Thursday, June 28, 2012

COMMENTARY>>The courageous 56

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

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – When 56 courageous patriots put their signatures to a single piece of parchment 236 years ago, the course of world history changed in an instant. Although we celebrate the fourth day of July as Independence Day, it should not be lost on us that those signatures were the culmination of months of disagreements and passionate arguments. In fact, the Second Continental Congress that would eventually adopt the Declaration of Independence first convened more than a year earlier in May of 1775.

As Airmen, we are dedicated to serving a Nation that even 236 years after declaring its independence is still a wonderful grand experiment; always changing, always challenging itself. It should be no surprise that the men and women who serve today in our Air Force reflect this national character. Since our very beginnings, Airmen have always challenged what is possible. When we think about our own times, as the debate about the future of our Air Force continues, consider what those 56 signers delivered to the world after months of uncertainty. Their optimism and hope for the generations of Americans that would follow them should be an inspiration to all of us.

Like the first volunteer soldiers at Concord and Lexington, Mobility Airmen answer the call so that others may prevail. We are a 134,000 strong Total Force team entrusted with conveying the values and determination of the American people on a global stage. Every Airman and every skill is critical to delivering hope, fueling the fight and saving lives. And we know behind every Airman is a network of family and friends who will be their biggest supporters when the call comes in the middle of the night because somewhere, someone needs something.

Please enjoy this Independence Day holiday. Some of you will turn the mid-week holiday into an extended weekend to recharge. As you do, be smart and have a plan. If you’re traveling, be especially careful on the roadways, as we all know they tend to be more dangerous over holidays. Be mindful of those you share the road with; if you choose to drink, please hand the keys to someone who hasn’t. For those who will celebrate the holiday away from home because we’ve asked you to go yet again, thank you. Chief Kaiser and I could not be prouder as you carry on the work that began with the courageous 56.

TOP STORY>>Little Rock aerial porters collar ‘Top Dawg’ award

439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

DOBBINS AIR RESEVE BASE, Ga. – Every dog pack has its alpha dog, and every pack has its wannabes waiting for the chance to become the leader of the pack.

At the Air Force Reserve Command “Port Dawg” competition June 18-22, reservists from the 96th Aerial Port Squadron, Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., emerged as the Top Dawgs.

“We’ve got a nice spot picked out for the Port Dawg trophy back in Little Rock,” said Lt. Col. Lance Turner, 96th APS commander.

Turner and his son, Senior Airman Derek Turner from the 41st APS, Keesler AFB, Miss., had a little family feud going on before the winner was announced.

“I circled this on my calendar when I joined the Air Force three years ago, and we’ve been practicing for this competition for months,” said the younger Turner.

“We’re gonna take the big dawg here...put it in my car on the drive home and drive straight through Little Rock, show it off a bit, and then keep going to Biloxi,” he boasted in front of his dad, an aerial porter with more than 28 years of experience.

Dad shot back with: “He can come by the squadron anytime, walk in the main entrance, stroke the dawg’s back, give it a bone, and then get back down to south Mississippi to the 41st APS.”

This was the command’s second Port Dawg Challenge held at the Transportation Proficiency Center here. The biennial event pitted six-man teams from 19 AFRC aerial port squadrons against one another in an arduous competition designed to showcase each unit’s logistics and transportation proficiencies on the flightline.

During the event, the competitors were challenged to demonstrate excellent judgment and skill in performing 11 different tasks unique to the aerial port career field, such as load planning, and the processing, palletizing, and joint inspection of cargo. Teams must also excel in a grueling fitness challenge and perform training scenarios under the eyes of senior aerial port umpires and judges. There is little room for error.

In one scenario, competitors had to accurately calculate the correct load restraints and air worthiness for humvees and additional cargobeing loaded into the hulk of a C-5 aircraft at the training facility.

During the forklift event, the operators were expected to balance a pitcher of water on a wooden plank, and then speedily weave their way through a red-pyloned obstacle course, NASCAR style, without spilling a drop.

Maneuvering a forklift that carries a 10,000 pound pallet, or carrying multiple pallets weighing up to 25,000 pounds on a “Halverson” aircraft loading vehicle is only one of the many unique skill sets that make aerial porters immensely valuable to the airlift mission, according to CMSgt David Mullinax, chief of the TPC, and one of the organizers of the event. The aircraft loader is named in honor of the renowned Berlin Airlift Candy Bomber, Col. Gail Halverson

“Nothing and no one gets loaded on or off an aircraft without the say so of port dawgs on the flightline,” Mullinax said. “This competition entails everything that our aerial port experts are required to carry out the air mobility mission - and then some - and it’s a great opportunity for these units to show us how well they do it.”

Confidence was certainly not in short supply for this year’s competitors. Every competing unit took aim to unseat the two-time defending “top dawgs” from the 27th APS at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Air Reserve Station.

“Like it says on the trophy, you can’t strut with the big dawgs if you train like a puppy,” said Tech. Sgt Josh Warbiany from the 27th APS. “We’re still the big dawgs - the best aerial port squadron in the free world!”

Others were also confident about savoring the prize.

“I feel really good about our chances, but it’s going to take us beating the best,” said Master Sgt James Dupuis from the 42nd APS at Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. “We don’t feel like underdogs this time. We believe we’re going to take the Top Dawg trophy back with us, where it belongs.”

The Port Dawg Challenge traces its roots to the first Aerial Port Rodeo held in 1979. The event was discontinued for many years before being reinstated in 2009 as Port Dawg Rodeo, and then in 2010 as the Port Dawg Challenge.

The Air Force has more than 12,000 aerial porters and about 5,700 of them, or 48 percent, are in the Air Force Reserve.

Some of those participating in this year’s competition have served multiple deployments, a fact that isn’t lost on leadership who made a point of observing this year’s competition.

Maj. Gen. Wallace W. Farris, commander of 22nd Air Force with headquartered at Dobbins, told the assembled competitors that more than 8,500 aerial porters have deployed over the past 10 years.

“Out of a force of a little more than 5,000, that’s very significant,” he said. “Events like this are proof that [you] are the very best.”

“This competition brings together many highly skilled and talented folks from our aerial port community - all in one location,” said Brig. Gen. Gary Blaszkiewicz, director of AFRC logistics. “Many here are very passionate about what they do, and they bring a tremendous amount of experience and skill to the air mobility mission. It’s a great thing to see.”

Col. Cynthia Wong will soon assume command of the 514th Mission Support Group at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. She was eager to observe how well the 35th and 88th APSs from the base would perform.

“This is a tight-knit community, and a great opportunity to establish credibility,” she said. “They all work really well together normally, but when they come here [to the Port Dawg Challenge], it’s war!”

TOP STORY>>Fun at the Pool


19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

The summer is finally here, school is out and military families are having fun in the sun. One of the many ways families can relax and stay cool here is by enjoying one of the two pools located on the base.

The base pool offers different activities, such as a water slide, diving board and a kiddy pool for the children. When having fun at the base pool safety should be the number one priority. One should follow all pool rules and guidelines and obey all life guard instructions. The base pool opened Memorial Day weekend and will available through Labor Day. The hours are Tuesday - Friday 11 a.m. – 7:30 p.m., and on the weekends they open from noon - 7:30 p.m. The costs for the pool are: $3 (day pass), $50 (singles season pass), $90 (family season pass), Lap Swim: $1 (lap swim) and $96-$168 (pool party packages.)

The Welcome Center pool located in base housing is open for base- housing residents only, but residents can bring a friend. The Welcome Center pool offers sprinklers for the children to play in. At the Welcome Center pool you have to be very careful because there is no life guard on duty, so one has to be sure to follow all pool rules to be safe. The Welcome Center pool officially opened May 26 and will remain open until Labor Day. Hours of operation are Monday 12- 5 p.m., Tuesday - Friday 10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. with lap swims at 9:30 a.m.- 10:30 a.m., Saturday from 11:00 a.m. - 5 p.m., and Sunday from 12 p.m. - 5 p.m.

Some residents of base housing like the advantages of the Welcome Center pool because the cost comes out of the Basic Allowance for Housing pay, it’s closer to home, and it’s a shallower pool to help the kids learn how to swim.

“They like going to the Welcome Center pool because it’s included in his Basic Allowance for Housing,” said Staff Sgt. Adam Kidney, a 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron unit deployment manager.

“We attend the pool at least 3-4 times a week,” said Tech. Sgt. Joseph Fialkowski, a 19th Logistics Readiness Squadron assistant non-commissioned officer in charge of passenger access terminal and fleet services.

With the base pool some people like staff that makes one feel like they are part of a community.

“The pool has a phenomenal staff we feel really good about bringing our kids here,” said Ray Johnson, military spouse. “Most of the staff can call our kids by their first name, know their capabilities, and how they swim, everybody knows everybody and that makes you feel safe with your kids.”

With the summer here, one thing to do is to relax, have fun and cool off at the base pools, and remember to walk and not run around the pools.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

COMMENTARY>>Leading across ‘tribal’ barriers

By Lt. Col. Clifford Rich
318th Training Squadron

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) – Twenty-first century technology and the 24/7 news cycle have made the world “smaller,” but over millennia human nature has not changed. We long to identify with and belong to a tribe. The myriad of patches, uniforms, ranks and patchwork of partner nation flags bear witness to that constant within our armed forces.

Competition normally serves as a healthy catalyst that challenges us to give our very best. But where ignorance or artificial barriers serve to frustrate the free exchange of ideas and lessons learned, “tribal” tendencies lead to lost opportunities, duplication of effort and waste.

Cross-talk and learned lessons can’t be accomplished when leaders are focused only on that which affects their “tribe.”

True leadership demands you ask yourself two fundamental questions: “Who else would benefit from knowing what I’ve learned?” and “I wonder if anyone else has dealt with this issue?”

From a more pragmatic standpoint, the growing budget scarcity we’re faced with demands that leaders seek innovative ways to team with nontraditional partners, better collaborate with existing mission partners, and encourage innovation across the Department of Defense enterprise as well as the interagency landscape. You may have to be the one to break the ice!

In a recent speech to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey spoke of “building partners” as the second pillar of the strategy to rebalance U.S. forces.

He also described 21st-century adversaries as networked and decentralized. He further stated, “We have to find ways to be a network ourselves ... and that means a network of interagency partners internal to our government.”

Despite the increasing mandate for greater interoperability with the armed forces of our allies, effective partnering with other nations at the macro-level will continue to be a slow process if we cannot first learn to improve our capacity for teaming at the micro-level with those who reside on the same installation and in the same city.

Look around Joint Base San Antonio on any day of the week. Mission partners are already hard at work smashing stovepipe mindsets and reaching across “tribal” barriers.

Among the flurry of diverse activities, you’ll see a variety of ranks and service branches as well as partner nation students, instructors and administrators on the respective campuses of the Defense Language Institute English Language Center and the Inter-American Air Forces Academy.

Ultimately, whether you wear a suit or uniform to work, members of the armed forces are part of a much broader team than the unit to which they are assigned. Leaders must encourage their personnel to seek out teaming opportunities and embrace the broader sense of purpose that comes with being less tribal.

Will you lead by example?

“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work,” said Vince Lombardi, a former National Football League coach.

TOP STORY>>Social media guidance available

By Master Sgt. Jennifer Buzanowski
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. – Social media can be a force multiplier in keeping America informed about its Air Force, but it can equally bring discredit to the service if Airmen use the tool to make inappropriate comments.

In conjunction with the Air Force release of its updated social media guide, the 18th Air Force Vice Commander at Scott AFB, Ill., addressed the Air Mobility Command bases under its purview this quarter to include Fairchild.

“The rule is simple: avoid the offensive. If concerned about how a remark will be interpreted by the public, don’t post it,” said Brig. Gen. Lawrence Martin, Jr., in correspondence to wing commanders. “Air Force standards must be observed both on and off duty, and regardless of the method of communication used.”

The general said it is especially important during an election year that Airmen are aware offensive and disparaging postings to personal social media pages can be in violation of federal law and Department of Defense and Air Force policy.

The Air Force views social media positively and respects the rights of their Airmen, said Martin, however conduct online “reflects not only on the Airman, but on the entire service.”

Fairchild’s 92nd Air Refueling Vice Commander, Col. Marc Van Wert said Air Force senior leaders value social media tools, but stresses to Team Fairchild: “Social media is here to stay, so commanders and supervisors need to ensure their Airmen understand the comments they say online in a public forum is a direct reflection of them, just as their competence and professionalism on the job. It reflects on us all.”

Not only should Airmen be concerned with projecting a positive image, but they should also be wary of potentially helping criminals gain information to steal their identity.

“It’s never a bad idea to check your privacy settings and make sure that the information others can read about you is the information you want other people to know,” said Van Wert. “Being a good wingman means you’re not only looking out for each other, but you’re looking out for yourself and your family too.”

Team Fairchild has an official Facebook page, a Twitter presence and a YouTube channel. Multiple base customer service organizations such as the 92nd Medical Group and the 92nd Force Support Squadron are also reaching out to the Fairchild community using Facebook.

Visit the AMC Social Media Hub to see AMC’s social media presence and for more information guidance and other AMC wing facebook pages.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

COMMENTARY>>Being R.E.A.L. and keeping it R.E.A.L. with Team Little Rock!

By Chief Master Sgt. Margarita Overton
19th Airlift Wing command chief

‘Be R.E.A.L.’ and ‘Keep it R.E.A.L.’ are phrases which could have several meanings to different people. But to me, it is a mindset every Airman can apply to their mission and everyday life.

I use the acronym R.E.A.L. to convey my philosophy of being a Responsible, Engaged, Airmen 24/7, Leader. Anyone, no matter his or her position, can be a leader, but it truly takes accepting your responsibilities and being willing to engage in the mission and with people – either through supervisory actions or through collaboration and teamwork. As Airmen 24/7 we must know our actions matter at all times, not just during the traditional duty day. My goal is for this philosophy will spread throughout Team Little Rock as I assume my new position as the Command Chief of the 19th Airlift Wing.

My focus is building leaders. We need leaders, especially as we face tighter budgets, a smaller work force and total transformation. Most people shy away from leadership because of the misconception that good leaders are born; it’s been my experience that the common trait in all good leaders is their ability to learn. Each day brings new opportunities to learn and do, and I look forward to what we, Team Little Rock, will do together.

As the Command Chief, I’ll be the principal advisor to Col. Robinson on matters affecting the utilization, health, morale and welfare of more than 12,000 personnel and their families. Additionally, I advise the Commander on the combat readiness, professional development and training of the enlisted force.

My responsibilities include ensuring the installation commander’s policies are known and understood, keeping all commanders apprised of matters affecting their personnel, and acting as a liaison between headquarters staff agencies, commanders, tenant units, and senior leaders on operational and administrative matters. I plan to fulfill these responsibilities by getting out into the work centers, conducting Real Airlifters at Work visits and having face-to-face communication. I will rely on your candor and straight answers to the question “how’s it going?” Your honest feedback is the only way I can effectively be a voice for Team Little Rock and effectively advise Colonel Robinson on those issues nearest and dearest to your heart.

An “Air Force brat,” who moved around a lot, and grew up mostly in Athens, Greece, I entered the service in January 1987. After completing technical training as a ground radio specialist at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., I became an Airman Leadership School instructor. After a rewarding five years at ALS, I cross-trained into Manpower, learning the program requirements and processes of various career fields and how they fit in the big picture of the Air Force. I’ve held diverse duties throughout my career and while it almost appears as if I can’t quite figure out what to do when I grow up, the one thing I know for certain is my passion is serving people.

I’ve previously served as the 78th Force Support Squadron superintendent, then the 78th Mission Support Group superintendent two years later at Robins Air Force Base, Ga. In 2010, I went to Guam to serve as the Command Chief for the 36th Wing, Andersen Air Force Base.

It was through these diverse experiences that I developed the philosophy of keeping it R.E.A.L. Successful mission accomplishment is the outcome when we stay READY for every situation, strive for EXCELLENCE in all we do, are ACCOUNTABLE for our actions and LEAVE it better than we found it.

The mission of the 19th Airlift Wing is to provide worldwide deployable C-130 aircraft, aircrews, support personnel, and equipment for Air Mobility Command and Air Expeditionary Force taskings. My focus will be to ensure safety first, proper resourcing, and world class support to 19th AW Airmen, as well as our mission partners. It is through this seamless integration we will continue to contribute to the legacy of providing premier combat airlift.

We have a great team! I’m excited to be here and I’m truly honored and proud to serve as your Command Chief.

TOP STORY>>¬40 years of service: Col. Pierce retires from the Air Force

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

In 1972, under the presidency of Richard Nixon, the United States Army was drafting young men for war. Seeing many of his friends leave and return injured, in boxes or mentally disturbed, a 19-year-old Mike Pierce, wanting to control his own destiny, joined the United States Air Force, thinking he’d only do four years and get out.

Forty years later, now soon approaching retirement, Col. Mike Pierce, 19th Maintenance Group commander, reflects on the day he joined the Air Force, the moment he decided to reenlist, the many ways the Air Force has evolved, his greatest moment wearing the uniform and what the future holds for him.

“It all went by fast,” he said.

Looking back, Pierce said, “If you would have told me four weeks before I reenlisted the first time that I would retire a colonel, I would have thought you were insane. Back then, in the Vietnam era, you had three types of military people. You had the lifers, which were the old guys who had been in for a while; you had the trouble makers who weren’t in serious trouble, but were told by the court or judge that they were either going to jail or the military, and then you had the rest of us who were avoiding the Army and joined the Air Force.”

One of the reasons Pierce said he reenlisted the first time was because of his master sergeant/mentor at the time, Master Sgt. Murphy, whose voice Pierce says he remembers to this day quite vividly. Murphy persuaded Pierce by explaining to him the financial benefits of reenlisting, which was $25,000 and by promising him a flying slot. He agreed, reenlisted in 1976 and in 1978 headed to his next duty station in Iceland.

Over the years, as Pierce grew, matured and evolved, so did the Air Force. Pierce witnessed changes in the value of a dollar, men and women working together in the service, and the military realizing that for missions and for life there are no genders, no races, just Airmen.

Pierce also said military social gatherings were different years ago. In his early Air Force years, Pierce said every Friday the shops he worked at would get together, go to the back of the building and bring out nothing but beer. They drank, talked and had a good time, which is quite different from today’s Air Force. The biggest difference Pierce said was the community support of the military.

“I was in Sacramento, Calif., and I went into this little furniture store to buy a couch. I wrote the guy a check. I had an Illinois driver’s license, so I handed that to him. He told me that he needed another form of identification. The only other form of identification I had was my military ID card. When I handed it to him, he looked at and gave me back my check, my license, my military card and said ‘I’m sorry, we don’t provide service to the military.’ During the Vietnam era, when we came home from the war, we didn’t come back to these parades. It was very hostile. You never went to a bar by yourself if you were military. You were very easily recognized as a military person even with civilian clothes on because back then everyone wore their hair long except military men. It was so bad that we were not allowed to wear our military uniform off base for any reason at all. If someone lived off base, they changed before they left to go home. The public didn’t like us. But today, if I’m in uniform, I seldom can go somewhere without someone coming up to me and saying thank you. Huge difference.

After 14 years enlisted, as a technical sergeant, Pierce decided to do something that most enlisted members back then thought was betrayal, which was trading in his stripes for golden bars. Being knowledgeable in special ops, he was noticed one day at Edwards Air Force Base by a major who was an engineer. The major wanted to know how Pierce knew the things he knew.

Pierce had gotten his degree because hisexpectation was to make chief. “The way to separate yourself,” he said, “was to not only get your Community College of the Air Force degree but to also have a bachelor’s of science degree. Not too many people had it. I got it.”

The major was very impressed and explained to Pierce that if he commissioned, the retirement for a prior enlisted retired captain was significantly different than a retired chief. Back then, it wasn’t common for an enlisted member to exceed the rank of a captain once commissioned.

Pierce said he went home, mentioned it to his wife, looked at the pros and cons, and got the process going. After a couple waivers for age and other things, in 1986 Pierce became a second lieutenant. Though his squadron at the time offered him an immediate promotion to master sergeant if he didn’t commission, Pierce went forward. He catapulted himself above and beyond the expectations. Pierce said several key chiefs he knew were disappointed with his decision. He said they felt almost like he was a traitor.

“I wasn’t supposed to go beyond the rank of a captain,” he said. “So when I got promoted to major, everyone, including myself thought, ‘wow.’ I also got selected to go to school the same year. I’ve gotten three promotions beyond what I was supposed to.”

Two things Pierce said he misses about the enlisted side is the espirt dé corps and the thought of retiring a chief.

“Retiring as a chief, I could have probably said what I wanted to say, but as colonel I do that anyway. Every time they’ve promoted me, it’s given me a little extra latitude to be more honest and frank. A lot of people want to say what I say, but they’re afraid to say it,” he said smiling.

One doesn’t have the power to say what they want to say without the education and the experience to back it up, Pierce said. He said he believes very much that education goes hand-in-hand with advancing one’s career, whether it’s military or civilian.

“Education is the pinnacle to what we have to do,” he said. “Education is not just your higher academic education. It’s also your professional military education. I always say, ‘I have to learn at least one thing new every day before I can go home.’ You can never have too much education, as long as you have experience to go along with it. You must have real experience to take full advantage of your education. The experience made me a much better officer. And education can help you once you’re in the civilian world as well.”

Along with education and experience, Pierce has countless deployments under his belt as well as numerous assignments. He said he looked at each assignment as something new, and each time he opened himself to whatever that new assignment would bring.

“Every assignment has been the best assignment that I’ve had,” he said. “I’ve gone into every assignment open eyed and open minded and made the best of it. There hasn’t been an assignment that I didn’t enjoy, whether it was Iceland or Pakistan, but if I had to pick a favorite base or assignment, I’d have to say the Rock because it’s the last one, and this is the highest job a maintainer can acheive.”

Pierce gives much credit for his successful Air Force career to his wife and children.

“Without my family, this wouldn’t have been possible,” Pierce said. “It’s a ying and a yang kind of thing. My wife saw the importance early on of why I had to what I had to do. I couldn’t have gone through this without family support. I probably wouldn’t have reenlisted the first time without my wife. Her vision was very important in my decision making.”

Pierce said he has encountered some events in his military career that he believes were orchestrated and divinely purposed for his life.

“I think the ‘big guy’ has sent me to every assignment,” he said.

“With every assignment I have had, there has al-ways been a significant series of events that has happened. I’ve afforded opportunities to either influence somebody’s life or participate in a major activity.”

There was a particular event Pierce said was extremely important to him. While deployed in Iraq, the Air Force had decided to sell three C-130’s to the Iraqis, and they wanted Pierce to set it up. Pierce agreed, even though he was scheduled to leave and go home soon. He said he realized this event was very significant and historical for the Air Force and Iraq.

“I was a part of the first Gulf War, and the Iraqis then were our enemies at the time,” he said. “This was amazing to know we’d be working together. We renamed the based from Ali to Tallil. The Iraqi general found it amusing that the name changed and wanted a picture by the sign where the name was. So we all, (the American crew and the Iraqi crew), got a picture by the sign of the base. We were in the middle of history then. Most people wouldn’t get the significance of this event, but it was a huge thing for me to be a part of.”

“They referred to me as the ‘Father of the Iraqi Maintenance,’” he said. “When these guys showed up, some of them didn’t even have shoes. They were barefoot, which is not uncommon in their culture. I couldn’t have them working around the aircraft without shoes on. I took them over to the supply squadron and got them steel toe shoes and coveralls. You would have thought I gave them gold. They were kissing my hand; it was unbelievable. The friendships and bonds I made there were amazing. And even though I was awarded the Bronze Star for that work, the attendance of two of the Iraq officials at the ceremony made it much more worthy.”

Once an Airman, always an Airman. Pierce said he will never take off his military uniform for the last time. Though he said he will always think about the troops once he retires, waking up and not having to think about the day-to-day mission or worry about troops would relieve him somewhat.

“Not having the phone ring five or six times a night will not be all that bad,” he said with a smile. “Knowing that you can make a difference in someone’s life… I don’t know if there is another job that does that like us. That will definitely be missed. The day-to-day interaction with the troops will be missed. There is obviously a level of stress and responsibility that comes with the job that will evaporate, and I’m sure that will be ok too. But then you have to go, ‘now what makes my day worthy?’ It’s easy now to make my day worthy, but as a simple retired civilian, how do I make my day worthy? I will never make my days as worthy as I did when I was in the Air Force, but I think I can figure out a way to enjoy retirement and stay busy. I have some grandsons that I have to spoil.”

Pierce says he plans to stay busy on his 40-acre ranch/farm in Southern Illinois. “We have a couple horses with us now, and we’ll probably pick up a couple more on the way along with some other farm animals we are kin to liking. There’s nothing like fresh eggs in the morning. There are probably years and years of little projects around that farm that will keep me going. I have no desire to go back into any type of Department of Defense job. If I get really bored, I’ll become a general contractor, but I’ll have to be really bored. I don’t know if I could do anything that will make me as happy as I am today.”

Pierce—a man who’s been in the military long enough for eight presidents to come and go, a man who’s been a part of major American events such as Vietnam, Granada, Desert Storm/Desert Shield and 9/11 to name a few, a man who participated in taking Kurds out of Iraq and delivering the baby of a Muslim woman on a 747, a man who came into the Air Force a boy, and watched it grow and mature just as he did—said it wouldn’t be hard to find one word to sum up 40 years of active duty military service to his country.

“Awesome,” is what he said.

TOP STROY>>‘Center of Excellence’ under new command

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

Col. Mark Czelusta, 314th Airlift Wing outgoing commander, passed on the guidon, and command of the wing, to Col. Edward Brewer, the new 314th Airlift Wing commander, on Tuesday.

It was a bittersweet day, said Czelusta, who assumed command of the 314th AW in August 2010.

“It’s hard to say farewell to this mission, these Airmen, this base and this community,” he said.

Major Gen. Mark Solo, 19th Air Force commander and officiating officer for the event, said the change of command was an important event in Arkansas history and for the historic wing.

“This is the premier tactical airlift wing in the Air Force, and you all make it look easy,” Solo said.

Before relinquishing command, Czelusta said farewell to the wing, base and community he had been working for and with for the past 22 months.

“I’m optimistic about the future of this wing because you are a group of people who get it like few others can,” he said.

Czelusta talked about the mission, standards, partnership, innovation and focus required by that goes into making a wing succeed, and he was quick to praise his Airmen, his partners at Team Little Rock and the community that supports the base.

“Any achievements we’ve accomplished had nothing to do with anything on my desk,” he said. “It’s because of the work you all put in.”

Community support is unparalleled at the Rock, Czelusta said.

“You all were supporting this base before it was politically (expedient) to do it,” he said. “This is your base, your mission and these are your Airmen.”

While Czelusta said leaving the 314th AW would carve an empty spot in his heart, his successor, Brewer, said he was excited and humbled to be taking on the challenge of commanding the Center of Excellence.

“I look forward to collaborating and working with all of you,” he said. “I’m humbled to take on this assignment, but confident because I know I will not be making this journey alone.”

Brewer thanked the Airmen of the 314th AW for their devotion to duty, and said he has high hopes for their futures together.

“There’s a rich heritage at this wing, that’s why it’s the tactical airlift Center of Excellence,” he said. “I’m extremely honored to be your new commander and know we will make a difference together.”

Friday, June 8, 2012

SPORTS >> Softball season swings into action at the Rock

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

The Arkansas National Guard started the Little Rock Air Force base softball season with a 15 – 5 victory Tuesday against the 19th Force Support Squadron.

The ANG showed dominance by scoring 10 runs alone in the first inning, with two of those runs coming from a home run. For the first two innings, the ANG held the 19th FSS scoreless.
The 19th FSS’s team members were in high spirits though, as they cheerfully joked about their strike out streak.

In the third inning, the ANG got another home-run. Determined not to be shut out, the 19th FSS finally got two team members home, making the score 13 - 2. Though the score showed defeat, the game wasn’t over and the 19th FSS continued to play hard, cheerful as they did when they started.

There were five innings, but the fourth inning brought the final runs of the game. The ANG were declared the winners 15 – 5 against the 19th FSS.

TOP STORY >> Critical days of summer’s motor vehicle week

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

As the critical days of summer continue, week three will bring education to the base on private motor vehicle safety and the dangers that come due to aggressive drivers, speeders, distractions and drivers who text on the road, which is one of the biggest distractions.

With technology evolving at rapid speeds, practically everything can be done from a person’s phone. Pool parties and road trips can be planned, outfits can be bought and a conversation between four friends can be held all from the palm of someone’s hand. But, as exciting as summer is, as good as one’s favorite song sounds blasting to the max, as anxious as a person can get waiting for that picture message to appear or as urgent as one feels it is to read or respond to a text, these are the top distractions that cause minor accidents to become major fatalities while driving. Little Rock Air Force Base has a zero-tolerance policy for texting while driving, talking on the phone while driving and speeding.

According to the Little Rock AFB safety office, texting is the most alarming and dangerous form of a distraction because text messaging requires visual, manual, and cognitive attention from the driver.

Rodney Silvas, a 19th Security Forces Squadron reports analyst, said if a person is caught texting while driving on base, they get four points added on their on-base-driving record and their first sergeant is notified. If a person is speeding they can get three to six points, and if a person is caught texting and speeding, they get an additional four points to go along with the four from texting.

Silvas also said if a person gets 12 points total within one year, 18 points total within a two-year timespan or is caught driving 20 miles over the speed limit, they are suspended from driving on base for 120 days or more at the commander’s discretion. A driver on base will also be held accountable for anyone in their automobile without a seatbelt on. “The driver will get four points on their record,” said Silvas.

Military members with civilian spouses who drive on base, said Silvas, should educate their partners on the rules and regulations for driving on a military installation because in some cases, even if the military member is not in the car and the spouse gets pulled over, the first sergeant of that military member can be notified of the disciplinary act.

There will be a new Air Force Instruction coming out pertaining to vehicle regulations, said Silvas. There have been many changes and adjustments regarding point amounts and consequences to certain actions.

According to the National Safety Council website, over 13,000 lives are lost each year from speeding. Speed-related crashes cost society over $40 billion annually. Every 24 seconds there is a crash involving drivers using cell phones and texting.

“Driving on base is a privilege not a requirement,” said Silvas. “Make sure you and those accompanying you in an automobile are following directions at all times.”

Private motor vehicle week is among the many strategies the Air Force uses to try to prevent automobile accidents and injuries through education.

COMMENTARY >> Lost for words

By Colonel Mark G. Czelusta
314th Airlift Wing Commander

How do you say farewell to the Airmen…to a base…to a community…and to a mission that you love and in many ways defines you? I have to say that this is perhaps the most difficult part of what awaits us on

June 12, 2012, my final day as the 314th Airlift Wing Commander. Lost for words (a rare occasion for me), I can only offer two: Thank You.

To the C-130 mission: thank you for giving me some of the greatest adventures anyone could ask for. Combat airlift is tough, rewarding work. But it is so vitally important. The rewards of a well-executed low level, formation, airdrop or assault mission are among the greatest thrills I’ve enjoyed over my time here at The Rock. Very simply, I envy each of our crews, maintainers, support personnel and graduates for the adventure they are about to have, and for the chance to continue experiencing these thrills and rewards.

To the local community and the people of Arkansas: thank you for making my family, our Airmen and me feel at home and appreciated. Your generosity, commonsense and good humor are benchmarks for the Air Force. Your kindness and caring following the tornado over a year ago, your pride in our accomplishments following the Air Mobility Rodeo and your ongoing support to improve education at all levels are just three of the many reasons why you will continue to be among the most elite of any military community. Let there be no doubt: this is your base, your mission, and we are your Airmen.

To the entirety of Team Little Rock: thank you for what you have done, and continue to do, for our nation, our Air Force and for each other. The ways the three total force wings and all our partners look out for and sacrifice for each other—both at home and while deployed—are humbling to say the least. As I contemplate our collective futures, I can only see goodness.

And to the Airmen of the 314th Airlift Wing: thank you for the opportunity to be called your commander. Your ownership of our mission, unapologetically high standards, sense of partnership and approach to innovation and focus made our collective success a “done deal.” Continue being quietly excellent in everything you do, and that success will continue, I promise. While our nation and our Air Force clearly deserve each of you, I still cannot begin to fathom what I did to earn the opportunity to lead you. You all “get it” like nobody else.

With Colonel Scott Brewer, Colonel Todd Pavich and Chief Master Sergeant Jesse Stirling at the helm, I know that the nation’s C-130 Center of Excellence is in good hands. But let there be no doubt, when Susan, Madison and I leave The Rock on June 12, 2012, a piece of our heart will remain with all of you. Godspeed.