The American Battle Monuments Commission will soon take over the responsibility of maintaining Clark Veterans Cemetery in the Philippines, said commission spokesman Tim Nosal.
The US and Philippine governments are expected to sign an agreement on Monday that would allow the commission to restore and operate the cemetery, which is on Philippine soil, according to an advisory from the Philippine government.
“We will be able to get to staff to Clark Cemetery within a couple of days or sooner,” Nosal said on Friday.
The cemetery was badly damaged by a 1991 volcanic eruption, which happened just as the U.S. military was leaving Clark Air Base and the Philippines. Since 1994, the local Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter has taken care of the cemetery, but it would take an estimated $2.5 million to remove all the ash from the eruption.
President Obama signed a law in January requiring the American Battle Monuments Commission to assume the upkeep for the cemetery, but it has taken this long for the U.S. and Philippine governments to reach an agreement on how to proceed.
In August, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., wrote a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry asking the State Department to complete the agreement so the commission could start taking care of the cemetery.
“Clark Veterans Cemetery is sacred ground and we have a solemn duty as a nation to ensure that the brave Americans buried there have the dignified and well maintained final resting place that they deserve,” Ayotte wrote.
After losing one arm and both of his legs to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan, Master Sgt. Joseph Deslauriers is moving forward — this time into a new home.
The Building Homes for Heroes Foundation, a non-profit founded in 2006, broke ground Nov. 18 on the Deslauriers’ family home, complete with a work out area, a therapy pool and enough space for him to move around freely, according to an Air Force release.
“This is going to lift a huge weight off my shoulders, especially since I may be medically retiring in the future,” Deslauriers, who currently lives in a small apartment, said in the release. “In my apartment, I wreck into things and I scratch up a lot of things. I can’t wait to just have a place to call my own.”
Air Force Times reported on the former explosive ordnance technician in August, who worked with a team at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory to test an anthropomorphic arm integrated into brain and residual nerve function.
“With this [arm], I can open my hand, I can rotate my wrists, I can grab something, and it’s amazing to have something that you can manipulate with your residual limb and eventually with your brain,” Deslauriers said during a House Science committee hearing on July 31.
Deslauriers is now back to wearing a nonmechanical prosthetic.
Deslauriers was on patrol Sept. 23, 2011 as an explosive ordnance disposal craftsman when he reached a disabled vehicle with an injured Marine and brought him back to safety. After ordering other personnel to stay in their vehicles while he cleared the area, Deslauriers stepped on a buried IED trigger, critically wounding him. However, his actions and gathered intelligence helped extract two injured Marines, two disabled vehicles and let his team finish their mission.
For his actions, Deslauriers was awarded the Silver Star.
Deslauriers is now an Air Force Special Operations Command explosive ordnance device program manager at Hurlburt Field, Fla.
Tags: Austin May
A former Air Force Academy cadet who claims he was ordered to break cadet policy while working as a confidential informant and then expelled for doing what he was told has exposed the scope of the Office of Special Investigations’ use of informants to spy on their fellow airmen.
In this week’s Air Force Times, you can read how this cadet was recruited to work for OSI and what happens to airmen after they become confidential informants.
Also this week: It’s been two years since Air Force wife Kelli Abad disappeared from Kadena Air Base, Japan, but her mother refused to give up hope. Janice Cribbs explains why she refuses to believe that her daughter committed suicide, as investigators believe.
Meanwhile, the Air Force is making due with less money by turning toward simulators as a low-cost alternative to training flights. Air Force Times has the five things you need to know the uptick in simulator training.
In other news, Ramstein Air Base is mourning the loss of Airman 1st Class Jonathan Santos-Carvajal, who was killed in a Dec. 4 car crash.
And only 243 retraining slots remain for first-term airmen. The Air Force has reduced retraining opportunities for 710 airmen in 44 specialties due to budget cuts.
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Starting with a single cellist on the floor of the National Air and Space Museum’s Milestones of Flight gallery and swelling to 120 musicians, the United States Air Force Band exhilarated museum visitors yesterday with its first-ever flash mob.
Check out their holiday-themed performance below:
When NORAD launched its yearly Santa tracker online, the Boston Globe reported that the site featured a video showing the jolly old elf being escorted by US fighters “bristling with missiles.”
This caused a minor earthquake in the Twitterverse about why Santa would need an armed escort. The answer: Russia.
But a NORAD spokesman confirmed to FlightLines’ weapons/Santa expert that the “missiles” are actually fuel tanks.
“Guilty as charged, we tried to give it a more operational feel this year; that was purposefully done to try to highlight our mission sets,” said Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis. “If you look at the second promo video we have where it talks through a mock training exercise, it really lays out what our different missions are and shows the different radar sets.”
So while NORAD will be tracking Santa’s flight this Christmas, if St. Nick gets into a tussle with Putin, his only defense will be eight tiny reindeer.
They say it’s the little things in life that make a big difference.
Ne’Veah Littleton, 8, was made a pilot for life through the “Pilot for a Day” program at Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Nov. 22. Littleton was diagnosed in April with stage four Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, a tumor on the brain stem, according to an Air Force release.
The average survival of children diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, is approximately nine months.
Staff Sgt. Katie Spencer writes that members from Andrews, along with partners from the community, joined together to treat Littleton like a world-class pilot: his day began with a special P4D initiation, taking an oath of office in front of a crowd standing at attention at the 459th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron auditorium.
He was then given a flight suit, a flight bag and the proper insignia to ensure he was “within uniform regulations.”
Littleton – along with his wingman, Capt. Brad Lampel, 201st Airlift Squadron – rode in an F-16 fighter jet simulator and sat in a parachute harness at the 121st Fighter Squadron. They also toured a KC-135, received a military working dog demonstration, ate lunch on the C-40 aircraft used by the First Lady, shot water out of water cannons off the fire truck, and even got to call the tower to request clearance as they taxied onto the runway in a C-38 aircraft.
In addition, the team was able to sit in a helicopter from the Maryland State Police, the release says.
“I am his wingman for life, so we will always be in contact,” Lampel said in the release.
“This is all very memorable. It’s the greatest thing to happen to me this year – a highlight for sure,” Lampel said.
After all the stops of the day, Littleton and his family headed back to the 459th Air Refueling Wing for a special ceremony.
The “Pilot for a Day” program started in the 1990s at Randolph Air Force Base, Texas, and in 2005 at Andrews. The program aims to give children “an unforgettable experience and, if only for a moment, help them get their minds off of the diseases that dominate their lives.”
Read more about Ne’Veah Littleton and his story here.
Related Reading: He’s 11, and he’s all Air Force
Tags: "Pilot for a Day" program, 201st Airlift Squadron, C-38, C-40, Capt. Brad Lampel, Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, DIPG, F-16 fighter jet simulator, First Lady, Joint Base Andrews, kc-135, Maryland State Police, military working dogs, Ne'Veah Littleton, wingman
Check out this video of the 909th Air Refueling Squadron refueling a Navy F-18E Super Hornet in the skies above Okinawa, Japan:
A Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, staff sergeant deployed to Afghanistan got a call from President Obama this Thanksgiving.
During the two-minute conversation, Staff Sgt. Dustin Hawkins and the commander-in-chief talked football and family.
Hawkins, who is currently assigned to the 451st Expeditionary Civil Engineer Squadron at Kandahar Airfield, is on his fourth deployment, according to a Defense Department news release. He missed the births of both daughters while away from home.
His dedication to work and country earned Hawkins a nomination for the call with the president, said Maj. Aaron Brooks, 451 ECES commander.
“Staff Sgt. Hawkins has sacrificed so much in support of the mission here in Afghanistan,” Brooks was quoted as saying. “He is the consummate professional, working extremely long and sometimes odd hours, leading his section to provide power to mission-critical assets out here in some pretty challenging conditions.”
Hawkins, a power production airman, helps maintain, repair and replace 82 generators which support nearly half a million sorties flown from Kandahar Airfield each year.
Before the call, Hawkins said he was nervous. Afterward, the staff sergeant said the president sounded just like he does on television — and was much easier to talk to than he imagined.
Hawkins said he’d never forget the call.
In this week’s Air Force Times, we explain who is getting a re-enlistment bonus and who isn’t as well as which career fields are no longer on the retraining list. In the next few weeks, even more bad news may be coming.
Also this week: the Air Force recently selected about 1,000 staff sergeants for special duties out of an eligibility pool of roughly 7,500 nominees. You can read the five things you need to know about special duties now that they are mandatory.
In other news, two senators are pushing the Air Force to review the safety of ejection seats following the death of Capt. Lucas Gruenther, who was killed in January while punching out of his F-16.
Meanwhile, F-15 fighters from RAF Lakenheath, England, are taking part in a two-week exercise in Israel that involves about 60 fighters total. The exercise has been named Blue Flag, which is Israel’s version of Red Flag.
And 113 retired Air Force general officers have signed a letter opposing a Senate bill that would put military prosecutors instead of commanders in charge of deciding whether to pursue courts-martial for sex assaults and other serious offenses.