Medal of Honor presented to TSgt John Chapman’s family

Medal of Honor presented to TSgt John Chapman’s family

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — On what would have been their 26th wedding anniversary, Tech. Sgt. John Chapman’s widow, Valerie Nessel, accepted his Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump during a ceremony at the White House Aug. 22. “We are gathered together this afternoon to pay tribute to a fallen warrior, a great warrior…and to award him with our nation’s highest and most revered military honor,” Trump said. Fighting in the early morning hours through brisk air and deep snow, Chapman sacrificed his own life to preserve the lives of his teammates during the Battle of Taku Ghar, Afghanistan, on March 4, 2002. “[John] would want to recognize the other men who lost their lives,” Valerie said in a previous interview. “Even though he did something he was awarded the Medal of Honor for, he would not want the other guys to be forgotten – they were part of the team together. I think he would say his Medal of Honor was not just for him, but for all of the guys who were lost.” Chapman was originally awarded the Air Force Cross for his actions; however, following a review of the Air Force Cross and Silver Star recipients directed by then-Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, Deborah James, then-Secretary of the Air Force, recommended Chapman’s Air Force Cross be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. “John was always selfless – it didn’t just emerge at Taku Ghar – he had always been selfless and highly competent, and thank God for all those qualities,” retired Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time of the battle, said in a previous interview. “He could have hunkered down in the bunker and waited for the (Quick Reaction Force) and (Combat Search and Rescue) team to come in, but he assessed the situation and selflessly gave his life for them.” Chapman enlisted in the Air Force Sept. 27, 1985, as an information systems operator, but felt called to be part of Air Force special operations. In 1989, he cross-trained to become an Air Force combat controller. According to friends and family, Chapman had a tendency to make the difficult look effortless and consistently sought new challenges. Dating back to his high school days, he made the varsity soccer squad as a freshman. In his high school yearbook, Chapman quoted these words: “Give of yourself before taking of someone else.” Chapman looked for a new challenge, which he found in combat control. This special operations training is more than two years long and amongst the most rigorous in the U.S. military; only about one in 10 Airmen who start the program graduate. From months of intense training to multiple joint schools – including military SCUBA, Army static-line and freefall, air traffic control, and combat control schools – Chapman is remembered as someone who could overcome any adversity. “One remembers two types of students – the sharp ones and the really dull ones – and Chapman was in the sharp category,” said Ron Childress, a former Combat Control School instructor. “During one of his first days at Combat Control School, I noticed a slight smirk on his face like [the training] was too simple for him…and it was.” Following Combat Control School, Chapman served with the 1721st Combat Control Squadron at Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina, where he met Valerie in 1992. They had two daughters, who were the center of Chapman’s world even when he was away from home – which was common in special operations. “He would come home from a long trip and immediately have on his father hat – feeding, bathing, reading and getting his girls ready for bed,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael West, who served with Chapman through Combat Control School, a three-year tour in Okinawa, Japan, and at Pope AFB. “They were his life and he was proud of them. To the Air Force he was a great hero…what I saw was a great father.” The Battle of Takur Ghar In conjunction with Operation Anaconda in March 2002, small reconnaissance teams were tasked to establish observation posts in strategic locations in Afghanistan, and when able, direct U.S. airpower to destroy enemy targets. The mountain of Takur Ghar was an ideal spot for such an observation post, with excellent visibility to key locations. For Chapman and his joint special operations teammates, the mission on the night of March 3 was to establish a reconnaissance position on Takur Ghar and report al-Qaida movement in the Sahi-Kowt area. “This was a very high profile, no-fail job, and we picked John,” said retired Air Force Col. Ken Rodriguez, Chapman’s commander at the time. “In a very high-caliber career field, with the highest quality of men – even then – John stood out as our guy.” During the initial insertion onto Afghanistan’s Takur[…]

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Honoring the fallen and healing the family

KADENA AIR BASE, OKINAWA, JAPAN 05.01.2018 Story by Senior Airman Jessica Smith  18th Wing Public Affairs   On February 17th, 2002, an Army MH-47 helicopter crashed into the Sulu Sea while conducting counterterrorist operations in the Philippines, killing 10 people, one of which was Master Sgt. William L. McDaniel II, a pararescueman with the 320th Special Tactics Squadron.  Two years later a professional development center on Kadena Air Base was dedicated in his memory and is now known as the McDaniel Center. Nearly two decades later, his family was invited for an opportunity to see firsthand the dedication to their loved one and meet those who were involved. While it may seem a little late, the timing was just right for his mother and niece to find closure and healing for their loss. “I think it was just time,” said Sheila McDaniel, mother of the fallen. “My granddaughter kind of pushed me a little bit to get this going so we could come and see this … Maybe put a little bit of closure for me, for my son … About him.” McDaniel was the first born son, and the only child to follow in the footsteps of his father by joining the military. Upon finding out he was joining the military, Sheila had mixed emotions for her son, thinking back to a skinny little 13 year old boy. “He decided to go in the Air Force and yah, I was happy for him – nervous but happy,” she said. At a young age, McDaniel began to change his physical appearance – his dedication to fitness was a key factor in the confidence that could be seen in his work and a major contributor to his future successes. After years of dedication as a crew chief he decided to cross-train to become a pararescueman – a challenge for anyone but possibly even more so for him. “When he went into pararescue, he was the old man compared to the guys that were going through the pipeline at that time,” Sheila said. “He was 31, 32, and those guys were 18, 19, 20 years old, and he was doing just what they were and then some.” For everyone who knew McDaniel, it was clear he loved what he did, his mother explained, but was never boastful. “He wouldn’t have liked all this hoopla,” she laughed, “He was not into that … He became Pararescueman of the Year in 2001, and we never knew until he was killed – he never told.” As much as this trip was about the legacy of McDaniel, it was also about the healing of his family – many years later, the heartache is still there. Sheila still remembers the moment she found out about her son’s passing. “When they first came to tell me, I felt like somebody had stuck me in the gut and just ripped half of me away,” Sheila recalled. “As far as how I feel today … I miss him very much – his smile, his sweetness, his kindness and beautiful face.” Being able to come to Okinawa, brought a sense of peace to his mother as well as the rest of the family. Ashley McDaniel was 18 when her uncle, “Bub,” died and is one of the key people behind getting her grandmother Sheila, here. “I pushed for it, I pushed for her to be here because I felt like it would help her in a lot of ways,” Ashley said. “To see how happy she is to be here, makes me happy – words don’t describe it.” For Ashley, the visit has made dealing with her grief a little easier. “To see what everybody has done to keep his memory alive is awesome,” she said. “[It] makes it a little easier to deal with knowing that he’s never been found but he’s never been forgotten … “ During their trip, Sheila and Ashley were able to sense just how much people cared – and still do – for McDaniel. “I just get it from everybody, and that makes me feel wonderful to know he was loved that much,” Shelia said. The atmosphere of family and comradery made the trip better than expected for Ashley. “It’s been above and beyond – they’re a part of our family – nothing will ever change that,” she said. “They have absolutely made us feel like family and we’ll forever hang on to that.” Both Sheila and Ashley believe their loved one is looking down happily on their experience at Kadena. However, their emotions implore them to highlight the importance of valuing loved ones while they’re still here. “Tell them every day how much you love them,” Sheila said through tears, “Because you’re not promised the next day – ever.” Although the trip was a long time[…]

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Preparing Airmen to Return With Honor

BRANDON, SFK, UNITED KINGDOM 04.06.2018 Story by Airman 1st Class Elijah Chevalier  48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs  ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England – The last thing a pilot or aircrew member needs to be thinking about in the air is how they are going to survive on the ground if the worst was to happen. Survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialists ensure aircrew members have the peace of mind of knowing they are fully capable of enduring harsh conditions on their own while utilizing survival techniques to increase their probability of a safe and successful recovery in any environment. “Our moto in SERE is to ‘Return With Honor,’” said a SERE specialist from the 57th Rescue Squadron. “Aircrew survival school was first introduced in 1940s and from that, [prisoners of war] were able to look at themselves in the mirror and know that they survived with honor.” While most Airmen are trained to perform a tasks related to their career field, SERE specialists are trained to not only perform, but teach SERE related concepts. This includes water survival training, parachute training, severe environment training and anything else deemed necessary. “We are the subject matter experts when it comes to an aircrews’ training,” said the 57th RQS SERE specialist. “We understand the physical psychological stressors that aircrews go through when they find themselves in a survival situation, the task saturation, and what the environment is doing to their faculties, both physically and mentally.” This intimate knowledge of what it’s like being alone and pursued allows SERE specialists to provide unique insight on the state of mind of individuals in need of rescue. This information is used by rescue teams comprised of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers to facilitate a smooth recovery. “I take a lot of pride in my job,” said a SERE specialist assigned to the 48th Operations Support Squadron. “I love doing SERE. We have to try and knock the training out of the park each time, so we give them the skills they need to survive.” In the past 15 years, SERE specialists have provided lifesaving training to over 200,000 personnel from across all branches of the military, so operators and aircrew have the knowledge and confidence to stay focused on the mission while in the air, in the water or anywhere else they may find themselves around the globe.   For more stories like this on Specialtactics.com, click HERE

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Alaska National Guardsmen support Arctic Ocean Ice Exercise

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, ALASKA, AK, UNITED STATES 03.09.2018 Story by Sgt. David Bedard  Alaska National Guard Public Affairs  To most people – even Alaskans who are accustomed to the cold – the North Pole might as well be the surface of the moon in terms of its remoteness and hostility to the prospects of human survival. Whereas the South Pole is located over the bedrock of the Antarctic continental land mass, the North Pole is an unmoored collection of perpetually shifting ice sheets covering the inky depths of the Arctic Ocean. The only thing that is permanent there is the frigid air. When the cargo ramp of the 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II opened, the full force of the North Pole cold spilled into the aircraft’s interior hold. Alaska Air National Guard Maj. Brock Roden, a combat rescue officer with the 212th Rescue Squadron, stood up under the burden of a survival rucksack rigged between his legs. His face was wrapped tightly in a thermal mask to ward off flash frostbite. When the call was given to jump, Roden and his stick of Guardian Angels waddled like penguin parachutists toward the edge of the ramp and stepped into the minus 28-degree Fahrenheit air. After he verified he was descending under a fully deployed parachute canopy, Roden scanned the landscape below to ensure he wouldn’t touch down in open water or a craggy convergence of overlapping sea ice. Once he landed, Roden’s primary mission began: linking up with Arctic Sustainment Package equipment at the U.S. Navy’s Ice Camp Skate in an effort to survive and thrive in some of the most foreboding environmental conditions on the planet. More than 50 Alaska National Guardsmen supported the Navy’s Ice Exercise several hundred miles north of the Alaska coastline February and March 2018. The training was linked to the Alaska National Guard’s Arctic Eagle 2018, a statewide exercise involving national, state and local agencies designed to provide opportunities for participants to conduct sustained operations in Arctic conditions. The Alaska Air National Guard’s 176th Wing supported preparation for the exercise with airdrop missions by partnering with U.S. Marine Corps riggers from 1st Air Delivery Platoon, Landing Support Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 17, 1st Marine Logistics Group, to palletize U.S. Navy equipment and conduct air drop operations via a 249th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III aircraft on to the Beaufort Sea. The Arctic Sustainment Package is a rapidly deployable air-droppable package, including Guardian Angels, that can provide shelter, heat, transportation, fuel and food for 28 people for up to six and a half days in extreme Arctic conditions. “This was the first time the Arctic Sustainment Package has been dropped from our new HC-130J after receiving four new models last year,” said Alaska Air National Guard Lt. Col. Eric Budd, 211th RQS commander. “The ASP has been dropped out of a C-17 before, but it was finally nice to drop it out of our aircraft.” The package was a key piece of the exercise for Airmen of the 212th RQS as well. “The PJ training objective is to exercise and validate use of the Arctic Sustainment Package in a remote, austere Arctic environment such as the icepack of the Arctic Ocean,” Roden said. The officer said his team verified seemingly small things such as using camp stoves with liquid fuel versus white gas. Little things can become critically important in the Arctic, and having an operating stove can mean the difference between enjoying a hot meal or trying to eat a frozen entree. Because PJs are skilled medics, Roden said they also trained in maintaining intravenous infusion bags and monitoring the health of the 28 people at the camp. Ice Camp Skate is named after the attack submarine USS Skate, which was the first submarine to break through the ice March 17, 1959. Submarines that participated in the exercise were the Seawolf-class fast-attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) from Bangor, Washington; the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768) from Groton, Connecticut; and the Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class HMS Trenchant. “The first [training] objective is conduct Arctic readiness of our submarine force,” said U.S. Navy Rear Adm. James Pitts, commander of the Undersea Warfighting Development Center, San Diego. “A subset of that objective is we’re going to test some of our newest exercise torpedoes and verify they react in the real environment here the way we expect them to react in modeling and simulation.” Pitts explained why the Navy invites Department of Defense partners like the pararescuemen to Ice Camp Skate. “We open the ice base camp to other DoD or academic partners to do exercises or testing they would like to accomplish, taking advantage of an ice camp floating on an ice floe in the Beaufort Sea,” the admiral said. Fighting through snowstorms[…]

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Joint Air Force, Army team enhances Afghanistan rescue mission

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN 03.09.2018 Story by Tech. Sgt. Gregory Brook  455th Air Expeditionary Wing   The night is dark. The air is heavy, filled with the smoke and dust of Afghanistan. On the flightline at Bagram Airfield, a U.S. Army CH-47F Chinook helicopter sits beating thunder with its blades against the sky, waiting.  An 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron Guardian Angel team, which consists of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, runs out and boards. As the Guardian Angles settle into their seats, the pilots on the Chinook begin their takeoff protocol. The helicopter takes off against the night sky over the mountainous terrain. During the ensuing flight, two teams will conduct a personnel recovery exercise, testing their capability to work together as they extricate simulated casualties from a downed aircraft. For the first time during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force are working together to execute personnel recovery. “Personnel recovery is a no-fail strategic mission,” said Maj. Robert Wilson, 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron commander. “The interoperability between the U.S. Army and the U.S. Air Force, by way of the CH-47F, has enabled our Guardian Angel teams to effectively conduct a wide variety of PR operations in ways not previously attainable.” Executing PR missions with CH-47Fs gives the seven-man Guardian Angel team unique advantages; such as an increased capacity to recover a larger number of isolated personnel and the ability to fly further and higher than previous platforms allowed. “This partnership strengthens the resolve of those fighting on the ground and in the air to fight harder and longer, knowing that someone will always have their back,” said Wilson. The Chinook is a twin-turbine, tandem-rotor, heavy lift transport helicopter with a useful load of up to 25,000 lbs. With its high altitude and payload capability, the CH-47F is vital to operations overseas, such as OFS. Its capabilities include medical evacuation, aircraft recovery, parachute drops, disaster relief, and combat search and rescue. “I’ve been flying CH-47 models for 22 years,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shawn Miller, CH-47F pilot with the South Carolina Army National Guard. “This is an unprecedented tasking. Never in its history has an Army unit been tasked to provide dedicated aviation assets and crew to conduct joint personnel recovery operations.” Miller’s team is also joined by the Illinois Army National Guard. The CH-47F model, with its enhanced capabilities, combined with the combat search and rescue mission set, allows the team as a whole to transport more personnel and essential equipment higher, further distances, and offer longer on-scene station times than ever before, Miller added. As the conflict over the last 17 years has proven time and time again, joint operations between services capitalize on the unique skillset each branch brings to the fight. “The CH-47F’s speed, size, and range increases Guardian Angel rescue team’s ability to project the full gambit of rescue capabilities across the area of operations, bringing lifesaving capabilities to U.S. and coalition forces in need,” said an 83rd ERQS combat rescue officer. The larger aircraft means a larger Army ground security team, which minimizes the threat to the GA forces and allows them to solely focus on the rescue. “[Additionally] having the ability to load our entire team onto a single airframe greatly enhances our span of control of our technical rescue specialties and the ability to treat multiple patients at once,” added the CRO. The aircraft can move up to three litter or 15 ambulatory patients, depending on how the aircraft is configured. While the CH-47Fs provide many advantages, they are not without their own unique set of risks as well. “Yes, this aircraft has more space, power and fuel capacity, but it is also a bigger aircraft, hence a bigger target,” said an 83rd ERQS pararescueman, also known as a PJ. “Flying in a Chinook has its benefits, but like everything, you take the good with the bad.” For missions in Afghanistan, because of its high altitudes and current enemy threats, the benefits seem to outweigh the risks of using a different system. Especially in terms of the varied mission sets required of the PR enterprise. “As a team we are highly trained in a wide variety of technical rescue specialties, which can also require a large amount of professional gear,” said the PJ. “These specialties can range from high angle/alpine rescue…to scuba diving.” The pararescue team also specializes in cold weather/avalanche or snow and ice rescue, collapsed structure/confined space extrication, or many different forms of jump operations in static-line or free-fall configuration. “On top of all that we still have gear for our main purpose, which is para-medicine. So having said that, using the Chinook allows us to utilize a team to its full capacity.” Using the teams to their full capacity is all about strengthening the resolve of those[…]

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Memorial celebrates fallen CRO

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, GA, UNITED STATES 03.21.2018 Story by Andrea Jenkins  Moody Air Force Base  More than 1,000 Airmen, family and friends gathered to say their final goodbyes and honor the life of Capt. Mark Weber during a memorial service, March 21, here. Weber, a Combat Rescue Officer (CRO) with the 38th Rescue Squadron (RQS), was killed in helicopter crash in Anbar Province, Iraq, March 15. “It’s apparent to everyone that you cannot replace someone of the caliber of Mark Weber,” said Maj. Jason Egger, 38th RQS commander “Instead, it is now left to us to carry his memory forward and pay tribute to him and live up to his truly exceptional example.” As a CRO, Weber was trained to direct combatant command and control of Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations and to plan, manage and execute CSAR tasks. Weber was hand-selected to fulfill these duties while augmenting the 308th RQS from Patrick AFB, Fla., for his first deployment. “Mark has become part of the storied legacy of combat rescue officers and pararescuemen who paid the ultimate sacrifice,” said Egger. “It is now up to us who continue to wear the beret, to honor that sacrifice and to understand that our words and our actions carry the full weight of our fallen comrades. We should strive to ensure that we never fall short of the standard of excellence and honor defined by those who have gone before us.” Throughout the memorial, fellow Guardian Angels reflected on the character, service and outstanding leadership of the Bartonville, Texas native. “Capt. Weber was forever focused on the men under his command,” said Senior Airman Daniel, a 38th RQS pararescueman who worked closely with Weber. “In the pool, he would help the last team member across before surfacing for his own breath. On a ruck, I watched him carry a teammate whose body had quit. When the team screwed up, it was Capt. Weber who shouldered the responsibility. I never saw him tired and I never saw him afraid – not because he didn’t feel pain or experience fear, but he placed his duty before his own personal desires and comforts.” Weber graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2011 as a contracting officer, but felt a strong calling to do more. Upon entering the CRO training pipeline, he met fellow 38th RQS CRO and close personal friend, Capt. Ryan, who thanked him and gave him a promise to continue the mission of saving lives. “I would like to thank Mark for all that he has taught me in the past four years … thank you for your hard work and dedication,” Ryan said. “I’m sorry it was you this time. We will do everything we can to continue with the mission of saving lives, I promise you that.” The ceremony ended in the George W. Bush airpark where Rescue Airmen from the 347th and 563d Rescue Groups completed a round of memorial pushups to honor their fallen teammate. For the original story with add’l pictures, visit DVIDS To see more stories like this on Specialtactics.com, visit Operator News.  

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Catalyzing joint personnel recovery operations

ROYAL AIR FORCE LAKENHEATH, England — The 48th Fighter Wing welcomed back deployed members of the 57th Rescue Squadron here, Feb. 8. Guardian Angel teams comprised of pararescuemen and combat rescue officers returned from a deployment in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, where they were part of the 83rd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron. While they usually work with HH-60 Pave Hawks or HC-130J Super Hercules, the deployed Guardian Angel rescue teams integrated their mission skill set with U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook crews as part of Air Force Central Command’s first dedicated joint personnel recovery team. “As the [Department of Defense] continues to enhance joint capabilities, so must personnel recovery evolve to provide the most capable and efficient means of rescue for isolated personnel,” said the 83rd ERQS director of operations. “CH-47Fs provide the most capable rotary wing platform in Afghanistan, enhancing our operational factors of space, time and force.” Army Chinooks give Guardian Angel teams an enhanced capability given the current operational environment. The larger aircraft provides more room for equipment and personnel. The Chinooks also fly higher and farther than their Air Force counterparts. “Of all my previous deployments where I’ve filled the commander role, I will say this one has been the smoothest in regards to building relationships,” said the 83rd ERQS commander. “The Army crews are very customer orientated, experienced and have been very easy to integrate with.” The relationship built between the Army crews and Air Force Guardian Angel teams provides the bedrock for future joint PR recovery operations, aiding in the delivery of decisive airpower for U.S. Central Command, ally nations and America. By Airman 1st Class Eli Chevalier, 48th Fighter Wing Public Affairs / Published February 09, 2018

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353rd Special Operations Group wraps up Cobra Gold 2018

U-TAPAO, THAILAND 02.23.2018 Story by Capt. Jessica Tait  353rd Special Operations Group  (DVIDSHUB.NET) The 353rd SOG trained side-by-side with their Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) counterparts throughout the exercise, conducting formation and low-level aviation, military free fall (MFF) operations, assault zone establishment and control, fixed and rotary wing fires, rigging alternate method Zodiac (RAMZ) airdrops, an overwater search and rescue contingency and the staging of a forward area refueling point (FARP) for close air support (CAS) and assault aircraft. “Building on our bilateral exchanges from previous years with the 3rd Special Operations Regiment and 601st Squadron, our training this year focused on increasing the complexity and dynamic environment in which we conducted our mission essential tasks,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Joel Buelow, 353rd SOG mission commander for CG18. “We looked to enhance the cooperation, interoperability and collaboration of our forces in special tactics missions, formation flight procedures, aircraft maintenance and mission support functions. We worked side-by-side with our Thai counterparts throughout the exercise to increase mission effectiveness in our training evolutions and to prepare our forces to jointly succeed in real-world contingencies.” The U.S. Air Force 320th Special Tactics Squadron combat controllers (CCTs) and pararescuemen (PJs) conducted programs of instruction on forward air control and overwater search and rescue, conducted live Forward Air Control with fixed and rotary wing fires assets, surveyed and established assault zones and exercised multiple MFF jump profiles for infiltration utilizing air support from U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Squadron MC-130H Combat Talon IIs. “Embedded with the RTAF 3rd SOR, we advanced interoperability and increased partner capacity in the planning and execution of complex and realistic missions,” said Buelow. “This partnership has evolved over the last 19 years and will continue to strengthen for years to come.” In addition to supporting airborne operations for Thai and U.S. special operations forces (SOF), the 1st SOS conducted a formation flight with their RTAF C-130 counterparts from the 601st SQN, air intercept training with RTAF 403rd Tactical Fighter Squadron and advanced day and night low-level aviation. “The airborne operations conducted during CG18 enhance our ability to provide a rapid multinational response to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) efforts in the Pacific,” said U.S. Air Force Maj. Matthew Howard, 353rd SOG air operations planner for CG18. “The experiences gained with our RTAF partners complement our mutual training interests and combined ability to respond to crises across the range of military operations.” The military members demonstrated appreciation to the local community during CG18 by gaining approvals for a community relations event. The full day of activities included, opening ceremonies, sports events, a luncheon and bilateral friendship jump and aerial demonstration. “To further the educational needs of the students from Sirijantaranmit School Lopburi, we’ve donated $15,000 worth of goods to include computers, printers, washers and dryers, uniforms and essential school supplies,” said Buelow. “Our bilateral friendship jump with RTAF 3rd SOR served as the culmination event to training and demonstrated our commitment to supporting not only the security of Thailand but also the community and humanitarian interests of a key partner nation.” CG18 improved the capabilities of participating nations to plan and conduct combined and joint operations; build relationships among participating nations across the region; and improve interoperability over a range of activities, including enhancing maritime security and responding to large-scale natural disasters. “Our RTAF counterparts have been amazing hosts,” said Buelow. “We look forward to future engagements here in Thailand and hope to raise the bar again next year.” Cobra Gold is one of the largest theater security cooperation exercises in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and is an integral part of the U.S. commitment to strengthen engagement in the region.

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