Tag Archives: Ali Air Base Iraq

Firefighters serving Ali Base

One of vital components of any base are the firefighters. The fire protection flight of the 407th Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron, Ali Air Base, Iraq, provide a plethora of services to the 13,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines assigned to Ali Air Base. Two key members of this flight, Assistant firechiefs, Master Sgt. Charles Harrison and Tech. Sgt. Ryan Glosson, were the featured guests on the DoD Bloggers Roundtable Sept. 1.

The fire protection flight is composed of 40 Air Force personnel that serve the largest airfield in Iraq, according to Sergeant Glosson. The firefighters provide fire fighting support for the entire base, which includes everything from electrical fires and medical emergencies, especially heat related problems to incidents on the airfield. They even respond to civilian emergencies if necessary, he explained.

What’s more, the fire protection flight provides training for Iraqi firefighters from the nearby city of Nasiriyah. The training is an intense six-week course that includes all aspects of firefighting, including live-fire training. Live-fire training involves real-life scenarios such as burning buildings and vehicles, Sergeant Harrison said.

Both Sergeants will be leaving Ali soon, but they said the firefighters who replace them will continue the tradition of excellence. The entire interview can be heard here.

(U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Robert W. Valenca)

Post by Master Sgt. Stephen Delgado

Special Dispatch from Ali Base — A Higher Calling

While others were recently celebrating Memorial Day with cook-outs and vacations, our Airmen and Soldiers remained vigilant for the ultimate memorial—that for a fallen Soldier. Thanks to Lt. Col. Richard J. Hughes (below) for sharing this story with Air Force Live. And a special thanks to all Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines who are deployed worldwide and stateside to help protect us.

A Higher Calling
By Lt. Col. Richard J. Hughes, 407th Air Expeditionary Group Deputy Commander

It’s 115 degrees Fahrenheit, and we’re in the shade of an aircraft silhouette. The wind is blowing steadily at about 25 knots (29 mph).  It’s like standing in front of a giant hair dryer. The weather forecaster says there are gusts up to 35 knots (41 mph). The wind is sending a steady stream of sand and dust whipping across the Ali Base flightline into the faces of Airmen and Soldiers alike. There is silence, except for the wind.

Yet, we stand, at attention in two straight lines beginning at the ramp of a C-130 Hercules. We’re waiting to render honors. We ignore the heat, the wind and the sand. We are humbled by the presence of one of our countrymen.

Thirty minutes prior on this Sunday morning, the day began very much like any other day with physical training then off to the Group to get planes and people moving. However, today I needed to get to the chapel for religious services–time for personal prayer and reflection.

Exactly three minutes into the service, the chaplain assistant tapped me on the shoulder. “Sir, the command post needs to speak with you immediately.”  Damn, I thought, I just signed off the net five minutes ago. After saying a quick prayer, I went to the chapel annex.

“Sir, we just got notified of an inbound ‘hero’ flight, due on the deck in 30 minutes,” said the on-duty emergency action controller. “It was diverted in flight by the Combined Air Operations Center, and they’re here to take a Soldier home.” I asked if the brigade and garrison commands have been notified. Our installation is a joint base, and the respective service usually handles all the coordination.

“Sir they’ve been notified, however we’re unsure if they’ll have a team in place,” the EAC said.

I said, “I’ll be on the flightline ramp in 10 ‘mikes’ (minutes).”

Waiting on the ramp were three Soldiers from the brigade mortuary affairs platoon. They had prepared the remains of a young Soldier, killed the day before, for transport. Moreover, they were tired having worked throughout the night to get him ready for his final journey.

The weather forecast indicated deteriorating conditions. The crew needed to be off the ground in 15 minutes to beat the weather, but would wait as long as possible. It was time to act quickly to get this Soldier home – but with the honor he deserved.

Calling over the radio net, I asked an Ali Base chaplain to come quickly to the ramp. The aircrew was reconfiguring the aircraft to receive the fallen Soldier. Several Airmen from the terminal were nearby. I gathered them together and briefed them on the situation.

The chaplain pulled up–this was his first ‘hero’ flight. We didn’t know the Soldier’s faith; the Army mortuary affairs team only had a name and unit. It didn’t matter, because the chaplain knew exactly what needed to be done.  Chaplains endeavor to meet the religious needs of every service member, regardless of faith.

“Group!  Present arms!” Twenty arms rise simultaneously and hold the first of a series of final salutes to the Soldier. The flag-draped casket, carried by three Airmen and three Soldiers, passes by silently and solemnly. The chaplain follows slowly, saying prayers as he walks. The pallbearers place the casket gently in the hold of the aircraft.

“Order arms!” Twenty arms slowly drop. The chaplain remains, continuing to say prayers for the Soldier, his family, his friends and his fellow comrades in arms. We pray silently to ourselves for this young man who is far from home and away from those who know him and who are grieving their loss.

“Group! Dismissed!” The small formation takes a step back, does an about face, and marches off silently. I thank the crew for allowing us to take the time to render honors to this fallen Soldier.

As Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Marines, we routinely endure hardship and sacrifice on behalf of our fellow countrymen. Unlike any other profession, ours comes with the realization that we may pay the ultimate sacrifice thousands of miles away from home, in a foreign land. We are duty- and honor-bound to do whatever we must to protect and ensure the freedoms of our citizens.

When one of our own makes that final, ultimate sacrifice, we must do everything we can to make sure he or she is given the highest level of honor and respect. Nothing interferes with that obligation. That is why – despite the heat, the sand and the wind – we gathered on a flightline in southern Iraq. It is what needed to be done for a Soldier who paid the ultimate sacrifice – one who met a “higher calling.”

Dispatch from Ali Base, 29 May 2009

This post is from Master Sgt. Russ Petcoff.  He’s an Airman deployed to the war and tells different stories from the desert. 

 

Memorial Day, May 25, did not go unnoticed on Ali Base, thanks to the hard work of Chief Master Sgt. Gerald Delebreau. He arranged a guards-of-honor vigil near the flagpole and Airmen’s Memorial in Bedrock.  

 

The vigil featured two Airmen pulling 10-minute shifts from 5 a.m. to midnight.  There were only two pauses, one at 3 p.m. for a moment of silence and another for the Ali Base first-ever Joint Service Retreat Ceremony. The chief worked more than 21 hours – through the scorching 108-degree heat and on his feet – to ensure a dignified remembrance for America’s servicemembers who paid the ultimate sacrifice. For Memorial Day 2009, Chief Delebreau embodied the second Air Force Core Value of Service Before Self! 

 

More than 220 Ali Base Airmen volunteered their time to stand vigil.  One Airman was Senior Master Sgt. Robert Clickener, (left) 407th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron.  Sergeant Clickener is deployed here from the 7th Logistics Readiness Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, and his hometown is Las Cruces, N.M.  

 

Airmen with the 557th Expeditionary RED HORSE Squadron have been busy with construction projects around Ali Base and Contingency Operating Base Adder.  

 

 

Staff Sgt. Kenya Shiloh writes in her mission feature on the unit, “Since their arrive to Ali Base, the unit has been working on several projects. They are constructing a Regional Class IV yard for the 14th Engineer Battalion from Fort Lewis, Wash., and modifying a Forward Arming and Refueling Point for the base. Squadron members are also building a new tactical operations center (TOC) for the battalion. … Other projects the 557th ERHS is working on include a motor pool, and an Army and Air Force Exchange Services pre-engineered building.”

 

 

Ali Base photographer Staff Sgt. Christopher Marasky shot an awesome photograph of Staff Sgt. Robert Calton, 557th ERHS, welding a doorframe (left). Sergeant Colton is deployed here from the 819th RED HORSE Squadron, at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Mont., and hails from Modesto, Calif.

 

 

The slang term “bird brain” generally means someone not very smart.  However, that is not indicative of some of the birds here.  Outside the group headquarters building is a latrine with an air conditioner.  On Saturday, May 23, the temperature soared to more than 120 degrees!  Everything sought cool air, including the birds.  They perched on the threshold to the latrine and enjoyed the cool air seeping out.