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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Final respects paid to pararescueman Staff Sergeant Carl Enis

ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, VA, UNITED STATES 05.22.2018 Story by Maj. Jennifer Pearson  920th Rescue Wing/Public Affairs   Loved ones, friends, 308th Rescue Squadron teammates and 920th Rescue Wing members paid their respects as Staff Sgt. Carl Enis was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery Monday, May 21, 2018.  Follow link to view burial: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=share&v=xFZqJ8XdfxA Enis, a pararescuemen, was providing combat rescue support for Inherent Resolve, when he, along with six other Airmen, was killed in an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash in Anbar Province, Iraq, March 15, 2018. Pararescuemen or PJs are part of the Guardian Angel triad of combat rescue officers and SERE or survival specialists who are expert swimmers, SCUBA divers, mountain climbers, parachutists, marksmen and trauma medics who rescue injured combatants on the battlefield. Guardian Angel Airmen in attendance were part of a time-honored tradition of pounding their pararescue flash from their beret into the lid of the casket. “Staff Sgt. Enis was an outstanding citizen Airman and a phenomenal operator doing an incredible mission; he was also a great individual,” said Col. Kurt Matthews, 920th Rescue Wing commander. “You can be proud knowing Staff Sgt. Enis gave his last full measure performing the mission and serving our most noble Pararescue creed: ‘These things we do, that others may live.’ ” “We honor his service and sacrifice and join with his family in mourning the immense void left behind by the loss of this great man – our rescue brother,” said Matthews. Within both his civilian and military circles, Enis is known for his passion for the outdoors and expert hunting, fishing and diving skills. Enis was a Tallahassee, Florida, resident who served with the 920th RQW from 2010 as a Reserve Citizen Airmen. Among his decorations are the Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster; the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal. The 920th RQW is the only Air Force Reserve combat-search-and-rescue unit and is located at Patrick Air Force Base, in Cocoa Beach, Florida. //ENDS// Story extracted from DVIDS

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Pararescue in Djibouti

U.S. Air Force Pararescuemen from the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron load a simulated casualty onto a litter in Djibouti City, Djibouti, April 24, 2018. The Airmen conducted various rescue techniques during a joint mass casualty training exercise. (From DVIDS)

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Joint Effort for Mass Casualty Exercise

DJIBOUTI 04.24.2018 Story by Master Sgt. Sarah Mattison  Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa   DJIBOUTI, Africa – Service members assigned to Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa (CJTF-HOA) and Camp Lemonnier participated in a joint mass-casualty exercise, April 24. This exercise enabled multiple units to work together to tackle complex issues, while securing, treating, extricating and evacuating simulated casualties.  The exercise, which started with a simulated improvised explosive device (IED) blast on a convoy, included twenty-five volunteers that had been moulaged with various simulated injuries requiring triage and treatment. Guardsmen from the Texas Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry Regiment arrived on scene as the quick-reaction force and secured the area. At the same time, pararescuemen (PJs) from the 82nd Expeditionary Rescue Squadron (82nd ERSQ) circled above in a C-130J Super Hercules operated by the 75th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, preparing to jump to the site below. “The overall goal is to demonstrate a capability to interoperate with all of these different partners as part of a mass-casualty exercise,” said 1st Lt. Jake, with the 82nd ERSQ. “We can jump the PJs in, establish site security with the site security team and then the PJs can treat and determine who needs the most critical care.” The PJs also jumped with a couple of tandem passengers, including the tactical air control party (TACP) and a doctor. After hitting the ground, the doctor took over the casualty collection point and began triaging and treating patients, while the TACP maintained airspace deconfliction and surveyed helicopter landing zones to expedite evacuation of the simulated casualties. Simultaneously, the PJs began extricating individuals that were trapped inside of the crushed vehicles. Staff Sgt. Matthew, who works in material management support for the 82nd ERSQ, volunteered to be one of the simulated casualties. “I volunteered because I wanted to support an exercise that could potentially be a real world medevac response,” Matthew said. “I think this [training] is important because being in a deployed environment, this could potentially become a real world situation.” While planning for the exercise was lengthy, it was training that was well worth the time and effort that it took to put together “Doing this exercise, not only does it demonstrate that we have these capabilities, but it also means that we are training with these capabilities as we go along,” said Jake. “So if this were to happen real word, then we’ve already done training with these guys and agencies before, so it would be easy to put together different pieces of what we’ve already done today.” //ENDS// This story extracted from DVIDS. For more Battlefield Airmen stories such as this, click HERE

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920th Rescue Wing pays tribute to fallen pararescuemen during memorial

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, FL, UNITED STATES 03.27.2018 Story by Tech. Sgt. Lindsey Maurice  920th Rescue Wing/Public Affairs  It was a roller coaster of emotions for the approximately 1,500 people who joined together from across the globe to pay tribute to pararescuemen Master Sgt. William Posch and Staff Sgt. Carl Enis March 27, 2018 in aircraft Hangar 750. The pararescuemen assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron were two of the seven Airmen killed in an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crash in Anbar Province, Iraq, March 15, 2018. “Today is a day in which we should remember the joy, the laughter, the magnanimous life of Bill and Carl and the entire crew of Jolly 51,” said Lt. Col. Timothy Hanks, 308th RQS commander. “Today is another day in our healing process for family, friends, teammates, and the community. It is a day in which we recognize the pain is real and still raw, but it is also the day we celebrate the lives of our fallen heroes.” All eyes were on the families of the fallen as their 60-vehicle motorcade of military and civilian police, SWAT teams and veteran motorcyclists arrived at the hangar. The crowd of predominately camouflage uniforms became still at the presentation of the colors followed by a steel-guitar solo performance of the National Anthem by pararescueman retired Chief Master Sgt. Robert Disney. “You may be asking yourselves why the multicam and field uniforms for this ceremony,” said 1st Lt. Dan Warren, 212th Rescue Squadron combat rescue officer and master of ceremonies. “It’s our way of honoring warriors killed in action. Most of the 308th Rescue Squadron is still deployed to a combat theater on alert every day unable to attend their own teammates’ memorial. They can’t wear blues and Bill’s and Carl’s funerals will be the place where we honor their legacy in dress blues and pushups. This is a celebration of the lives and legacies of these fallen heroes.” The brotherly love of the Guardian Angel community was at the forefront of the ceremony as fellow PJs and combat rescue officers traveled from as far as England, Alaska, Oregon, Arizona, and Georgia among other locations to show their support for the families. The maroon sea of their maroon berets filling the seats directly behind the family and the entire right side of the hangar was a visual statement of their support. Guardian Angel is comprised of CROs; PJs; survival, evasion, resistance, and escape specialists and uniquely trained support personnel dedicated to the Air Force core function of personnel recovery. “Over the past week I’ve had the honor and the privilege to be with our gold star families and hear their stories how they as wives, mothers, sisters, brothers, family and friends remember Bill and Carl,” Hanks said. “You have paid the ultimate sacrifice as well. Please know with this loss you’ve also gained 1,000 sons, brothers, uncles, sisters and fathers. You can call anywhere around the world and mention who you are and any of these men amongst you will drop everything to meet your request.” The lives deeply touched by the two American heroes was evident as speaker after speaker took to the podium sharing sentimental memories and hilarious tales of embarrassing blunders, adrenaline-fueled adventures and the good times. “I’ve known Bill and Carl for an incredibly long time.” said Staff Sgt. Joshua Langley, 308th RQS pararescueman who met Posch through lifeguarding as a teenager and Enis in college at Florida State University. “We are all better for knowing these two. They taught us so much about life and they have made the world such an entertaining place. We should always celebrate the great times, the rescues, the laughter and the memories.” Posch was raised in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, where he spent much of his teenage years lifeguarding for the Jacksonville Beach Ocean Rescue. In 2000, he enlisted into the Air Force and graduated from the Pararescue Apprentice Course in 2003. After leaving active duty, Posch became a traditional reservist at the 308th RQS. In 2010, he began working full time at the unit. He was a combat veteran who participated in numerous joint special operations missions and tactical deployments. He supported major military operations at home and abroad including Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, Joint Task Force Katrina, JTF NASA Space Shuttle launch and recovery, and JTF Harvey, where he and his fellow rescue warriors saved 235 hurricane victims in Texas. In 2013, Posch was named one of the Air Force’s 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. But of all his accomplishments, each person to take the podium noted that Posch’s proudest moments came with fatherhood. “Every time I spoke with him, that’s what he talked about – how much he loved his boys and how much he loved being a father,” said Senior Master[…]

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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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