Word on the Street

The latest news in and around Tacoma, Pierce County and South Puget Sound

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Category: McChord Air Force Base


Get used to name changes at Fort Lewis, McChord

Reporter Kris Sherman, who is working on a larger upcoming story about changes at Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base, reports the following:

If your head whipped around on I-5 near DuPont today and you thought, “What was that?” when you passed a sign reading “Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) next 6 exits,” it wasn’t your traffic-befuddled brain.

It was a brand new highway sign, heralding change at the South Sound’s two big military bases. Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base are merging into one installation Monday.

The first sign of the change went up on northbound I-5 at

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McChord crews prepare as Gustav looms

A C-17 Globemaster from McChord Air Force Base ferried response teams to Louisiana on Saturday ahead of the arrival of Hurricane Gustav.

The massive jet left shortly after midnight, picked up members and cargo from the 615th Contingency Response Wing at Travis Air Force Base in California and then landed at Louis Armstrong International Airport in suburban New Orleans.

It returned to McChord by mid-afternoon. The aircraft commander expects his crew will be sent to the Gulf Coast again, as early as today.

"It’ll be a matter of whether we can get in and out before the hurricane hits, or if we have to wait until after it hits," said Maj. Michael Maguire of the 10th Airlift Squadron, 62nd Airlift Wing.

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Another summer event — and this one is free

July is gonna be busy. The Tall Ships are returning. Freedom Fair is back. If you’re my age, apparently everyone you know from college and your hometown is getting married.

Well, squeeze in another event.

The folks at McChord have set up a Web site for the Air Expo 2008. The event on July 19-20 will be free (!) and feature the Thunderbirds, among a bunch of other exhibitions.

According to a release the base sent out, here are some of the performances on the schedule:

�—� C-17 Aerial Demonstration

�—� U.S. Air

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Mariners honor local hero

Remember Don White? He is the reserve airman who was honored for saving two lives after a car wreck on Highway 101 between Port Angeles and Sequim.

The Seattle Mariners also picked up on White’s heroism and honored him at a recent home game at Safeco Field. I e-mailed Don about it, and here’s what he said:

They had the wrong date in the paper. I was there on the 1st of April, Mariners day to salute the military. At the end of the ceremony and national anthem, I carried the game ball out to the

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Air Force reservist honored for heroism — in his civilian life

Master Sgt. Don White picked up Allison Norman and sat her on his lap. The 2-year-old smiled so wide, she almost dropped her pink pacifier. She giggled and clapped her hands.

And the crowd of more than 100 airmen at McChord Air Force Base followed the child’s lead, giving White a standing ovation moments after he received the Airmen’s Medal for saving the lives of Allison and her older sister, Emily, after a car accident two years ago.

The medal is awarded to service members who voluntarily risk their life under extreme conditions other than combat. White, a reservist with the 446th Airlift Wing and a civilian pipe fitter at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, was a technical sergeant when awarded the medal.

"What was supposed to be a fun event became very chaotic," said Maj. Gen. Harold Mitchell, who awarded the medal to White. "Who knows how any of us would have acted in that situation?"

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McChord crew saves stranded ship

Near the bottom of the globe, an American crew took off from a New Zealand runway to help a stranded British ship.

In one of the most treacherous reaches of the earth, a crew comprised of units based at McChord Air Force Base were the heroes Friday.

The Argos Georgia, a British fishing trawler, was stuck since Christmas Eve amidst floes near the Ross Ice Shelf deep below the Antarctic Circle. A broken engine piston left the ship without main power for six days. Dangerous icebergs weren’t far off. Two low-pressure systems were

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