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"Optimism (light) is the power that ultimately defeats fear (darkness)."

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

NCOs and The Wild Blue Yonder!

Tonight was the night to work on getting this blog some "lift". Seems there has been cold weather, de-icing is just not that great, and this blog must stay on track to achieve mission success!

I wandered off to a web ring for military blogs and signed up to be part of the ring. There seem to be quite a few folks in the queue ... who knows how long it will take to get approved.

Oh well, I have been in the so waiting is no big deal. Right?

Well, after tweaking this blog template and getting the web ring links live, I started to click around. The first blog I hit was for a High School Football Player in Los Angeles. His site is called Lineman's Thoughts. I started to read his posts, and found a great posting he made on 08/17/05 titled, "About NCOs". There were a few things that just jumped out at me - having been and NCO. I'll jot down some of the quips that brought back memories for me.

At first, he describes an issue with another cadet in training in their squadron. Recognizing that there is a problem and then attempting the first things that come to mind signals a good leader.
"The cadet in question has been suffering from low self-esteem and I, along with many of my fellow staff members, have been trying to make him realize just how good a cadet he actually is. No matter what we tried (and we tried everything we could think of), nothing seemed to work."
Now, when the simple things just don't seem to trigger the correct response(s), a stronger sense of leadership kicks in and we begin to gravitate to the basics: drill, commitment, camaraderie, team work.
"...managed to talk him into going to Encampment. Encampment is Civil Air Patrol's version of basic training. It is a week of learning everything you need to know to be a CAP cadet and it really builds character. It is one of the most memorable weeks of my life, and I will never forget how proud I was to stand out on the parade grounds of Camp San Luis Obispo graduating from Encampment."
Once there is common ground and everyone understands the mission, things just seem to ... click. If a leader can see inside a fellow team member in trouble and manage their transition into a stronger individual supporting the overall mission, well, you know the rest.
"We wanted to make him realize how good a cadet he is. He has natural leadership ability and I have always liked him. I've sort of taken him under my wing to make sure he gets by alright."
Bammo! When everyone in the management chain is there to promote and support, things right themselves and teams have individual and combined successes.
"He said that it was one of the most memorable weeks of his entire life."
It is great how this team of Civil Air Patrol Cadets and Leaders is once again working at full strength. And that, my friends, is why so many of us LOVE what we continue to do in the USAF, did in the USAF, or do now that we are in the civilian "ranks".

What really caught me was the following:
"But this is what being a Non-Commisioned Officer is all about. An NCO is in the thick of it, leading those around him..."

"An NCO is more of a big brother. He is a mentor, someone who knows what to do and gets the job done. If all else fails, if you have no idea what is going on, if you need assistance, then find an NCO. I love it. I love leading those under me. It holds its own special rewards. I like to see those that I have trained do well, and I hate to see them fail. It is almost like being a parent. You become attached to them, because you held their hand as they first learned how to march in formation. You taught them to shine their shoes. You showed them how to wear the uniform properly. And you always hope to see the day when those you trained move up the ranks and take your place. It fills you with a lot of pride, to know that that's one of your former cadets that is now the commander of this or that squadron."

"But more than that, I always like taking a special interest in the hard cases. Those, like my protege, who have problems. I don't know why, but helping them overcome obstacles and realize their own potential is very fulfilling. And that's why I love being an NCO. I like helping others, it makes me feel good."
The U.S. Air Force is losing a great NCO or Officer when this young man goes off to NAVY OTS! Too bad we can't make him see that we, without those "wings of gold" as we are often told, have LOTS of planes to fly up in the great blue sky!

After all, our song is, "The Wild Blue Yonder", is it not? And, can someone out there tell me where on earth I need to stow the anchor on this F-14? Uh ... "Anchors Aweigh"?

(just kidding, Andrew, I just had to poke some fun here!)

Who owns the skies? THE UNITED STATES AIR FORCE, my friends!!!

Thanks to the Hill Aerospace Museum, here are the lyrics:
The U.S. Air Force Song

Off we go into the wild blue yonder,
Climbing high into the sun;
Here they come zooming to meet our thunder,
At 'em boys, Give 'er the gun! (Give 'er the gun now!)
Down we dive, spouting our flame from under,
Off with one helluva roar!
We live in fame or go down in flame. Hey!
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Additional verses:

Minds of men fashioned a crate of thunder,
Sent it high into the blue;
Hands of men blasted the world asunder;
How they lived God only knew! (God only knew then!)
Souls of men dreaming of skies to conquer
Gave us wings, ever to soar!
With scouts before And bombers galore. Hey!
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!

Bridge: "A Toast to the Host"

Here's a toast to the host
Of those who love the vastness of the sky,
To a friend we send a message of his brother men who fly.
We drink to those who gave their all of old,
Then down we roar to score the rainbow's pot of gold.
A toast to the host of men we boast, the U.S. Air Force!


Off we go into the wild sky yonder,
Keep the wings level and true;
If you'd live to be a grey-haired wonder
Keep the nose out of the blue! (Out of the blue, boy!)
Flying men, guarding the nation's border,
We'll be there, followed by more!
In echelon we carry on. Hey!
Nothing'll stop the U.S. Air Force!
I really liked the story that Hill Aerospace Museum provides. In fact, there is a picture of the author of our beloved song! Here is the history of how our song came into being, right from their website:

History of the United States Air Force Song
Compiled by MSgt Peter D. Forman
USAF Heritage of America Band

Composer Robert M. Crawford: In 1938, Liberty magazine sponsored a contest for a spirited, enduring musical composition to become the official Army Air Corps song. Of 757 scores submitted, the one composed by Robert MacArthur Crawford (1899-1961) was selected by a committee of Air Force wives. The song (informally known as "The Air Force Song" but now formally titled "The U.S. Air Force") was officially introduced at the Cleveland Air Races on September 2, 1939. Fittingly, Crawford sang in its first public performance.

A bridge section, "Toast to the Host," is part of the original Air Force Song. Many times this is sung as a separate piece. This is the verse which commemorates those who have fallen in the name of our service and our great country. This is the reason for the difference in melody and the reverent, reflective mood.

Crawford didn't write "Hey!" in the lyrics. He actually wrote "SHOUT!" without specifying the word to be shouted. Also, wherever they appear, the words "U.S. Air Force" have been changed from the original "Army Air Corps." By the way, the words in parentheses are spoken, not sung.
Stay Tuned to ...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Whiskey-Charlie - Unsung Heroes!

For those of you familiar with the term, you know what I am about to talk about. Those that are not, current events have compelled me to jot down a few notes regarding and how we get up to date information on this beast!

Even though there are numerous information resources regarding the weather (satellites, ground radar like doppler, and sensors) the best way to get to know a hurricane is to fly into one. And that, my friends, is what Whiskey-Charlie does!

I left a few comments on and sent a personal note to an ex-USAF Navigator, Scott Dommin, after I scoured his website A Hurricane Hunter's Photo Album. I wanted to come to our blog and praise the Unsung Heroes of Whiskey-Charlie (WC-130 Crews). These fellow airmen do something every day that should scare the buh-jeezers out of all of us: FLY INTO HURRICANES!

It amazes me how a plain old "Herc" with a few mods can handle the torment unleashed while trying to gather data from which the National Weather Center can better call where the hurricane will strike. In fact, the Hurricane Hunters are not just flying in these here United States - they fly all over! You really should check out Scott's website - and follow the tour!

Definitely an "Eye" opener!!!

I was stationed at Keesler AFB for a short time in the early 80's. I remember in 1982 a bad storm was coming our way. SOP is that if a hurricane is to hit Keesler, the WC-130s go off-station for safety. Depending on the storm track, they could go just about anywhere. They then use their remote base/location from which to plan, schedule, prepare, and then execute their duties.

These folks fly for hours gathering data and providing us the security in knowing what's coming, how soon, and how intense. For all those "Herc" lovers out there, here is a photo I borrowed from Air Force Link:

[Thanks Kathy Paine, US Air Force Link]

Anyway, if you thought this "Old Bird" was tired and should be put out to pasture, she still has life in her! In fact, there is now a WC-130J out there! You can see the new cockpit at Air Force Link Photos.


Stay Tuned to ...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

AFPC notifies Airmen of criminal activity exposing personal info

!!! LinkedInUSAF WARNING !!!

In a release made by the AFPC (Air Force Personnel Center) on August 19th, 2005 (Release No. 080), the Air Force is notifying more than 33,000 Airmen that a security breach has occurred in the online Assignment Management System. It seems that someone (!) has used another airman's account to access quite a few personnel records. I found out about this via the updates I get from the AFA (Air Force Assoc). Here's a snippet from the article on the AFPC site:

"A malicious user accessed approximately half of the officer force’s individual information while only a handful of noncommissioned officers were affected, according to Lt. Col. John Clarke, AFPC’s deputy director of Personnel Data Systems."

It seems that they are unsure just what this person, or people, are trying to gain. They did say that it came from one person's account. I guess it is a good thing they didn't login or "hop" around from account to account. What a completely shallow and crap-infested way to use the !

This seems to affect only Active Duty and Reserve/Guard forces. I am trying to contact someone at the AFA and AFPC to see if anyone separated or retired was accessed. It may not be possible as I suspect that the latter's records are sealed and not readily available since we are not utilizing the online Assignment Management System. There is a way to see if you were targeted:

"officials say officers may login to the virtual Military Personnel Flight at http://www.afpc.randolph.af.mil/vs/ to see if their information was viewed. If it was, they will receive a pop-up banner after login which will provide additional information. The small number of enlisted members who have had their information viewed will be contacted directly."

I guess that there were a higher number of officers that were "attacked". Bastard(s)!

Hopefully I can get more info soon. Please be sure to read the whole article - there is some good information. Also, tell your buddies, etc. I'll ensure there is more information in the Yahoo! Group, too.

Stay Tuned to ...

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Lackland AFB History - Flight Photo Project

Wow, I just had an amazing evening. I was minding my own business, fixing some messed up windows software and updating my Adobe Arcrobat Reader software. Sheesh. What fun, eh?!

Then, I get this great posting from one of the team in the . Derek Kottke sent a link out to all of us about a historical project that Lackland AFB is doing. The Air Force Basic Military Training School has started a Flight Photo Project Lackland AFB History - Flight Photo Project. If you have a copy of your BMTS Graduation photo laying around, scan that puppy and forward on to the team at Lackland AFB!

Speaking of that, Derek got me so in to this that I scrambled up into the attic and snagged my photo. I scanned it, mushed it into photoshop, and got the photo off to the Flight Photo Project! I still remember some of the names -especially Lipscomb and Perbetsky, Airman Turner (our Rope), Vasquez-Gomez, our DI SSgt Serdinia (sp?) and our TI TSgt Smith. I was at Lackland Nov-Dec of 1981.

Memory Lane.

If they don't have your flight listed, and you have your BMTS photo laying around, why not grab it, scan it, and send it in! They will take only JPEG files that are less than 2MB (2000kb). Send out to this e-mail address: 37TRW.HO@Lackland.af.mil And make sure that you tell them about the flight, squadron number, and the month and year that you all graduated. You could even add a little extra info, if you are so inclined ...

Can't hurt.

Stay Tuned to ...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Hmmm ... vacation comes at an awful time ...

Well, finally got a good phone number at the Pentagon. I called and got a very nice person who agreed that I need to reach another officer. I called that office to begin the process with that staff, but it seems that the office is on vacation all next week. Bummer for me.

My hopes to get this LinkedInUSAF group launched next week are Tango Uniform. Dang.

Therefore, in place of keeping these blog postings specific to LinkedInUSAF, I have decided to jot down memories of my days on the flight line. My first posting is going to be around one launch in the late summer of 1986 at Beale AFB. I had the most extraordinary opportunity to ride out to the hammerhead for a take-off! And, for those of you that love great sunsets, this one beats them all - well, except the first one with my wife, ya can't beat that with a stick!

If you're an aircraft nut, maybe the sunset with your wife isn't as cool as this, but, hey, MY WIFE READS MY POSTINGS!

Sheesh. I'm no idiot!!! (ok, the jury's out on that still, ask my two daughters!) :)

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Talking to the Air Force brings back "Hurry up and wait!"

I sent an e-mail to the Pentagon to get approval for using the "wings" portion of the USAF logo for our LinkedInUSAF Group badge. I got a form letter back from the Capt in charge. Ugh. This is actually going to take a while I suspect.

Here is a copy of the letter I sent in to the AF for approval to use the wings:

I have been coordinating a group of retired, separated, and active duty US Air Force personnel. This group is for USAF folks only. We are utilizing a web tool/site for professional networking called LinkedIn (http://www.linkedin.com). I have applied for a formal group to be managed by the LinkedIn Groups team. This group is to be designated LinkedInUSAF. Each group requires a "badge" and I cobbled together a pretty cool graphic for my groups use. I have attached the 100x50 GIF image to this e-mail.

For background, I am ex-USAF. I entered as delayed enlistment in 1980 during my Junior year in High School. I was active duty and reserves from 1981-1987. I left the USAF honorably as an E-4 from Offutt AFB with the AFSC of 328x4 (Avionics Inertial and Radar Navigation Specialist). I took Palace Chase and then re-entered the USAF Reserves at Beale AFB, CA. I was then promoted to E-5 SSgt and separated honorably from that assignment.

My assignments were:

Keesler AFB, MS for training
Pope AFB, AWADS extra training
Rhein Main AFB, 435th FMS (also supported the 7th SOS)
Offutt AFB, 55th AMS
Beale AFB, 9th AMS

I had the HUGE privilege of working on some very important planes and projects. I believe that I was given a great gift to be able to support EC/MC-130s, EC/RC/KC-135s, E-4A, SR-71, U-2, TR-1, and the KC-135Q. I have worked on some great computer systems and was careful to provide my chain of command the best I had to offer. I still love _MY_ United Stated Air Force - you should see the flag and stickers on my truck! :)

I am also a member of the AFA Chapter 361, Tennessee Ernie Ford (Air Force Assoc, Sunnyvale CA). The AFA is one of the groups that gave me the idea to start this LinkedInUSAF Networking Group. It is often where other ex-USAF folks are not aware of all the help they can receive from others right in their own backyard. I am trying to extend the help _I_ receive to other folks, via the world wide web.

The genesis for this group is to provide assistance to other USAF personnel, whether active or prior service. Our goal is to connect more people together so that we can help each other. This extends further in that by helping one person we can help husbands or wives, widows or widowers, brothers or sisters, parents or kids, aunts or uncles, you name it we want to continue to help.

There is no revenue at all to be gained from this group. The group does not sell anything, nor do we expect to gain anything other than support from our fellow airmen - past or present. This "badge" is displayed next to each of our names which identifies us to other folks in the system. Only USAF personnel can join - no exceptions. We are a closed organization/group. This badge is also displayed in our Yahoo! Group where we share links to services, guides to help others with their careers, instructions on how to get help from the VA, etc. There currently are no plans to create a bumper sticker or a hat/shirt - we are too new for that to begin. If and when this is an issue, I will be sure to re-apply and gain approval for items other than a web-graphic (unless the license agreement is broad and covers that use as well).

At this time, to get the LinkedInUSAF Group approved by the LinkedIn Groups team, I need authorization to use the wings in my badge. I also utilized the 'U' 'S' 'A' 'F' from the AirForce Link web site and fashioned a badge that will fit into a 100x50 and 60x30 GIF file. It was hard to ensure that everyone knew that we are LinkedIn and USAF - you'll see by the attachment.

I read the guidelines for utilizing the wings portion of the logo. As for the spacing for the letters in U.S.A.F. that I am using, I attempted to follow your guidelines. I hope that I have succeeded. I tried to separate the wings from the other logo (LinkedIn's logo) as well as to keep from crowding the wings and the letters for the USAF.

I respect the United Stated Air Force a great deal. I served my country and would return in a second! If I woke up tomorrow and saw my bags at the end of my bed, and I was 17 again, and I knew just what I would be doing in the Air Force, I'd hop right out of bed and run to the bus stop!

Please let me know how best to complete the license agreement to allow my professional networking group the use of the wings. I have about 500 people waiting to get their "badge" - and I paid out of pocket (my own money) to get this group approved by LinkedIn Groups. I really do not want to fail my fellow airmen!

Thanks for your time and consideration. Please respond to provide me some sort of time line or extra guidelines.


Steve Glaiser

So, in classic Air Force process management, I get the following back:


Thank you for your request for information regarding licensing/approval of commercial use of the official Air Force Symbol. Unfortunately, official licensing of the Air Force Symbol is temporarily on-hold. Legislation passed recently that requires changes to each services' trademark licensing programs. As such the Air Force is in the process of modifying their trademark program and licensing agreement. Program changes should be finalized and ready for implementation within the next few weeks, allowing licensing to resume shortly after that.

Although future changes in the licensing program may provide opportunities for the Air Force to license use of the symbol to manufacturers for retail sale to larger commercial markets, the Air Force is currently only licensing to vendors who will sell their products exclusively through the Army/Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). For more information about how to sell to Army/Air Force Exchanges, contact the AAFES at:


For individuals requesting information on the Official Air Force Seal or Emblem, please Mr. Jay Godwin xxx-xxx-xxx or Dr. Timothy Warnock xxx-xxx-xxxx at http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil for more information. Of special note, the Air Force Seal is reserved for Air Force internal use only.

Your request will be filed and an application will be sent via e-mail as soon as our program resumes.

Please call me at the numbers provided below if you have any questions. I look forward to working with you in the future.

Capt. Halfhill

DeDe S. Halfhill
Integrated Marketing
1690 Air Force Pentagon
Washington, DC 20330-1690

Well, looks like being able to use the wings is an adventure in itself. If anyone out there can help, please mail me LinkedInUSAF@gmail.com

This badge is gonna look so cool!!! I just wish the Air Force was a little more responsive. I guess I have to get on the horn and start calling around, starting with Capt Halfhill.

Stand by, more to come ...

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

How LinkedInUSAF started ...

First blog post - seems I should go into what this blog is all about. Why not, you took the time to come here, I should at least give you the insight into why I am doing all this - on my own.

LinkedIn is a great tool. I had some relative exposure and a limited set of connections. Over time I have been growing in my use of social networking, and had great fun being a member of SNUG (social network user group - founded by Dutch Driver). The weekly meetings and chances to network were great, but Dutch moved back to Texas and I needed to spread my wings on my own.

I started to work LinkedIn. The most interesting revelation is that one can look through old phone lists, collected e-mail addresses from earlier contacts, and often when you are browsing the net and you find an interesting article, jot down the author's e-mail address and take a chance! All these resources are at our disposal. You just have to begin to get creative.

While improving my LinkedIn profile and contacts, I began to gain exposure on some forums. After a few postings and invites to join from the moderators, I have now ended up all over the LinkedIn landscape (at least the terra firma that interests me):


Then I met some more folks from those forums, and via new connections, and ended up joining their groups and associations:

ONEKO Internet Entrepreneurs
RFID Tribe
SCUEBA (Santa Clara University Engineering Business Alliance)
NorCal PDMA Forum
Early Stage Entrepreneurs
CareerLink Network
Pioneer Entrepreneurs

Now, all this social networking stuff is cool. But I have had a first love when it comes to my career - the United States Air Force. My biggest and most influential first job was in the USAF. I had some great assignments and was given a TON of responsibility. I worked on systems that were so state of the art that I could not even tell my family what I was working on. If I found an article or a news spot that said a little bit about what I was doing, I'd be shouting to the rafters for my family to catch up and read or watch the TV.

Now days, I just switch to Discovery Wings Channel (now The Military Channel) with my wife and our two girls and point:

  • Daddy worked on that plane (MC/EC/HC/C-130)
  • Daddy worked on that plane (EC/RC/KC-135 & KC-135Q [special])
  • OK, Daddy worked on those planes too (SR-71, U-2, TR-1)
  • Daddy got to board one of those to do a "quick turn repair", and she had "red guns", whew that was a great day (AC-130 Spectre)
  • That GPS system was first known as NAVSTAR, which was part of JTIDS, and I "burlap sacked" some of that stuff at 2AM
  • Those "birds" went to some unbelievable places
  • The crews on those missions saw some unbelievable %@#^&*! :)
All that crammed into a short tour in the Air Force.

I lived in Germany for two years and lived on the economy (that means I rented an apartment and did not live in the barracks). I drove all over on one three day weekend: up to the Netherlands, through Luxembourg, down through France, over to Switzerland, and then back to Frankfurt. I drove through the "Eastern Block" in my Dodge Charger 2.2 - from Helmstedt to West Berlin through East Germany (eeks, that was freaky). Folks, this was during the height of the cold war - 1982 to 1984. I walked all over East Berlin, in full uniform, or I'd be shot as a spy!

Oh yeah, those were the days ...

Now I take my family to places where they can touch planes no one could ever get near without being shot. You can walk right up and touch the wingtip of an SR-71, a U-2, and a YF-12A!!! Oh yeah, you can! Granted you have to drive to the Mojave Desert (Palmdale CA) to do this, but I'm tellin' you if you love planes, this is a MUST DO TRIP!!! This is all at the Blackbird Airpark.

All that memory lane brought me to the following groups and associations:

Flight Test Historical Foundation
Air Force Assoc Chapter 361 (AFA - Tennessee Ernie Ford)
Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Assoc (AFCEA)
Blackbirds Web site (I worked on both, but the SR-71 is my favorite)
C-130 HQ Message Board (those that worked on all flavors of C-130s)

I started to realize that there are a ton of folks out there that may not have the access to so many resources. These folks may not know where to go on the internet, or have anyone that they can talk to other than their family and close friends. What if they needed to ask someone how to get some assistance from the VA Hospital, or needed separation paperwork so that they can apply for a VHA Loan, or get a loan through the Pentagon Federal Credit Union? What if someone's teenager is applying to a college and needs an "in" to the admissions process, or a son or daughter is applying for a job at a big company and needs to get their resume "on the right desk"? What if you are an airman and just separated from the Air Force and you don't know where to start, but you'd like to work at Lockheed or Litton or L3 Communications?

  • Maybe some LinkedIn folks can help?
  • Maybe if I connect a bunch of us, we can all network to help?
  • Maybe there is a better way to provide access to internet resources?
  • Maybe I should get off my butt and start something new!
Now, full circle, you can see how I came about creating the LinkedInUSAF Yahoo! Group. I have been trying to build up my connections to gain critical mass so that I can start a formal LinkedIn Group. Then all my connections, and others that join the LinkedInUSAF Group, can have a "badge" displayed in their LinkedIn profile - like this one:

Alright, it takes time to ensure I can get as many folks into the LinkedInUSAF Yahoo! Group. I want to get maximum membership as possible without offending any of the LinkedIn members. There are some pretty touchy folks out there ...

I have tried a few requests. Right now my hit rate is >75% - only a select few did not want to connect directly. After reading a blogger posting from Rick Upton I think there might be a better way to get maximum reach and an increase in membership. His algorithm seems to be a simple way of doubling up on future members. I'll have to see how well it works - some folks complained and didn't want to be part of an "alumni group". Oh well ...

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