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

Friday, October 28, 2005

Protection from above - EC-130H Compass Call

Shivers all over, that's the least I can say right now! Check this out!

I have supported this "archangel" when I was stationed at Rhein Main AFB, Germany. Knowing that she patrols the skies, blanketing our troops below, kept me in a very restful sleep when I was active duty. I cannot say enough about the role our C-130 hardware has done for the US Military. Coupling the EC-130 with the MC-130 Talon and Talon II birds makes for a bad day - if you are the enemy!

Capt. James H. Cunningham, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, published an article today in Air Force Link News about Compass Call and how she keeps soldiers on the ground, in theater and elsewhere, very safe. Let's just drop a few facts on you from this story. Like, what the platform is most successful at doing:

"The Compass Call essentially provides an electronic shield around ground forces. The shield gives friendly forces freedom to do their job, while denying the enemy the ability to use many of their technological assets. It is a mission that has garnered customer respect."

OK, geek speak, she blankets the field with friendly signals, stripping the enemies use of the airwaves. It is a matter of simple radio signal ... OK, I'll stop now. Look, just try running your old 1.5 Cubic foot microwave, WiFi LAN, and talk on your 2.4GHz telephone all at once! Get the picture! Oh yeah, that's the ticket.

This is not her only function. When I was transitioning from USAFE (Rhein Main AFB) to SAC (Offutt AFB) we were going whole-hog into JTIDS (Joint Tactical Information Distribution System). Compass Call's new, not so new but heightened, role makes JTIDS a small Fisher-Price Walkie Talkie! We're so connected now, as Mr. T used to say, "I pity the fool!" if they mess with us. Sheesh, USAF alone, put GlobalHawk and Predators in the air, the FA-22, U-2, E-3 Sentry, AC-130H Spectres and AC-130U U-Boat/Spooky IIs, MC-130 Talon IIs, and EC-130 Compass Calls ... stand back 'cause the US Air Force is coming - you just can't see us.

Now, link all this support up with the US Army and US Marine Corps battlefield command systems and COMMS! Which, in turn, links to MH-53s and MH-60s, Cobras, Blackhawks, M1-A1/2 Abrams, UAVs ... oh, man ... I need not go on, you get the picture.

One more thing from Capt. Cunningham's article:

"Providing an umbrella of electronic protection over ground forces has become the role of EC-130H Compass Call aircraft here."

"But since November 2004, the 41st Expeditionary Electronic Combat Squadron has taken that role to the next level by supporting more than 1,500 air support requests, or ASRs."

And as Lt. Col. Dean “Clean” Worley, the squadron commander says in this article:

“We are essentially providing electronic close-air support”

You might see a C-130 one day, on the tarmac, and you just might give her a pass. I mean, let's be honest, she's old! But the C-130 4-prop has been the mainstay of US Air Force hardware. You cannot deny that in the role she plays as the EC-130, there is no substitute - and a serious threat if she no longer played that role. Her closest sibling is the new C-130J - a 6-prop airframe (uh-huh, I said 6-prop). Herc enthusiasts love the pre-J model because she has carried them from place to place, and way back when, to safety. Their love is very deep and you can experience some of that love at the C-130 Hercules HQ Message Board. And, teams still using her like the 7th SOS know just how important, and loved, this "archangel" is to them.

She may be slow, she may be old, but she watches over you and gets you there safe. Gotta love her!

Stay Tuned to ...

Monday, October 17, 2005

100 Years of Flight - USAF Then and Now

On October 5th, 1905, Orville and Wilbur Wright propelled (no pun intended - OK, pun intended) the world into a new and wondrous era: FLIGHT. There is no mistaking that without this day in history, and the tireless (oh boy, another pun - these won't stop!) research, planning, and execution of these two men, there would be no United States Air Force.

Well, OK, maybe it would have happened, but these two are "Heartlanders"!!!

Hello! Dayton Ohio!! Wright-Patt AFB!!! Heartland, there is no doubt!

'Nothin' better than some down home ingenuity and American drive to succeed!

And, what's even scarier? ONE HUNDRED YEARS AND TEN DAYS later, October 15th, 2005, the Air Force deployed the first F/A-22 RAPTOR to Hill AFB, Utah. Training, shmaining ... this bird's real!!!

The Raptor is one of the most impressive engineering success stories, next to my favorite the SR-71! Let's be honest, my friends, the leaps and bounds the invention of the airplane has taken the US Air Force in 100 years is astonishing! After WWII and the Army Air Corps becoming the USAF, our proud day, September 18th, 1947, the US Air Force has been "burning up the JP4" in an amazing display of commitment, pride, and love of flight. Our great-great-great-Grandfathers, Orville and Wilbur, I am sure are most certainly proud of our achievements.

To keep these planes in the air, and always on target, there are thousands upon thousands of airmen, commissioned and noncommissioned, giving their all. As General Myers said last year, on our birthday,

"Today’s Air Force inherits a tremendous legacy: A century of flight and a history of boundless accomplishments. That legacy is in very good hands. On behalf of the Joint Chiefs, to all the men and women in the U.S. Air Force who serve, and have served, I thank you. Happy birthday U.S. Air Force!"

And there is a feeling between us all that not many can explain. We don't really have a great nickname like "Jarhead", "Grunt", "Squid", "SeaBee", or "Seal". Maybe some call us "Zoomie", but, huh? "Flyboy" ... just not gritty enough, wouldn't you say?

Do airmen actually need a gritty nickname? Do we need a movie named "Zoomie" to make us feel good? Is it important that our history, solid USAF history, only goes back 58 years? I mean, the history of the US Navy goes waaaay back, as does the US Army and United States Marine Corps. Air Force history, they ask?

Uh-huh, history, in a short extremely powerful burst! ABs ON FULL!!!

Should we be defined by our 58 years of service? Our service being that of AIR SUPERIORITY, SECURITY OF SPACE, MULTIPLE DELIVERY MECHANISMS, IMMEDIATE AND SEAMLESS DEPLOYMENT, CONSTANT READINESS, INSTANTANEOUS INFORMATION DISSEMINATION, and AIR FOCUSED THREAT COVERAGE for our fellow service members holding the line on the ground.

Once again, as General Myers so aptly stated,

"The war on terrorism is a war we must win to preserve our freedoms and protect our way of life. The U.S. Air Force has a crucial role in this war, accomplishing vital expeditionary and long-range combat missions, along with dozens of other missions critical to our national security: flying satellites, controlling airfields, maintaining our ballistic missile fleet, training technicians and leaders, and many more. Preserving our liberties takes determination, hard work and talent. The task is huge, but I stand completely confident that America’s Airmen are up to the challenge."

Are we to be defined by all this, and an ever changing future?

Well, yes, we should. And we should be damn proud of what we have accomplished in these very short 58 years, I must add!

Oh, and the one thing that General Myers is not able to say, out loud, is God Bless the United States Air Force, and her retired, separated and active duty airmen. I am sure he feels it, but in these times he is not able to say it.

Therefore, I say God Bless General Myers for being there for all of us. Thank you for protecting us and our families, and may you have continued success!

Stay Tuned to ...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Trek, Waypoints, Bridges - LinkedInUSAF

I was reading Sara Horton's sites Faith at the Front and A Greater Freedom yesterday. I just love the way she, and the other writers, communicate. I hope some day to get as expressive and clear. I'm still working on keeping my paragraphs from getting blown out of shape! Sara's writing got me thinking: who, and what, out there gets me to write to all you folks?

On the right-hand sidebar of the blog there are some links and then a "Noteworthy Blogs" blogroll. You could hop around and read, at any point and time, any one of these blogs and come away with something informative, inspirational, or flat out funny. You're not being forced to read the sites and blogs that I do. Maybe a few questions have come to the fore in your mind, which is only natural.

Do you ever wonder why I go to read these sites? Do you think that these sites influence what is written here? Do you think this is what our site is all about and you don't agree with the position from this other blog? Do you think I should take down a link, 'cause that person or position is counter to what you believe, feel, or want to hear? Do you wonder why it is your blog is not up on the list, 'cause other people have you in their blogroll?! I have no idea if these, or any other questions, are on your mind because I cannot read your mind.

Poignant, eh?

To be honest, every site on the list has some piece of information that ties in to what I am trying to do here at . Be sure to internalize what I said just now: "every site" not "everyone". If you think that the sites and blogs listed are a person, since they are of a personal nature, you are already off the mark. The fact that there is someone behind Hooah.net, Dude, Where's the Beach, I Love Jet Noise, Little Green Footballs, does not mean that I like that person - I want their information to be available to you. I hope to build a relationship between you, my reader, and those other writers out there with an open heart and care for their neighbor.

OK, life changing point being made there, d'ya catch it? I am an info-greedy-writer connecting folks in a network. I intend no umbrage or fulfill some conspiracy related to some crass delight in stealing from other sites. I'm not stealing, but building something far greater.

is a powerful, structured, and expansive way of providing support to those in need. The only way someone in need, say your neighbor, can benefit from your help is if you know that person. By using Social Networking to build connections between neighbors, help can come at any time from many directions. Even pay it forward becomes capable, in fact simple. Yet Social Networking is limited in that one person (or node) often becomes a hub. The true power is realized when successful connections are made between hubs.

is a professional Social Networking tool. I have been using their product for quite some time - and I love it! I also love the United States Air Force. I am motivated to help any of my former, present, and future brethren in arms serving in the US Air Force. I have a sizeable professional network available through my association and use of . Several of my connections love the USAF, , and have multiple-fold larger professional networks. Once we connect our respective networks, the troubled waters our neighbors encounter are no more than a beautiful stream, far beneath us - an obstacle or heartache no more.


In navigating through this great life, each person is a waypoint along the way. And each waypoint is a bridge across life's obstacles - those great and turbulent waters. Your information is key to the success of the journey. Think of our using your information and support as one more segment in an even greater bridge.

Some day, I might ask you to be a part of this great bridge. You may not see your blog or favorite site called out in the sidebar. Rest assured you are an integral part of this journey and I'll make sure everyone knows. Most importantly, those that you help along our trek know that you made their lives just a tad bit easier.

Thanks for all your help, yesterday, today, and yes, tomorrow.

Stay Tuned to ...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The Pentagon, Branding, and LinkedInUSAF Launches

OK, holding back the need to just type like a madman!

Earlier this week I spoke with the Pentagon - yep, for real, no more Phone-Tag for both Captain Halfhill and I. My schedule has been so busy that it has been hard for the both of us to connect. Now that we have, I better understand why I cannot use the Hap Arnold Wings:

in our group badge on . One concern that the Air Force has is they are unable to regulate the speech and content being communicated via blogs, Yahoo! Groups like our Yahoo Group, and other personal websites. Even though I continue to keep the rhetoric and flaming to nil, I can understand exactly the orders that Capt. Halfhill must execute.

Still a bummer. So, I created a new one:

A huge THANK YOU to Captain Halfhill for taking the time out of her day to clarify with me, person to person, the situation. Dedication to her mission, and desire to keep me informed, is very much appreciated. Branding and messaging is very important for any organization, and I can respect the decision the Department of the Air Force has made.

And, then ...

While hopping around on the MilBlogs and messing with JP's new Milblogging.com site, I checked in with the Groups folks. I was wondering when I would get my group activated. I sent an e-mail to the person in charge of my account - 10 minutes later I get a response! Yeah, 10 MINUTES LATER! That was flippin' fast, I'm A Tellin' You!

Net-Net, is going to activate the LinkedInUSAF group on MONDAY! Yeah!!!

So, if you are a member, active duty or ex-USAF, get "Linked" to me or Derek Kottke. The instructions on how to get the LinkedInUSAF badge on your LinkedIn profile will be distributed within the LinkedInUSAF Yahoo Group. Link to us, then get in the group!

Stay Tuned to ...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Deep Respect, Deep Sorrow, Deep Feelings

*-*-*-- UPDATE --*-*-*

On October 7th, 2005, Air Force Link provided a great piece in regards to A1C Jacobson's memorial. I've included the pieces that spoke the most to me, here. Please visit the Air Force Link article to see the entire story, and accompanying photo.

“She was my troop, my friend and a person only few have been lucky enough to know,” said Staff Sgt. Katrina Hunt, of the 386th Expeditionary Security Forces Squadron.

“Of course, we don’t have any of those answers. But because we have the questions, we clearly have a responsibility to stand in the breach for her,” he said. “We are not just the beneficiaries of her bravery; we are the stewards of her sacrifice.”

“I spoke to her dad the day after. We both grieved and then he told me how she was excited to be (deployed) and working on convoys,” he said.

As the ceremony continued, a small flight of her security forces comrades stood at parade rest until all the remarks were complete. Then NCO in charge of the flight called them to attention and began a roll call. Each name was called and each Airman responded with “here,” until Airman Jacobson’s name was called out.

Airman Jacobson,” the Sergeant said.

No reply.

Airman 1st Class Jacobson,” he said again.

No reply.

A1C Elizabeth Jacobson,” he said finally.

No reply.

Then as bag pipes softly played “Amazing Grace” over the chapel speakers, a solitary security forces Airman slowly carried a folded flag forward and placed it in a memorial display near the inverted M-16, helmet and boots.

Through the open chapel doors, the voice of a firing squad team leader gave commands. Following each series of commands, the crack of synchronized rifles firing single shots echoed through the doors. Then, from a distance, a single bugler played “Taps.”

The final ceremonial tribute came from a letter Airman Jacobson had written for family and friends which was read aloud by Sergeant Hunt. The short letter ended with, “I also believe in love and here is my quote. We’re only on Earth for a little while, so live life to the fullest and carry a smile.”

=== ORIGINAL POST -- 4 October, 2005 ===
Yesterday I posted regarding the passing of Rhein Main AFB. Rhein Main closed September 30th, 2005. And now, it seems that there was more afoot than just a base being closed on that ill fated day - death has darkened the doorstep of the U.S. Air Force.

We have lost an airman, an airman in arms protecting others, an airman that shall not be forgotten.

Air Force Link provides specifics regarding the tragic death of one member of the U.S. Air Force Security Forces. A1C Elizabeth Jacobson was killed while protecting her convoy - yes her convoy. I submit that anyone placing their life in harms way, in a security role (protecting a convoy), has ownership and stewardship privilege. When that stewardship has been snatched away, by force or treason, the debt those under protection incur is enormous. This is not guilt, I say, but debt of gratitude. I was not under her stewardship, but I offer my gratitude for her protecting my family and I from a very long distance.

My first true interaction with the SPs, ironically, took place at of all bases Rhein Main AFB. I maintained my marksman ribbon for some time, and was asked to assist the Security Police as an augmentee. Now, you SPs out there know how scary it can be to give a "toolbox jockey" a fully loaded M-16! But, you guys also gave me a TRUCK! After my first day, no less ... sheesh, I'm still not sure why? I mean, when I jumped on the back of the bus, rifle (secure, I assure you), rounds, an 'FMS' cap (the avionics shop was in FMS on Rhein Main, not AMS), reflector lens sun glasses, and an easy going attitude, I felt a cold shudder resound throughout that bus!

OK, no one was scared, I'm exaggerating a bit here!

After a few days on the flightline, blocking a C-130 that jumped the red line, jacking up a maintenance truck FULL of guys from my shop, and working with dedicated teams of SPs, I can say that my respect for the flightline and its safety grew one hundred fold. I knew it was hard work, and I respected what SPs and the Security Teams on the perimeter were doing. But until I lived it, even a little, I really did not know the depth.

In war, Defensor Fortis is placed in harms way more often. Therefore, I am saddened today by the death of A1C Jacobson. Even though I do not know her, I knew SPs only by working the flightline, and I have been away from the flightline for many, many, years. My prayers go out to Airman First Class Elizabeth Jacobson, her family, her friends, her fellow airmen still in harms way, and all the past and present U.S. Air Force Security Teams.

Thanks to SlagleRock for getting me fired up. If you too have a blog, please link back to SlagleRock's piece - let's get some prayers and warmth going to A1C Jacobson's family and friends!

Stay Tuned to ...

Sunday, October 02, 2005

A Sad Note from the Air Force Association

September 30th, 2005, Rhein Main AFB is no more. It is a sad day for me, many others that have been stationed there, and countless hundreds of thousands that have processed through to get to their duty station. In fact, there are so many memories associated with Rhein Main AFB I think there are tons and tons of content that can fill numerous books!

For me there are several events that mark my days at Rhein Main AFB:

  • A major fire on the first floor rotunda area that resulted in major damage - new furniture being stored is torched by a pyromaniac destroying everything and causing evacuation of the BAQ
  • A Flying Tigers cargo plane has a pallet get loose on take-off, does a wheelie and slides off the runway into some mud - runway is down for about two days (I have photos I'll put here some day)
  • 242 Marines (may they rest) are killed in Beirut, Lebanon and are processed by Rhein Main personnel - the whole base was shaken that day and there were some very mad US Military personnel for quite a long time (ok, I'm still pissed off!)
  • During the Rhein Main AFB Air Show in May of 1983 a Canadian F-104 loses all hydraulics and crashes 10 miles from downtown Frankfurt, destroying a parking lot near an active soccer field, hitting one car killing the six occupants - the pilot stayed with it ALL THE WAY TO THE LAST 100 FT!!! to keep away from Frankfurt, punched out, and survived!
  • More and more opportunity to work closely with the 7th SOS - a huge step up in mission and the beginnings of my contact with AWESOME (aircraft with extraordinary security ops mission expectations)
There are so many more events of which I cannot comment. Not to be flip - I just cannot.

Rhein Main AFB is where I had the opportunity to live on the German economy. I rented an apartment in Langen with two other guys (they were both in the Radar Shop). Two of us bought our first car - a Mercedes 180 with a sunroof. We drove that car into the ground. When that car died I bought a Motobecane 10-Speed and rode to work - even in the freezing rain - through the forest or along the roads near the "pits". I then rented a place on my own in Heusenstamm. I bought a Spitfire 1500 from one of the SSgts in my shop. That convertible that took me all over Germany, until I upgraded to a Dodge Charger 2.2 (sweet). My Charger took me all the way to West Berlin, Luxembourg, Netherlands, France, Switzerland, and all over Frankfurt. The autobahn ... yeah!!!

I remember the chow hall on Mids. I remember being able to ride my bike under the runway approach and watch 747s fly right over. I remember going to the "pits" to recuperate after a huge night in Sachsenhausen. I remember riding the "Troop Train" to Berlin to play soccer when I was a member of the USAFE Base Soccer League. The game was Rhein Main AFB Soccer Team -vs- Templehauf Air Station Soccer Team (USAF). We lost 'cause Opah (our coach) would not get NEAR East Germany even to get to West Berlin! I remember sleeping on my A-Bag on the flightline after coming back from Flintlock. I remember the base being closed because devices were found on the railroad tracks coming onto the base. I remember driving through the forest to get to the "hangars at the end". I remember Sheet Metal hating me 'cause I found greater than 70% of the Doppler Radome fasteners were out of tolerance (I am sure they wish I never knew what a speed-handle was!). I remember laying under a C-130 on "Charlie" row, in the pouring rain, sealing a radome after an R-Square on the Doppler antenna - and then falling asleep waiting for the OpsCheck to finish with half my body out the cockpit window 'cause the heater was on so HOT that I couldn't feel my arm for 10 minutes!!!

Farewell, Rhein Main AFB. Maybe someday I'll get to visit, as a civilian.

[HT back to Sisyphean Musings - he bought his wedding rings at the BX on Rhein Main AFB - they're still married CONGRATS!!!]

Stay Tuned to ...

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