Tag Archives: Public Affairs

Week in Photos, Feb. 17, 2012

By Airman 1st Class Christopher Gere
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

USAF firefightersIt’s never good news when you need firefighters to show up, but it always feels good when you see them. Start your weekend off by looking back with the Air Force Week in Photos.

Photo: U.S. Air Force firefighters from the 11th Civil Engineer Squadron practice fire suppression tactics in a live-fire training building Feb. 3, 2012, at Joint Base Andrews, Md. The firefighters regularly perform drills to stay proficient. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Perry Aston)

Please, hang up and drive

By Don Branum
Air Force Academy Public Affairs

If you’ve been in the Air Force for a while, you might know the name Gary Kunich. He worked for European Stars and Stripes around the time I first entered the Air Force in 1999. He retired in 2006 as a master sergeant, but he has never put down the pen: today he writes for local publications in his adopted hometown of Kenosha, Wis.

Today, he has a new message, one that he’s asking everyone to help spread: “Don’t drive distracted. Put away your electronic devices before you start your engine.”

It’s a message he can’t spread by himself, but it’s one that might have saved his son.

Kunich shared tragic news with a group of military public affairs professionals via Facebook Aug. 14: Devin Kunich, 21, had died a few days earlier when a car hit his bicycle along County Highway H in Pleasant Prairie, Wis., in the early hours of Aug. 7.

According to Pleasant Prairie Police Department reports, visibility was poor: the stretch of County Highway H where the accident occurred has no street lights, and a fog blanketed the area. Devin was riding north, on his way home from the Bristol, Wis., Renaissance Faire, where, according to his obituary, he was captain of the Black Swan swing ride.

At the same time, 18-year-old Quashae Taylor was driving along the same road. She was driving without her glasses and had been talking off and on to her boyfriend on her cellphone. She closed her eyes for what she described as a “long blink” as she answered her phone again at approximately 12:45 a.m.

Taylor probably never saw Devin before she hit his bicycle from behind. The impact flipped him onto her car, where he lay for almost six seconds before falling off. Police would later find his backpack, personal belongings and bicycle seat strewn in a 300-foot trail from the impact site.

Taylor slowed down, called 911 and stopped at the intersection of County Highway H and State Highway 165, a mile north of the accident scene. The paramedics who responded pronounced Devin dead at the scene.

As tragically as the events unfolded, one thing stuck out at me: the police reported that Devin was wearing dark clothing at the time of the accident and was not wearing a helmet. They later found a light which may have been on his bicycle at the time of impact.

I talked with one of my co-workers about the situation on Aug. 15. At the time, police had reported not finding any lights or rear reflectors on Devin’s bike. I asked my co-worker, a fellow bicyclist, how I could write a story without mentioning that it might have been impossible for anyone to see Devin until the last second? Neither of us had a good answer.

That answer came a couple of days later, on the evening of Aug. 17. I was talking to my wife as we walked through Garden of the Gods Park, and as I posed the same question to her, I recalled a similar event about a year ago.

I was driving north along Chelton Road, just north of Fountain Boulevard in Colorado Springs, about an hour after dark. A bicyclist, dressed in dark clothing and with no lights on his bicycle, seemingly appeared out of nowhere. I had maybe half a second to swerve just enough to avoid him – and I probably missed him by less than a foot.

Half a second. The blink of an eye.

What if I had been trying to answer my phone instead of paying attention to the road?

Quashae Taylor has no prior record, no criminal history, not even a traffic ticket. Prosecutors have charged her with negligent homicide: she faces up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. The blink of an eye changed her life.

Devin Kunich is dead. The blink of an eye ended his.

Gary and Ruth Kunich must live the rest of their lives without their son. Gary told me he doesn’t want her to face extensive jail time but does want “some jail time and accountability.”

“The hard part is struggling with the forgiveness (balanced with) the accountability,” he said.

But more importantly, Gary and Ruth want people to put the phone away before turning the ignition.

So please, hang up and drive.

Photos: Devin Kunich poses for a photo at the Bristol, Wis., Renaissance Faire in this photo taken by his father, retired Master Sgt. Gary Kunich. Devin was killed shortly after midnight Aug. 8, 2011, by a distracted driver as he was bicycling home from the faire. (Courtesy photo)

Blog Spotlight: Daily Gingerbread

*Occasionally, Air Force Live puts the spotlight on individual blogs written by Airmen or their family members. These blogs provide an unofficial glimpse into the various aspects of Air Force life. Opinions expressed are those of the bloggers and are not endorsed by the US Air Force.

Staff Sgt. Sarah Brown in Afghanistan

Even though she’s a writer by trade, Staff Sgt. Sarah Brown has found that some things are best said through pictures.

That’s why she posts a mix of photos and articles on her personal blog, Daily Gingerbread, about her second deployment to Afghanistan. She’s currently serving as a Public Affairs Airman for the NATO Training Mission Afghanistan.

On the blog, she records her life in Kabul, sharing her experiences with the Afghan people in a war environment while supporting NATO forces as they train the Afghan military.

“This is a land of vast differences,” she wrote recently. “Rugged terrain and tenuous beauty, all surrounding a fragile hope for the future. We came to make it a better palce for the people who live here, to give them a sense of the world around them and let them know that there is more to life than just survival, that with hard work and determination (and maybe a bit of luck) anything is truly possible.”

To follow Sergeant Brown’s deployment, visit Daily Gingerbread.

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A ride through the years and a great way to leave…

(Steve Delgado is a Public Affairs non-commissioned officer assigned with the 56th Fighter Wing/PA, Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. He just completed a tour with the Air Force Public Affairs Agency.)

At this point, the sun is setting on my military career. I have to retire Nov. 7 because of age, (Air Force Instruction 36-2612) but I feel my assignment at the Air Force Public Affairs Agency is giving me the opportunity for a great ending to my years with the military. When I retire I will have 24.5 years of service.

My career has been a fascinating ride through four decades, which have included two tours of duty. My first tour began when I enlisted Jan. 9, 1968 with the 162nd Fighter Wing, Tucson, Ariz. I was assigned to the Services Flight, which was part of the 162nd Combat Support Squadron and served until Jan. 9, 1974. When I joined, Lyndon Johnson was president, the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Supremes dominated the music charts, and The Ed Sullivan Show, Bonanza and The Smothers Brothers Show were the top television shows. It seems like ancient history because it is.

Today’s military is the antithesis of what it was in the late 1960s and early 70s. Back then, it was common to see who could out-drink one another, and there were plenty of photos of women in bikinis, or even less, that decorated offices and locker rooms. Women in uniform were non-existent except for nurses and secretaries. What’s more, just about everyone smoked and the ashtray was part of the office inventory, as well as the typewriter. One could never have imagined all of the changes that would happen during the next four decades.

As the 1970s and 80s passed, I rarely gave the military a thought, except if there was a conflict, such as the Iranian rescue operation in 1980 known as Operation Eagle Claw (or Operation Evening Light), the Grenada invasion in 1983 called Operation Urgent Fury or Operation Just Cause (the invasion of Panama) in 1989. I was busy with my disc jockey business and my broadcasting and political ventures.

However, Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the subsequent forming of the coalition known as Operation Desert Shield reawakened my interest in the military. As 1991 dawned and war seemed inevitable, I started to feel that I wanted to be part of something bigger than what my world had become at that time, so I called the Air Force and Army recruiters, but got the same answer—that I was too old. I was 41.

I realized that my age would keep me from serving on the active duty, so I went back to the 162nd FW, who took me back and to my surprise assigned me to public affairs. It was great to be back in military, albeit in a part-time status.

I served with the 162nd FW until end of 2006, but I wasn’t ready to hang it up, so I joined the IMA program (Individual Mobility Augmentee), which is part of the Air Force Reserve, and was assigned to the 56th FW at Luke AFB, Ariz. My nearly two decades in public affairs have afforded me the opportunity to write numerous articles and gave me an appreciation of how many diverse career fields there are on a base. It was great to interview a huge variety of people, from a handicapped child participating in the Luke AFB Pilot for a Day program in July 2007, to a colonel reaching the 4,000- hour mark of his flying career, as well as a doctor returning from performing surgery in Iraq. Recently, I was honored to interview three Tuskegee Airmen, and two gentlemen who brought a vintage World War II B-17G Flying Fortress to Luke AFB for articles in the base paper, Thunderbolt.

When I arrived here I will admit that I was a novice in the world of blogging and tweeting, but my experience at AFPAA has opened a new world of information to me. My duties included researching blogs, participating in the DoD Bloggers Roundtable and producing the Air Force Blog Roundup twice per month.

As my career comes to an end, my advice to everyone from the 18-year-old Airman to the higher-ranking positions is not to get stuck in time. One constant is change. I keep reminding myself that if I continuously talk about the late 60s or early 70s, it is the same as if someone back then being stuck in the late 20s and early 30s. There is a fine balance between falling for every new fad and being open to change.

It is fascinating to realize that when I joined the military, the typical office was composed of non-descript furniture, mostly manual typewriters and rotary telephones. Today’s office is filled with state-of-the-art computers with the ability to access more information than 1,000 city libraries combined. I like to imagine how much the Air Force will progress in the next 40 years.

Is Twitter functional for (public) military purposes

Yes; but it depends.  Depends on how it’s done, if it’s done correctly, transparently and creates a dialogue. It needs to be done with a purpose of supporting an overall communication program as well.  So, for missions like Public Affairs, real-time micro blogs like Twitter have become an effective way of communicating a short message to many people (one’s following) because they then re-post messages to their followings.  

AFMC
T
he Public Affairs folks at Air Force Materiel Command are venturing into the Twitter craze and “will tweet the Annual AFMC Enlisted Awards live as they are announced Thursday, 9 April at the National Museum of the United States Air Force,” said Mr. Ron Fry, Director of Public Affairs at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio.   

“We will tweet the names of the winners” and “to receive these tweets, sign-up to follow AFMC’s official Twitter site: “AFMC_Now” he said.

Mr Fry said that DoD employees may be blocked from viewing Twitter at work and encourages interested people to sign up from their mobile device or at home.

He also said this is “one of many steps the Air Force has taken to keep up with changing technology and adapt to the way people receive news.”

A few recent examples how micro-blogging helped get the Air Force message out, include:
An aircraft crash that did not happen.
An aircraft crash that did happen.
– Creating buzz on Air Force projects. Look at a post from BuzzBin on Public Affairs Guidance
– An Air Force Squadron Commander at Keesler AFB, MS uses Twitter to update family members on base issues when the evacuate the base due to Hurricanes. It’s possible to provide updates from mobile devices, is text based so it doesn’t require tremendous bandwith and augments traditional leadership updates.

– You can check out the real-time results of the keyword search “Air Force” here.

Twitter is not new to the military or the Air Force. Air Force Public Affairs has several profiles: @afpaa, @airforce, @US_Air_Force and many units and individuals around the service have their own as well.

One deployed Airman uses his Twitter account and his blog to communicate with friends and families from the front: Afghanistan.

Safety and Security online:
Microblogging, specifically Twitter these days, allows any Airman to connect their story to millions; however Airmen should always know that anyone anywhere can see posts and good OPSEC and COMSEC rules should always be used.

A good rule of thumb from Social Media expert David Meerman Scott: “Never say anything on social media that you wouldn’t say to your mom at the dinner table.”  Very good rule David.