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Tag: Air Force


Air Force reservists return home

Thirty Air Force reservists from Joint Base Lewis-McChord returned home Monday after a six-month deployment to Iraq.

The airmen, members of the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron, served in Kirkuk. They deployed in August 2009; eight of the squadron’s firefighters remain in Iraq and will likely return this summer.


Different rules for different states

If you’re gay and serving at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, you stand a better chance at not getting discharged than if you served at, say, Fort Benning.

Ditto for Fairchild Air Force Base, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and all the other military installions across much of the western United States, the Associated Press reminded us over the weekend.

That’s because the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2008 ruled that the military must demonstrate that discharging a gay service member must promote cohesion or discipline in a unit.

Because the 9th Circuit covers a nine-state area, the more

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People in the service

(This is a periodic update of Washington folks serving across the armed forces. If you’d like to add any news — new training, a deployment, a retirement, etc. — email me at

olsonmugAdm. Eric T. Olson, a Tacoma native commanding U.S. Special Operations Command, recently inherited the title of “Bull Frog,” given to the sailor with the greatest amount of service following SEAL training.

Olson, a 1973 graduate of the Naval Academy, gained the title after the retirement of SEAL Capt. Pete Wikul. As a four-star admiral, Olson is the highest ranking SEAL to earn the Bull Frog title.

Marine Cpl. Timothy Lewis of Fall City just graduated from Marine Security Guard school and is now stationed in Brussels. The Marines of Marine Corps Embassy Security Group are tasked with guarding American embassies and consulates abroad.

The 4-9 Infantry's Field Trains Command Post in Baghdad
The 4-9 Infantry's Field Trains Command Post in Baghdad

Army Capt. Bud Corbin is leading the field trains command post for Fort Lewis’ 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment — a unit of 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. The soldiers “are working all day and night” at Victory Base Complex in Baghdad to make sure the battalion is well-equipped, their commander said.

National Guard Pvt. Aaron Kim of Tacoma graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Columbus, Ga. Kim is a 2009 graduate of Washington High School in Parkland.

James W. Goodgion of Kent graduated from the Army Reserve Officer Training Corps Leader Development and Assessment Course at Fort Lewis. Goodgion, a 2006 graduate of Kentlake High School, is a student at Missouri State University.

Army Pvt. Omar A. Cervantes of Tacoma graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Okla.

Army Reserve Pvt. Sampson I. Sneed of Federal Way graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Okla.

Army Pvt. Jason A. Dudley of Covington graduated from basic infantry training at Fort Benning, Ga. Dudley is a 2009 graduate of Tahoma High School.

Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class Afsheen C. Saatchi of Tacoma graduated from basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. Saatchi earned distinction as an honor graduate. Saatchi graduated in 2000 from Life Christian Academy in Tacoma and received an associate degree in 2004 from Pierce College.
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Local links, Nov. 2

I was out since Wednesday, and plenty of news happened since then. Allow me, however, to promote my story of the use of burn pits at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, and elsewhere (the story also has this sidebar).

Other local links:

5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division:

Grieving a ‘very brave young man’ [The News Tribune]
Fort Lewis soldier wounded in Afghanistan can’t wait to go back [KING-TV]
Fort Lewis bids farewell to another ‘good soldier’ [The News Tribune]
Fort Lewis MP officer dies in Iraq noncombat incident [The News Tribune]

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Cowlitz County airman dies during deployment

An airman from Cowlitz County died Sept. 12 on a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

Tech. Sgt. James R. Hornbarger of Castle Rock died of a non-hostile incident, according to a press release. No other details were given.

The 33-year-old was assigned to the 9th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, Calif.


Local links, Sept. 11

Today’s links start with a dispatch from our D.C. correspondent, Les Blumenthal, who writes about a recent trip by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The congressman — who sits own both the House Intelligence Committee and the armed services subcommittee that overseas special operations forces — stressed the importance of winning the AfPak fight.

“This is ground zero for al-Qaida,” Smith said. “They are still there, they are still plotting against the West. We have to deal with that threat. As much as we would like to avoid it, we can’t.”

Other local links include:

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By land, sea and air

C-17 Globemaster III jets at Bagram Airfireld in Afghanistan.
C-17 Globemaster III jets at Bagram Airfireld in Afghanistan.

strykerlogisticsmapThe Pentagon’s announcement in February that a Fort Lewis Stryker brigade would deploy to Afghanistan – the first unit of its kind in South Asia – sparked a flurry of debate.

How would the 19-ton vehicles fare in the country’s forbidding terrain? After training for an Iraq deployment, how would the soldiers from 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division function in rural Afghanistan?

But logistics officials had a bit of a different question: How would the brigade and its equipment – including 330 of the 19-ton vehicles – actually get to landlocked Afghanistan?

“When I first got the word – and I’ve been doing this for 20 years – my first thought was, ‘Oh, man, how am I gonna do this?” Maj. Kirk Harvey, who oversaw the deployment’s logistics for the brigade, said last week. “It was a heck of a process.’

Thousands of pieces of equipment, from drone aircraft to artillery, needed to make the 7,000-mile journey. Harvey and other military officials had no blueprint to follow.

Army officials declined to discuss the shipment of the Strykers into Afghanistan for security reasons before and during the unit’s deployment. But with the brigade stationed across Kandahar and Zabul provinces in the country’s southeast, they are now opening up about what it took to move enough equipment to fight the Taliban and sustain the unit’s 3,900 soldiers.
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446th squadron ‘pumped up and ready to go’

About 40 civil engineers assigned to a McChord Air Force Base reserve unit left Friday for Iraq.

The members of the 446th Civil Engineer Squadron will perform maintenance – like repairing electrical and plumbing fixtures – on military bases across Iraq. The unit will also train Iraqi counterparts.

The airmen are expected to return in spring 2010.

This is the first mobilization for the unit – which draws airmen from across Washington and beyond – since 2007. The deploying electricians, plumbers, masons and carpenters are rated as masters in their civilian careers, according to a McChord press release.

“This is

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