Thursday, March 29, 2012

COMMENTARY>>Risk management and barefoot running

By Col. Steven Weld
314th Maintenance Group commander

I have run for much of my military career, considering it the most efficient way to meet physical fitness standards. Although I generally liked running, I was never very serious about it and often did it half-heartedly because of the many injuries I associated with running. Ankle and knee pain, tendonitis, shin splints, pulled muscles – I had experienced all of them at various times, and more as I grew older. Each injury either slowed me down or took me off the road for days or weeks. I occasionally considered working towards a marathon or other long distance run, but frequent and seemingly unavoidable injuries convinced me that such a thing would never be possible. About one year ago, I radically changed the way I run, and I have been convinced otherwise.

Several years ago, I heard about a trend of running barefoot or in minimalist footwear, and was intrigued by the assertion that these runners were experiencing “…a substantially lower prevalence of acute injuries of the ankle and chronic injuries of the lower leg.” Some studies noted improvements in “proprioceptive abilities” (that is, the body’s sense of the relative position of adjoining parts and effort being used for movement) leading to reduced injuries through an improved biomechanical running form. Barefoot running is a tremendously controversial topic among runners, with individuals on both sides of the issues often providing more noise than fact. After researching the issue, I reconsidered how I was managing my fitness injury risks, and decided to join the radical side of the revolution by running in “toe shoes.”

The results over the next several months astonished me. While I experienced some of the challenges reported by others transitioning to minimalist shoes, such as sore calves, the nagging pains I had in my ankles and knees virtually disappeared. As I lengthened the distance I ran each week, I continued seeing progress with significantly reduced joint pain, and realized that a marathon was within reach. After a particularly enjoyable 12 mile run one Saturday morning last autumn, I decided to register for the Little Rock Marathon.

Here are some of the lessons about managing risk that I learned, or which were reinforced to me, while I experienced my running revolution.

Prevention is good medicine. Severalmonths of training with virtually pain-free ankles and knees convinced me that many of my previous injuries were not inherent to the activity of running. While I had developed some limited skills through the years in effectively treating my various injuries, I much prefer having no injuries to treat. Furthermore, by preventing or reducing the immediate injury to a joint, I could prevent collateral injuries from ‘favoring’ that joint, as well as avoid a re-injury that came from trying to return to running before I had healed properly.

Good risk mitigation should reduce risk without introducing unacceptable or unmanaged risk. One of the criticisms opponents of barefoot running offer is a high incident rate of injuries among new adherents. While my toe shoes provided more physical protection than being barefoot when I started my new regimen, the soles of my feet were tender, my calves were very sore, and a slightly different set of muscles complained. As I adapted, I accepted and worked through the soreness and dull pains from training, exertion, and aging, while identifying and addressing the root causes of sharp pains that indicated damage and overtraining.

The risks managed by “conventional wisdom” may not be the risks you need to manage now. Sometimes the risk you face is different from the risk others face, and requires different analysis or deserves different controls. I have read about and experimented with a variety of techniques, many claiming to have “the answer” for all running problems while focusing on some particular set of issues. Many helped me think through how I could run smarter and safer, but I still have to know my personal hazards, recognize whether a technique can help manage those risks, and determine how compatible that technique is with the rest of my form, my goals, and my current training.

Successful management of one set of risks does not mitigate or eliminate all risks. The Little Rock Marathon happened at the beginning of this month, but I did not run it. In my enthusiasm to train for the marathon, I failed to respect my limits. All the benefits of running barefoot could not protect me when I violated a basic principle of training by adding too many training miles too quickly, and the resulting case of “runner’s knee” forced me to stand down.

I do not advocate that everyone should run barefoot or buy toe shoes, and would actually discourage many from doing so. The greatest value I have gained from my barefoot running odyssey is a reset of my thinking on fitness and managing risk, and I am back on track for preparing for a marathon.

TOP STORY >>Reaching out at the Rock IV: Fallen but not forgotten

By Airman 1st Class Regina Agoha
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series of articles about the efforts of Team Little Rock Members to volunteer in the local community.

As they all awaited in almost complete silence, besides mere chatting among one another, the once scorching sun has begun to show mercy to the anxious and excited crowd. Some people held American flags that created a patriotic thoroughfare leading to the Arkansas Capitol. After a few brief moments, whispers and shouts of, “here they come!”spread through the crowd like wildfire.

Around the corner came a group of runners led by three persons holding the U.S flag, the Arkansas state flag and an Honor to Remember flag. Cheers rang out while each runner passed through the American flags lining the street. And as each individual reached the steps of the capitol, though exhausted, a since of triumph was displayed on their faces.

Why were they running? Why was this run yielding the emotions that bring tears and smiles at the same time?

They were running to never forget.

They were running to remember.

March 17 and 18 marked the first ever Arkansas Run for the Fallen. This run was orchestrated by Senior Master Sgt. Bubba Beason, first sergeant of the 19th Logistic Readiness Squadron. He started the run four years ago when he was stationed at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J.

“This is basically a run to honor all of Arkansas’ fallen service members. Two weeks after these people die, the only people who remember is their family, which is an injustice,” he said.

The run was a non-profit event and not military related. Runners varied from all branches of the service, policemen, fire fighters, retirees and civilians.

“It took a lot of time and persistence to organize a run like this. There’s a lot people who will tell you no, because it’s easier, and there’s no work involved. There’s a lot of people who asked me, ‘why are you doing this, you don’t have to do this,’ but it’s in my blood. I had to do this,” he said.

Beason and those involved with the organization are raising money for two causes: the Permanent Arkansas Fallen Heroes’ Memorial and the American Gold-Star Mothers’ National Monument. These causes have already raised over $5000. “It’s not about the money, it’s about the memory,” said Beason.

This run has given family members of the fallen a method to heal and a way to celebrate tragic lost. Many times Beason said he has received emails from gold-star mothers expressing how much the run means to their family. Beason explained that a gold-star mother is the mother of a fallen service member, whereas a blue-star mother is the mother of a service member who’s still alive.

“A gold-star sister once sent me a quote that stated: one person with passion can accomplish more than 40 people with just an interest. So, if you’ve got passion for something, it’s pretty easy. I’ve got passion for this. To me, this is a self-reward to make sure that the families realize that we’re still trying to remember them for what they did. I would hope that there would be someone out there to keep my memory alive,” he said.

At every mile that’s run, the runners stopped to place a flag and a biography card down in memory of each fallen hero. This first year in Arkansas, there were 21 families that contacted Beason. The families previously picked their mile to be there when the runners approach it and read the biography card of their loved one.

There were 42 runners who started out in Ozark, Ark., and ran together in teams of three. One runner held the U.S. flag, one held the Arkansas flag and the other held an Honor to Remember flag. There were 124 flags placed in the ground within those two days.

“I tell the runners that there’s going to be a lot of miles where no family is there, but understand that just because there’s no family there, it doesn’t stop you from remembering them. That mile you run is for that hero. Read the biography card, and then when you finish reading, place the flag in the ground, take a knee, say a few words, salute, or do whatever it is you want to do and then press on to the next mile,” Beason said.

Once the runners reached the last six miles, anyone was free to join them to the finish line. The runners finished on the steps of the state capitol, where a ceremony was held, and the names of the Arkansas fallen were emotionally read. Beason said, with a slightly softer voice and teary eyes, what was special to him was having four gold-star moms fly down from New Jersey to participate in Arkansas’ first run.

“That means... that means a lot to me, knowing what I did for them in New Jersey. When I see gold-star moms, I tell them, it’s a noble club to be in, but nobody wants to bein that club,” said Beason.

Along with the gold-star moms attending, Enza Jacobowitz, a gold-star sister attended the ceremony. Not only did she attend, but she ran in memory of her younger brother, Cpl. Luigi Marciante Jr., who was killed September 2007 in Muqdadiyah, Iraq at the age of 25.

“I run because it gives me a moment to be alone with him. It feels like he’s with me. When I run, we talk to each other. I think about our childhood,” she said with sweat on her face from running and red eyes that accompanied tears streaming down her face.

She said if she could speak for her brother, she knows he’d say thank you to the runners and Beason for starting something so great.

“I never want my brother to be forgotten. Absolutely nothing will keep me from running with Louies, (Louies is what Jacobowitz calls her brother),” she said.

Since Beason started the run in New Jersey four years ago, it has continued there and has started in other places. By his influences, the commander he had in New Jersey, now stationed at Travis Air Force Base, Cali., is starting the run there this September. Beason said it’s important to plant a seed.

Beason inspired the runners by telling them, “when you’re running, it’s going to suck. Running up hills is going to suck, and if it rains or gets hot or cold, it’s going to suck. But, your pain is temporary. The family’s pain is for the rest of their lives. Think about that. You’re running because the fallen no longer can.”

If there was one message Beason could leave with those who ran, watched, participated or just read about the run, he said it would be two simple words.

“Never forget.”

TOP STORY >>2012 Air Show tentative performers announced

Performers tentatively slated to perform at the 2012 Little Rock Air Force Base Air Show and Open house are as follows.


The Blue Angel’s primary mission is enhancement of Navy and Marine Corps recruiting. The squadron’s air shows and public appearances are Navy and Marine Corps awareness tools. The Blue Angels is the United States Navy’s flight demonstration squadron formed in 1946 by order of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz and is currently the oldest formal flying aerobatic team. This year marks the 66th year the “Blues” have taken flight.


The Black Daggers are the official U.S. Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team. Their mission is to perform live aerial demonstrations in support of Army Special Operations, community relations and recruiting. Comprised of volunteers from throughout Army Special Operations, the Black Daggers have diverse backgrounds and are skilled in various military specialties including Special Forces, Rangers, civil affairs and signal and support.


Floyd Rinker pilots a pink, SU-26, aerobatic plane named Pink Floyd in honor of his sister, who is a breast cancer survivor. He says it’s not just the wings that keep his plane afloat, it’s the will to survive.


The Skyhawks’ Canadian Forces Parachute Team comprise of 18 personnel from a variety of trades and professions within the Canadian Forces’ Regular and Reserve components. Since their inception in 1969, the Skyhawks have performed over 5000 demonstrations in front of over 75 million spectators.


Otto the Helicopter offers a unique act that entertains the crowds by blowing bubbles, playing with his yo-yo, racing around barrels and picking them up, shooting smoke in all directions, towing banners, and more, all while interacting with the announcer.


The Air National Guard’s new Max Adrenaline Tour stars John Klatt in his Panzl 330 high performance airplane and Bill Kern in his highly modified Extra 300 and Neal Darnell driving his 12,000 horsepower 375 mph ANG Flash Fire Jet truck.

B-25 Mitchell Bomber – “Panchito” is a part of the Disabled American Veteran’s Airshow Outreach Program that was developed to increase public awareness of disabled veterans and to serve veterans in communities across the nation.



The USAF Heritage Flight showcases the old and the new, as formations of current and historical Air Force aircraft take to the skies and make formation passes along the flight-line allowing you to compare the different eras of warbirds. The USAF Heritage Flight program was established in 1997 to display the evolution of U.S. Air Force history and achievement. In 2010 the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation was formed to keep this popular program flying. Today, the core of the Heritage Flight program remains true to its original vision: honor the past, welcome the future, and provide an aerial monument to the achievements of the U.S. Air Force. The Heritage Flight is scheduled to be flown with the F-16, F-4, P-47 and P-51.


The combat-proven F-18E Super Hornet is a next generation strike fighter with the newest advances in multimission capability and decades of growth potential. The F/A-18 performs a variety of missions including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defense, maritime, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker. Converting from one mission to another can be done quickly and simply by just flipping a switch. The Tactical Demonstration team flies the single-seat F/A-18E as close to the “edge of the envelope” as safety and prudence allow. The routine highlights the Rhino’s maneuverability and slow-speed handling characteristics.


The CF-18 Demo Team personifies the excellence required to keep the Royal Canadian Air Force among the best aviation organizations on the planet. The expertise and dedication required by the team, from the pilot to the maintenance crews to the coordinators, reflects the professionalism of all of Canada’s airmen and airwomen.


“A day in Afghanistan” Coalition Forces will perform a simulated suppression of enemy forces, landing/drop zone seizure, and mass personnel drop to secure a forward operating location for troop advancement. Techniques and procedures for this demonstration are the modern day equivalent to the paratroop drops utilized during the D-Day invasion.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

COMMENTARY>>Innovation is key 
to Air Force future

By Col. Riz Ali
Air Force Network Integration Center Commander

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. (AFNS) – Our nation is facing a number of challenges that affect our government. As a result, change is happening all around the Air Force.

The institution of the Air Force will survive, but there is no doubt we’ll be operating differently. Over the past several years we have implemented a number of efficiency efforts to shape the force while maintaining ops tempo. Efficiency is important, but it is not enough.

Innovation is what will get the Air Force through these tough times. John Kotter, a recognized thought leader on leadership and change, and professor at Harvard University said, “Anything that is creating change outside a company adds a premium to innovation within the company.” If this is the case, there has never been a better time for innovation in the Air Force.

When one thinks of a military organization, “creative” is not usually a word that comes to mind. We are trained to be regimented, by-the-book and disciplined. Good order and discipline are critical traits that contribute to our being the greatest Air Force in the world.

Creativity has its place though. There are always new ways of doing things or using an existing tool differently. Just because we have always done something one way doesn’t mean it is still the best way. Our world is changing quickly and we must stay a step ahead. This requires a culture change and new way of thinking.

You may be familiar with Air Force Innovative Development through Employee Awareness program. The IDEA program has been a catalyst for some remarkable process improvements and savings in our Air Force. Innovation is not just big, ground-breaking ideas though. It is about constantly assessing yourself, being adaptive, reinventing when needed and moving forward.

Innovation differs from invention because it looks at new ways to do things. It can be something as simple as finding a new use for product or tool. It can also be a change in strategy or processes that completely reinvents the way an organization functions. It is taking what you already have and doing it differently, better. James Dyson, founder of the Dyson Company, perhaps best described where innovation comes from when he said, “Where does the impetus for product innovation come from? Frustration!”

Think of the last time you were frustrated at work. Was it with a process? Bureaucracy? Perhaps another instance of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? If you are frustrated with something, there has to be a way to do it better!

At the Air Force Network Integration Center, we are encouraging new ideas through our internal innovation program. Through this program, AFNIC personnel can submit their ideas to improve center operations, the Air Force enterprise network, or both. An innovation committee made up of senior leaders reviews each proposal and the plan to achieve it. If approved, the submitter is given resources and time to bring their idea to life.

Of course, not every idea can be implemented, and that is okay. An innovative culture understands and accepts that not every idea will work. The goal is to get the ideas flowing.

I encourage everyone to make a conscious effort to think innovatively every day. Start by identifying a specific challenge or something you are frustrated with. If you had the power to change it, what would you do?

If your organization doesn’t have a program to bring ideas forward, maybe your first step can be to help initiate one. Now more than ever our Air Force needs your ideas and creative energy to make them happen. And I mean everyone, from the airman basic to our senior leaders.

While our Air Force navigates through this challenging time, we all have the opportunity to help shape the way we operate. I challenge you to bring your ideas forward. Innovation drives progress and is the key to our future.

TOP STORY >>Drug testing expands to include abused prescription drugs

By Jon Stock
Air Force Surgeon General Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (AFNS) – The Air Force and other military services will expand their drug testing to include testing for commonly abused prescription drugs beginning May 1, 2012.

On Jan. 31, 2012, the Secretary of Defense gave a 90-day advance notice of the drug testing expansion which aims to counter the nation’s growing epidemic and encourage those abusing prescription medications to seek treatment before official testing begins.

“Abuse of prescription drugs is the fastest growing drug problem in the United States, and unfortunately, this trend is reflected in the military services,” said Maj. Gen. Thomas W. Travis, Deputy Air Force Surgeon General. “While pain medications are highly effective in alleviating suffering from injuries, they are dangerous and potentially addictive when used outside medical supervision.”

Taking controlled medications in a manner other than how they were prescribed poses a risk to the person’s health and safety and can put others at risk as well.

Prescription medications should be taken only for the purposes for which they were prescribed and at the dose and frequency prescribed. Additionally, Airmen are reminded never to take a medication prescribed to someone else.

“Members who need help discontinuing use of these drugs are encouraged to seek care at a military treatment facility immediately,” said Maj. Gen. Travis.

The policy being addressed is not new to Air Force personnel. In accordance with Air Force guidance and existing law, the knowing use of any prescription or over-the-counter medications in a manner contrary to their intended medical purpose or in excess of the prescribed dosage may have negative health consequences and may also violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

AFI 44-121, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment (ADAPT) Program provides limited protections under certain circumstances for voluntary disclosure of prior drug use or possession to unit commanders, first sergeants, a substance abuse evaluator, or a military medical professional. Once an Airman has been ordered to provide a urine sample as part of the drug testing program, any disclosure is not considered to be voluntary.

“There are no changes to procedures that will directly affect drug testing collection sites and military members who are selected for testing,” said Lt. Col. Mark Oordt, Chief, Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Drug Demand Reduction. “The changes will occur at the Drug Testing Labs where the standard panel of substances each specimen is tested for will be expanded.”

The scope of the problem

n The Centers for Disease Control report 52 million Americans age 12+ y/o had used prescription meds non-medically in 2009, with 7 million Americans having done so routinely.

n Prescription medications appear to be replacing marijuana as the top “gateway drug.” Six of the top 10 abused substances among high school seniors are prescription drugs; 20 percent of high school students have taken prescription medications without a prescription.

n Military data also suggests increases in prescription drug misuse. The DoD Health Behaviors Survey shows self reported misuse of pain meds for non-medical purposes by Service Members (all Services) increased from 2 percent in 2002 to 7 percent in 2005 to 17 percent in 2008.

How to dispose of prescription drugs

“Patients are encouraged to dispose of prescribed medications once they are no longer needed for their prescribed purpose,” said Lt. Col. Oordt. “The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) prohibits pharmacies from taking back controlled substances. However, the Services collaborate with law enforcement agencies in the DEA drug take back days which occur several times each year in most communities.”

For more information on drug take back days visit

The Food and Drug Administration also offers guidance on disposal of prescription drugs before consumers throw them in the garbage.

n Take the medication out of their original containers and mix them with an undesirable substance, such as coffee grounds or kitty litter. The medication will be less appealing to children and pets, and unrecognizable to people who may intentionally go through your trash.

n Put medications in a sealable bag, empty can, or other container to prevent the medication from leaking or breaking out of a garbage bag.

n For more information on how to properly dispose of medications: Prescription Drug Disposal.

TOP STORY >>Poison Prevention Week: Keeping children safe

By Capt. Elizabeth Saltz
Outpatient Pharmacy Chief

This year marks the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week. This week is mandated by public law to elevate awareness to the dangers of unintentional poisonings. By proclamation of the president of the United States, Poison Prevention Week this year is March 18-24. This year’s theme is “Children Act Fast, So Do Poisons.”

Approximately 90 percent of poison exposures occur in the home and more than one million of our nation’s children under the age of five are exposed annually to potential poisons such as medicines and typical household chemicals. Medications are often stored or left in places easily accessible by children. A pill bottle can easily be mistaken for a toy filled with candy by young children. It only takes a split second for a child to swallow dangerous medications or other substances. Even though a package or packaging may be labeled “childproof,” it doesn’t mean that children can’t find a way to open it.

To keep your medicines safe from children, the following tips are recommended:

Buy products with child-proof containers but never rely solely on any kind of packaging to protect kids.

Keep all medications in childproof cabinets or medicine cabinets that children can’t reach.

Leave prescription and OTC medications in their original container. This identifying information may help save the life of a child who has accidentally ingested medicine.

Don’t keep medicines in places like a diaper bag or purse where children may have access. Houseguests shouldn’t leave medications in a suitcase or out in the open in a spare bedroom or bathroom.

Don’t take medications in front of children, because kids often imitate grown-ups.

Never refer to medicine as “candy.”

Talk to your pharmacist if you have additional questions.

It is important to not keep unused medication around the house. Proper disposal of medications can prevent an accidental exposure. Please plan to take advantage of the upcoming DEA National Take-Back Day (an event where the public can turn in unused medication for destruction) 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 28 at the Base Exchange lobby. Another option for medication disposal available to the public is a drop box for unwanted medications, found at most law enforcement stations. The closest such drop box to the base is at the Jacksonville Police Department located at 1412 West Main Street. As a last resort, medications can also be disposed of at home. To do this safely, take the medication out of the original container and with an undesirable substance (such as sawdust, coffee grounds or kitty litter) and place in a sealed container. It is no longer recommended to flush most medications down the toilet. Removing unwanted medication from the home can decrease the risk of an accidental poisoning.

Overmedication is another reason for accidental poisonings occurring in children. Here are some guidelines recommended by the American Pharmacists Association when administering medications to children:

Adult medicines are not intended to be taken by children, and they’re not necessarily safe for little ones (even at lower doses).

Choose a medication made for children. Never give a child medicine for adults unless the label indicates the right dose for children or a doctor instructs you to do so. Read all labels carefully.

Talk to your pharmacist or doctor before giving cold or cough medicine to make sure the medicine and dose is appropriate.

Give the right dose. You can make sure of this by using a dropper or measuring device available from the pharmacy. Kitchen spoons are not accurate and should not be used for giving medication.

Not all children are the same, so dosing based on age may not be correct.

While medications are a common source of poisoning, there are many other chemicals found in most homes that also pose a danger to children and pets. Here are some tips on how to poison proof your home:

Make sure you have a working Carbon Monoxide detector in your home.

Keep cleaners and chemicals in their original container and out of reach of children. Examples include: antifreeze, bleach, soap, nail polish, fuels, pesticides, and corrosive cleaners.

Make sure art supplies are used properly. Do not let children eat or drink while using any art supplies.

Keep a bottle of activated charcoal in your medicine cabinet, but do not use it unless directed to do so by poison control center staff or a doctor

Most accidental poisoning situations can be avoided with education and preventive measures. In the event of a suspected poisoning or envenomation, contact the national poison hotline at 1-800-222-1222. The call is free, confidential, and accessible from anywhere in the United States. The hotline is staffed at all times and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. It is recommended to keep this number near your phone in case of emergency. Stop by the pharmacy during Poison Prevention Week for free poison prevention materials including magnets, stickers, and pamphlets. Remember, Children act fast and so do poisons. When in doubt, call the poison hotline to speak to a professional.

TOP STORY >>Reaching out at the Rock III: Teaching off the clock

By Christy Hendricks
Combat Airlifter staff writer

Editor’s note: This is the third in a series of articles about the efforts of Team Little Rock Members to volunteer in the local community.

Senior Airman Cecelia Ortiz-Barreiro, a 19th Force Support Squadron journeyman, works in the dinning hall, where she cooks main entrees and side items, and helps supervise contract cooks. But on Mondays, her day off, she helps kids read.

“I help them understand what a word is, how to interpret or identify a word,” said Ortiz-Barreiro. “I help them with their classwork – spelling, English, math.” Since January, she has volunteered for two hours each Monday for Barbra Sanders and Kathlynne Pflughoeft’s second-grade classes at Bayou Meto Elementary School.

When PCSing to Little Rock Air Force Base, Ortiz-Barreiro said she wanted to “get into a routine, to volunteer at a youth center or school.”

During a newcomers briefing Ortiz-Barreiro attended, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher told attendees that volunteering at schools is one of the best ways to get involved in the community. “Bayou Meto was close to my house,” she said. “So I went there and filled out the paperwork.

“My first class, I have the same two students. They tell me some goofy stuff,” she said. “My second class, they’re fun. I always have different students. They fight over who gets to read with me.

“I like it a lot,” Ortiz-Barreiro said. “Before, I kind of thought I wanted to be an art teacher, or counselor, but now I want to be a teacher, something more interactive.

“I’m looking into being a substitute teacher,” she continued. “I heard the Jacksonville schools were short of subs. I can get more hands-on training for when I retire (from the Air Force) and become a teacher.”

After her two hours at Bayou Meto Elementary, Ortiz-Barreiro also volunteers at the Jacksonville Animal Shelter for about an hour every Monday.

“I play with the cats. If I do interact with the dogs, it’s the puppies,” she said. “I take them out to walk. I take the cats out of their cages. They seem to be relieved to be out, to get to stretch out.”

Ortiz-Barreiro worked with kids on her previous base, Dover Air Force Base, face painting and doing arts and crafts on family nights.

“I like doing kids stuff,” she said. “And the kids enjoy it.”

She tried volunteering at an animal shelter while at Dover AFB, but “they had classes you had to take, and I could never make them.

“Here, it is much easier, which is good for the animals,” she said. “The more you play with them, the more they get used to people. It’s easier for them to get adopted.”

She plans to continue her volunteer work, no matter where she is stationed. “I think I would really like to go somewhere else and volunteer at an elementary school.”

Thursday, March 8, 2012

TOP STORY >>Reaching out at the Rock II: Think Little Rock

By Staff Sgt. Jacob Barreiro
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles about the efforts of Team Little Rock Members to volunteer in the local community.

Military service is a cornerstone of American heritage. Many significant and historically renowned Americans have dedicated a portion of their lives to serving their country in the military. Serving in uniform is such an integral part of American culture that 31 of America’s 43 Presidents have done so.

Yet prominent American figures like George Washington, who was renowned for his leadership and prowess on the battlefield, and Thomas Jefferson, whose military service involved administrative brilliance, just to name two, also contributed invaluable service to their country outside of the military. It’s a precedent of the founding fathers, which shows the extent to which service members can contribute to their country, on and off the battlefield.

The desire to serve the community, by inspiring a passion for education and erudition among local students, is why three Little Rock lieutenants judged science projects at the Little Rock School District Fifth-Grade Science Fair Feb. 23, at the Central Little Rock Library.

The three company grade officers are part of a volunteer organization called Think Little Rock founded by 1st Lt. Kyle Sanders, a 53rd Airlift Squadron copilot.

“The purpose of Think Little Rock is to help students desire a passion for education, specifically initiatives in science, mathematics and critical thinking,” said Sanders.

At the science fair 1st Lts. Alex Deering, Dave Blessinger and Andrew Huddleston, all with the 53rd AS, represented Team Little Rock by judging and rating the science experiments of more than 60 students.

“It’s nice to interact with kids eager to learn science,” said Deering. “Seeing how enthusiastic these young people are is exciting, and it’s great to give back.”

As excited as the Airmen were to be there, their fellow judges were just as happy to have them.

“It’s great to have the Air Force represented in the community of Little Rock,” said Marilyn Johnson, Washing Magnet School teacher and judge at the fair. “We’re honored and thrilled to have the men and women who serve our country here.”

The projects at the fair were various in categories from life science, earth science, space science, physical science, behavioral science and chemistry.

Belssinger, who judged the chemistry projects, said he had a good time judging, and was impressed with a lot of the children’s projects.

“There’s no way I would have had the ambition or know how to do some of these projects in middle school,” he said.

Deering, who judged the life science projects, said he was also impressed with the caliber of the presentations, even more so because they were designed and executed by children 10 or 11 years old.

“There was one project on cytoplasm streaming in plants that impressed me a lot,” he said. “It had to take a lot of dedication and work to complete some of these projects.”

After the science fair was over, the lieutenants with Think Little Rock and the hosts of the science fair said the day was a success. However, the group’s founder said this is just one of the things Think Little Rock will do, and they intend to stay involved in the community.

“We have 25 volunteers already,” said Sanders. “We’d like to send them to work with classrooms and help the kids out with math and science related questions. Even show the students how math is used in real life.”

While a lot of the volunteers for Think Little Rock are pilots and navigators Sanders said anyone who wants to volunteer and has an interest in promoting science and education should email him at or visit the group’s website at

Since the days of Copernicus mankind has dreamed of flight and erudition. Unaccountable and invaluable discoveries have been benefitting humanity since the days of Copernicus and beyond as well. Whether putting the scientific revolution in motion like Newton did, broadening the scope of our understanding like Galileo, originating a new way of thought like Darwin, dreaming of a new idea like Freud or fathering a new way to relate to the world like Einstein, all pillars of discovery share a common trait, a desire for education, erudition and understanding.

Sanders said the objective for Think Little Rock is to kindle an appreciation for the sciences, and an understanding of applicable uses of mathematics in life outside of the classroom. Reaching out to the community, hoping to inspire the youth to educate themselves, provides a service beyond the call of traditional military duties, a service that upholds the precedent of Washington and Jefferson and beyond.

TOP STORY >>Air Force women trace history to World War II

By Martha Lockwood
Defense Media Activity

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md. (AFNS) – The Air Force’s acceptance of women into the force dates back to long before the first “Women’s History Week” celebration in 1978.

In 1942, the U.S. Army Air Corps took the unheard-of step of forming and employing two women’s aviation units. That same year, a unit of flight nurses who had not yet quite finished their training, were sent into North Africa on Christmas Day following the Allied invasion in November of that year.

And the history of women – civilian and military – was forever changed.

WASPS, WAFS and a Willingness to Serve

Originally, the idea of using women pilots was first suggested in 1930, but was considered “unfeasible,” according to information maintained at the National Museum of the Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.

Then, in mid-1942, an increased need for World War II combat pilots, favored the use of experienced women pilots to fly aircraft on non-combat missions.

Two women’s aviation units--The Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron (WAFS--with a capital S) and the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) were formed to ease this need. More than 1,000 women participated in these programs as civilians attached to the USAAC, flying 60 million miles of non-combat military missions.

These two units were merged into a single group, the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) program in August 1943, and broke ground for U.S. Air Force female pilots who would follow in their footsteps decades later.

Of the more than 25,000 women who applied for pilot training under the WASP program, 1,830 were accepted, 1,074 were graduated, and 916 (including 16 former WAFS) remained when the program was disbanded in December 1944. WASP assignments were diverse--as flight training instructors, glider tow pilots, towing targets for air-to-air and anti-aircraft gunnery practice, engineering test flying, ferrying aircraft, and other duties.

Although WASPs had the privileges of officers, they were never formally adopted into the USAAC. In November 1977–33 years after the WASPs program was disbanded--President Carter signed a bill granting World War II veterans’ status to former WASPs.

“Winged Angels.”

It was a slightly different story for flight nurses who were members of the military from the beginning. As it was with so many advances and innovations resulting from World War II, the USAAC radically changed military medical care, and the development of air evacuation and the training of flight nurses were advanced to meet this need.

After the invasion of North Africa in November 1942, the need for flight nurses exceeded the supply, and women who had not yet finished their training were called into action and sent to North Africa on Christmas Day. Finally, in February 1943, the first class of Army Nurse Corps flight nurses graduated.

Unlike their stateside-stationed counterparts in the WASPs, flight nurses (nicknamed “Winged Angels”) in the Army Nurse Corps served in combat. They were especially vulnerable to enemy attacks because aircraft used for evacuation could not display their non-combat status.

These same aircraft were also used to transport military supplies. In anticipation and preparation for almost any emergency, flight nurses were required to learn crash procedures, receive survival training, and know the effects of high altitude on a vast array of pathologies.

Of the nearly 1.2 million patients air evacuated throughout the war, only 46 died en route. About 500 USAAC nurses (only 17 died in combat) served as members of 31 medical air evacuation transport squadrons throughout the world.

When President Harry Truman signed The National Security Act of 1947, creating the Department of Defense, the U. S. Air Force became a separate military service. At the time, a number of Women’s Army Corps (WACs) members continued serving in the Army but performed Air Force duties.

The following year, some WACs chose to transfer to the Women’s Air Force (WAFs–with a lower case s) when it finally became possible to do so.

Originally, the WAFs were limited to 4,000 enlisted women and 300 female officers, all of whom were encouraged to fill a variety of ground duty roles–mostly clerical and medical–but were not to be trained as pilots, even though the USAAC had graduated the first class of female pilots in April 1943, during wartime.

In 1976, when women were accepted into the Air Force on an equal basis with men, the WAF program ended, but not before many milestones were achieved and marked along the way in preparation for today’s Air Force woman.

The WAFs in Evolution

The first WAF recruit was Sgt. Esther Blake who enlisted on July 8, 1948, in the first minute of the first day that regular Air Force duty was authorized for women. She had been a WAC, and she transferred in from Fort McPherson, Ga.

The first recruits reported to Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, in 1948. When basic training was desegregated in the Air Force the following year, many African-American women recruits joined, even though the integration of quarters and mess had not yet been achieved.

At first, WAFs wore men’s uniforms with neckties. It was “a look” that didn’t last long, and inter uniforms for WAFs were modeled after flight attendants’ uniforms, using the same material as the men’s winter uniforms.

The necktie was abandoned early on, and was replaced with tabs on the collar. The summer uniform–a two-piece dress made of cotton-cord seersucker–didn’t fare as well. Ill-fitting, it required frequent ironing. It would be years before a suitable women’s uniform would be achieved.

Milestones Along the Way

In its 10-year lifespan, from 1951 to 1961, the 543rd Air Force Band (WAF) was served by 235 women musicians, with approximately 50 members at any one time. This band, the WAF Band as it was known, along with the all-male Air Force Band, served as ambassadors of the Air Force simultaneously.

The WAF band marched in both of President Eisenhower’s inaugural parades, and they played for President Kennedy’s inauguration, among other concert engagements throughout the nation. The band was deactivated in 1961. Some say that it was a victim of its own success.

It was during this same time period–1956–that a WAF section was introduced into the college-level Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program, and by 1959 four universities were running ROTC WAF sections. By 1970, they had achieved a national presence.
Concurrent with the expansion of the ROTC women’s cadet program, Congress passed Public Law 90-130 in 1967, lifting grade restrictions and strength limitations on women in the military.

And with the end of Selective Service (the “draft”) in 1973, recruiting practices changed. Shortly afterwards–1976–the separate status of WAF was abolished, and women entered pilot training as military personnel for the first time. (The WASPS and WAFS of World War II had come in to service as civilians with pilots’ licenses.) Our country’s bicentennial year also saw women entering the service academies, which had not been opened to them prior to President Ford’s administration.

By 1993, women were receiving fighter pilot training, and Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms (then Maj. Helms), member of the first class of the U. S. Air Force Academy to graduate women, was also the first American military woman in space as part of the Space Shuttle Endeavor team.

Coming, full circle, the final chapter for the WAFS and WASPS of World War II was achieved in 1977, when President Jimmy Carter awarded them full status as veterans, complete with benefits. A fitting epilogue was added in 2010 with the awarding of the Congressional Gold Medal. Today, there are approximately 300 of the original women air force pilots still living.

By the Numbers

The milestones cited above are just that--the highlights of women in service to their country. Each day, women in the Air Force distinguish themselves and honor those who have gone before them by doing the jobs that matter to us all–performing in professional, administrative, technical and clerical positions.

Women make up 19 percent of all Air Force military personnel and 30.5 percent of all civilian personnel. Of the female officers, 55 percent of the female officers are line officers, and 45 percent are non-line. Of the 328,423 active duty personnel, 62,316 are women, with 712 female pilots, 259 navigators and 183 air battle managers.

Women’s History Month

Today, Women’s History Month awareness for all the armed services is initiated by the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute headquartered at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.. Among the tools and initiatives for observing this month-long celebration of the role women have played throughout history, the Institute is making available a free download of this year’s Women’s National History Project poster, “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment.”

Empowerment of women has strengthened the services. Starting with the WASPS and WAFS of World War II, through the WAFs of the ‘50s and ‘60s, through the acceptance and promotion of women at the service academies, each generation of women and their evolved sense of service to their country, has prepared the future for generations of women seeking unlimited opportunity.

(Martha Lockwood is the chief of Air Force Information Products, Defense Media Activity)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

COMMENTARY>>OMG…What will we do?

Commentary by Chief Master Sgt. Jesse Stirling
314th Airlift Wing command chief

Have you heard? The Department of Defense is facing budgetary challenges! Check out the verbiage from the Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office.

CBO: “Reduce defense budget authority below the Administration’s plan by $143 billion, or 10 percent…The forces that would remain might, because of the investment reductions, need to continue to operate older equipment longer than planned, but they would retain the funding necessary to maintain readiness.”

The GAO report isn’t any brighter; “The United States is in the process of implementing the largest drawdown of its military forces since the end of the Vietnam conflict. Both the Congress and the Department of Defense have established various targets and objectives to guide that drawdown…As the number of end-strength reductions increases in the coming years, DOD and service officials believe the number of involuntary separation actions could increase because the population of persons eligible for financial separation incentives is decreasing, and those most willing to leave under such incentives will have done so already.”

Sound familiar? Oh, I forgot to mention, these reports were published in 1993.

You see, tight budgets are nothing new for our Air Force and through it all we somehow managed to maintain air/space/cyberspace superiority, build the most educated and trained force on the planet, and care for our Airmen and their families. How is this possible?

Several years ago, an old wing commander told me “smooth skies do not make skillful pilots.” He meant turbulence may not be ideal but it builds valuable experience. This is good news for us. The reports I mentioned above were referring to the ramifications of the 1991 Defense Authorization Act. That was nearly 20 years ago, just when our current Air Force leaders were learning how to operate in a fiscally constrained environment. Today, these same leaders are now skillful, fiscal pilots with the experience to fly us through this turbulence. They know what worked, what didn’t work, and what will work. Just as our aircrews trust the skill of our maintainers, we must trust in the skill of our leadership to navigate through these challenges, they will not fail us.

I know times like these can be stressful but don’t panic. I would like to offer some advice on how to minimize the worry.

At work: Focus on what you control. Many budgetary decisions are made above your span of control, so focus on what matters…performing your mission to the best of your ability!

Community and Family: When leadership asks for your input, be engaged. Little Rock will not be immune to funding cuts. Team Little Rock leadership needs to know what programs are important to you, your family, and fellow Airmen…let us know!

Trust: We trust you to execute your duties and responsibilities…trust your TLR leadership to execute ours, we will not fail!

We currently do not have the answers for everything but rest assured, the Armed Forces will continue to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies. The Air Force will continue to organize, train, and equip the finest fighting force the world has ever seen, and Little Rock will remain the nation’s center of excellence for tactical airlift.

TOP STORY >>Copy CAC and get caught: Military ID’s should not be photocopied

According to Title 18, US Code, Part I, Chapter 33, Section 701, Official Badges, Identification Cards, Other Insignia, the photocopying of military identification is illegal and violations of this law are punishable by fine or imprisonment.

The pertinent part of Section 701 says that any reproduction, replication, manufacturing, or imitation of any government identification or insignia will be punished by a monetary fine, imprisonment up to six months or both.

As noted in the security bulletin recently distributed throughout the Air Force, many military members, family members and Department of Defense employees are unaware of this law. Many commercial establishments ask for photocopies of military identification as proof that an individual is entitled to a discount or other benefit. However, this request is a violation of 18 USC 33 § 701. Commercial establishments may request to see a military ID, but cannot photocopy it for their records.

“This is important for anyone with a military ID to know,” said Greg Call, base operational security manager. “Commercial companies will ask for it, but under no circumstances should you let them photocopy your ID.”

Call said businesses like cell phone companies, hotels or car companies may ask to photocopy a service member’s ID for their records when issuing a discount; however, this is explicitly against a code that takes precedence over any business practice.

“If a place insists on photocopying your ID you should contact their corporate offices,” said Call. “Never let anyone copy your card because you don’t know what they’ll do with the information on it.”

Furthermore, Call said all service member should protect their ID at all times and inventory their wallet to ensure they’re not carrying anything that, if lost, could cause them undue consternation or difficulty.

There are several alternative options for providing a commercial entity proof of service:

State driver’s license or other photo ID.

Written statement of verification of military service from member’s chain of command (no form letter provided; just a signed letter confirming member’s current military status).

Proof of Service letter-found in vMPF under Self-Service actions/Personal Data- confirms service dates.

Statement of Service from local personnel office-signed letter confirming military status.

Note: If using a letter of service verification, ensure member’s Social Security number is not included.

Compiled by 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs.