Chief mentors Airmen their career field doesn’t define them

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, MS, UNITED STATES 06.15.2018 Story by Airman 1st Class Keith Holcomb  14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs   Chief Master Sgt. Bradley Reilly wasn’t born with a scarlet beret in one hand and a land-to-air communications radio in the other. In fact, being a combat controller wasn’t his idea of a dream job over 30 years ago. Reilly used hard work, brute force and creative problem solving together to perform exceptionally well throughout his career in the Marines and Air Force. His willingness to volunteer and work hard no matter where he found himself allows him to now teach Airmen their paths are not defined by their career field. Once a Marine, always a Marine “I came in initially and had to be a reservist, my parents didn’t want me to go on active duty at first,” Reilly explained. “I went to boot camp loving it, I hated the fact I was a reservist, everyone was getting orders around the Marine Corps and I was going back to my home in Phoenix.” After returning home, he spent the next nine months training to be a combat engineer only to find he was actually going to be a heavy equipment operator in the combat engineer career field. He was able to transition to active duty in 1990 where he was assigned to the 1st Landing Support Battalion in Camp Pendleton, California. “Shortly thereafter in August of that year, the first Gulf War kicked off,” Reilly said. He volunteered and became a part of the fight in Saudi Arabia, with no infrastructure and a handful of help, he would spend 18 hours a day on a forklift building a forward operating base. He spent nine months in Saudi Arabia, working 18-hour days and left a month after the ground war ended. “I always did my best,” Reilly said. “Just because I wanted to be infantry Marine doesn’t mean I’m going to give up as a heavy equipment operator.” His mentality is what has always led Reilly to raise his hand for any opportunity that may get him closer to the fight and to the front lines. He came home only to volunteer himself to deploy to Somalia in 1992 where he supported the 7th Motor Team as a M60 rear security gunner. “One day we were coming back through a place we were taking fire and the whole convoy stops,” Reilly said. “[My gunnery sergeant] jumped out and screamed up and down the vehicles ‘Leave the drivers and the gunners, everyone else dismount, I’m tired of getting shot at from this village so we’re going to sweep it’ and I was disappointed because I had to stay and protect the convoy.” While in the convoy, the gunners and drivers all sat complaining about having to sit out on the action, waiting for the town to erupt into a firefight, but the town stayed silent. Coming from the other direction, a vehicle drove directly at the convoy with weapons in their possession, so Reilly and another gunner put endless amounts of bullets into the truck, eliminating the threat. ‘It clicked’ “I’ll tell you one thing, I’ve volunteered and volunteered and volunteered for absolutely everything. For every good detail there was a terrible detail,” Reilly said. “If there was any way to get me closer to the fight or get me off the heavy equipment, that’s what I would want to do.” One day, he volunteered to search for vehicle parts to repair a Marine vehicle. From compound to compound, he and his team looked for what they needed when they happened to stumble upon a maintenance facility of some sort. “We popped open a chained door and saw a room maybe 20 by 20 feet, full of ammunition, weapons and two Tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missiles,” Reilly said. “I remember tiptoeing around the room and calling out what I found. By this time everyone is at the door, so we start slowly handing stuff out and loaded it into our trucks. All of a sudden, we had incoming rounds.” During the firefight, a gunner was stumbling with his weapon. The Marine had loaded his ammunition upside down, Reilly reacted, taking the Marine’s place, and returned fire so the team could get away safely. “Right there it clicked for me that; when other people are afraid or weren’t thinking clearly, I was good,” Reilly said. “I could make clear decisions. That was where I was meant to be.” Pick up the pieces Shortly after Somalia, he was sent to Sergeant School after his promotion to E-5. In Sergeant School, he called his assignment manager and told them he’d like to be a drill instructor. “It’s a lot of hours and it takes a different mentality,” Reilly said. “I was sent to drill[…]

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Special Tactics Airman visits Schriever

A combat controller with the 24th Special Operations Wing visited Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado to educate enlisted and officer Airmen interested in cross-training into special tactics in the First Term Airmen Classroom, May 1. Tech. Sgt. William Johnson, combat controller in charge of cross-training noncommissioned officers with the 24th Special Operations Wing Special Tactics Training Squadron, Flight 4, presented facts on joining the elite ranks of the 24th SOW and the opportunities available to attendees. The 24th SOW is looking for motivated Airmen who are prepared to dedicate themselves to the special tactics mission of integrating air and ground forces for mission success. The Air Force Specialties featured in the briefing were Combat Control, Tactical Air Control Party, Special Operations Weather Team, Pararescue, Special Tactics Officer and Special Operations Surgical Team. Schriever AFB’s Career Assistance Advisor, Master Sgt. Janelle Amador with the 50th Force Support Squadron, says the briefings are important to Schriever because of the amount of talent on base. “We have such a vast amount of expertise here, any special tactics team could definitely use our skills from Schriever,” she said. “Of course, Air Force wide you have so many it would be an injustice for them to not go to every base.” In the 1970s, Air Force special tactics started with a small number of highly skilled men were brought together to provide the U.S. military a vital air and ground integration capability. At the time the team was colloquially known as Brand X. Over the years, the team developed capabilities supporting global mission requirements in the changing world environment, becoming what we now know as Air Force Special Tactics. Today, more than 1,500 Special Tactics Airmen enable global access, precision strike and tactical rescue and recovery operations in special operations, bringing a breadth of unique air-to-ground capabilities, while performing traditional special operation mission sets. Johnson says there’s no minimum number or no maximum number when it comes to people, and the more Airmen who show up to the briefings the better. However, it doesn’t mean everyone gets chosen. “We are selective. So we are going to throw that net out there and not everyone is going to get caught-not everyone is going to get the opportunity to come within the job,” he said. The goal of sending someone such as Johnson out is to inform people about jobs and opportunities within special tactics. “My job when I go out is to make sure Airmen know what’s out there,” he said. “For instance, the Special Operations Surgical Team, not a lot of people know SOST is a part of special tactics and a lot of support jobs fall within special tactics as well.” Another topic addressed during the briefing was the opening of the special tactics AFSCs to female Airmen. “All the jobs in special tactics are open to everyone,” Johnson said. “If you are a female and interested in any of these jobs, please let us know. Standards are all the same. Once you get picked up you are part of the team no matter what. You are treated as an equal.” Johnson said Airmen often hear certain things about special tactics from various avenues, but maintains he will tell you firsthand what it’s about. “I am a combat controller. I can tell you what being a special tactics Airmen is about,” he said. “I have worked with people in and out of special tactics, and I can tell you what their jobs are about.” Amador says Air Force Special Operations Command and 24th SOW send a representative out at least twice a year. If you miss one of those opportunities, she is happy to help you. “I carry their (24th SOW) pamphlets and materials in case anyone wants their services or if they have enough personnel to have a class, they will come out here TDY,” she said.  “All you have to do is ask. Come see me. Even if we don’t have a class I’ll help you.” If you are interested in the Special Tactics career field or if you are a supervisor with Airmen who are interested, please contact Master Sgt. Janelle Amador at 719-560-5927 or Tech. Sgt. William Johnson at 850-884-8028,  24sow.ras.org@us.af.mil or visit www.24sow.af.mil

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Airman killed at Roberts Ridge to receive Medal of Honor, report says

  FROM STARS & STRIPES By JAMES BOLINGER A combat controller killed in action in Afghanistan in 2002 is set to become the first airman awarded the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War, according to a national security news site. Tech. Sgt. John Chapman will be awarded the medal posthumously later this year, Task & Purpose reported Friday, citing “sources familiar with the matter.” Air Force officials told Stars and Stripes Monday that they could not confirm the report. “Chappy,” as his teammates knew him, was one of two airmen awarded the Air Force Cross, the service’s second-highest honor, for actions during the Battle of Roberts Ridge against al-Qaida fighters on a mountainside above Afghanistan’s Shah-i-Kot Valley on March 4, 2002. The other was Senior Airman Jason Cunningham, a pararescueman. In 2005, the Navy named a cargo ship after Chapman, who fought alongside a SEAL team during the battle. His award upgrade is based on analysis of video captured by a Predator drone and an AC-130 gunship over the battlefield, the Task & Purpose report said. Chapman’s Air Force Cross citation says he died while engaging an enemy machine gun; however, the aerial footage suggests he fought on, killing one enemy with a gunshot and another in hand-to-hand combat, the report said. When a quick reaction force of 35 Army Rangers arrived in helicopters, Chapman emerged from a bunker to provide cover fire before being gunned down by the enemy. Chapman’s family was told in March that his award had been upgraded to the Medal of Honor, the website reported. //ENDS// For more Battlefield Airmen stories like this on Specialtactics.com, click HERE

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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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Training to Strengths & Weaknesses

The Problem A common mistake guys consistently make when training for selection is how and where they focus their energy while training. Too often, candidates are spending time in the exact opposite manner as they should be to prepare for what could be considered the biggest hurdle of their entire life.   Battlefield Airmen selection courses are built around a set of standards that must be met prior to graduation. Simple concept, right?  But the point I want to make is that in order to graduate, you must meet ALL of the standards. Selection courses and the instructors assigned to them don’t care if you can run a 5’30 mile, knock out 30 pullups and swim like Michael Phelps if you can only do 30 push-ups. Likewise, if you can do [spp-timestamp time="1:15"] interval underwaters and perform 50m underwaters all day but can’t tread water for 2 minutes, you’re a failure in the same capacity as the guy that sucks at everything. The above shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise- it’s a simple concept to grasp: you must pass all the standards in order to graduate. But there is an inherent tendency to not apply this concept when we are training. As humans, we naturally gravitate to events we are strong in and reluctantly avoid items we are poor at. Think about it- we do this in the academic classes we sign up for in school, the sports we choose to play and how we workout while at the gym.  We naturally enjoy doing things we are good at and do them more often than things we are poor at.  By doing this, we become better at the things we were already good at and remain lousy at the items we sucked at to begin with. The Solution This tendency ultimately sets us up for failure when training for selection. By avoiding your weak points, you are failing to neutrale your greatest threat for course failure. To combat this phenomenon, you need to be cognizant of this trap and FOCUS ON IMPROVING YOUR WEAKNESSES WHILE MAINTAINING YOUR STRENGTHS.  Come to grips with the fact that you suck at some things. But embrace the challenge of turning your weaknesses into a strength. The benchmark for determining your strengths and weaknesses can be as simple as utilizing the graduation standards of your selection course as a guideline, such as Indoc.  The PAST is not a good standard to use as it is considered a baseline requirement to enter selection.  If you train to solely pass the PAST, you will not be successful.  Train past the PAST. Identify your weak points and make it a personal challenge to be better at your poor events.  It is often said a special operator is a Jack of All Trades, Master of None.  Embrace that mantra.  There is no need to be great at one thing, but you do need to be good at everything. Now go kick some ass.  

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Silver Star awarded for Mosul offensive

From the 24 SOW HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. — The steel enforced car bomb barreled relentlessly toward the joint special operations team … it seemingly came from nowhere. A Special Tactics operator, exposed in an open turret hatch, began to fire the Humvee-mounted M2 machinegun into the large pickup truck, as it hurtled closer and closer. 200 meters, 150 meters, 125 meters… finally, the operator triggered a massive detonation at 100 meters away. The team was safe … for now. Staff Sgt. Christopher Lewis, a combat controller with the 23rd Special Tactics Squadron, was awarded the Silver Star Medal during a ceremony hosted by Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, Jan. 19, 2018, here for his actions during the Mosul offensive in 2016. “Every street was contested, every building was unsafe,” said Webb. “Chris epitomizes what we all strive to be in this command. I am extremely proud of him.” Lewis was embedded as a joint terminal attack controller with a Naval Special Warfare Platoon during the opening days of the Mosul offensive on Oct. 20, 2016, in Iraq. The joint team was tasked with advising and assisting Kurdish Peshmerga forces expunging Da’esh fighters from strongholds and liberating the city. “Chris is our go-to guy, he is one of our most experienced JTACs in the theater, and for that reason, we put him in our toughest spots,” said a Special Tactics officer who was Lewis’ team leader in garrison and expeditionary special tactics squadron commander. “Prior to the battle of Mosul, we actually hand-picked him as the most seasoned operator … I wanted Staff Sgt. Lewis to create the best force multipliers for the impending battle that we could.” The day began at 2:30 a.m. with a 15 kilometer drive south to link up with the Peshmerga fighters. The convoy consisted of close to 50 vehicles, including tanks and up-armored bulldozers, which are designed to trigger roadside bombs and clear the path. As the sun began to rise, around 7 a.m., the joint force began to receive indirect fires from the closest village to the forward line of troops. The automated .50 caliber turret system on Lewis’ vehicle became disabled. In the midst of withering grenade, mortar and small arms fire, Lewis systemically engaged the enemy in multiple locations from the open turret. He held this vulnerable position for hours despite direct enemy fire impacted within inches of him. During this time, Lewis simultaneously directed airstrikes from F-15 Eagles and B-52 Stratofortresses within 400 meters of the team’s positions before engaging the pickup truck-born IED, providing the cover and opportunity for the team to move out of harm’s way. The convoy didn’t go far before being ambushed again by enemy fire from a concealed tunnel entrance only 100 meters away and detonating several IEDs, mortally wounding one U.S. service member. Lewis leapt out of his vehicle without hesitation to assist his wounded teammate, and coordinated the casualty evacuation while providing medical care just feet away from an unexploded IED. He established a hasty helicopter landing zone and moved his severely wounded teammate to the extraction point while simultaneously working with other aircraft to assess and eliminate a second, vehicle-born threat before it reached his team. Lewis’ calm, collected demeanor was apparent when he received the news of his nomination for the Silver Star. “It was emotional at first, you really think about, or at least I thought about, ‘do you deserve this?’” said Lewis. “Obviously if it wasn’t for the proficiency of the aircrews overhead and the Navy Seal team, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. Being a combat controller and within the community, you’d like to think that any one of us could step in and fill that role and do what I did that day, and that’s just the level of professionalism and proficiency that we like to hold all of ourselves to.” To read more about Lewis’ actions during the battle, read his write-up in Portraits in Courage.

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silver star

Finding the way: Special Tactics chief awarded Silver Star

HURLBURT FIELD, FL, UNITED STATES 12.15.2017 Story by Senior Airman Ryan Conroy  24th Special Operations Wing Chief Master Sgt. Michael West, a Special Tactics operator with the 720th Operations Support Squadron, utilized 58 coalition aircraft delivering 24,000 pounds of munitions, turning the tide of battle, and now he’s receiving the Silver Star Medal. During a ceremony Dec. 15, here, the commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, presented the nation’s third highest medal for gallantry against an armed enemy of the U.S. in combat to West. West’s actions occurred 11 years earlier, when he was deployed with U.S. Army Special Forces teams in support of Operation MEDUSA. “This ceremony is about the Air Commando culture epitomized in Special Tactics and Special Tactics being epitomized in that chief right there,” said Webb. “It’s a culture of willingly facing seemingly insurmountable problems; it’s about courage, endurance, wisdom. It’s figuring out to solve problems and getting ‘er done. It’s about finding the way.” West was originally awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions in May 2007, but due to a recent DOD-wide review, his package was resubmitted for an upgrade. “I am honored and humbled for the recognition, and I wish the [Special Forces] team guys were here to share this,” said West. “It was a great opportunity to work with a bunch of professionals, and I know that I have friends for life.” As a Special Tactics combat controller, West is a part of a highly-trained special operations force who integrates air power into the special operations’ ground scheme of maneuver. “Special Tactics is the connective tissue between the ground and air and you can ask our Army and Navy counterparts who will not leave home with Special Tactics,” said Webb. “Special Tactics exemplifies what it means in that ‘find the way’ Air Commando culture, and West epitomizes Special Tactics.” Webb said we are living in a “Golden Age” of Special Tactics, citing the 10 Air Force Crosses and this ceremony marking the 42nd Silver Star Medal awarded to a Special Tactics operator since 9/11. Operation MEDUSA On Sept. 5, 2006, then-Master Sgt. West was assigned to three different Special Forces teams alongside three platoons of Afghan National Army forces during a deployment to Panjwai Village, Afghanistan. Operation MEDUSA was a Canadian-led effort to clear a village, believed to be a Taliban safe haven of 700-1000 enemy forces. A Canadian ground force would clear the village from west to east and the Special Forces teams, alongside West, would set up a blockade position south of the village. As the Canadian-led ground force began their movement, they were met with fierce resistance, resulting in a crippling amount of casualties that forced them to disengage. In an attempt to salvage the operation, the Task Force directed the special operations teams to seize and hold elevated terrain to observe and attack enemy positions. “The first day we approached this hill, we met heavy resistance … the enemy saw us coming from the south, and we started to get shot at from tree lines on either side of us,” said West. At this time, West coordinated airpower from a B-1 Lancer bomber aircraft to drop eight bombs on the enemy and their resupply compound. This was the first time West would utilize airpower to eliminate the enemy, but it would not be his last. The next day, the teams decided to advance up the hill further to investigate and clear an old enemy compound. Due to the high probability of enemy engagement, West coordinated two A-10 Thunderbolt aircraft to watch over them. They cleared the buildings and as they began to climb higher, an ANA soldier stepped on an anti-personnel mine. “We were all blown back trying to figure out what happened and once the dust settled, we heard the screaming,” said West. “The soldier was lying there with half of his leg gone, and he was really banged up.” West and his team leader quickly assessed the man for injuries and applied a tourniquet to stop the bleeding and decided he needed to be evacuated. As the team struggled to carry the injured ANA solider off the hill, a vehicle in the team’s convoy hit an improvised explosive device, which triggered a full-on assault from enemy forces. “As soon as the it blew, the tree lines on either side of us fully erupted with gunfire … like they were waiting for that IED to explode,” said West. “We started receiving [rocket-propelled grenade] fire and small arms fire and my team was completely exposed.” The joint special operations team began to fire back, but West did what multiple Special Tactics Airmen before and after him have done countless times, he called for airpower. “I immediately put those A-10s into action and[…]

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The Battlefield Airman Library

My recommended list of books, focused on Battlefield Airmen lives, careers and missions.  “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Find this list and more recommended items on the Specialtactics.com Resources Page. Guardian Angel Guardian Angel provides a rare glimpse at a PJ’s mind-blowing adventures. You follow Sgt. Sine’s trek across exotic lands and share his encounters with mysterious cultures. Learn what it takes to lower from a helicopter onto the slippery decks of storm-tossed ships to rescue dying sailors. Feel what it’s like to be caught in the middle of a bomb blast so powerful that it tears high-rise buildings in half, and flattens armored vehicles hundreds of yards away. Soar high above towering jungle trees and experience the danger of swinging on a slim cable below a helicopter while performing a mid-air rescue of a pilot, dangling from his chute a hundred feet above a mountain slope. Go to war in Afghanistan and parachute onto a nocturnal battlefield surrounded by land mines to help a mortally wounded soldier. This is a deadly serious business: when things go wrong, they can go terribly wrong. Aircraft crash into mountainsides, killing all onboard, while some PJs live through horrendous helicopter crashes only to struggle with freezing temperatures, snapped limbs and torn flesh in a desperate fight for survival. This book presents true stories of uncommon courage told from the perspective of the actual men in the arena.   None Braver From award-winning journalist and combat veteran Michael Hirsh comes the thrilling inside story of the Air Force’s pararescue operations in Afghanistan. The first journalist to be embedded with an Air Force combat unit in the War on Terrorism, Hirsh flew from Moody Air Force Base, Georgia, with the 71st Rescue Squadron to their expeditionary headquarters at a secret location in Central Asia. Unparalleled access to the PJs, as well as to the courageous men and women who fly them where they have to go, often under enemy fire, allowed Hirsh to uncover incredible stories of courage.   My Brother in Arms; The Exceptional Life of Mark Andrew Forester, USAF CCT On September 29, 2010 Mark Forester was killed in action while fighting terrorists in Uruzgan Province, Afghanistan. His heroic legacy of being shot down while preparing to rescue a fallen teammate began long before this tragic day. An Apache aviator said of Mark’s final battle: …”I have never witnessed such an act of heroism in my three years of fighting in combat. I have over 2,700 hours total time with 1,500 hours of combat time in both Iraq and Afghanistan…JAG 28 continued to advance on the enemy while taking intense enemy fire, and continuously fired his weapon in an attempt to get to his fallen teammate and destroy the enemy.”… Since Mark’s death, his family’s eyes and hearts have been opened to multiple examples of selflessness and patriotism by meeting his teammates and leaders in the military. The family has witnessed first-hand the ability for them to turn off their stern, professional personae and turn on compassion, love, support and acceptance. The author feels a strong desire to Honor our Heroes. This book highlights one hero, SrA Mark A. Forester, and also helps recognize many other men and women who volunteer to fight for our freedom.   Never Quit Never Quit is the true story of how Jimmy Settle, an Alaskan shoe store clerk, became a Special Forces Operator and war hero. After being shot in the head during a dangerous high mountain operation in the rugged Watapur Valley in Afghanistan, Jimmy returns to battle with his teammates for a heroic rescue, the bullet fragments stitched over and still in his skull. In a cross between a suicide rescue mission and an against-all-odds mountain battle, his team of PJs risk their lives again in an epic firefight. When his helicopter is hit and begins leaking fuel, Jimmy finds himself in the worst possible position as a rescue specialist―forced to leave members from his own team behind. Jimmy will have to risk everything to get back into the battle and bring back his brothers.   Pararescue: The True Story of an Incredible Rescue at Sea and the Heroes Who Pulled It Off This is the gripping and unforgettable true adventure of an astonishing rescue at sea — a tale of the unparalleled courage and skill of men who endured a record-breaking fifteen-hour, nonstop helicopter ride through bone-jarring turbulence to carry out a mission on the ragged edge of impossibility. It is the story of a unit of the New York Air National Guard, the 106th Rescue Wing, which includes the famed PJs, the Pararescuemen, whose training is so rigorous and standards so high that only a dedicated handful qualify to join;[…]

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Special Tactics Airmen survey airfields to gain an operational advantage

FARYAB PROVINCE, Afghanistan (AFNS) — Special Tactics Airmen from Air Force Special Operations Command conducted multiple airfield surveys with their Afghan Air Force counterparts in Faryab province this week. Airfield surveys are executed prior to the arrival of special operations and conventional aircraft to traditional airfields and field landing strips. “Our work is critical to extending the access and reach to fight our adversaries in their safe havens,” said a Special Tactics Airman. “Planning, leading and executing global access missions is a core task that we provide to the joint (special operation forces) effort.” During the operations, Afghan Army and Air Force representatives meet with the Special Tactics Airmen to discuss how to increase airpower at Faryab province airfields. Based on the team’s findings, multiple airfields in Faryab province meet the specified needs of the NATO Resolute Support mission. The locations have the potential to support Afghan and coalition reconnaissance, troop delivery and strategic air support operations. “This is my fifth deployment as a Special Tactics Airman conducting precision strike, global access and personnel recovery missions,” another Special Tactics Airman said. “You can feel the difference this year, a new commitment to extending the fight to the heart of the enemy.” AFSOC Special Tactics force is the Air Force’s tactical air and ground integration element that enables global access, precision strike and personnel recovery operations. The Special Tactics Airmen are experts in the conduct of airfield reconnaissance, assessment and control, personnel recovery, joint terminal attack control and environmental reconnaissance.   Story courtesy of AF.mil.  Click here for the original story with additional pictures.

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