Airman Dionna Sims

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Senior Airman Dionna Sims, Security Forces members from the 179th Airlift Wing, poses for a portrait January 13, 2018 at the 179th Airlift Wing, Mansfield, Ohio. The month of February is nationally observed as Black History Month, dedicated to recognizing the struggles and achievements of African Americans throughout our nations history. (Photo by Alexis Wade)


“Why I Serve” Series – Black History Month

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“I was motivated to join the military to serve my country,” said Staff Sgt. Vince Stokes, a boom operator from the 141st Air Refueling Squadron, “I wanted to be an effective part of supporting a mission bigger than myself. I was also motivated to join the military for the camaraderie aspect.”


(photo by Andrea A. S. Williamson)


[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]Stokes has now served in the 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard for seven years. The Air National Guard was established as a separate reserve component of the U.S. Air Force in Sept. 18, 1947, and has both a federal and state mission. The dual mission, a provision of the U. S. Constitution, results in each guardsman holding membership in the National Guard of his or her state and in the National Guard of the United States.

“As a boom operator, I enjoy traveling and seeing different areas of the world,” said Stokes, “I enjoy meeting new people and learning about the different cultures that I encounter. I enjoy the support I provide to inter-theater and intra-theater operations. There is nothing better than seeing how my work directly impacts the mission. I am proud of my multiple deployments and volunteerism around the globe.”

As an African American in the military, Stokes follows in a long line of African American service members. According to the official Tuskegee Airmen website, “In spite of adversity and limited opportunities, African Americans have played a significant role in U.S. military history over the past 300 years. They were denied military leadership roles and skilled training because many believed they lacked qualifications for combat duty. Before 1940, African-Americans were barred from flying for the U.S. military.”

“Continuing the legacy of African Americans who served in the military is another reason why I continue to serve,” said Stokes, “I feel like it is my duty to serve. The Tuskegee Airmen and other lesser known African Americans that served in the military provided the foundation for us to serve today. I enjoy serving and creating my own legacy for the generation of African Americans that will follow in my footsteps someday.”

Stokes hopes to commission as an officer and become a pilot.

“A quote that drives me to continue to serve is ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ said by Martin Luther King Jr.,” said Stokes.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]

A C-17 Globemaster III from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., gets refueled by a KC-135R Stratotanker from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., over the continental U.S., Jan. 28, 2019. The KC-135R Stratotanker is flown by the 141st Air Refueling Squadron from the 108th Wing, New Jersey Air National Guard. (Photo by Julia Santiago)

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(Photo by Julia Santiago)


Photo of the Day – February 5, 2019

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Security Forces members from the 179th Airlift Wing pose for a photograph January 13, 2018 at the 179th Airlift Wing, Mansfield, Ohio. The month of February is nationally observed as Black History Month, dedicated to recognizing the struggles and achievements of African Americans throughout our nations history. (photo by Alexis Wade)


Airman Makes ‘Titan Game’ Appearance

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading source=”post_title”][qt-spacer][vc_column_text]Senior Airman Kyle Lucas, 2nd Space Operations Squadron satellite systems operator, and his brother Tyler, also a member of the Air Force, speak with a commentator during the Titan Games in Los Angeles, California, Jan. 31, 2019. Tyler is currently stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and the competition was a way to bring the brothers together currently stationed at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and the competition was a way to bring the brothers together[/vc_column_text][qt-spacer][vc_column_text]

(Courtesy photos by Vivian Zink/NBC)



First Military Babies of 2019


Look at some of the new military babies born around different military installations

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To recognize the birth of NMCP’s first baby of the Year, representatives of the Oakleaf Club of Tidewater present a gift basket to the Basking family. Makenzie was born at 12:27 a.m. to Warren and Shantell Basking.
Brig. Gen. George N. Appenzeller, Brooke Army Medical Center commander, along with Sarah Kelly, BAMC auxiliary president, and Master Sgt. Melinda Griffin, enlisted advisor to the deputy chief for patient support, present a gift basket to retired Army Sgt. Christopher and Hillary Hunt after the birth of their son, Callum Charles Hunt, at BAMC, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Jan. 2, 2019. Callum, born at 1:50 a.m. on New Year’s Day, was BAMC first baby born in 2019. (Photo by Jason W. Edwards)
With extended Navy family help…Grayson Phillip Suggs joined his parents, Michelle and Phillip, earlier than expected and arrived at 3:10 a.m. on January 1, 2019, as the first baby born in the New Year at Naval Hospital Bremerton’s Northwest Beginnings Family Birth Center. Grayson, who weighed 7 pounds, 15 ounces, and 20 inches long, came three weeks early. Both mother and baby are doing well. The staff at Northwest Beginnings Family Birth Center was busy providing support for new parents throughout December. There were 52 new babies in the final month of 2018. Overall, Naval Hospital Bremerton recorded 490 births for 2018, an average of approximately 41 per month (Photo by Douglas H Stutz).


Special Ops Doctors Save Italian Patient From Death


U.S. Air Force Capt. Melanie Gates, left, Capt. Nick McKenzie, and Capt. Richard Thorsted, Special Operations Command Forward Northwest Africa ground surgical team at Nigerien Air Base 101, Niamey, Niger. The three doctors recently finished medical school and are serving their first deployment.

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” font_container=”tag:h1|font_size:60|text_align:center” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1533458976112{padding-bottom: 10px !important;}”][vc_column_text]Article by Nick Wilson

What began as a normal day eventually became an 18-hour sequence of events never to be forgotten.

Doctors and staff of Special Operations Command Forward (SOCFWD) – North and West Africa’s Ground Surgical Team (GST), a tenant unit assigned to Nigerien Air Base 101, Niger, were notified that an Italian woman recently suffered life-threatening injuries that required their attention.

The Italian woman was originally receiving care at a local hospital in Niamey when the GST was contacted by Italian military officials because the local hospital didn’t have the resources needed to save the patient’s life.

When U.S. Air Force doctors from SOCFWD – North and West Africa’s GST initially reviewed the computed tomography, or CT scans, they immediately knew there was more serious damage than what was reported as only a liver bleed by the local hospital.

“Upon reviewing the CT scans, there was also evidence of free air in the abdomen, concerning for a small bowel injury,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Melanie Gates, GST emergency medical physician. “When the patient arrived, her skin was white and she was in serious pain with minimal responsiveness. Her vitals were much worse than previously reported.”

The patient had a fever, a very high heart rate and low oxygen levels.

“First thoughts upon seeing patient … she wasn’t doing well,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Richard Thorsted, GST anesthesiologist. “She arrived to us in critical condition with a high fever.”

Thorsted and other GST members agreed that emergency surgery would be needed. Immediately, the team directed the 768th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron medical team to set up a walking blood bank.

Additionally, they coordinated with various units and agencies from the 768th EABS, and Italian, French and German military forces to set up airlift and transportation to a larger medical facility in Senegal.

The patient is currently in good condition and recovering from her injuries in Naples, Italy, according to the GST staff.

“I’m especially thankful for the total team effort to do what is right, and not to let bureaucratic issues delay critical care,” said Capt. Nick McKenzie, GST general surgeon. “This was somebody’s mother, or wife, or daughter.”

McKenzie, Thorsted, and Gates, all of whom recently graduated from medical school and finished their residency programs, credit their success to a rigorous military training program they attended prior to deploying to Africa.

They all had run through clinical scenarios and situations to be able to work in austere conditions.

“Our training kicked in. We all knew our roles and worked well together,” Gates said. “I believe our training was crucial for our development as a team and ability to handle situations like this.”

Gates also said trust was crucial in the team’s ability to work in a stressful situation.

“I know that our ICU nurse, Capt. Jessica Bertke can trouble shoot any of our equipment and is the glue that holds our team together,” Gates explained. “I know that our anesthesiologist, Capt. Richard Thorsted, is meticulous at his job and is already steps ahead when problems arise. I know that our surgeon, Capt Nicholas McKenzie, has operated in much more austere conditions and would trust him to operate on my own family.”

Gates also mentioned that their scrub tech, Senior Airman Joshua Rios, has worked closely with McKenzie and can predict what he will need.

“I know that MSgt Lou Campbell is always behind the scenes advocating not only for the patient and dealing with medivac logistics, but advocating for our team,” Gates said.

McKenzie said the support from the SOCFWD-NWA and air operating base staff in supporting his team’s decisions was one of the most crucial elements to his team’s success. He also thanked the Italian military doctor Valantina Di Nitto, who translated information regarding the patient into French, German, English, and Italian for the multinational military units at Air Base 101.

“My takeaway is personally knowing that we did something to help another human being,” Thorsted said. “There is an inner peace knowing you’ve done your best and you made an impact in someone’s life.”