Alaska Air National Guardsmen from the 176th Wing rescued an injured Iditarod musher March 9, some 136 miles north of Anchorage. Senior Master Sgt. Evan Budd, a rescue coordination center superintendent, said the musher was injured after falling near a checkpoint for the 900-mile dogsled race, which traverses remote Alaskan wilderness. An HH-60G Pave Hawk and a Guardian Angel rescue team were dispatched. Airmen stabilized the injuries and transported the musher to a hospital.
Brothers Master Sgt. Aaron Farris and Airman 1st Class Daniel Farris were united at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, after 15 years apart. Aaron is 13 years older than his brother and left home to join the military when Daniel was six. Travel restrictions and lockdown measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 make it more difficult for troops to visit home, so “having family over here is especially beneficial to my mental health,” Daniel said. “I see this as one of the most unique and rare opportunities two brothers can have,” said Aaron.
Seven Airmen made history as the first “Accelerated Path to Wings” program graduates, and they transitioned from students to Air Force pilots during a ceremony March 12. Nicknamed the ‘XPW’ program, the course is part of AETC’s pilot training transformation efforts, and students completing an undergraduate pilot training (UPT) curriculum that only utilizes one airframe, the T-1 Jayhawk. “We had students from various backgrounds, including five who had completed their initial flight training and two who had earned their private pilot’s license,” said Lt. Col. Eric Peterson, 99th Flying Training Squadron commander. “This is a great program for students who want to go fly heavy aircraft in Air Mobility Command, or who want to go fly certain aircraft in special operations or in Air Combat Command.” Traditional UPT is a three-phase program that produces pilots in 12 months. The XPW program is done in two phases and graduates students in about seven months. Once students make it through the required simulator training, they go on to fly in the T-1.
Doug Cook, deputy chief, Airlift Division, USTRANSCOM Acquisition Directorate, received the 2020 Pricing and Contracting Legends Award, which recognizes individual efforts within DOD acquisition and contracting, March 25. Cook’s supervisor, Gina Lee, said, “Doug’s intimate knowledge of our contracts and how the airlift system works allows him to craft unique solutions quickly.” Cook thanked “a long list of supervisors who allowed me to fail a few times, and grow along the way.”
Capt. Haida StarEagle on March 12 became the first female Native American intelligence officer to join the United States Space Force. “Some people just have that ‘it’ factor, and I can tell you that the Space Force is gaining an absolutely phenomenal leader,” said Lt. Col. Michael Hollingsworth, joint collection training division lead, United States Special Operations Command. “She is the most motivated person I’ve met in my 12 years of service,” said Master Sgt. Ryan Ritchey, 36th IS chief of training. “Her commitment to her Airmen is at a level I’ve never seen before.” From Brooklyn, N.Y., StarEagle is a member of the Matinecock Tribe. Her father, Chief Samuel Little Fox, is the Shaman for all 13 tribes on Long Island, and led the invocation during the induction ceremony. “When I was born, during my naming ceremony, the Shaman came back from his vision quest and told my father that I was destined for the stars,” said StarEagle. “My entire life has been focused toward the stars, and joining the Space Force puts me one step closer to following that dream.”
Jens Fleer, 52nd Fighter Wing base falconer, demonstrated bird-of-prey handling at the 726th Air Mobility Squadron on Spangdahlem AB, Germany, March 5. Falconers train many types of birds of prey, multiple times per week. Jack, a male hawk, is trained to hunt on base to eliminate the chance of catastrophic bird strikes, which can damage aircraft. The Bird/wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard (BASH) Team also employs dogs to clear the flight line of any wildlife before aircraft takeoff.
Chaplain (Capt.) Lance Brown, 374th Wing Staff Agency at Yokota AB, Japan, and his wife, Karen Brown have been performing home cleanses, or anointings, for the past eight years in homes where “odd things occur.” Supernatural activity is reported so often at this base in western Tokyo that it inspired a Facebook group, Yokota Ghost Hunter Club. The Browns said their cleansings are sometimes about helping someone cope with anxiety, heartbreak, or a troubled past.
Michigan Army National Guard Sgt. Christian Grow, a combat medic, is credited with saving a nurse’s life at a vaccination clinic during a lunch break. “I thought, ‘She’s actually choking,’” Grow said, describing the incident. He pulled the woman out of her chair and performed the Heimlich maneuver. “I seriously feel that had he not done that, I would have needed a tracheotomy to open my airway. It was very traumatic and very rapid,” said Jacqueline Goldstein, the nurse. “I’m happy that we have the National Guard here.“