One of the last living Tuskegee Airmen, retired Brig. Gen. Charles E. McGee, celebrated his 102nd birthday on Dec. 6 at Joint Base San Antonio, taking a heritage tour of the 99th Flying Training Squadron, getting presented with a bottle of cola in honor of the tradition of shooting down an enemy aircraft, speaking to 99th FTS pilots, and visiting a flight simulator before being presented with a model T-7A Red Hawk and serenaded by squadron members with cake.
Special Tactics Officer Maj. Chris Walsh and Staff Sgt. Matt Beach, a combat controller, both from the 24th Special Operations Wing, competed together at the International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation North American Cup for a chance to represent Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Beach first started bobsledding in 2020, mentored by Walsh and another AFSOC teammate and bobsled athlete, Capt. Dakota Lynch. The pair finished in sixth place despite an equipment issue.
Five Air Force pararescuemen helped to save the life of a British mariner showing signs of a heart attack on a U.S. cargo ship, taking part in a two-day mission from Nov. 13-14 in the Indian Ocean, approximately 500 nautical miles east of Kenya. The pararescuemen flew aboard MV-22B Ospreys to rappel aboard the ship and stabilize the patient, then remained onboard overnight as the vessel maneuvered closer to shore. The next morning, they helped airlift him to a medical facility.
Col. Colleen Kelley, an ER doctor and commander of the 910th Medical Squadron in AFRC, has taken the stress and frustration of her job during the COVID-19 pandemic and turned it into something positive, writing ”COVID SCHMOVID: A Primer for Survival.” The book, inspired by a comment she made during a Zoom call with fellow doctors in Vermont, is intended to “lighten the frustration and fatigue that we all have experienced,” and all the proceeds are being donated to two local organizations in Kelley’s hometown in Vermont.
Airman Justin Staton on Dec. 1 became the North American champion of the Air Force’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate video game tournament, finishing second overall in the worldwide competition. Staton joined the Air Force in October 2020, following in the footsteps of his father, mother, and younger brother, and quickly found Air Force Gaming. “I love [that] the Air Force is involved in something I love to do. There are not a lot of careers that let you pursue your hobbies to the extent the Air Force does,” he said.
Tech. Sgt. Eric Fanslau, 60th Maintenance Squadron Dash-21 Aircraft Support section chief, has saved USAF $10 million, with the potential to save $20 million more, by creating a C-5M Super Galaxy winch repair solution. Fanslau and his crew have been able to reduce the amount of time needed to swap out winches and properly respool them from days to hours. Fanslau came up with the idea when thinking about his hobby, off-roading, and how his winch on his vehicle sometimes breaks, but he doesn’t replace the entire winch, he only replaces the cable.
Tech. Sgt. Jennifer Weigl, 19th Medical Group diagnostic flight chief, received the 2021 Lance P. Sijan U.S. Air Force Leadership Award in the junior enlisted category. The award recognizes the accomplishments of Airmen who demonstrate the highest qualities of leadership in the performance of their duties and conduct of their lives. At DOD’s only Level 1 trauma center, she and her team handled the challenges of COVID-19 and drove the 37th TW’s BMT Covid-19 mission. “For that to be recognized, and for my leadership to feel that I was even in the same realm as someone like Sijan, is surreal,” said Weigl.
It only costs about four cents to manufacture, but the plastic spacer designed by Master Sgt. Shannon Fulmer of the 7th Security Forces Squadron has the potential to save the Air Force over $30 million. Fulmer designed the spacer to mount the cutting-edge PSQ-20B Enhanced Night Vision Goggle onto security forces’ combat helmets—before then, security forces simply had to use old equipment because the new goggles couldn’t mount onto the helmets. Fulmer’s 3D-printed plastic spacers were submitted as part of the USAF’s 2021 Spark Tank competition.
Senior Airman Ezequiel Acosta arrived at JB McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., for Operation Allies Welcome, and ended up in charge of accountability for all Afghan evacuees in one of the base’s “villages.” The job involves helping the nearly 9,000 Afghan refugees obtain citizenship or resident status in a fifth of the time it normally takes, a process often called “organized chaos.” As a naturalized citizen of the U.S. himself, though, he knows the importance of the work. “I requested to extend beyond my first set of orders because I want to see this come to fruition and be a part of it,” he said.
Lt. Gen. David Krumm on Dec. 13 was honored by the Alaska Federation of Natives for his service and active engagement with the Alaska Native community. The Iñupiaq group gave him the name Siulliuqti (“leader”), and the Tlingit group gave the Kitch yaa (“under Raven’s wing”). Krumm is the fourth Active-duty service member to be so honored by the Alaska Federation of Natives. “I am grateful for the relationship we have … . I am humbled to be honored with the names and the gifts. … I will try very hard to live up to each of these names you have given me,” he said at the ceremony.