Tag Archives: Airman

Airmen draping a flag over a casket.

Step Up, Step In: What’s a line of duty determination?

By Staff Sgt. Ryan Crane
USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs

During the last five years, the Air Force notified the families of 232 Airmen that their son or daughter died.

Although most anyone can tell you the military can be a dangerous job and being put in harm’s way is often just part of the commitment, the most disturbing part about that statistic is 212 of those Airmen died while off duty.

Even more upsetting is that because of the circumstances surrounding the deaths, some families were paid no benefits. In every case, the deciding factor came down to the line of duty determination.

A line of duty determination investigation is conducted anytime a member acquires a debilitating disease, incurs a significant injury or dies under unusual circumstances, according to Capt. Mikal Nuhn, U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa judge advocate. The findings determine whether or not death benefits are paid.

“When a military member is seriously injured or dies, certain statutory rights or benefits accrue to the member or their family,” Nuhn explained. “But only if the disability or death was attributed to military service, and in the line of duty.”

There are four possible outcomes of an LOD determination:
1. Condition existed prior to service and was not aggravated by service.
2. In the line of duty, not due to servicemember’s own misconduct.
3. Not in the line of duty and not due to the servicemember’s own misconduct.
4. Not in the line of duty and due to the sevicemember’s own misconduct.

Nuhn explained how to avoid the fourth outcome in very simple terms.

“Always behave in a reasonably safe manner because your actions could have unintended negative consequences for your loved ones,” he said.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take a trip to Switzerland to go bungee jumping or hit the slopes to shred some powder. As long as you take all safety precautions these activities would likely be considered “in the line of duty” and you or your family would receive benefits.

However, a scenario that would likely not provide death benefits to your family is one that involves alcohol. An example is when an Airman drives drunk and puts himself and his family at risk, even if it is not his intention.

Making good choices and taking personal responsibility are key. The wingman concept is a great safety net, but in the end, every individual is responsible for his or her actions and consequences.

“By definition, all mishaps are preventable,” said Master Sgt. James Musgrave, USAFE-AFAFRICA mishap prevention manager.

Accidents happen, but there are always ways to minimize or eliminate risk in everything you do.

“While the younger Airmen have a good portion of the mishaps, no age or rank is immune to mishaps,” Musgrave explained. “It’s more of a psychology issue than an age issue.  ‘It will never happen to me’ is a common jinx if the speaker is not risk conscious.”

As the Air Force Safety Center motto states: “Safety is no accident.”

“Be risk aware, not inattentive,” said Musgrave. “One of the leading factors of mishaps is inattention, which sometimes is a result of boredom or a perceived absence of a threat. If Airmen are aware of the risks, they can control the ones that are controllable.”

Capt. Zach Anderson has to forgo tradition for love of family.

Every March, I mustache myself a question

By Capt. Zach Anderson
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs

The razor hovered just above my upper lip. The blade was suspended millimeters from my skin. The consequences of my next move would have lasting ramifications for at least the next thirty days. Even at this moment of reckoning, I wasn’t sure which path I would choose.

The day had started like any other Monday: Slap the alarm, get dressed, head to the gym, and then on to work. But this morning was different. This was Monday, March 2, 2015, the first official work day of “Mustache March 2015.” Today, the typical morning routine of gym, shower and shave was anything but typical. This morning came with the added weight of a decision that had to be made–a decision that was reflected in the mirror, literally staring me in the face as I stood there with razor in hand.

To shave or not to shave? That is the question.

The pull to drop the razor, rinse the shaving cream off my upper lip and “let it grow” was strong. After all, Mustache March is a part of Air Force heritage, the roots of which go back to the legendary facial hair of Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, a triple-ace fighter pilot attributed with shooting down a total of 17 enemy aircraft in World War II and Vietnam. Wasn’t it in some way my duty as an Airman to do my part to pay homage to this tradition?

Besides, I already had a weekend’s worth of stubble in place which made for the beginnings of what could possibly evolve into a truly glorious mustache. Visions of a perfectly waxed handlebar danced in my head as I imagined taking the top prize for the base “Mustache March Madness” competition. (Granted, the handlebar style wouldn’t be within Air Force regulations for dress and appearance, which would mean disqualification from the competition, but still, it would look fantastic!)

On the other hand, my track record for growing a mustache, or facial hair of any type for that matter, is less than stellar. Prior to joining the military, I made a few ill-fated attempts at a goatee, and during a deployment, I even sported a valiant attempt at what turned out to be a miserable excuse for a mustache. Unfortunately, all my attempts fell well short of the initial goal of growing luscious, full-bodied whiskers. (The results were bad enough my wife informed me that, should I return to the United States from my deployment with said mustache on my upper lip, I could find my own ride home from the airport…and I’d be sleeping on the couch until the growth was removed.)

Plus, I’m a public affairs officer. What if I’m needed to give a statement to the media or appear on camera for a TV interview?  Would I come across as a professional representative for the Air Force with a scraggly bit of peach fuzz resembling a severely malnourished caterpillar adorning my upper lip?

These thoughts coursed through my mind as I stood there, weighing the pros and cons of participating in the yearly tradition against maintaining my usual, freshly-shorn face. After several moments of agonizing, I made my decision. I pressed the razor to my skin and began to shave.

I simply have to face the facts: I’m no Tom Selleck. Even at the ripe old age of 35, I still can’t grow what can be even remotely considered a real mustache. For this reason, I regretfully will not  participate in Mustache March 2015. For those of you who can pull off the mustache, I salute you and give my full support to your brave, month-long endeavor.

May your whiskers sprout thick and true and may no inadvertent slip of a razor blemish their growth. A part of me envies your facial hair generation ability. In a way, I feel like I’m missing out on a part of Air Force heritage and tradition. But in another way, I’m quite pleased with my decision to remain clean shaven.

The fact is, I honestly couldn’t have taken sleeping on the couch for an entire month, not even for the sake of tradition.

Brig. Gen. Richard Scobee presides over the retirement ceremony for Col. Michael Ricci earlier this year at the Pentagon. The general has served around the world during his distinguished career and he is excited about returning to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas, to serve as 10th Air Force commander. (Courtesy photo)

Following dad’s advice

By Bo Joyner
Headquarters, Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs

What’s your story? Brig. Gen. Richard Scobee likes to ask this question to every Airman he meets, and he encourages others to do the same.

“The next time you see an Airman, ask what his or her story is,” Scobee said. “I guarantee you will come away inspired and impressed.”

Brig. Gen. Richard Scobee and his son, Andrew, kneel near the grave of Dick Scobee earlier this year during the NASA Day of Remembrance. Dick Scobee was the commander of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which exploded shortly after launch in 1986. His grave is near the memorials to the Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia in Arlington National Cemetery’s Section 46. (Courtesy photo)
Brig. Gen. Richard Scobee and his son, Andrew, kneel near the grave of Dick Scobee during the NASA Day of Remembrance Jan. 31, 2014. Dick Scobee was the commander of the Space Shuttle Challenger, which exploded shortly after launch in 1986. His grave is near the memorials to the Space Shuttles Challenger and Columbia in Arlington National Cemetery’s Section 46. (Courtesy photo)

Scobee, commander of 10th Air Force at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, has an inspiring story of his own to tell. He’s the son of astronaut Dick Scobee who commanded the Space Shuttle Challenger that was destroyed after takeoff in 1986.

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A crew chief stands next to his aircraft

Generating Airpower: Chiefs of the flightline

by Staff Sgt. Derek VanHorn
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Growing up in the backwoods of Arkansas, he’d never turned a wrench a day in his life. Most of his time was spent at fishing holes, hauling hay and running around with his buddies. The closest he got to a garage was changing his car oil for a senior year shop class. It would be an understatement to say he was shocked to learn he’d be fixing jets for a living.

“I thought ‘this is crazy, you want to put an 18-year-old in charge of a jet?’” said Staff Sgt. James McFadden. “But I love it. I knew I’d love it from that point on.”

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Pursue your dreams

By 1st Lt. Katherine Ward
608th Air Operations Center

Everyone has a dream. Something they deem virtually impossible to achieve. Something that if the world was perfect and the stars were aligned, it could happen. If you were granted only one wish during your lifetime, that is what you would wish for. Something that, to most, will always remain a dream. That thing you brush under the rug and go on with your daily life trying to forget about. Instead, you do things that are expected of you like working 9-5 to pay the bills.

But, when you are really honest with yourself in your most vulnerable moments, you begin to dwell on your average life and wonder, “What if?”

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