Dispatch from a Pentagon Airman

Master Sergeant Russ Petcoff provided us with dispatches from Ali Base, Iraq. Now he’s back at the Pentagon and plans to share his insights from a local perspective. Here’s his first “Dispatch from a Pentagon Airman.”

Life in the Pentagon is definitely different from Ali Base, Iraq. It’s not nearly as hot…though it is more humid. The commute on Metro Rail is definitely longer than the 10-minute walk from my CHU (military lingo for Containerized Housing Unit, a.k.a. trailer) to the office. The greatest blessing is no ubiquitous dust and dust storms!

No longer being at Ali Base doesn’t necessarily mean the end of my “Dispatchs.” My job at Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs Operations gives me the opportunity to see what is happening throughout the Air Force. Here’s what caught my eye.

Airmen to the rescue
Saw a story from Misawa Air Base, Japan, of eight Airmen rescuing a Japanese civilian from burning car that crashed into a home (see Misawa Airmen rescue Japanese citizen). The Airmen put into practice first aid training they learned.

The story by Staff Sgt. Phillip Butterfield, 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office, Misawa AB, describes what the Airmen saw.

“When we arrived at the scene of the accident, we heard someone say, there’s a guy hurt out there,” said Airman 1st Class Aaron Lauer, a 35th Maintenance Operations Squadron production analyst. “I, and several others, jumped off the bus and ran over to him. He was lying a few feet from the car, and we knew we had to get this guy away from it before it exploded. The car was extremely hot, and I remember it was hard to breathe.”

After pulling the limp victim to safety, Tech. Sgt. Rory Stark, a 35th Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance disposal technician, and Senior Airman Thomas Sullivan, a 35th Medical Support Squadron shipping section supervisor, along with five other Airmen, put their Air Force training into practice. Together they determined the full extent of his injuries and rendered the appropriate life-saving techniques.

Airman in the Afghan fight

The media is filled with stories of the military situation in Afghanistan. There are a lot of stories about Soldiers and Marines in the fight. However, there are Airmen on the ground in the fight as well. Living life in the Korengal valley tells the story of Soldiers coming under fire daily in an Afghan valley (hat tip to Army Sgt. Matthew Moeller, 5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment). Calling in air support for them is Tech. Sgt. Joel McPherson, a joint terminal attack controller. The Airman brings in two F-15E Strike Eagles who dropped 500-pound bombs on the insurgents.

On to another type of Airman are Military Working Dogs (or would they be Airdogs?). Ever wonder what happens to them when their service is up or no longer required? People can adopt them. Officials outline adoption process for military working dogs explains the process of adopting “Airman Fido.” For people interested in adopting a former MWD, they can go to Adoption Information.

Cool photo
The coolest Air Force Photo of the Week (in my opinion) comes from Yokota Air Base, Japan. Osakabe Yasuo shot “Blaze of friendship” which captures a fireworks display from the 2009 Yokota AB Japanese-American Friendship Festival. Other photos from around the Air Force are at Air Force Week in Photos.

Walking 7,000 miles away
Despite being deployed, one Reservist from California didn’t keep her from her annual commitment to participate in the Walk for Breast Cancer in Los Angeles (Sergeant continues the ‘walk’ more than 7,000 miles away from home, hat tip to Staff Sgt. Daniel Martinez, 506th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs, for the story).

Master Sgt. Loretta Patino, 506th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron, organized a walk at Kirkuk Regional Air Base, Iraq. The Aug. 20 event attracted 150 Airmen and Soliders who raised $3,100.
“It’s very personal to me and it’s the least that I can do to try to give something back and do something in my friends’ memory,” Sergeant Patino said.

Great way to make your deployment even more meaningful, Sergeant Patino!

FOB-hopping chaplain
A Catholic chaplain traveling to forward operating bases to ensure Catholic service members can celebrate Mass offers one of the best quotes of the week: “We can (celebrate) Mass on the hood of a jeep if we need to. To me, there is no awkward place to perform Mass.”

Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Mark Rowan’s efforts is chronicled in Chaplain FOB hops, provides mass to isolated servicemembers (h/t to Senior Airman Jessica Lockoski, 506th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs, for her story).

Chaplain Rowan said men and women at some deployed locations go without Catholic Mass and confession for weeks at a time. “It’s wonderful for me to be able to minister to [deployed servicemembers]  … bring the church to them, and let them know they are not forgotten or abandoned by the church,” Chaplain Rowan said.