognition and respect when a crewmember identifies him or herself as being a member of Draco. I’m thrilled about the exceptional reputation Draco has built over the 13 plus years of the program and it’s now codified as the permanent aircraft name, and is something every member of Draco, past and present, can take pride in.”

Reilly further commented on the pride she and fellow Draco aviators take in the name.

The best thing about the U-28 community, and AFSOC as a whole, is that it is a competency-based organization, she said.

All of the U-28 aircrew are equally proud of the Draco name approval.

Every Air Commando in the U-28A community dedicates themselves to the demanding task of upholding the level of expertise and respect that the name Draco commands, said Reilly. It’s extremely challenging, and we’re all immensely proud of what this name represents.

By SSgt Lynette Rolen, Air Force Special Operations Command Public Affairs

U-28 Photo by photo by A1C Joel Miller

Constellation graphic by Jeff Pendleton

Col Matt Allen Assumes Command of 24th SOW – The Air Force’s Sole Special Tactics Wing

Wednesday, June 26th, 2019

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. – U.S. Air Force Col Matt S. Allen, a Special Tactics Officer, assumed command of the 24th Special Operations Wing during a ceremony at 10 a.m., June 24 at Hurlburt Field, Florida.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presided over the ceremony.

The 24th SOW is the only Special Tactics wing in the U.S. Air Force. The primary mission of the wing is to provide Special Tactics forces for rapid global employment to conduct global air, space, and cyber-enabled special operations across the spectrum of conflict to prepare for, fight, and win our nation’s wars. The 24th SOW is U.S. Special Operations Command’s tactical air/ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force that leads global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.

Since April 2018, when the 24th SOW had their last change of command, Special Tactics operators have conducted 264 combat missions, controlled over 500 aircraft and removed more than 730 enemies from the battlefield. Webb commended their efforts.

“To the 24 SOW, particularly, this is the message – you guys continually impress. You lead this command, AFSOC, in many ways,” Webb said. “This [major command] is drafting off the intellectual energy of this wing, and I am not ashamed to say that. Actually, you’re making us that much better.”

As the commander of the 24th SOW and roughly 2,500 Airmen, Allen is responsible for preparing Special Tactics forces to conduct global air, space, and cyber-enabled special operations across the spectrum of conflict to prepare for, fight, and win our nation’s wars.

“This is about putting the right person at the right place in the right time, and that person is Col. Matt Allen,” Webb said. “Matt, of course you are going to command during interesting times. You will lead your charges while you balance the demands of the present, counter [violent extremist organizations], with what is frankly, right on our door step or what will be in the future, and is expressed in the National Defense Strategy – great powers competition.”

Prior to assuming command of the 24th SOW, Allen was the commander of the 720th Special Tactics Group, here.

Over a 20-year career, Allen has served in three Special Tactics Squadrons as Team Leader, Director of Operations, and Commander. Colonel Allen has led and participated in joint special operations in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and ENDURING FREEDOM-Trans Sahara.

“I am proud and humbled to be here,” Allen said. “Immensely proud of this organization and our professional standards and incredibly humbled at the enormity of the task that lies ahead of us.”

Air Force Special Tactics is the most highly decorated community in the Air Force since the end of the Vietnam War and has received one Medal of Honor, nine Air Force Crosses, 46 Silver Stars, nearly 650 Bronze Stars medals (more than 250 with valor), and hundreds of Purple Hearts.

“Our men and women provide access, strike, recovery, and battlefield surgery across the spectrum of conflict, and foundational to this, is mission command,” Allen said. “The joint team depends on us to get it right the first time, every time, and we will continue to deliver.”

24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs, Senior Airman Joseph Pick and Senior Airman Rachel Yates