Thursday, March 31, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Straight talk and feedback (formal and informal)

By Chief Master Sgt. Mark D. Marson

314th Airlift Wing command chief

The old adage “people are your most important asset” is wrong. People are not your most important asset … the right people are.”

~ Jim Collins, Good to Great

For me, it all starts with feedback and a leader’s ability to spot talent. Too often I’m sitting a panel at the Mathies NCOA or some other venue, and the Airmen disclose they haven’t received proper feedback from their supervisors — what a huge injustice!

Providing initial feedback to your Airmen will set the stage for career-broadening and highlight your expectations concerning standards and discipline. You get what you tolerate. Besides, what can you offer your subordinates if you haven’t taken the time to review their portfolio, figure out what they bring to the table, where they best fit in the organization or what areas they need to develop?

As a current or future leader, you may have several positions or options available, and doing your homework will serve your organization well. Make no mistakes about it, as a supervisor, you are getting an informal grade from your team and success largely depends on your ability to “spot talent.”

When fielding a baseball team, a coach considers a myriad of variables, such as who demonstrates the potential to throw the ball fast and hard with accuracy from third to first base — each and every time, or who is agile enough to fill the gap between second and third base. The same goes for your garrison work center or when posturing a team for deployment. Your ability to determine who best fits what role and why will make or break your team.

Specifically, the initial feedback process presents an opportunity to communicate to the member; you’ve looked over their file and noted previous experience, ability, awards and overall talent. This review not only highlights your interest in the member’s career, but also allows you to make an informed decision concerning placement and sets the stage for professional development.

Many senior leaders live by the “Mentor All — Sponsor Few” concept, which means not everyone is going to be the chief. That doesn’t mean you don’t mentor and continue to develop “all” your players to their individual capacity. Everyone is a valued member of the team and deserves coaching. As a supervisor you have the tools and responsibility to help your Airmen succeed.

Remember that spotting talent is the ability to see a person’s potential. There are those who believe people are born leaders and those who believe people are developed into leaders. I personally feel it’s a little of both, but am certain unless you set your standards high and insist your people measure up, you’ll never know what they are capable of.

When formally and informally evaluating your people, consider the following themes outlined by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz in his “The Chemistry of Leadership” address to the U.S. Treasury department:

Character Counts … leaders with character have vision—they’re tenacious;

Leadership isn’t about moving paper;

Accountability … are good intentions good enough?

Leaders should be held accountable for organizational shortcomings; and

A change in leadership is sometimes the appropriate path.

The bottom line is: “experienced, operational leaders are skilled at merging their subordinates’ talents, skills and resources to most effectively accomplish the mission”. As the leader, you owe it to your subordinates to develop their leadership and management skills in preparation for expanded responsibilities and higher leadership positions. Take an interest, mentor your people and conduct your feedback sessions as charged!

TOP STORY > >Vietnam vets welcomed home at Little Rock

By Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Team Little Rock’s Vietnam veterans were honored during a retreat ceremony Wednesday at the main flagpole in Heritage Park at Little Rock Air Force Base.

The U.S. Senate recently approved Senate Resolution 55, establishing March 30, 2011 as Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day. The date was chosen to honor the day U.S. forces completed their return from Vietnam in 1973.

“Whereas the establishment of a ‘Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day’ would be an appropriate way to honor those members of the United States Armed Forces who served in South Vietnam and throughout Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War ...”according to the resolution.

Col. Mike Pierce, 19th Maintenance Group commander, received the flag during the ceremony on behalf of Little Rock’s Vietnam veterans. During the Vietnam War, then-Airman 1st Class Pierce was a member of the 320th Bombardment Wing.

“The wing was assigned to Guam and ran bombing and tanker operations from there,” he said. Some of these missions were part of Operation Linebacker II.

By November 1973, the wing returned home, not realizing the Vietnam War would soon be over. Colonel Pierce recounted that members from his wing expected to redeploy on another mission elsewhere.

But the return of U.S. forces to American soil wasn’t the warm homecoming they deserved.

Frank Cope, 19th Airlift Wing Sexual Assault Response Coordinator office, returned home from Vietnam sooner than his brothers-in-arms, but remembers the poor treatment of America’s military members.

“I was one of the lucky ones ... I returned from Vietnam in 1970 tobe met on the tarmac by my wife, four-month-old daughter, parents, in-laws and other family and friends,” said Mr. Cope. “Most vets I met were treated very badly as they came home. Many I met later were told to put on civilian clothing and hide the fact they were in the military to prevent harassment in airports.”

Nearly 40 years later, Vietnam veterans finally received the homecoming they deserved.

“It was a great honor [Col. Mike Minihan, 19th Airlift Wing commander] bestowed on me and I greatly appreciate accepting the flag for my comrades-in-arms from that era,” said Colonel Pierce. “Thanks to leaders like Colonel Minihan, every Airman now at Little Rock gets a ‘rock star’ welcome home.”

More than 58,000 U.S. Armed Forces members were killed in action and more than 300,000 were wounded in Vietnam, according to the resolution.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Deployed maintainers keep aircraft aloft

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – Touted by some as the most versatile aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory, the C-130 Hercules can practically do it all.

From troop transport, cargo airlift and airdrop to electronic surveillance and aerial attack, this four-turboprop engine airframe is robust, but without the support of aircraft maintainers, its success would be limited.

“Our mission is to provide safe, serviceable C-130E aircraft by performing timely, dependable maintenance,” said 1st Lt. Jordon Perolio, 19th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Dragon Aircraft Maintenance Unit assistant officer in charge.

According to Lieutenant Perolio, who is currently deployed as the 777th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Unit officer in charge, the C-130 Hercules of the 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron here provides tactical airlift capabilities. These aircraft are able to land in austere locations and perform aggressively day after day. Because of the maintenance upkeep, the Hercules is able to perform a variety of different missions in U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.

“Our planes provide cargo to forward operating bases in Iraq, removing the need for many vehicle convoys which takes Soldiers and Airmen off the front line,” he said.

To keep the C-130s aloft, 777th EAMU aircraft maintainers such as Staff Sgt. David Fabacher, integrated avionics systems electronic warfare craftsman, play an important role.

Sergeant Fabacher, deployed from the 19th AMXS Dragon AMU, inspects and maintains the infrared missile warning and countermeasures systems on the C-130 Hercules aircraft.

“Without those systems on our aircraft, they are left defenseless against threats, leaving them vulnerable to attacks,” he said. “My job is important; any slip up on our part can and will cost lives.”

The sergeant takes pride in seeing the products of their labor, something they don’t get to experience at home station.

“I love it when an aircrew comes back safely and tells us they had surface-to-air missiles shot at them and our systems work as advertised,” Sergeant Fabacher said.

For Lieutenant Perolio, it is very humbling to be part of the 777th with roots that date to World War II as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomb squadron.

“I find it pretty amazing to be able to trace our history back to what some have called the ‘Greatest Generation,’” he said. “I feel that our young folks who have answered our nation’s call and enlisted during a time when our country is in conflict should be linked to those from World War II. I am proud to serve with such fine Americans.”

From providing top cover for ground troops or bringing additional supplies to forward operating bases and providing aeromedical evacuations of wounded soldiers, the C-130 Hercules of the 777th EAS are able to perform their duties, with the support of 777th EAMU aircraft maintainers.

COMMENTARY>>Thank you Mobility Airmen!

Thank you! No doubt by now you’ve seen world events unfold in both Japan and Libya. Along with this, you’ve seen the considerable increase in ops tempo as our nation simultaneously responds to the humanitarian need on one hand and to the United Nation’s resolution to use force on the other. All the while, continuing our already busy pace supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. And you understand this to mean an ever increasing demand for support by our Mobility Air Forces -- Active Duty, Guard and Reserve ... you -- our people.

You all have stepped up in this time of need. I could not be more impressed, and I’m so very proud of each and every one of you. The sacrifice from you and your families does not go unnoticed ... our nation and those around the world you are helping will be forever thankful.

I am honored and humbled to be able to serve with you.

TOP STORY > >First female C-130 pilot completes course at LRAFB

Editor’s note: This article is a reprint from the July 22, 2005, issue of The Drop Zone.

History was made here on Aug. 6, 1974, as Navy Ensign Jane Skiles successfully completed the C-130 pilot training course at Little Rock Air Force Base, becoming the first female qualified to fly the Herk. In fact, she had been in the first class of women to go through naval flight school the previous year. Her training at Little Rock AFB also made her the first woman to go through Air Force pilot training.

Capt. Al Rowe of the 16th Tactical Airlift Training Squadron administered the check ride and commented that Ensign Skiles was not overly nervous. She had slept well the night before and had remarked, “If you don’t know it then, you’ll never know it.” She certainly did know it, and she passed the test.

The check ride was an otherwise routine flight to Jackson, Miss., but the crowds of people present at base operations when the aircraft taxied in demonstrated it was anything but routine to visiting press, dignitaries and ordinary sightseers.

“I didn’t expect anything like this,” she later said. Exiting the aircraft, she rendered sharp salutes to Col. John Davis, the former 314th Tactical Airlift Wing commander, and Navy commander Robert Baril, the commander of the U.S. Navy Recruiting District in Little Rock, and the two commanders presented her with a certificate of completion of training.

Ensign Skiles departed Little Rock AFB for her first operational assignment flying C-130s at Naval Air Station Rota, Spain. She went on to a long and productive career, setting other firsts along the way. As a pioneer, she did face obstacles and prejudice, but she followed through with her career.

She ultimately attained the rank of captain (0-6 in the Navy) and retired in 1997. At the end of her career, Captain Skiles-O’Dea advised women aviators to “Dig and scrap for every opportunity they’ll give you, and be prepared to prove yourself.”

Thursday, March 17, 2011

COMMENTARY>>An ode to Col. Adam Dickerson

By Col. Kirk Lear

314th Airlift Wing vice commander

Early in the oncoming tide of Airmen moving in and out of Little Rock this summer, our base will lose a veteran C-130 maintainer as the 314th Maintenance Group commander, Col. Adam Dickerson, once again leaves Little Rock and heads off to the Middle East for a year’s duty ... again. He’s been my friend and less-athletic road-biking partner for nearly two years now; as he departs, I’m fully aware that his group’s notable successes in the past few years - convincing scores in logistics compliance assessments and unit compliance inspections, command-leading mission capable rates on 40-plus-year-old aircraft, a tight-knit team and the like - have all hinged on his influence, and the leadership of the team he built and enabled.

I’m really proud of both him and our maintenance group team, and while sorry to see him go, I know that another great Airman will take the group guidon in May and surely build on Adam’s successes. Like Adam, he’ll surely talk until he’s blue in the face about his “knucklebusters’” work ethics, their commitment to producing a healthy fleet, and their “get ‘er done” esprit-de-corps. He’ll set high standards and occasionally be forcefully convincing to a few in his group who aren’t living up to those standards, foster partnerships that help his team better do their mission, and be innovative when his team doesn’t have the resources they need. Oh, and that next commander will surely vent to the 314th’s vice commander about the occasionally “unnecessary crap” -- most of which the vice is responsible for -- that his maintainers have to do, that detract from their ability to keep the “air” in “airlift.”

So here’s to Colonel Dickerson -- for an immensely successful command of an immensely capable team - but one that both he and I would agree has been on the shoulders of the “knucklebuster” Airmen and sergeants he’s been privileged to lead. May we all be this successful as we pass the torch to our successors, and may we also put in the work and the self-sacrifice to make our Air Force better than we found it.

TOP STORY > >Airdrop inspectors work with Army and Air Force

By Tech Sgt. Emily F. Alley

451 AEW Public Affairs

KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan – Almost every pallet that travels on a C-130 through Kandahar Airfield is touched by two Airmen: Staff Sgt. William McKandless and Staff Sgt. Steven Smith, who are joint airdrop inspectors with the 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. The two inspectors approve bundles and ensure they are properly built and secured within the aircraft.

Soldiers, often the ones who build the bundles, are not always aware of how a pallet needs to balance the aircraft, or how it will be fastened to avoid shifting during flight.

“There’s a big difference between the Army and the Air Force,” said Sergeant Smith. “But we help them understand, and we work well together.”

The Airmen have been working hard and inspecting millions of pounds of cargo that have left the airfield a handful of airframes, in addition to C-130s, in the past few months. McKandless and Smith helped shatter the airfield airdrop record in January when they delivered about two million pounds of supplies that consisted of food, fuel and even building materials. McKandless estimates two thousand pallets were dropped that month.

“These guys crawled over every single bundle,” said Maj. Jason Sanderson, a pilot who worked with the airdrop inspectors during January. While other locations, such as Bagram, had larger volume, the workload was spread over more inspectors. “It’s safe to say those two inspected more than any two Airmen in Afghanistan at that time.”

“That’s the fun thing,” added Sergeant Smith. “It’s all a blur.”

The most memorable drops, he described, aren’t a matter of quantity.

He vividly recalls the emergency deliveries, many last-minute, that bring supplies to warriors one the ground. One group of soldiers was so low on fuel they couldn’t even drive to pick up their delivery. They physically hand-rolled fuel barrels from the drop site back to their camp.

On emergency airdrops, timing can be as important as the supplies themselves. Once, the inspectors were loading a C-130 and found maintenance problems. The aircraft was unloaded and all the pallets were moved to a new plane within thirty minutes.

“It was insane,” added Sergeant Smith, who said it may traditionally take 48 hours to plan an airdrop. “They got from planning to execution in three hours.”

“I know the guys on the ground are getting what they need,” Smith concluded. “If it doesn’t drop, they’ll be hungry, thirsty. They can’t just go to the store and get food.”

To deliver the supplies, the inspectors work with a constant stream of aircraft. Often, their work days are fragmented because availability of planes and demand for supplies dictate a work schedule.

In the free time they do have, the inspectors count sleeping as a hobby. Smith said he will also read letters from his family.

“I packed a Play Station on the assumption I’d have a day off,” Sergeant McKandless recalled the day he was told about his deployment to Kandahar- he had 48 hours notice. “I think I’ve had two days off since December.”

He may not have played many video games, but he got to work with real soldiers instead.

Friday, March 11, 2011

TOP STORY >> Mobility Airman Profile

By Master Sgt. Scott T. Sturkol
Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – In the 772nd Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, they maintain a high pace of deployed operations for Operation Enduring Freedom to include flying a record 51 airdrop missions in January 2011. Among those Airmen supporting that record effort is Tech. Sgt. Josh Romero -- a C-130 Hercules loadmaster.

Sergeant Romero, deployed from Air Mobility Command’s 41st Airlift Squadron at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., is part of one of the busiest airlift units in Afghanistan, according to a recent news report.
In a news article by 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs on Feb. 3, it states the 772nd EAS “had a previous record of 40 airdrop missions in a one-month period that the squadron soared past in January by completing 51 airdrop missions.”

That article also said that in addition to successfully completing 51 airdrops “weighing more than 1.1 million pounds, the 772nd EAS also moved close to 4,000 passengers and flew more than 420 sorties with approximately 400 flight hours during the month of January.”

According to his official Air Force job description for the 1A2X1 career field, loadmasters like Sergeant Romero accomplish loading and off-loading aircraft functions and perform pre-flight and post-flight of aircraft and aircraft systems. They also perform loadmaster aircrew functions, compute weight and balance and other mission specific qualification duties, and provide for safety and comfort of passengers and troops, and security of cargo, mail and baggage during flight.

Loadmasters like Sergeant Romero are skilled in a variety of abilities, the job description states. For example, in determining quantity of cargo and passengers or troops to be loaded and proper placement in aircraft, loadmasters compute load and cargo distribution. They also compute weight and balance, and determines the amount of weight to be placed in each compartment or at each station. To do this they consider factors such as fuel load, aircraft structural limits and emergency equipment required.
C-130 loadmasters also accomplish the initial pre-flight of aircraft according to flight manuals. They pre-flight specific aircraft systems such as restraint rail and airdrop equipment. They also pre-flight aerospace ground equipment and apply external power to the aircraft. Additionally, they perform in-flight and special mission specific duties as required.

When supervising aircraft loading and off-loading, loadmasters like Sergeant Romero ensure cargo and passengers are loaded according to load distribution plan. They direct application of restraint devices such as restraint rails, straps, chains and nets to prevent shifting during flight. They also check cargo, passengers and troops against manifests, ensure availability of fleet service equipment and brief passengers and troops on use of seat belts, facilities and border clearance requirements.

In the deployed environment, loadmasters like Sergeant Romero are trained to conduct cargo and personnel airdrops according to directives. They are trained to attach extraction parachutes to cargo and platforms and inspect cargo and platforms, extraction systems and connects static lines. They also check tie-downs, parachutes, containers, suspension systems and extraction systems to ensure proper cargo extraction or release.

To do their job while deployed or at home station, loadmasters have to maintain a wide array of mandatory job knowledge, the job description states. They must know the types, capacities and configuration of transport aircraft, emergency equipment and in-flight emergency procedures, personal equipment and oxygen use, communications, current flying directives, interpreting diagrams, loading charts and technical publications, border agency clearance dispensing and preserving food aboard aircraft, and cargo restraint techniques.

Lt. Col. Craig Williams, 772nd EAS commander, said in the news report that all the Airmen in the squadron -- to include Sergeant Romero -- work together for success.

“Everyone is the same and we all come together in a seamless operation to keep the guys outside the wire safer,” Colonel Williams said. “Where we can fly to in one hour could be a three-day trip through the mountains that subjects those drivers to indirect fire, improvised explosive devices and other hazards ... we’re literally saving lives every day.”

At his home station with the 41st AS, which is part of the 19th Airlift Wing, Sergeant Romero supports a mission that is to “employ the world’s best C-130 combat airlifters.” The 19th AW, according to its fact sheet, “is part of Air Mobility Command and provides the Department of Defense the largest C-130 fleet in the world. As part of Air Mobility Command’s ‘global reach’ capability, the wing’s tasking requirements range from supplying humanitarian airlift relief to victims of disasters, to airdropping supplies and troops into the heart of contingency operations in hostile areas.”

(Senior Airman Melissa B. White, 451st Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs, contributed to this story.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

COMMENTARY>>ANG welcomes new commander Vilonia resident accepts command over state’s 2,000 Air National Guardsmen

ROBINSON MANUEVER TRAINING CENTER, Ark. – Brig. Gen. Travis D. “Dwight” Balch, of Vilonia, Ark., assumed command of the Arkansas Air National Guard in a ceremony here March 5, 2011. General Balch replaced Brig. Gen. Riley Porter, who commanded the state’s 2,000 Airmen the past five years.

“This is a great day for the Arkansas Guard,” said Maj. Gen. William D. Wofford, the adjutant general of the Arkansas National Guard and senior commander over both the state’s Army and Air National Guard forces.

“It’s a sad day for General Porter,” General Wofford added as he addressed over 300 in attendance at the ceremony. “Anytime an officer gives up a command you certainly face that with mixed emotions. But he has had a successful command, one that he should be proud of.”

General Wofford went on to talk about many of the challenges faced by the Arkansas Air National Guard during Porter’s tenure. During General Porter’s time in command, the men and women of the Arkansas Air Guard participated in multiple deployments in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom. They supported the communities of Arkansas with state emergency response in the face of winter weather, tornados and flooding. They also mobilized intelligence personnel in response to hurricanes in the Gulf, the earthquake in Haiti, and the oil spill in the Gulf among other things.

“The Arkansas Air National Guard has stepped forward quickly and professional every time they’ve been called on,” said General Wofford. “They serve their communities, their state and their nation. And they do it well.”

Among many other challenges faced during General Porter’s tenure, the Base Realignment and Closure initiative of 2005 left the 188th Fighter Wing with the loss of the state’s F-16 mission. The wing maintains a flying mission today however, after winning the fight to gain its new mission aircraft, the A-10 Thunderbolt II.

While General Porter moves on to take on his new role as commander of the state’s Air Coordination Group, General Wofford expressed his confidence in General Balch as the incoming commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard.

“You bring to the command an outstanding record of accomplishments and I’m confident that you will lead the Arkansas Air National Guard to even greater successes,” said General Wofford. “I’m confident that the Arkansas Air National Guard will respond to your leadership. I’m confident that you will continue to provide those outstanding leadership examples and the drive that is needed, as we continue to face the challenges of the 21st century.”

As commander of the Arkansas Air Guard, General Balch assumes responsibility its subordinate units to include the 188th Fighter Wing at Fort Smith; The Marksmanship Training Unit – Air at the Robinson Maneuver Training Center; and the 189th Airlift Wing, 123rd Intelligence Squadron, and 154th Weather Flight at the Little Rock Air Force Base.

“If you look back in our history, you’ll see that there are not that many commanders of the Arkansas Air National Guard,” said General Balch, who formerly served as the commander of the 189th Airlift Wing from August 2003 to November 2007, and most recently served as the Air Guard’s chief of staff to General Porter. “To be included in that group is a phenomenal thing for me.

“All of these men were uniquely qualified to command and were respected leaders who laid a solid foundation for us today,” said General Balch. “My pledge to you is that I will continue to build on that foundation. I’m going to lead with integrity. I’m going to take care of the Airmen who serve.

“I’m blessed, I’m honored, and I’m humbled to have been chosen the commander of the Arkansas Air National Guard.”

TOP STORY > >Feeding a nation through combat airlift

By Chris Rumley

314th Airlift Wing historian

Last Friday, during a squadron ceremony, the 48th Airlift Squadron affixed the Berlin Airlift streamer to its unit guidon.

Col. Mark Czelusta, 314th Airlift Wing commander, placed the streamer on the guidon while Lt. Col. John Vaughn, 48th AS commander, and past members of the squadron including two previous commanders and two Berlin Airlift veterans, stood with him.

The story of the Berlin Airlift begins with the ending of World War II in 1945. As the allied nations of England, France, America and Russia converged on Germany and on the capital city of the Nazi Third Reich, Berlin, they divided Germany into four zones of occupation. This further divided Berlin, which fell completely in the Russian sector, into four occupied zones.

These allied nations, once united by a common enemy, had very different plans for post-WWII Germany and Europe. The Russians wanted a weak, powerless and poor Germany that would never again threaten their borders. America wanted a free, democratic, and economically revitalized Europe, and believed a vibrant Germany was the key to any recovery.

The two military powers were in constant diplomatic conflict as the Russian delegation in Berlin, on orders from Joseph Stalin, resisted and ultimately obstructed every American attempt to begin recovery for Germany. The situation festered and brewed for three long years, building up in tension and increasing in animosity until finally, in June 1948, all semblance of the former alliance disintegrated.

Tiring of Russian stonewalling, the U.S. went forward with its own plan of economic recovery introducing a new currency in western Germany and western Berlin. Two days later on June 24, 1948, the Soviets responded by initiating a blockade on all road, rail and barge traffic used for bringing in food, coal and other supplies to Berlin from West Germany. Furthermore, they banned the sale of food from Russian occupied zones to the western sections of Berlin. Their goal was to isolate and starve the 2 million citizens of West Berlin until America completely withdrew military forces from the city.

People the world over, still weary from the previous global military conflict, watched closely, fearing the standoff could lead to a third world war. There was more at stake than who would possess the bombed-out ruins of Berlin; at stake was international prestige and influence on the future of Western Europe. This was the opening round of a new conflict between communist east and democratic west that became known as the Cold War.

According to historical research, several men from the 48th Troop Carrier Squadron, listening to the radio in their open-bay barracks living area on June 26, 1948, at Bergstrom Airfield, Texas, heard an announcer report that the Russians had blockaded Berlin. Someone in the group remarked that, “it won’t be long before we find ourselves over there.” The next day, not having thought much about the radio spot, several squadron members were stopped at the main gate by military police, wanting to know to which unit they were assigned.

When they responded, “the 48th”, they were told to report to the flightline immediately. And just like that, they were on their way to Berlin. They landed at Rhein-Main Airfield in Germany on July 29 and flew their first mission to Tempelhof Airport in Berlin before the sun set that day.

The 48th was one of the first units flying the larger C-54 aircraft to arrive in Germany. With the four-engined C-54, the 48th could haul up to 10 tons per flight. That was almost 7 tons more than the smaller C-47 aircraft that started the airlift. The 48th flew primarily out of Fassberg Airfield, hauling coal, which made up 78 percent of the total tonnage delivered.

Records show that a pilot from the 48th, Capt. Louis W. Baker, flew the first American planeload of coal into Berlin.

An aircraft mechanic for the 48th TCS at the time, Sgt. James Painter, remembered hearing the constant drone of aircraft lifting off from Fassberg, “It was hard to sleep at first, but after awhile you got used to it,” he said during the squadron ceremony Friday. “I got to where I could tell, just by listening to the sound of the engines, which aircraft taking off were mine.”

One C-54 from the 48th won world renown, becoming the iconic image associated with the airlift. A photographer, standing among a group of children, took a photo of a C-54, with the unmistakable red lightning flash of the 48th Troop Carrier Squadron painted across the fuselage, as the aircraft approached Tempelhof Airport with a load of supplies. Thanks to that photo, the red lightning flash of the 48th, is still one of the most recognized symbols of the Berlin Airlift.

During the 16-month airlift, American crews flew-in 1,783,572.7 tons of food, coal and other supplies for the people of West Berlin. In all, they flew 277,682 round-trip flights in and out of the blockaded city. The flight from Rhein-Main to Berlin and back took four hours; from Fassberg, about two hours. At the height of the airlift, American and English crews were delivering more than 8,000 tons of supplies a day. They averaged nine tons per flight which meant they were flying around 920 round-trip flights a day. A plane was landing somewhere in Berlin every three minutes, 24 hours a day.

It would be a momentous achievement to maintain that level of effort for any length of time. In Berlin, in 1948, airlifters did it for 16 months, until they were bringing in more food and supplies than the pre-blockade levels.

Although the notion of breaking the blockade with an airlift was at first considered untenable, by May 1949, almost a year after it had begun, the airlift achieved its purpose. The Soviets, realizing the airlift was an American success and could go on indefinitely, lifted the blockade.

Thirty-two Americans made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives in the effort. During the Berlin crisis, airlifters secured for America a reputation of strength, resolve and compassion; for Western Europe, freedom and democracy. And so the 48th Airlift Squadron joins the ranks of units flying The Berlin Airlift Streamer on their respective guidons.

“This is a proud day for the 48th,” said Colonel Vaughn. “We recognize that we stand on the shoulders of these airlift giants who have gone before us. It is with great pride and gratitude that the 48th will fly the Berlin Airlift streamer in recognition of the airlifters who won the first battle of the Cold War and saved more than 2 million German citizens from starvation.”

Thursday, March 3, 2011

COMMENTARY>>How to prepare for a tornado

During any storm, listen to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio to stay informed about watches and warnings.

Know your community’s warning system. Communities have different ways of warning residents about tornados, with many having sirens intended for outdoor warning purposes.

Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar or an interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.

Practice periodic tornado drills so that everyone knows what to do if a tornado is approaching.

Consider having your safe room reinforced. Plans for reinforcing an interior room to provide better protection can be found on the FEMA Web site at

Prepare for high winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.

Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.

Watch for tornado danger signs:

–Dark, often greenish clouds: A phenomenon caused by hail

–Wall cloud: An isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm

–Cloud of debris

–Large hail

–Funnel cloud: A visible rotating extension of the cloud base

–Roaring noise

(Source: American Red Cross)

COMMENTARY>>BE READY! Take cover when the siren sounds

It’s often said if you don’t’ like the weather here in Central Arkansas, just wait 30 minutes because it’s sure to change.

But when the base’s tornado sirens sound, there is no time to wait.

“When people hear the siren, they should immediately seek safe shelter,” said Col. Mike Minihan. “The tornado siren is primarily intended to alert individuals working outdoors of impending tornadoes. Our people’s safety is our number one priority.”

The base’s warning procedures are different that those communities outside the wire. On base, command post controllers broadcast issued tornado warnings when the suspected cells are within 30 minutes away using the base’s Giant Voice and network alert systems; however, the three-to-five minute steady tone will not sound until five minutes before the valid time of the tornado warning.

For example, the Giant Voice will broadcast “This is the command post with a tornado warning, valid from 1600 local to 1730 local.” This message will be repeated twice. Then at 1555 local, five minutes before the “valid” time, the command post begins sounding verbal warnings and activates the siren. The siren will sound steadily for three to five minutes, repeating every 10 minutes. Periodic voice announcements are broadcasted until the “All Clear” is given.

“The goal is to provide as much advance notice as possible to the threat of impending adverse weather,” said 1st Lt. James Melton, 19th Operations Support Squadron meteorologist. “We differ from the off-base communities because we have a much different mission. We must provide resource protection to our aircraft and personnel who work and live on Little Rock Air Force Base.”

Many people new to tornado alley get confused by the difference in tornado watches and tornado warnings. A tornado watch is issued for the ‘potential’ for tornado development. The ‘warning’ is issued when a tornado is imminent as indicated on weather radar or has been sighted on the ground.

So when the siren sounds, everyone should take cover, the base’s weatherman said. Preparing now is crucial to weathering the coming storm season.

“I urge everyone to have a designated safe room, usually an interior room free of windows, to take shelter in,” Lt. Melton said. “Also, have some supplies handy such as a cell phone, working flashlight, drinking water, blankets and a first-aid kit as further preparation should a tornado impact your location. Stay tuned to local media sources and messages disseminated on base for the current weather watch, warning and advisory status.”

Central Arkansans should get many opportunities to practice their tornado drills with climatologists predicting an active year for severe weather, Lt. Melton said. Arkansas experiences an average 26 tornadoes per year and 33 were recorded in 2010 with six fatalities and 33 injuries.

“Forecasting weather in central Arkansas is extremely challenging,” he said. “Tornadoes spawn with little advance warning and represent the most violent weather phenomena on earth.

Taking the tornado warning sirens seriously and following giant voice instructions will help keep everybody as safe as possible. Be ready!”

COMMENTARY>>Airmen are the keys to success

Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley spoke recently at the Air Force Association’s 27th Annual Air Warfare Symposium about the Air Force’s top priorities. He outlined the five priorities that we, as a service have committed to tackling in the coming years: strengthening the nuclear enterprise; partnering with the joint and coalition team to win today’s fight; developing and caring for Airmen and their families; modernizing air and space inventories, organizations, and training; and recapturing acquisition excellence.

Woven throughout his speech was a focus on Airmen and “managing human capital.” After outlining our service’s efforts towards achieving each of our priorities, Secretary Donley concluded his speech with this summation: “Our greatest guarantor of success is our Airmen, and that’s why developing and caring for Airmen and their families is a priority.

Taking care of Airmen and their families is a priority because it is on their shoulders that we prevail in today’s fights, that we will prevent and deter others, and prepare for the challenges of tomorrow. It will be their insight, their innovation that will drive much of the way we organize, train, equip and operate to meet future challenges.”

Much has been said about, and significant effort put into taking care of our personnel and our families. We have seen dormitory quality vastly improve, family housing renovations and new construction programs mature across the Air Force, and education enhancements proliferate.

At the same time, we focus on the Wingman Concept, work to strengthen our Culture of Airmen Taking Care of Airmen, and most recently to foster a Culture of Resiliency. Why is that? It’s no mystery. John C. Maxwell, in his book, The 17 Irrefutable Laws of Teamwork stated it very well, “The single biggest way to impact an organization is to focus on leadership development. There is almost no limit to the potential of an organization that recruits good people, raises them up as leaders and continually develops them.”

Our Air Force is the envy of all other air forces around the globe. There is one key reason for that—our Airmen. Our Airmen, and those who love and support them, are the keys to our success. Ensuring that we support and care for each other is how we continue that success. This success requires your support and active involvement. Be the leader who is willing to step in, the wingman who protects the “six” o’clock position for your partner, the Airmen that creates a culture and not a slogan.

I stated in a previous article how every day I marvel at the achievements and successes of our military branches and our personnel. I see daily just how great our personnel and their families are.

Returning to Secretary Donley, I echo his thoughts when he told the audience at the AETC Symposium last month that, “… in our Air Force, we’re surrounded by everyday heroes.

The word ‘hero’ is Greek for ‘protector’ or ‘defender’ and each Airman … has taken an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States … We are blessed as a nation, as an Air Force, to have so many heroes in our ranks. Every Airman depends on every other Airman to accomplish important missions. All of whom will affect the outcome; all of whom are heroes…”

Take care of each other, and together we can take care of the mission. Thank you for being a hero.

TOP STORY > >Black Knights welcome 18th AF commander

The 18th Air Force commander believes Team Little Rock is ready for anything, and he has firsthand experience to prove it.

Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, 18th Air Force commander, visited Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. Feb. 22 to 24 and met with Airmen, civilians and local community leaders.

“Team Little Rock is more than just the 19th Airlift Wing,” said General Allardice. “It’s civilian partners, local civic leaders, and families … an entire team working together to accomplish the mission.”

General Allardice was accompanied by his wife, Susan, who met with Team Little Rock Airmen and spouses.

“We had a fantastic visit with Mrs. Allardice,” said Ashley Minihan, wife of the 19th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Mike Minihan. “She was pleased with everything we showed her, but I think she was especially impressed with our Airmen Helping Airmen program, the Exceptional Family Member program and the Key Spouse program.”

General Allardice visited various work centers including the 19th Civil Engineer Squadron’s Explosives Ordnance Disposal Flight and the Landings at Little Rock and watched as team members made the mission happen.

“The team here at Little Rock is pretty phenomenal,” said General Allardice. “They’re very focused, they care about [the mission], and they care about each other. I really appreciate that.”

After meeting with Airmen, civilians, supervisors, squadron commanders and chiefs, General Allardice saw firsthand the secret of Little Rock’s success.

“Whether it’s control tower [Airmen] doing calisthenics on the way down and going back up again or young Airmen in the maintenance group talking about what they do for a living … what I saw among the Airmen here was pride in what they do and a real passion for combat airlift,” the 18th Air Force commander said.

General Allardice held an all-call during his visit and shared some words of wisdom with Little Rock Airmen. He spoke about the importance of developing resiliency and called on wingmen to check up on each other.

“Comprehensive Airman Fitness is about helping us to understand how to build resiliency among ourselves,” General Allardice said. “In my view, the way to build resilient Airmen and to ensure we have resilient Airmen is to have tight connections at the small team level so that every day we are looking each other in the eye and checking up on each other.”

As Little Rock Airmen prepare for their first full-blown operational readiness inspection since the 1990’s, General Allardice offered some words of encouragement.

“Do not underestimate how difficult it can be,” the general advised. “ORIs by their very nature are complex. Everybody has to be focused and prepared, watch each other constantly and maintain a great attitude. Once you get into the ORI, it’s all about attitude.”

Before he left Little Rock, General Allardice took time to express his appreciation for the men and women who make combat airlift happen.

“It’s a great team here,” said General Allardice, adding that he hoped his visit conveyed his appreciation for the pride, professionalism and passion of Team Little Rock.

“I’m very proud of them,” General Allardice said.