Thursday, September 24, 2009

TOP STORY > >Base observes National POW/MIA Recognition day

By Airman 1st Class Rochelle Clace
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

As the U.S. continues to be a country at war, the nation’s Airmen are consistently at the front lines of combat.

As such, they are always at risk of capture by the enemy. Little Rock Air Force Base honored 12 POWs from Arkansas at the POW/MIA Remembrance Day luncheon Sept. 18.

“While we recognize the sacrifices of those who have gone before us — those who sit in this room today — it goes without saying that any given Airman also in this room could be the nation’s next POW,” said Col. Greg Otey, 19th Airlift Wing commander.

On every third Friday in September, the nation observes National Prisoner of War and Missing in Action Recognition day. A Little Rock Air Force Base POW/MIA recognition day luncheon was held Sept. 18 to honor 12 Arkansans who were all former POWs. It was a chance for the community to unite in support of the nation’s promise to “Never Forget.”

“This day, like many other veterans-related holidays throughout the year, celebrates the enormous sacrifices of those who’ve come before us,” said Colonel Otey. “Prisoners of War have borne an additional burden through their exemplary service to the nation during times of conflict.”

The former POWs were David Bowlan, Frank Caple, Tony Dodd, Wayne Elliot, Audrey Harris, Silas Legrow, William McGinley, Marion Morgan, John Reaper, Richard Spades, Howarth Taylor and Bruce Waldo. Family was in attendance for former POW Glen Walden.

Their presence at the luncheon was a testament to human perseverance and was proof the country will leave no stone unturned in its efforts to repatriate every American POW.

The colonel said the former POWs at the luncheon fought for the freedoms Americans enjoy every single day in this great country.

“It is only by looking into the eyes of a former prisoner of war, and hearing their story of capture and imprisonment, that you can understand the full depth of commitment these individuals have toward freedom and protecting our nation,” said Colonel Otey.

On May 10, 1944, Mr. Bowlan’s aircraft was shot down and he was captured. After being hospitalized for two months, he was transferred to Stalag Luft 4. On Feb. 6, 1945, he and all other prisoners that could walk set off to the west on the “Black March.” Mr. Bowlan and 6,000 other American and British Airmen marched 600 miles in 87 days while inadequately dressed and prepared for the subzero winter temperatures. He was repatriated on April 16, 1945.

Mr. Elliot was captured on Dec. 19, 1944 and was forced to endure an 11-day march through the snow to Stalag 4B. While there, he endured countless work details and lived without heat through the brutally cold months of winter. He was repatriated on May 14, 1945.

Mr. Legrow deployed in November of 1940 to the Philippines. His unit, the 192nd Tank Battalion, was captured by the Japanese and forced to march to San Fernando. The Bataan Death March lasted 10 days and many of his fellow prisoners were bayoneted, shot or beheaded for falling behind. They marched without food or water. During his captivity at a temporary prison camp, 1,500 Americans died in the first 40 days and 40 to 50 died every day after that. He was repatriated in August of 1945 after 39 months as a POW.

These men, like all other former prisoners of war, have a story to tell about what they and the men around them were forced to endure.

The base also honored the former POWs and those who are still missing in action by conducting a 24-hour run at the base track in conjunction with POW/MIA recognition day. At midnight Sept. 17, Airmen began running the POW/MIA flag around the track continuously until midnight Sept. 18.

“Airmen [were] running around the clock, each footstep symbolizing the freedom we now have because of the sacrifices of those who are prisoners of war and those still missing in action,” said Colonel Otey.

TOP STORY > >Team Little Rock ‘all in’ for Air Force CINC award

By Capt. Joe Knable
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

(Editor’s note: This is the second article in a series about the upcoming visit by five colonels from Air Mobility Command headquarters who will visit AMC’s three finalists for the Commander in Chief’s Installation Excellence Award. The colonels are scheduled to visit Little Rock Air Force Base Oct. 5)

Out of 13 Air Mobility Command bases, all of whom are doing excellent work providing world-class, life-saving combat airlift and air refueling, Little Rock is in the top three, and is also in the running for best base in the Air Force.
A selection board will visit the three AMC finalists — Charleston AFB, S.C. Dover AFB, Del. and Little Rock AFB, Ark. — in early October. “This allows the three finalists an opportunity to showcase their innovations, improvements and teamwork, distinguishing one of them as the clear AMC winner ... Congratulations to all, and may the best installation win!” wrote Gen.

Arthur Lichte, Air Mobility Command commander, in an e-mail.

This is an honor for Team Little Rock, because every one of the 13 bases had an impressive nomination package and choosing just three of them is difficult work, said Col. Kirk Lear, 314th Airlift Wing vice commander, who was on the AMC review board last year that visited Fairchild, Charleston and Travis Air Force Bases.

“Little Rock is first out of the chute,” said Colonel Lear. Being first is a challenge because it gives the base a few days less to prepare, but the base also gets the chance to make the first impression on the inspection team. “The colonels (on the inspection team) know the bases have to go into afterburner to get ready for this,” he said.

There are several things the base must do to prepare, said Colonel Lear. First of all, “everyone (on base) ought to know this is coming ... Leaders at every level need to take the time to sit down with their people so they know what this is about and why the team is here.”

Secondly, members of Team Little Rock should show they are proud of their base and proud of their job. Everyone should make sure their work area looks good. They should welcome the team and highlight key processes and people, said Colonel Lear.

“Show (the team) what you’ve got; talk to (them) about what you do, why you’re proud of it, and how it affects the bigger picture,” said Colonel Lear. The team does not come with a lot of specific questions or an agenda. All they have for background is the nomination package they received from Little Rock AFB. The base sets the agenda for the visit and the team is there to see what Team Little Rock wants to show them.

According to Colonel Lear, it’s not the base with the most impressive physical plant that wins; it’s the base that’s doing the best with the resources they have to improve the quality of life of their airmen, save money, protect the environment, and accomplish the other focus areas as outlined in the Air Force instruction.

“Different bases, for a variety of reasons, have had more construction money or beautification money sunk into them. It just happens,” said Colonel Lear. “It’s a matter of doing well with what you have and selling that story.”

One memorable encounter Colonel Lear recalled from last year’s visits was with Travis Air Force Base’s fire department.

Officials there explained that when a wildfire started consuming old, abandoned houses on base and threatened to destroy their new homes and other buildings, the base fire department joined together with the community to contain the fire. Thanks to the teamwork, not a single new structure was lost, and there was no significant damage to the base. Travis earned AMC’s nomination.

“That pride and that enthusiasm, that’s what I remember,” said Colonel Lear. Team Little Rock’s attitude should be, “We’re jumping in to show you guys why we’re deserving of this award because our base, our people, our ability to use what we have rocks.”

COMMENTARY>>Leading by example

By Lt. Col. Mike Honma
314th Airlift Wing chief of safety

Organizational success is directly proportional to leadership effectiveness. Many believe it’s measured by a leader’s ability to actively shape behaviors to achieve specified goals and performance. However, becoming too focused on purposefully changing others can overshadow another indirectly powerful leadership style: leading by example.

Those who set a positive example for others to grow and develop are perhaps true leaders. Leading by example is not about a position, wealth, rank or knowledge of what needs to be done. Instead, it’s a strong foundation of core values, work ethic and genuine caring for others that guide everyday actions. These leaders influence with a contagiously optimistic attitude and personal sense of responsibility that others trust and inspire to emulate. Civil rights leader Mahatma Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

Although I have had the honor of working with and for many great leaders, I still recall how my high school football coach taught me the importance of leading by example. He had unwavering integrity and demanded the same from each of his players and coaching staff. He inspired excellence without tearing down self-esteem. He would run and practice with us and give individual attention to every team member. He never asked for more than he was willing to give himself.

Winning was not the priority, but the reward for the team’s hard work and commitment. At every meeting he would recite his version of the serenity prayer, “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to tell the difference for I shall pass this way in life but once.”

Sportsmanship was paramount. He ingrained a sense of team pride, where no one wanted to embarrass the program or let a fellow teammate down. It was his leadership that transformed a group of underachieving football players into a proud winning family in just one year.

Whether training future combat airlift aviators or maintaining 40-year-old aircraft, we value leadership that we can trust. Truly leading by example can garner the respect and trust essential to long-term success. Make it your goal to inspire your organization to greatness by being the one who leads by example.

COMMENTARY>>H1N1 411: Know the facts

Recent Arkansas deaths due to H1N1 flu complications have raised concerns on how to prevent getting the disease.

Unfortunately, the disease affects everyone differently and symptoms can range from mild to severe.

Until the H1N1 vaccination is available later this fall, it will be vital for all active duty members to follow several simple prevention methods. People who experience flu-like signs and symptoms are encouraged to stay home. Those experiencing severe symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

H1N1 influenza was first detected in the United States in April 2009, spreading from person-to-person much the same way that regular seasonal influenza viruses spread through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes people may become infected by touching something with the flu viruses on it and then touch their mouth or nose.

What are the signs and symptoms of this virus in people? People infected with either virus may be infectious 5-7 days before showing symptoms. Common signs of H1N1 can range from mild to severe and are similar to the seasonal flu: fever over 101 degrees, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, headache, chills and fatigue. Most people who have been sick have recovered without needing medical treatment.

Who is considered “high risk” for H1N1 flu complications?

Certain people are at “high risk” of serious complications; children younger than 5 years old, pregnant women, and people of any age with certain chronic medical conditions. About 70 percent of H1N1 hospitalized patients have medical conditions previously recognized as “high risk.” Some of the medical conditions include asthma, heart conditions, diabetes and immune deficiencies, to name a few.

If people feel any flu signs or symptoms, be sure to follow these guidelines.

Stay home if people experience flu-like symptoms.

Work and school notes will be provided to children and civilian patients who call the clinic. The clinic will not provide school and work notes if not contacted.

Seek urgent medical attention for those who have difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen, sudden dizziness, confusion, severe or persistent vomiting or if flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and a worse cough.

Prevention will be the best defense against infection until vaccinations are available. Here are a few tips on how to prevent getting H1N1:

Cover the nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after use.

Wash hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Hand sanitizers that are at least 60 percent alcohol are also effective.

Avoid touching the eyes, nose or mouth as germs spread this way.

Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

Strive to avoid becoming dehydrated by drinking rehydration solutions.

Be prepared if flu sickness occurs to stay home for a week or so. A supply of over-the-counter medicines such as

Tylenol/Motrin, or equivalent for fever and body aches, decongestants and or antihistamines, hand sanitizer, and other related items might be useful all will help avoid the need to make trips out in public while sick and contagious.

People with flu-like symptoms should not use aspirin.

Here are several important tips for those who have family members with signs and symptoms of H1N1 or seasonal flu:

Personnel who are well, but who have an ill family member at home with H1N1 flu can go to work as usual but should monitor their own health.

Children who show flu-like symptoms should stay home from school.

If a child has persistent flu-like symptoms more than a week and have begun to run a temperature greater than 101 degrees, wheezes, becomes extremely fussy or lethargic, or if symptoms worsen parents should call the clinic appointment line for treatment recommendations. Medical attention should be sought for individuals with flu-like symptoms who become dehydrated. Signs and symptoms of dehydration include:

Not drinking liquids.

Not urinating for more than 6 hours.

Dry mouth and lips, or the patient does not make tears when they cry. If any of these symptoms occur, contact the clinic at 987-8811 for further care.

(Courtesy of the 19th Medical Group)

COMMENTARY>>Fitness – just do it!

By Maj. Debbie Horne
19th Force Support Squadron commander

We all know the Air Force’s Fitness Program is changing soon. It’s finally time, once and for all, for all Air Force members to make a lifetime commitment to take their own personal physical fitness seriously. Like mental, spiritual and emotional fitness, it takes time and effort to become physically fit -- indeed, habits, both good and bad, can only develop over time.

Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.
We all have competing demands on our time -- work, family time, faith, sports, education and deployments, just to name a few. But, physical exercise must become an integral part of your day like eating, sleeping and working, rather than doing it “just to pass a test.” Get in a routine of commitment to your physical well-being and soon it will feel strange if you miss a workout.

It’s a well-known fact that the healthier you are, the better prepared your mind and body is to manage the stresses of everyday life, including those long deployments and TDYs that have become a routine and normal part of military service obligations. Because exercise activities come in all shapes and sizes, there are an infinite number of ways to get fit and healthy.
The 19th Force Support Squadron Fitness Center offers a variety of exercise options designed to meet customer desires, and caters to different levels of individual fitness in a state-of-the-art, clean and safe facility. From treadmills and stationary bikes, to ab burning classes and racquetball, to free-weights and weight machines, fitness center professionals are trained and ready to support and help members accomplish their fitness goals.

Bottom line, it’s time to lose all those excuses and make physical fitness a top priority, for the right reason -- a lifetime of health.

COMMENTARY>>A simple request

By Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Brinkley
19th Airlift Wing command chief

I recently received a note from a good friend of mine who is deployed and it caused me to put things in better focus. His note referenced having to run many convoys through dangerous territory for the purpose of taking care of his fellow Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines.

The request was simple, yet profound. He asked for those inclined to pray to keep him and those he serves with in their prayers. He also asked his friends to continue to watch over his family while he is deployed. The reason I highlight this simple request is to remind each of us that what our military does is serious and requires tremendous sacrifice every day.

I am certain my friend, as well as each of our deployed Team Little Rock members, have a greater appreciation for the things that many of us take for granted here everyday. Each of us gets in our vehicle without the concern of an explosive going off on the way to our destination. You see, the price we pay for freedom will always be immeasurable. Can you put a price on the value of a husband, father, brother, son, mother, daughter, wife or sister?

Yet each day, these folks lay their lives on the line to ensure our way of life doesn’t change. See, our military sees ourselves as our brother’s keeper. So while many people debate about how the war is going, the reality for our people is they are in a life-and-death struggle everyday, and each of them deserves our deepest admiration and support.

Each of us in uniform has the mandate to ensure we are ready technically, physically, mentally and spiritually when our name is called to move out in freedom’s defense. I thank each of you for your service, sacrifice and commitment to our nation. Never forget those who stand vigilant for all of us. I am grateful to my friend and each of you for your service, and I plan on honoring his simple yet profound request.

Combat Airlift!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

COMMENTARY>>The choices we make

By Col. Kirk Lear
314th Airlift Wing vice commander

Have you seen the recent British public service announcement video on YouTube about the teenager texting on a busy highway? It’s a graphic, poignant crash reenactment. The driver’s critically injured and her two passengers are killed, as are others caught up in the accident. The point? Texting while driving is a poor choice, and her recklessness profoundly affected others. This video took me back 17 years. This lesson hammered home -- and my squadron torn apart -- by what started as a routine training flight and choices that were made in a cockpit.

My wife, Susan, and I were stunned as the newscaster said, “Air Force C-130 crashes with nine aboard. The story at 11.” Our hearts sank, knowing nine friends from our squadron had launched only hours earlier. I drove to my squadron, and then answered the phone at our ops desk as it rang continuously for the next few hours. I spoke to the frantic wives of many of the nine, able only to say, “We don’t know anything for sure yet. If he walks in, I’ll have him call you immediately.”

On an unremarkable April evening at Pope AFB, NC, Susan and I embarked on one of the saddest journeys of our lives as squadron mates and families coped with the deaths of these friends, through a base memorial service, numerous funerals and caring for grieving spouses and children.

A week after the accident, when Tom’s body was finally recovered from the muddy bottom of the lake he’d crashed into, I grieved alongside his wife, Marianne, and her mother as she received “official notification” of his death. We listened to the sad details of his body’s condition and federal death and funeral entitlements.

Three days later, I accompanied Tom on his last flight, standing quietly on a parking apron alongside the airliner as his coffin made its connection in Washington, returning him to his brokenhearted Maine home.

On a clear, brisk May afternoon, an Air Force honor guard sergeant handed me a crisply folded flag with a slow salute, and I turned and presented it to Tom’s despairing parents. I recited, “On behalf of a grateful nation, this flag is presented to you as a token of appreciation for your loved one’s honorable and faithful service.” One of our squadron’s C-130s flew overhead as the graveside service ended. I cried on Tom’s coffin, and then I went home.

Lastly, assigned as a summary court officer, I collected Tom’s belongings there in his Pope apartment, deciding with Marianne what she would keep to remind her of her young husband, and what we would ship to Tom’s parents.

Today, I see daily reports of accidents — often the result of poor choices — that bring agony to other Air Force families just as Tom’s death did to his.

A high-speed motorcycle accident on a wet road, a suicide, and yet another driving under the influence with fatal results — I know these Airmen likely made spur-of-the-moment choices, without any forethought of how the consequences could impact friends and families.

The accidental deaths of my friends had a pointed effect on how I’ve viewed my life choices since. Years later, the crew of Even 91 is with me when I’m driving on a stormy road, making decisions in an airplane or interacting with my family. Tom and his crew still remind me how our choices can affect lives well beyond our own.

Don’t have “one more for the road.” Ask for help. Slow down. Pull over to text. Think about what could happen, and weigh your choices.

COMMENTARY>>There are no metrics for ‘saves’

By Col. Chris Hair
19th Maintenance Group commander

“Virtue is its own reward. There’s a pleasure in doing good which sufficiently pays itself.”
– Sir John Vanbrugh

This quote sounds simple enough and won’t get much argument from people. However, that isn’t much comfort when we have tried to do good and it seems to have had no effect -- there are no measurements kept for those whom we help to avoid misfortune.

I have been part of many conversations about how we can find ways to prevent drunk driving, or domestic abuse, or financial difficulties, or worst-case, a suicide. My conviction is the only way to have any positive effect is to never stop trying. The problem is that we rarely know for certain we’ve done any good. There is no metric for the number of individuals we have saved. Sure, we have yearly averages and other macro-level statistics, but how do you know that you’ve done any good yourself? You probably won’t.

It would be truly odd behavior for someone to come up to you on Monday and say, “You know, I didn’t drink and drive this weekend because you and I talked about it last Friday. Thanks a lot.” Or, “I’m going to go talk to the chaplain about my family situation because you cared enough to ask.”

We just don’t work that way.

Nevertheless, I am convinced that as we wrestle with how to make a difference in our fellow Airmen’s lives, when we act as good Wingmen, we help protect every Airman we come in contact with. We won’t be able to prevent every unfortunate incident, but we won’t prevent any if we don’t try. Never tire in doing good, keep talking to each other about these difficult subjects. You will probably never know the people you have helped--there are no metrics for “saves.”

COMMENTARY>>Giving respect where respect is due

By Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Brinkley
19th Airlift Wing command chief

As I was traveling this week on a TDY, there was a fellow Airman who was departing for his deployment to the Middle East on the same plane as me. The flight attendant made an announcement thanking this young man, as well as others who served in uniform, and the entire plane gave this Airman a round of applause.

Today, we will honor our POW/MIAs from past conflicts with a luncheon. These honorees faced challenges perhaps many of us cannot remotely imagine. They deserve our utmost respect and appreciation for their selfless sacrifices. Yet, often we offer this type of recognition for those who entertain or humor us versus those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.

I am not diminishing the value of entertainment, humor or a great sporting event; however, all of these are possible in our society due to military members past and present.

I had the privilege of visiting with William McGinley, a local Arkansan was shot down in Europe, during WWII. His mother was notified he was killed in action; she received a Western Union telegraph along with condolence letters from the president and the governor of Arkansas. Yet, he was actually alive and evaded the enemy for more than seven months before making it back to allied territory.

As I listened to his story and looked at photos from his time in Belgium along with condolence letters from people such as President Franklin Roosevelt, I was completely humbled by his story. I would ask you all to never miss the opportunity to give respect and applause for those who don’t demand it, yet truly deserve our highest admiration. If you are fortunate enough to meet our true heroes, such as our returning deployed personnel, or repatriated POWs, please take a moment to pay proper tribute; because if anyone deserves our respect, it’s them.

Combat Airlift!

COMMENTARY>>750 celebrate the Air Force’s 62nd birthday in style

By Col. Greg Otey
19th Airlift Wing commander

Happy birthday, Air Force!

Today, Sept. 18, marks the 62nd anniversary of the Air Force as a separate service. While we might be the nation’s youngest service, ours is a history that’s rich and colorful. Our Air Force history includes small phrases with big impact. Names and events like: Billy Mitchell, the Tuskegee Airmen, the Berlin Airlift, Desert Storm and Hurricane Katrina.

Today, we have more than 46 different variants of aircraft in our inventory, some of which are piloted remotely from halfway around the world. When military powered flight began 100 years ago, I don’t think anyone could have envisioned a hellfire missile destroying an insurgent stronghold from 10,000 feet up while imagery analysts watched, in real-time, halfway around the world.

That’s our Air Force. And it doesn’t happen without C-130 combat airlift.

Those missiles, Airmen, parts, beans and bullets get to the front lines using Hercules air. I don’t think we’ll ever see FedEx or UPS put a plane down on an unimproved, 3,000 foot landing zone high in the mountains of Afghanistan, kick out some cargo and dodge surface-to-air threats on the way in and out. That is C-130 combat airlift!

It doesn’t matter if you’re on active duty, in the Air National Guard, in the Air Force Reserve or members of the greatest Air Force family and community - you should be proud of what your Air Force has accomplished.

Our history is something to know and cherish, and it’s something to celebrate.

On Saturday, I had the honor of joining other leaders from across Team Little Rock as we celebrated our heritage at the 2009 Air Force Birthday Ball. More than 750 Combat Airlifters and their guests gathered for a night that will likely be remembered for many years to come. Out of the more than 750 who attended we were honored to have more than 250 airmen (E-1 to E-4) and their guests join us for a night of dancing and fellowship.

Thanks to Team Little Rock’s “can do” attitude and fund raising we were able to let those Airmen purchase a $60 ticket for $15--thank you for your leadership on this!

I have been serving in our Air Force for more than 21 years and I have never been part of an Air Force Ball that large. To look out across the Peabody ballroom and see that many people come together to pay tribute to our Airmen - past and present - was an honor. I cannot be more proud of this base and to be a part of the world’s greatest ... C-130 Combat Airlift!

TOP STORY > >Commander gives medal to widow of WWII POW

By Arlo Taylor
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Col. Greg Otey, 19th Airlift Wing commander, presented the widow of a World War II flying ace the Prisoner of War Medal posthumously Sept. 9 at Trinity Village Medical Center in Pine Bluff.

Mildred Louise Meroney was presented the POW medal for retired Air Force Col. Virgil Meroney. Colonel Meroney was a World War II ace with nine aerial victories and flew 85 combat missions in P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang aircraft. He was shot down April 1944, captured by Nazi German forces, was a prisoner of war and escaped in April 1945. The colonel also served in the Korean War and Vietnam War.

This medal was authorized by Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1986. The medal may be awarded to any person who was a prisoner of war after April 5, 1917, the date of the United States entry into World War I. It’s awarded to any person who was taken prisoner or held captive while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States; while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing armed force; or while serving with friendly forces engaged in armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. The person’s conduct, while in captivity, must have been honorable

Thursday, September 10, 2009

COMMENTARY>>Fitness lies I told myself

By Chief Master Sgt. Rob Tappana
Air Education and Training Command command chief

As we prepare for the revised Air Force fitness testing program, I’ve spent the last couple of months educating myself on diet and fitness - subjects I thought I knew plenty about. I was mistaken. Throughout my career I’ve prepared for and passed each physical training test. Although I never scored high, I felt good because I always passed, and I told myself I’d done my best. I was wrong. I’d actually done just enough to get by and made excuses for not doing better. I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of the lies I discovered I was telling myself. Some of them may sound familiar to you.

1. The weight standard/waist measurement (take your pick) just isn’t fair to tall/big guys like me, we’re “big-boned.”

I’ve heard people say this many times over the years and spoke those words myself. I finally had to admit they are not true. I am not “big-boned”; I am “big-spooned.” That’s right, I like to eat more than I like to exercise and I can eat faster than I can run. One day I realized I was 29 pounds heavier than when I enlisted. I didn’t have 29 more pounds of bone, just 29 more pounds of lunch hanging from the bones I already had. It is a simple math problem. 3,500 calories is roughly equal to one pound. If you take in 3,500 extra, you gain a pound; work off 3,500 more than you take in, and you lose a pound. My weight and waist went up as my intake went up and exercise went down. One more thing, there is no waist measurement in the new fitness program, it is an abdominal circumference. The measurement is taken above the iliac crest (the top of the hip bones).

The only bone structure there is the spinal column. I don’t have a 38 inch spine. The good news is my weight and waist (and abdominal circumference) are coming down as my consumption drops and my exercise goes up. Yours will too.

2. I can run for a long time but I can’t run fast.

I’ve always enjoyed jogging but never worked on speed. I like long slow runs. When preparing for my test I usually added an extra mile or two. Sadly, it is impossible to get faster by running slowly, even if you run slowly for a long time. My local health and wellness center helped out with a running clinic. They provided helpful information on selecting proper shoes for my running style and form, as well as instruction for adding interval training and other speed work to my routine. I am not the fastest runner on base but my times are steadily getting better.

3. I’ve never been a “strength guy” and with my “bad back” getting max points on the pushup portion of the test is simply out of reach.

While it is true I have never been particularly strong, it turns out this is not genetic. I find pushups, crunches and other forms of strength training to be pretty boring. Therefore, I seldom did any. When I did try, I soon felt pain in my back and stopped.

What I’ve learned is that my back is actually doing quite well. I lacked good core conditioning. After reading an article on how to use core conditioning and strength training to ensure good support to the spine, I decided to give it an honest try. I was very happy to find both my crunches and pushups improved considerably. Best of all, when I have to stop it is usually not from pain but from muscle fatigue. I am not where I want to be yet, but the goal is in sight. If you are having problems in this area, go see the HAWC or the fitness center staff. They will provide help to get you started.

4. It is very important to get ready to take my PT test.

This is perhaps the biggest lie of all. It isn’t important to get ready for a PT test, it is important to get fit - period. I don’t want to be “fit to test” or even to just be “fit to fight.” I want to - no, I need to - be “fit for life.” I want a long, healthy life unmarred by preventable weight-related medical problems like diabetes, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. I don’t want to keep growing larger, especially since that impacts my ability to keep growing older. I love my wife and daughters and I adore my grandkids. I am determined to spend as much time with them as I can.

For me, this is a journey. I am determined to spend the next six to eight months investing in better health to achieve my highest PT score yet, and to be at or below the weight I was when I enlisted. What is more, I want to develop sustainable fitness habits which will last a lifetime. If after reading this you find yourself feeling the same way, stop by the HAWC and sign up for a class or two. Learn how to take better care of yourself. Give yourself and your family the gift of good health. Let the Air Force fitness program motivate you to take better care of yourself.

COMMENTARY>>Leading from the past

By Lt. Col. Charles Brown
62nd Airlift Squadron commander

As professional Airmen we all know it is our responsibility to accomplish our professional development through either developed curriculum or while involved in the numerous leadership programs the Air Force sends us through during the course of our careers. But what about our individual responsibility to learn from those who came before us? As a young Airman I found that I was too busy in my day-to-day activities to spend my evenings, or free-time on the weekend, reading anything other than the sports page in the local paper, or possibly a John Grisham novel whose works was already out in movie format and whose endings I already knew.

However, as I went along in my career, I found myself in certain situations that I was having trouble finding the answers to.

Though I had done my professional development via correspondence, the thing I was looking for was, “What have others done in similar situations?” It was at this point that I began to read literature written from a fellow warrior’s perspective on a variety of professional situations. Whether it was an extreme situation such as “Black Hawk Down” where special forces were forced to do battle in a manner to which it could be argued they were not prepared for, to a very strategic perspective such as Tom Clancy and Retired Gen. Charles Horner’s “Every Man a Tiger,” where one man and a small team of his peers were charged with developing the air campaign that would lead the way to victory in Operation Desert Storm. I began to see there are no real new problems, just new ways in which to solve them in an ever-evolving technological and global environment.

As a new commander, I find myself reaching as far back as Thucydides writing of the Spartan battle with the Persians, to the Civil War where Confederate leaders executed a flawed battle plan at Gettysburg in an effort to expedite an end to the war. The words of those who have taken the time to share their successes and failures, laid the foundation for the lessons learned available today.

The chief of staff of the Air Force believes so strongly in this concept that he takes the time to share his preferred reading list.

This list is not in any way used to try and take away individuals free time in an extreme operations tempo Air Force wide. It’s his way of taking care of his fellow Airmen, and sharing the works from which he was able to pull valuable lessons that prepared him to make decisions on difficult problems he has, and may encounter.

In today’s battle against insurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq readings from Gen. Norton Schwartz’s list such as Jeffrey Record’s “Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win,” or Max Boot’s [“The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power,” provide insight from the enemy’s perspective as to how and why they continue to fight.] From a fellow warrior’s perspective, Sean Naylor’s “Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda,” shows combat leadership being tested under extreme stress and duress.

It’s never too late to begin learning from those who came before us. In today’s high ops tempo and continuously changing environment, finding out after you are forced to deal with a difficult situation that similar problems existed and have been dealt with successfully is too late. Take the time to seek insight from those who came before us, and don’t be afraid to lead from the past.

COMMENTARY>>Carrying weapons in vehicles on base

Q. I’m inquiring about carrying weapons in private vehicles on base. I, along with many other members of the “Rock,” am licensed by Arkansas and 27 other reciprocal states, to lawfully carry concealed firearms. I carry my concealed firearm with me every time I leave my home, unless I’m on base. It’s a comfort to know I’m armed and in a position to defend myself.

However, that feeling of safety and comfort disappears when I’m traveling to the base because I know I can’t carry my weapon on base. Don’t get me wrong; I know we are all kept safe and secure while on base thanks to the excellent job our security forces and contract civilians. However, when we’re commuting to base, leaving for lunch and commuting home, we are vulnerable. In light of the recent attack carried out against the Army Recruiting Center in Little Rock, we now know we could easily become targets in Central Arkansas.

As a former security forces member, I understand only certain individuals are authorized by the base commander to carry concealed firearms in uniform as part of their duty performance. I’m requesting the policy be reviewed to see if those with concealed carry licenses can maintain their firearm in their vehicle while on base. Even if I had to use a trigger lock or separate the ammunition from the weapon, (one in the console and the other in the glove box, etc.), it would be better than being unarmed.

I don’t hunt on base, but I’m sure there is a policy hunters must follow to bring their firearms on base. Maybe it could be applied to concealed carry license holders, too. I understand the safety and security of everyone on base is paramount and must be the first concern. Your consideration of this request is greatly appreciated.

A. As a former security forces member, you realize the complications associated with carrying a concealed weapon on an Air Force base. In fact, Section 930, Title 18, United States Federal Criminal Code states “Possession of firearms and dangerous weapons in federal facilities, buildings, or installations is illegal. Anyone who attempts to or violates this provision shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than a year, or both.”

The bottom line: unless you are carrying a concealed weapon in support of a federal mission, weapons will not be brought onto a federal installation. There are a couple of exceptions that do apply specifically to Little Rock AFB.

Individuals may transport/bring their unloaded and unconcealed weapon(s) on base for authorized hunting activities or for storage in their base residences, but the weapon(s) and ammunition must be separate and individuals should be traveling directly to their homes or authorized hunting areas after signing in at the law enforcement desk. Traveling with weapons on base should be minimized to the greatest extent possible.

I understand your fears and your right to protect yourself and your family as permitted by the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. However, when operating on an Air Force Base and other federal installations there is established security and law enforcement in place. The installation commander is responsible for the safety and security of the base population and in this particular instance, good order and safety outweighs an individual’s personal rights. Without these federal rules in place, it can quickly become confusing to first responders as to who is a perpetrator/terrorist or a “good Samaritan” trying to defuse a hostile or tense situation. The Defenders of the Rock work hard every day to provide a safe and secure base for those who work and reside on Little Rock AFB. Thanks for your inquiry.

COMMENTARY>>Be part of the solution

By Chief Master Sgt.
Anthony Brinkley
19th Airlift Wing command chief

As I ran at about 5:30 a.m., problem solving became the focus of my thoughts. You see, I didn’t realize skunks like to get up early and forage around my normal running route. So, as I faced off with one of those furry creatures, I began to ponder how we deal with problems when we are faced with them. Do we engage the situation or do we change our course?

This skunk didn’t remind me of the cartoon character Pe’pe Le Pew, because I knew this skunk wasn’t here to provide me laughter. My solution to the problem was to change course in order to improve my situation. Sometimes the most important aspect of problem solving is problem avoidance. So often, many of us run into situations that are negative because we are unwilling to adjust our direction in life.

Then there are times when avoidance is not recommended or practical. I was talking to Tony Wyatt, our base equal opportunity director, and he gave me insight into taking on a problem head on. He noticed no less than 15 people walk by a cup on the ground by our fitness center. Mr. Wyatt then went and picked it up and placed it in the trash can. The other thing he did was to attempt to educate those who were too busy or distracted to get involved. His point was that if you see an opportunity to eliminate a problem, avoidance is not the way to go.

We need to be prepared to assist where we can to help one another as we accomplish our mission. If the problem is too big for you to handle, then elevate your perspective to those above you. We can’t just walk away from things within our control to improve. Bad news does not get better with time; so whether you change course or engage to solve a problem, each of us must be a part of the solution.

Combat Airlift!

COMMENTARY>>Silent in many languages: Valuing people through listening Birthday is opportunity to recognize success

By Gen. Arthur J. Lichte
Air Mobility Command commander

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, lll. -- On Sept. 18, 1947, our Air Force became a separate branch of the military. Since then our unequalled accomplishments have helped provide a beacon of hope for men, women, and children all over the world.

Throughout our command’s rich history, we have evolved from Air Transportation Command to Air Mobility Command, which now encompasses airlift, air refueling, aeromedical evacuation, and everything required to support these core competencies.

During this transition, the United States Air Force and its mobility component have played a vital role in our Nation’s defense and to providing relief to those in need around the world.

The Air Force’s birthday is an ideal time to celebrate this heritage and the people that have made and continue to make it all possible. During the Berlin Airlift, our veteran Airmen delivered 2.2 million tons of cargo to a city desperately in need. Today, our AMC, Air Force Reserve Command and Air National Guard Airmen continue this honorable tradition as they work together to achieve unprecedented results around the globe.

Our success does come at a price as evidenced by the many sacrifices of our Airmen and their families. While our people work long hours and endure time away from home, their families remain steadfast in providing unyielding support and care for our personnel as they make history every day.

Every member is vital to the continued success of the Air Force and AMC. Commanders and supervisors must continue to promote safety awareness and accident prevention. It is imperative that everyone be a good wingman to family and friends.

Many of the Airmen who are no longer with us might still be alive today had a friend or loved one intervened in their time of need.

Take time on Sept. 18 to remember and recognize the superior contributions our Air Force has made to this great nation. Also take time to remember the sacrifices that Airmen and their families have made to found the freedoms that we enjoy today. For that, I am honored and thankful to be among you wearing the Air Force uniform.

TOP STORY > >Airman provides critical aid under fire

By Airman 1st Class Rochelle Clace
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen have their training put to the test every day, whether it’s by exercise training or real life occurrences. Even when faced with danger, no matter the situation, Airmen will apply their abilities to accomplish their mission.

On Aug. 12, Airman 1st Class Destiney Dowdy, a medic with Provincial Reconstruction Team Nuristan, Afghanistan, went on a humanitarian mission to give medical attention to women and children at a small Afghan village.

“That day felt very different. My best friend here was supposed to go on the mission with me, but she got sick to her stomach and she didn’t end up going,” she said. “Everyone suspected something to happen so we only stayed at the [Medical Civic Action Program location] for two hours.”

During the return trip to her forward operating base, Airman Dowdy’s skills were put to the test. The vehicle she was riding in on the convoy was struck by a remote-detonated, 150-pound improvised explosive device.

Immediately, her training kicked in, and she sprang into action to save her comrades.

“When we were hit, I immediately told everyone in the truck to sound off,” said Airman Dowdy. “The back doors of the [Mine Resistant Ambush Protected] vehicle were jammed, so I climbed out the escape hatch on top of the truck, jumped down and started rendering aid to the three severely injured Soldiers in the truck.”

“I rendered bleeding control with combat gauze and direct pressure and C-spine stabilization. I splinted a broken arm,” she said. “I started IV’s on the patients with morphine. We strapped them to a spine board and loaded them in the helicopter.”

The three injured Soldiers were medically evacuated out of the area, and the remaining servicemembers contacted Explosive Ordnance Disposal as their next appropriate action.

“My training definitely helped me to stay calm,” said Airman Dowdy. “I knew exactly what to do from the combat training I had in San Antonio.”

As a medic, Airman Dowdy had been outside the wire on multiple missions. Some of her responsibilities included taking care of the Soldiers and local Afghani Soldiers at the base, ordering medical supplies and going on convoys and humanitarian missions to provide medical support.

Airman Dowdy will receive the Air Force Combat Action Medal for her bravery and ability to perform her duties in a combat situation.

“I feel pretty special to get this award. I never expected to get it,” she said. “I know it’s a fairly new award, so not many people have it, which makes it more special.”

The leadership here is proud of Airman Dowdy receiving this award.

“Airman Dowdy volunteered for this deployment with the Army not knowing what she was going to be required to do,” said Master Sgt. Shannon McKee, 19th Medical Group, Family Practice Clinic flight chief. “She took her training seriously ... I could not be more proud.”

Airman Dowdy is assigned to the 19th Medical Group as an aerospace medical service journeyman. Her hometown is Russellville, Ark.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

COMMENTARY>>Silent in many languages: Valuing people through listening

By Col. Charles K. Hyde
314th Airlift Wing commander

General Ulysses S. Grant was the hero of the Civil War battles of Fort Donelson, Tenn., Vicksburg, Miss., Chattanooga, Tenn., and the campaigns in Northern Virginia which culminated with the Confederate Army’s surrender at Appomattox Court House,
Va. He was not flashy, physically imposing or charismatic like many of his predecessors at the head of United States forces.

Instead, it was said of him that “he could be silent in several languages.” General Grant’s success as a leader can be attributed to many things, including an unfailing commitment to win, but the attribute I would like to focus on was his ability to listen.

Leaders are judged every time they interact with people and every time they communicate. Communication is a two-way street — sending and receiving, and only a small portion of what is communicated is through words. General Grant was a great communicator. His memoirs are still the standard by which presidential accounts are judged and his operational orders were noted for their clear and concise prose. It was not his writing, however, which made him a successful military leader — it was his silence.

General Grant had many diverse people around him, including the energetic General William Tecumseh Sherman. He got the most out of them because he valued their contributions to the Union and he communicated their value by listening. Out of silence (listening) came support for General Sherman’s plan to march to the sea and many other battlefield successes. General Grant built a winning team by recognizing that people were not just a “way” — someone to be used to accomplish his objectives, but they were an “end” — people of dignity and value allied with him in a common cause. This is the heart of General Grant’s silence and the truth of listening: how we listen is a measure of how we value people.

Professor Alec Horniman at the University of Virginia identifies “valuing people” as one of the most important aspects of leadership. He also states that leaders are evaluated by those around them based on their truthfulness, promise keeping, fairness and the respect they show others. In other words, the ability to successfully lead is dependent upon the leader’s character. Integrity counts. Leaders who view people as a “way” and use them for their own gain ultimately undermine the organization and its mission even if they achieve short term “success.” Leaders who view people as an “end” — a valued member of the team, a wingman — and live up to our core values will build winning teams which are successful at their mission. The best way to value people is to listen to them.

We have an important mission of training the world’s best C-130 and C-21 combat airlifters to fly, fight and win. We can all be better leaders and more effective at our mission by valuing people through listening.

COMMENTARY>>One team, one fight

By Maj. Constantine Tsoukatos
19th Component Maintenance Squadron commander

You’ve all heard the battle cry at a commander’s call or after a wing staff meeting: “Team Little Rock -- Combat Airlift!” But have you ever really thought about what it means?

Well I have, as I had the opportunity to transition from Air Education and Training Command to Air Mobility Command and be part of two great teams, supporting the same mission of generating combat airlift.

I’ve had the privilege of working with outstanding, professional Airmen in AETC. I’ve truly enjoyed my time in the 314th Airlift Wing, and I’ve learned a lot during that time. I am thankful to so many people who have taught me a great deal, and I will use the knowledge and experience in the 19th Airlift Wing as we continue to execute our nation’s peacetime and wartime objectives.

I ask each of you to take a step back and really think about how your duties play into the overall mission of this base.

Regardless of your job, every Airman’s role is crucial. It may not be readily apparent to some, but it takes everyone doing their best to ensure Team Little Rock is successful.

Some have heard people talk about the “tip of the spear” and that the closer you are to the tip, the more important you are.

This simply isn’t true.

We can have the best aircrews flying the best maintained C-130s, but without the logistics “train” and support group agencies providing their best efforts, airpower doesn’t happen. Or, to use the spear analogy, the spear head is useless and won’t fly without the shaft driving it.

So whatever your job is, in whatever wing, group or squadron you are assigned, realize what you do matters, and it matters much more when you perform with excellence. This base and our nation depends on it.

So the next time we cheer “Team Little Rock--Combat Airlift!” take pride in knowing how your role helps execute that mission, and use it to re-affirm your commitment to “Excellence in All We Do.”

COMMENTARY>>One team, one fight

By Maj. Constantine Tsoukatos
19th Component Maintenance Squadron commander

You’ve all heard the battle cry at a commander’s call or after a wing staff meeting: “Team Little Rock -- Combat Airlift!” But have you ever really thought about what it means?

Well I have, as I had the opportunity to transition from Air Education and Training Command to Air Mobility Command and be part of two great teams, supporting the same mission of generating combat airlift.

I’ve had the privilege of working with outstanding, professional Airmen in AETC. I’ve truly enjoyed my time in the 314th Airlift Wing, and I’ve learned a lot during that time. I am thankful to so many people who have taught me a great deal, and I will use the knowledge and experience in the 19th Airlift Wing as we continue to execute our nation’s peacetime and wartime objectives.

I ask each of you to take a step back and really think about how your duties play into the overall mission of this base.

Regardless of your job, every Airman’s role is crucial. It may not be readily apparent to some, but it takes everyone doing their best to ensure Team Little Rock is successful.

Some have heard people talk about the “tip of the spear” and that the closer you are to the tip, the more important you are.

This simply isn’t true.

We can have the best aircrews flying the best maintained C-130s, but without the logistics “train” and support group agencies providing their best efforts, airpower doesn’t happen. Or, to use the spear analogy, the spear head is useless and won’t fly without the shaft driving it.

So whatever your job is, in whatever wing, group or squadron you are assigned, realize what you do matters, and it matters much more when you perform with excellence. This base and our nation depends on it.

So the next time we cheer “Team Little Rock--Combat Airlift!” take pride in knowing how your role helps execute that mission, and use it to re-affirm your commitment to “Excellence in All We Do.”

COMMENTARY>>Own your process

By Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Brinkley
19th Airlift Wing command chief

While shopping at the base exchange this week, Ms. Bonita, who works there, got me thinking about what it means to own what you do. Whenever I go there, she seems intimately knowledgeable about what she is responsible for and she has a great attitude in doing her job.

Each one of us plays a key part in what we do for our nation, and we must do all we can to exercise focused control over our tasks.

My question is: Do you own your process?

The folks who guard our base see Little Rock as their base and take personally the security of our installation.

John Heffernan, who runs our retiree activities center, goes above and beyond to take care of our retiree population.

These are just a couple of examples of the mindset involved in owning your process. When you wake up in the morning and go about your day, my hope is that you tackle your primary duties like success began and ended with you.

When you take your role seriously, then you look for better ways to improve your product. Each day becomes a chance to leave your mark versus just filling a square. I truly believe we have extraordinarily talented people on our base, and by exercising ownership, we all benefit from innovation.

Some of the best ideas I’ve heard have come from some of our junior ranking folks as well as family members. The point I’m trying to make is when you invest serious time and energy into what you do everyday, you make yourself relevant and your voice becomes more important.

So, I thank Ms. Bonita for the reminder that each of us is uniquely qualified for our position at the “Rock.” We are all equal partners in the success of our mission, and we all own that.

Combat Airlift!

COMMENTARY>>Make safety priority No. 1 this Labor Day

By Col. Greg Otey
19th Airlift Wing commander

We as an Air Force have experienced a very tragic week. Five Airmen were lost in a variety of mishaps: two automobile, one motorcycle, one drowning and one light plane crash.

We don’t know the causes of these mishaps because they are still under investigation. However, we know that one vehicle blew a tire, causing the operator to lose control. Was it due to an object in the road or ignored preventative maintenance? Only time will tell. In another mishap, indications are that alcohol was involved.

These losses emphasize the need to continue stressing the proper application of risk management during off-duty activities. Commanders, supervisors at all levels, wingmen, husbands, wives and children have an obligation and the right to inquire into their subordinates’, co-workers’ and family members’ activities and help them to assess the risk(s) involved and make proper risk decisions.

Risk decisions are made easier if we follow three simple steps (ACT):

First, assess the risks. What are the hazards? If one or more of the hazards happens, how bad is it? How likely is it to happen?

Next, consider the options to limit risk. What are the best choices? Who decides which choices to use?

Finally, take appropriate action based on the best choices – ACT.

Compared to this time last year, our auto fatalities are up 150 percent, 10 this year compared to four. Motorcycle fatalities are equal at five each. We still haven’t reached Labor Day weekend yet.

I ask that commanders and supervisors look their people in the eyes and drill risk management into the conversation. It could make all the difference in saving lives. Our people are the most valuable resource we have!

Thank you for all you do to provide our nation unrivaled C-130 Combat Airlift!

TOP STORY > >Air Force unveiling new fitness program

By Daniel Elkins
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Air Force officials expect a new Air Force fitness instruction that will bring about some of the most significant changes to the Air Force fitness program in the last five years and shifts a greater responsibility of maintaining physical fitness 365 days a year to all Airmen. Officials anticipate the changes will take effect Jan. 1, 2010.

In June, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz announced changes to the service’s fitness program following an audit that identified inconsistencies in fitness testing that failed to create a culture of fitness required to meet the warfighting demands on today’s Airmen. “I take fitness seriously and so should you,” Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Roy said.

“The new Air Force fitness test is coming soon and will incorporate significant changes aimed at creating a continuous culture of fitness.”

Chief Master Sgt. Mark Long, the Air Force’s enlisted promotions, evaluations and physical fitness chief, also underscored the importance of fitness in maintaining that combat capability while at the same time advising that Airmen shouldn’t wait until the new year to begin preparing for the changes.

“The culture of fitness that began with earlier endeavors intended to prepare Airmen to be ‘fit to fight’ established a sound foundation to build upon,” said Chief Long. “We’ve come a long way in the last five years, only now it’s time to incorporate changes that will bring about not only increased fitness but greater clarity and understanding for both commanders and Airmen.”

Some of the significant changes planned include the testing frequency, establishment of fitness assessment cells to proctor tests, and increased emphasis on the aerobic component in scoring. The instruction is expected to be signed and approved by the Air Force chief of staff soon.

For more information about the fitness program changes, visit the Air Force fitness program Web site at