Air & Space Conference Daily Wrap-up (Day 2)

This is the daily blog from the Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition 2009. Master Sgt. Russell Petcoff is blogging daily from the site until Sept. 16.

Air Force public affairs professionals are working hard to get information out to Airmen concerning the Air Force Association Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition 2009. In addition to traditional methods of written stories, photographs and video stories, they are using such tools as this blog and Twitter.

“Social media is just another tool in our communication toolkit,” said Capt. Chris Sukach, Air Force Public Affairs Agency emerging technology chief. “Twitter allows us to provide real-time updates to our audience while receiving immediate feedback from them. It provides the opportunity for more people to engage in conversations about their Air Force.”

Tomorrow, we will be Twittering from a couple of presentations. They include:
• Secretary of Defense Update, by Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Robert M. Gates, 9 a.m.
• The Current and Future National Guard, by Gen. Craig R. McKinley, 11:25 a.m.
• The Enlisted Force, by Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force James A. Roy, 3:20 p.m.

All times are Eastern Standard Time.

People interested in following the tweets can look for one of several Air Force Twitter handles: http://twitter.com/US_Air_Force , @usairforce, @afpaa, @airforce, @airforcelive, @airforcenews and @USAFThunderbird.

In addition to Twitter, we will post updates of events to the Air Force’s official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/USairforce.

Chief of Staff’s keynote address
Gen. Norton Schwartz, chief of staff of the Air Force, gave his keynote address at the second day of the AFA Conference.

During his address, General Schwartz spoke on his vision for the future, jointness, the Year of the Air Force family and honored heroic sacrifices of Airmen.

“A year ago, I spoke of a ‘back-to-basics’ approach for the Air Force, a bit of triage in which we had to recalibrate in critical areas where we had lost focus,” General Schwartz said.

“We navigated through a challenging but ultimately healthy period of inspection and introspection with a recommitment to our heritage of excellence,” he added.

Read my story here.

At the end of his address, General Schwartz honored a Korean War veteran. He presented Dolphin D. Overton III with the Distinguished Service Cross. Mr. Overton’s military records were not accurate due to clerical omissions. Recently, the Air Force Board for Corrections of Military Records updated Mr. Overton’s military records.

Watching the giant video screens, it was easy to see Mr. Overton overwhelmed with emotion at the presentation.

The DSC citation reads:

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, has awarded the Distinguished Service Cross to (then) First Lieutenant Dolphin D. Overton III, United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in action against an armed enemy of the United Nations as Group Leader of twenty-five F-84 type aircraft, 49th Bomber Wing, Fifth Air Force on 28 June 1952. On that date, Lt Overton’s group was diverted against a target of truck convoys discovered by a previous recce flight. Working in and through an overcast, Lt Overton planned and executed a very difficult attack, sequencing his aircraft in such a manner as to provide maximum coverage of the target with minimum risk from heavy ground fire. With disregard for his own safety, Lt Overton remained in enemy fire under the overcast so that he could visually direct the attacks and withdrawals. So successful was Lt Overton’s direction of the attack, that one hundred fifty trucks were destroyed and confirmed by photograph, making it one of the largest such strikes of the War. Lt Overton’s command of this strike in such adverse conditions and with such devastating results highlights his superb flying skill and extraordinary heroism in the face of fierce enemy opposition. Lieutenant Overton’s actions reflect great credit upon himself, the Far East Air Force, the United States Air Force and the United Nation’s Command. Signed, Michael B. Donley, Secretary of the Air Force and General Norton A. Schwartz, Chief of Staff.

Rock star general
Today there were a lot of Junior Air Force ROTC cadets in the hallways. For someone working in the Pentagon, seeing a general is somewhat old hat. Not for them. Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, received the rock star treatment. When he walked through the halls, cadets from Hampton (Va.) High School flocked around him to ask questions about the Air Force.

Meeting old friends
Opportunities to meet old co-workers continue on this second day of the conference. I ran into Lt. Col. John T. Thomas, public affairs officer for Air Force Global Strike Command. Colonel Thomas and I served together at International Security Assistance Force in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 2007. It was great meeting the colonel again. Gave him a “sticky brain” I wrote about yesterday which he seemed to appreciate.