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USAF Basic Military Training Establishes Tactical Combat Casualty Care Course for All Airmen

Thursday, March 26th, 2020

Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) is an All Service Members Course (AMS) that teaches service members lifesaving skills to render basic medical aid to a trauma casualty. The five lifesaving skills learned are: rapid casualty assessment, tourniquet application, wound packing with a hemostatic dressing, application of a pressure bandage, and basic airway maneuvers to open the airway. The Secretary of Defense has directed that all military service members be trained and become proficient in basic lifesaving TCCC AMS skills, replacing the Combat Lifesaver course. (U.S. Air Force video by Sarayuth Pinthong)

Hey, It Was The 60s…

Saturday, March 21st, 2020

According to the Air Force Enlisted Heritage Research Institute, who shared this photo from May 1967, this is USAF SSgt Barbara J. Snavely who became the first enlisted female NCO to be assigned to US Military Assistance Command, Saigon, Vietnam.

What gets me is the weapon grip in use at the time.

Ruck March Keeps Airmen Mission Ready

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Airmen assigned to the 820th Base Defense Group perform a ruck march Feb. 21, 2020, at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. Members of the 105th Base Defense Squadron from Stewart Air National Guard Base, New York, and 820th BDG participate in a ruck march as part of the Initial Qualification Training for Base Defense Group Airmen to ensure readiness in a deployed environment. Ruck marches allow Airmen to understand the feeling of carrying mission essential items to better pace themselves and stay fit.

(US Air Force photos by A1C Elijah M. Dority)

The AFSOC Air-Ground team in action: How Precision Strike turned the tide of battle against ‘ISIS-K Pentagon’

Saturday, March 7th, 2020

The aircrew of Spooky 41, an AC-130U “Spooky” gunship from the 4th Special Operations Squadron, was awarded medals for their role in a nine-hour mission over Nangarhar, Afghanistan. These medals included two Distinguished Flying Crosses and 12 Air Medals.

Maj. Wright, an Air Force Special Tactics officer, led a seven-man Special Tactics Team (STT) in support of the Army Special Forces company conducting the operation on the ground.

The following is his account of the mission from his perspective on the ground.

Vignette by Maj Jeffrey Wright, 24th Special Operations Wing (Air Force Special Tactics)

I served as the lead joint terminal attack controller and fire support coordinator for a major assault against a notorious Islamic State – Khorisan (ISIS-K) stronghold in Nangarhar, Afghanistan. This operation took place from 1 April through 6 April 2019, and the events below took place on the night of 3-4 April.

It would be inaccurate to describe this target as a village. Rather, this was a military installation literally dug into the side of the mountains, with a single path through which friendly forces could assault. The enemy consolidated their forces here in a warren of interconnected command and control nodes, operations centers, staging areas, and ‘on-base housing’ for ISIS-K leaders. This was no low-level commander and his men: this place was ‘ISIS-K’s Pentagon.’

I am aware of at least three previous assaults against this position that were quickly defeated by virtue of the enemy’s elaborate defense, high degree of training and commitment, and skillful application of firepower against friendly forces.

In my 20-plus years of training and experience in the art of attacking and defending ground objectives, I have seen few more formidable defensive positions – or ones more daunting to attack. I would have to reach for examples like Normandy, Iwo Jima or Hamburger Hill to appropriately convey the degree to which the enemy were prepared and ready for our assault.

The enemy stayed hidden until the assault force drew close. The result was an intense firefight where the lead elements found themselves under fire from not only all sides, but also three dimensions. The enemy had prepared apertures in floors and ceilings, and used barricaded shooters to devastating effect. By using networks of subterranean passageways, the enemy would re-appear behind our forces even after they’d cleared buildings.

Despite our numerical superiority, the situation was dire. From my support-by-fire position, I could do little to help. The safe evacuation of the growing numbers of wounded was up to my Special Tactics teammates in close-range gun battles with the enemy – literally fighting room-to-room. During the fight, the combat controller with the lead element of the assault force reached out for help, and got Spooky41 on the radio.

In short order, I heard the bark of the AC-130U’s guns. I distinctly remember wondering whether they were shooting at the right target, given the speed of their reaction – in 10 years as a JTAC, I’d never seen any kind of fire support as responsive. Sure enough, the first rounds were right on target – a good thing, because the enemy was so close to the assault force.

The enemy now had a problem on their hands. They had probably figured that their proximity to friendlies would mitigate our ability to bring fires to bear on them. Now, they were being heavily attacked by the AC-130U’s weapons.

The precise application of fires allowed friendly forces to establish a defensive perimeter and turn to the task of evacuating the wounded. The terrain prohibited the helicopter from landing, so they performed hoist lifts of the most critical patients. This entailed coming to a hover within machine gun range of dozens, if not hundreds, of enemy fighters keen to press home their advantage.

I watched this unfold with a sense that ‘this is how it happens…this is how aircraft get shot down.’ Yet, the enemy wasn’t able to get a single shot off as the patients were extracted, one by one. The reason there will be no memorials for three separate medical evacuation aircrews is because Spooky 41’s fires were so responsive and so precise that the enemy was effectively neutralized.

At least three members of my team were relaying information on two different nets in an effort to coordinate air and ground movement. Looking back, I am amazed that Spooky41 managed to track everyone so effectively. Even with my high degree of situational awareness as the man on the ground and with my degree of experience, I had a hard time keeping it all straight. At several points they were engaging different targets simultaneously and on different nets. I had one net in each ear – I watched and listened as they delivered salvo after salvo of fires with zero error.

A co-located teammate directed a few F-16 strikes during this time and I worked with Spooky41 to integrate the fires. It felt almost like a weapons school exercise, in that the degree of difficulty was so high and the number of assets so numerous that it far exceeded normal training scenarios.

I don’t know exactly how many of the wounded would have died without immediate medical evacuation, but I can say with certainty that the medical evacuation aircrew would have been among the casualties if it weren’t for the fires provided by Spooky 41.

I personally took fire the following day and the enemy’s expert gunnery put the bullets within arm’s reach. Had they been allowed to get a shot off at the MEDEVAC helicopters, we’d have lost aircraft. But again – after the initial gunshots and IED blast injuries, no further harm befell Americans or our Afghan allies that night.

Spooky 41’s legendary airmanship is the reason why – period.

I resolved that the first thing I would do upon getting back to Bagram was to seek each of them out and thank them for what they did for us that night. I’ve been to far too many memorials and seen far too many folded flags. I didn’t have to do that on this trip because instead of Americans giving their lives for their country that night, Spooky41 made the enemy die for theirs – on time, on target, and in the most complex environment I’ve ever seen – training, or combat.

1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force photo by SrA Joseph P. Leveille

Welcome to Chapman Training Annex, Home of Air Force Special Warfare Training

Friday, March 6th, 2020


A parachute slid off the wall, revealing the text behind it, “Welcome to Chapman Training Annex, home of Air Force Special Warfare Training.” The life and legacy of a Special Tactics combat controller will forever be cemented into history with an installation renaming that serves to inspire not just Special Warfare trainees, but all Airmen that come through the gates of the annex.

The Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland Medina Training Annex was renamed the Chapman Training Annex in honor of Special Tactics combat controller Master Sgt. John A. Chapman March 4, 2020. The ceremony, held on the 18th anniversary of his death, was attended by family, friends and fellow Airmen.

In August 2018, Chapman was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor nation’s highest honor for his selfless actions in Afghanistan during the Battle of Takur Ghar on March 4, 2002 in support of Operation ANACONDA.

“With the renaming of this training annex, the Air Force will fittingly memorialize Master Sergeant Chapman at the location where all Air Force enlisted Airmen receive their initial combat skills training and all Air Force Special Warfare Airmen begin their journey,” said U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Michael Herrera, squadron superintendent of the 350th Special Warfare Training Squadron.

Chapman paid the ultimate sacrifice when he selflessly sacrificed his life to fend off a rocket-propelled grenade attack on an incoming MH-47 Chinook helicopter carrying a quick reaction force of U.S. Army Rangers and Air Force Special Tactics Airmen.

In a valiant attempt to rescue U.S. Navy SEAL, Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts, Chapman and the team voluntarily reinserted themselves into immediate danger. Upon exiting the helicopter, Chapman immediately charged uphill through the thigh-deep snow, directly engaging enemy combatants, clearing the position.

With no regard for his own life, Chapman intentionally moved from cover and was struck by enemy machine gun fire. Despite severe, mortal wounds, Chapman continued fighting relentlessly before paying the ultimate sacrifice.

Chapman was posthumously promoted to the rank of Master Sergeant on Aug. 22, 2018 by General David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force.

“John Chapman was a great warrior, a steadfast friend, a selfless patriot, and above all—a man of unquestionable character,” said U.S. Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, General Stephen W. Wilson. “I think it’s important to never forget his sacrifices, so that this Chapman Annex might stand as an enduring reminder to all about the ideas of selfless service—about an unwavering commitment to duty, and to fellow men, so that we can aptly characterize what John Chapman did and his service to our nation.”

Chapman is one of four enlisted Airmen in the U.S. Air Force to have been awarded the Medal of Honor.

“The heroism and valor of the number of special operators are particularly well chronicled. While there were a number of extremely high awards presented in the aftermath of this battle, the story of John Chapman’s gallantry simply stands above them all,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Education and Training Command. “All Airmen who pass through this gate, for BMT as well as Special Warfare, will gaze upon this welcome sign to the Chapman Annex, and know that they may be called upon to be the next Chappy.”

Chapman’s family members attended the ceremony including his wife, Valerie Nessel and his daughter Brianna Chapman; his mother, Terry Chapman; sister Lori Longfritz and brother Kevin Chapman.

“During training, there will be days when one is pushed beyond physical limitations. Days of little sleep, cold, hunger, pure exhaustion. You’ll feel defeated, and thoughts of quitting creep in often. The operator has to want with every fiber of their being to become an operator,” said Ms. Valerie Nessel, spouse of Master Sgt. John Chapman. “This is where John’s story of heroism and legacy come into play. When doubts enter, one must remember John on that mountain top. You will learn about him through this annex training facility.”

“There is a quote by Arthur Ashe that defines heroism and that is the one word that defines John to the fullest. The quote goes like this, ‘True heroism is remarkably sober, at times undramatic. But it is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.’ I wish all the trainees the best in their pursuit and challenge them to train and operate as John lived and died. Thank you for always remembering John,” Nessel said.

Following the ceremony, Chief Master Sgt. Jaime Clark, command chief of the Special Warfare Training Wing, led Airmen, teammates and family members in performing memorial push-ups in honor of Master Sgt. Chapman, a Special Tactics tradition to honor fallen comrades.

The Special Warfare Training Wing selects and trains the Air Force’s conventional and special operations ground combat forces to meet the demand of the future battlefield.

The Special Tactics community was well represented with leaders from the 24th Special Operations Wing including former 24th SOW commander, U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Claude Tudor and U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Jeff Guilmain, 24th SOW command chief.

“We’re welling with pride seeing this dedication that will cement John Chapman’s valor and sacrifice for future generations of Special Tactics Airmen following in his footsteps,” said Guilmain.

Special Tactics is U.S. Special Operation Command’s tactical air-ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force, leading global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.

Story by Bridget Donovan , 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Photos by photo by Sarayuth Pinthong

Fallen Special Tactics Airman Honored with Hometown Bridge Dedication

Friday, March 6th, 2020

ROCHESTER, Pa. – The Special Tactics community will forever honor the lives and legacies of the fallen and ensure their names will not die twice.

Family, teammates and local community members commemorated the life and legacy of U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin, a Special Tactics combat controller, with a bridge dedication at the Veterans of Foreign War Post 128, Rochester, Pennsylvania, Feb. 29, 2020.

The Vanport Bridge traversing the Ohio River was renamed, “USAF Combat Controller Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin Memorial Bridge.”

Elchin, while deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation FREEDOM’S SENTINEL, gave the ultimate sacrifice on Nov. 27, 2018, when his vehicle hit an improvised explosive device.

Ron Bogolea, grandfather of Elchin, and local community leaders unveiled the USAF Combat Controller Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin Memorial Bridge.

“On Nov. 11, 2012, Veterans Day, [Dylan] wrote on Facebook, ‘I want to thank all of those who pay for our freedom, which some take for granted.’ Little did he know, six years later, he would pay that price,” said Bogolea. “Dylan’s life of duty, courage, sacrifice, and love of country reminds us what is good in ourselves and it teaches our children what is great about America.”

Pennsylvania State Senator Elder Vogel Jr. and other local representatives spearheaded the efforts in introducing the bill to have the bridge renamed in Elchin’s memory.

“Legacy is what gathers us here today.” said Vogel. “It is my hope that this bridge will encourage future generations to emulate the manner in which Dylan lived. Live for others as Dylan lived for his brothers in arms, his family and his community.”

Elchin was a recipient of the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, the Army Commendation With Valor, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Combat Action Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, and the NATO Medal.

 “Today this community gets to honor Dylan in a bridge renaming ceremony” said U.S. Air Force Col. Matt Allen, commander of the 24th Special Operations Wing. “It’s my fervent hope that those who pass across this bridge next week, next month, and in the years to come, to take a moment to remind themselves and reflect on the extraordinary service, sacrifice and commitment of one of the sons of this community, Staff Sgt. Dylan Elchin.”

Members of the 26th Special Tactics Squadron, Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, attended the ceremony to honor their fallen teammate.

“No matter what training we were doing he was always smiling and having a great time,” said Tech. Sgt. Adam Lollar, member of the 26th STS. “Whether it was a 1,600 mile off-road trip through the New Mexico backcountry or 100 plus degrees in the Nevada desert shooting.”

“I find it amazing to have the opportunity to witness the legacy and memory of Dylan being carried on, especially by his local community…seeing Dylan’s hometown uniting through his memory, especially someone like Dylan who gave everything for that community and this nation, is awesome,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Marty Bouma, a flight commander with the 26th STS. “Dylan was one of the most selfless individuals I’ve met, but I know the way the community has come together in this would make him proud.”

As a Special Tactics combat controller, Elchin was specially trained and equipped for immediate deployment into combat operations to conduct global access, precision strike, and personnel recovery operations. He was skilled in reconnaissance operations, air traffic control and terminal attack control operations.

Special Tactics is U.S. Special Operation Command’s tactical air-ground integration force and the Air Force’s special operations ground force, leading global access, precision strike, personnel recovery and battlefield surgery operations.

By 1st Lt. Alejandra Fontalvo 

24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

USAF Rescue Squadron Athletic Trainer Rehabilitates Airmen

Thursday, March 5th, 2020


The 41st Rescue Squadron executes a physically demanding mission of personnel recovery, in doing so, rescue members require a recovery of their own.  

Lori Uretsky, 41st Rescue Squadron athletic trainer, provides these Rescue Airmen with preventative care and treatment for injuries to keep them mission ready.

“[Uretsky] does preventative maintenance,” said Tech Sgt. John Rosenberg, 347th Operations Support Squadron special missions aviator. ”She keeps minor injuries from becoming major injuries and sustains chronic injuries. Taking care of [injuries] on a regular basis keeps them from becoming major issues, which could take me off the flying schedule and have a direct impact on the mission.”

Uretsky has been working with the 41st RQS since October 2017 and has had more than 2,200 appointments and tended to 3,112 injuries.

“I see a lot of neck pain, upper back and lower back pain for the pilots and the special mission aviators usually have shoulders and knee pains because of their job duties,” Uretsky said.  “When I say neck and back pain that can range from muscle tightness to herniated disks to stress fractures in their back. I will say for the most part, a lot of neck pain [comes] from wearing helmets and night vision goggles because it adds weight to their head.”

Rosenberg, a patient of Uretsky’s, has been being seeing her for a leg injury for about a year.

“I’ve been having problems with scar tissue in my ankle” Rosenberg said. “We’ve been working on physical therapy with the ultrasound and sticks on my leg. It’s helping break all that stuff up. Yes, it hurts, but at the same time, I can actually feel it getting better. The prevented maintenance that she does is what enables me to still fly.”

In addition to treating injuries with dry needling, cupping and physical therapy, Uretsky provides annual and post-surgery rehabilitation services that help get wounded Airmen back in the game.

“I was unfortunately fortunate that we had someone get hurt downrange and sent back early for surgery,” Uretsky said. “I say unfortunate, because I never want that to happen, but I was able to do his rehab with him here in-house and get him cleared to return to fly. So, what we thought was going to be career ending, wasn’t. He’s back flying. So, I mean, that is really rewarding to see that.”

According to Uretsky, she has only had to deny seven Airmen from flight, which is lower than numbers seen in previous years because Uretsky is, not only on hand to provide her services here, but has the ability to travel with the unit.

“I’m going to the red flag exercise next month. This will be my second TDY,” Uretsky said. “This red flags a little shorter last year. [It lasted for] five to six weeks. They’d fly three, four times a week, have all their issues, then have to wait for when they come back [for treatment]. So even though I’m not there the whole time, I go in the smack dab of it, treat them and [which should] last until they can come back and see me again.

“I am able to do teleconferences if [Airmen] have issues. I’ve sent things downrange so that they would be able to take care of [issues] the best they could before they had to go to a major base to get treated.”

Uretsky believes being embedded in the squadron also makes a big difference in the relationships between her and her patients.

“I love my relationships with the patients,” Uretsky said. “I joke all the time and tell them that they’re a tad bit crazy for going into a bad scene probably getting shot at to go save others. Most people would go away from that kind of stuff. So, I think they’re very special. To be able to take care of them is awesome. My dad and my grandfather are vets. So, working with the military is my way of giving back.

“If I help one person and keep them in their career, then that makes me happy,” Uretsky said.

By Airman Azaria E. Foster, 23d Wing Public Affairs

USAF To Rename Lackland AFB’s Medina Annex in Honor of MSgt John Chapman

Monday, March 2nd, 2020

On Wednesday, the JBSA-Lackland (Medina) Training Annex will be renamed in remembrance of Medal of Honor recipient, MSgt John A. Chapman.

The renaming ceremony will be held at 10:00 AM CST on March 4, 2020, and is open to all DoD cardholders. It will also be live-streamed on several venues.