Prepping aircraft for paint jobs, in-depth inspections

Prepping aircraft for paint jobs, in-depth inspectionsRAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS)

“Clean before applying paint” is a direction many people may disregard during a home improvement project, but it’s something that’s well-heeded by specialists of the 86th Maintenance Squadron.

Proper washing and painting can be crucial in maintaining the aircraft assigned to Ramstein Air Base.

“(It) is for corrosion prevention,” said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Kohn, a dock coordinator with the squadron’s isochronal (ISO) inspection section. “You want to get all the grime and grit that gathered while it’s out.

“We don’t always land on international runways,” Kohn added. “We land on dirt runways with rocks, so you’re going to get nicks and things wrong with your plane.”

For this reason, Kohn said they wash and paint aircraft in conjunction with the regularly scheduled ISO inspections.

An ISO inspection is a scheduled, extensive examination of an aircraft to maintain its functionality and perform preventive maintenance. The inspections can vary in time and complexity, with inspections categorized as either A, B, C-1 or C-2 checks.

“The C-2 check, which is the most in-depth, is what we’re coming up on right now,” Kohn said. “Anything and everything that you have on this aircraft is going to be touched by us.”

This C-2 check marks the end of a 14-aircraft ISO inspection period for Ramstein AB. After this C-2 inspection, the base will not be due for another one until 2020.

“For the 86th Airlift Wing, that means more reliability on the aircraft side,” Kohn said.

The inspections involve Airmen from multiple shops in the 86th MXS, but each aspect of the process holds value to the getting the aircraft back into operations.

“I had never heard about having to wash an aircraft, and then I got here (and) I was told I was going to wash,” said Airman 1st Class Ryan Kuiper, an 86th MXS aerospace maintenance apprentice. “It’s an experience I’ll never forget, that’s for sure.”

The Airmen have one day to get the entire aircraft washed. Kuiper said the wash day can be long and physically taxing.

“It’s cool to see the plane go from dirty to clean,” he said.

Though the painting is mostly touch-up spot painting, it is still an important method to prevent corrosion and extend the life of the aircraft.

Once the aircraft is washed and painted, it then officially goes into inspection, which is broken up into a “look” and a “fix” phase.

“They are very in-depth inspections,” Kuiper said. “The planes get taken apart and put back together.”

The ISO section typically looks for the items that would cause mission stoppage first, but they check everything from burned-out light bulbs to cracked airframes.

“You learn how things operate, what goes wrong more than others” Kuiper said. “During the inspection, you learn why things are more important than other things.”

Kuiper said the inspection is better than the wash because although they are still on a time crunch, they are allowed more than the one day that completing the wash requires.

Each C-2 inspection takes approximately two weeks to return the aircraft to operational status, but it all begins with a wash and paint job.

MDAA recognizes Air Force Missile Defender of the Year


Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein presented the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance’s 2015 Defender of the Year award to Maj. Michael Sward during a ceremony Jan. 8 in Alexandria, Virginia.

Sward serves as a Joint Integrated Air and Missile Defense staff officer with the Space and Integrated Air and Missile Defense Division, Operations Directorate, U.S. Pacific Command, where he is responsible for daily air and missile defense operations and training, while supporting the entire command in several key areas.

“This is a classic story of a young man with vision, a young man with credibility, and a young man who has great intellect,” Goldfein said. “He’s able to translate that into real plans that are now (being executed) in ways to better defending the (PACOM) region.”

According to Col. S. Edward Boxx, the Space and IAMD Division chief, Sward synchronized non-kinetic activities with active defenses by integrating offensive cyber capabilities into Pacific air and missile defense operations, and coordinated for the analysis of U.S. defenses with high-fidelity, advanced and emerging threat assessments.

Sward also captured critical capability gaps in regional and U.S. defenses, which led to combatant command efforts to enhance regional sensor coverage, improve Pacific tactical command and control capabilities, and counter unmanned aerial system threats.

While Sward has many more accomplishments contributing to his selection for the Air Force’s Defender of the Year, the vice chief remembered him from 2011 when he served on the integrated air and missile defense team supporting Goldfein, who served as the U.S. Air Forces Central Command commander at the time.

Goldfein was concerned about the threats that could potentially launch missiles throughout the region and needed to develop a response to this emerging threat. Sward assisted Goldfein in developing relationships with the Gulf Coalition Council and orchestrated bringing them together to create what Goldfein called the Gulf Combined Air Operations Center.

After Sward received the award, he thanked PACOM leadership for the support he has received and said he represents everyone that serves on Integrated Air and Missile Defense team in the Pacific.

“I’m extremely grateful for PACOM’s confidence, trust and ability they give our team to do this mission in the Pacific,” Sward said. “I’m fortunate to work with an innovative team at PACOM where we can touch policy where we can touch acquisitions and requirements and get after closing those gaps and write the plans and develop the courses of action to succeed in defense … it’s a ‘no fail’ mission.”

The MDAA Defender of the Year award recognizes military members who command fully operational and deployed missile defense systems. The MDAA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building broad public support for the development and deployment of an effective missile defense system for the U.S. and enhancing missile defense partnerships with its allies.

Afghan Air Force receives first four A-29s

Afghan Air Force receives first four A-29sKABUL, Afghanistan (AFNS)

The U.S. Air Force delivered four A-29 Super Tucanos to the Afghan Air Force Jan. 15 at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Afghanistan.

Eight combat-ready attack pilots and a handful of maintainers graduated Dec. 17, 2015, and have returned to Afghanistan after a year of training with the 81st Fighter Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia. The pilots are the first of 30 who will be trained by the 81st FS in the next three years.

The U.S. Air Force had no qualified A-29 pilots or maintainers prior to the start of the program, and stood up the 81st FS. These Airmen have been responsible for developing all the tactics and ways to instruct the students.

“The A-29 program has been an integral part of the U.S. government’s overall ‘Building Partnership Capacity’ efforts around the world and immediately supports the development of an indigenous air force in Afghanistan,” said Brig. Gen. Christopher Craige, the commanding general at Train, Advise, Assist Command-Air.

“This rapidly developed program for Afghanistan is unique for the A-29 development because this is the first time (U.S. Air Force) pilots and maintainers have been trained as instructors to conduct training for Afghan students in the United States.”

The 81st FS instructors will be deployed to TAAC-Air where they’ll advise their counterparts on continued development of close air support, aerial escort, armed overwatch and aerial interdiction in the coming months.

Designed to operate in high temperatures and in extremely rugged terrain, the A-29 is highly maneuverable fourth-generation weapons system capable of delivering precision-guided munitions.

“It can fly at low speeds and low altitudes, is easy to fly, and provides exceptionally accurate weapons delivery,” Craige said. “It is currently in service with 10 different air forces around the world.”

The A-29 program was designed to help Afghan pilots gain an advantage by providing close air support to friendly forces engaged in combat on the ground. Training pilots on the A-29 in the U.S. provides them an opportunity to learn how to employ this weapon system and defend Afghanistan from insurgents, he said.

“This is a fighting aircraft which will destroy the centers of enemies in the country,” said Col. Bahadur, the Afghan Air Force public affairs officer, through an interpreter. “This aircraft has the ability of transferring weapons like rockets and machine guns. This fighting aircraft will provide security and combat support from the ground units in ground operation.”

Security cooperation provides a means for the Air Force to help international partners build airpower capabilities and fill operational needs, increase access, shorten response time and affect the strategic calculus of potential adversaries.

Through sustained security cooperation activities, the Air Force works to build a network of global partners who have the capacity and capabilities to respond to contingencies effectively and efficiently.

A look back at Desert Storm, 25 years later

A look back at Desert Storm, 25 years laterWASHINGTON (AFNS)

Twenty-five years ago, the Air Force participated in Operation Desert Storm, the largest air campaign since the conflict in Southeast Asia. The campaign’s purpose was to drive the Iraqi military out of Kuwait, release the country from Saddam Hussein’s invasion and reestablish its sovereignty.

On the morning of Aug. 2, 1990, Iraq invaded nearby Kuwait. In less than four hours, Iraqi forces occupied the capital, Kuwait City, and Hussein soon annexed the country as the 19th province of Iraq. The U.S. government initiated Operation Desert Shield in response.

Several months later on Jan. 16, 1991, following Congressional concurrence with United Nations efforts to enforce a resolution that demanded Iraq’s withdrawal from Kuwait, Desert Storm was launched.

“The real mission, the immediacy of that mission … was to deploy as many forces as possible to deter further aggressiveness by the Iraqi military and of course the Air Force was the first on the list, along with the Navy and the aircraft carriers, to deploy in the region,” said retired Lt. Gen. Bruce A. “Orville” Wright, a Desert Shield/Storm veteran. “It was a rapid deployment of forces from the continental United States (and some forces from Europe) to put enough airpower in place so the Iraqi military would be discouraged, if not deterred.

“We took out their eyes and ears, their control capability,” he continued. “The entire ground operations lasted about 100 hours and that’s a credit to the joint coalition airpower that was employed against the Iraqi military. We were all excited, that’s what we trained for our whole career. To take 24 F-16s and a squadron of very capable highly-trained pilots and maintenance professionals … and defeat what was then the largest ground force.”

The air campaign marked the initial phase of the war and for the Air Force, air superiority was the goal. With more than 68,800 total force Airmen being rapidly deployed in support of Desert Storm, there were approximately 69,406 sorties flown by 30 different types of aircraft.

“I remember thinking, ‘Saddam Hussein has no idea what’s coming,’ and after the first 60 minutes of the war, he will be largely disconnected from his tactical forces and he was. They tried to reconnect, but in many ways we began the decapitation of the leadership within the first 15 minutes of the war,” said Maj. Gen. Paul T. Johnson, an operational capability requirements director and Desert Shield veteran. “I really hope we can remember how we came together as a joint and a coalition team, nations from all over the world, all of the services supporting each other, generating effects for one another to achieve an effect in an incredibly short period of time.”

Desert Storm marked the first conflict in history to make comprehensive use of stealth and space systems support capabilities against a modern, integrated air defense, allowing the Air Force to succeed in their endeavor of air superiority.

“Over time I have come to understand the enabling capabilities that came to us from space, came to us out of stealth (and) that came to us out of new weapons and ammunitions that allowed us to do things in ways that we hadn’t done them before,” Johnson said. “Our ability to dynamically command and control across an entire theater there were things that, looking back now in hindsight, fundamentally began the transformation of airpower. There are so many things that we take for granted today … that saw their beginnings in Desert Storm.”

As with any mission, operation or task, there are lessons learned. Desert Storm taught the Air Force that being on the cutting edge of revolutionary technology is critical to success.

“That was the first time the investments, that had been made in some cases a decade or two decades earlier, came together on the battlefield and for the first time the world saw what the United States Air Force could do,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “Looking back and learning from Desert Storm, it is more important than ever before that we continue to modernize our force, gaining the advantage to defeat any adversary we may face in the future.”

On Feb. 28, 1991, following six weeks of air attacks and 100 hours of a ground campaign, President George H.W. Bush declared a cessation of operations and announced that Kuwait had been liberated.

“The memories and lessons learned from Desert Storm continue to define today who we are,” Wright said. “We have the ability to defend the nation that’s founded on, not just the history of Desert Storm but the history of airpower from World War I to World War II to Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm and today. We have been in this fight now for 25 years and those Airmen who are out there today are critical. They are critically important to the safety of our fellow citizens and critically important to the future of the United States of America.”

A shared love, goal, mission

A shared love, goal, missionLAUGHLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS)

(This feature is part of the “Through Airmen’s Eyes” series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)

Joining the Air Force, commissioning, becoming a pilot, progressing to the rank of major all of these things define the word “minority.” Majs. Regina Wall and her husband, Jared Wall, have done all of the above.

Regina, the 86th Flying Training Squadron assistant director of operations, and Jared, the 47th Operations Group T-6A Texan II standardization and evaluation branch chief, have shared almost every duty station and three deployments since beginning their careers in 2005.

The Walls’ story began in 2005 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, where they first met during the Air and Space Basic

Course. Upon completion of ASBC, they found themselves on their way to Offutt AFB, Nebraska, where they completed Initial Flight Training with a follow-on to Laughlin AFB.

After arriving to Laughlin AFB, the Walls officially began their pilot careers in the Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training program.

“Not only did we both get assigned to class 07-04, but our assigned seats were right next to each other in the flight room,” Regina said.

After the completion of the T-6 program, Jared continued at Laughlin AFB as a T-1 Jayhawk student and Regina moved to Corpus Christi Naval Air Station, Texas, to fly the T-44A Pegasus. This was the couple’s first experience with a long-distance relationship.

“It was a good test for our relationship,” Regina said. “We both knew by being in the military we might have to spend some time apart, and it was something we needed to be prepared for.”

But this long-distance relationship was only temporary. On Dec. 14, 2006, toward the end of pilot training, Jared proposed to Regina. Two days later, the newly engaged couple got married. Now join-spouse, Jared and Regina got assignments to fly the C-130 Hercules at Dyess AFB, Texas.

From Dyess AFB, the Walls deployed together three times to Kuwait and were able to see various parts of the world and share unique and life-changing experiences.

“Sharing our deployments together and day-to-day Air Force life together has been a great experience,” Jared said. “It has allowed us to easily relate to each other. It also helps that during those deployments and during much of our career, we have had very similar jobs and the same mission.”

After their time at Dyess AFB, Jared and Regina relocated to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, in the spring of 2012.

Once in Alaska, the Wall family grew by one. Their first child was born in the fall of 2012 and would change the way Regina and Jared would go about their lives.

“It wasn’t just about us anymore,” Regina said. “Making decisions about our positions, assignments and deployments affected more than ourselves. We had to do what was best for our whole family.”

While still keeping their family’s needs in mind, the Walls kept progressing with their careers and moved back to Laughlin AFB in January 2014. Regina became a T-1A Jayhawk instructor pilot and Jared, a T-6A Texan II instructor pilot.

Since arriving here, the Walls have changed more than duty titles. They have also had their second child and have both promoted to the rank of major together.

Though they were promoted to major on the same day, this is unlikely to be the case for the next rank of lieutenant colonel, as the Walls will have to compete against each other to see who pins on first.

“We have a healthy competition,” Regina said. “Of course I like to win, but if I was to get beat-out by anyone, I’d want it to be him.”

At this point Jared and Regina aren’t sure of an exact career path to take, but they are ready for whatever the future holds.

“We’re just going to do our best in the positions we hold now and go from there,” Jared said. “We know we can’t always get the exact assignment we want, but we’ve learned to compromise with each other and find a balance.”

Although moving from base to base, deploying and working long and erratic hours can be stressful for mil-to-mil spouses; Jared, Regina and their two children have found a balance in the military and their personal lives.

“We’ve learned to craft many of our career decisions around our family and relationship,” Regina said. “It’s not always easy, but sometimes what’s best for our careers may not be what’s best for our family.”

While there are many stressors and roadblocks in a mil-to-mil marriage, Jared and Regina have clung to the positives.

“It is very easy for us to relate to each other,” Jared said. “We speak the same Air Force language.”

Both Jared and Regina are thankful for what they have thus far and are eager to see what comes next.

“We’ve overcome every obstacle we’ve been presented with so far,” Regina said. “Only time will tell what comes next.”

Airman’s quick, calm response helps save life

Airman’s quick, calm response helps save lifeMCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. (AFNS)

It was this past Christmas and the restaurant was nearly empty. Michael Hamilton, a cook, fell to the ground during his shift. The restaurant staff had no medical training and panicked, unsure of what to do.

A waitress remembered speaking with a patron, who had mentioned she was a medic, just minutes before in the lounge area.

The patron was Staff Sgt. Christina Begeal, a 22nd Medical Group aerospace medical technician, who had just happened to be relaxing in the restaurant on her night off.

The waitress rushed to Begeal and brought her into the kitchen. Upon seeing the emergency, Begeal responded immediately, aware that the victim was having a seizure.

“He couldn’t talk. He couldn’t move,” Begeal said. “So I told him, ‘If you can hear me, squeeze my hand one for yes, two for no,’ and he could do that.”

She directed the two other staff members to call 911 and to help her care for the victim. They moved the victim to a safer location and treated him for shock, she said. They elevated his legs and put something soft around him. Begeal checked his pulse and his eyes for reaction to light.

At one point, Hamilton stopped breathing and Begeal gave him rescue breaths until he started breathing on his own again. Before paramedics arrived on scene, he came around.

She continued to communicate with him and asked if he had eaten any food recently or was currently on any medication, so she could relay the information to the paramedics.

“When Emergency Medical Services got there, it seemed like he was paralyzed; he was so exhausted from the seizure,” Begeal said. “They loaded him in the ambulance and took him to the hospital.”

At the hospital, Hamilton was evaluated, treated and released back to work.

“I didn’t think what happened that day would have happened so quickly,” Hamilton said. “If she hadn’t been here, there would have been more questioning, more chaos and less stability.”

When Begeal returned to the same restaurant a few weeks later, Hamilton approached her and thanked her for saving his life.

“I was really glad she was there to help because everybody else was frantic,” he said. “She stepped up, called the shots and made me feel like everything was going to be OK.”

Begeal stressed that basic care provided to a victim in the midst of waiting for paramedics to arrive is crucial and wanted to spread the message.

To emphasize the importance of bystander intervention and self-aid and buddy care, she is coordinating to teach a certified CPR course to the restaurant staff.

Every 22nd Air Refueling Wing Airman is trained in SABC, bystander intervention, basic situational awareness, and many other life-saving lessons. They are trained to employ this knowledge to help individuals during an emergency situation anytime and anywhere it may occur.

“If someone needs a helping hand I will be there so would any other McConnell Airmen,” Begeal said. “The willingness of our Airmen to step up in so many different critical situations is what makes us the wing of choice.”

Chester McBride: A true wingman

Chester McBride: A true wingmanMAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS)

Phillips Brooks, the American Episcopal clergyman who authored “O Little Town of Bethlehem,” once said, “Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones.”

The quote from a renowned Christian lyricist mirrors the life of Air Force Special Agent Chester McBride, killed in action Dec. 21, 2015.

“We had heard on the news that something had happened,” said Special Agent Helen Stewart, the commander of Air Force Office of Special Investigations, Detachment 405, at Maxwell Air Force Base. “The first reaction was just disbelief. I tried to keep my emotions in check because I wanted to be positive. No Airman’s life is more valuable than another, but my immediate thought was to Chester.”

McBride enlisted in the Air Force in 2008 as a security forces member, serving at Moody AFB, Georgia. Revealed as a mature, sharp Airman by all who knew him, the NCO was recruited to serve as a member of OSI in 2012.

Shortly after arriving at Det. 405 in 2012, Chester began pursuing a deployment. In years past, multiple deployments were canceled. While frustrated with the progress, the native of Statesboro, Georgia, continued to excel. He graduated with a master’s degree in public administration from Valdosta State University, continuously standing out among his peers. He was offered a position in the FBI once his active-duty service commitment ended.

McBride, postured for success both in and out of uniform, finally got his wish: a deployment to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, in October 2015.

“He was so excited about the deployment,” Stewart said. “While he missed his family here, his bond with his deployed family was strong. Constantly sending us pictures and contacting us often about the experience he was having over there, I knew he believed in the mission he was doing.”

While on a joint patrol outside of Bagram, McBride and five other American troops were attacked and killed by a suicide bomber. While the investigation is still underway, first-person accounts describe McBride’s final moments as characteristically heroic. The former Savannah State University football player shielded his linguist, laying down his life for his teammate. She is alive today because of McBride.

“Immediately, I tried to FaceTime him, but he didn’t answer,” Stewart said, fighting back emotions. “Then I sent him a text message, but he didn’t answer.”

During the time that the Air Force was notifying McBride’s parents, social media had already narrowed the unknown status of her Airman for Stewart. Aware that her subordinate was gone, but without official notification from her chain of command, she couldn’t gather her unit to give them the news.

“We couldn’t be officially notified until they (family) were,” she explained. “That was the longest, toughest day of my 15-year Air Force career. When I finally received the notification, it was devastating. I didn’t know the details, just of the loss.”

After trying to figure out how to take care of his family in Georgia, Stewart turned her attention to the unit, wondering, “How are we going to be OK?”

With grief still present throughout the detachment, and after a funeral for McBride in his hometown, Maxwell AFB organized a memorial in his honor Jan. 13.

Pain and tears spread throughout the silent auditorium as co-workers told stories of their wingman’s loving heart and his affection for their families, but mostly of his smile.

“The stories about him would be the same if told in the past, not after the incident,” Stewart said. “His small moments of being a true wingman, spanned from pacing everyone during their PT test to his final moment of heroism, showed the man Chester truly was. He believed in the Air Force’s core values 100 percent, and he lived them. He was always there, always willing and most of all he was always a wingman … always.”

McBride was posthumously decorated with a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star with Valor, and an Air Force Combat Action Medal, adding to his Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and Army Achievement Medal.

Stewart said that when Brig. Gen. Keith Givens, the commander of Air Force OSI, told McBride’s family at their home in Georgia about Chester’s final moments , they weren’t surprised to hear of his heroics.

“That act was him,” Stewart said smiling. “That is who he was, the ultimate wingman. I knew he had my back and everyone’s back in here. He is the guy you want to go to war with. That was Chester McBride. That’s his legacy.”