Military Weekend: Your U.S. Air Force
This past week has brought both great pride and deep sorrow to the U.S. Air Force, its members and veterans.
When U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, along with an Army buddy (Spc. Alek Skarlatos) and others, prevented a tragedy aboard a speeding train in Europe, his and the actions of the others evoked the highest praise from world leaders and of course from their military superiors and comrades.
“These men are heroes,” said U.S. European Command Commander Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, “Actions like this clearly illustrate the courage and commitment our young men and women have all the time, whether they are on duty or on leave…We are extremely proud of their efforts and now are praying for our injured airman to have a speedy recovery.”
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter put it simply, “(Stone and Skarlatos) are two reasons why — on duty and off — ours is finest fighting force the world has ever known…”
Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone is greeted with a hero’s welcome as he and Aleksander Skarlatos, an Army specialist in the Oregon National Guard, arrive at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Aug. 24, 2015. More than 500 Airmen and their families came out to line the streets and thank Stone and his friends for their bravery. Stone arrived at Ramstein while in transit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center for follow-on medical treatment. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Staff Sgt. Sara Keller)
A few days later and approximately 3,500 miles from Paris, tragedy struck two other members of the U.S. Air Force serving in Afghanistan.
Two special tactics Airmen deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel were killed near Camp Antonik, Afghanistan, Aug. 26.
Capt. Matthew D. Roland, 27, (below, left) and Staff Sgt. Forrest B. Sibley, 31, (right) were killed in what may have been another dastardly “insider attack.”
“The losses of Matt and Forrest are a terrible blow to everyone who knew them,” said Col. Wolfe Davidson, the 24th Special Operations Wing commander. “These two combat controllers were incredible warriors who not only volunteered to join our nation’s special operations forces, but earned their way to the tip of the spear in defense of our nation.”
Roland, an Air Force Academy graduate, deployed three times in his five years of service to multiple locations around the globe. He is survived by his parents.
Sibley, a four-time Bronze Star medal recipient, once with the valor device, deployed four times to sensitive locations around the world in his nearly seven years of service. He is also survived by his parents.
During a visit today to Camp Pendleton Marine Corps Base, Ca., Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told the Marines:
Let me start on a sad note, however. I did want to note that we lost two service members in Afghanistan in recent days. That, and they, like the brave Marines I visited today, were protecting our country, lost their lives doing that. And our prayers, and condolences and thoughts are with the families.
Still overseas, U.S. Air Force aircraft and those of other services and allies continued to pound ISIL targets in Iraq and Syria as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.
Finally, in the first-ever F-22 deployment to Europe, four F-22 Raptors along with one C-17 Globemaster III and approximately 60 Airmen arrived at Spangdahlem Air Base to train with allied air forces and U.S. services through mid-September. The deployment is part of the European Reassurance Initiative, which provides support to bolster the security of our NATO allies and partners in Europe. (Graphic below: U.S. Air Force graphic/ Tech. Sgt. Ryan Crane)
Here at home, and in the news, too, Air National Guard, Air Force organizations and active duty members continue to assist in the fight against wildfires in the Northwest and elsewhere, while Air Force Reserve Hurricane Hunters are flying their WC-130J Super Hercules into Tropical Storm Erika which has already left 12 dead and caused devastation on the tiny Caribbean island of Dominica.
Senior Airman Brandon L. Ehlers, a firefighter with the 106th Rescue Wing, sprays down a burned area of woods Aug. 21, 2015, in Westhampton Beach, N.Y. Multiple agencies and fire departments responded to a major brush fire in the area. Firefighters from the 106th RQW checked for hot spots, which was a serious concern due to the dry weather during the previous week. (New York Air National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Christopher S. Muncy)
And just doing their jobs…
Up in the sky
Maj. Jason Curtis, Thunderbird 5, and Capt. Nicholas Eberling, Thunderbird 6, fly back from Minden, Nev., Aug. 25, 2015. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jason Couillard)
On the ground
Maintenance Airmen from the 513th Air Control Group wait for an E-3C Sentry (AWACS) to complete its shutdown procedures after completing a training mission at Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, Calif., Aug. 24, 2015. The 513th maintenance reservists accompany every off-station training mission to provide routine checks as well as repairs, if needed. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Caleb Wanzer)
And in between
Paratroopers assigned to 1st Battalion (Airborne), 501st Infantry Regiment descend after jumping out of a C-130 Hercules, assigned to the 374th Wing from Yokota Air Base, Japan, over the Malemute drop zone at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Aug. 24, 2015. Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force and Army paratroopers conducted the practice jump utilizing Royal Australian and U.S. Air Force aircraft as part of Pacific Airlift Rally 2015. The exercise is a biennial, multilateral tactical military symposium designed to enhance military airlift interoperability and cooperation between nations of the Pacific region for future humanitarian missions. (U.S. Air Force photo/Alejandro Pena)
Have a great weekend. Your U.S. Air Force is on duty.
Lead photo: Two B-52 Stratofortresses, assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, taxi on the flightline Aug. 22, 2015, at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Bomber crews with the 20th EBS are part of U.S. Pacific Command’s continuous bomber presence and support ongoing operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexander W. Riedel)
All photos and captions: U.S. Air Force
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