Thursday, May 26, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Avoiding the epic fail

“I saw the signs that he was having problems, sir, but I’m not his rater.”

One of my squadron commanders heard these words from a fellow squadron member as he counseled a young Airman who found himself in trouble and is now facing severe consequences. Let me be blunt. From my standpoint, this is tantamount to saying, “I saw an Airman in trouble and chose to do nothing.” Epic fail. My reasons are many--I’ll highlight three of them. But it’s all about being a wingman and a leader.

First, while Team Little Rock represents three wings, [Chief Master Sgt. Mark Marson, 314th Airlift Wing command chief] and I will regularly observe that “they are all our Airmen.” I know that wing leaders feel the same way. And in reality, we are all each others’ Airmen. It has nothing to do with what patch you wear or who is in your chain of command. When someone is heading down a dangerous path, our Air Force does not suggest that we speak up ... our Air Force expects it as part of our Core Values of Integrity, Service and Excellence. Nothing in this expectation implies that we should consider the specific rating chain or assigned major command.

Second, when something is wrong, we take action. That means we speak up, look out for each other, and hold each other to high standards. The failed statement above suggests that the individual considered himself a co-worker to the Airman in trouble. We don’t have co-workers in our Air Force; we have teammates and wingmen. We lean on each other, even on some issues the American public would consider to be private matters. This is core to the profession of arms, and what always separates us from private industry.

Third, and most disappointing, this statement was made by an NCO--someone with many years of service, and who’s been trained to lead. Whether you are an officer or an NCO, you are specifically charged to be on the lookout for fellow Airmen in trouble--especially if you are a leader on the line. No one else has the familiarity with your Airman or that particular situation in your duty section. It’s up to you.

From my standpoint, it is more-than-OK to ask pointed, maybe even uncomfortable, questions, so long as they are in a professional, caring and respectful way. Consider the following: Where do you like to go for a good time? How many drinks do you have when you do drink? Do you drink during the week or just on weekends? Do you understand why it may not be appropriate for an NCO to party with an Airman? What are you planning on doing this weekend ... where is that? Do you have my phone number? You’ve had problems in the past; do you understand the consequences of being a repeat offender? Who do you hang out with ... do they have a discipline history? What is your financial status? Are you getting along with your spouse or significant other? The list of such tough questions is long, and this is not at all inclusive.

The bottom line is simple. We have done--and can do--better. Our performance during deployments, inspections, and the recent tornado is just a small sample of examples that prove we know what to do. We owe it to ourselves, to each other and our Air Force.

TOP STORY > >Cost of a DUI part 2: The financial burden

By Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

(Editor’s note: This is part two of a series on how DUIs impact Airmen and the mission.)

Airmen charged with driving under the influence are finding out there’s more to pay for that “one last drink” than the usual $4.50 or so, or the public humiliation an Airman faces after arrest.

Ultimately, drinking and driving could cost someone their life.

“The member will receive treatment through the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program, and this may cost greater than $20,000,” said Tech. Sgt. Tanya Miller, 19th Medical Group mental health flight section chief. “Of course this does not count the price of an attorney, court fees, fines, possible increase in insurance or loss of coverage, and any other charges associated with the DUI or accident.”

Base legal professionals say various fines can be charged against an Airman found guilty of DUI per Arkansas state law.

Air Force Reserve Capt. Christine Hendrickson, a 19th Airlift Wing assistant staff judge advocate and a Lonoke County deputy prosecutor, said Airmen who are found guilty of driving while intoxicated off base for the first time will spend one day in jail, lose their license for six months and be fined $1,020.

A second DWI will get the offending Airman a week’s time in jail, loss of their license for two years and a fine of $1,220.

For a third DWI, Airmen can spend a minimum of 90 days in jail, lose their license for 30 months and be fined $1,520.

A fourth DWI within a five-year period will result in a felony conviction with up to six years in jail or a fine of $10,000 plus $300 court cost or both. The license will also be revoked permanently.

Aside from fines and court costs, Airmen found guilty of DUI must pay for all medical bills if injuries occurred and the offender was found not in the line of duty. Captain Hendrickson said the Air Force will not pay medical bills for an Airman’s misconduct. Failure to pay medical bills can result in collection agency action and lawsuits.

The squadron commander will decide on the appropriate punishment for a DUI after an Airman has spent time in jail off base, said Capt. Ryan Turner, a 19th AW assistant staff judge advocate.

“[Squadron commanders] take every case individually and look at all the factors,” said Captain Turner. “Reduction in pay will not happen unless [the DUI occurs] on base. If it does happen on base, then forfeiture is an option for commanders.”

If a DUI occurs on base and results in an accident with injuries but no death, then the offender can spend up to 18 months in jail and may face a possible bad conduct discharge with loss of all pay, said Captain Hendrickson. Airmen will also lose on-base driving privileges for at least a year, she added.

The member’s unit may also face a financial burden when itcomes to funding manpower and training.

“All involved may be looking at a huge financial toll to the Air Force - training a new member is not cheap - the member’s family (financially and emotionally), and the Airmen [covering for the offending member] since they may have to pay for more child care to be able to cover for the accident victim’s duties until a replacement can be established,” said Sergeant Miller.

As Airmen head off to enjoy the Memorial Day weekend, wing leaders want everyone to not only have a safe holiday weekend, but they want them to have a safe, DUI-free summer.

The goal is simple: “No DUIs, No Excuses, Drink Responsibly.”

Setting the conditions for success means supervisors and Airmen should focus attention on responsible alcohol use by highlighting programs in place, such as having a plan, calling 987-AADD (2233) or a supervisor when an Airman has had too much to drink.

Part 3 in this series will highlight the effects on an Airman’s career.

Friday, May 20, 2011

BRIEFS 11-11-11


The 19th Medical Group will be closed today in honor of Veteran’s Day. The clinic will also close at noon Nov. 17, and from 9:45 a.m. Nov. 23 – 27, and will re-open at 7:30 a.m., Nov. 28.


The Native American Indian Heritage Month committee will be hosting a recognition dinner at 5 p.m., Monday, at Hangar 1080. Dinner includes Indian tacos served with corn and bean soup along with fresh fry bread, pumpkin pie for dessert. Cost is $15 cash or checks. Please RSVP with Master Sgt. Christopher Chambers 987-8971 or Staff Sgt. Cassandra Smith 987-2035.


The Little Rock Air Force Base Tax Center will open Feb. 1, 2012, for tax season. Last year the Little Rock AFB Tax Center saved service members $172,911 dollars in preparation fees and garnering more than $1.5 million in refunds. All of these savings were made possible by volunteers. Tax Center volunteers are trained through the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program. At the conclusion of the VITA training, volunteers qualify as certified tax preparers. Training is tentatively scheduled for Dec. 12 – 16, and is a requirement for first time volunteers, but optional for returning volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a Tax Center volunteer or have any questions about the VITA program, please call Capt. Tamera Kennard or Senior Airman Linae Totten at the Legal Office at 987-7886.


The 19th Medical Group is sponsoring their quarterly exceptional family member program “Parents Night Out” for the parents of special needs children. Parents may drop off their children at the Jacksonville Library 5-8 p.m. Nov. 18.

Medical staff members and volunteers will provide childcare during this time. This event is free and siblings are welcome. Parents are encouraged to use this time for a couple’s night out or shopping, etc.

For more information or to register, please call Connie Oxford at 987-1256 or Stephanie Koonst at 987-8480.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

TOP STORY > >Cost of a DUI: Part One Loss of Life

By Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

(Editor’s note: This is part one of a series of articles on how DUIs impact Airmen and the mission.)

“No DUIs, No Excuses, Drink Re-sponsibly.”

These words embody a no-nonsense, zero-tolerance attitude toward drinking and driving and its consequences. But in today’s culture of mentoring Airmen through one-on-one interaction and informative briefings, DUIs still happen.

A total of 585 people in Arkansas were killed in vehicle accidents in 2009, 168 or 29 percent of those fatalities were alcohol related, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

“There are numerous factors that contribute to Airmen driving under the influence,” said Tech. Sgt. Tanya Miller, 19th Medical Group mental health flight sectionchief. “Knowledge and acting responsibly are the keys to avoiding DUIs. Also, Airmen need to know that after three drinks their judgment is impaired, whether they realize it or not. Therefore, they are likely to make choices they normally would not make.”

For some, one drink could be too much. The repercussions of a DUI vary, but most mean bad news for survivors.

Tech. Sgt. Omar Cuebas, 19th Force Support Squadron assistant section chief of lodging operations, believes Airmen should be held accountable for their actions if involved in a DUI incident.

“The repercussions can be endless. As a supervisor, I would ask myself what could have I done to prevent [DUI incidents within the squadron],” said Sergeant Cuebas. “If the unit and I did everything possible to educate the individual Airman, then it’s on them to face the consequences.”

If an Airman dies in a DUI incident, the void they leave behind is felt by leaders for a very long time.

“If one of my Airmen died while driving under the influence I would certainly be very upset at the loss of a valuable member of my military family,” said Sergeant Miller.

“The emotional toll could last for the rest of some of the co-workers’ lives.  It may cause added stress, nightmares, lack of self confidence, sleep disturbances, drinking more themselves, anger issues and many other mental health disorders,” she said. 

With the Memorial Day weekend approaching, wing leaders want everyone to not only have a safe holiday weekend, but they want them to have a safe, DUI-free summer.

Setting the conditions for success means supervisors and Airmen should focus attention on responsible alcohol use by highlighting programs in place, such as calling 987-AADD (2233) or a supervisor when an Airman’s had too much to drink.

Part 2 in this series will highlight the financial consequences and will appear in next week’s Combat Airlifter.

Friday, May 13, 2011

CLASSIFIEDS >>11-11-11


THE COMBAT AIRLIFTER CLASSIFIED DEPARTMENT will take ads by phone from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday 982-9421, or you may mail your ad to 404 Graham Rd., Jacksonville, Ark. 72078. You may also e-mail them to Deadline to advertise in Friday's issue is 5 p.m. Tuesday.

THRIFT SHOP open to the public. MWF, 10 am to 2 pm, first Saturday monthly. Great bargains. All revenues used to support mission. Volunteers and donations welcome. Jacksonville Care Channel, 201 Elm, 982-4647.

A  free one-year membership in Military Officers Association of America is available for active, reserve, & national guard officers who are  not prior members. Contact Central Arkansas Chapter Secretary (


MULTI-FAMILY GARAGE sale, 36 G St., Cabot, 11/12, 6 am-noon, household goods, furniture, clothes, DVDs & more.


DRIVERS: $1200 Orientation Completion Bonus! OTR openings! CDL-A OTR Experience required. Koch Trucking! 1-800-213-7696.

WANTED: OVER the road company drivers & O/Ops CDL-A with 1 yr. OTR experience. Top pay. Great miles. Benefits & home time. Call today 1-800-831-4832 option 4.*

Earn Extra $$$ Immediately! P/T - Temp deliver new telephone directories in the Jacksonville area. FT/PT, work your own hours, quick pay, must be 18 yrs+, have drivers license & insured vehicle. CALL TODAY - START TODAY. (888) 681-6909.


WE ARE a Christian in-home daycare specializing in infants 6 wks.-5 yrs. old. We are located 8 miles from the back gate. Positions available now. Call (501) 231-1870 for details.

DJ - Don't trust an iPod for your holiday party. High tech DJ available. Click or call (501) 348-4957 today.


HORSES: LUCKY Acres Boarding Stable, TLC for your horse, box stalls and paddocks, clean pastures, indoor and outdoor arenas, riding instruction and training program. Dressage our specialty. (501) 988-2458.


GERMAN SHEPHERD/LAB. mix dog, free to good home, female, sweet dog, all shots, spayed, great w/kids & other dogs. (928) 310-4752.

AFRICAN GREY female w/large play top cage, separate play stand, all toys, food & bowl. Pics available. (210) 393-1476.

FREE TO good home, 4 yr. old miniature Dachshund, loves to play, shots up to day. (501) 259-9373.


2007 TOYOTA Tundra, 4-door, 4x4, 56K miles, 4.6L V8, dk. green, leather, clean title, never smoked in. Below KBB, $21,500. (501) 628-5002.

2010 TOYOTA Tundra Dbl. Cab 4WD, black, auto., V8, SR5 pkg., 16K miles, $30,389. (501) 628-5002.

2010 NISSAN 370Z Touring, white, auto., V6, leather, Bose, loaded, $32,805. (501) 628-5002.

2008 CHEVY Malibu LTZ, pewter, auto., V6, alloys, leather, one owner, $18,547. (501) 628-5002.

2007 GMC Yukon SLT, black, navigation, sunroof, DVD, third row, rear air, loaded, $25,998. (501) 628-5002.

2005 Nissan Sentra 1.8S, gray, auto., 4-cyl., alloys, great car for a student, $8,356. (501) 628-5002.

2008 Chevy Trailblazer LT, white, auto., V6, leather, Bose stereo, heated seats, 40K miles, $18,341. (501) 628-5002.

2008 NISSAN Altima 3.5 SL, auto., V6, leather, sunroof, loaded, 30K miles, $21,588. (501) 628-5002.

2006 JEEP Liberty Limited, red, auto., 4WD, V6, leather, sunroof, chrome wheels, $14,524. (501) 628-5002.

2010 NISSAN Altima Coupe, blue, auto., 4-cyl., alloys, bold & beautiful, $21,106. (501) 628-5002.

2010 BMW 328i, white, auto., leather roof, loaded, $30,998. (501) 628-5002.

2007 TOYOTA Prius, gold, leather, navigation, huge gas saver, $19,398. (501) 628-5002.

2008 NISSAN Altima 2.5 SL, black, auto., leather, sunroof, alloys, 40K miles, $18,498. (501) 628-5002.

2006 FORD Ranger Super V6 XLT, white, auto., all power, only 23K miles, $15,284. (501) 628-5002.

2007 FORD Edge SEL, black, auto., V6, leather, chrome wheels, $19,998. (501) 628-5002.

2008 Nissan Rogue SL, black, auto., 4-cyl., Bose stereo, sunroof, $19,998. (501) 628-5002.

2012 NISSAN Frontier Crew Cab SE, maroon, 4WD, auto., V6, alloys, all power, 20K miles, like new, $23,489. (501) 628-5002.

2010 FORD Taurus SEL, auto., white, V6, alloys, fantastic ride, $20,792. (501) 628-5002.

2009 TOYOTA Camry XLE, auto., gray, V6, leather, sunroof, loaded, 30K miles, $19,241. (501) 628-5002.

2010 FORD Fusion SE, red, auto., alloys, spoiler, very sporty, 20K miles, $17,593. (501) 628-5002.

2008 VW Beetle Convertible, white, auto., 5-cyl., leather, alloys, loaded, 24K miles, $17,549. (501) 628-5002.

2008 MERCURY Grand Marquis LS Sedan 4-Door, low mileage - 23,250, new brakes, good tires, cruise control, AM/FM/CD, $15,500. (501) 944-2892.

(4) PIRELLI tires, Scorpion ATR P275/55/R20. (501) 680-2445, Mike.

2008 INFINITI G37, V6, coupe, loaded, Bose stereo, sunroof, Nav. system, platinum gray, 50K miles, $26,000. (501) 607-3459.

2007 DODGE Ram 1500 Big Horn, blue, 38,800 miles, 4WD, Hemi, 4-dr., good condition, w/extras, $20,500. (816) 752-1723, Andrew.

1978 JEEP Wagoneer 4x4, 360 V8, 65,000 miles, $3,000 obo. (760) 218-7645.

2004 FORD Mustang GT, 40th Anniv., red, tan top, fully loaded, 160K miles, car fax., $8,000 obo. (870) 543-0041.


125cc Coolster ATV, 2011, black w/spider web design, great for new, young riders w/adult supervision, used for only 2 hrs., needs tune-up, sold as is, $400 firm. (501) 628-7658.

2001 EZ Go 2-passenger golf cart, rebuilt twin cylinder gas engine, fold-down rear seat, good brakes, good tires, runs great. Nice cart! $2,750. Pics avail. Call or text (501) 256-2072.

16' DEER camper's dream, 1973 Scamper, new A/C, cushion covers & drapes. Solid floor, everything works! Great condition for its age. $1,850. (501) 563-0420, Chris.

2004 YERF Dog go-kart, 6 hp. Tecumseh eng., 2-seat,  new brakes, good condition, $350. (501) 259-8023.

2007 HARLEY Davidson Road King, red pearl & black, like new, 1 owner, low mileage, lots of extras, $14,500. (501) 922-1986.


PAINTBALL GEAR: Freak kit barrels, $90; pod packs w/pods, $20; Proto elbow pads, $15; knee pads, $10; gear bag, $10. (785) 317-4904.

COLLEGE BOOKS: Portfolio Keeping, 2nd ed. $4; Easy Writer, 4th ed, $17; 50 Essays, 3rd ed. $17; The Craft of Revision, 5th ed., $40. (501) 786-3803.

8" COUNTRY roses bone China Sarah figurine, made in England, $95. 982-9598 after 4 pm.

Thule XG-12 Snow Chains, new, $100; Aircraft Sextants (2), $100 & $75; ABU Gortex Jacket, XLG/Long, only worn a couple of times, $85. (501) 837-2906 or e-mail for pics.

APPLE iMAC desktop, 17", M8935LLA, very good condition, works like new, comes w/start-up disc & more. $300 obo. (501) 584-1723.

iRobot ROOMBA 560 w/2 virtual walls & manuals, works great, $200 obo. (501) 584-1723.

FREE PIANO, antique, Haines & Brothers, needs a lot of TLC but plays. Must pick up on base. HEAVY. 410-2752, Katie.

2 METAL antique lawn chairs, 1 is a rocker, sandblasted & repainted sage green, $150 for set. 982-9598 after 4 pm.

JOE WEIDER Universal weight set, 250 lbs., squat rack, pull-down bar & additional accessories, excellent condition, $250. 438-1135.

COLLEGE BOOKS: Management Skills, 13th ed., $75; Dev. Through Life, 11th ed., $85; Intermediate Algebra, 10th ed., $50. (989) 820-8205, Alex.

9-PIECE DRUM set, black w/cymbal stand, used, great condition, $800 obo. (813) 227-6571.

STAINLESS STEEL Frigidaire side-by-side Professional Series refrigerator w/ice make & water in door, moving, $650. (501) 551-0327.

2 HTC Inspire 4G smart phones, pd. $500 ea. 5 mos. ago, both in perfect operating condition, 1 has some scratches & signs of wear on back cover, other is in perfect cond., make offer, or text (501) 247-7444.

TROY-BILT ELECTRIC start generator, 6200 watts, pd. $899, never used, $499. (501) 941-8187.

WEDDING BAND, new, white gold, 14K w/1/2 ct. diamond baguettes, size 6.5, $275. (501) 328-5855, Conway.


SOFA & love seat, matching set, $75. (501) 605-8126.

ANTIQUE WOODEN entertainment center, $1,000; green couch, $100; sleeper sofa, $100. Need to sell asap. (901) 240-5933.

DINING ROOM set: round glass table top, metal table & 4 chairs, excellent condition, $260. Call or text (407) 461-5330.

POOL TABLE, mfd. by Masse, 6'x4' w/2 pool cues, pool balls, rack & chalk. Exc. cond., $150. (501) 438-1135.


WANTED TO BUY: old fashioned cast iron bath tub; Rear bumper for 2000 Tundra & right rear lens unit. (501) 548-1354.

WANTED: 12' aluminum flat bottom boat. (501) 902-9243.


Sherwood/Jacksonville areas. Beautiful 2, 3 & 4 Bedroom Mobile Homes. Large lots, in quiet safe park, close to LRAFB. Clean, quiet, & safe park. $450-$695 plus deposit. (501) 835-3450.

STUDIO APARTMENTS - Jacksonville. Cozy 1 bedroom apts. Bed pulls down from wall in living room. Wood burning fireplace, $275 mo. & util. Military discount available. No children, no pets. Camp Construction, 982-0434.

1300 SQ. ft. 3 BR, 2 BA home, attached garage. Cabot school district. Nice neighborhood. Home only 6 yrs. old, $900 plus deposit. Call Tammy (501) 628-1055.

2 BEDROOM mobile home. Central heat & air, dishwasher, newly remodeled. Hwy. 107 - 3 miles north of back gate. No mowing. Water & gas paid. (501) 988-5187, ask for Ed.

DUPLEX FOR rent, 61 Cardinal Lane, Cabot, 1100 sq. ft., 2 bedroom, 2 full bath, laminate/tile flooring, $670 month. (501) 681-5216.

FOR RENT: new home in Cabot Magness Creek subdivision. 3 bedroom, 2 bath, covered back porch, oversized garage. $975, deposit required. (501) 286-2288.

FOR RENT: Cabot, 800 sq. ft. office space or retail. 206-C Plaza Blvd., $450 deposit required. High traffic area. Available now. Call D. Moore, (501) 605-3542.

FOR RENT: 127-B Maple, Cabot. 2 bedroom, 1 bath, 900 sq. ft., newly painted, new floor coverings. Residential neighborhood, close to freeway. $495 rent, deposit required. Call D. Moore (501) 605-3542.

SINGLE PERSON wanting safe neighborhood? Large master suite with walk-in closet, 1 3/4 bath, fully furnished kitchen, washer & dryer, utilities included. Access to pool and tennis court, $600 per month. Contact (501) 744-3564.

FOR RENT with option to buy, 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath brick home in excellent area. Insulated windows & doors. 501 Harpole St., Jax. Call 590-5177.

GUYS, WANT to get out of the barracks? Small 3 bedroom house, new floor coverings, ceiling fans, only 5 minutes drive to back gate of base. $500 month, $300 deposit. (501) 837-0264, (501) 988-5586.

2 BEDROOM, 1 bath house, very nice, recently renovated, kitchen furnished - stove & refrigerator. Fenced-in backyard. Rent $700, $600 deposit. $25 application fee (waived for military only.) 10420 Farris, Sherwood, (501) 835-5810, (501) 231-2889.

BRIEFS >> 11-4-11


The first nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System, will take place at 1 p.m. Wednesday. The purpose of the test is to assess the reliability and effectiveness of the system in alerting the public. The test will last approximately three minutes and will be transmitted throughout the country.


The 19th Airlift Wing is hosting a Native American Heritage month recognition dinner 5 p.m., Nov. 14, at Hangar 1080. Dinner includes grilled flank steak and fish served with squash, corn and bean soup, fresh fry bread, with huu’t or pumpkin pie for dessert. Cost $18. For more information call Master Sgt. Christopher Chambers 987-8971 or Staff Sgt. Cassandra Smith 987-2035.


The 19th Medical Group will be closed Nov. 11 in honor of Veteran’s day. The clinic will also close at 12 p.m. Nov. 17, and from 9:45 a.m. Nov. 23 – 27, and will re-open at 7:30 a.m. Nov. 28.


The 19th Medical Group’s pharmacy renovation is complete. The refill pharmacy returned to its previous location near the clinic’s main entrance on the northeast side. In addition to the relocation, the renovation allows the pharmacy to process refills on controlled substances. The hours of operation have not changed. Patients picking up refills that were called into the automated system do not need to take a number, just simply approach the refill pharmacy counter for service.


Jump start your holiday shopping at the Little Rock Spouses Club’s annual craft bazaar 4-8 p.m., today, and 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., tomorrow, at the old Jacksonville Walmart (Memphis Flea Market building).


Marines will have their 236th Marine Corps birthday ball on Wednesday at 6 p.m. It will be held at the Doubletree Hotel in Little Rock. Tickets are $40 per person and are limited. Col. Mike Minihan, 19th Airlift Wing commander, will be the guest speaker. For more information, contact either Sgt. Bales at 987-1872 or Gunnery Sgt. Mancini at 987-1730.

TOP STORY >> Caring for survivors after the disaster

By Maj. Allan Bigtas
19th Medical Operations Squadron Mental Health Flight commander

The frightful tornadic events that took place last week between Arkansas and Alabama and the flooding across the state over the weekend has left many Airmen stunned and saddened.

For those closest to the events, there may be shock and trauma. Natural disasters and America’s involvement in  the prolonged war against terror have enabled Airmen to become keenly aware of the mental and emotional repercussions of exposure to traumatic events and the importance of providing support, and when necessary, effective treatment to people who have experienced them.

There are two types of trauma — physical and mental. Physical trauma includes the body’s response to serious injury and threat. Mental trauma includes frightening thoughts and painful feelings. They are the mind’s response to serious injury. Mental trauma can produce strong feelings. It can also produce extreme behavior; such as intense fear or helplessness, withdrawal or detachment, lack of concentration, irritability, sleep disturbance, aggression, hyper vigilance or flashbacks.

How to cope with trauma in the first days and weeks after an event? In the Air Force, we have heard the phrase: “Real Wingmen Act.” Well, action is also the appropriate immediate response for helping survivors. Base members saw immediate action minutes after the tornado touched down when the security forces and fire department drove through the debris to get to all base housing residents.

How can the rest of us act? Create an environment of safety. Be calm, hopeful and friendly even if people are difficult; they have been through a lot.  Try to connect to others and listen to their stories if they want to share them.  This can help survivors reduce anxiety relating to the event.  In addition, this can help the other survivors to feel free to express their anxiety. However, don’t try to force someone to share their story if they don’t want to - they may be trying to avoid re-traumatization. Airmen should also try to help survivors to engage in “self care” behaviors: acquire food, clothing and a safe place to live, re-establish routines, access to medical care if hurt, establish contact with loved ones or friends, keep children with parents, caregivers or relatives and connect with helping agencies as needed. Another way of helping is by donating time or goods to a helping organization on- or off-base. Basically, try to be a good “Wingman” to survivors who need help.     

When might someone benefit from seeking professional assistance? Seek medical assistance when survivors are no longer able to take care of themselves or suffers from severe flashbacks, depression, severe anxiety or nightmares. Immediately escort the survivor to an eemergency medical treatment facility if he is experiencing thoughts of harming himself or someone else.

Many types of events have the potential to produce traumatic stress responses. Luckily, most individuals exposed to such events will not experience long-term adverse effects. However, exposure to potentially traumatic events can result in short-term symptoms, which in some cases, may worsen if left unaddressed. Try to remember that these feelings are normal reactions to abnormal situations.

Air Force policy to provide traumatic stress response services to enhance resilience to potentially traumatic events. Team Little Rock has a designated TSR team and help is available after potentially traumatic civil and military events.

Following a traumatic event, individuals can seek up to four one-on-one meetings with any member of the TSR team. These meetings are for the purpose of education and consultation and not for medical assessment and treatment. If more than four meeting are required, the Mental Health Clinic can discuss medical treatment options with the individual. 

For more information about the installation’s support agencies or mental health services, please call the Mental Health Clinic at 987-7338 between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

EDITORIAL >> The importance of ceremonies

By Lt. Col John Vaughn
48th Airlift Squadron commander

Last week, we celebrated a lot of people earning their Community College of the Air Force degrees. If you missed it, it was a great ceremony, especially for a base which has seen so much turmoil recently — with the tornado, floods, force protection condition changes, distinguished vistors, you name it.

There were two people from my squadron who received their CCAF degrees. They “walked,” if you will. But there were four who didn’t and I found myself thinking about those four. Why didn’t they “walk?” Didn’t they want to? Did they have more pressing matters at hand? Were they too cool for that kind of stuff?

I started thinking about the people who take leave the day of their pin-on, or sneak their medal package away from the executive officers so they don’t have to stand in front of the squadron and receive it. We serve in the most lethal Air Force the world has ever known and yet survey after survey shows that our Air Force members do not feel they get all the credit or recognition they deserve for their hard work. That very clearly falls into my lane as a leadership issue. If you consider yourself a leader, and I hope everyone does, rank has nothing to do with it, then it’s an issue for you as well.

I can think of several reasons why we should celebrate our people whenever we can. First and foremost, it shows them we care. We genuinely appreciate their service and commitment to excellence: be it a CCAF graduation, quarterly award ceremony, promotion ceremony, medal presentation — whatever the case may be. Second, they need the recognition. Regardless of what they say in public, when push comes to shove, our people want to be recognized … and they deserve it. Just look at any Air Force survey taken in the last five years if you need a little proof. Finally, it motivates others when we recognize and value our members who step out and perform. I’m thinking of the airman first class or senior airman now who was sitting on the fence about pursuing a CCAF degree. If his technical sergeant or master sergeant just finished their CCAF degree and “walked,” he’ll see that it means something. And if that supervisor decided not to walk for whatever reason, then right now he’s saying to himself, “Hmm, maybe this isn’t as important as I thought.”

Many of you are saying, “I know you’re kind of right — but don’t you think we’ve gotten too PC and celebrate too many things these days?” Graduation ceremonies for every grade of elementary school … c’mon. I’m reminded of one of the “Meet the Parents” movies where Ben Stiller’s character got a seventh-place ribbon for something. He said something to the effect of, “Oh yeah, they go all the way up to 10th place.” It cracks me up every time. As a leader, you can temper that. You know who’s had to work really hard to earn something and who hasn’t. Lead accordingly. In the case of the CCAF degrees, I wanted to celebrate all our members who earned their degree — regardless of how much effort each had to put in - and there were different levels of effort. Some were up late at night, juggling kids and work, tests and grades. Others just knocked it out — no problem. The point is I want to see them, recognize them, say “Hi,” to their wives or husbands, hold their children, give them my coin — genuinely let them know that they should be proud of what they’ve done … because I am! Our people need recognition, and I want to give it to them. As leaders, don’t let them rob you of that. Deep down, I think they just want to see if you’ll actually make them “walk.” Make them.

Today, I’ll be taking part in a ceremony. It’s a change of command ceremony where Lt. Col. Mike Honma will take over the reins of the 48th Airlift Squadron. It’s an important ceremony because it clearly shows everyone that I am no longer the commander. While a bittersweet day for me and my family, it’s a great day for Colonel Honma and his — and his new family, the 48th. He’s earned the right to command the best squadron on Little Rock AFB. Yep, I said it! He should be proud, and we should all celebrate in his achievement. For my part, I’d just like to say, “thank you!” to all of you who have made this the most rewarding two years of my career. Gold — you rock! JMATS — here’s to a great partnership! Men and women of the 48th — there’s just no way to say it, so I won’t — but deep down, I hope you know.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weather flight chases down EF-2 twister

By Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Dark clouds swirled overhead as sirens wailed into the night, signaling the impending arrival of a tornado.

Base housing residents had enough advance warning to gather their loved ones into a safe place before the tornado struck Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., April 25, 2011. Homes were damaged and a few suffered minor injuries, but no lives were lost that night thanks to the early warning sirens.

Forecasters from the 19th Operations Support Squadron’s weather flight tracked and monitored the tornado which turned out to be an EF-2 tornado on the Enhanced Fujita Scale (111-135 mph).

“We look at radial velocity which tells us how fast winds are going in and out of the radar,” said Staff
 Sgt. Michael Winders, a 19th OSS weather flight technician. He noticed a shear, or change in wind speed, as well as indications of a possible tornado. It was approximately 7 p.m.

7:05 p.m. - Sergeant Winders called his counterparts at the 26th Operational Weather Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La.

“I called the 26th OWS to let them know I thought I saw a tornado to the south of the base on our radar,” said Sergeant Winders. “Then within the next 10 minutes, the track of the storm continued toward us. At approximately 15 minutes after the hour, we issued the warning.”

Sergeant Winders said the standard lead time for issuing a tornado warning is 30 minutes. Team Little Rock’s weather flight had nearly an hour lead time.

Approximately 7:43 p.m. - “After we had the warning out, we got into what is called the ‘cone of silence’ where you don’t have any radar coverage ... it’s just right there over the radar,” Sergeant Winders said. “As it came out on the north side of the radar, we picked back up on the signature again and actually saw a funnel cloud move through.”

The weather flight team checked the radar again, noting the velocity, and saw a tornado signature was still moving northward. As it dissipated, another tornado signature appeared on the radar. The weather flight called the base command post and advised them to fire the sirens continuously.

7:48 p.m. - Command post fires the sirens.

“The 20 minutes leading up to the tornado, I was looking at radar, then running outside [to observe], then looking at radar,” said Sergeant Winders. People stood on the flightline ramp, watching as the storm developed before their eyes. As he ran outside to observe the storm again, he advised the onlookers to take cover.

7:52 p.m. - The tornado struck the base.

According to the weather flight’s post tornado assessment, the tornado’s path ran through base housing, past the 19th Medical Group clinic and touched the skate park. After tossing a couple skate ramps, the tornado veered left and crossed the commissary and base exchange parking lots, flipping cars along the way. It ruptured water tanks as it passed Bldg. 470, traveled down the hill past the 19th Security Forces Squadron and clipped Bldg. 430 before tearing through the base fire station and a handful of aircraft on the flightline.

“[We] never want to be right about something that could potentially kill somebody,” said Staff Sgt. Alfred Brooks, 19th OSS NCO-in-charge of airfield services. “We actually got very lucky. The tornado that touched down on base ... it was the first time that particular one had touched down. The other one was the one that had missed us to the north and destroyed Vilonia.

“If the tornado that hit Vilonia came here, it would have caused catastrophic damage, even more than what we saw here,” he added.

Sergeant Winders is grateful for the teamwork that helped save lives that fateful evening.

“I was the only one on shift and everybody rallied around me knowing that severe weather was coming ... people in our shop was here because they knew I would need help,” said Sergeant Winders. “People try to use the word ‘hero’ but I’m just trying to do my job. I just happened to be the point man [when this happened].”

Thursday, May 5, 2011

TOP STORY > >CSAF addresses issues, surveys tornado damage at Little Rock

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz visited here May 4 and 5 to meet with Airmen during an all call and base tour.

During the all call, General Schwartz discussed several issues, including recent force management actions by the Air Force, the repeal of the law commonly known as Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell, and Airman resiliency.

“Sir, it is my absolute honor to welcome you back to Little Rock Air Force Base,” said Col. Mike Minihan, 19th Airlift Wing commander, referring to the general’s tours at Little Rock from 1974 to 1975, for C-130 Hercules initial qualification, and from 1977 to 1979, as a C-130E/H flight examiner at the 61st Tactical Airlift Squadron.

“Eighteen fifty-five -- I’ve probably got a few hours on that airplane, and it’s great to be back,” said General Schwartz, acknowledging the C-130E parked outside the hangar. “One of the great things about this wing is its blue-collar mission. No one designed the C-130 to be pretty.”

General Schwartz said Team Little Rock members should be proud of what they accomplished together to quickly recover and deploy Airmen following the tornado that hit the base April 25.

“You have 20 aircraft downrange and 1,000 people deployed, and you took care of the families who lost their homes,” General Schwartz said.  “That’s something to be proud of.”

General Schwartz said that he and his wife, Suzie, a native of Jacksonville, Ark., met an Airman earlier in the day who was deployed on a convoy security mission in Iraq when the tornado hit his home.

Staff Sgt. Eric Bramblett, 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operator, returned to Little Rock AFB 48 hours later to start picking up the pieces.

“He’s grateful for the support he received from all of you,” General Schwartz said, adding that despite the adversity he faces, Sergeant Bramblett is even more committed to his service “because he believes in his Air Force.”

Later in the all call, General Schwartz discussed changes for the Air Force as the service implements the repeal of the Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell policy.

“We’re not here to change anyone’s beliefs, but we will continue to treat each other with dignity and respect,” General Schwartz said.

General Schwartz also encouraged those in the audience to continue to build their personal resilience to stressors and changing demands.  He urged attendees to reach out to chaplains, supervisors or medical professionals for assistance if feeling stressed or under duress.

“We don’t want anyone at Little Rock to be affected by the phenomenon of suicide, because this is a family business,” he said. “Make it your personal mission to make sure the Airman to your left and the Airman to your right is still here tomorrow.”

The general also addressed concerns regarding force management, stating that the Air Force is working hard to meet its congressionally authorized personnel ceiling. However, the current challenge is that retention is at an all-time high, he said.

“Some of that is due to the economy, but some of that is due, I hope, to the fact that we’re doing really important work for the Nation,” he said. “In spite of these difficult end-strength measures, our focus will be to maintain the capability of an Air Force worthy of the United States.”

While at Little Rock AFB, General Schwartz also had the opportunity to meet with local civic leaders during a dinner at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History.