Thursday, June 30, 2011

TOP STORY > >Base leaders sign civilian labor agreement

By 2nd Lt. Mallory Glass
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The Labor Management Partnership Council met June 16, 2011, to sign a partnership agreement between base leadership and the American Federation of Government Employees Local 2055 Little Rock Air Force Base, which stems from the implementation of Executive Order 13522.

The base representative Col. Ken Walters, 19th Mission Support Group deputy commander, and the union representative Clarence Walters, AFGE president Local 2066 Little Rock AFB, signed the agreement.

The Labor Management Partnership Council is an open forum for base leadership and the AFGE Local 2066 to discuss labor and management issues.

“The AFGE is comprised of 78 members and more than 500 bargaining employees,” said Mr. Walters. Civilian employees are an important workforce on the base and the job of the AFGE is to make sure they are well-represented, he said.

The council works to maintain a positive work environment by identifying problems and developing solutions to better serve all employees and the mission of Little Rock AFB, said Lisa Bemrich, 19th Force Support Squadron civilian personnel officer.

According to the partnership agreement between Little Rock AFB and American Federation of Government Employees, the document’s purpose is to “create labor management forums to improve delivery of government service …achieve common goals and establish an atmosphere of mutual respect, openness, trust, and reciprocal cooperation.”

The partnership agreement reinforces the positive relationship between labor and management and the fulfillment of an executive order. Executive Order 13522, Creating Labor-Management Forums to Improve Delivery of Government Services, states “the purpose of this order is to establish a cooperative and productive form of labor-management relations throughout the executive branch.”

“Management and union exist together on Little Rock AFB,” said Heather Baxter, 19th FSS human resources specialist. Even before the executive order there was an excellent relationship between the Little Rock AFB civilian workforce and base leadership … this is just putting it in writing, she added.

The signed pact assures civilian employees that their needs will continue to be recognized.

“The agreement says that there is a signed contract between the AFGE and wing leadership that will ensure civilian employees are heard and represented,” said Danny Mills, AFGE local 2066 vice president.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Legacy schoolhouse receives upgrades

By Lt. Col. Mark A. Livelsberger
714th Training Squadron commander

The C-130 Aircrew Training System is in the process of upgrading the legacy C-130E training devices and renovating current facilities. In an effort to provide modern and relevant training, the 314th Airlift Wing along with our Lockheed Martin partners, are undertaking a simulator upgrade program designed to convert our current C-130E model configuration to a C-130H1 configuration. These upgrades will include improved -15 engine performance, replacing the older APN-59 radar with the more capable APN-241 radar, adding oil cooler augmenters, exchanging the ground turbine compressor for an auxiliary power unit, along with pneumatic and electronic upgrades. These upgrades provide increased training capability for initial and requalification students going through the formal training unit, and allow us to graduate a more capable and qualified C-130 aircrew member. It also provides our host wing increased capability as the simulators will be able to accomplish instrument meteorological condition airdrop as well as Adverse Weather Aerial Delivery System training.

These important upgrades provide a vital training bridge as the FTU transitions the legacy schoolhouse to C-130H2s supplied by the Air Reserve Component. Currently, the 314th AW is scheduled to retire all of its remaining C-130 E-model aircraft by the end of September and are being backfilled with C-130H2 aircraft from various Reserve and Air National Guard bases around the country. The transition from E-model simulator training to H2 aircraft on the flight line would make training disjointed for initial students. The H1 simulator modification ensures only slight changes to avionics displays as the student makes the transitions to flying H2 aircraft.

Along with these hardware and software changes, the ATS simulator facility is also undergoing extensive facility upgrades. A $1.4 million building refresh program is underway to provide new carpets, floors and ceiling, which will ultimately provide our Lockheed Martin partners and FTU students with a better working and learning environment. Also underway is a $2.1 million heating, ventilation and air conditioning upgrade to replace the chillers, boilers and air handling systems of the existing unit. Upon completion of both projects, students will be able to learn and train in a modern, up-to-date facility without having to deal with poor heating in the winter or a lack of air conditioning in the summer.

Unfortunately, these upgrades require a temporary move for instructors and students while the work is being accomplished. Student classroom instruction and Lockheed Martin’s employee offices are transitioning to building 840 near the Hercules dining facility. The simulator modification coupled with the building modifications stress the current training system and require students to train throughout the weekend. While I understand this move and weekend simulator training present a hardship to both instructors and students, the end result will be a more appealing facility capable of providing a stable, properly conditioned environment for everyone as we train in a more capable weapon system trainer.

The 314th AW continually strives to enhance the C-130 schoolhouse and provide modern and relevant training in a facility that is conducive to learning. These simulator and facility upgrades reinforce our commitment to excellence as we provide the foundation of combat airlift by training the world’s best C-130 Combat Airlifters to Fly, Fight, and Win!

TOP STORY > >Celebrate our freedom and be safe this Independence Day

By Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr.
Commander, Air Mobility Command

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – The 4th of July is a day for all of us to celebrate what we cherish and hold so dear as Americans…it’s been this way for 235 years. What our forefathers fought and worked so hard for you carry on today, magnificently. We are as busy as ever and no matter what’s asked, you rise to the challenge…to answer the call of others so they can prevail.

Our Airmen have a rich history supporting those in need, making a difference around the globe, and protecting the freedom we enjoy. In March, when our nation called on us to support operations in Libya, many of you, active, guard, reserve, answered that call in a matter of hours saying good bye to your families instead of good night, without any hesitation. It truly makes us all proud to know we have such dedicated Airmen.

We know and recognize this does not come without personal and family sacrifice. We owe you and your loved ones a debt of gratitude for all that you do.

As you enjoy this Independence Day weekend, I urge each of you to make safety a priority. Be especially careful when traveling, as the roadways remain our most dangerous environment. While we may be good wingmen for one another – others are not so responsible; watch out for drunk drivers and certainly don’t drive if you’ve been drinking…it’s just not worth it.

The Critical Days of Summer campaign has been the AF’s ongoing campaign for decades for one simple reason: we save lives through persistent safety efforts. You, and your family’s safety, begins with you.

One fatality is too many; together, we can attain our continued goal of zero preventable mishaps and fatalities.

We wish all of you a very happy Independence Day and thank you for your selfless commitment to our nation and those you help around the world.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

TOP STORY > >Cost of a DUI part 5: The heart of the matter

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

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

“My worst nightmare came true that night in June when a state trooper came to our door at 3 a.m. and told us that our daughter and her fiancĂ© had been killed in a horrible automobile collision.”

That was three years ago when Kathy Paulette’s daughter was killed by a drunk driver.

Mrs. Paulette was a valued member of Little Rock Air Force Base. She worked in the 19th Medical Group clinic laboratory for 22 years. When she retired in 2008, there was an empty seat at her retirement ceremony. Her daughter, Ruth, should have filled that seat.

Ruth was also a valued member of Team Little Rock. She worked at the base youth center, the shoppette, the Tricare service center and as a Red Cross volunteer at the base clinic.

“The best description of Ruth is that she loved … she loved to cook, she loved people and she loved her family,” said Mrs. Paulette. Ruth also loved Tim, a Beebe resident. Mrs. Paulette said the two were making wedding plans.

A drunk driver changed their plans on June 8, 2008. Ruth and Tim were on their way home from seeing a movie. It was just past 9 p.m.

Several 911 calls reported a person driving erratically, sometimes at speeds up to 100 mph.

At approximately 9:30 p.m., a caller reported the driver lost control of his truck, flipped it into the median and was ejected from his vehicle. Driverless, the truck rolled into the southbound lane and slammed into Ruth and Tim’s car with Tim behind the wheel. Police told Mrs. Paulette the two died instantly.

The days following that tragic evening found Mrs. Paulette immersed in the unpleasant task of burying her daughter.

“I found myself engaged in activities I never dreamed I would be doing for [Ruth],” said Mrs. Paulette. “Selecting a casket, looking at cemetery plots, writing an obituary and filling out a death certificate … I never thought I would live to see Ruth’s name on such a document. The worst task of all was telling her children, Katie, Chris and Jason, that they would never see their mother again.”

Mrs. Paulette’s husband, John, saw a different woman attending to his daughter’s estate.

“My husband told me he felt like he had not only lost a daughter but also a wife,” she said. “Dealing with settlement claims, insurance companies, lawyers, banks and endless paperwork took their toll on us as a couple.”

The Paulette family began the healing process but realized at the same time the stark reality of Ruth’s death.

“We had to endure the painful process of dismantling Ruth’s home … packing up all the items she had collected and loved over 32 years,” said Mrs. Paulette. “A death of a family member is difficult enough to bear, but to lose a child, whether young or adult, to the irresponsible actions of another, causes pain for which there is no cure.

There are visits to the cemetery now instead of her home.

“Ruth wasn’t there to welcome home the brother she adored and was so proud of when he returned from Iraq,” Mrs. Paulette said. “There will be no more family gatherings, Christmases, Thanksgivings and other happy occasions without remembering that Ruth and Tim are not there.”

The drunk driver who killed Ruth and Tim was sentenced to two concurrent terms of 10 years with two suspended. In less than three years, the man was granted parole and released.

Today, Mrs. Paulette is a volunteer speaker for Mothers Against Drunk Driving here in Little Rock. She shares her story to educate others about the repercussions of drunk driving and give strength to those suffering from loss.

“The lives that are lost cannot come back, but those of us left have the opportunity to change the consequences of drunk driving,” Mrs. Paulette said.

Base leaders want Airmen to understand the seriousness of a DUI.

“Drinking and driving incidents are not in line with our core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self and Excellence in All We Do,” said Chief Master Sgt. Jim Morris, 19th Airlift Wing command chief. “Make no mistake, drinking and driving under the influence is a crime. One DUI is one too many. We cannot continue to put our own people’s and other people’s lives in danger through the decision-making process some of our Airmen have exhibited in the past.”

Additionally, there are negative consequences if one is convicted on or off base, including career impact, court costs, higher insurance premiums and potentially the loss of life of an innocent victim or even one’s own life.

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 or calling 987-AADD (2233) or a supervisor when an Airman has had too much to drink.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

COMMENTARY>>Where does airpower come from?

By Chief Master Sgt. Brian Stevens
314th Maintenance Group superintendent

Every day I see examples of the men and women of the Air Force putting their lives on hold to make our mission happen. This dedication isn’t something new – we’re part of a military that has done this for decades.

But every time I drive by Heritage Park and see the B-47, tail number 0595, I am reminded of a story that shows this dedication by an old crew chief who was stationed at Schilling Air Force Base, Kan., when the aircraft was there in the fall of 1962.

He was a young, dedicated crew chief for another B-47 at the same base in mid-October. As he completed a pre-flight inspection on his aircraft in the middle of the night, his production supervisor pulled up. The crew chief was told to prepare the aircraft for immediate nuclear munitions upload and departure.

After a fuel top-off and the loading of several nuclear bombs, the crew chief was given time to grab his TDY bag those in Strategic Air Command always had packed and ready to go. His young wife and two pre-school children had brought it to his work center and they had one short moment to say goodbye. With no family in the area, and no idea of where her husband was going nor when he’d return, his wife did what all military spouses did and still do: wished him luck, kissed him and promised to keep the house ready for his return.

The crew chief’s next stop was the pre-departure mission brief. In a room full of other military members, the group was told the United States had found out the Soviet Union had operational medium range nuclear missiles in Cuba. It was their mission to counter the threat.

He walked out to his aircraft with his crew and pulled the chocks and plugs. The crew started engines, and the crew chief jumped onboard and closed the hatch. For the next 22 hours he would be buckled into his seat, which also doubled as the step built into the door, while they flew north and circled. As they flew, taking fuel from tankers every few hours to always have enough fuel to strike Cuba and beyond, they tried to pick up any news from the radio and talked about their families left behind. Schilling AFB had just stood up a wing of 12 Atlas missiles and they knew if the bombs started dropping, their homes where high on the target list. The thought of his young wife and two sons never left the crew chief’s mind.

At the end of the first day, they landed at their dispersed location: Columbus, Ohio. The plan called for minimum ground time with a minimum number of aircraft on the ground at any one time. The young sergeant’s crew went into crew rest and mission planning as he helped another crew chief with another aircraft. He grabbed sleep as the aircraft took off for its next turn on flying alert. This pace continued for almost two weeks – always keeping as many bombers in the air as possible. In addition, three C-123s provided combat airlift flying a constant circle between each of the dispersed locations delivering spare parts and other maintainers. The mood was somber and tense, but these dedicated Airmen knew their mission had to go on.

In the end, the standoff only lasted 13 days – something that felt like an eternity to those service members supporting whatever decision the commander in chief made. The confrontation was diffused only because of the determination and discipline of our fellow Airmen.

When my father told me the story of his part in the Cuban missile crisis, he had a particular look in his eye. A look of calm determination and a willingness to do what it took to get the job done.

I see that same look here at Little Rock Air Force Base. I see it in the security forces Airman when I come in the gate. I see it in the faces of Airmen returning from deployment as they step off the plane to meet their families. I see it in the face of a senior NCO who unhesitatingly accepts a short-notice, 365-day assignment to Iraq. I see it everywhere I look … the true origin of our nation’s air power is ordinary men and women doing extraordinary things to protect our nation.

TOP STORY > >Cost of a DUI part 4: Emotional toll

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

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

“It’s not just losing a stripe.”

Airman Johnson (not her real name and rank), a member of the 19th Mission Support Group, is coming to terms with the emotional cost of being charged with driving under the influence recently.

“It’s not just filling out paperwork or losing a stripe,” said Airman Johnson. “There’s the embarrassment, the guilt and every night thinking ‘Why didn’t I just stay (at my parents’ house)?’

“All you hear about is ‘Oh, you’re going to lose your license and you’re going to lose your stripe,’ but there’s more than that,” she added. “It’s sitting and waiting, the anxiety building. It’s taking away time from everybody. I can’t go anywhere without having somebody drive me. I’m inconveniencing supervisors, coworkers … everybody.”

Airman Johnson wants other Airmen to learn from the poor choices she made.

“I can’t express enough that it’s not worth it,” she said. “I wouldn’t have hurt myself or anybody else if I had stayed home for the night.”

As Airman Johnson’s story was chronicled in the June 3 edition of the Combat Airlifter, Airman Johnson attended a college graduation ceremony for a family member one Thursday evening. To celebrate, the family went out for dinner and Airman Johnson had two small glasses of wine.

She had a few alcoholic drinks while celebrating with her family and even drank water throughout the night.

“I had been drinking water throughout the night, so I felt sober enough [to drive home],” said Airman Johnson.

Later that evening, Airman Johnson was pulled over by local police for driving 7 mph over the speed limit. The police officer asked Airman Johnson to take a breathalyzer test and she blew .16.

Airman Jones has a pending demotion, was placed on a control roster and fired from her special duty assignment.

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 or calling 987-AADD (2233) or a supervisor when an Airman has had too much to drink.

Part 5 in this series will give a personal account of someone who lost a loved one to a drunk driver and will appear in next week’s Combat Airlifter.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

COMMENTARY>>314th MOS becomes numbered flight

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

The 314th Maintenance Operations Squadron gained a new name and a new commander Wednesday during a re-designation ceremony at Hangar 1080.

During the ceremony, Maj. Dennis Higuera, outgoing 314th MOS commander, relinquished command of the squadron by handing the squadron flag to Col. Steven Weld, 314th Maintenance Group commander.

The group commander then presented a new flag to the incoming commander, signifying the redesignation of the squadron as a numbered flight under the 314th MXG.

Capt. Bradley Allen, 314th Maintenance Operations Flight commander, accepted the new flag from Colonel Weld and expressed to those in attendance his commitment and vision for his unit.

“Just because the squadron is re-designated into a flight, it does not mean that the service provided by the 314th MOF will be any less,” said Captain Allen. “To me, the redesignation is something for the history books, but the professionals here will produce the same excellence.”

Redesignating the 314th MOS into a flight was based on the small number of members assigned to the unit.

The minimum positions required to remain a squadron is 35, said Staff Sgt. Tyler Hansen, 314th MOF facility manager. This is based on positions assigned, not personnel assigned. Some squadrons have less than 35, but administratively are responsible for far more than that.

“Our squadron only has 30 personnel assigned … so [Air Education and Training Command] determined that we would best be situated as a numbered flight under the 314th MXG for mission purposes,” he said.

The 314th MOF is comprised of 30 members supporting 28 C-130 aircraft through plans, scheduling and documentation; maintenance analysis; military training; and plans and resource management. The flight manages the 314th MXG’s $1.2 million operations and maintenance, and $20.1 million cost-per-hour programs budgets.

TOP STORY > >Cost of a DUI part 3: Career impact

By Staff Sgt. Nestor Cruz

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

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

“I’m affecting myself, my finances, my career and my future in the Air Force.”

This is what Airmen like Airman Johnson (not her real name and rank) is realizing after being charged with driving under the influence.

Airman Johnson, a member of the 19th Mission Support Group, realized too late the importance of having a plan and making choices that affect an Airman’s career.

“Every night I’m thinking, ‘Why did I do it? Why didn’t I just stay there? Why didn’t I wait a few more hours?’” said Airman Johnson.

It was a time of pride and celebration for Airman Johnson as she attended a college graduation ceremony for a family member one Thursday evening. To celebrate, the family went out for dinner and Airman Jones had two small glasses of wine.

Three hours later, the celebration continued at her parents’ home where Airman Johnson consumed a few more drinks over the course of four hours. She drank water in between drinks, hoping to lessen the effects of the alcohol.

The water gambit didn’t work out for Airman Johnson when she was pulled over by local police for driving seven miles per hour over the speed limit. The police officer asked Airman Johnson to take a breathalyzer test and she blew .16. She was arrested a mere five-minute drive away from her home.

Airman Johnson was taken to the local police station where she filled out paperwork and was booked for DUI. She was later released the next morning at approximately 6 a.m. By 9 a.m., she was able to get her car from the impound. It was then she called her supervisor.

“I spent all day in my first sergeant’s office and my flight chief’s office … all my supervision … taking up all their time until late afternoon,” said Airman Johnson. The following week, Airman Johnson met with her squadron commander.

Airman Johnson has a pending demotion, unfavorable information file and a letter of reprimand. She was also placed on a control roster and fired from her special duty.

“It’s not over,” said Airman Johnson. “My lawyer says I’m facing probably a minimum of $1,400 in court fines and fees and a permanent criminal record in Arkansas.”

“I had a problem”

Airman Smith (not his real name and rank), an aircrew member with the 19th Operations Group, is facing similar troubles for a DUI incident that happened several months ago.

One Saturday afternoon, Airman Smith was at home, drinking and playing video games. He decided to go out later that evening, so he stopped drinking at approximately 4 p.m. He felt sober enough to drive about six hours later and went to a local club.

Airman Smith had a few drinks there before deciding to go home. He went to his car to charge his cell phone and started the engine.

“I felt fine,” recalled Airman Smith. “I told myself to pay real close attention to my senses and be extra cautious [driving home].”

Airman Smith’s senses were sharp enough for him to notice the flashing red and blue lights in his rear view mirror. The police officer informedhim that he had crossed double yellow lines. The young Airman didn’t recall crossing any lines and politely answered the police officer’s questions. As the questioning continued, the police officer told the Airman not to give him attitude.

“I was real calm and cooperative in my mind,” said Airman Smith. “[The police officer] asked why I was trying to make things worse. I was trying to be real nice. I did everything he asked, including taking a sobriety test.”

Airman Smith failed the sobriety test and was arrested about a block away from his home.

After spending a night in jail, Airman Smith called a co-worker who posted his bail. He then called his first sergeant who told the young Airman to “be prepared.”

Airman Smith spent the entire week in service dress, meeting with his first sergeant; flight chief; group chief; and squadron, group and wing commanders.

Airman Smith was placed on duty not including flying status for six months and is currently waiting for a waiver.

“I also have to sign an alcohol abstinence waiver if I want to stay in the Air Force and remain as an active-duty aircrew member,” said Airman Smith. The waiver states that the member will abstain from alcohol. It is placed in the member’s medical records.

“I’m also subject to random blood tests to make sure I haven’t been drinking,” he added.

In addition to the alcohol abstinence waiver, Airman Smith received an LOR, a referral enlisted performance report and was placed on a control roster. He lost base driving privileges for a year and was directed to attend a Mothers Against Drunk Driving seminar.

Airman Smith must also attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings twice a week for four years, and Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment Program seminars once a week also for four years.

“After going through AA and everything else, it may have been a sign that I needed to take a good hard look at how I’ve been drinking and partying,” said Airman Smith. “I had a problem and I don’t want to go back to where I was before [all this happened].”

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 or calling 987-AADD (2233) or a supervisor when an Airman has had too much to drink.

Part 4 in this series will highlight the emotional impact on an Airman charged with DUI and will appear in next week’s Combat Airlifter.