AFTAC ALUMNI ASSOCIATION (AFTACAA)
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Important COVID Cancellations and Changes

Recent Additions

Additions (Blue),
Hot Topics (Red),
Upcoming Events (Green)
Date
Posted
Event
Date
Tom Humphrey's Obituary Posted. 1/8/2021
John McCauley added to 20 Year Wall 1/17/2020
East Gate closure 1/16/2020
Tom Winders added to 20 Year Wall 1/14/2020
New Year Wishes From Your
Alumni Association
1/14/2020
Fun Spot - Incredible Dust Pan Artist 1/13/2020
David Merker added to 20 Year Wall 1/10/2021
Steven Armitage added to 20 Year Wall 1/10/2021
Info on status of Joe Borowski
and contacting him.
1/8/2021
COVID-19 vaccinations in Viera, FL and registration info. 1/8/2021
Marjorie Marshall's Obituary Posted. 1/8/2021
John Nederhoed Passed Away 1/7/2021
John R. Olesky added to 20 Year Wall 1/4/2021
VA to begin COVID-19 vaccinations at 128 additional sites. 1/2/2021
Minutes of December Meeting posted 1/2/2021
Peter S. Scheuter added to 20 Year Wall 12/31/2020
Various job openings at Solis Applied Science 12/26/2020
VA to begin COVID-19 vaccinations 12/26/2020
Watch out for COVID-19 vaccine scams 12/25/2020
Phil Reynolds' Obituary Posted. 12/23/2020
Ruth Ann Reynolds' Obituary Posted. 12/23/2020
December Post Monitor was Posted.
Florida Members Only
12/19/2020
Leroy F. Kretzschmar's Obituary Posted. 12/19/2020
Posting of Our Memorial
Names - 9/5/2020
PAFB Current Status regarding Covid-19
AFTAC Memorial Corp
Updated 8/14
Calendar of Events
Updated 1/8/2021

Florida AFTACAA Monthly Meeting

Teleconference Format
Monday 2/8/2021
1600 - 1700 Hrs


Email: Phillip Godfrey, President, AFTACAA.
(for teleconference link)

East Gate Closure

In observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the East Gate will close Thursday, January 14 at 1800 hours, and will open Tuesday, January 19 at 0600 hrs.

The South Gate will remain open for 24 hours each day.

COVID-19 vaccinations in Viera, FL

The Brevard Emergency Operations Center of the Brevard Health Office has issued a statement. “New Department of Health-Brevard County COVID-19 vaccine appointments are available in Viera. Limited supply. Register at https://brevardcovidvaccineappt.eventbrite.com "

Considering this is last minute notification, it may or may not be posted on the Alumni Website.

I’m sure these appointments will go quickly once the word it out. If you’re interested, better do it now.
Your Alumni Association

Update on Joe Borowski

More sad news: Just got off the phone with Joe Borowski and he has entered hospice.

He has been fighting a bad ticker and the “big C” for years and was told by his doctors there is nothing more they can do.

Joe retired as an E-8 and was in ACTAC for his 20+ years.

I know him from when he transferred from the closing F troop and cross trained into airborne. He and I have been close ever since. I asked his permission to publish his phone number (208-629-3590) he would love to hear from any and all AFTAC friends. I know he and his wife, Cathy, would appreciate the effort…."

Update on John Nederhoed

It is with deep sadness that I pass along the news that John peacefully passed away last night surrounded by his wife and son. His daughter Katie was brought to the house to say her goodbyes and his son, Keith, is flying in this morning.

Beach Funeral home will be working with the Family and there will be more info about a memorial service. Once service information has been finalized, it will be sent out to the Center. John loved the AFTAC Family; please honor him with prayers for his family…Godspeed John!

The Obituary will follow when it is received.

Various job openings at Solis Applied Science

Below are the positions we are routinely looking for in Charlottesville, VA. We care more about the spectroscopy side of the house than imagery and try to find 99/9Ss

If you are intrested in any of these positions, select "Careers" on our website and forward your resume to us.

POCs:
Rich Burch (CEO) Dan Puchalski (VP)

Positions Available

Labor Category Name: Senior Imagery Scientist
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Responsible for the day-to-day execution and technical oversight of a variety of imagery science and remote sensing activities. Develops, analyzes, evaluates, and applies procedures to collect data from various radiometric instrument systems including, but not limited to, MWIR imaging systems, VIS-LWIR spectroradiometers, and other remote sensing systems to extract valuable signature information to better understand and exploit collected scientific data. Employs data modeling techniques and develops code in MATLAB/IDL/Python to evaluate and analyze sensor data, enabling high resolution signature development and characterization. Authors analytical reports on the scientific characterization of target materials to support intelligence community initiatives. Plans, schedules and supervises integrated field collection demonstrations, sensor test and evaluations, and target material verification procedures. Prepares and delivers technical papers and presentations for community-sponsored Geospatial Intelligence (GEOINT) symposiums, meetings, working groups and collection exercises. Advises and mentors Imagery Scientists/Analysts on new and evolving remote sensing technologies.

Labor Category
Level
Experience
Required (years)
IC Experience
(years)
Education Required
Senior 12 6 PHD

Labor Category Name: Geospatial Intelligence Analyst
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Provides non-literal analysis to produce intelligence products, using remote sensing methodologies, on data from a range of airborne and space-based imaging sensors. Applies customized algorithms, tools, and methodologies for exploitation of GEOINT imagery, focusing on new approaches and capabilities to operational missions. Assist Imagery Scientists in developing novel analytical methodologies to be applied to challenging remote sensing problem sets. Utilize analytic tools and techniques such as geographic information systems (GIS), data visualization and modeling, systems analysis, comparative analysis, and database development. Supports GEOINT collection experiments and employs measures of effectiveness to assess remote sensing system capabilities. Understands the capabilities of GEOINT systems and sensors and their potential application to the intelligence mission.

Labor Category
Level
Experience
Required (years)
IC Experience
(years)
Education Required
Senior 12 6 Master's
Mid 8 4 Bachelor’s
Junior 4 1 Bachelor’s

Labor Category Name: Senior Data Scientist
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Responsible for the day-to-day execution and oversight of a variety of data driven projects. Delegates assignments to Data Scientists in order to realize the successful completion of tasks. Utilizes cutting edge machine learning techniques to implement and execute tests and to develop imagery science tools, algorithms, and processes. Conducts data science experiments, with applications in applied remote sensing, to demonstrate innovative and creative methods for successfully applying machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to address intelligence needs. Directs data modeling techniques and provides developmental plans and quality assurance for all R/Python/Matlab coding efforts. Advises, educates, and mentors analysts and scientists on advanced forms of data analytics. Expert in R, Python and/or MATLAB coding environments and extensive experience with SQL and/or NoSQL databases.

Relevant Experience
(years)
IC Experience
(years)
Education Required
10 6 Master's
8 4 PHD

Labor Category Name: Data Scientist
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Responsible for modeling complex data from passive and active imaging sensors and systems, discovering and identifying opportunities using statistical, algorithmic, mining and visualization techniques. Proficient at integrating and preparing large, varied datasets, architecting specialized database and computing environments, and developing customized algorithms, tools, and methodologies for exploitation of remotely sensed data. Develop machine learning and artificial intelligence (ML/AI) capabilities to support operational missions. Investigate innovative and emerging technologies from open source, commercial, academic, defense and foreign scientific sources to identify approaches to be incorporated into analytical workflows. Use quantitative testing of sample data, in collaboration with analysts and scientific subject matter experts, to develop new applications and techniques for non-literal analysis, utilizing the scientific value of data collected from various remote sensing platforms. Design, validate, and implement data processing algorithms on a cloud-based architecture and provide recommendations on best practices, security measures, and efficiency at scale. Proficient in R, Python and MATLAB coding environments and working-level experience with SQL and/or NoSQL databases.

Labor Category
Level
Experience
Required (years)
IC Experience
(years)
Education Required
Senior 8 6 Master's
Mid 6 4 Bachelor’s
Junior 2 1 Bachelor’s

Labor Category Name: Operations Analyst (OA)
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Responsible for providing data assessments and performance measurements to support the customer’s particular mission strategy or operational direction. Translates technical and scientific information and evaluates intelligence driven analysis to develop and advise scientific staff and customer leadership on production trends and methodologies. Provide research and advises on reporting of significant intelligence actions, authors department analysis reports, and conducts internal audits of government and contractor acquired property. Creates and facilitates reporting and analysis to evaluate operational initiatives and drive operational efficiencies. Quantitatively evaluates and recommends action plans, on all operational reporting and analysis, in order to enhance effectiveness and drive efficiencies of intelligence production.

Labor Category
Level
Experience
Required (years)
IC Experience
(years)
Education Required
OA 8 4 Bachelor’s

Labor Category Name: : Data Scientist/LNO
Security Clearance: Top Secret/SCI
Principal Duties and Responsibilities:
Establish a functioning coordination mechanism between geographically separated analysts and imagery scientists to develop data science methods, techniques, and processes to support intelligence requirements. Provide assessments and performance metrics to identify areas of advancement in analytical capabilities. Promote the integration of data science methods, techniques, and processes into the larger enterprise and facilitate accessibility to GEOINT analysis and production elements. Translate technical and scientific information and evaluate intelligence driven analysis to develop and advise analytical staff and organizational leadership on future methodologies and capabilities for anticipatory intelligence requirements. Evaluate and recommend improvements to machine learning algorithms to increase the accuracy of data characterization.

Labor Category
Level
Experience
Required (years)
IC Experience
(years)
Education Required
Data Scientist/LNO 8 4 Bachelor’s

VA to begin COVID-19 vaccinations

The Veterans Administration has issued some information on Covid-19 vaccinations for veterans.

Click this link to go to the VA Vaccination website

Here’s an additional note from our Website Chairman, Ed Lindsay.

“Per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations, VA will continue to vaccinate health care personnel, as well as community living center and spinal cord unit residents. As vaccine supplies increase, VA’s ultimate goal is to offer COVID-19 vaccinations to all Veterans and employees who want to be vaccinated.

As vaccines become available, VA care teams will reach out to eligible Veterans to schedule vaccinations. There is no need to preregister or come to a facility to sign up.

Veterans can get up-to-date information and sign up to receive regular updates on VA’s COVID-19 vaccine webpage.”

Have a wonderful New Year all.
Your AFTAC Alumni Association

Watch out for COVID-19 vaccine scams

As the country begins to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, there's no doubt scammers are already scheming.
Medicare covers the COVID-19 vaccine, so there will be no cost to you. If anyone asks you to share your Medicare Number or pay for access to the vaccine, you can bet it's a scam.

Here's what to know:

  • You can't pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
  • You can't pay to get early access to a vaccine.
  • Don't share your personal or financial information if someone calls, texts, or emails you promising access to the vaccine for a fee.If you come across a COVID-19 vaccine scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission or call us at 1-800-MEDICARE. And check out CDC.gov for trustworthy information on the COVID-19 vaccine.

There are also fake home test kits and fake antibody test kits circulating the internet.

Stay alert,
Your Alumni Association

You Can Unpack Your Bags And Hold The Gifts

PLEASE contact the POC, Sean Ryan, if you have any questions on these issues.

We sadly have several cancellations we need to let our members know about.

Firstly - The Florida Alumni Association is having to cancel plans for the next world-wide reunion. We were in hopes that the Covid-19 situation would start resolving itself but it seem to be getting worse.

We thank all of you that responded that you’d attend. We intend to delay it until 2022 in the spring months. More information will be forthcoming on these plans.

One good thing is that we now have an additional year to plan for making it the best reunion ever.


Secondly - The monthly meeting to be held on December 14 will now be conducted via teleconferencing. It was to be our gift exchange get-together, so hold onto them until next year. Also, any plans for our annual Snowball are also being delayed.


The Covid-19 is an obvious reason for these changes but we also want to maintain a synchronization with the active duty AFTAC organization and their restrictions. While we are not a legal part of this organization, we still have the word “AFTAC “in our title. Therefore, we plan to follow their guidelines to prevent any confusion.

Kind regards and we wish all a happy and joyful Christmas.
Your Florida AFTAC Alumni Association

2020 Florida AFTAC Alumni Association SnowBall XXII

aoy2020.jpg
Alumni of the Year Attendees: Bob Wiley (2008), Sean P. Ryan (2014), Frank Calenda (2015), Dee & Gene Melchior (2012), Pete Gilbert (2018), Bryce Dunn (2019)

By Sean Ryan Since 1999, The Florida AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA) has thrown a themed event called a SnowBall. This festive and social get-together is highlighted with a social, dinner, entertainment, and honoring our previous year’s Alumni of the Year (AOY). This year’s event was held on 25 January, at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Viera, Florida.

The night’s events kicked off with a festive Social Hour where guests enjoyed chatting and reminiscing about AFTAC and catching up and sb3.png socializing with old friendships and sharing fond memories of their time in the unit, thru the years, around-the-world, or in the head-quarters building at Patrick AFB. Guests were also entertained by sb5.png The Harbor City Harmonizers (A 4-person Quartet). The yearly slide show, organized and developed by Bob Wiley (AOY 2008), with photos by him from Ed Lindsay, and Judy Henderson (AOY 1997), among others, of previous SnowBall's, Spring Picnic, Golf Tournaments, Toilet Bowl, and Wind Downs, was continually shown on the screen.

This year’s theme was the "Seismic Technique," which joined previous themes honoring Hawaii, Germany, Florida, Wyoming, Thailand, Australia, Korea, Nebraska, and Colorado … locations, where AFTAC had or has a presence, among other locales, worldwide.

sb6.png Following the Social Hour, Opening Remarks by the AFTACAA President Phil Godfrey, Introductions of Key Staff, our National Anthem nicely performed by AFTAC's very own "Atomic Blue", Sage Salute provided by Lou Seiler, and POW/MIA Recognition and Invocation by Sean Ryan, a very delicious and appealing dinner was served by the hotel staff.

sb2.png Amy Long, Gina & Chad Hartman After a brief break following dinner, the AFTAC Commander, Colonel Chad Hartman, provided an outstanding "pocket slide brief" of the Status of Command (SOC), and an overview of AFTAC's current activities and status. His SOC brief was truly "spot-on," and brought the AFTACAA “in tune and current” with the mission they once served in, and what is on the horizon for AFTAC down the road. Following the brief, The Harmonizers sang again.

The evening ended with the announcement of the 2019 AFTAC AOY. Wallace "Bryce" Dunn from the AFTAC Colorado Chapter in Denver, CO, was selected as the recipient. Bryce was previously recognized at the CO Chapter Worldwide Reunion in June 2019. The AFTACAA officially announced his name to welcome him into the honored recipients of the prestigious AOY ranks and honorees through the years.

Equipment displays were graciously supplied and arranged for the night by Dr. Mike Young, AFTAC Historian. Michelle Ryan and Frank Calenda arranged seismic wiggling related centerpieces to decorate the tables "that were an awesome compliment to the night's table displays." Frank and Edna Calenda, Michelle Ryan, and Pete Gilbert volunteered to man the check-in table. Judy Henderson shot photos for the evening.

A special and heartfelt thank you to all Team AFTAC Alumni Members and Spouses who volunteered to help with the various tasks and support required to provide an awesome evening by all in attendance.

sb4.png We look forward to the 2021 SnowBall XXIII, in January 2021, when the AFTACAA will gather once again, to mingle, socialize, and reminisce of the times when we were in, and the current AFTAC of today, and recognize the 2020 AOY. Hope you can join us for another grand event and evening, with fellow Alumni and others in attendance next year.


More Pictures

MP1.png
Lou Seiler and Bryce and Susan Dunn
MP2.png
Arlin Massey & Phil Godfrey
MP3.png
George & Judy Henderson
MP4.png
Alexa & Amy Long, Gary Cornn, and Jonathan & Sophia VanNoord
MP5.png
Ed Lindsay with daughter, Angelica, in front of a Seismic display
MP6.png
Barbara Herrick, Moira & Tom Eddleman, and Steve Herrick
MP10.png
Dee & Gene Melchior
MP11.png
Pete & Shirley Gilbert
MP12.png
Mike & Connie Dobrin

45th MDG FLU Shots Available

Dear Beneficiary,
We at the Patrick AFB Medical Treatment Facility are sending you this message to encourage you to get the flu vaccine to help reduce the overall impact of possible respiratory illnesses for you and others during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the flu vaccine will not protect you against COVID-19, flu vaccination has been shown to reduce the risk of illness, hospitalization and death from an influenza infection. It is especially important for you to be immunized against the flu this year because we want to avoid potential simultaneous demand on our healthcare system due to COVID-19 and the flu.

Currently, we have influenza immunizations for beneficiaries between the ages of 6 months – 18 years, and 65 years or older. We are currently reserving our vaccinations for ages 18-65 for our Active Duty members, and will release for all beneficiaries as soon as we receive more vaccines. Please follow our Facebook page or look for future messages about any changes to our influenza vaccination availability.

If we do not currently have the correct influenza vaccination in stock for you, you may obtain the flu immunization in the TRICARE network for free at Walmart, Walgreens, and Publix. You may go to any network pharmacy that accepts TRICARE. To find the nearest one near you search on-line at: https://www.tricare.mil/CoveredServices/IsItCovered/FluVaccine.

To ensure your shot record is updated, please provide the vaccine documentation you receive from the network pharmacy or TRICARE-authorized network provider to your Primary Care team or your MTF immunizations clinic. You may upload a copy of your immunization documentation to secure messaging and send to your Primary Care Manager, or hand carry a copy to the MTF.

We care about your health and want you to be protected. The flu vaccine is an important tool to protect you from the flu in any year; however, it is especially important as we address the additional threat posed by COVID-19. Please call or e-mail your PCMH team if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
Colonel Tracy Bozung, 45 MDG Commander

2020 Veterans Day Flag Run

Many of you know the reasons behind these photos. For those who don't, here's the deal. The active duty military of my old outfit AFTAC, arranged a group of military to run an American flag for 24 hours to honor retired military Veterans on Veterans Day (For you Aussies and Kiwis, it's the same as your ANZAC Day).

The flag was retreated on the night before that day and the run began. It involved close to 100 military personnel and the distance run was right at 100 miles.

My part of the story was that I was selected to receive that flag in honor of all military veterans. I was extremely honored to be selected and consider this effort by our active military personnel to be above and beyond the call of duty. I just wanted to share this brief story with my family and friends.

Regards to all,
Frank Calenda

VetDay1.png
Lt. Hafke posting the flag that was carried.
VetDay2.png
Edna and I standing for the National Anthem.
VetDay3.png
Invocation by the Patrick Air Force Base chaplain
VetDay4.png
Colonel Bordner, AFTAC Vice Commander introducing me and saying some nice things about me.
VetDay5.png
Colonel Bordner presenting me the flag
VetDay6.png
Me trying to present an acceptance speech
VetDay7.png
My invitee group minus Michelle Ryan (She was taking the photo). Notice the show-off not wearing a mask

Four Skin Rug

The Four-Skin Rug
Shortly after I arrived at Det 421 (Alice Springs) in August 1977, we received notification that the Air Force Comm Service had scheduled a renovation and refurbishment of our data line system. This task was something that had been budgeted for a couple years and was anxiously awaited, particularly after a round of bush fires a few months previous. The team, from the Far East Area Comm Depot at Yokota, Japan was due to arrive in a month or so, and would be on site for about 6 weeks.

We made arrangements for the team’s accommodation downtown, and prepared for their arrival. Seems like someone with some experience in this area, with teams of this nature, recalled that Outside Plant installation teams had a tendency to be a rough and ready crew of rather rowdy individuals, there were some misgivings as to how they’d fit in to the Alice Springs environment. We had cultivated a strong bond with the local folks, and we did not want a bunch of dorks giving us a black eye.

The day came and the crew arrived. About 10 guys, led by a short, rather meek looking SSGT named John Gleason. They were in fact a pretty rough looking bunch, but we talked with SSgt Gleason, and the crew, and came to an understanding. In fact, they were, while there, models of good deportment and integrated well with both the locals and the other det people. One of SSgt Gleason’s first actions was to seek out the local Catholic church; he was a serious church goer wherever he was.

Anyways, shortly after they arrived we threw them a “Welcome to The Alice” party and barbecue at the det. All the Det families and single troops were there, as well as the team members, about half the gang from the RSL Club across the street, and assorted folks from the Space Base and the town in general. Huge crowd, all having a great time. As the evening wore on, a group of us were listening to John Gleason telling about the trip to Alice. They’d come from Japan to Hawaii, then to Alice Springs with an overnight in Christchurch, New Zealand and a refuel at RAAF Richmond outside Sydney.

John had never been to New Zealand before, and found his overnight stay interesting. He’s right; Christchurch is a really neat place in a wonderful country. He wandered around, and was very taken with the souvenir shops, particularly those places where they were selling wool products. New Zealand is famous for this, of course

“Boy, they had some really great stuff there. I got a real nice sweater for my wife, not expensive at all, and a bunch of other things for the kids”

A couple folks agreed with him, and told him about some of the things that were around here; opals, kangaroo hides, all that stuff.

He went on, “And another thing they had there were whole sheepskins with the wool attached. They had single skins and two skins sewed together, and a couple places I went to even had four-skin rugs that you could buy”……

At that point…… complete silence in the immediate area. He immediately realized what he’d said. Simultaneously, the penny dropped and the rest of the group, about half of which were Detachment Wives, also figured it out. The Ladies were on that one like ducks on a June bug. The guys shortly after. Poor SSgt Gleason stood there, face as red as a thermometer going “Ah…Blah…. Well I meant ….” and so forth and just wishing that the ground would open up and swallow him and deliver him from this situation.

I will not relate any of the resultant repartee; you can all use your own imaginations You know most of the guys, and you probably know a few of the wives. Things eventually settled out, and we all went back to what we were drinking and finished the evening in fine style. John eventually regained his normal coloration and boyish aplomb.

But… Right up till the team got on the plane and left, every time any of about half a dozen wives (and a few of the guys) saw John, they’d ask him about the four-skin rugs and watch him turn red. He was an awfully good sport about it.

Bob Chadwick
E8, Ret
Det 421 Aug 77-Oct 78

The 45 MDG has implemented
modified operations due to COVID-19.
Thank you for your patience and understanding.

45 MDG Clinic Hours:
Monday-Thursday 7:30 am-4:30 pm
Friday 9:30 am-4:30 pm

Satellite Pharmacy Hours:
Monday-Thursday 8:30 am-4:30 pm
Friday 9:30 am-4:30 pm

October Closures/Modified Hours:
Friday, 9 October 2020 (USSF Family Day):
Clinic open 7:30 am-12:00 pm
Satellite Pharmacy is closed all-day

Monday, 12 October 2020 (Federal Holiday):

All services closed all-day Clinic Service Status:
Active Duty Health/Family Health/Pediatrics/Women’s Health: Virtual Appointments, In-Person Appointments (As Needed), Limited Walk-In Services
Walk-In Hours: 9:30-11:00am,1:00-3:00pm. Walk-in services available:
AD/Family Health: Blood Pressure Check, Injections (B12, Testosterone, Depo-Provera), Pregnancy Test, Dysuria (UTI), Wart Treatment, Suture Removal
Pediatrics: Blood Pressure Check, Depo-Provera Injection, Wart Removal, Weight/Bili Check, Suture Removal
Women’s Health: Pregnancy Test, Depo-Provera Injection

Immunizations, Laboratory, Radiology, Pharmacy (Clinic/Satellite), Public Health, and TOPA: Regular Hours and Walk-In Services Available.

Dental: AD Only - Annual Exams, Dental Emergencies, and Dental Class 3 Only. No Cleanings or Routine Care.

Mental Health: AD Only - Virtual Appointments, In-Person (As Needed), Walk-In Services Available.

Optometry: Appointments available for AD. Retiree/Dependent space available only by appointment.

Physical Therapy: AD Only - Services by Appointment Only.

To schedule an appointment during clinic hours, call 321-494-8241.
After hours, contact the Nurse Advice Line at 1-800-874-2273.

AFTAC CCs/CVs over the Years

1035th/AFTAC Commanders

Name Date Installed Source
Col Katherine Barber 30 June 2020 Intel
Col Chad J. Hartman 20 June 2018 Intel
Col Steven M. Gorski 25 July 2016 Intel
Col Jeffrey Dyball 10 May 2016 Intel
Col Jennifer Sovada 19 June 2015 Intel
Col Christopher A. Worley 15 May 2012 Intel
Col/Maj Gen Aaron M. Prupas 16 June 2010 Intel
Col Lisa Ann H. Onaga 07 Aug 2008 Intel
Col Mark W. Westergren 08 Aug 2006 Intel
Col Guy D. Turner 15 Jul 2004 Nav
Col Craig V. Bendorf 10 Dec 2002 Pilot
Col Roy E. Horton III 08 Feb 2001 Intel
Col/Maj Gen Paul A. Dettmer 27 Jul 2000 Intel
Col Harold J. Beatty 15 Jul 1998 Intel
Col John T. Wigington III 30 Aug 1996 Intel
Col/Maj Gen Glen D. Shaffer 28 Jul 1994 Intel
Brig Gen James A. Jaeger 25 Jul 1991 Intel
Col Jay J. Jaynes 17 Feb 1988 Comm
Col/Brig Gen Billy J. Bingham 08 Sep 1986 Intel
Col/Maj Gen Richard J. O’Lear 17 May 1985 Intel
Brig Gen/Lt Gen James R. Clapper, Jr 15 Jun 1984 Intel
Col Robert A. Meisenheimer 01 Jun 1978 Pilot
Brig Gen Lawrence N. Gordon 29 Jun 1973 Pilot
Brig Gen William G. Goade 29 Oct 1971 Pilot
Brig Gen James G. Silliman 15 Jun 1970 Pilot
Brig Gen Linscott A. Hall 10 Aug 1966 Intel
Maj Gen Jermain P. Rodenhauser 07 Jul 1959 Ord/Log

1035th/AFTAC Vice Commanders

Name Date Installed Source
Col Ralph E.Bordner Jul 2018 Intel
Col Michael G. Sawyer Sep 2016 Intel
Lt Col Jeffrey Dyball Aug 2012 Intel
Col John L. Parker Mar 2012 Spac
Col James E. Roberts Dec 2010 EW/RAVEN
Col Eva S. Jenkins Jul 2009 Intel
Col Donna M. Rogers Aug 2007 Intel
Col Deborah J. Asselanis Sep 2005 Intel
Col Jonathon M. Wohlman May 2003 Intel
Col Mark Benoit Dec 2002 Intel
Col Craig V. Bendorf Dec 2001 Pilot
Col Paul Guttman Nov 1997 Unknown
Col Michael A. Shilkitus 26 Apr 1997 Intel
Col Eric Y. Larson 17 Jul 1995 Pilot
Col Kenneth L. Stanford 31 Oct 1992 Pilot
Col Richard A. Krebs 22 Mar 1991 Acq
Col Jay D. Sherman 29 May 1987 Scientist
Col Thomas W. Ciambrone 30 Sep 1981 Scientist
Col William B. Meharg 08 Sep 1980 Unknown
Col Francis C. Cobb 01 Jan 1979 Unknown
Col Robert A. Meisenheimer 27 Aug 1976 Pilot
Col Raymond F. Koestner 01 Apr 1975 Unknown
Col William L. Walker 08 Jan 1969 Unknown
Col Harry O. Patteson 01 Jul 1967 Unknown
Col James R. Dowless 01 Apr 1966 Unknown
Col Frank J. Griffith 27 May 1963 Unknown
Brig Gen William G. Lee, Jr. 10 Sep 1962 Unknown
Col Frank J. Griffith 1961 Unknown
Col Lester L. Woodward 7 Jul 1959 Unknown

AFTAC Alumni Association seeking donations for memorial at Patrick Air Force Base

Return to
Memorial Article

mem1.jpg Tim Walters Florida Today
When AFTAC opened its new $158 million campus at Patrick Air Force Base in 2014, it was left with a conundrum.

Inside its former 1950s-era headquarters along State Road A1A were memorial plaques for those who died during active service for AFTAC, which stands for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, as well as its predecessor, AFOAT-1, or Air Force Office of Atomic Energy.

AFTAC leadership wanted to do something more visible to remember these people than hanging plaques inside a lobby.

“They wanted some place that would be available for more general traffic to acknowledge these people,” said Air Force Major (Ret.) Lou Seiler, 73, who spent 10 of his 20 years of service with AFTAC. “They wondered if our alumni association, which is very active, would be willing to sponsor such a memorial external to the new building.”

During the past seven decades, 76 AFOAT-1 and AFTAC members have lost their lives during their service to the mission.

When the AFTAC commander reached out to the AFTAC alumni association, which has more than 500 members in Florida and more than 1,000 nationwide, they began brainstorming ideas about how to honor their fallen.

They decided to form a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization so they could take in donations to build a memorial just outside of the new building.

Part of their campaign includes selling bricks that will form a pathway leading up to the memorial.

A 4-inch by 8-inch brick costs $150 and gets three lines of text up to 20 characters per line, includes spacing and punctuation. For $50 more you can get a 1x3 mini replica brick to keep.

An 8x8 brick costs $300 and gets six lines of text of up to 20 characters per line. For $50 more you can get a 3x3 mini replica brick.

The COVID-19 pandemic has slowed the process. The fundraising campaign had just begun in late 2019, but before it could gain traction, things ground to a halt in mid-March.

“Our whole program got kicked in the head by the pandemic,” Seiler said. “We couldn’t go anywhere, businesses weren’t there. We couldn’t go to meetings, couldn’t have contact, just like anybody else. That caused a hit for us.” mem2.jpg A Memorial to those AFTAC service members who have died while on active duty to the long-range detection mission is planned to be built at Patrick Air Force Base. A donation drive, including engraved bricks, is being offered by the AFTAC Alumni Association.

Now they are starting to get the word out.

The campaign hopes to raise between $150,000 and $180,000.

So far they have raised about $30,000. Their biggest donation was on the platinum level — $10,000 — from a retired chief master sergeant who prefers to remain anonymous for now, Seiler said.

They’ve also received donations on the gold level ($5,000), the silver level ($2,500) and the bronze level ($1,000), as well as many brick sales.

The memorial consists of a path leading to a sculpture, a memorial monolith and a bench.

The path, comprised of bricks inlaid with the names and messages from contributors, heads west, passing the U.S. flag and, according to Seiler, “chasing the sun, for the sun never sets on the AFTAC mission,” leading to the memorial monolith.

Across the top of the monolith will be inscribed: “This memorial is dedicated to all those who have given their lives in support of the Long Range Detection mission, and the Air Force Technical Applications Center. Their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

Return to
Memorial Article

Posting of Our Memorial Names

The AFTAC Memorial Project is still progressing and seeking donations, especially from those that served with AFTAC, the Long Range Detection (LRD) and AFOAT-1. We are actively pursuing as many ways to fund this project as possible. An article was posted in the Florida Today Newspaper on Sunday, August 30th. You can read this article at: Florida Today Article
If you want to read this, please do it soon since they will pull the article after a short time.

We fully realize that we are in a pandemic state and that some of you might not be able to bear this expense. However, while purchasing a brick is one of our best sellers, any donation is always helpful. This eAllert will be posted on our website: www.aftacaa.us listed on the first page under the link: Posting of Our Memorial Names – 9/5. A donation form and links for internet donations can also be found there under: AFTAC Memorial Corp – Update 8/14. It will also be printed in our next Post Monitor’s December Issue. Finally, you can go directly to the Corporation site to place an order now at: Brick Order Form

This listing, received from the AFTAC Historian, Dr Mike Young, is of those departed members that died while assigned to AFTAC (LRD). We have additional information on some of these individuals. However, the one’s marked with an asterisk (*) indicate those members that we have little, or no information. As you go through the list, if you recognize the name and have knowledge of the date they passed, how it happened and any knowledge of their association with the AFTAC, LRD, AFOAT-1 organization, and anything else that might be pertinent, please provide what you know to our Alumni President, Phil Godfrey.

For additional questions about this project, please send email to the POC, Maj (Ret) Lou Seiler

  • Adkins, Scott A., Airman
  • *Allen, Fredric M., Technical Sergeant
  • Annoni, Carlos J., Captain
  • Arnette, Julian (Randy) R., Airman 2nd Class
  • *Ball, Ronnie J., Staff Sergeant with family
  • *Bludnick, Louie M., Technical Sergeant
  • Britton, Beverly L., Major
  • Brown, Richard K., Technical Sergeant
  • *Bryan, Ismael R., Staff Sergeant
  • Burgess, Claude M., Master Sergeant
  • *Burns, Robert B., Staff Sergeant
  • *Carroll, Billy R., Technical Sergeant
  • *Chapin, Brian, Staff Sergeant
  • Clark, Christopher, Technical Sergeant
  • *Clishaw, Stephen A., Captain
  • *Collins, Patrick M., Doctor
  • Cruz Jr, George R. Technical Sergeant
  • Davison, Fredrick P., Major
  • *Drinkard, William W.
  • *Ellingson, Steven
  • *Foster, John K., Airman 2nd Class
  • *Fruechte, Ronald D., Airman 2nd Class
  • *Gardner, Bernard E., Technical Sergeant
  • *Garsee, Gary C.
  • *Gibbs, Charles F., Staff Sergeant
  • Gleason, John Fredrick, Airman 2nd Class
  • *Green, Alan H., Sergeant
  • *Gustafson, David W., Technical Sergeant
  • Hammons, Reginald L., Senior Airman
  • *Hare, Donald P., Airman 1st Class
  • Harris, Virgil G., Captain
  • Hawley, “Bruce”
  • Heckman, Charles E., Technical Sergeant
  • Hendrickson, Charles, Contractor
  • *Himes, Larry D.
  • *Holden, Jack E., Master Sergeant
  • *Homer, Frank A., Staff Sergeant with family
  • *Jacob, Lee J., Staff Sergeant
  • Jacobson ll, Donald W., Sergeant
  • *Johnson, John E., Airman 2nd Class
  • *Keefer Jr., Edward., First Lieutenant
  • Krebs, Richard A., Colonel
  • *LaPlante, Lawrence L., Airman 1st Class
  • *Mattes, ?
  • *McKimmey Jr., Lenox T., Major
  • *McMahon, Edmund S., Airman 1st Class
  • *Monte/Monti, David
  • *Moore, Charles D., Technical Sergeant
  • Muchesko, David A., Senior Airman
  • *Murphey, Ben
  • *Nalley, Sylvester E., Staff Sergeant
  • O’Brien, Christopher John
  • *O’Mally, Edward F., Airman Basic
  • *Oleson, Marvin H.
  • *Patterson, Robert L., Technical Sergeant with family
  • *Pennington, William M. Chief Master Sergeant
  • Pollard, Nancy C.
  • *Pollock, Donald, Major
  • *Quinney Jr., Thomas M., Airman 1st Class
  • Remus, Madelon J.
  • *Rohde, Mark
  • Schobel, Vincent, Technical Sergeant
  • *Sherrill, Lavergne H.
  • Shrull, James R., Major
  • Silva, Geroge E., Sergeant
  • Singlevich, Walter
  • *Smith, Robert H., Airman 1st Class
  • Steward, James C., Senior Airman
  • Stoss, Fred B. Jr., Major
  • Sylvestre, Alcide O., Captain
  • *Thurman, Arthur R., Staff Sergeant
  • Urry, William D., Doctor
  • *Verhines, Dustin, Technical Sergeant
  • *Watson lll, Robert S., Master Sergeant
  • *White, Howard L., Senior Master Sergeant

Dig into your piggy banks, let the moths out of your wallets, sell your car or your first born, get together with friends to help, and become a part of this honorable project. Contact friends that might not get this eAllert and send it to them. Our peers, co-workers and friends deserve to be remembered. This is how we hope to do it. Only you can make it happen.

Respectfully,
Your AFTAC Alumni Association and the AFTAC Memorial Corporation

HPCON Bravo

On June 12th, the 45th Space Wing will transition to HPCON Bravo. With this change, certain facilities and services will begin to reopen around base but may have reduced hours or limitations on services. This will also allow up to 50% of our non-mission essential personnel to return to work on a voluntary basis and in coordination with unit commanders.

While we are excited to return some of the services that our community has been looking forward to, we remind everyone that face coverings are still required for any areas that physical distancing cannot be maintained. If you have any questions about the restrictions that may be in place for a specific location or service, please call ahead using the directory found on www.patrick.af.mil/

With everyone’s help to maintain physical distancing, continuing their wear of face coverings, and practicing the mitigating efforts outlined by the CDC, we hope to remain open without adding any previous restrictions!

_Images/IrishTopHat.jpg   With a special "Hat Tip" to Sean Ryan

TESTING IN BREVARD COUNTY

I.   The Melbourne OMNI Healthcare drive-thru coronavirus test facility opens to the public at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Daily hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Eligible patients:
• Anyone older than 60
• Anyone with minimal symptoms of a cough or low-grade fever
• Anyone older than 45 with a chronic illness
• First responders
• Publix and Winn-Dixie employees
• Health care workers

Pre-qualification is required. For screening and registration, call 321-802-5515 or 321-727-1973. The address is 1344 S. Apollo Blvd. Insurances will be billed for testing. For more information, visit COVID19testbrevard.com (website blocked on NASA computers).

II.   DOH drive-thru tests

The Florida Department of Health in North, Central, & South Brevard started providing drive-thru COVID-19 tests to qualifying people with symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath and fever of 100.4. Eligible patients:
• Age 65 and older
• Those with underlying health conditions
• First responders
• Anyone else with symptoms (fever, cough and/or SOB) and a prescription from a medical doctor

Appointments must be scheduled in advance. For screening and registration, call 321-454-7141.

Gate Closure

Corona Virus Gate Procedure

Team Patrick/Cape,

In an abundance of caution, and while there have been no reported cases of the COVID-19 virus at either facility, Patrick Air Force Base (PAFB) and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS), I have made the decision to elevate our Health Protection Condition (HPCON) to “Alpha”. This change is in response to the growing presence of COVID-19 in the United States. We currently have no known cases in Brevard County. HPCON Alpha is advised when there is a “report of unusual health risk or disease”. Prudence dictates our preparation for the potential presence of COVID-19 locally. Part of our preparation is moving to HPCON Alpha. All of the measures accompanying this increase in HPCON level have been accomplished and were accomplished last week in preparation. Our Medical Professionals have reviewed the plans and verified training and supply stocks. Our Medical Professionals are prepared to diagnose, isolate, and report any COVID-19 cases that they encounter. We are also increasing our communications of the health threat and symptoms of COVID-19. At the present time, we feel that preparation for COVID-19 is the appropriate action to take in addition to the restriction of large public gatherings. We will be reviewing all large gatherings on our installations and determining if they are mission essential, and we will provide updates on any cancellations or postponements. Rest assured, if further community control measures are indicated, we will proceed expeditiously and keep our community informed of our actions and the reasons for them. Our commitment to you remains to be transparent, and to protect individuals and the community as a whole to the maximum extent possible.

The BEST way to protect yourself is to practice basic HAND HYGIENE and RESPIRATORY ETIQUETTE: - Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. - Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. - Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces. - Avoid close contact with people who are sick. - Stay home when you are sick. - Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash. CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory viruses, including COVID-19.

The link to the Department of the Air Force’s COVID-19 information (including HPCON info) and the CDC are listed below:

https://www.af.mil/News/Coronavirus-Disease-2019/
https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/travelers/index.html

Additionally, for the health and safety of both Defenders and the public, the 45th Security Forces Squadron will modify base access procedures at all Base Entry Control Points. Effective immediately, Defenders will no longer touch your identification cards. Patrons are asked to first present the front side of your identification to the Entry Controller and then turn your identification so that it may be scanned. Note: This change is temporary until further notice.

Respectfully,
Brig Gen Doug Schiess

2019 AFTAC Dining Out
Saturday, 14 December
AFTAC -- "A Look Back at the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) 72-Year History"


What a better way and a great nite to celebrate as AFTAC Alumni, active duty, and civilians, than with "A Look Back at the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) 72-Year History" reflecting upon the outstanding accomplishments and history of AFTAC, then and now, at the 2019 AFTAC Dining Out. The well-orchestrated event and fond memories were held on Saturday nite, 14 December, at the 920th Rescue Wing hangar at Patrick AFB. An awesome backdrop of the WC-135 aircraft added to the great food, camaraderie, and well spent social and family time with fellow Team AFTAC Members. And, NO Dining Out or In, is complete, without a visit to the Grog Bowl!

grog1 grog2 grog3

The entire Alumni guests in attendance made a trip in the direction of the President of the Mess. They say the alcoholic one was like fire and the non-alcoholic was smooth and went down like water. Not the most tasteful, nor visionary appealing, by far. Good times and great memories! Definitely, a nite enjoyed by all in attendance.


do_2019_1.jpg do_2019_2.jpg do_2019_3.jpg do_2019_4.jpg do_2019_5.jpg do_2019_6.jpg do_2019_7.jpg do_2019_8.jpg do_2019_9.jpg do_2019_10.jpg do_2019_11.jpg

AFTAC MEMORIAL CORPORATION (AFTACMC)

THE AFTAC MEMORIAL
By Lou Seiler, President AFTAC Memorial Corporation

The AFTAC memorial Corporation (AFTACMC) (a Florida non-profit 501(C)3 corporation) has for the past 24 months been conducting a fund raising to construct a memorial to those AFTACers who have passed away while serving in AFTAC. We initially raised enough to conduct a design effort and an estimated cost to build effort. The proposed design has previously been published in the Post Monitor, on the AFTAC Web Site (AFTACAA) and through an initial direct mailing (340) to those in the Alumni database with addresses in Florida.

_Photos/Wall1.jpg When we began the process there was a large voicing of approval and comments of “when can we contribute?.” Well, that time has definitely here!

In total, 29 donations (including 10 responses from the mailing) have been received to support the building of the memorial. In addition two pledges have been made, one by the AFTAC Alumni Association for $10,000, and one by as yet unnamed Alumni for $5,000. Of the 29 donors, there are 3 Silver ($2500-$4999) and one Bronze ($1000$2499).

It was our desire to have the Memorial Built and to have the Dedication Ceremony as a part of the 2021 AFTAC

World Wide Reunion (WWR) in 2021 (around the June timeframe), however, that dedication timeline is no longer possible.

As of the date of this article, the AFTACMC has approximately $5700 in the building fund, with $15,000 in pledges for a total of $20,700. The estimated cost to build the proposed Memorial is $150,000 to $180,000. So you can see we are a long way off.

We see great enthusiasm for many things AFTAC, such as the PoMo, the every other year WWR, posts and followings on various FACEBOOK pages. I know that many, if not all, have very fond memories of their time in AFTAC, many with their entire service time in AFTAC. Many of you have known and/or have served with members who have died while in AFTAC.

At this point we are faced with making some very hard decisions and we would like your input. Should we abandon the concept of a Memorial, downsize it to the concept of a roadside historical marker, or continue to pursue something that shows the pride AFTACers had and continue to have in the important mission of AFTAC to national security. Donations in any amount are appreciated, the designation levels are $1-$149 – Donor, $150-999- Brick , $1000-2400- Bronze, $2500-$4999- Silver, $5000-$9999- Gold, and $10,000-up – Platinum

So we ask each of you to look deep into your heart and soul, as well as your checkbook to consider a donation to make this Memorial happen. It can only happen with YOUR help.

Donations for any amount can be made by a check made out to “AFTAC Memorial Corporation” and mailed to

AFTAC Memorial Corporation
P.O. Box 372012
Satellite Beach, FL 32937

Or you may also click here to go to the website From there you may download a donation form, order a brick on-line, or make a donation only, and pay through PayPal using your credit card or through your own PayPal account.

We are asking for your help to build a lasting Memorial to the men and women who have served AFTAC for the past 73 years, and continuing into the future. It is your decision to make!

2019 AFTAC Fall Picnic

Friday, 25 October
2019 AFTAC Fall Picnic
1200 - 1700
Stonehenge / AFTAC Pavilion
Ticket Cost: $3 pp plus $2 contribution for beer arm band.
(Pay as you enter at the picnic).
POC (Building): MSgt Michael Nolan/321-494-9315
POC (AFTACAA): Sean Ryan/321-591-9053/oceanblueview@yahoo.com


Request for Volunteers to Work Adult Beverages Table

Greetings Fellow Alumni/Sir's/Ma'am, et al:

On Friday, 25 October, is the 2019 AFTAC Fall Picnic at the HQ AFTAC building area of Stonehenge and the AFTAC Pavilion, PAFB.

The AFTAC Alumni Association has been graciously asked once again, to work the Adult Beverages Table, with volunteers. There will be 4 taps. Times are from an estimated 1130 - 1730. (Prep-Time: 1130 - 1200. Serving Times: 1200 - 1700. Tear Down/Wrap-Up Time: 1700 - 1730).

Any time(s) one can support and volunteer for, will be greatly appreciated. I will comprise the roster in 1-hour increments of 2 folks per shift. (Max is 2 per shift). (Example attached)

If you'd like to volunteer, please reply to myself, with your name and time preference, by: Wednesday, 23 October 2019. (Email: oceanblueview@yahoo.com).

Additionally, all volunteers serving alcohol, are required to complete the Dram Shop Theory and What It Is Training. This must be completed, prior to serving, per AFI 34-119, Alcohol Beverage Management. Training will be conducted again, at the AFTACAA Monthly Meeting, Tuesday, 15 October, at 1530, in the HQ AFTAC Lobby Conference Room.

Thank you greatly for your support and assistance.
See ya'll at the picnic!

v/r SEAN P. RYAN
Treasurer, Publicity/Social Chair, AFTACAA

CMSGT Amy Long new AFTAC Command Chief

Amy Long Chief Master Sergeant Amy L. Long is the Command Chief for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, where she advises the AFTAC wing commander on matters concerning the readiness, utilization, training, morale and welfare of the 1,000- member center and its 14 detachments around the globe who support AFTAC’s international treaty monitoring activities. AFTAC operates and maintains the United States Atomic Energy Detection System to monitor foreign compliance with various treaties limiting nuclear testing. AFTAC is also the designated U.S. laboratory system that provides technical support to the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency.

Long entered the Air Force in September 1994. She graduated from the Defense Language Institute as an Arabic Cryptologic Linguist in March 1996. Her background includes various duties in intelligence operations, joint service and training. Throughout her career, she has served in myriad positions including National Security Agency Functional Manager, Counterterrorism Senior Enlisted Representative, as well as Squadron and Group Superintendent. She has deployed in support of Operation New Dawn and completed overseas tours in Korea and Hawaii.

Prior to assuming her current position, Long served as the Chief, Strengthening Joint Leaders and Teams for the U.S. Air Force Strategic Integration Group at the Pentagon.

EDUCATION
1992 Oxnard High School, Oxnard, California
1994 Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center, Monterey, California
1996 Cryptologic Linguist Training, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
1999 Airman Leadership School, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
2005 Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
2007 Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy (correspondence)
2008 Associate Degree, Communications Applies Technology, Community College of the Air Force
2010 Associate Degree, Arabic Studies, Defense Language Institute, Monterey, California
2011 Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
2012 Professional Manager Certification, Community College of the Air Force
2014 Bachelor of Science degree in Human Resources, University of Maryland
2015 Air Combat Command Chief Orientation Course, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia
2017 Senior Enlisted Joint Professional Military Education II (correspondence)
2017 Continuous Process Improvement Senior Leaders Course, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
2017 Command Chief Master Sergeant Training Course, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland
2019 Senior Enlisted Legal Orientation, Air Force Judge Advocate General’s School, Maxwell AFB, Alabama


ASSIGNMENTS
1. September 1994 – October 1994, student, Basic Military Training School, Lackland AFB, Texas
2. October 1994 – March 1996, student, Basic Course, Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center, Monterey, California
3. March 1996 – August 1996, student, Cryptologic Linguist Course, Goodfellow AFB, Texas
4. August 1996 – April 2003, Cryptologic Linguist, Mission Manager, 31st Intelligence Squadron, Fort Gordon, Georgia
5. April 2003 – July 2006, Military Language Instructor, Defense Language Institute, Foreign Language Center, Monterey, California
6. July 2006 – September 2007, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of Operations Production, 94th Intelligence Squadron, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
7. September 2007 – January 2009, Superintendent, 94th Mission Support Squadron, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
8. June 2008 – October 2008, Noncommissioned Officer in Charge, Joint Functional Component Command–Network Warfare, All-Source Analyst Deployment, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
9. January 2009 – December 2010, 1N3 Functional Manager, 70th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
10. December 2010 – June 2011, Middle East/Africa Senior Enlisted Representative, 22nd Intelligence Squadron, National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
11. June 2011 – November 2011, Joint Expeditionary Tasking Deployment, Kirkuk and Baghdad, Iraq
12. December 2011 – March 2013, Counterterrorism Senior Enlisted Representative, 34th Intelligence Squadron, National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
13. March 2013 – September 2013, Superintendent, 34th Intelligence Squadron, National Security Agency, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
14. September 2013 – September 2015, Operations Superintendent, 303rd Intelligence Squadron, Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea
15. September 2015 – May 2017, Superintendent, 8th Intelligence Squadron, Joint Base Pearl Harbor- Hickam, Hawaii
16. May 2017 – August 2018, Superintendent 692nd ISR Group, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii
17. August 2018 – July 2019, Chief, Strengthening Joint Leaders and Teams, Air Force Strategic Integration Group, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
18. July 2019 – Present, Command Chief, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Florida


MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters
Air Force Commendation Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Air Force Achievement Medal
Good Conduct Medal with one silver oak leaf and three bronze oak leaf clusters
National Defense Service Medal with service star
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korean Defense Service Medal


OTHER ACHIEVEMENTS
1994 Basic Military Training School Honor Graduate, Lackland AFB, Texas
2001 NCO of the Quarter, 543rd Intelligence Group, Lackland AFB, Texas
2008 NCO of the Quarter, 70th Intelligence Wing, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
2008 SNCO of the Quarter, 70th Operations Group, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
2011 Distinguished Graduate, Senior NCO Academy, Maxwell AFB, Alabama
2014 Magna cum laude, University of Maryland
EFFECTIVE DATE OF PROMOTION
Chief Master Sergeant October 2015

Florida AFTAC Alumni Association Monthly Meeting
Monday, 10 February
1600 - 1700
HQ AFTAC, Lobby Conference Room

AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA)
Annual Fall Golf-n'GetTogether XXXV
Friday, 11 October 2019

Venue: Manatee Cove Golf Course, PAFB. Check-in:1130;
Shotgun Start: 1300. (Format: 4-Person Scramble).


Cost: $40 (Alumni Members); $45 (Non-Alumni Members).
Fee includes: Golf, Cart, Range Balls, and
BBQ from Tides Club served for Dinner


Open to: AD Military, Retirees, Civilians, and Contractors


Mulligan's pkgs will be on sale: $5 gets you:
1 Red Bomb, 1 Nolan, & 1 Mulligan
Team Mulligan ball: available for $10


POCs:
Mr. Ed Lindsay -- 321-610-7548 (Unlisted)
Mr. Bruce Snelgrove-- 321-494-6166 (Unlisted)

Fun Spot

I’m posting the video several days after our 4th of July to stress that we should remember what our nation stands for each and every day of our lives and not on just one day of the year.

The words to this song were written in 1893….that’s 126 years ago. The words are sub-titled. Read them….understand them and think about what they really mean. Consider this mindset of our great citizens so many years ago. Every school child, every new legal citizen (and some no-so-legal), every school teacher, every law officer and members of our own government offices, and yes, every one of us should read and understand these hallowed words. These words reflect what our nation should be.

I’m not trying to get political, I, as many of you, just love our country. One great thing about our country is that nobody can force you to watch this.

Your AFTAC Website Chairman

WOH1.jpg

2019 AFTAC Wall of Honor Inductees
By: Ed Lindsay
President, AFTAC Alumni Association

WOH1.jpg

On Tuesday, April 30, 2019, AFTAC conducted their annual Wall of Honor Ceremony.

WOH3.jpg
Inductees and honored guests pose for a photo in front of the Wall of Honor at the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., April 30, 2019. Pictured from right to left: Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander; Col. (ret.) Franklin D. Hall, inductee; Donna Jean, wife of inductee Dr. George H. Rothe III; and Doris Bruner, an AFTAC technical advisor who accepted the award for Lt. Col. (ret) Michael MacInnes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jared Trimarchi)

This event was established back in 2014, with 12 individuals initially being inducted. Every year since, AFTAC has selected 3 individuals to be inducted.

This year one of the honorees was Col (retired) Frank Hall. It brought a great feeling to my heart seeing this individual who has done so much for the AFTAC Alumni Association finally being honored for his contributions to AFTAC.

Early in my 30 year career, I was blessed to have met Col Hall while stationed at my first overseas assignment in Korea. He was in Hawaii at the time. And I have had the pleasure of working with him while part of the AFTACAA.

The other two honorees were Dr. George Rothe and Lt Col (Retired) Michael MacInnes. Both of these individuals well deserving of this honor.

The attendance was a little sparse (in my opinion) I counted 12 people in uniform. Maybe another 30 people that work in the bldg, that weren't part of the ceremony.

It was a GREAT turnout by the AFTAC Alumni Association members! A monumental effort and constant professionalism was executed by Dr. Mike Young, the AFTAC Historian. In my opinion, without Mike, this would not be the success it has been the past 5 years.

Some of the Alumni members I saw in attendance, that don't still work in the bldg were Mike Hoy, Tony DeMarco, Don and Jan Whitney, Arlin Massey, Frank and Edna Calenda, Gene and Dee Melchoir, Lou Seiler, Bob Wiley, John Horsch, Judy Henderson, Rick Manley and I am sure others I may have missed.

We had great representation from our Alumni members still fighting the good fight like, Addison Mitchell, Bruce Snelgrove, Carol Snyder, Kevin Callan, George Mirda, CMSgt Chad Madore, CMSgt Jason Gainor, Dr. Glenn Sjoden, Mike Young, Doris Bruner, and Others I probably missed.

Great to see the support for those that came before us and the recognition for their contributions.

Team AFTAC
One Team, One Fight!

News Of The Toilet Bowl Winners

This from Kathie Querry, 04.05, FaceBook, ‘AFTAC Families in the know

The 2019 Toilet Bowl is in the archives. The undefeated 709CYS-Cyber Knights claimed the coveted Commanders Toilet Bowl Trophy!

The Deuce & Flush went to the 709YMXS-KRAKENS. Mr Brad Schulz from CIL claimed the Golden Plunger Award with 6 over the fence in the Home Run Derby.

The Brown Crown (Poop Stick) was bestowed upon 21SURS/23ANS-MISSION UP, who will run the 2020 games.

Special thanks to our host 22SURS (MSgt Assunto/SSgt Palmer) for a GREAT WING EVENT!!

Thanks to all the volunteers who selflessly gave their time to keep the heritage of the Toilet Bowl going.

NOTE: (From Post Monitor Editor) It was a spectacular day and the alumni association was proud to be a part of the beverage dispensing group. Helping were Frank Calenda, Sean Ryan, Doug Colbary, and John Horsch made a 20-minute appearance!! Also, thanks to several of the active duty for their assistance with setting up the kegs and pouring when the lines got long.

AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA)
Annual Spring Golf-n'GetTogether XXXIV
Friday, 7 June 2019

GoffyGolf.png

Venue: Manatee Cove Golf Course, PAFB. Check-in:1130
Shotgun Start: 1300. (Format: 4-Person Scramble).

Cost: $40 (Alumni Members); $45 (Non-Alumni Members).
Fee includes: Golf, Cart, Range Balls, and
BBQ from Tides Club served for Dinner
Open to: AD Military, Retirees, Civilians, and Contractors
Mulligan's pkgs will be on sale: $5 for 1 mulligan,
Red Bomb, & Nolan
Team Mulligan ball: available for $10
POCs: Mr. Ed Lindsay -- piston_horse@hotmail.com,
phone: 321-610-7548 (Unlisted)
Mr. Bruce Snelgrove -- robert.snelgrove@us.af.mil,
phone: 321-494-6166

2019 AFTAC Awards Ceremony
Patrick AFB Beach House
February 22, 2019

Award1.jpg

award9jpg On the occasion of awards to the most outstanding AFTAC performers of the year, our 2019 Alumni Of The Year, Pete Gilbert was included in this ceremony.

Although this year’s venue was more “relaxed” than previous ceremonies, the military honors were still preserved. Following a social hour, the assembly was then called to order.

The National Anthem was sounded, an invocation was given and distinguished guests were identified and the award nominees were announced.

A short presentation was made by Mr. Leland (Lee) Hathaway who spoke of his past military service and his deep appreciation of AFTAC and the work that is performed.

award3jpg award2jpg After the awards to the active duty and civilians’ selectees, Pete Gilbert, accompanied by his wife Shirley, was called to the front to accept his Alumni of the Year award amidst a solid round of applause. He accepted the award from Colonel Hartman and Chief Joseph, he offered a sharp salute and returned to the Alumni table with a huge smile on his face.

Pete is very deserving of this award and the recognition given to him and all the Alumni by the AFTAC Commander.

Well done Pete!!!!

Click to see More Pictures

award1.jpg

The Award"


AFTAC Alumni Retreat Attendance

On 14 January 2019, AFTAC participated in the Quarterly Formal Retreat Ceremony at HQ 45 Space Wing, Patrick AFB. In addition to the full complement of active duty AFTAC personnel performing the ceremony, a contingent of the AFTAC Alumni Association was privileged to attend.

Retreat1.png
Spectators
Retreat2.png
Association members in attendance (L to R) were: Sean Ryan, Terry Hammond, Frank Calenda, Bob Wiley, John Horsch, Ed Lindsay, Bob Chadwick, James Whidden (Not Shown)
Retreat3.png
Retreat detail forming up
Retreat4.png
Detail at parade rest prior to start
Retreat5.png
Our Flag
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Ceremony’s end; flag being folded

It was a reliving of an old tradition and elicited pride from all who attended.

Article and Photos by Bob Chadwick, AFTAC Alumni

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Website Committee Note: Mark Smith sent this to us a while back. It is an amazing effort by one of our AFTAC Alumni which only goes to prove that AFTAC’ers are multi-talented. Thanks for this input and your effort Mark.

AFTAC Alumni, I built the wooden AFTAC display as a going away gift for Mr. Jim Kelly. Jim was AFTAC’s Operations Security (OPSEC) Manager when he retired from civil service, and had been with AFTAC since 1991 (military and civilian). I had a “wire-frame” outline drawing of the building and decided that I wanted to make Jim something special for his going away gift…something no one else had. I took the wire-frame drawing and extrapolated the measurements to ensure they were “to scale”. I used red oak for the main part of the building, sapele (looks like mahogany) for the stairs and concrete planters to the sides of the stairs, and black walnut for the windows and trim. I finished the display with a natural stain to bring out the grain of the wood, and sprayed 4 coats of lacquer. Either side of the entrance is adorned with the AFTAC coin, front and back. The flag I printed mirror images and glue it around a 1/8” dowel rod. The letters that spell out Air Force Technical Applications Center were made by a 3-D printer. I didn’t have anything to scale the letters to other than photos of the front of Building 989. It took between 40 to 50 hours to create the display. I found the dragons at the flea market west of Melbourne and I-95 and had a friend airbrush them. The base of the display is made from red oak.

The purple dragons represent the OPSEC program. (Click here to learn more about OPSEC) A program that Jim Kelly took pride in every day at AFTAC. HE walked the walk and talked the talk, and brought a program that was given little more than lip-service to life, and even gained Air Force-level recognition. “OPSEC has always been an important factor in the military. Since Vietnam, OPSEC has become an established process used by military, federal, and state and local agencies, as well as private companies”

Jim would tell you, or anyone, that everyone in AFTAC is on the OPSEC Program team. It was his attitude that drew people to be more actively engaged in OPSEC. Jim Kelly definitely exhibited excellence in all he did, just as AFTAC has done for more than 70 years.

There is something nostalgic about that old Tech Lab to me…as a kid arriving here in 1973, riding by the building every day of my childhood knowing my dad worked there, and it was just so big!!! It is much like home to many AFTACers that have spent part of if not all of their career there. To many people, it was home, and they loved it as it had become a symbol of excellence not only at Patrick Air Force Base, but also to the Air Force and to our nations’ leaders.

Thank you for your interest. I have considered trying to recreate the entire complex, rocket garden and all, but that could take several hundreds of hours. I would have to research to find out what rockets were on display.
Mark Smith

AFTAC Toilet Bowl 2017
by George Mirda

tb1.jpg December 1st in the North means football, snow and below zero temperatures, but at the Viera Regional Sports Complex and to AFTAC active duty, civilians, contractors and alumni the temps are 80F, beer and softball tournaments.

Friday began at 0900 with spirited play and challenge rounds. Event lead, SMSgt Steve “Carp” Carpenter from DO, organized committees and set up a fantastic venue for hundreds of attendees with all the trimmings (barbeque pork a la TSgt Chevis Stanley) dogs, burgers, even an Italian Ice truck. Alumni hosted and managed 4 kegs of beer and a tasty cider to help cool down the players. John Horsch, Frank Calenda, Ed Lindsey assured tradition and 99 culture were maintained.

tb2.jpg The tournament was superbly honchoed by Kathie Querry who made sure rigid compliance with rules complimented the fun atmosphere. After many games, including a loser’s bracket ultimate loser (DO # 2 team … toilet bowl, number 2, get it?).

tb3.jpg The loser becomes next year’s Toilet Bowl organizer. The final game between Mission Support and the Directorate of Operations was hard fought, but in an exciting and razor-close finish, MS triumphed 8 runs to 7.

Prior to the big game, a home run derby was held for a field of nearly 20. Despite huge, powerful Casey’s stepping up to bat, an everyman-sized nuclear engineer from TM, Capt Taylor Yousley, who played college baseball, knocked the most balls out of the park and took home bragging rights and the envied slugger trophy.

tb4.jpg Highlights of the day were, for the first time in a long time, a lack of major injuries, some terrific cornhole mini-tourneys, long chow lines, but satisfyingly more than enough food and drink for all to savor till the very end. Col Gorski threw out the first pitch and flipped the ceremonial coin to determine the final game’s to the field or at-bat. Later, he and Command Chief Joseph presented the latrine-themed awards.

The Toilet Bowl harkens back to it’s annual namesake softball tournament 4 decades ago at AFTAC’s depot/ laboratory on McClellan AFB, California. My observation is that deadly cigarettes have been replaced with much more healthy cellphones. Soft drinks have taken a backseat to bottled water. Yet what hasn’t changed is the competitive spirit and camaraderie that sports brings out in everyone whether player, official or spectator. Plus the USAF’s finest organization and best people made it a day to remember for years to come.

AFTACAA Board Meeting Minutes by Year

2019 Colorado World Wide Reunion

Reunion Pictures

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Total Attending: 123

At the reunion dinner banquet on Friday evening, it was announced that Bryce Dunn, the Colorado Alumni Chapter President, had been selected as the AFTAC Alumni of the Year 2019. Ed Lindsay, the Florida chapter President and emcee for this event in Colorado, made the announcement, and the award was presented to Bryce by the AFTAC Commander, Colonel Chad Hartman, and Command Chief Michael Joseph. After the presentation Bryce was joined at the stage by five former Alumni of the Year as shown in the below photos.

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Left to Right: Col Hartman, Bryce Dunn, Chief Joseph, and Ed Lindsay
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Left to Right: Frank Hall-1998, Lonnie Gibbons-2013, Bryce Dunn-2019, Pete Gilbert-2018, Bill Schmied-2007, and Joe Johnson-2002

This reunion had a total of 123 people in attendance and you missed a really good time if you were not one of them. Now we anxiously await for the next reunion in Florida.

The Florida Alumni Reunion will be held some time in early 2021. You’d better start planning now. Watch the Alumni website for notifications.

Federal TriCare Dental and Vision Plans Changing

As many of you might know, those of you that have the Tricare Delta Dental coverage, it will terminate on December 31st of this year. We have provided our website readers with four notifications and this will be the final one.

If you do not respond to the new program, you will be AUTOMATICALLY DROPPED from the program until the next open enrollment at the end of 2019.

A couple things I will note. Be sure to read about how some of the plans that are offered, will require that you be enrolled for up to a year before certain procedures will be covered, even if you presently have a plan with them. Also, you might want to check with your dentist office to make sure they are enrolled in the plan you might select.

Here are telephone numbers that might also provide assistance:

1-877-888-FEDS (1-877-888-3337),
TTY number 1-877-889-5680 to enroll or change your enrollment

Regards, Your Alumni Website guys

Awards and Wall of Honor Presentations

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"Two exciting annual events are in the planning stages. AFTAC will have it's Annual Awards and Wall of Honor Presentation in the near future. Watch the Hot Topics and the Calendar of Events for updates."

AFTAC Commanders Message on the Organizational Excellence Award

It is an honor to recognize the Air Force Technical Applications Center's recent achievement of the Air Force Organizational Excellence Award from 1 Jun 15 - 31 May 17.

Over the past two years, AFTAC has done a tremendous job maintaining mission focus and supporting the fight around the globe. National Agencies, Combatant Commands, and Staffs constantly rely on our hard work and expertise to enforce our national deterrence strategy and shape our national policies. As Commander, I have reiterated many times that AFTAC's actions are constantly being noticed by those outside this building - today is no different.

Congratulations AFTAC, on achieving another Air Force Organizational Excellence Award! We were 1 of 10 organizations within Air Combat Command chosen to receive this honor, and it is no doubt due solely to our professional workforce's commitment to the mission and dedication in service to our Nation.

AFTAC Ladies Christmas Luncheon
By Judy Henderson

_Photos/LadiesLunch/LL1.jpg Following a long tradition (which started when AFTAC was located in Virginia) of having an AFTAC Ladies Christmas Luncheon, a handful of AFTAC ladies (active and retired) gathered at Beef O’Brady’s in Satellite Beach, FL, on 6 December.

As usual, there was a lot of chatter among the attendees to catch up on news of what everyone is doing these days and to see pictures of a new grandbaby and to talk about everyone’s family and health.

_Photos/LadiesLunch/LL2.jpg Part of our tradition for the last several years is to bring a donation for TOYS FOR TOTS, and we had a great collection to donate to the cause this year.

Ladies, if you’re interested in attending next year, watch the AFTAC Alumni Web site or Email Judy Henderson at jem2415@earthlink.net to be placed on the list of those who receive a direct invitation.

70th Anniversary of AFTAC
By Judy (Milam) Henderson,
AFTAC Alumni (1965 to 1999)

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It seemed like a strange place to hold the 70th AFTAC Anniversary Dining Out, but nothing about this anniversary was routine. The location of the Dining Out seemed slightly strange – in an airplane hangar at the Warbirds Aviation Museum in Titusville, FL – but this proved to be an ideal location, with a static display of airplanes related to the AFTAC mission. When you work for AFTAC, you expect things to be planned and carried out with the utmost efficiency, but it seemed like this might not be the case with the Dining Out, through no fault of the organizers. Originally scheduled to be held in September, Hurricane Irma left many Brevard County FL residents without power for several days to more than a week, resulting in the delay of the activities until the third week of October. The Honorable James R. Clapper was scheduled to be the speaker, but he had to cancel at the last minute for personal reasons, so the AFTAC Historian, Dr. Mike Young, stepped in and gave a briefing about the 70-year history. With all the setbacks, and the need to plan the Dining Out twice because of Hurricane Irma, the venue was appropriate, the evening was entertaining, the food was wonderful, and the speaker was knowledgeable and interesting. Kudos go to the 70th Anniversary committee.

The Dining Out began with a wonderful selection of hors d’oeuvres served to the guests as they viewed the displays and listened to the music. When the dinner chimes sounded, attendees proceeded to their seats and the formal program began, followed by the delicious dinner, and then the speaker’s presentation, interspersed by visits to the Grog Bowl.

If you’ve never attended a Dining Out, you may not know that the Grog Bowl is a focal point of the evening. Many members were required to visit the Grog Bowl to atone for infractions of the rules, including the Commander, Col Steven Gorski and his wife, Trisha. The Grog bowl is filled with a variety of libations that one would not normally mix together and drink. Fortunately, there were several designated drivers, in case someone made too many trips to the Grog Bowl.

Toward the end of the program, the cake cutting ceremony took place using sabers before the “Closing of the Mess,” at which time the music and dancing began. It was a wonderful evening of military regimen mixed with laughter and an opportunity to get to know some of the active-duty members.

AFTAC's Last 70 Years

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Wunderground Weather

This site is produced by The Weather Company, and IBM Business and, in the past, has proven quite accurate for path projection. It is NOT provided on this website for use as a planning tool. Information from your local city emergency center should be used for planning purposes.

  1. Clicking on the link below will open a page with a map and below that a series of access to information on current storms.
  2. Scrolling down you will find the names of Tropical Depressions and active Hurricanes.
  3. Below each listing is a tab, “Storm Details”.
  4. By clicking on that, the particular storm will be detailed with a large map showing it’s current position and a projected path.
  5. Below that map are smaller maps that will show the indicated data. For example, clicking on “Computer Models”, the larger map will change depicting projected path as determined by weather computers.
  6. Clicking on the other small maps will change the larger map to show that indicated data.

There are other options on this site that can be explored for additional information on world-wide storms and weather in your area. Don’t hesitate to explore this site.

Wunderground Weather

National Hurricane Center

This site is produced by the National Hurricane Center and, in the past, has proven quite accurate for path projection. It is NOT provided on this website for use as a planning tool. Information from your local city emergency center should be used for planning purposes

Instructions for use:

  1. When you click on the link below, you will see a map of the Eastern United States and a portion of the Atlantic that stretches from North Africa, where most hurricanes originate, Westward to the Atlantic coast of the U.S. .
  2. If hurricanes are active, it will show icons of their present location. These icons are explained at the bottom of the map
  3. Projected paths are predicted for storms ranging from a “Tropical Depression” to a “Post Tropical Cyclone”.
  4. Click on any icon within that range and a second map will be loaded showing the projected path.
  5. You will also see a selection of small maps at the top of this page which will provide you other information on that storm.
  6. Selecting the page-back option on your computer will bring you back to the first page where you can view another storm if there is one..

There are other options on this site that can be explored for additional information on world-wide storms and weather in your area. Don’t hesitate to explore this site.

National Hurricane Center

West Coast Chapter Fall Social & Election Of Officers

West Coast Chapter Fall Social & Election Of Officers
Sam's Hof Brau
Sunday, 12 Nov 2017 11:30am-2:30pm

Note: Sign-up is required due to limited seating! (40)
Deadline for receipt of your sign-up information/form is 11/5/2017!!
Click here for Details & Sign-up Form

Wall of Honor Selection Process begins in August

On 16 August, the AFTAC Heritage Committee will begin the five-month process of selecting the next inductees into the AFTAC Wall of Honor. Each year, the committee selects three exceptional AFTAC veterans for this honor. The committee members, delegates from each of the directorates, work within their respective organizations to nominate candidates. Each directorate may nominate three people.

The Heritage Committee, chaired by the vice commander, reviews the nomination packets throughout the fall time frame and votes in early December.

After the commander approves the results, AFTAC holds a formal ceremony in late January or early February. Bob Wiley represents the AFTAC Alumni Association on the committee.

Please contact Bob at rwiley1@cfl.rr.com with any questions you may have.

AFTAC Booster Club News

1. Do you remember the old AFTAC building that was the icon of PAFB since mid-1950s? It stood for nearly 70 years before being demolished in 2015. Lucky for us we kept some momentos. The name of AFTAC can never be demolished, literally. AFTAC Booster Club currently has 28 of the original 35 letters spelling out “Air Force Technical Applications Center”. These metal letters braved many storms and tribulations and are now available to purchase. Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used to benefit the AFTAC airmen and their families serving today. Visit the AFTAC Alumni Website for more information!” (I didn’t get the photos of the letters yet but I confirmed that we have 28 out of 35 letters)

NOTE: Other than the paragraph above, this page is under construction.

A Piece of History - by Jack O'Conner

It was September 1955 and I had just completed our roughly three months of training in Tail # 263---our beloved C-47 “Goony Bird”--- and WB-29’s, which had been modified to conduct training and operations for our specialty. I had just been certified to operate solo as a Special Equipment Operator. I was stationed at my first permanent duty assignment: Western Field Office of the 1009th Special Weapons Squadron, McClellan AFB, CA. WB-29’s were also stationed at McClellan AFB, but as the 57th Air Weather Squadron. The SEO would be the eleventh man on the crew. We had no crew position available, so we sat on the floor in the rear compartment with our back against the bomb bay bulkhead between the two scanners. After takeoff, the SEO would take over the right scanner position where our equipment had been pre-positioned and tied down. Looking back upon it, we were the only thing not tied down. We didn’t know any better and we had a job to do on that aircraft, so we didn’t worry about it.

In the WB-29’s, we only had a “honey bucket” which was situated directly behind the left scanner position. All human excretions went into that bucket. You can imagine, though you may not want to, just how bad that thing was smelling after we all had been drinking coffee for awhile in briefings and preflight duties without being able to avail ourselves of the scant facilities in the hangar. The beloved honey bucket was used soon and often. More later about that! It is not germane to this story. Directly behind that was the place where we put the box containing all of our lunches---two per crewmember. Twenty two box lunches. We had no heated lunches back in those days. We didn’t have a means to heat them.

Back SACTO: I was lying there next to my new bride dreaming of a wonderful something or other. We were startled out of our slumber with the shrill ring of our telephone.

“This is Capt. Copeland. Airman O’Connor, a staff car will be in front of your apartment in 30 minutes to pick you up for transport to San Francisco Int’l Airport. I can’t tell you where you are going from there, but be packed and ready for 30 days. We will keep your wife informed on your progress. Others are going with you.”

And, thanks to the originator of our concern and the time difference, our alert always seemed to come at about the same time: 3:00AM, PST. The big problem with this is that we never knew what day it might happen or who and how many SEO’s would be called to go. It varied with each occasion, so we always had a bag packed ready to go.

So started my first TDY. We always had a First Class Ticket in our pocket because there was almost always room back there, even if the rest of the plane was sold out. (The Pan American Clipper had a great lounge down a circular stairway where, if we were first to get there, we could stretch out on the sofas. There was no bar service at 5:00 AM). We always just had to get to our destination ASAP. Positioning was of prime importance. Our own Weather Man from 1009th SWS HQ at Langley AFB was on his way to provide expertise in where we should be flying. We had to hit the ground running and be airborne in a WB-29 within 12 hours. Most times one of us would be airborne within three hours of our arrival at Eielson AFB, AK, if we had a good idea of where we needed to be.

There was no such thing as “Crew Duty Time”. We flew as needed. We learned real fast, that this was the routine method of initiating a TDY for anyone in the Cloud Chasing Business ((or: our type of business)). Capt Buck Copeland and A/1c Guy Davis flew alternating days for over a month. On their “day off”, they manned the desk---monitoring and reporting up the line what was happening in the aircraft. Obviously, neither had any crew rest. They both were burned out by the time the operation concluded.

That was the beginning of six great years with the 1009th SWS and flying as an enlisted Aircrew Member. Initially, we were considered additional Non-Crew Member, which paid us $50.00 per month for “hazardous duty pay”. Most of us just wanted to be able to wear enlisted crewmember wings, but a raise in pay to $55.00 per month would be a welcome increase in our meager pay---as would the designation of flight pay. It was minimal compensation for being separated from wife and baby girl for sudden, and frequent separations from the family. It was especially hard on my wife who did not know what we were doing let alone where we were going or why.

The Aircraft Commanders (AC’s) always were a little curious if we hadn’t flown with him before, because the flying time we logged was “z” time, listed as ‘other”. That was an unusual crewmember designation. He stayed suspicious until we found what we were looking for. Then, I think, he understood.

One of the most amazing aspects to me, and probably most of us, was the ability of an A/2C to tell a Lt Col where to take his modified bomber and tell him when to turn and when to orbit. It was a little scary the first few times, but they had been briefed and I only had one flight when the Aircraft Commander did not follow my instructions and what flight profile I wanted.

B-36 It was during a roughly twenty seven hour RB-36 mission and we were headed back to Travis AFB without any success. Exhausted, I thought I’d take a nap, and though we had 2 engines shut down, we still had 8 engines working so I told the AC to maintain 35,000 ft as long as possible and then make a steep approach to Travis AFB. I went to sleep which was understandable (In addition, RB-36 pre-flight took about 3 hours, so I had been at or in the plane for over 27 hours already). The Aircraft Commander decided to make a long shallow approach to Travis so we lost about 3 hours off of the high altitude profile I had requested. During my “nap time”, I had the radio operator monitor my equipment in the event anything happened.

Upon landing, I gave a long sigh of relief, knowing crew rest and a loving wife was awaiting me at McClellan. Instead, Immediately after engine shutdown, I had a big surprise awaiting my arrival. As I disembarked, I was surprised, shaken and not a little frightened to see our Field Office Commander, Col Griffin, waiting for me along with his secretary. Under the wing of the giant ten engine RB-36, at an improvised desk and chair, the secretary typed as I explained what happened. Two days later, the Aircraft Commander was a Co-Pilot. This was in General Curtis Lemay’s Strategic Air Command. It was amazing how much clout a little airman had in this organization. Of course, this was when the Squadron had a two star General for a commander and we had the number one priority in the Air Force. There were four Full Colonels just in the Western Field Office at McClellan AFB, CA.

Though we had nothing to show for our long flight but flight time logged, it was still a successful mission. Just like hunting or fishing, there would be better results on the next time out!

Elections Meeting

Elections Meeting Location: Manatee Cove Golf Course (MCGC),
(Putter Room). Meeting: 1130 - 1230
Pay-as-You-Go Lunch available from Fairways Snack Bar, before meeting.
For your early dining pleasure, lunch, may be ordered, at 1030.

Colorado Alumni Breakfast

24 February 2018
AACO Alumni Breakfast
We would like to welcome you to our Alumni breakfast on 24 February 2018 at 0900.
Alumni, active duty, family members, and friends are most welcome to attend.
Aurora Hills Golf Course - Tin Cup Bar & Grill
50 S. Peoria St. Aurora, CO 80012
The cost is $15 per person, collected at the breakfast. Children are half-price.
Menu is the Tin Cup buffet, with eggs, potatoes, meats, biscuits & gravy, toast, juice and coffee.
Please RSVP by 17 February (you can reply all to this message).
We hope to see you there!
Colorado Alumni POC: Bryce Dunn, EchoesPublisher@aftacco.org

History and Heritage: Similar, yet different Commentary
by Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC Command Chief

I would venture to guess that many people use the word “history” and “heritage” interchangeably. I have to admit, I used to think they were synonymous and never gave much thought to the idea that not only are they two separate and distinct words, they are also two separate and distinct concepts.

Let me explain. The textbook definition of the word history is: the study of past events, particularly in human affairs. The definition of the word heritage is: a legacy, tradition or inheritance; something possessed as a result of one’s situation. Different words with different meanings, but inextricably intertwined.

AFTAC’s history is a robust one, filled with ‘firsts’ for our nation from our inception in 1947 until present day. The center’s history is a chronological account of what AFTAC has accomplished for the past 70 years and the compilation of events that define us as an Air Force organization.

Heritage, on the other hand, has a bit of emotion tied to it. It’s about identity and a sense of belonging. Heritage is the “war story” about the people – the faces of AFTAC. It’s the more intangible of the two words, since heritage deals more with the human landscape versus historic relics and artifacts.

Our proud history is reflected in our heritage, and much of that can be attributed to the AFTAC Alumni. Through your tireless efforts, the Alumni Association has gone to great lengths to preserve our past and keep our customs and traditions alive. I want to continue to foster this relationship between the AFTAC Alumni and our current active military and civilian workforce.

History is our past; heritage is a reminder of our past. Or as I like to say, history makes us smarter; heritage makes us prouder.

SnowBall 2018
Submitted By Gene and Dee Melchior

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The annual AFTAC alumni “Snowball” was held on January 20th at the Holiday Inn VieraMelbourne.

Our commander, Col. Stephen Gorski, provided an interesting overview of current AFTAC activities. His updates are always interesting and keep alumni “in touch” with the mission they served.

Attendees enjoyed a festive evening renewing old friendships and sharing memories. The menu for the event, Hunters Chicken Breast or Flat Iron Steak served with a delicious Mushroom-wine sauce, was enjoyed by all. Key Lime Pie topped off the dinner.

The “Mobile Sensors” theme honored AFTAC members currently serving aboard the ships that carry on our world-wide mission. High lighting the evening was a presentation by DR. Mike Young, our AFTAC historian. Mike provided models of the current ships, and answered questions for those who gathered around the displays. Our thanks to you, Mike!

The end of the evening announced the AFTAC Alumni for 2017. It was John "Butch" Kemna, from the West Coast Chapter. Butch was announced at the worldwide reunion in Sacramento held in June 2017. This was our official announcement to finally welcome him in to the honored ranks.

Alumni member, Gene Melchior, (while working as a contractor with Lockheed Martin) provided pictures taken in 1999, while he was aboard the now de-commissioned Cobra Judy ship “Observation Island”. Gene was gratified that there was so much interest in his photos, posterboard and experiences.

Michelle Ryan and Judy Henderson added centerpieces adorned with nautical figures that were a complement to the ship displays. A hearty thank you, ladies!

Our thanks to Sean Ryan for his planning and great efforts in making this all happen. Also, thanks to all those that volunteered to help with the various tasks needed to provide such a great evening.

We look forward to next years “Snowball 2019” when alumni gather again!

2018 AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA) Snowball XX

Article – Sean Ryan
Photos – Michelle Ryan and Judy Henderson


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Since 1999, the AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA), Florida Chapter, has ‘thrown a themed event called Snowball' at the start of the new year. We like to entertain this event when our ‘Sage Snowbirds’ are in town. It is a grand way to introduce the newly elected and appointed board members, recognize Alumni and Alumni accomplishments, hold a festive and social get-together followed by a sit-down dinner and wish old friends and Alumni a great start, to a new year. It is also a great time to honor and recognize the Alumni of the Year (AOY) for the previous year. This year's splendid and outstanding event and evening was held at the Holiday Inn Hotel, Melbourne-Viera, Florida, on Saturday, 20 January 2018. It is tradition at the annual Snowball, where we welcome the AFTAC Commander, Vice Commander, Chief Scientist, Director of Staff, Command Chief, Directors, Group and Squadron Commanders, all active-duty military and civilian, and any outlying area commanders, that are in attendance. We also pay special tribute to the spouses and significant others in support of Alumni members at the Snowball.

The nights festivities kicked off with a Social Hour where guests enjoyed reminiscing about AFTAC and catching up and socializing with old friendships and sharing memories of their time in the unit, around-the-world, or in the headquarters building at Patrick AFB thru the years. The bartender "Ryan", once again, was truly superb in serving great cocktails and beverages throughout the evening. The yearly slide show, organized and built by Bob Wiley with photos by Judy Milam-Henderson of previous Snowball's, Winter Socials, Golf Tournaments, Toilet Bowl and Winddowns, was continually shown. Memories of some good times for the year were shown with photos taken by Bob Wiley and Judy Milam-Henderson, among others that contributed.

This year’s theme, was "Mobile Sensors", joining previous themes honoring Hawaii, Germany, Florida, Wyoming, Thailand, Australia, Korea, Nebraska and Colorado … locations where AFTAC had or has a presence, among others worldwide. It honored unit members presently serving on, or have served on, the ships that continue to conduct a key aspect of the world-wide AFTAC mission, 24/7. Of special note, Dr. Mike Young, the AFTAC Historian, provided 2 models of the respective ships for display, answered a Q&A with guests questions during the evening, and briefed certain aspects of their respective mission(s). Thank you kindly Dr. Young -- Well done and greatly appreciated!

A very delicious dinner for the evening was served consisting of Hunter's Chicken Breast w/Mushroom Wine Sauce, Mashed Potatoes and Vegetable Medley, or Flat Iron Steak with Roasted Potatoes, Vegetable Medley and Wine Mushroom Sauce or Portobello Mushroom Napoleon w/Fresh Vegetables and Red Pepper Sauce. Accompaniments included House Salad, Dinner Rolls and Butter, Iced Tea, Water, Coffee, and a delightful and delicious dessert of Key Lime Pie. After a brief break after dinner, the AFTAC Commander, Colonel Steven Gorski, provided an outstanding Power Point slide mission brief and overview of AFTAC's current activities and status. His Status of Command slide show, was truly "spot on" and brought the AFTACAA “in tune and current” with the mission they once served in, and what is on the horizon for AFTAC down the road.

The evening ended with the announcement of the AFTAC Alumni of the Year for 2017. TSgt(R) John "Butch" Kemna, from the West Coast Chapter in Sacramento, CA was selected. Butch's name was initially announced at the June 2017 Worldwide Reunion in Sacramento. The AFTACAA officially announced his name to welcome him into the honored recipients of the AOY ranks. Florida Chapter Alumni member, Gene Melchior, graciously provided photos and made poster boards of items taken in 1999, while he was aboard, the now decommissioned Cobra Judy ship (“Observation Island”), while he was a contractor aboard the ship.

Judy Milam-Henderson and Michelle Ryan made centerpieces decorated with nautical figures and "sea like" items, that were an awesome compliment to the ship displays. Thank you Judy and Michelle…It added so much color and "theme diversity" to the guest tables. A special thanks to all Team AFTAC Alumni Members and Spouses that volunteered to help with the various tasks and support required to provide for an awesome evening for all in attendance, once again. We look forward to the 2019 Snowball XXI in January 2019, when the Alumni gather once again, to mingle, socialize, and reminisce of the times we were in and the current AFTAC of today and recognize 2019 AOY.

History of AFTAC Alumni Association
On March 12, 1985, the AFTAC Commander, Colonel James R. Clapper invited a group of retired and active duty AFTAC’ers to meet with him. He requested that they form an AFTAC Alumni Association (AFTACAA). It was established at that time, a Board of Directors was elected and it was chartered in 1986

This association was established to provide a forum for members wishing to maintain a relationship with AFTAC and its people, both active duty and retired. The membership is open to all those who serve and who have served with the mission of this organization and its field detachments since its inception. This is to include all ancillary support venues such as Security Police, Administrative, Personnel and Civilians.

We function as three independent groups. Besides our association, they include the California and the Colorado chapters.
Florida Alumni Association
Dues are $10 yearly (1 October through 30 September)
Lifetime membership $75
Monthly meetings are designated to be held the second Monday of each month at 1600hrs. They are generally held at the AFTAC Headquarters but can be scheduled for other locations. Dates, times and venues are subject to change and can be found on this website’s menu item “Calendar of Events” Mailing address is:
    AFTACAA
    Po Box 254892
    Patrick AFB, Fl 32925-0892

We have several communications resources:
    Post Monitor Newsletter (PoMo):
        Namesake of the prior active duty “Monitor” Publication
    An active website containing:
        Breaking News, job offers, event photos and much more.
    An instant email notification:
        Service to all members with important news. Acronym
is “eAll”

Our Board of Directors quinquennials (5 or more years in one or several
offices )
    Clark Creery
        Newsletter, 1985/1989 through 1995 (7 years)
        President, 1994 through 1995 (1 year)
        Webpage/Membership, 2001 through 2016 (15 years)
    Frank Hall
        President/Vice President, 1989 through 1998 (9 years)
    Judy Milam
        President, 2004 (1 year)
        Secretary, 1989 through 2006 (17 years)
        Hospitality, From 2001 to Present (15 years)
    Eunice Harris
        Hospitality, 1989 through 2000 (11 years)
    Mary Welch
        Membership, 1991 through 1999 (8 years) (Deceased)
    Carl Gailey
        Treasurer, 1991 through 1999 (8 years) (Deceased)
    Swede Swansen
        Publications, 1993 through 2006 (13 years)
    John and Chris Horsch
        Post Monitor Newsletter, 1996 to Present (20 years) (Chris Deceased)
    Pat Snyder
        Insider/Sage Shop, 1996 through 2010 (14 years)
        Vice President, 2004 (1 year)
    Mike Black
        Webmaster, 1996 through 2010 (14 years)
    Jim Payne
        Membership, 1999 through 2004 (5 years)
    Joe Goldian
        Treasurer, 2003 to Present (13 years) (Deceased)
    Randy Vlassick
        Membership 2004 through 2009 (5 years)
    Sean Ryan
        Secretary, 2009 through 2015 (6 years)
        Social Events, 2010 through Present (6 years)
    Steve Revels
        Sage Shop, 2010 through 2016 (6 years)
West Coast Chapter
Formed in 1999

General membership meetings are held quarterly Mar, Jun, Sep & Dec on the 2nd Mondays at 7pm.

Social events include a Spring Picnic BBQ on Armed Forces Day each May and a Fall Social luncheon near Veteran’s Day in November.

Dues are $10– Lifetime membership $75
Publish a newsletter – Depot Fallout
For more information click here or email: tod.alumni@aftacwcc.org
Postal Mailing address:
    Alumni Association
    PO Box 3974
    Citrus Heights, CA 95611-3974

Colorado Chapter
Formed in 1986
Dues are $5 per year
Publish a newsletter – Echoes
General membership meetings are normally scheduled twice per year usually in the first and third calendar quarters
Several social events are held each year
For more information click here or email: aftacco.org

World wide reunions are held every two years in a rotation between chapters. Information on these reunions will be initially sent in an eAll and followed by articles in the PoMo’s, the chapter newsletters and articles in this website.
AFTAC LOGO

Mission
The Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) provides national authorities quality technical measurements to monitor nuclear treaty compliance and develops advanced proliferation monitoring technologies to preserve our nation’s security. It is the sole organization in the federal government whose mission is to detect and report technical data from foreign nuclear explosions.

Consisting of more than 3,600 sensors worldwide, AFTAC operates and maintains a global network of nuclear event detection equipment called the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection Systems (USAEDS), the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force. Once a disturbance is detected underground, underwater, in the atmosphere or in space, the event is analyzed for nuclear identification, and the findings are reported to national command authorities.

AFTAC’s nuclear event detection mission is directly linked to its nuclear treaty monitoring mission. AFTAC monitors signatory countries’ compliance with the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty. This treaty prohibits nuclear testing anywhere but underground and prohibits the venting of nuclear debris or radiation from those tests into the atmosphere outside the country’s national borders. AFTAC also monitors the Threshold Test Ban Treaty of 1974 and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosion Treaty of 1976. The 1974 treaty limits the size of underground nuclear tests to 150 kilotons, while the 1976 treaty prohibits the testing of nuclear devices outside of agreed treaty sites.

AFTAC is on the leading edge of technological research and the evaluation of verification technologies for current and future treaties involving weapons of mass destruction which threaten our national security. In 2014, AFTAC supplemented its extensive network of contracted laboratories by opening its state-of-the-art Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab to analyze and assess compliance with nuclear weapons testing in support of USAEDS and AFTAC’s Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis Program. The 38,000 square foot lab filled a void created when the center’s central laboratory at McClellan AFB, Calif. closed after the 1995 Base Realignment and Closure actions.

People
AFTAC employs more than 1,000 personnel and boasts a highly educated force possessing 171 associate degrees, 121 bachelor’s degrees, 214 master’s degrees and 63 doctorate degrees.

Organization
AFTAC is a surveillance organization subordinate to 25th Air Force, an Air Combat Command Numbered Air Force, located at Lackland AFB, Texas. AFTAC is located at Patrick AFB on Florida’s east coast, less than 30 miles south of the Kennedy Space Center. AFTAC includes nine detachments, six operating locations and more than 60 unmanned equipment locations around the world supporting AFTAC’s long range nuclear detection mission. In addition, AFTAC manages 11 world-class laboratories to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency with the promotion of safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies. In 2015, AFTAC became a wing-level organization within the Air Force, paving the way for partial unitization with the establishment of squadrons. This organizational restructure better reflects the center’s global mission importance. Since becoming a wing equivalent, AFTAC activated five newly-designated squadrons in October 2015 to better align with the wing structure. The new squadrons are the Technical Surveillance Squadron, the Technical Operations Squadron, the Technical Support Squadron, the Technical Sustainment Squadron, and the Cyber Capabilities Squadron.

History
Soon after the end of World War II, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower recognized the need to monitor nuclear programs. In 1947 he directed the Army Air Forces to develop technologies capable of detecting “atomic explosions anywhere in the world.” In 1949, a particulate sampler aboard an Air Weather Service modified B-29 flying between Alaska and Japan detected debris from the first Russian atomic test – an event experts predicted could not happen until the mid-1950s.

As the Air Force activated AFTAC in 1959 to prepare to monitor compliance with the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT), AFTAC assumed some responsibilities for the USAEDS and the advancement of Long Range Detection capabilities. Over time, AFTAC’s various programs evolved into a unique resource system monitoring compliance with nuclear treaties; supporting our nation’s space program; and helping to protect citizens during emergencies involving nuclear materials.

Over the years, the Air Force tasked the nuclear treaty monitoring center to conduct short-notice collection operations. In April 1986, AFTAC responded to the Ukrainian nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the former Soviet Union. In total, AFTAC flew 55 sorties compiling 502 flying hours, and AFTAC’s McClellan Central Laboratory processed 354 samples and logged more than 2,500 man-hours.

In October 2006, AFTAC detected an event associated with North Korea’s claim of a nuclear test and later provided verification of the nuclear event to national authorities.

More recently, the center supported Operation Tomodachi, the U.S. government’s response to the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Japan. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant experienced a nuclear meltdown in three of the plant’s six nuclear reactors. AFTAC personnel flew nine nuclear debris collection sorties, processing 342 seismic events, and analyzed 660 samples from the affected Pacific peninsula.

In the summer of 2015, AFTAC led the removal of 10 Radioactive Thermoelectric Generators, or RTGs, from Alaska, which were no longer required to power AFTAC’s seismic array. The power source was the Air Force’s largest source of sensitive radioactive material. This endeavor safely and successfully removed nuclear radiation from the environment and eliminated a potential source of material for use by terrorists in improvised radiological explosive devices or dirty bombs.

In December 2015, the IAEA released its final assessment on “Past and Present Outstanding Issues” regarding Iran’s nuclear program. AFTAC provided trace forensic analysis of samples supporting the IAEA’s mission to monitor Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. As a major component of the IAEA’s network of analytical labs, AFTAC’s analysis was foundational to the report.

AFTAC is also on the forefront of protecting the homeland as it establishes an array of sensors across the United States as part of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics program. This program is designed to collect forensic analysis after detonations to aid the Federal Bureau of Investigation in attributing attacks on U.S. soil to foreign governments or terrorist entities to swiftly bring those responsible to justice. AFTAC’s efforts are making the Department of Defense’s vision to protect U.S. personnel and interests from the threat of a domestic nuclear detonation a reality.

Today, AFTAC continues to improve the USAEDS. As the nation’s caretaker of USAEDS, AFTAC works closely with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna, Austria. Together, both parties are significantly improving the International Monitoring System (IMS). In fact, AFTAC now contributes six of its U.S.-based USAEDS seismic monitoring stations to the IMS.

(Current as of March 2016)

Point of Contact
AFTAC Public Affairs
(321) 494-7688

Memories of an OL

I am a veteran of the obscure OL AS, also known as VELA Seismological Center/VSC, I was there from ’72 - ’75. It was located at 312 Montgomery St in (Old Town) Alexandria. Oddly, the building is still there and is now occupied by a political consulting firm.

While this started as an offsite branch of AFTAC TG-1 when it was at Telegraph Road, it continued into the late 1970s as OL AS after AFTAC "moved south”.

While the true AFTAC mission was classified at the time, VSC mainly spent ARPA (now DARPA) money for test ban treaty related research and mainly functioned in the unclassified world - even hosting Soviet visitors at one point!

Hope our history is not forgotten. VSC was the original home of Dr. Frank Pilotte who became better known after he moved to Florida.

It is also where Ralph Alewine started as a 2nd Lt. transferring from the Army. He later went on to major positions in DoD in test ban treaty matters.

So while OL AS was not in an exotic overseas location, it functioned for more than a decade as a visible “tip of the iceberg” for AFTAC for international cooperation related to test ban discussions. It also developed, along with its onsite contractors, algorithms for digital signal processing of seismic data for underground nuclear test detection purposes.

Michael J. Marcus

20 Year Wall Of Service Honorees

Click on a name to see more information.

  • Ace, Jerry A.
  • Alexander, William N. (D)
  • Amerena, Joseph D. (D)
  • Aning, Harm F.
  • Armitage, Steven J.
  • Baker, Harold M. (D)
  • Balentine, Robert A.
  • Bartow, Jeff
  • Blau, Robert O. (D)
  • Borowski, Joseph J.
  • Breitwieser, Kenneth L.
  • Butler, Charles A. (D)
  • Cahill, Susanne L.
  • Calenda, Tony B.
  • Chadwick, Robert L.
  • Christman, Robert E.
  • Ciambrone, Thomas (D)
  • Clark, Michael P.
  • Conrad, Charles E.
  • Cramlet, Alan B.
  • Cronin, George E.
  • Dahlgren, Arthur L.
  • Davis, Jim C.
  • De Marco, Anthony S.
  • Desrosier, Charles P.
  • Doberstein, John W.
  • Draper, Reginald A.
  • Dunn, Bryce B.
  • Fish, Norman
  • French, Lloyd S.
  • Fuhr, William R.
  • Gailey, Carl W. (D)
  • Gardiner, Edward T. (D)
  • Gilb, Daniel A.
  • Gindlesperger, James E.
  • Gonzales, Raoul F.
  • Good, David H.
  • Harris, Eunice (D)
  • Horsch, John T.
  • Huhs, Harold L.
  • Hummel, Robert E.
  • Iske, Margaret A. (D)
  • Johnson, David M.
  • Johnson, Joseph M.
  • Jones, Robert H. (D)
  • Kemna, John G.
  • Klug, Dale E.
  • Labarre, Gerald R. (D)
  • Lindsay, Edward W.
  • Lucas, James S. (D)
  • Magness, John H. (D)
  • Manley, Rickey J.
  • Marshall, Joe D.
  • Martin, Harold (D)
  • McBrearty, Charles F.
  • McCauley, John P.
  • McClellan, Michael
  • McGettigan, John W.
  • Merker, David C.
  • Milam, Judy
  • Mirda, George M.
  • Murray, Gregory A.
  • Myers, Kenneth L.
  • Noe, Steve
  • Nolan, Dennis P.
  • Nye, Charles E.
  • O'Brien, David F.
  • Olesky, John R.
  • Olmsted, George B.
  • Osborne, William T.
  • Ovitsky, Felix W. (D)
  • Padilla, Stephen J.
  • Paquette, David W. (D)
  • Pavik, Alvin
  • Penn, Charles I.
  • Phillips, Richard S.
  • Revels, Steven D.
  • Post, Robert A.
  • Rummells, Kevin
  • Scheuter, Peter S.
  • Secoy, Jon B. (D)
  • Silhanek, Larry D.
  • Smith, Curtis E. (D)
  • Smith, Mark C.
  • Snelgrove, Bruce
  • Snyder, Carol
  • Sparks, Michael E.
  • Stack, Paul V.
  • Sullivan, Thomas D. (D)
  • Sykes, Teddie E. (D)
  • Villareal, Alan E. (D)
  • Vlassick, Benjamin P. (D)
  • Vlassick, Randall R.
  • Ward, Frederick R.
  • Warfield, Carol
  • Wells, Wilford (Clark) (D)
  • Wien, Walter L.
  • Winders, Tom
  • Wilberg, Clark
  • Wolrab, Lance

(D) = Deceased

Wall of Honor Selectees
Click a name to see biography

2015


2016


2017


2018


2019


2020


AFTAC Wall of Honor: The annual selection process honors individuals who served with great distinction and contributed immeasurably to successful mission accomplishment. The Wall of Honor preserves the legacy of AFTAC’s former members, highlights their deeds, and honors their contributions to the center and the nation. Since the activation of the 1035th Field Activities Group (FAG)/Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) on 7 July 1959, Airmen and Air Force civilians have maintained a 24/7/365 vigilance as monitors of international nuclear treaties. Though largely unheralded, these talented members have possessed special skill sets and an unselfish dedication to the mission that have collectively established an exemplary legacy for more than half a century.

The AFTAC “Wall of Honor” Program

Wall of Honor Nomination Process

Criteria for Nomination and Selection:

  1. Former uniformed or civilian members of AFTAC (i.e. no longer actively participating or involved in the AFTAC mission) are eligible.
  2. The nominee must have achieved an outstanding record of accomplishment by making significant, distinctive and extraordinary contributions to mission success; demonstrated great character; and served as a role model for those around him or her.

Nomination and Selection Procedures:

  1. The AFTAC Heritage Committee, chaired by the Vice Commander (or in the CV’s absence, the Director of Staff), will oversee the nomination and selection process.
  2. Each directorate/group delegate serving on the AFTAC Heritage Committee, as well as the AFTAC Alumni Association, will nominate a single individual. The AFTAC historian will represent the AFTAC Alumni Association during the selection process.
  3. The directorate delegates of the Heritage Committee will present their nominees at the October meetings for screening and discussion.
  4. During the November meetings, the Heritage Committee will conduct a second review of the nominees and finalize the recommended selectees. The vice commander (or the DS) will then present the committee’s recommended selectees to the commander for final approval.
  5. The commander will announce the honorees at the annual AFTAC awards ceremony or at the Alumni Association SnowBall.
  6. The commander will present each inductee or family member with a personal medallion. The commander will speak to the honoree’s accomplishments (HO to provide photo and text). The Heritage Committee will add the honoree’s name to the Wall of Honor at the AFTAC headquarters.
  7. AFTAC will recognize no more than 3 selectees each year.

AFTAC Wall of Heritage Nomination Packet

The nomination packets typically range from two to five pages in length. Packets must contain a photograph (past or present). Nominations are largely biographical in content with special emphasis placed on specific deeds that merit nomination. In the past, such deeds highlighted innovations, scientific or technical contributions, and/or inspiring leadership to younger airmen. Key questions to ask when drafting a nomination is: “Why is this nominee the “best of the best.” What discriminates?

The AFTAC historian, Dr. Mike Young, is the caretaker of all nomination packets. Contact: Mike Young

Label
Alumni of the Year
  • Bryce Dunn-2019
  • Pete Gilbert-2018
  • John "Butch" Kemna-2017
  • Carol Snyder-2016
  • Frank Calenda-2015
  • Sean Ryan-2014
  • Lonnie Gibbons-2013
  • Gene & Dee Melchior-2012
  • Dale Klug-2011
  • Jack Smith-2010
  • Jack Jackson-2009
  • Bob Wiley-2008
  • Bill Schmied-2007
  • Deborah Carson-2006
  • Mike Black-2005
  • Joe Goldian-2004
  • Pat Snyder-2003
  • Joe Johnson-2002
  • Jim Payne-2001
  • Ben Vlassick-2000
  • John & Christel Horsch-1999
  • Frank Hall-1998
  • Judy Milam-1997
  • Carl Gailey-1996
  • Clark Creery-1995

Click a name in the list to see their biography

The Alumni of the Year that attended the 2020 Florida Snowball

_Photos/SB2020/AOY2020.jpg

Left to Right: Bob Wiley (2008), Sean P. Ryan (2014), Frank Calenda (2015), Dee & Gene Melchior (2012), Pete Gilbert (2018), Bryce Dunn (2019)


The Alumni of the Year that attended the 2019 Colorado Reunion

_Photos/AOY/Alumni2019.JPG

Left to Right: Frank Hall-1998, Lonnie Gibbons-2013, Bryce Dunn-2019, Pete Gilbert-2018, Bill Schmied-2007, and Joe Johnson-2002

Not Included

This page is still under construction.
We are still looking for some documentation.

Wallace Bryce Dunn
2019 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR

Dunn.jpg
Left to Right: Colonel Hartman, Bryce Dunn, Chief Joseph, Ed Lindsay

The 2019 selection was accomplished in Colorado this year so the selectee could be recognized at the AFTAC Alumni Association Worldwide Reunion being held here. The selectee will still be recognized in Florida at the annual Alumni Snow Ball. Our selectee has been a dues paying member of the Colorado alumni association since December 1992 when he was still on active duty and he is a lifetime member of the AFTAC Alumni Association in Florida.

During his 27 years of membership our selectee has been consistently active in many ways which have greatly contributed to building the association and keeping it going for the benefit of the members. In the early years he was involved with making arrangements to have association dinner socials with the Camana Club on then Buckley Air National Guard Base, and also setting up annual association picnics on the base. Not only setting up picnics but also being the lead cook and even providing the grill for the cooking, and then leading with the cleanup afterwards. This has continued for many years and he still does it today at the new much improved picnic site he discovered and arranged for our use in Castle Rock.

Also in the early years of his membership he volunteered to prepare and distribute our association Echoes newsletter several times per year. This was no easy task at that time without the computer hardware and software that we use today. After receiving inputs he had to edit and format them and then they had to be typed, copied, individually assembled, stapled, folded, supplied with individual mailing labels, and delivered to the post office. His efforts to provide the newsletters no doubt greatly contributed to the building of our Colorado association resulting in where we are today some six Colorado reunions later. Regarding reunions, our selectee has been there too always volunteering his assistance when and where needed. And, he is now also working as our Echoes newsletter editor again due to the unexpected retirement of our most recent long-time editor. Additionally, our long standing program to recognize the Colorado AFTAC detachment NCO and Airman of the Year selectees is a product of his suggestion.

After many years of valued service to our association, our 2019 Alumni of the Year selectee accepted a challenge at our semiannual breakfast meeting in February 2017. By unanimous vote Wallace Bryce Dunn was elected to be the new President of our Colorado AFTAC Alumni Association and after serving two very successful years leading our organization, he again accepted the challenge and continued serving as president where he has been a driving force getting this 2019 reunion organized and keeping things on track while arranging activities and obtaining inside and outside support including the guest of honor speakers, and our emcee for this event. Bryce is highly deserving of this selection and we thank him for his many years of service to our AFTAC Alumni Association

Pete Gilbert
2018 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR

Gilbert.jpg

Pete Gilbert was named "AFTAC's 2018 Alumni of the Year" at the Florida Snowball Banquet held 2 February 2018.
Colonel Hartman and CMSG Joseph presented Pete with the award.

I was sworn into the Air Force at the induction center on Whitehall Street in lower Manhattan on December 6th 1963, my 20th birthday.

I was then sent to Lackland Air Force Base for my basic training. While there, I was told to report to this Major, I forgot his name, and he asked me if I would be willing to go to school for this secret outfit. He could not even tell me what they did. Being totally intrigued with the idea I agreed. So, after basic I was sent to Lowry Air Force Base to become enrolled in “Special Weapons School”. I went to school for “Q” systems. However; upon graduation I was given orders to report to McClellan Airforce Base and to be in “L” Systems.

I spent a year in the 1155th Technical Operations at McClellan, in the Electronic Maintenance Department and we were tasked in fixing any piece of electronic equipment that was not functioning. The job that I was primarily responsible for was repairing and calibrating the many oscilloscopes that we had. It was very demanding and at the same time a satisfying job. It was the first real technical job that I had ever held. I saw that there was an opening in Det 407 and I applied for the position. Surprisingly I got it and packed my bags and away I went.

While at 407 I again worked In Electronic Maintenance. I was working under a great boss, Walt Allen. He was an inspiration to me and taught me a lot about my job and just life in general. He meant a lot to me. As my term of enlistment was ending, I was informed that my name was on the promotion list. If I reenlisted, I would be made a Staff Sergeant. I was given the option to extend my current enlistment until the promotion became effective, at this time I would reenlist and get a very handsome reenlistment bonus. I knew everything at that time, At least I thought I did, and I turned it all down. This I now believe was the biggest mistake in my life.

I enjoyed my time with, what is now called AFTAC, and was very lucky to be honored to be a small part of it. After all these years I am still a part of it again. It was an extreme honor and surprise to be chosen as Alumni of the Year. To be honored by a bunch of individuals that I hold in such high esteem is one of my most cherished moments and it will be with me the rest of my life.

John "Butch" Kemna
2017 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR

Kemna1

John "Butch" Kemna was named "AFTAC's 2017 Alumni of the Year" at the AFTAC worldwide reunion banquet held 17 June 2017 Kemna2 at McClellan Park, Ca. Joe Johnson, West Coast Alumni Chapter Vice President is shown presenting Butch with the traditional AOY polo shirt.

I​ ​spent​ ​20​ ​years​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Air​ ​Force,​ ​May​ ​60​ ​–​ ​May​ ​80,​ ​was​ ​assigned​ ​to​ ​AFTAC​ ​​ ​the​ ​whole​ ​time.​ ​​ ​I​ ​was asked​ ​at​ ​Lackland​ ​to​ ​ volunteer​ ​for​ ​a​ ​Special​ ​Weapons​ ​Career​ ​Field,​ ​which​ ​turned​ ​out​ ​to​ ​be​ ​Q-System [99125]​ ​in​ ​AFTAC.​ ​​ ​ One​ ​year​ ​later​ ​I​ ​found​ ​out​ ​what​ ​the​ ​job​ ​was.​ ​​ ​I​ ​spent​ ​time​ ​at​ ​McClellan​ ​and an assignment overseas​ ​in​ ​Q-System.​ ​​ ​When​ ​I​ ​came​ ​back​ ​to​ ​McClellan​ ​I​ ​cross​ ​trained​ ​into​ ​A-System.​ ​​ ​I​ ​spent​ ​17 unbelievable​ ​years,​ ​amassing​ ​over​ ​7,500​ ​hours​ ​of​ ​flight​ ​time​ ​supporting​ ​airborne​ ​sampling​ ​program​ ​all over​ ​the​ ​world.​ ​​ ​The​ ​friends​ ​I​ ​made,​ ​the​ ​places​ ​I​ ​went​ ​and​ ​ the​ ​things​ ​we​ ​did​ ​I​ ​would​ ​not​ ​give​ ​up​ ​for anything.

Carol Snyder
2016 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR

Snyder.png

I started at AFTAC in 1996, working for Joe Marshall in TM (Joe is a 2016 Wall of Honor Recipient). I officially joined the Alumni Association in 2001.  For the past 15 years, I've supported the association in various ways -- attending meetings, holding Vice President position for a year, helping to set up Snowball dinners, coordinating efforts between the Alumni, the Booster Club and the Spouses Group, etc.

After Pat Snyder retired in 2010 the baton was passed to me to be the "intrepid insider."  I've tried my best to get the Alumni the answers they've needed (although not necessarily the ones they wanted!). I never would have thought I'd be at AFTAC 20 years after starting the job, but I'm glad to be here and I'm proud to be a part of such an awesome group of Alumni!

I was so surprised when the Commander, Col Gorski, announced my name at the Snowball As the "Intrepid Insider," you guys usually tell me everything...I should have known something was up when you said you had to keep the name "close hold.”  Sneaky people!  It’s an honor I hold very dear.  Thank you for bestowing it on me!

Love you all, Carol.

Frank S. Calenda
2015 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR

Frank started his Air Force career in August 1955 and was in one of the last flights to complete the 3 month basic training at Sampson AFB in upstate New York. He attended a year long school at Lowry Frank Calenda Air Force Base to become a Nuclear Weapons Technician, working on some of the earliest Strategic weapons in America's arsenal. In 1960, he progressed to working with the nuclear warheads on the Atlas missiles at Offutt Air Force Base and Titan missiles at Larson Air Force Base. In 1964, he was selected to attend AFTAC's year long "Q" systems class at Lowry. That was followed with an assignment to the installations shop at McClellan. There, he installed "Q" equipment at several classified locations around the world. In 1967, he left to become the Maintenance Technician at the remote Navy site H2 in northern Iceland. The following year, he and his family were assigned to John Hay Air Base at Baguio City in the Philippines. He was the Assistant Chief Operator at that location. In 1970, they left for an assignment to Headquarters AFTAC in Alexandria where he worked in the Operations Directorate as the Supervisor of the Q data terminal. The year 1972 brought the move of AFTAC to Patrick Air Force Base. Frank joined the advance party in Florida and his task was to set-up the QSystem. Shortly thereafter, Frank and his family were assigned to Det 422 at Misawa, Japan. Frank became the “I” System Chief Operator at this location. The following year, they were sent to a classified OL where he performed advisory duties for two years. In 1976, he was reassigned to AFTAC headquarters at Patrick as the Superintendent of the Satellite Terminal until his retirement in April of 1978.

Following USAF retirement, Frank attended Brevard Community College where he attained an Associate of Science degree in Bio Engineering and was immediately hired by the then Holmes Regional Medical center in Melbourne as a medical equipment technician. He worked there for 10 years progressing to the Director of the BioMedical department with prime duties in the Radiology Department. Because of his experience with maintaining the cancer radiation treatment machine (a linear accelerator) he was offered a position with Varian Associates Medical Division in Palo Alto, California. He completed his BioMedical training with Varian through courses from Stanford University. He worked for Varian installing the Accelerators at various medical facilities around the United States and Japan. Frank retired from the work force in 1998.

Frank was married to his wife Edna in June 1959 in Hampton, New Hampshire. They have two boys. Tony, their oldest son, graduated from Satellite High and joined AFTAC for his entire 22 year Air Force career. Michael is an Associate Professor of Culinary Arts at Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Frank, with the close support of Edna, has been a member of the AFTAC Alumni Association since 1978 when it was first formed by a small group of AFTAC retirees. Membership was around 40 members and was then a venue for comradery and friendship. During General Clappers command of the organization a number of years later, the formal Alumni Association was formed and members of the initial group were awarded lifetime memberships for their initial efforts. Because of his extensive traveling with his company early on, Frank’s involvement with the Association was minimal. Since his full retirement, he has become quite active with our present organization involving himself in many active duty functions in support of the Booster Club and other Alumni functions. Frank was the chair for the financial database and overall registration for the 2015 Worldwide Reunion, not to mention his forming a mini-reunion for Detachment 418 during the Denver, Colorado Worldwide Reunion in 2014. Frank is a go-to guy and we salute his selection as the AOY.

Very Well Deserved!!

Sean Ryan
2014 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR

Sean stepped up in September, 2009, to offer his services as the Chapter Secretary for the FY2010 Board and has continued in that ryan.png position since. We spotlighted him in PM2010.04 so you’d know him a little better and since that time we have learned just how invaluable he can be. In that issue we wrote, “By the way, nice picture,” we made sure we could do the same here.

Since becoming our Secretary, Sean has helped in innumerable ways, time and again, not only keeping the minutes of our minutes and distributing them, but keeping the association on track and making arrangements for our meeting locations and times.

This has included meetings we have in the 'Headquarters Building' and our off-site meetings at the ‘Tides,’ ‘Golf-Course Clubhouse,’ ‘Marina & Yacht Club,’ and the ‘Riverside Dining Facility.’ This includes last minute changes of dates and times and special meetings for the several events the association sponsors and the upcoming ‘WorldWide 2015’ Reunion.’

Sean has stepped up more than once to help with our major annual event, ‘SnowBall,’ and was the ‘Major Arranger’ for the most recent in 2014.’ He also assisted with this years ‘Center Annual Spring Picnic.’

Finally, Sean recently added another board position, ‘Publicity,’ to his resume and has redefined that position in a most positive manner. --Thank you, Sean, we salute you for the outstanding service you provide Alumni, and before that the Air Force, 1982-2008, and AFTAC, 1998-2008.

Alumni of the year, 2013
MSgt (Ret) Lonnie Gibbons

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Col Parker, AFTAC/CV, presents the ‘Space Coin’ Certificate of Recognition and John Horsch the ‘Traditional T.’ Below, Ginny joins Lonnie in this honor. Write-up below from nomination submission.

gibbons1.png Lonnie and wife, Ginny, have been active members of this chapter since its establishment in 1991. Lonnie has participated in practically every membership meeting and served on numerous chapter event working committees during the last twentytwo years. His work especially assisting with arranging and coordinating social events including annual picnics and dinners, golf outings, and worldwide reunions held here in Colorado, has greatly contributed to sustaining this chapter’s longevity. For many years he has been the key person obtaining refreshments, ice, coolers and other supplies, and then hauling them and setting up at picnics and ) reunions. He has been the focal point for organizing and successfully managing the hospitality rooms at several of our hosted alumni reunions and especially the 2013 worldwide reunion here in Aurora, Colorado. When the calls go out for assistance, whether they be for help putting up decorations for the chapter’s annual Veteran’s Day dinner, providing food and refreshments after a golf outing, or any activity, Lonnie & Ginny consistently answer these calls - true AFTAC alumni team members.

Lonnie began his Air Force career in the administrative field enlisting in 1956. His first assignment out of basic training was a 12-month tour of duty in South Korea. This was followed by another hardship assignment lasting five years at the USAF Security Service Language School at Indiana State University. During this assignment he married Ginny and started a family. He got his introduction to AFTAC when he was assigned to SPINSTRA at Lowry AFB in 1964. This was followed by an overseas assignment to Detachment 418, then back to Lowry AFB in 1968 being assigned to Detachment 57. He served one more AFTAC overseas assignment at Detachment 333 during the 1974- 75 timeframe prior to being assigned to Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. After only a short time he was reassigned to Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs and then back to Lowry AFB where he retired from active duty in 1977. Lonnie signed on with the Defense Investigative Service in 1982 and is now living the life of a retired civil servant.

Alumni of the year, 2012
MSgt (Ret) Gene and Dee Mechior

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Gene and Dee accept the ‘Space Coin’ Certificate from our President, Terry Hammond, following his announcement of their selection. Picture by Judy Milam-Henderson

A highlight of our annual SnowBall gathering was our President, Terry Hammond, announcing Gene and Dee Melchoior were selected for this honor by their peers of the years before. Gene and Dee's unflagging devotion to alumni, and the alumni assn, has been cumulative over the years and they have never failed to be major supporters of this annual event and many others. They were presented our 'Space Coin' plaque and Gene the 'Traditional T.'

Other notable events of the evening were the invocation by Sean Ryan, our Secretary, who preceded his prayer by naming Sages, and Spouses, who have deceased since last year’s Snowball, we had comments from AFTAC CC, Col Worley, and an exceptional Detachment 402 briefing by the Detachment Chief, SMSgt John Shank, (who was here for the Center's Commander's Conference). Det 402 was honored at this event as our 'newest Det,' and 'Japan' was our theme (Gene and Dee had the club-house decorated accordingly with many items from their travels and fellow colleague sages who donated items).

Dee made a short 'thank you' speech and Gene gave us a shout!! Later they wrote, "We totally enjoyed last night’s Snowball and to say the least, it was a wonderful surprise to be given the award! Our association has so much shared history. It is our pleasure to be a part of the group! We thank everyone for this honor."

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Gene, joined by Dee, accepts the ‘Alumni of the Year, 2012’ trophy from Col Worley/CC and Chief Neri/CCS. Photo by Bob Wiley

Gene and Dee were also honored at the 'Center Annual Award Banquet' the following Tuesday evening (02.12) with a trophy bearing the 'Alumni of the Year, 2012' Selection. (pictured above) NOTE 2: Gene and Dee had made ‘origami doves’ for the tables. Later they sent note writing, “Please put the website listed below in the PoMo. Some folks at the SnowBall want to try the paper folding art. Thanks.”

Alumni of the year, 2011
Dale Klug

klug.png This year's SnowBall was one of the best ever; food was great, Chief Nederhoed's Detachment 460 briefing was right on target, entertainment "rocked," and having our 2011 ‘Alumni of the Year (AOY),’ Dale Klug, and spouse Rose, (pictured) travel from CA, rounded out the program.

We had sufficient time to socialize with all our alumni, active-duty and with a wonderful assortment of Hors d'oeuvres before our program started. Bob Wiley treated us to a slide show featuring past SnowBall performances and a montage of activities in which alumni members participated during the past year.

Chapter President, Terry Hammond, opened by introducing our dignitaries attending; Vice Commander Col Roberts, Chief Scientist Dr. O'Brien, Director of Staff Mr. Whidden, Superintendent CMSgt Nederhoed, Historian Mr. Young, Inspector General CMSgt Revels, Materials Director Dr. DeForest, Atmos/Space Directorate Lt Col Wingate, and Dale and Rose Klug. The Center's 'Commander's Conference' had been delayed so we were not graced by Detachment 460 Commander’s, Major Johnson, attendance this year ... maybe we'll be back on track next year.

Then Rebecca Lehnerz performed the National Anthem acapella (great job). Following that Sean Ryan, our Chapter Secretary, led us in an invocation.

Dinner followed with a buffet that was excellent; the Grilled Salmon, Chicken Marsala, and Prime Rib were abundant with all the trimmings. The staff really did a great job preparing and serving dinner. Their choice of dessert was perfect with a Vanilla Ice Cream Raspberry Parfait to top off a scrumptious meal. I saw a lot of guests trying to get that last bit of ice cream from the bottom of the parfait glass. No one went home hungry!

Chief Nederhoed gave us an excellent briefing on "A day at Det 460." He showed the diversity of the challenges the detachment members face each day as they maintain the array of seismic equipment; from terrain, weather, wildlife, and giant mosquitoes. Having been stationed at the detachment, Chief Nederhoed was an exceptional stand-in for the detachment commander.

At the shank of the evening Terry re-presented the 'Space Coin' ‘Alumni of the Year 2011’ plaque to Dale Klug; it had been presented initially when Dale's AOY selection was announced at the California Chapter 'WorldWide Reunion' in May of last year. Dale had a few words of thanks and presented the Center with several artifacts for the 'Hall of Heritage,' a plaque from now closed 'Technical Operations Division,' and a real surprise when he donated an original coffee cup used by recently deceased (Aug), and beloved Center Icon, Mary Welch. She had asked him to hold the cup while he was visiting with her at the HQ many years back and Dale had held on to it for all the ensuing years.

Keeping with the theme of this event, we then played several 'Alaska' knowledge quizzes-prizes were awarded by Gene and Dee Melchoir to the person who answered the most questions correctly. Seems we had a tie between Sean Ryan (our own Chapter Secretary) and Dr. DeForest (TM Director). They both received dinner gift cards. Many of us remained for much longer to enjoy the great music provided by Entertainer, Billy Lee, and dancing that followed. At the end of the evening, most attendee's thought the music set just the right tone giving us mellow background music during the meal and then stepping it up several notches afterward. Some admitted staying so late the South Gate was closed when they left and they had to make a Uturn for the trek to the main gate!!

Jack Smith
ALUMNI OF THE YEAR, 2010

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Jack accepts trophy from Col Prupas, with Lloyd French, Alumni President and John Nederhoed in attendance.

Wow, what a six-day period we had, Feb 05-10! It started ‘rollin’ with the ‘SnowBall’ and marched forward to the ‘Center Annual Awards Banquet.’ These are annual events made very special this year when our ‘Alumni of the Year, 2010,’ Jack Smith, CO Chapter President, showed his considerable respect for this once in a lifetime honor. He, and his wife, Helen, traveled from their home in the Denver area to be here in person to express their unbrideled appreciation and humility for this selection.

Jack and Helen started the recognition period by moving into base dig’s right on the ocean arranged by CMSgt John Nederhoed/CCS, with assistance from CMSgt Dave Melton/TM, our assn vice. They were also treated to a HQ Building and ‘Hall of Heritage’ tour by CMSgt Steve Revels/IG. These experiences were just the beginning as they were recognized at both the ‘SnowBall’ and the ‘Awards Banquet in a grand style. A portion of the well attended ‘SnowBall’ (02.05) was dedicated to Jack’s accomplishments and he had time to speak to the group about what the honor meant to him. It was very moving to hear him speak, meaning all the more because of their efforts to be here. (much more on the ‘SnowBall,’ with pictures, later in the issue, ‘Alumni Events’)

Jack, and others to be honored, made a grand entrance into the ‘Center Awards Banquet’ on the following Thursday by entering the room though ‘Arched Sabers,’ pictured here. Other military ceremonies performed prior to dining was the ‘Presentation of Colors’ by the ‘Honor Guard’ and the ‘POW/MIA Table’ ceremony … these presentation’s are made all the more special as they are being done by our successor’s, those currently serving AFTAC’s mission. There was also an invocation by Chaplain Capt Williams and the ‘National Anthem’ by Ms Rebecca Lehnerz, a member of the ’Greenlight Band’ who has performed at numerous AFTAC and Alumni events.

Walter ‘Jack’ Jackson
ALUMNI OF THE YEAR, 2009

Jack’s selection as our 15th AOY was announced on Jan 30th at SnowBall XII. Here we see him accepting Jacson.png the ’Traditional T’ and our ’Space Coin’ plaque from Assn President, Lloyd French. In making the announcement, Lloyd spoke of Jack’s accomplishments for the assn (see editorial), and his involvement with veterans everywhere. For this ‘Salute,’ we asked Jack to provide information about himself. As you read what follows, you will come to fully understand Jack’s selection for this honor.

Jack was born and raised in Philadelphia. After graduating from high school, he entered the Air Force, completed basic training and received his first assignment as an Air Policeman at Craig AFB, Selma, Alabama. After this assignment, he served at Bitburg Air Base Germany, George AFB, Victorville, California, Danang Air Base Republic of South Vietnam, Langley AFB, Kusan Air Base, Korea and Patrick AFB, Florida.

While serving his country, Jack had the opportunity to do a lot of traveling and was in 13 countries around the world. He was active in sports playing football in Germany and softball as a pitcher. He was also on the Air Training Command swimming team in 1959 finishing third place in the 100 yard back stroke.

After retiring from the Air Force, Jack worked as a Veterans Employment Representative with the state of Florida. After 22 years he called it quits and is now enjoying his retirement.

He is a member of the Vietnam Veterans of Brevard color guard, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Disabled Americans, American Legion, VFW, Veterans Memorial Center, Brevard Veterans Council and the AFTAC Alumni Association (being one of the first to join).

Jack is on the VVB Reunion Committee for the Vietnam Memorial Traveling Wall. He brought Stand Down for homeless veterans to Brevard County. He also worked as a County Service Officer and was a National Service Officer for the American Legion.

Jack is the proud father of two girls and two granddaughters. Unfortunately his wife of three years passed away in November of 2009. He is proud to have served his country and enjoys volunteering wherever needed and enjoys retirement to the fullest.

Robert ‘Bob’ Wiley
Alumni Of The Year, 2008!!

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Bob is presented the traditional AOY ‘T’ by the
Florida Alumni Assn President, Lloyd French..

Bob was also recognized at the ‘Center Annual Awards Banquet’ in February, and will be again at the May ‘WorldWide Reunion.’ He has been a member of the association since his retirement in 1985. Over the years he has been a mainstay contributing articles and photographs of the alumni activities for the Post-Monitor and was association President, FY2007/08. During this time, he completed action for an LRD 50th Anniversary Commemorative coin to ‘fly in space.’ This coin will be presented to the Center for display in the ‘Hall of Heritage,’ and the few remaining coins in this series will be presented to deserving alumni. Bob also took the lead in encouraging additional participation in association management and increasing membership. He is Chair of the 2009 WorldWide Reunion Committee.

2007 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
WILLIAM "BILL" SCHMIED

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In a first for the association, the AOY selection schmied2.png was made in May (usually, Dec-Jan), and announced prior to the annual SnowBall (Jan-Feb). We broke precedent to recognize a most deserving individual in front of peers he serves so well and at an event with a large, varied audience, the 2007 Colorado sponsored, WorldWide reunion. The Colorado Chapter President, Jack Smith, in a ceremony during the reunion banquet (6/10), noted the many accomplishments Bill rendered as a member and in serving on the board. “He is a member of both the Colorado and Florida chapters, where he is a Lifetime member. He joined the CO chapter even before he retired in 1991 and since that time has served our chapter very actively and has been a board member for almost 15-years. He has been critical in the success of our chapter since he first signed on and has been deeply involved in every reunion, to include this one, and every other facet of our chapters operation.”

The ceremony concluded with the AFTAC Commander, Col Westergren, making the actual announcement of Bill’s selection and presenting the ’Traditional T.’

Other AOY’s in attendance included Frank Hall (98), John Horsch (99), Joe Johnson (02), and Ginger Vlassick representing Ben (00, deceased).

2006 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
DEBORAH CARSON

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Congratulations Deborah for this important recognition during SnowBall IX. The highlight of the annual event, the announcement recognizes the many contributions Deborah has made to supporting alumni and the association-especially in the areas of reviewing portions of this publication and her management of the annual SnowBalls.

Spotlighted in the September Post-Monitor last year, her alumni association peers selected her for this honor. Her many accomplishments are detailed in that issue. Thank you Deborah and we look forward to your continuing assistance. Additionally, Deborah was recognized at the Center Annual Awards event. More on that, and a picture, in the ‘Center Annual Awards’ article that follows and in the ‘Prez Sez’ column.

2005 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
MIKE BLACK

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Mike accepting ‘AOY’ shirt from assn president, Carol Snyder

Mike is the associations’ original and continuing webmaster (www.aftacalumni.org). His selection was announced at the SnowBall on January 28th, and he was also recognized at the Center Annual Awards Banquet on March 2.

Mike’s service to the Air Force started in October, 1972. and to AFTAC in June, 1981, where he served until his retirement in August, 1992. His AF assignments took him to Lowry, Eglin, Aviano and Tyndall AFB’s, and his AFTAC duties were in Advanced Technology (with a side-trip to TN) at the headquarters.

Mike joined the alumni at retirement and in 1996 he and two other members, Clark Creery, Mike Black, the association’s ‘Alumni Of The Year,’ was among those honored; his wife, Toni, was also there to enjoy the occasion.

Among the association members in attendance were the President, Carol Snyder, past-Vice, Pat Snyder, Dave O’Brien and wife, PJ, Chuck McBrearty and wife Linda, John Loftis, John Carson, Gary Killian, Dennis Gilroy and our Post-Monitor rovin’ reporter and digipic photographer, Bob Wiley and his wife Judith.

The Center Commander, Col. Turner, and Superintendent, Chief French (both association members), presided and presented the trophies. Mike was recognized for his continuing contributions to the Center and to the alumni (see the page 1 ‘Salute’ for details).

The alumni attending were honored and rewarded by being seated with the AFTAC Squadron Commander, Maj Trevillin, and his First Sergeant, SMSgt Parkhill, and at a table near the dais with a clear view of the ceremonies and the band stand . "Full Spectrum", the Band of the USAF Reserve, from Warner-Robins provided music for dining and a short program before the awards presentation. Following the presentations, the ‘Green Light Band’ raised everyone's spirits with a couple of rousing patriotic songs.

Col Tuner closed the presentations with a recap of 2005 highlights on newcomers, transfers, retirements, mission accomplishments, etc. He finished with a recitation of what he called a "ditty", "I Love AFTAC" (see active-duty pages). Other alumni still serving AFTAC as Civil Service who were honored included Gary Killian and John Carson.

2004 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
JOE GOLDIAN

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Congratulations Joe. Your selection recognizes your extensive time and service. And this service has been long in tenure and broad and deep in application.

Joe began attending association meeting even before he retired, starting in 1991. He currently serves as our treasurer and, in 1999, served as our Vice President. During this period Joe has never failed to step forward to help in whatever endeavor the association was involved in. He has personally managed several golf tournaments, and was ‘Joe on the spot’ for reunions and other association matters. He has been a member since 1991.

Joe was born in North Carolina in 1949 and joined the Air Force in Jan, 1968. He served in AFTAC from 4/68 to 7/74 and 7/75 to 9/91. His final assignment in AFTAC was as Manager, Treaty Monitoring Operations Program. Joe retired as a MSgt in September 1991. Joe's assignments include American Samoa, Mindinao Philippines, Wonju Korea, and several tours at Denver and the various Headquarters locations. Joe was one of the first AFTACers to perform Treaty directed inspections on Soviet missiles.

Thanks Joe, for your service to this country, AFTAC, and now the association. Your contributions are truly appreciated. Congratulations again on your selection as our 'Alumni of The Year, 2004.' Joe’s selection was announced at the association’s annual SnowBall on Feb 5th and he was again recognized at the Center’s Annual Award Banquet on March 3rd.

2001 ALUMNI OF THE YEAR
JIM PAYNE

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The highlight of our annual association Snow- Ball on February 18th was the announcement of the selection of Jim Payne as the '2001 Alumni of the Year.' He received a special coin that flew on the Shuttle Orbiter 'Atlantis' on the occasion of the Air Force, and AFTAC's, 50th anniversary (Sep-Oct '97). Jim will also be honored at the AFTAC Command Award ceremony on April 24th at the PAFB NCO Club, come on out and show your support (info. page 19). At the presentation, Joe Marshall, Association President, noted that Jim began his Air Force career in October, '52. He first served in Ground Radio at Japan, NJ, and MS. In May '62, he was assigned to AFTAC initially serving in the 'R' technique. Jim worked at several detachments as well as at Denver, Germany and California. In 1981, Cot. 'Meis' selected him to the organization's highest enlisted post, 'Senior Enlisted Advisor,' and he served in this capacity until his retirement in '83. Along the way. Jim earned a Master of Science degree in Management and was decorated with the Meritorious Medal and the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster. He has been an active supporter and lifetime member of the Alumni Association since the first year of its existence in 1985. In 1999, he accepted the Membership chair and has made notable contributions in that position.

Jim has implemented procedures and changed the membership data from a hardcopy status to a computer generated product, and at the same time linking the Worldwide Directory, Membership Directory and the individual data of 4000 records.

Jim has also established procedures to contact individuals who register on the web page and any member who 'overlooks' their dues. He makes them aware of the advantages of staying with, or joining, the alumni association in a very informal, friendly manner. Jim also handles all requests (letters, emails, packages), and ships any items ordered from the association's 'Shop.' All in all, Jim does an outstanding service for your association. Thank you Jim, for your continuing service to the Air Force, AFTAC, and the Long-Range Detection Alumni Association.

Golf N’GetTogether Reported By Ed Lindsay

The Fall Golf N’GetTogether was originally scheduled for 30 September. A conflict with the AFTAC Toilet Bowl the following week and possible bad weather caused concern of a low turnout. We did not want the same issues as our Spring GetTogether, with the 2nd half rainout. Plus we had to try to get our tournament in the books before the golf course went to Winter rates. There were many negotiations, changing schedules around, and the golf course being closed for 16 days due to damage from Hurricane Matthew. Finally reached an agreement to hold the GetTogether the Friday before Daylight saving went in to effect.

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John H., Eileen B., and Pat S. registering the golfers
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Best dressed: Ed Lindsay, Frank Woodard, Pat Murphy, Tony Calenda

On 4 November, 86 men and women gathered to socialize, beat up a defenseless, little ball, and have some adult beverages and food. It was going to be a beautiful day. To start off, John Horsch joined Ed Lindsay to stuff the goodie bags with water, bananas, crackers, slim jims, and other survival supplies. It was a hectic job and these two worked feverishly to get the bags stuffed before the masses showed up. Then on to the registration. Eileen Best showed up to lend a hand and John H jumped right in to help sell Mulligans. Pat Snyder, who was also golfing, asked to helped and jumped right in to get the golfers signed up. Bob Wiley and Judy Henderson arrived and started taking photos. It was a great start, to a great day.

Rene Uzee, the Manatee Golf Course Tournament Director, and ex-AFTACer gathered the players around for a final brief. With all the formal announcements completed, the 22 teams headed to their assigned holes. Bob Wiley could be seen throughout the course snapping photos. While everyone was out chasing the golf balls, Eileen and Judy stayed behind to sort out the Raffle ticket mess that Ed had left them. They did a phenomenal job making sure that everyone that played, received at least on door prize.

As the day progressed, one could hear many cheers and expletives emanating around the course. The rain never came, the course was in great condition, and the weather was awesome. A perfect day for golf with a whole bunch of friends. The teams started to head back to the clubhouse to turn in their scorecards. Then they sat down for a nice catered Bar B Que lunch, catered by the golf course staff. Ed then began to give out the awards.

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1st place: Joe H., Bob C., Sonny Z., Donnie C.
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2nd place: Gary K., Chad B., Larry S., Larry B.
  • 1st place: Joe Hauser, Bob Callahan, Sonny Zigler, Donnie Coffield.
  • 2nd place: Gary Killian, Chad Brotherton, Larry Silhanek, Larry Brown
  • 3rd place: Troy Lawson, Daneille Turlington, Jason Netz, Jason Klug
  • Closest to the pins: Mike Paglia, Troy Lawson, Marty Urbanski, Devin Dean
  • Long Drive: Women: Pat Snyder   Men: Evan Carlson

And of course we couldn’t have had such a successful event without all of our sponsors. Thank you to Moon Golf, Fiesta Azteca, Beef O’Brady’s, Charlie and Jake’s, U.S. 1 Golf Center, And our $250 sponsors: Space Coast Intelligent Solutions and Andres Yepes from Raymond James, Financial Advisors

TOILET BOWL Reported By Ed Lindsay

Fall of 2016 was a season for many needs for change in AFTAC. So, more of the same. One of these was the need to change the date of the Annual gathering that pits Directorates/Squadrons against each other on the softball field. A windy, blowhard named Matthew visited much of the East coast of the U.S. The initial Toilet Bowl date of 7 October had to be scrubbed three days prior to the event since it appeared that Matthew was looking to do some major damage to the Space Coast.

Matthew passed and now it was time to clean up. But the question still arose, “when is the Toilet Bowl”? AFTACers needed a break from the hustle and bustle, so Nov 10, the day before Veteran’s Day, was the date selected for competition, food, and fun.

The softball competition was a double-elimination format, with 9 teams participating. An 8:00 safety brief was conducted. Then the first games began. It was a very calm, cool day. Perfect for a long day of softball and picnicking. Unlike some of the previous years that were hot, muggy, and rainy at times. The games went on and some teams were eliminated.

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Director of Staff, Jim Whidden taking his turn providing beverages

Throughout the day, chances for the Winter Social gift baskets were also being sold. This was a great idea and many were filling up those chance boxes with plenty of tickets.

Bob Wiley, James Griffieth, Ed Lindsay, and Jim Whidden helped man the beer kegs. Beer and cider was flowing and the stories were being told. The championship teams had been determined, but they would have to wait. It was now time for the Home Run Derby and to eat some wonderful pulled pork, hot dogs, and hamburgers that had been prepared by MSgt Chevis Stanley and others.

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Colonel Gorski, AFTAC commander, getting a pie in the face for the cause
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People getting ready to get a pie in the face. Colonel Gorski on the left.

Also during the day’s events, there was a nominating competition going on to select someone to get a pie in the face. Once the Home Run Derby was finished, the real bidding started. Five individuals were selected, but this author does not know all the recipients. Two of them were AFTAC Commander, Colonel Gorski and SMSgt Chad Madore.

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AFTAC Alumni president Ed Lindsay, playing for the winning MS-1 team

After people got cleaned up, the masses met for the final games. Colonel Gorski thanked everyone for attending and the National Anthem was sung by Atomic Blue, the AFTAC chorus. Then Mission Support 1 (MS) and Materials Directorate (TM) faced off. MS-1 had already beat TM in a close game during regular competition. The MS-1 team took it to the TM team hard and only one game was needed to crown MS-1 the winners for the second year straight.

It was a great day to get together, have some friendly competition, many laughs, and get ready for the long weekend. Looking forward to next year’s event and I have heard some murmurings of putting together an AFTAC Alumni team…I know we have some softball players out there and some very crafty ones at that.

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Some of the Toilet Bowl trophies and the tournament bracket
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2 famed bases re-designated to highlight Space Force connection - 12/10/2020

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Chief of Space Operations Gen. John W. "Jay" Raymond, speaks at the re-designation ceremony of Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Dec. 9, 2020. The two bases were redesigned Patrick Space Force Base and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station respectively.

By Charles Pope, Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs / Published December 09, 2020
Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base were formally re-designated Dec. 9, as facilities central to the mission of the U.S. Space Force during a ceremony rich in symbolism that further confirmed the nation’s commitment to operating in and defending space.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the decision to shift the designation of Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base during a formal ceremony at Cape Canaveral.

"Today we make history with the first two installations in the history of the United States Space Force to bear the name of this new branch of the service,” Pence said during the ceremony before unveiling updated signs carrying the new names. “It is a great day for our military. It is a great day for Florida. It is a great day for America."

Later in the day, during a meeting of the National Space Council, Pence again noted the new designations and the contribution of the Space Force, which marks the first anniversary of its founding Dec. 20.

“It's extraordinary to think of the contribution the United States Space Force will make to the security of our nation and the perpetuation of our freedom,” Pence said.

“The Space Force is growing stronger by the day. ... We've made great progress; we evidenced that today in the dedication of Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and also Patrick Space Force Base,” he said.

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Vice President of the United States Mike Pence looks on as the signage is revealed re-designating Patrick Air Force Base to Patrick Space Force Base at a ceremony at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Dec. 9, 2020.

While the re-designation affects the names only and falls short of officially making the facilities Space Force installations, senior Space Force and Air Force officials said the action is critical to establishing a distinct culture and identity for the Space Force.

“Today, we start a new era at both Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base aligning the installation names with their critical missions,” Chief of Space Operations, Gen. Jay Raymond said during his remarks at the ceremony, noting specifically the long-running accomplishments of the 45th Space Wing at the installation.

“Today their titles will reflect the space missions that the 45th Space Wing and its mission partners execute with precision, passion, and pride every day. Moving forward, we will integrate our service, elevating the power that space brings to the nation, the joint force, and our allies,” he said, referring to the facility as “hallowed ground.”

Despite the high profile of Wednesday’s ceremony, Space Force officials emphasized that until final decisions are made relating to Space Force installations, the “jurisdiction and command” of both Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and Patrick Space Force Base “will remain under the Air Force until officially transferred at a future date to be determined.”

Officials emphasized the new designation will not affect current base operating support, funding, or current agreements at Patrick Space Force Station or Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

At the same time, a collection of senior officials who spoke at the ceremony highlighted the deep and trailblazing space history achieved at Cape Canaveral and Patrick Air Force Base and why those two installations are critical to the success of the Space Force.

“The sum of what started here and was reborn in the past four years lays the foundation of our giant leaps in space -- back to the moon, the planets, and like Voyager I and II, further still,” Department of the Air Force Secretary Barbara M. Barrett said in her remarks at the ceremony.

“At the Space Force, our grand mission is to keep humanity safe – safe for all those who’ve made those small steps thus far, and all those steps yet untrod,” she said.

The history is indeed long and rich.

Cape Canaveral is where Alan Shepard began his mission in 1961 as the first American in space, riding in the Mercury “Freedom 7” capsule that launched from the facility. That spacecraft is now on display in the Smithsonian Museum. Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins lifted off from the facility’s Launchpad 39B in 1969 on a mission that was the first to land humans on the moon and return them safely to earth.

More recently, the first Global Positioning System III satellite catapulted into space from Cape Canaveral. That crucial network of satellites forms the backbone of the modern-age global positioning, navigation, and timing system.

In addition to Pence, Barrett and Raymond, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist attended the ceremony as did Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Jr., and Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten who serves as vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Col. Brande Walton, who commands the 45th Space Wing, said the change highlights both a new day and a continuation of the unit’s mission. “While this renaming has changed signage across the installations, our mission remains the same – delivering assured access to space for the warfighter and our nation,” Walton said.

The science of mind and body: A successful combination for one Airman - 9/20/2020

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Senior Airman Dalton McIntire, a Scientific Applications Specialist at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., displays the coveted hardware he received during a powerlifting competition, at which he took first place. McIntire hopes to encourage more Airmen to get involved in powerlifting. (Courtesy photo)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. | By By Susan A. Romano
When Dalton McIntire was a freshman in high school, he spent a lot of time lifting weights in his school’s gym. For him, it was a way to increase stamina, strengthen his workout routine, and further build on his abilities on the baseball field

It wasn’t until about four years ago after he enlisted in the Air Force that he developed a love for powerlifting.

To the layperson, weightlifting and powerlifting may seem like synonymous and interchangeable terms, but there are actual differences between the two.

Weightlifting is a “speed” sport, requiring the participant to lift the most weight in the shortest period of time, and the object is to lift that weight over your head. Powerlifting, on the other hand, is a “strength” sport, where the participant uses the squat, bench press and deadlift techniques to lift as much weight as possible, but not overhead.

Both, however, require commitment and dedication –traits that McIntire displays not only in the gym, but on the job as well.

As a Scientific Applications Specialist at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the Air Force senior airman works at the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. His primary job is as a geophysical maintenance technician in AFTAC’s Component Repair Facility, where he maintained seismic equipment used on all seven continents to detect and examine nuclear weapons detonations across the globe.

After demonstrating strong attention to detail and solid leadership skills in his primary job, McIntire was selected to become a product manager for the center’s Systems Development Directorate. In that role, he is responsible for both product planning and product business value, including managing products throughout their lifecycle; gathering and prioritizing product and customer requirements; defining the product vision and strategy; removing/minimizing team blockers; managing and organizing stakeholders; and working closely with developers and designers to deliver operable products.

He finds time to balance his demanding work schedule with his passion for powerlifting and to date has participated in several competitions.

“Up until about a year ago, I was lifting by myself,” McIntire said. “But then I found an amazing powerlifting gym in the local area and teamed up with an awesome group of fellow lifters. Working out with people of the same mindset with the same goals has been not only inspirational, but also motivational. Everyone brings something different to the table and we all learn from each other and encourage each other to be the best we can be.”

In addition to powerlifting events, he’s also competed in a Strongman competition and a few charity events.

“I’ve taken 1st Place in all the divisions I’ve competed in, and I’m currently ranked 2nd in the State of Florida for the USA Powerlifting 93 kilogram class,” he said. “At powerlifting competitions, you compete by weight classes, much like in wrestling and boxing, so that a smaller 165-pound athlete won’t be up against a 300-pound lifter.”

Being a powerlifter requires discipline, stamina, focus and drive. He parlays all of those traits into his required military physical fitness training as well.

“I did pretty well on my last Air Force PT test – scored a 94.6 – and I’m proud of that,” he said. “But I’m always pushing myself to do better, so I’m shooting for a perfect score the next time around.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak, McIntire has had to adapt his workout schedule to ensure he gets his time in at the gym.

“I was somewhat lucky at the beginning of COVID-19,” McIntire said. “I was in a competition the day before my gym shut down, and once the competition was complete, I planned ease up a bit to give my body a rest.”

The desire to stay in competition-shape, however, led him to buy and rent some equipment and train with three of his workout buddies from home.

“We dubbed my garage the ‘Iron Circus’ as there was always some kind of laughter or craziness going on between the seriousness and intensity we all shared during training sessions.”

Fortunately for the Airmen, the base fitness center as well as McIntire’s downtown gym have reopened and his small group is back lifting and training together.

The Air Force has a competitive sports program that reaches around the globe for the morale, welfare and recreation of its active duty servicemembers. Unfortunately for McIntire, the Air Force disbanded its official Powerlifting Team a few years ago, but he has his sights set on convincing the service to reinstate it as an official Air Force sport again someday.

“The AFSP is designed to encourage competition, camaraderie and unit cohesion,” McIntire said. “It also helps Air Force athletes continue on to competitions at the regional, national and international levels while representing the force as world-class athletes. My goal is to generate enough interest from Airmen who powerlift throughout our branch of service so we can see powerlifting reinstated as a competitive sports program.”

Whether he meets that goal or not, he remains passionate and focused on bettering himself as an athlete and an Airman.

“I encourage everyone -- male and female – to get involved in some form of lifting weights, whether it’s powerlifting, bodybuilding, weightlifting, or just some form of involvement at the gym,” he said. “It can really change a person’s life more than they realize.”

He added, “I’ve memorized a quote that I refer to often to keep motivated. It’s by Louie Simmons, a former American powerlifter and strength coach. He said, ‘Your job in the gym is to make others stronger by any means necessary, and their job is to make you stronger by any means necessary.’ If any of my fellow Airmen need some extra motivation at the gym, let me know – my job will be to help make you stronger!”

COMACC joins AFTAC Airmen in online training session - 9/20/2020

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Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, participates in a virtual training class with members of the 22nd Surveillance Squadron, to discuss geopolitical competition in the Arctic. Airmen from the 22nd SURS are part of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., the sole organization in the Department of Defense responsible for nuclear treaty monitoring. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. | By By Susan A. Romano
The commander of Air Combat Command carved out 30 minutes on his tight schedule May 13 to dial in to a virtual training class hosted by members of the 22nd Surveillance Squadron here.

Gen. Mike Holmes participated in the webchat with 47 Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center to discuss geopolitical competition in the Arctic Region.

“In late 2019, our operators who execute our 24/7 watch floor, identified a need to dedicate time solely to training on the battlespace,” said Col. Andy Steffen, “so they initiated two weekly sessions, one for day shift and one for night shift, to better understand our global operating environment. When the coronavirus hit, they still wanted to continue the sessions, so they began conducting them virtually.”

Since mid-March, the squadron has been connecting online to discuss a wide range of relevant topics and current events that impact the nuclear treaty monitoring center.

In that vein, one of the 22nd SURS flight commanders thought it would be great if they could get a senior Air Force officer participate in the video chat with the squadron, and after a few phone calls and email messages, they secured the leader of AFTAC’s major command at Langley AFB, Va., who agreed to join them.

“Our wing commander, Col. (Chad) Hartman, reached out to ACC to see if COMACC would be interested in being a part of the call, and when we got word back that he agreed to join us, we were all pretty stoked,” said Capt. Jason Goins, 22nd SURS flight commander.

The Airmen put together a solid lesson plan complete with two short informational videos that illustrated U.S. concerns and interests in the Arctic region.

After the presentation, 1st Lt. Jesse Lubove, an AFTAC mission director and moderator of the web chat, introduced Holmes to the group and asked the general if he had any comments he wanted to share with the group.

“Your timing is spot on,” the general said. “Just today Alaska Senator (Dan) Sullivan spoke about the Arctic’s importance to America’s national security and the role the Department of Defense should play in the region. It’s great to hear your thoughts on the subject.”

The group spent about 10 minutes engaging in a robust question-and-answer session, with Holmes chiming in with his thoughts as well. When his time came to an end, he thanked the technicians and analysts for inviting him to the chat.

“I really appreciate being included and I learned a lot from your perspective,” the 4-star said. “I hope you will invite me back again for further discussions.”

The 22nd SURS Airmen hope to have other Air Force senior leaders join them in future training sessions.

AFTAC Master Scientific Applications Specialist Badge - 9/17/2020

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Just when you thought it was safe to put your Class A uniform away in a garment bag with all the ribbons, insignia, name tag, collar brass in order you find this out. The current 9S100 badge is authorized to be worn by all airmen, to include retired and separated members awarded RI9S100 (or associated identifiers 99125, 99104, 99105, 99106, 9S000, and 9S200) are eligible to wear the Scientific Applications Specialist occupational badge. For more information click here. In particular para 5.2 for heraldry, eligibility, and awarding, see para 8 for enlisted career path with photos of basic, senior, and master badges.

Note: The item requested is only available as a regulation full size badge and as a midsize badge only. No other size is authorized for wear or to manufacture.

Air Force Vice Chief: Nearly One-Third of Employees May Permanently Telework - 9/17/2020

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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Tavaris Quinn, 39th Communications Squadron knowledge management technician, manages teleworking websites on May 5, 2020, at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Jim Araos.

Sept. 16, 2020 | By Rachel S. Cohen
About one-third of Air Force employees may remain largely out of the office even after the coronavirus pandemic subsides, Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. “Seve” Wilson said Sept. 16.

The Air Force scrambled earlier this year to set its employees up with remote access to the service’s computer networks and collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams as offices across the country cleared out. For an organization with IT infrastructure years behind the private sector and many homes, the pandemic was an opportunity to catch up and pursue more flexible, unconventional work policies.

Not all service members can work from home because of classified information that can only be accessed in secure rooms, or other technical issues. Many employees feel more productive in an office setting and want to regain the in-person camaraderie lost during the pandemic. But people would have more options to move between home and the office as needed.

“There’ll be a portion of our workforce that never comes back to working as we knew it in the past. I don’t know what that number is—is it 30 percent of our workforce?” Wilson said at AFA’s virtual Air, Space & Cyber Conference. “They may show up to work in a work environment once a day, once a week type of thing, but … because we’ve got everything connected, because we’ve got this workforce that can now work from wherever they are, whenever they want, it’s changed the paradigm on how we’re going to do work.”

Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel, and Services Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly also suggested that telework may change the service’s long-term approach to temporary duty travel and permanent changes of station.

“I would see us not going back to some of the models, right?” he said during a Sept. 16 panel on Air Force talent management that was also held as part of vASC. “Not just telework in the location where you live, but imagine us now being able to hire somebody in Arizona who works in the Pentagon, and then never leaving Arizona—maybe occasionally coming TDY to the Pentagon, but staying in their home—for certain staff jobs, our military members, not PCSing because they’re able to effectively telework.”

Lauren Knausenberger, the Air Force’s deputy chief information officer, noted that when the pandemic began spreading in early 2020, the service had only 20,000 remote computer connections for a 750,000-person workforce. It grew the number of people it could connect at once with the help of the Defense Information Systems Agency. Service officials indicated their remote option, known as virtual private networks (VPN), is sufficient for teleworking in the long-term.

As the Air Force has adapted to the idea that you can accomplish work without being at an office in person, Knausenberger added the service must now give people the same quality of technology in an office that they’re used to at home. The Air Force has neglected information technology infrastructure for years, but is shifting to contract out IT services from commercial companies and pursue options like easily accessible cloud storage.

“We can work from all over the globe. We have adopted best-in-class tools. Really, we are able to equip our Airmen to work wherever they are, which has been incredible,” she said. “The good news and the bad news is that we have raised the bar. Our Airmen love working at home, their devices all work, they can manage them, they’ve got lightning-fast Internet. So it really becomes a responsibility for us to maintain the capabilities that they have seen.”

She added that cyber forces and friendly hackers are trying to keep Air Force employees safe on their personal laptops and cell phones, and to see where the service can improve. USAF has control over its own networks, but not the Internet connection employees use for remote work.

“Our cybersecurity professionals are looking at, how does that change the threat surface?” she said. “We need to think a lot more about what is the right volume of secret devices, for instance? We definitely don’t want to spend too much time on personal devices without them being managed in some way.”

The Air Force has to strike the right balance: secure enough to prevent intruders in its networks, but not so much that it stifles productivity.

“If I am doing unclassified work, … I don’t care if our adversaries know that I’m meeting someone for lunch and that it was a lovely lunch conversation,” Knausenberger said. “I do care if they know about our plans for an upcoming mission.”

Service officials added that some Airmen are seizing the opportunity to think outside the box and use technology to improve their everyday work. Wilson noted Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, has cut the time it takes to train Airmen in intelligence career fields by one-third, through a mix of in-person and online learning.

In another instance, the 2nd Space Launch Squadron at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., came up with a software app to track data related to COVID-19, instead of using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.

“Perimeter 9 gives medics and commanders instantaneous and simultaneous awareness of any member of their team impacted by COVID,” 30th Medical Group Commander Col. Raymond Clydesdale said in a May press release. “Perimeter 9 is superior and more secure than any existing platform, and it has the potential to contribute to COVID-19 response and overall medical patient care at a much greater scale.”

Maj. Gen. Kimberly A. Crider, the mobilization assistant to Space Force boss Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, said the app is spreading across the Space Force to support pandemic response as well as overall military readiness.

“They developed a small software application, deployed it in our continuous integration, continuous deployment pipeline … got that out, and now it’s being implemented across the force by all of our squadrons within our new space deltas,” Crider said. “It’s that kind of innovation that COVID has helped us unleash, and continue to move forward on.”

For 1st Time in 3 Decades, Military Families and Retirees Are Getting Revamped IDs - 9/1/2020

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Army Spc. Shunterika Fields and Army Pvt. Stephen Hines create identification cards at a temporary medical facility in New Orleans, April 4, 2020. (Dept. of Defense/Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Eric S. Garst)

24 Aug 2020 Military.com By Bing Xiao
The military is ditching flimsy laminated paper-based ID cards for military retirees and dependents for an all-new card system: the Next Generation Uniform Services Identification Card.

According to a Defense Department announcement published Monday, the cards, which represent the first ID update for these military communities since 1993, will be more durable and more closely resemble the Common Access Cards, or CACs, used by active-duty troops and DoD civilians.

The new IDs are already in circulation: the military quietly began issuing them to retirees, reservists and dependent military family members July 31 at a few ID card facilities, according to the DoD release.

The new USID cards are enhanced with an updated design and security features to deter counterfeiting and fraud, Michael Sorrento, director of the Defense Manpower Data Center, said in a statement.

To date, only about 20 Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification Card System (RAPIDS) sites now offer the new cards; other sites await equipment upgrades in order to make them. All DoD USID card facilities are set to offer the IDs by December 2020, according to the release. The complete transition to new USID cards is targeted for January 2026.

This transition doesn't affect current card expiration dates and doesn't change the populations who are eligible to get the current USID cards.

In addition to dependents of active-duty troops and reservists and retirees and their dependents, those eligible for these DoD-recognized IDs include Medal of Honor recipients and their dependents and 100% disabled veterans and their dependents, among others. A full list of eligible groups can be found here. The cards facilitate access to military bases and to other exclusive facilities, such as commissaries and exchanges.

The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated the rollout of the new cards.

Sorrento advised that it would be better to wait to get the new card until next summer unless the holder's current one is expired. Applicants should call ahead for appointments to get the new USID cards.

In April, Pentagon officials announced that dependent and retiree cards set to expire in 2020 would be automatically extended through September in light of the pandemic, and changed policy to allow some ID updates and new enrollments to be done by mail.

DoD is further developing the ID card process, Sorrento said in the release, and eyeing changes such as a mail-in ID process with online vetting, eliminating the requirement to apply in person at a RAPIDS site.

AFTAC uses technology to execute Change of Command - 7/2/2020

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Col. Chad Hartman (left), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., salutes and relinquishes command during a Change of Command ceremony June 30, 2020 as his replacement, Col. Katharine Barber (right) stands at attention. Also pictured is guidon bearer Chief Master Sgt. Amy Long (center), AFTAC’s command chief. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Ryrholm)

The Air Force Technical Applications Center here underwent a change of command today, employing modern-day technology to accomplish long-standing traditions.

Col. Chad Hartman relinquished command to Col. Katharine Barber as 16th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh served as the presiding officer via video teleconference from San Antonio, Texas, with immediate family members and a small handful of senior leadership in attendance at Patrick AFB’s Sharkatorium.

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Col. Katharine Barber (left) delivers her first remarks to the men and women of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., after taking command of the center from outgoing commander Col. Chad Hartman (right) June 30, 2020. Seen on screen is presiding officer Lt. Gen. Timothy Haugh, commander of 16th Air Force, who streamed via video teleconference from Lackland AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Ryrholm)

An Air Force change of command ceremony is steeped in history and represents the formal transfer of authority and responsibility from one leader to another. It is also a way to recognize the achievements of an outgoing commander as well as introduce the new commander to the people he or she will be leading.

Typically, a change of command has troop formations, distinguished visitors and invited guests in attendance. However, due to social distancing requirements in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, AFTAC employed modern technology to transmit the ceremony via video chat and teleconference. Several hundred Airmen, family, friends and alumni tuned in to witness the virtual passing of the guidon.

Hartman took command of AFTAC in June 2018, just two months after the center underwent a major structure reorganization. During his tenure, he oversaw a $2 billion upgrade of AFTAC’s two maritime assets, USNS Howard O. Lorenzen and USNS Invincible; launched a revolutionary algorithmic warfare campaign; drove the relocation and hardening of AFTAC’s nuclear alert center that resolved a 34-year mission gap; and managed a 99 percent readiness level for 3,600 sensors dispersed on every continent and in every domain.

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Col. Chad Hartman delivers his final remarks as the commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center during his Change of Command ceremony June 30, 2020 at Patrick AFB, Fla. Hartman commanded the nuclear treaty monitoring center since June 2018 and is transferring to The Netherlands to work for Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum as the chief of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. (U.S. Air Force photo by Joshua Conti)

Prior to the change of command portion of the ceremony, Haugh presented the Legion of Merit to Hartman for “exceptionally meritorious conduct and superior initiative, outstanding leadership and exemplary ability.” The prestigious medal is presented to members of the Armed Forces who hold key non-combat positions of great responsibility and whose conduct is above reproach.

“Last fall, when a Russian missile launch resulted in the dispersal of nuclear materials, AFTAC was the first to recognize the explosion and synchronized the analytical effort to investigate and confirm the incident,” said Haugh. “Chad expertly briefed the President, Congress and the Secretary of the Air Force and ultimately shaped the United States’ strategic response and enabled the State Department to expose Russia’s harmful behavior to partners across the region.”

Haugh added, “Colonel Hartman has been a critical voice in shaping how we think about global competition and capability integration across the joint force, and I know our leadership team at 16th Air Force will miss his discerning insights.”

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Outgoing commander Col. Chad Hartman (left) shares a laugh with incoming commander Col. Katharine Barber (right) during the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s Change of Command ceremony at Patrick AFB, Fla., June 30, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Ryrholm)

When it was time for Hartman to make his remarks, the outgoing commander quickly shifted the focus away from himself to shine the spotlight on the men and women who execute AFTAC’s global mission.

“Team AFTAC, you empowered our nation and took the necessary steps to guard against our nation’s most dangerous threats – weapons of mass destruction,” Hartman said. Throughout my tenure, you sustained and operated the Air Force’s only blue water fleet of ships, relocated an entire detachment into Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado, operated and modernized the Air Force’s oldest aircraft fleet, and masterfully executed national surveillance operations in every domain – air, sea, land, space and cyber.”

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Donned in protective facial masks in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Gina Hartman (right) and her children Logan (left) and Sofia (center), applaud during the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s Change of Command ceremony June 30, 2020. Gina’s husband, Col. Chad Hartman, relinquished command of the nuclear treaty monitoring center to Col. Katharine Barber at Patrick AFB, Fla., as others from the center are seen in background adhering to social distancing requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Ryrholm)

The outgoing commander thanked the many mission partners who contribute to AFTAC’s global mission and operate the center’s massive network of national laboratories.

He also recognized dozens on his immediate staff and senior leadership team for “unleashing 72 years of innovative culture, tackling wicked problems, ensuring no nuclear surprises, mastering the digital environment, and most importantly, optimizing AFTAC’s greatest asset – our people.”

Hartman is transferring to Allied Joint Force Command Brunssum, the Netherlands, to be the Chief of Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance.

Barber, a career intelligence officer, comes to AFTAC after serving as the commander of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center’s Space, Missiles and Forces Intelligence Group at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. She has commanded at both the squadron and group levels, and from July 2011 to June 2013, she served as the Senior Duty Officer in the White House Situation Room.

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To avoid direct contact due to the coronavirus pandemic, incoming commander Col. Katharine Barber (left) bumps elbows with outgoing commander Col. Chad Hartman (right) in place of a handshake during the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s Change of Command ceremony June 30, 2020. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amanda Ryrholm)

“Colonel Hartman has set AFTAC on a dynamic course and I intend to continue the legacy of conquering wicked problems for our nation,” she said. “This organization is filled with creative people who have mastered the complexities we face, and I can’t think of a better place to be in the year 2020, which is the most unique year I have ever experienced! Thank you, General Haugh, for your trust in me to command this venerable institution.”

After the guidon was passed from one commander to another, the Numbered Air Force commander took a moment to welcome Barber to her new position.

“AFTAC is gaining a world-class leader and commander today,” Haugh said. “Kate, I look forward to your leadership as you take command, and I can’t wait to watch the incredible Airmen of AFTAC as you continue to advance the future of warfighting within our enterprise and within the Air Force. Your leaders, our service, and the nation are behind you.”

As the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, AFTAC provides direct technical, analytical and evaluative support to the International Atomic Energy Agency and operates and maintains the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System, the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force.

Arguing Artificial Intelligence during pandemic becomes a reality - 5/17/2020

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Joshua Dickey, an electrical engineer assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., recently earned his doctorate degree from the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. (Courtesy photo)

It wasn’t what he envisioned as the final step toward earning his doctorate – having to defend his dissertation virtually instead of in person before a traditional panel of judges.

The coronavirus, however, has changed the way people around the world are communicating, and this doctoral candidate was not immune to the “new norm” of social distancing.

Dr. Josh Dickey has been assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center here since June 2007, working as an electrical engineer in the Systems Engineering Division. His primary responsibilities centered around the sustainment of AFTAC’s worldwide geophysical sensor network.

In 2012, Dickey began his path to a Ph.D. at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, with coursework in electrical engineering. Things were rolling along for the young scientist. He maintained an enviable 4.0 grade point average and published his first paper, all while juggling his full-time job at AFTAC and witnessing the birth of his first child, James.

He wasn’t as fortunate the next semester, though. He received extended orders for a project he was working on in Morocco, which derailed his studies and forced him to drop all the classes for that semester. That, coupled with the birth of his second son Benjamin, put Dickey in a difficult position.

“I simply ran out of time and money,” he said.

But as the saying goes, everything happens for a reason. He learned about the Department of Defense’s SMART Scholarship-for-Service Retention Program that allows select DOD personnel to pursue their education in specific STEM-related fields that are in high demand by the U.S. government.

Once accepted, retention program students receive full tuition and book allowances while remaining in their permanent civil service position, earning their full salary and benefits. Their new job duties as a SMART student are to attend classes full time, maintain a 3.0 GPA and earn their advanced degree. Upon completion of their degree, scholars return to their organization and begin applying the new skills and expertise obtained from their advanced degree program.

“Not only do students get to pursue their passion during the education phase, they also begin a journey towards an empowering career to protect national security,” said Rose Day, AFTAC’s Human Resources Program Manager. “For more than a decade, SMART scholars have been working with labs and agencies throughout DOD to support the warfighter and create an impact for our national decision makers. The Retention Program launched the summer of 2016 was a great opportunity to allow current civilians to pursue advanced degrees that enhance mission capabilities without giving up their full-time job and sacrificing their family life. Josh was a perfect candidate.”

Dickey learned of his acceptance in March 2017. From there, he sat down with his wife, Suzanne, and laid out plans to sell their Florida home, pack up the family, and move to Dayton, Ohio.

“The Air Force Institute of Technology is located at Wright-Patterson AFB, which is where I completed my studies,” Dickey said. “It was my longest time away from the Sunshine State. Let’s just say it took us some time to acclimate to the midwestern weather!”

The Tampa native enjoyed his time in the Buckeye state, but as soon the degree requirements were completed, he and Suzanne were excited to move back to Florida.

“Once we’re fully settled back on the Space Coast, I will be spearheading AFTAC’s new data analytics branch within the Systems Development Directorate and applying all the research I gleaned at AFIT,” he said.

Dickey’s dissertation was entitled, “Neural Network Models for Nuclear Treaty Monitoring: Enhancing the Seismic Signal Pipeline with Deep Temporal Convolution.”

In layman’s terms, his studies focused on the exploration of artificial intelligence and machine learning to process seismic signals produced during nuclear detonations. AFTAC’s primary mission is to monitor nuclear activity across the globe.

“Effectively incorporating AI/ML at AFTAC is essential for our future,” Dickey stated. “I hope to spearhead these efforts upon my return to the center.”

Day said Dickey was not only one of the first retention candidates for the DOD SMART program; he was also the first for AFTAC.

“Most people don’t realize it, but the DOD is the largest employer of scientists and engineers in the nation,” she said. “AFTAC is an agency that employs highly-technical STEM professionals with unique skills and abilities. One of the ways to attract and retain that level of talent is through educational incentives like internships, scholarships and fellowships. As a center, we must be able to increase the pool of advanced STEM-degree holders to execute AFTAC’s global mission. This program is so important to achieve those goals.”

While Dickey did most of the heavy lifting himself to earn the prestigious “doctor” title, he was quick to recognize others who played a role in his success.

“Dr. (Bill) Junek is my inspiration,” Dickey said. “He’s AFTAC’s Senior Scientist and finished his Ph.D. at UCF the same semester I began. He has encouraged me, guided me, assisted me, and even served on my research committee at AFIT. I cannot thank him enough for his professional expertise and sincere friendship.”

He also thanked AFTAC’s Systems Development director, Dave Merker for his mentorship.

Merker recognized the invaluable knowledge and skill Dickey will be bringing back to his directorate, so he made the decision to stand up a new AI/ML office within AFTAC’s Center of Engineering Excellence.

“Dave was crucial in both facilitating my degree and paving the way for my return to AFTAC. I’m indebted to him.”

When it came time to defend his dissertation, the team of experts connected with Dickey over an online teleconferencing application. The panel consisted of his research advisor, a representative from the dean’s office, and three members of the research committee.

“I enjoy public speaking, and I really feed off the audience’s reaction to whatever I might be presenting at the time,” Dickey said, “so talking to a camera in an empty room for more than an hour was a different experience. Fortunately, the significance of the moment was enough to boost my adrenaline and I was able to power through my defense. Once the question-and-answer portion began, I felt much more comfortable. And I passed!”

When asked what the most rewarding part of his studies was, he reflected for a moment to gather his thoughts.

“The opportunity to learn a new skill set and completely revamp my career has been priceless,” Dickey said. “Back in 2011, I saw this great potential for incorporating more machine learning into AFTAC’s vital mission. And now, getting the opportunity to study AI/ML full-time for three years has been a dream come true.”

He added, “AFIT is a special place, particularly suited to pursue operational and classified research for the Department of Defense. The faculty is top-notch and the close proximity to the Air Force Research Lab is invaluable. I highly encourage anyone who’s interested in advanced education to look into scholarships offered by the DOD STEM program. Convince your leadership that you are worth the investment, and then work your tail off! The payoff is well worth the effort.”

Suicide survivor helps Airmen, families battle adversity during pandemic - 5/16/2020

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Doug Monda conducts an online discussion with members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center and their families April 22, 2020, about the perils of depression and mental illness. Monda is a two-time suicide survivor whose message of resilience helps him and others cope with past traumas. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Airmen and families assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center here participated in an online video chat with suicide survivor Doug Monda to discuss resiliency as the nation grapples with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monda was joined by 92 members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center who dialed in to hear about Monda’s battle with depression and mental health struggles.

“His message is a very simple one,” said Doug Rothenbush, director of AFTAC’s 24th Analysis Squadron. “He is a firm believer that no one is alone and that people facing any type of adversity can live happy and healthy lives.”

Monda began his presentation by giving the audience some background into his career. A law enforcement officer by trade, Monda spent many years in the “rougher” areas of police work – SWAT teams, gang and drug task forces, and sniper squads. He received numerous awards including Officer of the Year, three Life-Saving Awards, seven Unit Citations, and five Certificates of Commendation.

Yet despite his enormous career success and countless accolades, he found himself in a dark place -- so dark that he attempted to take his own life, not once but twice.

“The burden just got too big,” he said, candidly. “I was depressed and was suffering from serious post traumatic stress after a situation on the job that had me and my weapon staring straight in the eyes of a 12-year old kid. It was just too overwhelming.”

But through counseling, medical intervention and a huge support system at home, Monda was able to climb out of despair and into a place that has given him meaning and purpose. He now speaks publicly about his battles and aims to deliver a message of awareness about PTSD, depression, and suicide in first responders, hoping to break the stigma before it’s too late.

“We invited Doug to speak with us because we know there may be people out there who are feeling the stress and strain of the COVID quarantine,” said Rothenbush. “Knowing there are others who have faced incredible pressure and are willing to share their experiences can be very healing and cathartic. His message certainly resonated with many of us on the chat. It takes a lot of courage to put himself out there like Doug did.”

Monda used two metaphors during his presentation to illustrate his point.

The first was a comparison to the movie, “Groundhog Day” starring Bill Murray. The premise of the movie is Murray’s character finds himself stuck in time, waking up each morning only to relive the same awful day each time his alarm clock sounded.

“That’s what it was like for me before I retired from law enforcement,” he explained. “I felt like I would wake up every day, but the nightmare was still playing over and over again.”

The second metaphor he used had to do with a wheelbarrow.

“Essentially, your life is like a wheelbarrow,” Monda said. “Each chapter of your life starts out empty, whether it’s when you start a new job or begin a new relationship or something along those lines. As you move along, you begin to fill your wheelbarrow with things like knowledge, experience, education, friends, homes, children, and hobbies. But sometimes, the wheelbarrow is filled with stuff you don’t want to carry along like overdue bills, divorce, unemployment, accidents, bad health or death of a loved one. That’s when you have to learn to ‘reduce the load’ and balance out what you’re carrying in your wheelbarrow.”

Monda kept the attention of the 90+ listeners for nearly two straight hours who seemed enveloped by his message of resilience.

“Doug’s message resonated with encouragement and a continued passion for advocacy,” said Wes Schuler, a nuclear technical information specialist and retired Air Force chief master sergeant. “During the beginning of the pandemic outbreak, I faced the stress that came along with the fact that my mother had just committed suicide. My wife and I had to get her affairs in order in a short window of time. We are truly grateful to our AFTAC family who showed their support.”

The retired chief continued, “Doug’s message did not fall on deaf ears and provided me with hope for the future. I am truly glad he was not successful at suicide. The fact that he has started his own foundation to try to avoid even more tragic loss to suicide is a true blessing. We are all so glad that he has provided an outlet for education, care and therapy for those who have suicidal ideations so that life may continue to flourish.”

Monda works closely with his business partner, Karen, who is also his wife. As founders of their nonprofit organization “Survive First,” their vision is to reduce first responder suicide and save lives.

“These are challenging times we’re dealing with right now,” said Rothenbush, “and hearing stories like Doug’s can really open your eyes to the realization that there is always someone whose burden might be greater than your own. I hope when we get back to our ‘new norm’ and return to work in full force, we can invite Doug to speak to AFTAC in person so everyone can hear his powerful message of hope."

Curbside Pick-Up at PAFB BX - 4/15/2020

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45th Space Wing

During these unprecedented times, Patrick AFB Exchange is playing a critical role and will continue to offer essential services. Beginning tomorrow, 10 April 2020, AAFES will add curbside pick-up.

*This does not include the Commissary.*

Buy-online-pickup-in-store orders will now include the option to pick-up curbside. Curbside Pick-Up will be available Mon - Sat, 0900 - 1630 and Sunday, 1000 - 1500. Upon arrival, customers should call (321) 266-5351 to pick-up their order.

While practicing physical distancing during COVID-19, AAFES is taking the following measures to maintain this as a safe, convenient service with minimized points of contact while meeting the increased demand through curbside pick-up. • Signatures will not be required on pickup orders. • Associates will distance themselves 6 feet from the driver’s side door, or approach from the passenger side whenever possible

Pandemic can’t stop AFTAC’s innovative Airmen - 4/14/2020

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A member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., uses a diluted solution of ethanol and deionized water to sanitize items within the nuclear treaty monitoring center in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)
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A member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., uses a diluted solution of ethanol and deionized water to sanitize items within the nuclear treaty monitoring center in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

As cleaning and disinfecting supplies rapidly disappeared from store shelves and warehouse stockrooms, demand far outweighed the availability of these products to protect against COVID-19.

The Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., was no different. As the nuclear treaty monitoring agency prepared to sanitize the center to protect the health and well-being of its workforce against the growing pandemic, supply technicians realized the amount of standard cleaning products in their inventory was at a minimum.

So what does the organization that’s charged with conducting vital ‘round-the-clock operations do to ensure its Airmen are safe?

One word: Innovate.

AFTAC is home to the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory, a one-of-a-kind Air Force facility that identifies radiologic or nuclear debris in support of the U.S. Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis Program. To perform its mission, the laboratory must be able to precisely isolate and purify specific radionuclides from a variety of environmental samples. Scientists who work at the radiochemistry lab frequently rely on ethanol as a reagent to assist in this process.

To adhere to guidelines set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by direction of the AFTAC commander, members of AFTAC’s Safety Office and techs from Ciambrone teamed up to develop a solution using existing chemicals the lab already had it its inventory.

“One of the most commonly used reagents in almost any chemistry lab is ethanol,” said Senior Airman John Mullaney, sample control technician. “So Senior Airman (Ethan) Rumble and I took the 100 percent ethanol liquid we use for lab operations and diluted it down to a 70-percent solution using deionized water. Once we had the right concentration, we filled spray bottles with the diluted ethanol and provided them to the assigned cleaning crews.”

AFTAC Airmen then used the solution to wipe down door handles, computer keyboards, telephone handsets, elevator buttons, tables, break room countertops, and other commonly touched areas within the center to reduce the risk of contamination.

“The ethanol solution was allowed to naturally evaporate and the vapors to dissipate before the next team of workers were allowed in that area,” said Maj. Hershel Lackey, lab director of operations. “While we waited for the surfaces to dry, the team documented the precise amount of solution that was used in a specific area and senior leaders were notified that the area was fully disinfected.”

The team took their ingenuity one step further. They realized the lab supplies could also be used to disinfect the rest rooms and floors throughout the headquarters building as well as in the lab, which allowed for uninterrupted mission flow without putting Airmen in harm’s way or inadvertently furthering the spread of the virus by having a contracted crew to come into the facility for general purpose cleaning.

“When faced with adversity, you will not find a smarter, more innovative group of men and women than you will here at the Air Force Technical Applications Center,” said Col. Andy Steffen, commander of the 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group. “AFTAC was in a hard place with limited cleaning supplies, and we knew it would be weeks – possibly months – before the supply chain would catch up to the demand. I am always amazed at the resourcefulness of the folks who work here. They got the job done and they did it exceedingly well, and I’m incredibly proud of them and their efforts.”

Lackey praised the AFATC Safety team for their invaluable oversight as well.

“Joy Morris and Sara Kroll were instrumental in ensuring we followed all required OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) guidelines,” the major said. “This was truly a team effort across the board, and we definitely demonstrated one way to ‘flatten the curve’ while fighting the virus.”

Vital treaty monitoring mission continues in wake of COVID-19 response - 4/8/2020

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Col. Chad Hartman, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., is seen via videochat (top right) April 3, 2020 as he conducts a tele-Town Hall meeting with his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Amy Long for members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center and their family members to discuss COVID-19 response efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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Informational slide shown during tele-Town Hall meeting conducted by Col. Chad Hartman, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., April 3, 2020, for members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center and their family members to discuss COVID-19 response efforts. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

The commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the organization charged with monitoring nuclear activity around the world, has made it his priority to ensure his workforce is doing all they can to make AFTAC a “hard target” while also flattening the COVID-19 curve.

Since the initial outbreak of the coronavirus in the U.S., Col. Chad Hartman and his leadership team, headquartered at Patrick AFB, Fla., have been taking diligent steps to provide uninterrupted access to critical scientific data used by national decision makers regarding nuclear activity across the globe.

Concurrently, Hartman wants to make sure his team stays connected and up-to-date on virus-related situations as they evolve, and that includes ensuring AFTAC family members are also well informed.

To do that, he’s taken steps to separate his workforce into two groups to protect the health of the Airmen and their families while safeguarding mission readiness.

“The approach is simple,” said Hartman. “We’ve divided into two teams – one Silver, one Blue. When the Blue team is in the building executing the mission, the Silver team remains at their alternate duty location to ensure we’re not ‘crossing streams’ while practicing exquisite social distancing. I need every Airman – civilian and military -- and their immediate family members to remain healthy. Having two teams that don’t cross paths is one effective way to do just that.”

The center has adapted to the distance between its members by employing online methods of communicating, including the use of social media and teleconferences.

Hartman took full advantage of the modern technology at his fingertips and scheduled a Town Hall meeting April 3 with his Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Amy Long, for AFTAC members and their families. More than 500 people logged on to the audio-visual conferencing platform to listen to the colonel and chief communicate updates to the AFTAC team.

“This was an incredible opportunity for us to maintain our social distance, avoid crossing streams, yet still deliver information to the incredible men and women who are getting the job done, whether that job is here in the building executing the mission or at home, taking care of their families’ needs,” Hartman said.

The commander also carved out several minutes for a question-and-answer session.

“We had no less than two dozen questions posed through the chat mechanism from the participants, and it was great to see so much engagement and interest in what folks can do to help get through this unprecedented time,” said Long. “These are tough times for many of our Airmen and their families, so anything we can do to help get them through it is a testament to the fantastic leadership we have in our officers, civilian leaders, senior noncommissioned officers and key spouses. I’m so proud to see everyone come together as a cohesive unit.”

Questions during the Q&A portion of the teleconference revolved around subjects like childcare options, physical fitness training, civilian timecard procedures and when the commander thought AFTAC would return to “ops normal.”

“One of the topics I discussed during the town hall was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which addresses the five basic categories that motivate human behavior,” said Hartman. “Maslow demonstrated that people have both foundational needs like food, water, sleep, safety and shelter, as well as more complex needs like social interaction. As human beings, we all need those things, but the coronavirus has interrupted both foundational security and more complex social interaction needs that we normally take for granted. The key is to realize that the stress and anxiety caused by the coronavirus interruption of these needs is 1) natural, and 2) common to all. I thought it was important to discuss those issues during the town hall so folks know they’re not alone if feeling isolated, and although we are physically distancing to combat the virus, we can and will stay connected.”

Long told the 500+ participants that they needed to treat the COVID-19 response as a marathon rather than a sprint.

“This is our new norm,” she explained. “Adversity doesn’t discriminate, so it’s important for us as leaders to demonstrate the importance of resiliency. It’s natural for people to feel the weight of the circumstances on their shoulders, but it’s equally important for us to stay connected and understand that all of us adapt to adversity in different ways and at different speeds, and that we’ll get through this together as a team.”

Hartman plans to host other town hall conferences periodically, and he encouraged his squadron commanders and superintendents to stay connected with their respective co-workers using the communications methods available to them.

AFTAC inducts 3 into famed Wall of Honor - 3/18/2020

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Three former members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., were inducted into AFTAC's Wall of Honor March 11, 2020 during a ceremony held in their honor. Pictured from left to right: Retired Col. Donald Whitney, retired Chief Master Sgt. John T. Horsch, and retired Chief Master Sgt. Larry D. Silhanek. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

wohFig5 In keeping with its annual tradition, the Air Force Technical Applications Center here inducted three members onto its Wall of Honor March 11, 2020, memorializing their work that propelled the nuclear treaty monitoring center well into the 21st century.

Hosted by Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander, the ceremony was held in the center’s Northrup Auditorium, which is named after a 2014 charter member of the Wall of Honor, Doyle Northrup.

This year’s inductees include retired Col. Donald Whitney, retired Chief Master Sgt. Larry D. Silhanek, and retired Chief Master Sgt. John T. Horsch.

wohFig4 Whitney began his career as an Air Force meteorologist and weather officer before becoming a pilot in the RC-130 in Vietnam. Upon his return to the U.S., he was assigned to the 9th Weather Reconnaissance Wing at McClellan AFB, Calif., which marked his first exposure to the AFTAC mission.

Throughout his career, he was well-immersed into the operational and airborne sides of the center’s global responsibilities, which culminated in his direct involvement with AFTAC’s role in monitoring the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, prohibiting tests that produced yields greater than 150 kilotons.

On one of Whitney’s officer performance reports, his superior officer wrote, “Fostered by his leadership, Don knew the importance of the mission. He is a premier O-6 who excels in a most-demanding job.”

“I worked with the best people in the Air Force,” Whitney said. “The mission was important, but the people were more important. I especially loved my time spent at the center’s headquarters because I was able to see all the pieces of our work around the world come together.”

wohFig2 Silhanek’s 30-year active duty career was spent exclusively as an AFTAC technician in various roles worldwide. Starting out as an electromagnetic pulse technician, he graduated at the top of his class and spent his first assignment in the South Pacific, first in Fiji, then in American Samoa. He was AFTAC’s first logistics manager for the J-technique – AFTAC’s system that collected and analyzed electromagnetic pulses – and had the rare opportunity to be selected as a detachment chief as a master sergeant – a role historically held by senior personnel.

Upon his retirement from the Air Force, for the next 19 years he continued to employ his vast knowledge of seismic and hydro-acoustic systems as a government contractor, greatly enhancing AFTAC’s partnership with the International Monitoring System.

“As I sat and took in the magnitude of the ceremony, I found myself reflecting on my career and all the amazing officers and NCOs of all ranks I was lucky enough to work with,” said Silhanek. “Seeing my name on the wall alongside my ‘elders’ who came before me is an incredibly humbling feeling. Thanks to everyone who made this possible.”

wohFig3 Horsch enlisted in the Air Force in 1958 and was immediately selected to work as a special instrument technician, specializing in seismic analysis. According to his supervisors, he had an uncanny ability to recognize potential trouble areas and act accordingly to provide the most reliable data to his superiors, and he was instrumental in the development and implementation of all processing techniques.

As he achieved success in his work, he also progressed as a leader. He made rank quickly, and was rapidly put in management positions. He was AFTAC’s Inspector General, Logistics Directorate superintendent, chief of an Operations Branch, and ultimately the center’s Senior Enlisted Advisor. One general officer remarked on his performance report, “Chief Horsch is the pacesetter for all other noncommissioned officers in AFTAC—he’s truly one of the Air Force’s finest!

Horsch was overwhelmed by the outpouring of accolades. “I feel so undeserving of this honor,” the retired chief master sergeant said. “I spent my whole career with AFTAC and they are as much a part of me as members of my own family. I want to thank everyone who supported me throughout my time on active duty and beyond. I couldn’t be more pleased.”

Addison Mitchell, AFTAC’s mission software program manager, delivered the ceremony’s invocation and highlighted the contributions of the inductees.

“These men have singularly and collectively played a major role in the advancement of our technologies to detect, locate, identify and report nuclear detonations around the world,” Mitchell said. “We thank them for providing us with breakthroughs that can only be accomplished by personifying the Air Force core values of Integrity First, Service Before Self, and Excellence in All We Do.”

The wall was established in 2015, shortly after AFTAC’s headquarters personnel moved into their new $158 million facility, to recognize individuals who profoundly contributed to AFTAC’s global mission.

“When you think about the rich heritage of this organization, you’re looking into the eyes of the Airmen whose work makes us who we are today,” Hartman said during the ceremony. “The complexity of the work they performed – which was cutting edge at the time – and the new and emerging technologies they oversaw illustrate the innovative culture that is deeply ingrained in AFTAC. We are honored to recognize their immeasurable contributions our global mission.”

Selection to the Wall of Honor is no easy feat; AFTAC’s Heritage Committee meticulously reviews dozens of nomination packages of former scientists, analysts, engineers and technicians, while only three per year are considered for induction. The committee looks for nominees who demonstrated great character and whose actions truly discriminated them from thousands of other center employees, both military and civilian.

“The AFTAC Wall of Honor not only recognizes the tremendous contributions of our former members who played such a vital role in our historic mission, but it gives our more junior personnel an opportunity to see the giants upon whose shoulders we stand today,” said Dr. Mike Young, AFTAC Historian. “In the seven decades of our long range detection mission of monitoring foreign nuclear tests and arms control treaties, many of our Airmen and civilians have pioneered remarkable technologies that have enabled AFTAC to be so successful. This ceremony formally acknowledges their tremendous contributions and leadership.”

DOD Issues Flexible Instructions on Response to Coronavirus - 3/13/2020

DOD has issued instructions to the armed services and department heads on how to respond to the implications of the growing coronavirus outbreak.

The department issued memos responding to the need for operations to continue during the outbreak. The DOD documents build on messages from the Office of Personnel Management issued Saturday.

Signed by Alexis Lasselle Ross, performing the duties of the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, the memo charts a range of options commanders and directors may use in the situation. Local commanders are to craft responses to the threat in local areas.

"The Department of Defense has outlined a specific risk-based framework to guide planning, posture and actions needed to protect DOD personnel and support mission assurance in response to the novel coronavirus disease," the memo says. "DOD component heads and military commanders should follow these risk-based measures, with appropriate consultation and coordination, to protect the health and safety of the workforce."

The measures are flexible, tailored and incremental and should be tied to the level of exposure in the various communities.

On the civilian side, component heads must ensure the continuity of operations. They also must assess the readiness of the workforce for effective telework. Finally, they must communicate good health and hygiene habits to minimize transmission of the virus.

DOD is a worldwide organization and the virus outbreak is in different stages in different parts of the globe. "This outbreak is dynamic and manifests differently by location, setting, population and individual," a second memo on force health protection from personnel and readiness says. "As a result, responses to (coronavirus) will need to be flexible, tailored and incremental."

The memo covers aspects from before the outbreak through all levels of infection. The memos describe when employees can use telework, weather and safety leave, how telework should work, what happens under a quarantine order, care for family members affected, use of alternate work schedules and more.

In the military force health protection area, there are five levels of action:

The first is prior to community transmission and is labeled routine. Commanders should review and update installation plans and work to maximize telework possibilities.

The second is when community transmission begins and is labeled limited. Commanders need to re-emphasize health and hygiene and ensure service members and employees avoid contact with sick people.

The third is labeled moderate and is when there is increased community transmission. This level allows commanders to restrict service members from travel. They should also ensure that personnel protective equipment is available for high-risk personnel.

Sustained community transmission is labeled substantial. This fourth level of action allows commanders to declare public health emergencies and place limits on access to the installations. Commanders should consider what needs to change in regard to the force exercise program. For those overseas, commanders may want to consider authorized and ordered departure actions.

The fifth and final level of action is labeled severe. It is for widespread community transmission. This allows restricting movement, canceling non-mission essential activities, cancellation of exercises, canceling all non-essential leave or travel and instituting a quarantine.

DoD to restructure 50 hospitals, clinics to improve readiness - 2/21/2020

The Department of Defense announced plans to restructure 50 military hospitals and clinics to better support wartime readiness of military personnel and to improve clinical training for medical forces who deploy in support of combat operations around the world.

Military readiness includes making sure MTFs are operated to ensure service members are medically ready to train and deploy," said Tom McCaffery, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. "It also means MTFs are effectively utilized as platforms that enable our military medical personnel to acquire and maintain the clinical skills and experience that prepares them for deployment in support of combat operations around the world.”

The restructuring effort focused on strengthening on the prime responsibility of military medical facilities for training medical personnel and “for keeping combat forces healthy and ready to deploy according to readiness and mission requirements – all while ensuring the MHS provides our beneficiaries with access to quality health care,” McCaffery added.

These plans were described and explained in a report sent to Congress earlier today, titled "Restructuring and Realignment of Military Medical Treatment Facilities." This report was required by law under Section 703(d) of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017, which directed the DoD to analyze its hospital and clinic footprint and submit a plan to Congressional defense committees.

Of the 343 facilities in the United States initially screened for this report, 77 were selected for additional assessment, with 21 identified for no changes.

Of the 50 facilities ultimately designated for restructuring, 37 outpatient clinics now open to all beneficiaries will eventually see primarily only active-duty personnel. Active-duty family members, retirees and their families who currently receive care at those facilities will transition over time to TRICARE's civilian provider network. The report states that seven of these clinics may continue to enroll active duty family members on a space-available basis.

In addition, many active duty-only clinics will continue to provide occupational health services to installation civilian employees related to their employment.

The report acknowledges that transitioning patients from MTFs to the TRICARE network will take time - in some cases several years - and if local TRICARE networks cannot provide access to quality care, DoD will revise implementation plans. "Markets are expected to transition MTF eligibles to the network at different rates and, in certain markets, the transition could take several years," the report states. Detailed implementation plans will be developed through coordination with MTFs, the Defense Health Agency, the Military Departments, and the TRICARE Health Plan.

TRICARE is the health care program for the U.S. armed services. The two most popular plans available to most eligible beneficiaries under 65, TRICARE PrimeA managed care option available in Prime Service Areas in the United States; you have an assigned primary care manager who provides most of your care.TRICARE Prime and TRICARE SelectStarting on January 1, 2018, TRICARE Select replaces TRICARE Standard and Extra. TRICARE Select is a self-managed, preferred provider network plan. TRICARE Select is a fee-for-service option in the United States that allows you to get care from any TRICARE-authorized provider. Enrollment is required to participate. TRICARE Select, include morethan 6.7 million enrolled patients. Other plans are targeted for specific beneficiary groups, such as Reservists and those eligible for Medicare.

During his keynote address at the December 2019 annual meeting of the Society of Federal Health Professionals, known as AMSUS, McCaffery offered a broad overview of intentions for changing the scope of operations at certain MTFs in what is known within the MHS as the Direct CareDirect care refers to military hospitals and clinics, also known as “military treatment facilities” and “MTFs.”Direct Care System.

"In optimizing the operation of the Direct Care system to most effectively support the MHS readiness mission, we need to identify those areas where we could expand capacity at MTFs that offer potential for sustaining the skills and knowledge of our medical force," McCaffery said during his AMSUS speech. "But we also must examine those areas where facilities do not offer now, and likely will not be able to offer in the future -- a platform for maximizing capabilities to support medical readiness. In those situations, we need to be open to right-sizing MTF services and capabilities so as to ensure that we are using finite resources most efficiently... while not compromising our ability to meet mission."

The final report delivered to Congress contains a summary of all the changes, a description of how each change was made, and supporting data.

For a complete list of military hospital and clinic changes listed in the report, go to http://www.health.mil/MTFrestructuring.

DOD Closing Dozens of Military Clinics to Retirees, Families - 2/20/2020

Feb. 19, 2020 | By Brian W. Everstine
The Pentagon is downsizing or closing 50 medical clinics, including 12 on Air Force bases, in a move the department says will “increase the readiness of our operational and medical forces.” But the change will also force families and retirees away from some USAF facilities and into TRICARE civilian providers.

The Fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act called on the Pentagon to analyze its hospital and clinic footprint, and the department screened 343 facilities inside the United States. Of those, 77 were selected for additional assessments and 50 ultimately chosen for “restructuring.”

The majority of those facilities will transition from serving all beneficiaries to only seeing Active-duty military personnel. Family members, retirees, and their families would have to seek care through the TRICARE civilian provider network.

Matt Donovan, the former acting Air Force secretary who is performing the duties of the under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, outlined the changes in a Feb. 19 report to congressional leaders.

The report is a “strategic framework” for the changes, and no detailed implementation plan, timeline, projected costs, or expected savings are available yet. Local networks’ ability to take on additional patients will drive the transition time, and switching people over could take several years.

If TRICARE networks cannot provide access to quality care, “DOD will revise implementation plans,” according to a Military Health System release.

MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.’s Sabal Park Clinic will close once all patients are transferred. The clinic opened in May 2019.

Joint Base Langley-Eustis Air Force Base, Va.’s 633rd Medical Group’s inpatient facility will become an ambulatory surgical center.

The following facilities will switch to Active-duty, occupational health-only clinics:

  • MacDill’s 6th MDG outpatient facility
  • Dyess AFB, Texas’s 7th MDG outpatient facility
  • Robins AFB, Ga.’s 78th MDG outpatient facility
  • Barksdale AFB, La.’s 2nd MDG outpatient facility
  • Dover AFB, Del.’s 436th MDG outpatient facility
  • Goodfellow AFB, Texas’s 17th MDG outpatient facility
  • Hanscom AFB, Mass.’s 66th Medical Squadron outpatient facility
  • Maxwell AFB, Ala.’s 42nd MDG outpatient facility
  • Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J.’s 87th MDG outpatient facility
  • Patrick AFB, Fla.’s 45th MDG outpatient facility

The Pentagon expects about 200,000 beneficiaries to move to provider networks, the majority of which are retirees. They will need to pay out of pocket for health care provided through TRICARE. A family of four filling a dozen prescriptions per year could end up spending from $157 to $720 more per year on prescription medications alone. For medical care, copays and deductibles could add hundreds or thousands more dollars.

By only providing medical services to Active-duty forces, the Pentagon wants to make sure affected facilities can help service members be “medically ready to train and deploy,” said Tom McCaffery, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, in a release. “It also means MTFs are effectively utilized as platforms that enable our military medical personnel to acquire and maintain the clinical skills and experience that prepares them for deployment in support of combat operations around the world.”

AFTAC hosts 5th annual WiSE Symposium - 2/13/2020

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Students from Sabal Elementary School in Melbourne, Fla., participate in a yelling contest with Airman 1st Class Kishona Quinn, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., using a meter that measures sound levels to test exposure to hazardous noises. The demonstrations were part of AFTAC's annual Women in Science and Engineering Symposium Pioneer Day for local school students. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Continuing a five-year tradition, the Air Force Technical Applications Center held its annual Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Symposium Jan. 21-23, 2020 to highlight the value that gender diversity brings to the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math workforce.

The first two days of the event were dedicated to guest speakers, breakout sessions and exhibitor information tables. On day three, various interactive demonstrations were on display for students across Brevard County who traveled to the convention center for Pioneer Day.

Keynote speakers included Dr. Toby Daly-Engle, professor of Ocean Engineering and Marine Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology; Dr. Gioia Mass, NASA project scientist and plant scientist at Kennedy Space Center; Dr. Hope Hubbard, hepatologist and associate professor of medicine at the University of Texas/San Antonio; NaShara Mitchell, success advocate and motivational speaker; and Dr.Sioban Malany, associate professor at the University of Florida and founder of Micro-gRx.

This year’s symposium was aimed at inspiring the next generation of STEM enthusiasts through interactive demonstrations, inspirational speakers and networking opportunities. The theme for the symposium was “Create What You Wish Existed” to encourage young attendees to act on their innovative thoughts.

Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC’s commander, altered the STEM acronym to STEAM to include the Arts – humanities, language, music, design, graphic arts, dance, drama and new media, just to name a few.

“In this day and age, STEAM initiatives give students the opportunity to learn creatively using 21st century concepts, skills and tools,” said Hartman. “By including the Arts, we can dispel the myth that the ‘hard science’ interdisciplines are separate, when truly they’re not. Diversity of thought is vital to strategic problem solving, and that includes the Arts.”

Originally, the symposium was scheduled for September 2018, but due to Hurricane Dorian, it was rescheduled to January 2020.

Daly-Engle’s presentation on sharks and their importance to the marine ecosystem kept the audience entertained and informed. As one of the first and few women in her field, she understands the importance of events like WiSE.

“If you’re the only female in a group of men, there is a lot of pressure to perform at a higher level,” she said. “Throw in the pressures of balancing life’s demands like the desire to have a family and a career at the same time, and it makes it doubly hard for women. But it shouldn’t have to be a conflict – we as women have earned the right to work, stay home or do both!”

Makaia Fernandez, a 12-year-old home schooler, attended all three days of the symposium and seemed to thoroughly enjoy herself.

“I really like science and I thought this would be a great place to learn more about it,” the 7th-grader said. “I really liked the presentation about growing plants in space – that was really interesting!”

Her brother Eli added, “The fossils of megalodon teeth were so cool! I thought I wanted to be a gaming coder when I get older, but now I think I want to be a paleontology coder!”

Since its inception in 2014, the symposium has seen more than 1,100 people attend the event. This year was no exception.

“The team of volunteers who put this event together worked countless hours to make it a success,” said Capt. Brittany Karsten, WiSE senior project officer. “Last September, Hurricane Dorian sidetracked our original program, but we all came together as a cohesive group to reschedule as quickly as possible and expose our local community to phenomenal guest speakers, informative exhibits and exciting STEM demonstrations. We hope everyone who attended had a great experience and left with a better understanding of the significance of diversity in STEM and how it plays an essential role in the future of our nation.”

WiSE was established in 2013 to bring attention to and highlight the value that gender diversity brings to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce. It also focuses on encouraging mentorship and networking opportunities for those interested in pursuing and excelling in STEAM careers.

After extending his thanks to all the guest speakers, exhibitors, volunteers and participants, Hartman said he plans to continue the tradition of hosting WiSE while opening the program’s aperture for years to come.

“When WiSE first began, it was centrally focused on women in the hard science workforce,” he said. “That will always be a central aspect of WiSE, but it is also time to expand and broaden the experience beyond its original focus. So be on the lookout for exciting new changes to the program when we schedule the next symposium.”

VCSAF meets with nuclear scientists, engineers about future operations - 12/10/2019

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. “Seve” Wilson paid a visit to the Air Force Technical Applications Center here Dec. 4 to meet with nuclear scientists and engineers about their role in global nuclear deterrence and nonproliferation.

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Gen. Stephen W. "Seve" Wilson, Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, listens as Col. Chad J. Hartman (foreground), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, briefs the general Dec. 4, 2019 on how the U.S. technical surveillance center of excellence is addressing "wicked problems" that nuclear nonproliferation poses to senior defense officials. Also pictured is Col. Brande H. Walton, Vice Commander for the 45th Space Wing, Patrick AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

“The overarching purpose of the R&D Roadmap Forum is to codify pathways to meet forthcoming challenges of our treaty monitoring and nuclear forensics mission,” said Dr. William Junek, AFTAC senior scientist. “We were fortunate enough to have Dr. Joseph join us this year, and his insight during his presentation was invaluable.”

Joseph, a former commissioned officer in the Air Force, has more than 40 years of experience as a physicist, directed energy researcher, senior program manager, national security advisor, and government executive. In his role as the Air Force’s senior scientist, he advises the Air Force Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force by providing assessments on a wide range of scientific issues. He is responsible for identifying and analyzing technical issues to bring them to the attention of other senior Air Force and governmental leaders

Day one of the forum began with a collection of briefings by numerous experts from various government agencies and defense laboratories, and focused on organizational goals, requirement gaps and current R&D efforts across the enterprise.

The second day featured a series of working group sessions with an emphasis on geophysics, modeling and simulation, atmosphere and space, and materials.

“Each session was designed to give external organizations an opportunity to provide direct feedback regarding the contents of the roadmap and blueprint,” said Tech. Sgt. Walter J. Slocum, project officer for the forum. “The feedback we receive from the participants is cataloged into a database and used to identify products that can be transitioned into operations over the next several years, and to highlight the R&D areas that may require greater advocacy by the nuclear nonproliferation community.”

In an interview after his presentation, Joseph touted the importance of the R&D Forum and how it benefits not just those in attendance, but the Air Force as a whole.

“AFTAC is an interesting organization with a long legacy of being on the front line of research, development and innovation,” said Joseph. “It is made up of vibrant, energetic people who are filled with intellectual curiosity and who play a very important role today’s multi-domain operations.”

Joseph said he’s always impressed with what comes out of the forum each year.

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Dr. Richard J. Joseph (right), Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force, shakes the hand of Dr. John W. McClory, chairman of the Air Force Institute of Technology's Nuclear Engineering Program, after presenting him with the Endowed Term Chair Award during the Air Force Technical Applications Center's annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum Oct. 22, 2019. Looking on is AFTAC's senior scientist, Dr. William Junek. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

Wilson was accompanied by Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration and escorted by Col. Brande H. Walton, Vice Commander of the 45th Space Wing.

The purpose of the visit was to give the visiting Air Force senior leaders an opportunity to discuss future operations and algorithmic warfare – the method by which battles are fought using artificial intelligence and machine learning as a weapon system – with members of the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center and the U.S.’s technical surveillance center of excellence.

During an in-depth classified mission briefing, the generals sat down to hear from AFTAC experts who discussed their advanced modeling capability and how environmental modeling and simulation plays a critical role in how the center provides direct technical, analytical and evaluative scientific data to national decision makers.

The briefers talked how they are taking steps to master the digital environment through what AFTAC calls its “Algorithm Factory.”

“AFTAC is making every effort to modernize and improve our capabilities,” said Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander. “Whether it’s through strategic integration, development ops or cloud architecture, we are setting the pace and leading the way. To accomplish that, we let machines do what machines do best so we can free up our Airmen to do what they do best – innovate, think critically and effectively, and address our nation’s wicked problems.”

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Gen. Stephen W. "Seve" Wilson (left), Air Force Vice Chief of Staff, presents his coin to Master Sgt. Ryan Doss, a mission director for the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., after Doss was recognized as an outstanding performer by his chain of command. Wilson visited the AFTAC Dec. 4, 2019 with Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Lt. Gen. Richard Clark for an in-depth look into how the nuclear treaty monitoring center accomplishes its global mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Wilson was impressed with what he heard and saw from the center’s top scientists.

“AFTAC has some really smart people here who have come up with solutions to some very hard problems,” Wilson said. “You think differently. You’re driven. You develop novel ways to get after the tough challenges we face, and I am really impressed with your innovative spirit. AFTAC is on the cutting edge of all things nuclear and my words of wisdom to you are simple: push it up!”

At the conclusion of the briefing, the general recognized two members of the AFTAC team as outstanding performers and coined each of them for their work: Master Sgt. Ryan Doss and Tech. Sgt. Alissa Garnett.

Wilson also held a “State of the Force” Town Hall meeting for all base personnel and took questions from Airmen. Much of his briefing focused on who senior defense officials believe is the United States’ biggest foe: China.

“We have never faced an adversary like China,” Wilson said. “We must continue to deter and compete against this near-peer adversary, whether that be economically, academically or militarily.”

An Airman asked the general for an update on “The Air Force We Need” initiative, and the vice chief spoke about how the Air Force is executing the initiative. “One of the ways we’re addressing our challenges,” he said, “is how we recruit, retain and encourage our single most important weapon system, our people.”

Wilson continued, “When Congressional leaders ask me what we need as a force, I never hesitate with my response. I tell them we need more people – bright, innovative young minds willing to carry us well into the 21st century. We’ll always need more ‘stuff’ – aircraft, equipment, materiel, etc. – but it’s the people who are our number one priority.”

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Col. Chad J. Hartman (right), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, briefs Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. "Seve" Wilson (left) and Air Force Deputy Chief of Staff for Strategic Deterrence and Nuclear Integration Lt. Gen. Richard Clark (center) on algorithmic warfare operations being conducted at the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. Wilson and Clark visited AFTAC, headquartered at Patrick AFB, Fla., Dec. 4, 2019 for a current mission update. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

As he closed out the Town Hall, Wilson said, “What you’re doing here is incredibly important and I want you to know that your dedication is recognized and appreciated by Secretary (Barbara) Barrett and (Air Force Chief of Staff) General (David) Goldfein. You’re all doing a fantastic job for our Air Force and our nation, so go out there knowing that we’ve got your back.”

AFTAC leads charge on R&D Roadmap for USAF - 11/2/2019

For the past five years, the Air Force Technical Applications Center has hosted its annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum for the scientific community within the U.S. government and beyond. This year was no exception.

From Oct. 22-23, the nuclear treaty monitoring center welcomed nearly 200 experts to the Doyle Northrup Auditorium here to focus on AFTAC’s multi-faceted global mission and linkages to research and development projects that impact the nuclear nonproliferation enterprise.

The keynote speaker for the event was Dr. Richard J. Joseph, Air Force Chief Scientist.

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Dr. Richard J. Joseph, Air Force Chief Scientist, delivers his keynote address to attendees of the 2019 Research and Development Roadmap Forum hosted by the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., Oct. 22. Joseph touted AFTAC's importance to R&D during his remarks: “This center is a shining example of what science and technology means for the Air Force.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

“The overarching purpose of the R&D Roadmap Forum is to codify pathways to meet forthcoming challenges of our treaty monitoring and nuclear forensics mission,” said Dr. William Junek, AFTAC senior scientist. “We were fortunate enough to have Dr. Joseph join us this year, and his insight during his presentation was invaluable.”

Joseph, a former commissioned officer in the Air Force, has more than 40 years of experience as a physicist, directed energy researcher, senior program manager, national security advisor, and government executive. In his role as the Air Force’s senior scientist, he advises the Air Force Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force by providing assessments on a wide range of scientific issues. He is responsible for identifying and analyzing technical issues to bring them to the attention of other senior Air Force and governmental leaders

Day one of the forum began with a collection of briefings by numerous experts from various government agencies and defense laboratories, and focused on organizational goals, requirement gaps and current R&D efforts across the enterprise.

The second day featured a series of working group sessions with an emphasis on geophysics, modeling and simulation, atmosphere and space, and materials.

“Each session was designed to give external organizations an opportunity to provide direct feedback regarding the contents of the roadmap and blueprint,” said Tech. Sgt. Walter J. Slocum, project officer for the forum. “The feedback we receive from the participants is cataloged into a database and used to identify products that can be transitioned into operations over the next several years, and to highlight the R&D areas that may require greater advocacy by the nuclear nonproliferation community.”

In an interview after his presentation, Joseph touted the importance of the R&D Forum and how it benefits not just those in attendance, but the Air Force as a whole.

“AFTAC is an interesting organization with a long legacy of being on the front line of research, development and innovation,” said Joseph. “It is made up of vibrant, energetic people who are filled with intellectual curiosity and who play a very important role today’s multi-domain operations.”

Joseph said he’s always impressed with what comes out of the forum each year.

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Dr. Richard J. Joseph (right), Chief Scientist of the U.S. Air Force, shakes the hand of Dr. John W. McClory, chairman of the Air Force Institute of Technology's Nuclear Engineering Program, after presenting him with the Endowed Term Chair Award during the Air Force Technical Applications Center's annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum Oct. 22, 2019. Looking on is AFTAC's senior scientist, Dr. William Junek. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

“This center is a shining example of what science and technology means for the Air Force,” he said. “You carry a huge operational burden as the sole agency that monitors the fierce weapons that can potentially wipe out civilization. Our competitors – the enemy – force us to consistently re-evaluate our operations, and the R&D Roadmap is one way we accomplish that. The way you know you’re making progress is when you rigorously validate your work. AFTAC does that every day.”

In addition to the briefings and breakout sessions, Joseph and Junek presented three forum attendees with the Air Force Institute of Technology’s Endowed Chair Awards. AFIT’s School of Engineering and Management and AFTAC formed a research and education partnership in 2016 and one of the initiatives within the partnership included the establishment of an “Endowed Term Chair.”

The 2019 recipients were Dr. John W. McClory, chair of AFIT’s Nuclear Engineering Program; Lt. Col. Robert C. Tornay, AFIT Assistant Professor of Atmospheric Science; and Dr. Mark E. Oxley, Professor of Mathematics in AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management.

This year’s forum was the largest to date, seeing almost 30 more representatives in attendance compared to 2018’s event. Slocum believes that’s due, in part, to the ease of registration and extensive word of mouth.

“Our revamped registration process certainly made attending the forum more streamlined than in the past,” he said. “The team worked extremely hard on making it as seamless as possible, and we also fielded dozens of questions and concerns from the attendees, many of which were first-time participants. Everyone was crucial to making the event a success, and I expect we’ll see even higher attendance next year after all the positive feedback we received. That ultimately leads to a better final product.”

Prior to her retirement in May 2019, former Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson unveiled a new and ambitious Science and Technology Strategy designed to better identify, develop and deploy breakthrough technologies to maximize and expand the Air Force’s technological advantage.

Junek thinks the R&D Roadmap Forum helps to advance Wilson’s strategy.

“AFTAC’s R&D corporate process works to align the center’s needs with higher headquarters’ requirements as outlined in the National Defense Strategy and Secretary Wilson’s S&T Strategy,” he said. “The data we up channel helps to arm senior decision makers with the information they need to craft national security policies that affect not just the Department of Defense, but also our allies and international partners.”

The nuclear treaty monitoring center has already begun planning for the 2020 forum.

College Fellows develop nuke detection system to test at RED FLAG ‘19 - 10/30/2019

Five students from various American universities became X-Force fellows over the summer at the Air Force Technical Applications Center through a program sponsored by the National Security Innovation Network.

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Matthew Santalla, a senior at Florida Polytechnic University majoring in Business Analytics and Quantitative Economics, briefs Col. Chad Hartman, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, on a system he and four other university students developed during their X-Force summer fellowship with the nuclear treaty monitoring center at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The program is sponsored by the National Security Innovation Network. Pictured left to right: Santalla; Andrew Bass, a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis; Bryan Urias, a senior at Florida Polytechnic University; and Hartman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

NSIN is a Department of Defense organization whose mission is to build a network of innovators to generate solutions to national security problems. AFTAC is the DoD’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring headquarters and the nation’s technical surveillance center of excellence. Together, the two agencies are dedicated to innovative collaboration.

The X-Force Fellowship Program gives matriculated graduate and undergraduate students an opportunity to work on and solve current and emerging DoD mission needs. Once the students are selected as participants, they are grouped into teams based upon their educational background and then paired with a mission partner that met NSIN’s stringent requirements to become an X-Force host.

AFTAC’s interns included Myles Ross, a senior at North Carolina A&T State University; Matthew Santalla and Bryan Urias, both seniors at Florida Polytechnic University; Gautham Viswaroopan, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder; and Andrew Bass, a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis.

“The fellows were tasked to develop an operational, end-to-end hardware/software test bed for AFTAC,” said James Stroup, AFTAC’s research and development portfolio manager for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning and the project’s technical liaison. “This test bed, called the Open Source Nuclear Detection Systems, or OSNDS, provides our scientists, analysts and engineers with the ability to rapidly test new hardware and software solutions at little-to-no-cost in a real-world environment.”

Working out of a renovated building at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station a few miles north of Patrick AFB, the interns spent several hours a day on their project with the help and oversight of some of AFTAC’s technical experts.

“We needed to provide the fellows with a place they could work unencumbered and where they would be free to develop the right solution,” Stroup explained. “AFTAC’s main headquarters is a secure facility, so housing the students at an unclassified research facility at the Cape was ideal. Without the incredible work of AFTAC member Ed Darmiento and his team getting the facility online, this project would never have gotten off the ground.”

After several weeks of trial, error and success, the fellows were finally ready to field test their platform. But before they could execute that plan, the commander of the nuclear treaty monitoring center traveled from Patrick to the Cape to get a briefing from the students and hear about their progress.

“Wow – this is very impressive!” Hartman stated. “You took your concept and illustrated just how important this is to our joint forces and its applicability to the warfighter. Given AFTAC’s unique mission and the stringent protocols we have to operate under, you really captured how important tracking sensor operability is for us. I am really impressed.”

The young collegians beamed after hearing the high praise from AFTAC’s senior officer.

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Myles Ross, a senior at North Carolina A&T State University, and Gautham Viswaroopan, a graduate student at the University of Colorado, Boulder, crunch some numbers during their fellowship with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. The students were part of the X-Force Fellowship Program, which gives matriculated graduate and undergraduate students the opportunity to work on and solve current and emerging DoD mission needs. The program is sponsored by the National Security Innovation Network. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)



“From his reaction, I think the colonel was pleased with our work!” said Ross. “This was an incredible opportunity and it was great to be able to work with my peers from other universities. I would definitely recommend the X-Force program to others.”

When it came time to actually test their product, the team was invited to participate in a major Air Force exercise at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, and were escorted by 1st Lt. Hayley Weir, deputy branch chief and AFTAC’s internship manager.

Exercise Red Flag-Alaska is a Pacific Air Forces-sponsored exercise designed to provide realistic training in a simulated combat environment, and this year’s event saw more than 1,500 service members and 100 aircraft from more than 12 different units stationed around the world participate in the multinational training event. The exercise is also an opportunity for attendees to test and exchange tactics, techniques and procedures and improve their own interoperability.

As the nation’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, AFTAC uses a network of global sensors to measure seismic activity to detect detonations of varying magnitudes. The center is continuously seeking out methods and ways to fine-tune its seismic detection capabilities, and thought Red Flag would be an ideal location to gather and analyze valuable data.

“Red Flag is a frequent source of ‘noise,’ from live-fire scenarios to munitions detonations,” said Stroup. “Explosions generate seismic waves that can be detected many miles away, so the students positioned their system on the roof of AFTAC’s detachment building at Eielson and were able to collect sufficient detonation data for analysis.”

He added, “Their system performed exceptionally well at streaming data in real time back to the AFTAC headquarters – an incredible feat considering the short amount of time the students had to build a workable product.

Weir agreed with Stroup’s assessment and she didn’t hold back when describing the overall outcome of the students’ project.

“The test was a massive success!” Weir said. “Not only were the students a month and a half ahead of schedule during the planning phase, they also knocked it out of the park at Red Flag when it came time to test the system. These guys are sharp – they did their research, sourced their documents, and applied their knowledge to come up with a viable, low-to-no-cost system in a very short period of time. Whatever path they choose to follow, I’m confident all of them will be enormously successful. I hope their future includes AFTAC!”

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein recently said that victory in combat will depend less on individual capabilities and more on the integrated strengths of a connected network of weapons, sensors and tools. Hartman has taken Goldfein’s words to task and challenged the leaders in his own center to seek out ways to apply the same approach.

“AFTAC places a huge emphasis on attacking what we refer to as ‘wicked problems’ for our national and theater commanders,” said Hartman. “One of the ways we do that is to participate in operational exercises and technical demonstrations like Red Flag to identify future opportunities. It made complete sense to have these incredibly talented students spend their summer semester interning with us to field test their hardware and software solutions. I hope they’ll come back, not just as fellows, but as future AFTAC employees.”

Stroup had nothing but praise for everyone who was involved with the program.

“This was a total ‘team of teams’ effort from the beginning” he said. “As talented as these students are, this project’s success can be equally attributed to the willingness of AFTAC and NSIN to try something new. I’m incredibly proud of the work my co-workers accomplished and how everyone worked together brilliantly to ensure mission success.”

He added, “One of the greatest benefits of hosting the fellows is the raw human talent the students bring to the table. That, and the fact that it comes with no cost to the end user – the students’ costs and monthly stipends are funded entirely by NSIN. Without a doubt, this was a win-win for AFTAC.”

Military Affairs Council tours only radiochemistry lab in USAF - 10/30/2019

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
For the first time since the Air Force Technical Applications Center moved into its new headquarters building in 2014, members of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Council toured the U.S. Air Force Radiochemistry Lab on AFTAC’s campus Oct. 16. The Ciambrone Lab, posthumously named after former AFTAC vice commander Col. Thomas Ciambrone, is the only one of its kind in the U.S. Air Force. The scientists who work in the facility are responsible for identifying radiologic or nuclear debris in support of the U.S. Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis Program.

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Dr. Mark Dibben (right), mass spectrometry flight chief for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., explains to members of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Council how the center uses mass spectrometry as a means to execute its nuclear treaty monitoring mission. The council toured AFTAC's radiochemistry lab Oct. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

The Military Affairs Council is an all-volunteer group of partners from the CBRCC who work together to enhance the quality of life in the local community, with a special emphasis on enlisted members who serve on Florida’s Space Coast.

The MAC held its monthly meeting at AFTAC’s outdoor pavilion and enjoyed pizza provided by MAC member Space Coast Intelligent Solutions. Once MAC chairman Michelle Goldcamp addressed each agenda item and adjourned the council’s business, the attendees were broken up into three groups and escorted into the state-of-the-art facility.

They visited four main operational areas within the lab – sample control, radiochemistry, nuclear measurements and mass spectrometry. In the sample control section, council members were shown how samples are received, screened and prepared for delivery to other areas of the lab. The radiochemistry area offered views of chemical operations and where samples undergo rigorous purification prior to analysis.

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Airman 1st Class Richard Edwards (right), a radiochemistry technician at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., explains to members of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Council how the center uses chemistry as a means to execute its nuclear treaty monitoring mission. The MAC toured AFTAC's radiochemistry lab Oct. 16, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

From there, the group visited the nuclear measurements lab where a wide variety of sophisticated radiation detection equipment is housed. “This area is designed to detect very low levels of alpha, beta and gamma radiation, which is a key function of the lab’s mission,” said Dave Burns, chief of Laboratory Operations.

During the final portion of the tour, the MAC got a rare view of one of the lab’s thermal ionization mass spectrometers – precision instruments designed to measure nuclear fuel materials, one atom at a time.

After the tour Goldcamp was thrilled with the outcome of the meeting and the unique tour of the lab.

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Michelle Goldcamp, chairman of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Council, opens the door of a gamma ray detector during the MAC's visit to the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab at the Air Force Technical Applications Center. The council held its monthly meeting Oct. 16, 2019 at Patrick AFB's nuclear treaty monitoring center, the only one of its kind in the Department of Defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

“It was such an honor and a privilege to be able to tour AFTAC with the MAC,” she said. “For me personally, my inner ‘nerd’ was extremely excited to experience and hear about the science being performed there. Absolutely amazing – thank you for hosting us!”

AFTAC leadership is consistently seeking out ways to engage with members of the local community.

“Hosting the MAC seemed like a perfect opportunity network with our partners in Brevard County and to give us a chance to showcase our first-class radiochemistry lab and the people who operate it every day,” said Col. Ralph Bordner, AFTAC vice commander. “We were pleased to have so many members of the council attend the meeting, and from all accounts, it seems like everyone had a great time. We look forward to doing this again in the future.”

CRF develops innovative solution to seismic array vulnerability - 10/4/2019

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Doug Dale (left), 709th Support Squadron flight chief, and Master Sgt. Joseph King, 709th SPTS Central Repair Facility superintendent, work on a device that converts and combines multi-serial signals into a single data stream for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. Dale and his team developed a solution to dramatically increase AFTAC's Geophysical Field System sparing posture worldwide. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
A team of Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s Central Repair Facility here used innovation to develop a solution to mitigate hardware failures to their seismic arrays around the world.

Under the direction of Doug Dale, 709th Support Squadron flight chief, six subject matter experts of varying technical backgrounds reverse-engineered a communications multiplexer – a device that converts and combines multi-serial signals into a single TCP/IP data stream – to extend the efficacy and life expectancy of AFTAC’s seismometers used to monitor nuclear activity.

AFTAC is the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring organization that provides technical, analytical and evaluative support to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The center’s global network of sensors are positioned underground, underwater, in the atmosphere and in space, making it the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force.

A number of its 3,600 seismic sensors are at unmanned locations overseas, but still require periodic maintenance to ensure the signals from the equipment are effectively and continuously transmitted to AFTAC’s Operation Center at Patrick AFB.

But the maintainers faced a problem. One of the vendors that provided equipment to their geophysical field systems was no longer in business, and replacement parts were scarce – if not impossible – to procure. If they did find a vendor that could provide what they needed, it came at a high cost.

“One of the manufacturer’s software programs is specially encoded to each individual piece of hardware, thus limiting the software’s lifecycle to the hardware’s finite lifespan,” said Master Sgt. Joseph King, CRF superintendent and one of the members on Dale’s team. “Their list price for a multiplexer was $15,000, but the hardware itself was less than $1,000. So we had to figure out a way to decouple the software from the hardware.”

The CRF developed an organic solution to overcome the hardware limitation by reviewing the software’s 40,000 lines of code to remedy the immediate problem of failing compact flash chips. Their ingenuity allowed for full replacement of the entire hardware system, extending the lifecycle of more than 100 assets valued at $1.7 million.

“This effort dramatically increased our sparing posture and will enable us to maintain the geophysical field system for several years,” said Dale. “I’m incredibly proud of all the members of the team who worked hard to bring concept to reality. Their efforts will help ensure our legacy sensor support systems that are past operational life expectancy operate effectively until the next generation of systems are procured and deployed.”

Paul Talwar, 709th SPTS deputy, was equally impressed with the CRF’s resourcefulness and forethought.

“Under Mr. Dale’s direction, the CRF developed a solution that dramatically increases AFTAC’s sparing posture and will enable us to maintain the Geophysical Field System for several years, thus ensuring mission readiness capabilities until we field the next system.”

Members of Dale’s team include: King, Alan M. Yerington, Jimmy Jackson, Steve Dixon, Senior Master Sgt. Troy Main, and Staff Sgt. Josh Van Horne.

Local ’16 valedictorian recruited by AFTAC as nuclear data analyst - 9/25/2019

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Victoria Scira, a nuclear data analyst at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., examines a thermal ionization mass spectrometer in the AFTAC's Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab. Scira was recently hired to work at the nuclear treaty monitoring center after being selected for the Air Force Personnel Center's Science and Engineering Palace Acquire program that offers permanent full-time positions in various career fields to prospective candidates (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Through the Palace Acquire Program, the Air Force Technical Applications Center here recruited a recent University of South Florida undergraduate to work as a nuclear data analyst in the center’s Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory.

Victoria Scira joined the AFTAC team in June 2019 after graduating magna cum laude from USF in May with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. She was valedictorian for the Merritt Island High School Class of 2016, and simultaneously earned her associates degree from Eastern Florida State College during high school through Brevard County’s early enrollment program.

Eager to apply her newly-acquired technical knowledge, she sought out opportunities to get her resume in front of the right people. In October 2018, she attended the Society of Women Engineers Conference sponsored by the Air Force Personnel Center’s Talent Acquisition team. The Minneapolis conference – the largest of its kind in the world – works to connect, interview and recruit women from all walks of engineering life to help further their careers.

It was here where Scira met Rose Day, AFTAC’s civilian recruiting coordinator, who attended the conference to seek out highly motivated young adults interested in employment with the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center.

“I interviewed her onsite at the SWE Conference and after talking to her, I realized she was a super sharp chemical engineer major,” said Day. “As we spoke, I further learned she was from Merritt Island, which is only a few miles north of AFTAC’s headquarters at Patrick AFB. When she told me she was very interested in pursuing a master’s degree, I knew we had a perfect candidate for the Palace Acquire Program.”

Palace Acquire offers permanent full-time positions in various career fields to prospective candidates during a two- to three-year training period. Upon the successful completion of the formal training plan, the candidate is offered a permanent position in a relevant Air Force Specialty Code or job series.

“Candidates must have a degree before being accepted into the program, and some require a minimum grade point average and a willingness to relocate,” Day said. “In Victoria’s case, she well exceeded the GPA requirement and didn’t need to relocate very far!”

Once the interview process was complete and she was accepted as a PAQ intern, Scira was given a tour of AFTAC’s radiochemistry lab, a state-of-the-art facility that identifies radiological or nuclear debris in support of the center’s Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis Program.

“Right now, I’m doing what’s called alpha-beta coder analysis,” she explained. “In simpler terms, I am utilizing a computer program to calculate radiochemistry results, and manually verifying all of the calculations using data analysis software tools. I’m eager to get trained on other lab positions like quality control and mass spectrometry analysis.”

Dr. Bill Johnson, senior scientist, had nothing but praise for the new member of the AFTAC workforce.

“Victoria has gotten up to speed extraordinarily fast in a very technically-challenging position,” said Johnson. “Her position generates information that is used at the highest levels of our government for those senior leaders to make decisions related to potential violations of international nuclear treaties. In the few months she’s been here, she’s done amazing things and is well on her way to becoming a certified data analyst.”

When asked who has been her most influential mentor, Scira quickly responded, “My dad.”

“He has been my biggest cheerleader throughout this entire process,” she said with a smile. “I have always been interested in STEM fields, and when I was a kid, my father was such a role model for me. He is a mechanical engineer and I always thought his job was super interesting. He took notice at an early age and always encouraged me to pursue all sorts of STEM opportunities.”

She added, “He’s been cheering me on every step of the way, and it’s always fun to talk about engineering topics with him.”

Laura Merritt and Robert Lucio, both from the Air Force Personnel Center’s Science and Engineering Career Field Team, manage the PAQ program and were instrumental in Scira’s hiring action.

“We were thrilled to welcome Ms. Scira into the Science and Engineering Palace Acquire program this year,” said Merritt. “The S&E PAQ program targets high-caliber, dynamic individuals with strong leadership potential and a desire to pursue higher career goals. Looking at her exemplary qualifications, Victoria encompasses everything we desire in a future leader in the engineering community. We expect she will continue to excel in our program and we look forward to her ongoing contributions to the PAQ program and the science and engineering career field.”

While unsure if she’ll make civil service a full 20-year career, Scira plans to pursue a master’s degree in a different field of engineering. “I’d definitely recommend the Palace Acquire program to others. It’s a long process, but very worthwhile!”

Experts from AFTAC travel to Georgia for STEMversity - 9/16/2019

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Students attending STEMversity in Milledgeville, Ga., work on a lab experiment with the help of Airman from the Air Force Technical Applications Center. Each year, volunteers from the nuclear treaty monitoring center at Patrick AFB, Fla., provide expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math to the summer campers at Central Georgia Technical College. (U.S. Air Force photo by Stephanie Homitz)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
In an effort to foster the betterment of underserved minority middle and high school students, members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here traveled to Georgia recently to serve as mentors at STEMversity.

Dr. Andrew Giminaro, a nuclear forensics analyst for the nuclear treaty monitoring center, led the team of AFTAC volunteers who provided expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math to the summer campers at Central Georgia Technical College in Milledgeville.

STEMversity is a non-profit seasonal program that provides state-of-the-art, hands-on STEM training to underrepresented youth through instructional laboratory experience. From blood spatter to DNA analysis, toxicology to nuclear forensics, the course covers a broad range of STEM-related themes and applications.

The training facility includes classroom, computer lab, and wet lab stations. Sessions are taught by skilled professionals with academic and field experience from various career areas within the STEM community.

A typical day at STEMversity starts with classroom instruction. Mentors give oral presentations about the experiments the students will be working on, and go over safety procedures, observation reporting and report preparation. A question-and-answer session is then conducted, similar to a college lecture seminar. Once the Q&A is complete, the students are broken up into smaller groups with two to three mentors to oversee the experiments and lab work while the students get to perform their activities.

Joining Giminaro were Staff Sgt. Samuel Carmichael and Stephanie Homitz, both technicians in AFTAC’s radiochemistry lab.

“We provided two days of hands-on instructions to 20 high school students from the surrounding area,” Giminaro said. “They were attentive and asked well-thought-out questions, but seemed a bit reserved at the beginning. It wasn’t until we began the contamination control exercise that we saw them come out of their shells and really start getting into it.”

The Air Force volunteers broke the group up into teams of four and each team was given a few minutes to figure out the best way to move five sponge balls coated in translucent powder from one beaker to another – all while taking precautions to avoid contamination.

“What the students didn’t know was the powder is fluorescent under ultraviolet light,” Homitz said. “After the five teams transferred their spheres, we turned the lights off and flipped on a black light to show them how effective their contamination control methods were. Many of them inadvertently cross-contaminated other surfaces and they were pretty blown away at how careful they thought they were until they saw the results under the black light.”

The AFTAC group also discussed how the treaty monitoring center applies STEM to its mission and what kind of scientific opportunities exists for those pursuing a career with the Air Force. They also explained how forensic science plays a significant role in how they monitor nuclear treaties.

Historically, science and math areas of study that have lacked diversity, but programs like STEMversity are aimed to achieve inclusiveness in these fields.

"There aren't many minorities getting into the STEM fields," said Darrell Davis, executive director and founder of STEMversity. "We're trying to get some of these kids to get interested in science and give them an opportunity through exploration and experience. Since the program started in 2014, what we have seen is if you give young adults an opportunity, they will learn. They will and they can learn."

Giminaro agreed with Davis.

“When I was 12 years old, I pursued the Atomic Energy Merit Badge with the Boy Scouts and almost 20 years later I have a career directly related to something I was exposed to at a young age. I hope that through volunteering, I can expose students to a world they didn’t know existed and maybe ignite a passion in them that may positively affect the course of their lives.”

He added, “It’s always exciting when we get to see kids employ their knowledge and skills in real-life laboratory settings.”

AFTAC’s involvement with STEMversity directly supports current Air Force diversity and inclusion initiatives outlined in the service’s Diversity Strategic Roadmap – an action plan developed by Headquarters Air Force’s Global Diversity Division at the Pentagon to provide guidance to Airmen on how to enhance institutional diversity in the Air Force and track its progress and success.

Despite Dorian, vital nuke mission continues uninterrupted - 9/14/2019

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Master Sgt. Michael Scheetz (right), a heating, ventilation and air conditioning project programmer at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, shows AFTAC commander Col. Chad Hartman how he and the recovery response team brought the nuclear treaty monitoring center's HVAC system back online Sept. 5, 2019, after the organization shut down ahead of Hurricane Dorian at Patrick AFB, Fla. Also pictured is Master Sgt. Chris Gaskill, AFTAC's power production project programmer. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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Rob Atherton (left) and Mike Selig, both members of the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, Patrick AFB, Fla., help bring the Air Force Technical Applications Center back online after the nuclear treaty monitoring center evacuated during Hurricane Dorian Sept. 5, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
With a potential Category 5 hurricane barreling toward their headquarters building, the Air Force Technical Applications Center relocated its vital 24/7 nuclear treaty monitoring mission to an alternate location to ensure uninterrupted operations for national decision makers.

Early forecasts had Hurricane Dorian making landfall over the Labor Day weekend on Florida’s Space Coast, home to Patrick AFB and AFTAC, so senior installation leaders took swift steps to ensure the safety and well-being of its residents, workers, equipment and resources. AFTAC senior leadership meticulously went over checklists and requirements in order to safeguard the center’s ability to provide direct technical, analytical and evaluative support in the event of a global nuclear detonation or test.

“Ours is a critical, ‘round-the-clock’ mission, and that requirement continues even when a storm is heading our way,” said Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander. “As the Department of Defense’s sole agency that operates and maintains a global network of nuclear event detection sensors, we have an indispensable obligation to continuously provide senior authorities with up-to-the-minute data associated with worldwide nuclear activities.”

Because of that fundamental role, Hartman ordered the deployment of an operations continuity team to an alternate facility three days prior to Dorian’s anticipated landfall. The team of subject matter experts seamlessly transitioned AFTAC’s nuclear surveillance mission, despite the threat to their families and their own homes from the storm.

AFTAC’s team of skilled experts executed its Continuity of Operations, known as a COOP, maintained the capability to perform essential functions with no impact or disruption to the mission. The alternate site was equipped with a full complement of network and information technology connectivity in order to accommodate AFTAC’s unique operational needs.

Led by 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group commander Col. Andy Steffen, the AFTAC COOP Team provided persistent, uninterrupted vigilance to monitor treaty compliance and oversight to AFTC’s overall global surveillance mission.

Throughout Dorian’s westward Atlantic track, the treaty monitoring experts worked non-stop, and the center’s senior leaders kept non-essential personnel informed at their respective evacuation locations through social media, email and group texts.

Once the storm passed and the installation allowed mission-essential personnel to conduct a sweep of base facilities, AFTAC recovery teams inspected the center’s facilities to assess any potential storm damage.

AFTAC’s command chief had nothing but praise for the center’s workforce.

“I was beyond impressed of the family ethics the men and women of AFTAC displayed from start to finish,” said Chief Master Sgt. Amy Long. “When the news first broke that Patrick AFB was in the ‘cone of uncertainty’ for landfall of this monster storm, Colonel Hartman and I were out of town, but we saw the team quickly come together in every way to get the job done. It is a testament to the resilience and connectedness of our Airmen and our families."

Members were permitted to return to duty Sept. 9 after response teams reconnected the building’s communications capabilities and the mission was transferred back to the AFTAC Operations Center at Patrick.

Hartman extended his thanks not only to his own AFTAC team, but also to the members of the 45th Space Wing, Patrick AFB’s host organization.

“I can’t say enough about the tremendous partnership we share with Brig. Gen. (Doug) Schiess and his crew here at Patrick,” said Hartman. “AFTAC employs a team of teams philosophy and the 45th Space Wing was an incredible teammate throughout the entire event.”

Hartman and Long weren’t alone in their praise for those who weathered the storm.

“I’m extremely proud of the way Airmen responded to Hurricane Dorian,” said Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command. “You worked extra hours to safeguard your teammates, their facilities, and equipment and responded selflessly to the needs of people who needed help. Well done!”

Two distinguished executives receive Presidential Rank Awards - 7/12/2019

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Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew P. Donovan presents the Presidential Rank Award to Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden, Chief Scientist for the Air Force Technical Applications Center during a ceremony at Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Adrian Cadiz)
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Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew P. Donovan presents the Presidential Rank Award to David C. Merker, Director of Systems Development for the Air Force Technical Applications Center during a ceremony at Pentagon in Washington, D.C., June 14, 2019. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Adrian Cadiz)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Two senior executives from the Air Force Technical Applications Center here were recognized with Presidential Rank Awards at a ceremony June 20 held at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden, AFTAC’s chief scientist, and Mr. David C. Merker, AFTAC’s Director of Systems Development and the U.S. National Data Center, were presented with the award by Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew P. Donovan for their sustained extraordinary service to the Department of Defense and the United States.

The meritorious executive rank award is the second highest recognition a career senior professional can receive and is given to no more than five percent of all senior executives in any given year.

As the principal adviser to the commander on all scientific and technical matters, Sjoden successfully established consequential research and development priorities that enabled a dramatic shift in Defense Department high performance computing capabilities while leading scientific evaluations in nuclear forensics that were reported directly to the White House. Additionally, he cleared significant roadblocks to solve unique technical challenges within the nation’s nuclear detection arsenal and inaugurated the Air Force’s sole radiochemistry laboratory.

Merker was recognized for his keen oversight of the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System and its more than 3,600 sensors located in 22 countries, on every continent, and in space. He transitioned the aging 70-year-old national nuclear monitoring mission area into an agile, proactive, modernized detection and real-time operational capability while delivering critical nuclear treaty monitoring products and services to joint warfighters, senior defense officials and national policymakers.

The selection process is a rigorous one. Once the nominee’s package is written and approved by his or her own organization, it undergoes stringent evaluation by a board of private citizens and ultimately must gain approval from the President of the United States.

“This recognition is profoundly prestigious, and limited to pinnacle leaders who have made extraordinary and long-lasting contributions to the federal government,” said Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander. “Not only does this organization have one recipient it our midst, we have two. And that is an absolute testament to the deep bench of talent and leadership we have here at AFTAC. I am enormously proud of Dr. Sjoden and Mr. Merker for bringing home these admirable and well-earned titles.”

Dominic Pohl, executive director for 25th Air Force (AFTAC’s Numbered Air Force) and rating official for both Sjoden and Merker, echoed Hartman’s praise of the two senior executives.

“Glenn and Dave perform invaluable services on behalf of the American public and our allies, and have consistently demonstrated strength, integrity, and a relentless commitment to public service,” said Pohl. “They are both extraordinary leaders who have together advanced and strengthened the internationally-renowned scientific and technical reputation of the center by developing, fielding and modernizing the technical monitoring and analysis capabilities upon which the Air Force, the nation and our international partners rely on a daily basis.”

Merker redirected the praise to his coworkers.

“It is truly an honor to be nominated and chosen for senior executive presidential recognition,” he said, “but it is really an achievement I share with the men and women of AFTAC whom I’ve had the pleasure of teaming with over the last eight years.”

The Presidential Rank Awards Program was established by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and was later amended to extend eligibility to senior career employees with a sustained record of technical or scientific achievement recognized on a national or international level. Federal law provides winners with a monetary prize – a percentage of their annual salary depending on the award category.

From Uzbekistan to America: One Airman's Tale - 6/27/2019

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Tech. Sgt. Dmitriy Burshteyn, a field test team noncommissioned officer in charge with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, uses a remote firing device to detonate explosives while field testing new infrasound equipment at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Bukhara is a centuries-old, culturally-rich city in the Asian country of Uzbekistan. Located on the historic Silk Road (a network of ancient trade routes that connected the East to the West), it has long been an epicenter of exports, scholarship, language and religion.

For one U.S. Air Force Airman assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center here, it’s the city he lists as his place of birth.

Born in 1988, Tech. Sgt. Dmitriy Burshteyn is the son of a Russian Air Force major who worked as a logistics officer for the Soviet military. Like most military brats, Burshteyn and his family moved frequently. When Dmitriy was four years old, his father received orders to Minsk, Belarus where the Burshteyns lived for a few years before relocating to Tashkent, the capital city in then-Soviet Uzbekistan. After the collapse of the USSR, those remaining in countries without delineated Russian borders were left to integrate into the respective host nation’s military.

Unfortunately for Major Burshteyn, many of those countries wanted to rid themselves of all Soviet influences.

Since Dmitriy’s father was considered a product of the Soviet regime, he was told he’d be working for a lieutenant of Uzbek descent – an insult for a major to work for a junior ranking officer. “It didn’t help that my father was Jewish in a Muslim state,” Dmitriy said, “so my family made the decision to immigrate to the United States and seek asylum.”

It wasn’t an easy process, though.

“I remember making lots of trips to the consulate in Moscow in order to get all the paperwork accomplished,” Dmitriy said. “I think it took an entire year to get everything finalized, and we finally moved to Oakland, Calif. To this day, we still consider Dec. 5, 1997 a family holiday.”

When the Burshteyn clan arrived in the U.S., they lived in a one-bedroom apartment for about a year.

“My grandparents joined us, so there were six of us living in very close quarters,” he explained. “After about a year, my grandfather was able to find an apartment they could afford. My father worked two to three different jobs at a time and went to night school for computer sciences, which ultimately led to him becoming a quality assurance engineer.”

They eventually settled in Walnut Creek, Calif., where Dmitriy graduated from Ygnacio Valley High School. A solid B-student, he played soccer and held down a part-time job from the age of 16.

“I was really more concerned about making money than making straight As,” he said. “I did have recruiters from the Navy, Army and Marines contact me about joining, but the Air Force never called. I took that as a ‘What, they think I’m not good enough or something?’ So I ended up calling the Air Force recruiter myself, scheduled the entrance exam, and got a ship-out date within six months. The rest is history.”

In December 2006, Dmitriy, a naturalized American citizen, left California for Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB, Texas. Unsure of what his future held but confident about what was on the horizon, he embraced the challenges that came with joining the military.

“I made the decision to enlist for a few reasons,” he explained. “I don’t come from money, but my parents busted their humps since coming America to provide for my brother, my sister and me, and I didn’t want to burden them with the high cost of college. I also wanted to keep the tradition of being a military family since my father served, and of course I wanted something larger out of life than just living in a small town.”

The latter reason seemed to resonate most with Dmitriy when he made his first visit home after a few years on active duty.

“My first trip back made me realize I made the right decision to join the Air Force,” he said. “When I came home, all my friends were literally doing the same thing they were doing three or four years earlier. Some attempted to go to college, but ended up dropping out. A few moved away, but most of them were just stuck in the same rut as before – dead-end jobs with no prospects. I, on the other hand, had gotten to travel the world to some amazing and not-so-amazing places and each was an incredible learning experience.”

And travel he has. His assignments have included Italy, Germany, England, California, Texas and Florida, with deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq and Qatar, and a few temporary duty assignments sandwiched in between.

Fluent in Russian, he jokes that his accent has become “Americanized.”

“Once a week I Skype with my parents, and they poke fun at me about my accent,” he said. “Even though Russian is my native language, I don’t get to practice it much, so it’s easy to get rusty when you don’t use it every day.”

He added, “I’m often asked why I didn’t become a linguist when I joined the Air Force, but it just doesn’t appeal to me. All I really wanted to do was vehicle maintenance and that’s what I told my recruiter.”

When Burshteyn was stationed at RAF Lakenheath in the United Kingdom, he crossed paths with someone who would ultimately become an influential mentor.

“If there was a photo I could put in the dictionary to define what a leader is, it would be a picture of Senior Master Sgt. Adam J. Morrison,” Dmitriy said. “This was a guy who was not all caught up in his rank or position. On the contrary, he not only looked out for all of us who worked for him, but he also stuck his neck out for us on many occasions. A lot of people don’t want to ruffle feathers up the chain, but Sergeant Morrison wasn’t afraid to walk the walk. He is one hundred percent who I aspire to emulate as I progress in rank, and to date he’s the only leader who has actually made me want to study for promotion.”

Burshteyn began his Air Force career as a vehicle maintainer, but now works as a field test team noncommissioned officer for AFTAC since his arrival at the nuclear treaty monitoring center in November 2017. He is responsible for operating AFTAC’s mobile laboratories and collecting sensor data that’s used by the center and its multiple interagency partners for research and development purposes.

“I really enjoy being a 9S100,” he said. “The best part of my job, aside from the extensive travel, is I get to learn something new almost daily from people who have been doing this job and mission for many years. Some have been involved in treaty monitoring for longer than I have been alive, so I consider it a privilege to sit down with them and just listen to them talk about their experiences. It’s really an incredible wealth of knowledge here.”

Burshteyn hopes for orders to one of AFTAC’s detachments someday.

“My ideal assignment would be at one of our overseas dets,” he said. “I love working in small, tight-knit groups and since most of our detachments are ‘hands-on’ jobs with very few people assigned, it would be just the type of atmosphere I enjoy.”

When he’s not focused on his day job, the noncommissioned officer enjoys spending time with his wife Casandra, and their two children, Travis and Adrienne. “I got married when I was just 19 years old, so it’s not impossible for people to stay married when they get married young. It just takes loads of work and open communication. I still consider myself lucky to come home to my beautiful wife and amazing kids every day.”

Asked if he’s visited his birthplace since emigrating, he said, “I’ve not been back to Uzbekistan, and while part of me wants to go to see it from an ‘adult perspective,’ especially the old Bukhara, I really have no reason to go there because I honestly feel I’d be disappointed. But never say never – maybe someday my Air Force travels will take me there!”

Dr Glenn Sjoden, AFTAC Chief Scientist, Is Leaving

Sjoden.png To the Men,Women and Former Members of AFTAC:

It has truly been an honor to serve these past 5 years as your Chief Scientist. When I arrived in 2014, I had a rather large agenda to accomplish in establishing and improving our technical capabilities at the Center. This included redefining the corporate/R&D process within AFTAC, enabling the "Roadmap-Blueprint" documents to clearly define our evolving goals and objectives for novel technical integration, solidifying added confidence in our capabilities for our Washington D.C. customer base, strengthening our position in NTNF for DOD up through the NSC, opening up new pathways for funding across the multi-agency, pushing the limits for new High Performance Computing (HPC) and HPC applications through DOD investment, and shoring up numerous architectures and infrastructure for present/future expanded capabilities, including HPC reach-back at our new COOP, the FIT CRADA, our AFIT Endowed Term Chairs, and numerous other milestones.

Moreover, all of this has occurred while the Center has been challenged across every mission area, with often extreme situations pressing us from the world stage. Added to that, we reorganized last year, and grappled with aircraft modernization, an evolving sensor landscape, the dynamic digital environment, and numerous other challenges. As your Chief Scientist, I have tried to lay a solid framework in all mission aspects-it was always challenging. I never, until holding this post, had to span so many technical issues continuously under so demanding a daily operational tempo. In addition to the divine grace of God helping me on a daily basis, it is only because of my immediate staff I was able to be as effective as possible over these past 5 years. This includes my secretary, Ms. Carol Snyder, and my direct report deputies, Dr. Bill Junek, and from Washington D.C., Dr. Kevin Muhs-you folks are true professionals, and always represented me superbly! I also wish to thank Mr. Pohl, my direct report supervisor, who always gave me highly valuable guidance and strong advocacy when I needed it-no one could ask for better. I also appreciate the strong support from all of my AFTAC Commanders and Vice Commanders.

Therefore, having fundamentally achieved what I set out to do as your AFTAC Chief Scientist, and given I'm getting "longer in the tooth", the time is right for me to return to an academic post in a senior Endowed Chair Professorship position to grow the nuclear engineering program at the University of Utah. In doing so, I'll be able to explore more "hands on" research, my passion for teaching nuclear reactor physics, and TRIGA reactor operations opportunities. My wife Patti is also extremely excited to be going to a mountain climate in Salt Lake City, and much closer to our grandchildren. As a result, my last duty day at AFTAC will be established soon in June 2019, and terminal leave thereafter. In the interim after my departure, until a new Chief Scientist takes the helm, my deputies, Dr. Bill Junek and Dr. Kevin Muhs, will serve as the technical bedrock under the AFTAC Office of the Chief Scientist. I have absolute trust and confidence in their sage judgment, and I believe our science is truly in good hands to support the Commander, Vice Commander, our senior leadership, and the very important mission we steward.

I can truly say I've given this job my very best effort, and I hope you deem it worthy of what you'd expect from your Chief Scientist. I thank you for the opportunity to work with each of you-I admire your professionalism, dedication, and your patriotism to carry out this very important mission for our national security. I know numerous challenges continue; many tasks ahead will be hard. You will be tested. I am sure you will be successful; in the words of Sir Winston Churchill, ".success is never final, and failure is never fatal; it's the courage to carry on that counts...". Thank you for all that you do for our country. I am humbled to have served in this capacity, and I truly wish each of you well.

Very Respectfully

Glenn Sjoden

A1C with PhD now a 2Lt - 6/6/2019

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Florida Today reporter Rick Neale (right) interviews then-Airman 1st Class Cynthia A. Schroll, a radiochemistry technician with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. Schroll was recently commissioned as a second lieutenant through the Air Force Officer Training School program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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2nd Lt. Cynthia A. Schroll (left) shakes hands with her Officer Training School instructor, 1st Lt. Claire M. Krokker, after Schroll's commissioning ceremony May 30, 2019, as members of her flight look on. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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1st Lt. Ashley M. Dalessandro (left) administers the commissioning oath to Officer Trainee Cynthia A. Schroll during a ceremony at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala. Schroll, a former E-3 with a doctorate in analytical chemistry, joined the officer ranks after completing Air Force Officer Training School May 31, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, command chief for the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., shakes hands with newly-commissioned 2nd Lt. Cynthia A. Schroll, immediately after Schroll presented the chief with a silver dollar after rendering the traditional first salute at Officer Training School May 30, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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2nd Lt. Cynthia A. Schroll (center) stands at attention as her father Stephen (left) and brother Brandon (right) pin on her second lieutenant bars after she took the oath of commissioning at Officer Training School May 30, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
In December 2018, the Air Force published a story about an airman first class with a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry. The article went somewhat viral within Air Force circles, with many social media users questioning why someone with a doctoral degree would choose to enlist rather than earn a commission.

The simplest answer to those viral questions can be summed up in one word: timing.

Coupled with timing, the Doctor-Airman also found herself in the proverbial “right place at the right time” with one particular mentor who helped propel and facilitate her acceptance to Air Force Officer Training School.

Airman 1st Class Cynthia A. Schroll traded in her stripes for gold bars May 30 after completing the required eight-week training program at Maxwell AFB, Ala. On hand to pin on her bars were her father Stephen, her brother Brandon, and Brandon’s girlfriend Traci.

But first, let’s rewind a bit in order to better understand the path on which she traveled to get to where she is today.

Prior to enlisting, Schroll earned her doctorate and worked as a contract research assistant at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She also taught chemistry at the University of Cincinnati—both jobs she thoroughly enjoyed. Yet despite her success in the civilian world, the analytical chemist wanted more in life – she wanted to serve.

So in 2017, the Ohio native left for Air Force Basic Military Training at Lackland AFB, Texas, and was selected to undergo special instruments training, or SPINSTRA, at Goodfellow AFB, Texas. Airmen selected for this technical training must meet stringent criteria on multiple portions of the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Battery and spend 85+ training days learning electronic principles, applied sciences, computer and network phenomenologies, mathematics, and the fundamentals of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. It is a rigorous course that develops Airmen to become in-demand scientific applications specialists.

Upon graduation from tech school, Schroll was assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center at Patrick AFB, Fla., to work as a radiochemistry technician. She immersed herself into her new role as a junior Airman in the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab and took pride in the job she was performing for AFTAC’s senior scientists and national decision-makers.

When some of her co-workers asked her why she didn’t pursue becoming an officer, she said it all came down to timing.

“My recruiter told me it could take up to two years to be accepted to OTS, and there was no guarantee that I would even be accepted,” Schroll explained. “I knew I wanted to be in the Air Force, so the best way for me to do that was to enlist.”

She performed well at her job, and quickly became a “go-to” technician in the lab. She also caught the eye of AFTAC’s command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph.

“When A1C Schroll was at tech school, I had heard about her academic background and her impressive credentials (she has written two books and has a patent to her name) and I knew she’d be a great fit for AFTAC,” said Joseph. “I paid her a visit at Goodfellow AFB and asked her to join our team. Once aboard, the commander and I wanted to see what we could do to facilitate her acceptance to Officer Training School, so I got to work.”

One of the hurdles Joseph faced was the long-standing established processes for commissioning enlisted members, and Schroll did not fit into one of the categories that could quickly access her as an officer.

According to Joseph, leaders from 25th Air Force and up the chain realized this was the right thing to do and began making inquiries on how to make it happen.

“In the end,” said Joseph, “it came down to numerous phone calls and email messages between (Air Force Personnel Center) Command Chief Ken Lindsey and his team and the leadership here at AFTAC who collectively worked out the details to bring ‘concept to reality.’ It was a huge team effort, but well worth it.”

Schroll departed for Maxwell AFB on April 1 and was assigned to the 24th Training Squadron, Class 19-06. Referred to as the Phantom Squadron, Schroll and her 15 flight mates fell under the instruction of 1st Lt. Claire M. Krokker for the duration of the two-month course.

“When OT (officer trainee) Schroll arrived on day one, I had no idea about her educational background,” said Krokker. “It wasn’t until about a week into training that I learned she had a Ph.D., and had been a university professor. Even so, I treated her like any other OT and held her to the same standards as everyone else.”

Throughout her training, Schroll found herself comparing enlisted basic training to the OTS program.

“I didn’t realize how mentally unprepared I was until I got here,” she said. “I came in thinking that being a recent BMT graduate would be an advantage. But the two programs have completely different philosophies – BMT is all about indoctrination and disciplined followership; OTS is all about risk management and stepping up as a leader. The only real similarity between the two courses is you march everywhere for pretty much everything!”

Differences aside, OT Schroll labored through the intensive training atmosphere that included demanding academics, exhaustive physical fitness requirements, detailed leadership exercises, and precision drill sessions.

She served as her flight’s Defense Support to Civil Authorities officer and performed flight leader duties for a week. She also learned not to despise running.

“This was one of those areas where mentally I always held myself back by thinking that I would never be a great runner,” Schroll said. “I managed to prove myself very wrong by beating my personal best run by almost a full minute, and I plan to keep up with my running routine when I get home because now I know I’m capable of more.”

As graduation loomed in the near distance, she kept a goal she set for herself at the forefront of her mind.

“My motto for coming into this program was to strive to thrive and not simply survive,” she explained. “To me that meant making the most of all my personal interactions. I may be considered ‘prior service’ on paper, but I’m a very junior prior service member in the grand scheme of things. There were people in my class with 10-plus years of military experience, and I learned so much from them.”

One person who had a significant impact on the junior Air Force scientist was 1st Lt. Ashley M. Dalessandro, a former technical sergeant with 12 years of enlisted service before she earned her commission through the Interservice Physician Assistant Program.

“From the first time I heard her speak, I knew I wanted to be friends with her,” Schroll said. “She always sounded so confident, intelligent and of good heart. She was dubbed the flight’s ‘Silent Assassin’ because she didn’t necessarily comment on every topic, but when she did, she was thoughtful and insightful. She’s been my wingman throughout this whole experience. There are some people you hope you remain friends with in life. Ashley is that friend to me.”

Dalessandro was instrumental to her so much so that Schroll asked the newly-minted first lieutenant to administer the oath of office to her on commissioning day. Humbly, Dalessandro agreed, saying, “it was an honor to be a part of such a momentous occasion.”

When the day finally arrived to be sworn in as a second lieutenant, Schroll’s family traveled from Dayton to witness the monumental event. It was a day fraught with high emotions, especially for Schroll’s father.

“I can’t even put into words how proud I am of Cynthia,” said Stephen, choking back tears. “I wish her mother could have been here to witness it. Since she passed in 2014, I’ve worn her wedding ring around my neck as a reminder of our bond, and I know she’s with us here in spirit. Cynthia is just like her mom. She embodies everything her mother was – smart, happy, successful. I tried not to break down during the ceremony, but I just couldn’t hold back any longer. I’m just so overjoyed!”

After taking the oath of office, officer trainees follow a tradition steeped in history. It is believed that as early as America’s colonial days of the 1800s, new officers were assigned an enlisted advisor who showed the young officers the ropes, taught them regimental rules and regulations as well as the ins and outs of military life. Since a lieutenant’s monthly ration was far greater than an enlisted member’s, oftentimes the officer would give a silver dollar to his junior advisor. Thus began the tradition that continues to this day.

Without hesitation, Schroll knew exactly who to select to receive her first salute and the coveted silver dollar: Chief Joseph.

“My plan was to wait until late 2019 to submit an OTS package for consideration and go through the same board process other prior enlisted members do,” she stated. “That said, I am extremely fortunate to have people well above me in the chain of command like Chief Joseph looking out for my best interests and willing to go extra lengths to bring my story to the attention of those in positions of influence. I will forever be indebted to him, and it was my honor to present my silver dollar to him.”

Joseph said the honor was all his.

“During my almost 30 year career, I have been fortunate enough to receive a few ‘first salutes’ from young officers I have helped in some way earn their commission,” the senior enlisted leader said. “Each one has been a humbling experience and I was honored to do my small part in helping them fulfill their dream. I have no doubt Lieutenant Schroll is going to reach great heights as an Air Force leader. She’s definitely got what it takes.”

Schroll has set short-, mid- and long-term career goals for herself. For some, they might be considered lofty and barely achievable; but for this young lieutenant, her sights are set high.

“I’m returning to AFTAC and I’m really looking forward to getting back to the lab in a different role. I know it’s going to be a different, and perhaps awkward, dynamic to go from an E-3 to an O-1 at the same organization, but from a short-term perspective, it’s a unique opportunity to excel.”

She continued, “Mid-term, I’d love to become an OTS instructor and future squadron commander. What could be more rewarding than helping shape future officers and leading our enlisted force?”

As for her long-term goal, she has her eyes on being part of Air Force history.

“I would love to be in uniform for another 28 years so I can be serving during the Air Force’s 100th birthday in 2047,” she said. “That will require a one-year age waiver since I’ll be 63 years old, so I better be a rock star between now and then so they’ll approve it!

The day following the commissioning ceremony, Total Force Officer Training Class 19-06 formed at Maxwell’s Welch Field for the Graduation Parade, a pomp-and-circumstance event complete with marching formations, ceremonial music, the oath of office, and the always-exhilarating fly-by. Schroll’s class witnessed an Air Force C-130 Hercules zoom over their heads, which was immediately followed by the traditional hat toss.

After the ceremony, Schroll reflected on her monumental achievement in a way those who know her best have grown accustomed.

“Dream big, take small steps and relish every moment. Set your sights far beyond what you think is possible, and plan out the little things you will need to get there,” she said.

Hearing her daughter’s sage words, her father injected, “Cynthia’s going to change the world. She’s going to leave it better than she found it. I know that’s what her mother would say.”

Cannon Shot Nuclear Test - 5/27/2019

This article thanks to George Cronin and John Horsch

NukeCanon.jpg Upshot–Knothole Grable was a nuclear weapons test conducted by the United States as part of Operation Upshot–Knothole. Detonation of the associated nuclear weapon occurred 19 seconds after its deployment at 8:30am PDT (1530 UTC) on May 25, 1953, in Area 5 of the Nevada Test Site. The codename Grable was chosen because the letter Grable is phonetic for G, as in "gun", since the warhead was a gun-type fission weapon. As a shell, or artillery-fired atomic projectile(AFAP), the device was the first of its kind. The test remains the only nuclear artillery shell ever actually fired in the U.S. nuclear weapons test program.

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Secret lab at Patrick Air Force Base - 4/23/2019

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Could this C-130J Super Hercules help detect nuclear particles? It's more likely than you think. (Staff Sgt. Dana J. Cable/U.S. Air Force)
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The interior of a C-130J, as seen during a 2015 test at Hurlburt Field. The door was outfitted with special sensing equipment that allows it to monitor nuclear particles, which was operated by a WC-135 crew. (Quinton McGuire)
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A photo taken of a C-130 equipped with a modular kit that allows it to detect nuclear particles. This version of the equipment was tested in 2015 at Hurlburt Field in Florida, said Quinton McGuire, a former U.S. Air Force loadmaster. (Quinton McGuire)

By Valerie Insinna
WASHINGTON — When the Air Force dispatches aircraft to the Asia-Pacific to monitor the atmosphere for signs of nuclear activity from North Korea, it relies on its WC-135 Constant Phoenix nuke-sniffing planes. But with only two of those in the service’s inventory, it’s possible the WC-135s might not be able to respond to every contingency.

Enter the ever-versatile C-130 Hercules, which now can be equipped with a modular kit that allows it to detect nuclear particles in the atmosphere.

The Air Force spent $10.1 million in fiscal year 2016 for two “Harvester Particulate Airborne Collection System” kits that can be strapped onto C-130H/Js and collect microscopic nuclear solids in the event that the service can’t make its WC-135 aircraft available, said Susan Romano, a spokeswoman for the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC), which is responsible for conducting nuclear surveillance for the Defense Department.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Dave Goldfein has said that the current WC-135 planes are too old and too few in number to meet all of the Defense Department’s demands.

“Our mission capable rates, and more importantly our aircraft availability rates to go do this mission, are much lower than not only the secretary of defense but the combatant commander’s requirements for that mission,” he told Congress in April.

While the Harvester kits won’t give the C-130 the full capability of the Constant Phoenix, it gives the U.S. Air Force a needed boost in capacity at a time when its more focused than ever on the nuclear activities of Russia, North Korea, China and Iran.

Defense News first learned about these specially-outfitted Hercules thanks to a series of tweets by Quinton McGuire, a former C-130 loadmaster who participated in 2015 tests of the Harvester system aboard a Super Hercules flying out of Hurlburt Field, Florida.

McGuire’s photos show a C-130J with the rear paratrooper doors outfitted with a podded sensor hanging from the exterior of the door.

During the demonstration, a WC-135 crew operated the sensor pod and conducted onboard analysis, McGuire said in a series of tweets. Also present during the flight were representatives from Sandia National Laboratory, one of the nation’s largest research labs for nuclear weaponry, which developed the Harvester pods.

The Harvester kit was also tested on Customs and Border Protection MQ-9 Reaper drones before technical demonstrations wrapped up in 2015, Romano said. Since then, the Air Force decided to procure two kits, which are currently going through the acceptance process and will fully operational and mission-ready in fiscal year 2019.

Each Harvester suite includes two sampling pods that collect radioactive particles and a gamma radiation sensor that helps guide the aircraft to a radioactive plume, according to a Sandia news release on a 2013 test aboard an MQ-9.

It also includes radiation protection gear and other equipment needed to sample and analyze nuclear particles in air and on the ground, Romano said.

During a mission, Air Mobility Command would provide C-130s and the pilots and crew needed to operate the aircraft itself, while the 21st Surveillance Squadron would provide the personnel needed to use the Harvester equipment and do the nuclear forensics onboard.

The C-130 would first use the gamma radiation sensor to find a hot spot of nuclear activity, and then flying through the plume, passing air rapidly through the sampling pod. That action rams microscopic nuclear particles into the filter paper in the pods much the way that a vaccum uses a filter to collect dirt.

“A separate radiation sensor analyzes the filter in real time to estimate the type and quantity of radioactive particles collected,” said a Sandia news release that explained the Harvester capability. “More extensive examination of the filters occurs after the aircraft has landed.”

So if nuclear particles can be detected by a C-130, why does the Air Force still need the WC-135?

A “rapid, medium altitude, manned, refuel-capable aircraft” is currently required to do the nuclear treaty monitoring mission, said Romano, and the C-130 doesn’t fit the bill.

For one, it can’t refuel other aircraft. But even more importantly, the modular Harvester kits only give the C-130 the ability to collect particles, while the WC-135 has a collection system for nuclear gases, as well as other equipment like internal filtration that allows the crews to conduct longer missions, Romano said.

Additionally, the C-130 flies slow and low. While the C-130J may be able to hit a higher top speed than a WC-135, its 28,000-foot ceiling is significantly lower than the WC-135’s 40,000-foot maximum altitude, according to Air Force fact sheets. Meanwhile, the WC-135 outperforms the C-130H variant in both areas.

Although the nuclear treaty monitoring mission isn’t often discussed by the Air Force due for classification reasons, it’s clear that the service is putting more money into ensuring that it can rapidly respond when an adversary tests nuclear weapons.

In September 2019, L3 Technologies will begin transforming three KC-135R tankers into WC-135s. Those three new Constant Phoenix planes will allow the Air Force to retire its current two WC-135s — and increase the number of nuke sniffers by one aircraft.

The Air Force is requesting $208 million in FY19 for the Constant Phoenix upgrade effort, with an additional $8 million planned in FY20.

Using dynamite and TNT to enhance nuclear mission - 4/17/2019

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Evan Weier, an explosive ordnance disposal technician with the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron's EOD flight, gives a safety briefing to members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center prior to detonating explosives at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, March 13, 2019. Weier and his EOD co-workers assisted members of AFTAC's Systems Development Directorate with testing a prototype geodesic dome to help the nuclear treaty monitoring center capture hydroacoustic data. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Derrick C. Johnson, a field test technician assigned to the Systems Development Directorate at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, lifts the fabric from a small geodesic dome he developed to collect hydroacoustic data. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

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By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Ten sticks of medium-grade dynamite, 60 pounds of C4, two-and-a-half pounds of Semtex and six canisters of TNT made for an explosive day for members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here March 13.

With the assistance and expertise of explosive ordnance disposal Airmen from the 45th Civil Engineer Squadron, AFTAC’s Systems Development Directorate personnel tested a new system to determine if their creative ingenuity could be operationally deployed in the field.

AFTAC, the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, is responsible for operating and maintaining a global network of sensors to detect nuclear explosions around the world. One of the ways it executes that mission is through the use of infrasound equipment.

Staff Sgt. Derrick C. Johnson, a field test technician, wanted to simplify the way AFTAC collects infrasound data, so he set out to field test a concept he drafted based on his knowledge in the field.

“After attending an infrasound course at ENSCO, I learned about the dome idea from the course instructor, Dr. Roger Waxler,” said Johnson. “He mentioned during the course that the company used papasan chairs covered in a patented material called Sunbrella. It’s a high-performance fabric that’s commonly used in outdoor furniture, awnings and marine upholstery.”

Johnson built a small geodesic dome using a 3-D printer with the help of Staff Sgt. Josh Van Horne, an AFTAC Innovations Systems technician. The duo printed hexagons and pentagons and using wood dowels, they glued all the pieces together.

“The fabric cover was made up of six equal sized panels, but I had to come up with a way to mesh them all together,” Johnson continued. “My mom has sewn things together for as long as I can remember, so asked her if I could borrow her sewing machine. Stunned and amused all at once, she brought her machine to my house and sewed the first dome cover together to show me how it’s done. When it was my turn, I managed to break about five needles, but I got that second one put together!”

Once the covers were completed, Johnson was ready to test his invention. But in order to do so, he needed a way to measure sound waves that would register on the equipment. That’s when happenstance entered into play.

“I was attending Airman Leadership School here at Patrick AFB, and Staff Sgt. Evan Weier was one of my classmates,” Johnson said. “Through our conversations, I learned he was an EOD technician, so I told him about the project I was working on, and how we had been using recent rocket launches to test the equipment. Then we came up with the idea of using explosives at the EOD range at the Cape to measure the sound waves emanating from the detonations.”

Weier thought it would be a great win-win situation for both organizations.

“We are required to stay proficient and train around explosives to remain current in our career fields,” Weier said. “One of the ways we do that is through monthly live detonations at our range. So when Derrick told me about his project, I figured we could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, and help each other out with our respective missions.”

The team from AFTAC and the team from EOD met at the Cape on a brilliant, cloudless day for a series of detonations using different weights of explosives in order for the infrasound equipment to capture varying degrees of sound waves given off by the blasts.

“From a data analysis perspective, the test was valuable as it provided information that will be beneficial to AFTAC mission planning,” said Maj. Jason Heller, special projects division chief. “We have already discussed some of the implications from the test, and we’re planning a follow-on test to corroborate the data.”

AFTAC has consistently been on the cutting edge of innovation and non-traditional problem solving, and leadership within the center encourages the workforce to think out of the proverbial box.

“This is a textbook example of innovation at its finest,” said Col. Richard Mendez, deputy director of the Systems Development Directorate at the treaty monitoring center. “Sergeant Johnson and his crew created a rapid prototype for $500, which reduces the current kit size by 80 percent and mimics the performance of the current system that traditionally costs upwards of $5,000. I’d say that’s a win for the Air Force.”

Divisional wins lead to state competition for AFTAC mentors - 4/17/2019

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Graphic of Odyssey of the Mind, an international problem-solving program involving students from Kindergarten to the collegiate level, including a military division, where mentors help students work together on long-term projects to solve a problem and present their solution(s) to judges at competitions. (Graphic courtesy of Odyssey of the Mind)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The teams of two Air Force Technical Applications Center mentors will compete in the Odyssey of the Mind state competition April 6 at the University of Central Florida campus in Orlando.

Capt. Tyrel Kvasager and Tech. Sgt. Donald E. Freeman, both members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center here, are volunteer team coaches for two Odyssey of the Mind groups in Brevard County, Fla., and the Airmen mentored teams that took first and second place in the regional competition in March.

OotM is an international problem-solving program involving students from Kindergarten to the collegiate level, including a military division. The mentors help students work together on long-term projects to solve a problem and present their solution(s) to judges at the competitions.

There are five categories of problems participants can solve: technical, classical, structural, vehicular or performance-based. Teams are allowed up to seven total members, but only five can compete in the spontaneous category at the tournament level.

“Each problem must have STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) elements, and acting is prevalent in all solutions,” said Freeman. “For our problem, the group had to build a structure out of balsa wood that would be tested by stacking weights on it until it crushed. The kids had to select all the necessary materials on their own, design the sets and props, write the script and act it out. My role as their coach was to only provide safety guidance. It was incredible to see their creativity and teamwork.”

Kvasager taught a STEAM class and helped coach his wife’s team. Taylor Kvasager homeschooled the students ranging in age from six to 10, and their group placed second at the regional competition for the second year in a row.

“The regional competitions last an entire day and the teams present their long-term problem with solutions,” the captain said. “OotM relies on volunteers to judge and support the competitors as well as coach and mentor all the teams. The program provides children with STEAM-related problem-solving opportunities in a unique, child-led setting.”

Regionals were held at Viera High School in Melbourne, Fla., and included all competitors from the Space Coast.

“I think there were 10 teams in our division and we competed against each other,” Freeman explained. “We presented our problem to the audience and performed the ‘Spontaneous’ portion of the program – the part that tests the kids’ ability to solve a problem they’re unprepared for. They can be given and verbal, hands-on or mixed problem, and they have a set amount of time to solve it. Judging from the scores, my team was on top of their game!”

According to the OotM website, the program is not limited to just competitions and problem-solving efforts. It is about friendship and family, and competitors are encouraged to meet new people and learn from others’ ideas.

“The students in my group ranged from 3rd to 5th grade,” said Freeman. “I love expanding the ideas of children and watching the cogs of innovation spinning in their eyes. It is also fulfilling to give back to the community and the school that have done so much for my own kids. It’s very rewarding.”

In the United States, each participating state has its own association, which are broken down into regions. Teams first compete at the regional level, then onto the state level. The U.S. does not have a national level, so state-winning teams go directly to the World Finals, which are held every year in the U.S. in May.

Nuclear air sampling aircraft on display at Patrick AFB - 3/14/2019

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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Theodore "TJ" Bencoter, a special equipment operator with the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Detachment 1 at Offutt AFB, Neb., reviews technical collection information aboard the WC-135 Constant Phoenix. The aircraft was on display at Patrick AFB, Fla., for members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center and base personnel to tour. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Theodore "TJ" Bencoter, a special equipment operator with the Air Force Technical Application Center's Detachment 1 at Offutt AFB, Neb., explains to visitors how the aircraft collects air samples when flying in an area where nuclear debris may be present. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Victor Williams (front) repositions a whole air sphere aboard the WC-135 Constant Phoenix as Master Sgt. Jose Gallegos observes. The Airmen, both special equipment operators, are members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Detachment 1 based at Offutt AFB, Neb., and were at Patrick AFB, Fla., to offer tours of the nuclear treaty monitoring aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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The WC-135 Constant Phoenix on display at Patrick AFB, Fla. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. David Suberlak, a special equipment operator with the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Detachment 1 at Offutt AFB, Neb., examines the inner workings of a U1B foil, the device that cycles filter paper within the foil as the aircraft flies through an area where radioactive debris may be present. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The aircraft that performs atmospheric sampling for the Air Force Technical Applications Center was on display for invited guests to get a glimpse into how AFTAC personnel perform their nuclear treaty monitoring mission.

Based out of Offutt AFB, Neb., the WC-135 Constant Phoenix routinely conducts air sampling missions over the Pacific Ocean, Bay of Bengal, Mediterranean, Polar Regions, Indian Ocean, and off the coasts of South America and Africa in support of the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963.

The LTBT prohibits nuclear weapons tests or explosions in the atmosphere, in outer space or underwater. The treaty does not ban tests underground, but it does prohibit explosions if they cause radioactive debris to permeate beyond the territorial boundaries of the country responsible for the test.

To verify compliance with the treaty, signatories agree to a system of controls and inspections aimed at limiting nuclear weapon test explosions. One way to verify compliance is to conduct background collections in the atmosphere.

The WC-135 crew of special equipment operators operate a suite of collection devices that are housed in the main body of the aircraft. One is an external flow-through device called a U1B foil. Similar to how a traditional jukebox operates, filter paper is cycled through the foil into the airstream as the aircraft flies through an area where radioactive debris may be present. Simultaneously, large high-pressure spheres collect whole air samples through an onboard compressor system.

Once the collections are complete, the spheres and filter papers are sent to AFTAC’s network of laboratories for analysis.

“The aircraft doesn’t routinely fly near Patrick, so any time we can seize the opportunity to showcase the jet to our workforce, we take it,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Morello, 21st Surveillance Squadron commander. “We think it’s important for people who are involved in the day-to-day AFTAC mission to see how their work plays a role in our airborne collection operations.”

The Air Force has two WC-135 aircraft in its inventory – both based at Offutt AFB.

“While the jets themselves and flight crew of the Constant Phoenix fall under 55th Wing at Offutt, the SEOs belong to AFTAC,” said Col. Jon VanNoord, 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group commander. “To correctly position the aircraft takes a team effort between the flight deck and the SEOs. It’s not often you find a junior noncommissioned officer telling the commissioned officer piloting the plane where to fly the aircraft, but that’s the case when we receive operational taskings. Our SEOs are typically junior to mid-grade NCOs who use a variety of methods to determine the optimal patterns the jet should fly to get the best collects.”

Nearly 350 people toured the Constant Phoenix while it was on the ground a Patrick.

“A big thank you to the crew and maintainers from the 55th for their support and participation in the tour,” said VanNoord. “We couldn’t have done it without their assistance.”

Rare boat-to-boat transfer executed on the high seas - 3/13/2019

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Members of the U.S. Coast Guard transport Capt. Paul A. Karsten III (center) via rescue boat to the USNS Invincible, a radar ship that collects ballistic missile data for the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, as part of the center's nuclear treaty monitoring mission. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard)
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Capt. Paul A. Karsten III, (in rescue boat with blue helmet), prepares to transfer from the rescue boat to the USNS Invincible to take command of the mission aboard the radar vessel. Karsten, a member the 22nd Surveillance Squadron at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, was rapidly deployed to replace the acting mission commander due to a family emergency. Boat-to-boat transfers are rare for AFTAC mission commanders. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard)
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A small rescue boat is seen approaching the USNS Invincible in the Persian Gulf with Invincible mission commander Capt. Paul A. Karsten III aboard. Karsten, a member of the 22nd Surveillance Squadron at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, was transferred to the ship after the current mission commander was redeployed on emergency leave. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Coast Guard)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
A rare sight was seen by crew members of the USNS Invincible recently when the ship’s mission commander transferred to the ship while it was out to sea.

Capt. Paul A. Karsten III received a short-notice tasking to replace the current MC who had a family emergency and needed to rapidly redeploy home. Since there wasn’t enough time nor pier availability to bring the Invincible into port, Lt. Col. Christopher Terry made the decision to transfer Karsten from a small U.S. Coast Guard rescue boat to the Military Sealift Command vessel.

Karsten is a member of the 22nd Surveillance Squadron at the Air Force Technical Applications Center headquartered in Cocoa Beach, Fla. As the sole nuclear treaty monitoring center in the Department of Defense, AFTAC assigns company grade officers from the center to serve as mission commanders on one of its two ships to lead onboard operations in the collection of ballistic missile data.

One way it accomplishes that mission is through the radar platforms aboard the Invincible.

“The ship operates on an unpredictable schedule where mission taskings are routinely short notice and require quick reactions to support theater commanders,” said Maj. Benjamin Christensen, assistant director of operations for the 22nd SURS. “When we learned of the family emergency, our team here at Patrick AFB rapidly jumped into action to get the current mission commander home and get Capt. Karsten out to sea.”

Those actions don’t come without a great deal of challenging-but-mandatory requirements.

“We have to ensure we are communicating with everyone involved,” said Terry, 22nd SURS commander. “The team contacted Combined Task Force 53 and the U.S. Coast Guard in the region for assistance, and Capt. Karsten had to coordinate rendezvous operations with Invincible’s ship master. And of course, the daily mission must continue uninterrupted, so pulling it off doesn’t come without its own set of hurdles.”

Terry said he’s extremely proud of the teamwork he witnessed throughout the transfer operation.

“It’s very rare to for us to execute a ship-to-ship small boat transfer aboard our mobile sensor ships,” he said. “But when situations like this arise, they give our crew members an opportunity to see how important it is to be flexible while out to sea and what needs to happen in an emergency like this. We’re grateful to CTF 53 and Coast Guard for their assistance. It’s all about teamwork.”

Karsten is expected to be out to sea as the mission commander for a three-month rotation.

Defense Department pushing ahead to merge commissary and exchange systems - 3/13/2019

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The new commissary at Fort Belvoir, Va., opened in the spring of 2017, is located next to the post exchange. (Kevin Robinson/Defense Commissary Agency)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Defense officials are a step closer to merging the three military exchange systems and the commissary system into one “defense resale enterprise.”

In a memo signed March 1, Lisa Hershman, acting DoD chief management officer, approved the business case for the merger.

The merger will require the approval of Congress and nothing is yet final. Current law requires the Defense Department to operate separate commissary and exchange systems, so that law would have to be repealed. Another law prohibits DoD from using any taxpayer dollars to implement consolidation of resale entities until Oct. 1, as lawmakers evaluate the proposal.

In the meantime, a task force will continue with planning efforts for a consolidated organization, stated Hershman, who is in the position that ranks third in the DoD hierarchy. The consolidation of the commissary and exchange systems also must be approved by acting deputy secretary of defense David Norquist. A source said he is expected to approve the proposal within days; a report and legislative proposals will then be sent to Congress.

Officials have said that the first step would be to merge the exchange systems — Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES), Navy Exchange Service Command and Marine Corps Exchange. It’s not clear whether officials have the authority to do that without legislation, but regardless, they can’t spend taxpayer dollars on any consolidation implementation before Oct. 1.

The draft report from the task force, which analyzed the business case for consolidation, said its analysis supports merging the above-store functions of the exchange systems entirely, along with the above-store functions of the Defense Commissary Agency, into a single organization, while keeping specific grocery functions separate.

Hershman’s memo stated she will recommend that the Marine Corps Morale, Welfare and Recreation and Warfighter and Family Services operations under the umbrella of Marine Corps Community Services, or MCCS, also be included in the consolidation because of their operational model, which includes the Marine Corps Exchange.

Marine Corps officials have previously pushed back against proposals to put MCCS under the control of the proposed new defense agency, citing these efforts are “viewed as an intrusion to Title X authorities.” The MCCS organization “provides the commandant of the Marine Corps an integrated system of community services to help care [for], equip, and train our warfighters,” officials said in a previous position paper.

The costs of implementing the consolidation is estimated to be $457 million to $570 million over five years, according to the business case analysis from the defense task force, completed in November. The task force stated DoD could “harvest significant savings” by consolidating commissary and exchange systems into one entity, and contends the benefits would “far exceed the costs.”

Hershman stated she will also recommend that the deputy secretary authorize a new defense agency or expand the mission of an existing DoD component to assume jurisdiction over the defense resale enterprise. She’ll recommend that the new agency be placed under the authority of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness.

The task force report indicated that regardless of consolidation, the Defense Commissary Agency needs a full-time director, so that hiring process will begin, Hershman stated.

While day-to-day operations of the separate resale organizations will continue, resale leaders must go to the task force director for approval before taking any actions that “could be inconsistent with or hamper consolidation,” Hershman wrote.

“The department’s intent is to improve community services for our service members and their families, improve support to commanders, and fulfill its fiduciary responsibility” concerning taxpayer and nonappropriated, or MWR, funds, Hershman wrote.

Congressional staffers learn about AFTAC’s heritage, mission - 3/13/2019

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Mr. Jim Whidden, director of staff for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, briefs staff members from Rep. Bill Posey's (FL-8) office in AFTAC's Heritage Room at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. The staffers visited the nuclear treaty monitoring center March 4, 2019 to learn more about AFTAC's heritage and global mission. Pictured from left to right: Whidden; Stuart Burns, chief of staff; Rick Podliska, senior policy advisor; and Patrick Gavin, district director. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Three members of U.S. Rep. Bill Posey’s (FL-8) office visited the Air Force Technical Applications Center March 4 to learn more about the center’s rich history and heritage.

Stuart Burns, Posey’s chief of staff, Rick Podliska, senior policy advisor, and Patrick Gavin, the congressman’s district director, traveled to the base and were met by Col. Jon VanNoord, 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group commander and Jim Whidden, AFTAC director of staff.

The visitors toured AFTAC’s Heritage Room – a showcase of equipment, memorabilia and artifacts dating back to the long range detection mission of the 1940s and 1950s.

“It’s always beneficial when we can have congressional staffers see for themselves just how vital our mission is to the safety and security of our nation,” said Whidden. “We appreciate the time these gentlemen took out of their schedule to learn more about AFTAC’s role in nuclear event detection and nuclear treaty monitoring, and we hope they’ll come back again for another update on our evolving global responsibilities.”

STEM outreach key to uniting Airmen with students - 2/20/2019

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Croton Elementary Science Fair judge Diana Velosa gives a high five to Brianna Laflamme, a 4th grader at the Brevard County school as Velosa's co-workers, Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson and Master Sgt. Michael Nolan laugh along. The members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., volunteered to serve as judges, examining more than 200 projects by 4th, 5th and 6th graders Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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Elijah Norsworthy, a 5th grader at Croton Elementary School in Melbourne, Fla., explains his scientific method to Staff Sgt. Samuel Carmichael and Airman 1st Class Cynthia A. Schroll, members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center. The Airmen served as judges for the school's annual science fair Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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Jarvienis Rosario, a 4th grader at Croton Elementary School, answers questions from Science Fair judges Senior Airman Harold Fisher Jr., and Airman 1st Class Ruben Vera-Colon who traveled from Patrick AFB, Fla., to Croton Feb. 7, 2019 to assist the school with its annual event. Fisher and Vera-Colon are members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
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2nd Lt. Tyler Peterson and Claudia Granger, scientists from the Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., listen to Bryce Jeffrey, a 6th grader at Croton Elementary School, describe his science fair project that dealt with the aerodynamics of paper airplanes. The AFTAC duo was part of a team of 18 Airmen – military and civilian alike – who volunteered to serve as science fair judges Feb. 7, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
A group of Airmen – military and civilian alike – traveled to Croton Elementary School in Melbourne, Fla., Feb. 7 to serve as Science Fair judges.

Eighteen members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here volunteered to examine more than 200 projects put together by 4th, 5th and 6th grade students and evaluate them based on their creativity, scientific thought, skill, clarity, thoroughness and knowledge gained.

Students were able to choose a topic from three basic categories: physical, environmental or biological. Once their topic was approved by their science teacher, they were required to employ the scientific method by forming a hypothesis, gathering the needed materials, developing a procedure, conducting the experiment, recording the results and ultimately drawing a conclusion of their findings.

Croton Science Fair Coordinator Stacy Walsh gave each judge a rubric – a guide listing specific criteria for grading or scoring each entry – and the volunteers were divided up into small groups to review the tri-fold boards on display in the school’s cafeteria.

The judges were then given the opportunity to interview each student to ask them about their methodology, the conclusions they drew from their experiments and how they came up with their hypothesis.

Brianna Laflamme, a 4th grader in Mrs. Roberts’ class, impressed the judges with her project on what types of food ants are attracted to. Master Sgt. Michael Nolan, Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson and Diana Velosa asked the 9-year-old where she got the idea for her project.

“One day I saw a bunch of ants in our cabinet, and it got me to thinking about what kind of food they’re attracted to,” said Brianna. “So I thought it would be cool to set out different types of food to see what they’d be drawn to.”

When the judges asked her if she was surprised with the outcome, she got a big smile on her face and said, “I really never thought they’d go towards the jalapeno, but they did!”

Walsh, who has been an educator for more than 23 years, is in her third year at Croton, and her first year being in charge of the Science Fair.

“The students have been working on their projects pretty much since September,” the 6th grade math and science teacher explained. “At the beginning of the school year, they were given folders with background information about the program and a basic layout of what will be required of them when it comes time to put their boards together. When the students returned to school after the winter break, that’s when students really started putting more energy and attention into their projects with the help of their teachers and family members.”

Jarvienis Rosario, another member of Mrs. Roberts’ 4th grade class, hypothesized on whether the color of M&M candies would fade if placed in a cup of vinegar.

“This was so much fun!” she exclaimed. “Last year in 3rd grade we had to do a group class project and I loved doing it. So this year I was so excited because I knew I was going to be able to do a project on my own.”

Jarvienis was interviewed by Airman 1st Class Ruben Vera-Colon and Senior Airman Harold Fisher Jr. The Airmen were intrigued by her concept and wanted to know about the outcome of her efforts.

“Before I did the actual experiment, I didn’t think the vinegar would affect the M&Ms at all,” she told the judges, “but after I put them in the cups, I saw all the color fade off of them. It was exciting and surprising!”

When asked what she wants to be when she grows up, she declared, “I’m going to be a science teacher because I love doing stuff like this!”

Jennifer Kelly had a very personal reason for volunteering to serve as a judge.

“I graduated from Croton in 1996 and my son went to school here as well, so it seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to give back,” Kelly said. “I teamed up with my co-worker Carmen Bigas and we judged projects done by the 5th graders. It brought back a lot of memories of my time spent at the school, and of when I put together my own Science Fair project. It’s always very rewarding when you can give back to the community. I really enjoyed myself and hope I can be a part of it again next year.”

In addition with being proud of the hard work and effort the students devoted to their projects, Walsh was equally impressed with the AFTAC volunteers.

“The people from Patrick have been so incredibly accommodating and paid such close attention to the small details, like bending down to meet eye-to-eye with the students, showing an incredible amount of patience while speaking with some of our more shy children, and providing such positive feedback on the scoring sheets so each student would be able to read something good about their project from each judge,” Walsh said.

She added, “The kids also were given the chance to meet real scientists and people they can look up to and possibly emulate later in life. I can’t say enough about the men and women from AFTAC. We’re indebted to them.”

This is the sixth year AFTAC has participated in Croton’s annual Science Fair.

Another tournament, another trophy for AFTAC Hockey - 1/16/2019

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Members of the Athletes for Teamwork and Charity Hockey Club pose for a team photo after their tournament win against the Northeast Indiana Warbirds and the Tampa Warriors. The team is made up of players who work at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The team co-hosted the charity tournament to raise money for Lighting Made Sled Hockey, a program sponsored by the Tampa Bay Lighting hockey team that provides people with disabilities the ability to play the game they love. Players sit in specially designed sleds that sit atop two skate blades. Competitors use two sticks with metal picks on one end to propel themselves across the ice and stick blades on the other to pass and shoot the puck.

In early 2018, the Northeast Indiana Warbirds from Fort Wayne, Ind., approached AFTAC Hockey about possible games in Florida. From there, AFTAC contacted the Tampa Warriors, affiliated with the USA Warriors program, about scheduling head-to-head match-ups at the new Florida Hospital Rink in Wesley Chapel, with all proceeds going to the sled hockey league.

Bill Hungate, captain of AFTAC’s club, was thrilled when he was approached to co-host the tournament.

“Our team has traveled to compete against national-level competition like the U.S. Naval Academy, The Citadel, and the FBI’s D.C., just to name a few,” Hungate explained. “But when you’re responsible for bringing in a team from out of state, there are a lot more logistical aspects to consider. It was great to skate against the Warbirds and the Warriors.”

The first match pitted the Warriors against the Warbirds. It was end-to-end action with the Warriors holding a 6-4 advantage until early into the third period when Warbird ace Lawne Snyder, a former minor league professional player and current Tampa resident, uncorked a wicked slap shot that whizzed just above the goalie’s glove and shattered the plexiglass behind the net. The remainder of the game was cancelled so repairs could be made.

The next match-up saw the Warbirds going head-to-head against AFTAC. “This game was a shootout!” exclaimed AFTAC forward Cam Maddox. “High scoring, lots of shots on goal and super energy from both teams. It makes for great hockey.”

AFTAC won the game, 15-7.

The final game of the tournament was between AFTAC and the talented Warriors team. Some Warbird players asked to join the AFTAC roster as players and coaches because they were having so much fun. The score was knotted in the third period until AFTAC’s captain tallied the game-winning goal with less than a minute to go, giving AFTAC the win and the Warbirds players a taste of victory in Florida.

“Our charity matches are what we call ‘no-contact games,’ meaning we don’t hit and check and tolerate fights like you might see in an NHL game,” Hungate explained.

“During our last match, there was a lot of incidental contact that came in the spirit of good competition. But one of the great things about hockey is that no matter what happens on the ice, there is always a post-game handshake at center ice. Overall, I think it was an incredibly successful tournament, and many of the Warbird players said they’re already planning personal vacations to come back to Florida and connect with our players. Between making new friends and raising money for a great cause, it really doesn’t get much better than that.”

The tournament raised more than $1,000.

This was the second championship trophy AFTAC won in 2018; the first was against the Tampa Bay Fire Fighters in September.

AFTAC kicks off its collegiate portion of their schedule, with their next game is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19 at the Space Coast Iceplex in Rockledge, Fla., where they’ll be lacing up to play Eastern Florida State College Titans for the first time. Proceeds will go to EFSC’s scholarship program and Space Coast Blast Sled Hockey.

After EFSC, the team hits the road for a game against the Lynn University Fighting Knights in Boca Raton Feb. 2, then onto South Beach for a game versus the Hurricanes at the University of Miami Feb. 23.

For the team’s full schedule, to donate, or to obtain tickets for the game, visit the AFTAC Hockey Facebook page or send an email to AFTAChockey@gmail.com.

A1C with Ph.D. lands job at nuclear treaty monitoring center - 12/16/2018

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Air Force Basic Training graduation photo of Airman 1st Class Cynthia A. Schroll. Schroll is a radiochemistry technician at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
It’s not often you see those three-letter titles – A1C and Ph.D. – used to refer to the same person. As a matter of fact, only one-hundredth of one percent of the Air Force’s enlisted force from E-1 through E-9 possess a doctor of philosophy degree – that’s just 33 Airmen out of 259,190 currently on active duty.

Yet one woman with a doctorate in chemistry found herself signing on the proverbial dotted line, completing basic training, and is now assigned to the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center here.

Airman 1st Class Cynthia A. Schroll enlisted in the Air Force in December 2017, though her unique career journey began much earlier, soon after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“I was in my senior year of high school in 2001, and after 9/11 happened, I told my parents I wanted to enlist,” Schroll said. “During the discussion, my mother said something that struck me, even using the word ‘please’ and asking me to do something for the first time in my life instead of telling me to. She said, ‘Please don’t enlist. I’ve been saving your whole life for you to go to college.’ I knew how much it meant to her, and I respect my parents deeply, so I went to college.”

Schroll attended Morehead State University in Kentucky and earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 2006. She bypassed the traditional path after her undergraduate studies and went straight into the doctoral program at the University of Cincinnati.

“It’s not uncommon for people looking into science degrees to forego a master’s program and go straight into a doctoral studies,” Schroll explained. “Most universities that offer a Ph.D. will let you obtain a master’s degree if you find yourself struggling with the Ph.D. work load.”

She joked, “Someone once told me that the difference between a Ph.D. and a master’s degree is the Ph.D. project has to work in the end, while a master’s student can write up all the ways the project didn’t work!”

Upon completion of her doctorate in analytical chemistry with an emphasis in spectroelectrochemical detection of f-block elements (say that five times fast!), she went straight into the work force doing environmental sample preparation, product management and worked as a contract research assistant at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. She also taught general chemistry at the University of Cincinnati for two years. It was an enjoyable career per se, Schroll said, but military service was still on her mind.

“I had everything going for me – a great education, good job, supportive family, everything – yet I was still thinking about enlisting,” she said. “But I had some significant hurdles to overcome. I was overweight and knew that was going to be a factor as to whether I’d qualify or not. I had pets. I had a house. And then in 2014 I lost my mother to multiple myeloma, a form of blood cancer. It was devastating to my family and me. I took it quite hard and was lost without her influence.”

From that tragedy, however, came the realization that she still wanted to serve her country and thought it would be a lasting tribute to her beloved mother.

“I knew deep-down from the beginning she didn’t want me to join the service, but through all the grief I was experiencing, I had to find a path that would bring me greater reward,” she explained.

So after several months of careful thought, consideration and a solid work-out program, Schroll paid a visit to her local recruiter to change her title from ‘Doctor’ to ‘Airman.’

“Before I left for basic, I had several lengthy conversations with my sister who served in the Army for almost 10 years and I spoke to several other female friends who had also gone through the experience,” she said. “They all told me about the mind games I should expect from the military training instructors (MTIs) and some of the difficulties that arise when you put 40 women together in small quarters for several weeks at a time. Needless to say, I found basic training quite entertaining!”

During basic, trainees are selected to fill certain jobs and responsibilities given to each flight: dorm chief, element leader, chow runner, and entry controller, just to name a few. Schroll volunteered to be the flight’s academic monitor. When the MTI asked what made her qualified for the job, she nonchalantly mentioned she had taught classes before. The MTI did some digging and learned that Schroll had a Ph.D.

“It all came out from there,” she said. “I tried to downplay it as much as I could, and I offered to help any of my flight mates with their study techniques, because we were all in this together. We had one trainee who had such bad text anxiety and we were all worried she was going to run out of the classroom before she finished the end-of-course exam. When our MTI started reading off our test scores, we collectively held our breath when hers was read and we cheered like mad when it was a passing score. A few of us even cried. By far my proudest moment as the academic monitor was the fact we all passed our exams the first time through.”

She graduated basic training in February 2018 and was sent to Goodfellow AFB, Texas, to undergo special instruments training. While there, she became friends with a large contingent of Air Force firefighters.

“Our tech school was housed with the Airmen who undergo firefighting training, and it was so much fun,” Schroll recalled. “I was selected to be a red rope, the person who oversees dorm activities, and they kept me so grounded. I had so much respect for them that on my last day I woke up at 3:30 a.m. to go to their daily formation so I could shake every single hand and say thanks. I love and respect them all so much.”

During her tenure at Goodfellow, she received a special visitor who requested to meet with her. She was quite surprised to learn it was a command chief master sergeant who made the trip to speak directly with her.

“I was pretty floored when I found out Chief Master Sgt. (Michael) Joseph came to the schoolhouse to discuss career options with me,” she said. “He introduced himself as the command chief for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, and said his commander was very interested in having me on his team at Patrick AFB. I can’t put my finger on it, but during my conversation with Chief Joseph, I realized this was my chance to live out my desire to serve, especially in the capacity of a scientist. I thought to myself, ‘These folks who have so much experience would know how best to use my skills,’ so I put my trust in them.”

Joseph was highly impressed when he met with Schroll.

“I heard about A1C Schroll as she was coming through the (academic training) pipeline since AFTAC has a majority of the 9S100 Airmen in the Air Force,” said Joseph. “Every Airman has a story, and I wanted to hear hers. Her background was impressive -- she had written two books and has a patent to her name, but it was her desire to serve that impressed me the most. With her chemistry background and our operational need for highly-skilled chemists, it seemed like a natural fit for her to come to AFTAC.”

Recruiting personnel who possess highly-technical scientific degrees and experience has been a challenge for the nuclear treaty monitoring center, but AFTAC’s senior enlisted advisor believes they’re seeking out ways to overcome that challenge.

“Sometimes the Air Force does not get the ‘talent management’ piece right and we need to do all we can to get our people to the right place at the right time," Joseph said. "Airman Schroll has already made a positive impact in her squadron and is working to be the best Airman she can be. As leaders, I believe that is all we can really ask of our workforce.”

Schroll is assigned to AFTAC’s radiochemistry laboratory working as a radiochemistry technician. She is responsible for preparing reagent kits in the lab’s tech room as well as co-managing the precious metals program.

“I love the responsibility that comes from knowing our chemists are counting on me to prep their reagents properly and in a timely manner,” said Schroll. “If anything goes wrong with the chemistry, the first place that is looked at is the reagent, so I want them to have confidence when they see my initials on the label that they were prepared correctly.”

When asked if she was looking at becoming a commissioned officer someday, Schroll said it’s not out of the question, but it’s not her immediate focus.

“Right now, I’m still brand new to the Air Force, so I am learning as much about it as possible. I’m an airman first class, and with that comes the responsibility of being the best A1C I can be. My focus is on doing the job I am fortunate to have, and doing it as best I can. When I look to the future, I only see broad opportunities. But I’ve never been one to look too far ahead because all too often we make this grand dream or goal, only to forget to focus on the little steps to get there. I’m focusing on the little steps right now.”

Our Cardboard Christmas Tree - 11/28/2018

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A photo of the cardboard Christmas tree created by the son of Senior Master Sgt. Eric V. Reynolds, superintendent at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Holidays are tough for me. I used to love Thanksgiving and Christmas, but some difficult times fell upon my family and I found myself separated from the joy I once knew. Maybe you find this season difficult as well, or maybe you are a sucker for Hallmark-esque Christmas tearjerkers like me my wife. Either way, I’d like to share a little story about how my hardened heart found some healing after great tragedy.

Christmastime was always a very special time for me, with many fond memories of decorating with my mother. She would always make cocoa and we would put up the tree together and sing our favorite songs. I tried my best to keep that tradition alive after getting married and hoped to pass it on to my kids. But the Christmas of 2016 was very different. Neither my wife nor I wanted to have anything to do with Christmas that year.

Six months earlier my infant son, Marshall, passed away. We saw our children as our most precious gifts, so the thought of celebrating without one of them was hard to bear. In our grief we kept putting off decorating, even though our other children were super excited about what they knew was supposed to be coming. My heart had hardened against the holiday. My older son knew my wife and I were having trouble and couldn’t celebrate this season, but he didn’t want the rest of the family to miss out. So he decided to help. He came up with a plan and went to work trying to recreate the magic he remembered from previous years.

It started with a cardboard tree. He cut out a six foot tall tree from an old cardboard box, then colored the entire thing with green crayon. He even made a yellow paper star for the top. The other kids joined in and created paper ornaments to put on the tree. But that’s wasn’t enough for him, so he went to the next level.

It was now sometime around the middle of December, well past when we traditionally decorated. I left for work very early one morning but had to run back to the house to retrieve something I had left behind. As I quietly snuck back inside careful not to awaken anyone, I was confronted by a strange scene. My 7-year-old son was struggling to put together our seven foot tall artificial Christmas tree while my wife and the other kids were still sleeping. Once he noticed I was there he looked at me like I imagine a burglar would look at a cop. He was shocked and a little scared, not knowing how I would react to his endeavor.

In that moment, my brittle heart shattered. I was reminded of the joy and hopeful expectation we often have in our youthful innocence. I was reminded of the most precious gift I ever received -- the love and acceptance of my holy father, through his son Jesus Christ. I was reminded of my responsibility to live and to love. I was reminded to give. So I told my son it was okay and I would help him finish setting up the tree when I came home after work, even though I really didn’t want to. I resolved to not let the joy of the season escape from my kids’ lives just because of my own grief.

I still grieve, and probably always will a little bit. But holidays have gotten easier since I made a transition. Now, instead of trying to recreate the memories of my youth so I could relive those joyous moments, I am trying to get better every day at giving back to my family and others. My hope is that they would have some memories worth cherishing and looking back on when their tough times come. I know I’ve certainly needed them.

If you find yourself down this time of year, try doing something different. Don’t worry if you can’t get home for the holidays, or if you don’t have someone special to celebrate with. Make this year about giving to others. There are so many lonely, hurting and over-stressed people out there just trying to make ends meet, keep their family together or even make it to the next day, let alone to the New Year. So give, serve, pray, or do whatever you can do to help bring a smile to someone else’s face this time of year, whether they choose to celebrate Christmas or any other holiday. You’ll be surprised how soon the smile comes back to your own face when you know you had a part in bringing joy to others.

Hoop coaches, life mentors: AFTAC Airmen engage with community youth - 11/16/2018

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Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., pose for a photo in the base fitness center. The Airmen volunteered their off-duty time to serve as youth basketball coaches for a local recreational league. Pictured from left to right: Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Elliott, Staff Sgt. Floridamae Mones, Airman 1st Class Willie Robinson and Airman 1st Class Canaan Kennedy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phillip C. Sunkel IV)

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Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson (center) and Airman 1st Class Canaan Kennedy (left) discuss playmaking strategies with their basketball team during a game in Viera, Fla. The Airmen, assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., volunteered their off-duty time to serve as coaches and mentors to youth from the local area. (Courtesy photo)

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Team photo from Viera Regional Community Center's recreational basketball league. Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson (far right) and Staff Sgt. Floridamae Mones (far left), both assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., volunteered their time to serve as coaches. Pictured are (front row, left to right): Justin Lee, Jesse McDuffie, Brielle Basham; middle row: Cole Guest, Graeme Burns, John Banks, Jakai Shack; back row: Cyrus Matini, Kyle Bortz, Aeddon Burns. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
When a local recreational basketball league was looking for volunteers to coach youth athletes, two brothers assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center stepped up to the challenge.

Staff Sgts. Jarrod and Jordan Peterson, despite having no children of their own, submitted their names for consideration to the Viera Regional Community Center, a multipurpose athletic facility near the base that’s home to fall and spring basketball leagues. After a face-to-face interview and required background check, the pair were initially assigned to coach 11-12 year-old age groups of eager boys and girls.

Realizing the rec center needed more volunteers, the brothers reached out to some of their co-workers and encouraged them to get involved. They convinced several Airmen to join them as assistant coaches.

“We sought out people with the innate ability to make a difference and to give them a platform to exercise their leadership and public speaking skills,” said Jordan. “The Air Force looks for those characteristics in its Airmen, and this was a perfect opportunity for some of the junior Airmen here at AFTAC to hone those skills in a completely different environment.”

Meeting twice a week for two hours of practice in preparation for their weekly game, Jordan reached back to his own high school days and employed a coaching style that addressed the various skill levels of his players.

“I used skill-based training, and I sought out players for various positions that I haven’t mastered myself,” he explained. “Occasionally, I’ll ask them to come to practice and teach their teammates their respective roles on the court. They get a better understanding of what a good player is by learning from their peers, and it doesn’t matter if they’re a boy or a girl – each comes with their own set of abilities and weaknesses, and we work together as a unit, much like the military does, to accomplish our goals.”

His brother continued, “Together, we used our split development to our advantage,” said Jarrod. “Back in the day, Jordan was always more of an aggressive post player, while I was quicker on my feet and focused more on shooting and creating openings. It’s worked well for us.”

Airman 1st Class Canaan Kennedy, one of the co-workers the Petersons recruited to assist with coaching, explained why he chose to get involved.

“I think it’s really important to volunteer because when I was growing up, I had a lot of coaches I considered as role models and mentors,” he said. “Many of them truly made a difference in my life, so I think if I can make a difference to one of my players, it makes it all worthwhile.”

In an age where electronic devices are far more prevalent than basketballs in the hands of today’s youth, children have fewer opportunities for face-to-face interaction with their peers and mentors. Programs like this are helping bridge that gap.

For the past 16 years, Stephane Mohr has worked for Brevard County Parks and Recreation, and is currently Viera Regional Community Center’s recreational leader. She understands the importance of having military members serve as volunteer coaches.

“When people from Patrick AFB come out to help us, their presence shows the kids how to be passionate about something you love,” she said. “The Airmen teach them how to be strong and stay in the fight until the fight is over, win or lose. They also teach them responsibility, respect, discipline, and especially how to just have fun.”

She added, “I have so many parents who request to have their kids play on Jordan and Jarrod’s teams. Even after the season is over, they would check on the players and invite them to play a pick-up game here at the center. I couldn’t ask for better coaches and role models.”

The fraternal twins, who work as web developers for AFTAC’s 709th Cyberspace Squadron, share a passion for basketball, and now after coaching local youth, also share a special place in their hearts for the players who have made such an impact on them.

“The rec league is an excellent way for these kids to strengthen their friendships, learn new skills, get some exercise and most important, have some fun,” said Jarrod. “Throughout all four of the teams I’ve coached in Viera, I’ve had one player on all four teams: Brielle Basham. She’s the smallest girl in the league, and I’ve seen her grow and evolve, not just physically, but mentally as well. She would constantly approach us looking for ways to improve, and she was always so excited about getting better – so much so that her parents also started to ask us how to make sure she was doing things right. Between her specific talent and her spike in confidence, I’d trust her with the game-winning shot any day.”

Several player-parents showered the Airmen with praise for their involvement.

“I don’t think Coach (Jordan) Peterson will ever know the impact he’s had on my son,” said Tyna Fish, mom of Lashaun, better known to his teammates as Prince. “He was going through a very dark time in his life, and being a single parent isn’t easy. Lashaun desperately craved a male mentor in his life, so when (Jordan) chose him to be captain of the team, it actually changed his life. I can’t thank him enough for recognizing his ability and giving him the chance to shine. I want him to know how much I appreciate all he’s done!”

Accolades continued from another parent.

“Justin just loved Coach Peterson and Coach (Staff Sgt. Floridamae) Mones,” said Tracy Lee. “He told me the coaches never treated him ‘like a kid’ and I’ve never seen him love going to practices and games as much as he did with these coaches. And giving him a special military coin for Most Improved Player meant a lot to all of us!”

Over the past three years he’s been coaching at VRCC, Jordan has seen huge growth in his players.

“The influence you may have on a young adult is incredibly fulfilling,” he said. “We had two kids on our squad last year who didn’t want to try out for their high school team when the season started. By the time we finished the season and freshman tryouts were underway, we received emails and texts from the parents telling us that their child had made the high school roster. It makes you realize you truly can have an impact. It’s very gratifying.”

The other AFTAC volunteer coaches include Tech. Sgt. Desiree Penn, Airman 1st Class Ruben Vera Colon, Staff Sgt. Dustin Elliott, Airman 1st Class Willie Robinson, Rodney Gaines, and Airman 1st Class Myles McCurdy.

“These Airmen are volunteering their time to help our program be a success, and the kids love them all so much,” Mohr said. “During our medal and trophy ceremony last season, Jordan brought (military challenge) coins for each of the kids for being most improved, hardest worker, always being on time, never giving up, and so on. They didn’t have to do that, but I’ll tell you it meant so much to the kids and their parents. I can’t thank them all enough for their time and support, and especially for their service to our country. The world is a much better place because of them!”

The Peterson brothers encourage others to get involved in community programs.

“There are countless opportunities for Airmen to play a role in area athletics and youth programs,” said Jarrod. “You just have to commit the time and effort to it. It does take a lot of dedication, but the rewards far outweigh anything.”

Jordan added, “We’ve had some of our athletes who ‘aged out’ of the program return to volunteer and assist in coaching alongside us in a support role. And a few of them have expressed an interest in joining the Air Force. It doesn’t get much better than that!”

Leadership in a Selfie Culture - 11/6/2018

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Photo courtesy of Vadim Guzhva.

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
An interesting thing about leadership and painting is that both require priming in order to last. A painter’s canvas must first be conditioned to accept the paint. They stretch the canvas and secure it so it retains its shape. Then they prime it, or cover it in gesso, a substance that serves three purposes: to prevent the fabric from rotting; to allow the painter to establish the right texture or foundation upon which to paint their masterpiece; and to prevent the canvas from absorbing the paint, thus allowing the artist to have a greater impact while using less paint.

Similarly, a leader conditions the environment and the people to accept their vision before providing direction. The leader must establish their own credibility while instilling a culture of integrity, accountability, flexibility and excellence. This serves to prevent rotten or toxic behavior, sets a foundation allowing open and honest communication, and helps the leader draw out the best in their people without overly taxing their personal resources.

Without these early efforts to set the climate and foundation for success, leaders may find themselves constantly having to deal with rotten leaders, skeptics, and laggards trying to undermine their vision. They may also end up burning themselves out early on by focusing too much time reactively fixing preventable problems rather than progressing towards the big picture. Either way the results are not what was envisioned.

Ask yourself – would you rather people know the color of your eyes or the character of your heart? If you choose the latter, establish the foundation first and above all - avoid painting a self-portrait. Simply put, the portrait of a true leader is best viewed as a landscape. A leader’s signature - their character - is found in the culture that emerges, the incredible things that are accomplished, and the lives that are changed.

AFTAC molecular biologist represents Air Force at SWE18 conference - 11/6/2018

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A panel of experts deliver their remarks and take questions from the audience attending the 2018 Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference in Minneapolis Oct. 20, 2018. Air Force Technical Applications Center molecular biologist Julia Ignacek (second from right) represented the Air Force at the event to discuss innovation in the public sector. Pictured with Ignacek are Dr. Alexis McKittrick, research staff member for the Science and Technology Policy Institute and panel moderator; Roslin Hicks, deputy director for NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility; and Col. Michelle Link, assistant program officer for U.S. Army Logistics. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rose Day)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
With more than 14,000 in attendance featuring 300 worldwide organizations, the conference attracts prestigious leaders and champions of industry and academia to encourage women to achieve their full potential as engineers. This year, SWE18’s keynote speakers were Cindy Kent, former president and general manager of 3M’s Infection Prevention Division; Marillyn A. Hewson, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Lockheed Martin Corp.; and Kim Underhill, group president of Kimberly-Clark’s North American consumer business.

Ignacek’s panel included Dr. Alexis McKittrick, research staff member for the Science and Technology Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. (panel moderator); Col. Michelle Link, assistant program officer for U.S. Army Logistics; and Roslin Hicks, deputy director for NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility.

“I was honored to be asked to represent the Air Force at the conference, and I’d like to thank Randy Mieskoski (HAF/A1), Rose Day (AFTAC recruiting), Jennifer Abman Scott (SWE Board of Directors), and AFTAC senior leadership for allowing me the opportunity to participate in this incredibly rewarding conference. There is so much to learn when we open our minds to other perspectives, and I believe we grow both personally and professionally from these opportunities.”

Air Force Chief Scientist pays visit to treaty monitoring center - 10/22/2018

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Dr. Richard J. Joseph, Chief Scientist of the Air Force, speaks to members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center in the nuclear treaty monitoring center's Doyle Northrup Auditorium at Patrick AFB, Fla. Joseph attended AFTAC annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum to discuss innovative concepts that fit into the center's technical forensics mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by William M. Donelson)

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Dr. Richard J. Joseph (left), Chief Scientist of the Air Force, meets with Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden (center), chief scientist of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, and Dr. William Junek, AFTAC's senior scientist, during Joseph's visit to the nuclear treaty monitoring center at Patrick AFB, Fla. Joseph came to AFTAC to attend its annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum and took the opportunity to tour the facility and meet the Airmen who perform the mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The Chief Scientist of the Air Force paid a visit to the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center recently to meet with senior leaders and attend the center’s annual Research and Development Roadmap Forum.

Dr. Richard J. Joseph was one of 169 mission partners and community stakeholders who attended the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s annual forum, which was designed to focus on AFTAC’s multi-faceted, global mission.

“The purpose of the R&D Roadmap is to codify pathways to meet forthcoming challenges of our treaty monitoring and nuclear forensics mission,” said Dr. William Junek, AFTAC senior scientist. “We were fortunate enough to have Dr. Joseph join us this year, and his contributions during our breakout sessions were invaluable.”

Ed Darmiento, project officer for the forum, worked closely with numerous subject matters experts at AFTAC to put together a robust program that included briefings by AFTAC’s principal customers and national authorities as well as breakout sessions to allow attendees to network with each other.

The first day consisted of briefings that covered a variety of topics: AFTAC’s mission overview, R&D blueprint development, and how new innovation concepts fit into AFTAC’s treaty monitoring and technical forensics mission.

Day two was a collection of breakout sessions that gave attendees the opportunity to provide, modify and refine inputs to AFTAC’s draft 2019 R&D roadmap.

Ed Darmiento, AFTAC’s chief of emerging technologies, was the project officer for the forum, and he and his team invested more than 1,000 man-hours to logistical planning that included the event agenda, lodging, transportation, security, and meals.

“This year, we wanted to incorporate as many suggestions from the previous forums as possible to show a continuous dedication to make it better from year to year,” said Darmiento. “We also modernized the registration process, which included commissioning a website to streamline the registration process and make it user-friendly. I think we hit the mark.”

Prior to the start of the forum, the Air Force Chief Scientist had the opportunity to tour AFTAC’s radiochemistry lab, Innovation Lab, and 24/7 operations center.

Joseph, a former commissioned officer in the Air Force, has more than 40 years of experience as a physicist, directed energy researcher, senior program manager, national security advisor, and government executive. In his role as the Air Force’s senior scientist, he advises the Air Force Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force by providing assessments on a wide range of scientific issues. He is responsible for identifying and analyzing technical issues to bring them to the attention of other senior Air Force and governmental leaders.

“I’m extremely proud of the team who navigated all the moving parts to make a program like this such a success,” said Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden, AFTAC chief scientist. “Until you actually put together an event of this magnitude, you truly can’t appreciate how much work is actually involved. It takes a remarkable team comprised of members working across multiple directorates to make a forum of this complexity successful.”

Sjoden added, “I hope Dr. Joseph and the rest of our stakeholders walked away with a greater understanding of AFTAC’s global mission, and I hope they will return next year with even bigger and better ideas to discuss.”

Downrange ‘MacGyvers’ creatively get the job done - 10/3/2018

An Airman from the Air Force Technical Applications Center ascends to the top of a wind turbine at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, to inspect components used to power the seismic site. The inspection was part of AFTAC’s annual maintenance requirement at its numerous seismic locations around the globe. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Senior Airman Jeremiah H. Odendahl (left) and Staff Sgt. David D. Mose Jr., both seismic technicians at Detachment 421 in Alice Springs, Australia, conduct routine maintenance at one of the detachment's 22 seismic detectors that contribute to the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System. The seismic work performed at the detachment is part of the Air Force Technical Applications Center's worldwide mission of nuclear treaty monitoring. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Seismic technicians from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., traveled to Vanda, Antarctica to conduct routine annual maintenance on seismic equipment that contributes to the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Rugged terrain surrounds Staff Sgt. Steven Milliman (seen in center distance) as he conducts periodic maintenance in Morocco on AFTAC’s global network of seismic sensors that contribute to the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System. (U.S. Air Force photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
For six successive years starting in 1986, faithful viewers tuned in every evening before Monday Night Football to see what kind of clever solutions Secret Agent Angus MacGyver would concoct to solve cases for the fictional Department of External Services.

The rise of MacGyver’s popularity largely stemmed from his innovative and resourceful use of common items to repair things in an improvised way. His ability to use everyday objects to solve seemingly impossible crimes quickly morphed into a verb (to MacGyver something) to describe when someone uses items on hand to make a quick repair.

Today, members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center sometimes find themselves applying a few MacGyver tactics as a last resort when they travel to one of the center’s many overseas detachments to conduct periodic maintenance on vital seismic equipment.

AFTAC, the sole organization in the Department of Defense tasked with detecting worldwide nuclear events, has more than 3,600 sensors across the globe to monitor seismic activity. While some of the sites are located in relatively accessible places geographically, many of them are unmanned and positioned at austere locations in extremely rugged territory.

Despite the austerity, Airmen assigned to the 709th Technical Maintenance Squadron at AFTAC must perform periodic maintenance at these sites to ensure uninterrupted access to critical seismic data. From the frozen mountain peaks above the Arctic Circle to the windswept deserts of the Australian Outback to the sub-zero temperatures in the Antarctic, the maintainers trek to some of the most remote corners of the world. And while they travel with a large amount of supplies to repair and maintain their precision equipment, they sometimes find themselves in situations that require MacGyver-like problem-solving skills.

Take for example a recent trip to one of their unmanned sites in an isolated area of the north arctic. The frigid winter temperatures and ten months of precipitation led to build-up on the exterior of the seismic boreholes. The maintainers had to fabricate an ice-catching bucket and ice removal tool due to significant ice incursion. Technicians weren’t able to pull the instrument out for repair until the ice was chipped away. But chipping away at the ice posed another problem – the ice chips would tumble down the borehole and damage the seismometer. So the team concocted the bucket-and-pick system they now use at sub-zero locations to catch the ice before it can fall into the hole.

Another unusual situation for the team occurred in eastern Asia. When the Airmen arrived to conduct routine maintenance, they discovered a red-footed falcon had made a nest five feet in diameter on one of the site’s solar panels.

“We had to fashion a way to carefully remove the nest in one piece and relocate it to a nearby rock outcropping, all while the falcon was keeping a sharp eye on us as we moved her home,” said Master Sgt. Chevis P. Stanley, subsurface maintenance flight chief. “The good thing was there were no eggs in the nest; otherwise, I’m not so sure she would have kept her distance as we moved it from point A to point B.”

The maintainers travel with a large kit containing items that are included for obvious reasons -- and some, not so obvious.

“You’ll always find standard supplies like electrical tape, all-in-one multi-tools, nuts and bolts, welding materials, etc., in our travel kits,” said Stanley. “But from experience, we also travel with other more obscure things we may need at our sites, items like super glue, zip ties, toilet paper, electrical plug adapters, wet wipes, pick-axes, even a few tennis balls.”

AFTAC’s seismic mission touches every continent on earth through the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System – the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force. Once a disturbance is detected underground, the data is transmitted to AFTAC’s 24/7 operations center at Patrick AFB, then analyzed to determine if the disturbance is nuclear in nature.

It’s a critical mission that has national command authority interest, and the Airmen who maintain the precision equipment take their role in global nuclear event detection very seriously.

“We go to great lengths to ensure we’ve made the necessary repairs and calibrated all the sensors before we ship them to our operating locations,” said Master Sgt. Joseph King, 709th Support Squadron central repair facility superintendent. “We’ve also built an entire continuity program on ‘unacceptable calibrations.’ For the most part, AFTAC’s seismic arrays are located in unpopulated, aseismic areas of the world, which is what we strive for in order to analyze and report clean and accurate seismic data. However, when we conduct the calibrations here at Patrick, which by our standards is an industrial area with lots of foot and vehicular traffic, that kind of ‘noise’ tends to give our calibrators headaches because the seismometers are so incredibly sensitive, making calibration very difficult.”

So King and his co-workers in the CRF came up with an ingenious way to perform precision calibrations right here at their home base prior to shipping the equipment downrange.

“To further isolate the seismometer from environmental noise, we used an isolation table and a noise-cancelling sound booth,” he said. “Then we concocted a system for the table to ride on tennis balls placed in a bed of sand on a thick rubber mat. I’m very proud of the ‘out-of-the-box-thinking’ that went down with this particular project. It works like a charm.”

The equipment undergoes meticulous calibration in Florida prior to being shipped to an overseas detachment, but a small chord of fear is still struck in the hearts of the Airmen who perform the work. “While we ensure the seismometers are sufficiently calibrated in the CRF, they still need to endure the frightening task of being shipped halfway around the globe,” said King. “I think we all know what the word ‘fragile’ means to a cargo company. More often than not the seismic equipment will need some level of additional repair when it arrives at its final destination.”

Of course, the CRF’s MacGyver-like techniques are used as a last resort when an unusual situation arises at a maintenance site.

“The Airmen who conduct the repairs at our overseas detachments are governed by some pretty stringent Air Force instructions, policies, standards and contractual obligations,” said Dave Merker, AFTAC’s Director of Systems Development. “They know the need to follow established technical orders to make any necessary adjustments on the equipment. But at some locations, such as our seismic site in Antarctica, we have an exceedingly small window of opportunity to perform annual maintenance. And sometimes, a bit of old-school ingenuity is required to ensure we have uninterrupted access to that vital seismic data. The ‘MacGyver’ technique is employed only as a last resort when all other avenues have been exhausted.”

When the team returns the following maintenance cycle, they’ll adjust the MacGyver’ed equipment to its proper state with the necessary accessories and parts, Merker said.

“We have to make the most of the short period of time we’re on the ground to work on the equipment, troubleshoot anything that needs troubleshooting, and leave it better than we found it so the data flows as required,” said Stanley. “One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in this job is that you never truly know what issues you may encounter, and all you can do is prepare as best you can for every contingency. Once you’ve done that, you just have to do the best you can with what you’ve got and be as flexible as possible. It’s definitely a challenge.”

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC’s command chief, has been continuously impressed by the creativity and ingenuity of his maintainers.

“Our Airmen are well trained and prepared to do the mission, but sometimes they are faced with unique challenges,” said Joseph. “They just find a way to ensure the mission can continue uninterrupted.”

Musical Tesla Coil, 3-D printer draws crowd at Science Bowl - 10/2/2018

James Griffieth, a member of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, explains how a tesla coil works to students from Flint, Mich., who were attending the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers annual conference in Orlando Sept. 18, 2018. The students competed in NOBCChE's Science Bowl the day before. Pictured with Griffieth from left to right are students from Flint Southwester Classical Academy: Brook Fordham, 16; Alayna Goff, 17; Kwame Wade, 16; and Keishaun Wade, 17.(U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Rose Day (right), chief of recruiting for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., talks about AFTAC job opportunities with Jada Hoyle-Gardner (center), a biomedical science graduate student at Florida A&M University and Keisha Smith (left), Ph.D candidate in neuroscience at Meharry Medical College in Nashville during the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers annual conference in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 18, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Michael Ball (right) and Rose Day (center), members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., speak with a visitor to their booth in the exhibition hall during the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers annual conference in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 18, 2018. Ball and Day were on hand to explain job opportunities available at the nuclear treaty monitoring center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
With the help of members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, children and adults alike were drawn to synchronized music emanating from a Tesla coil on display at the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers annual conference Sept. 17-18 in Orlando.

The conference is NOBCChE’s premier event where visiting students can interact with corporate, academic, non-profit and government professionals in the fields of chemistry, chemical engineering, and other STEM-related fields. Each year, the organization hosts a Science Bowl for students in grades 4 to 12, with questions that focus heavily on well-known scientists and inventors of color throughout history.

AFTAC Airmen volunteered their time to serve as judges, time keepers, score keepers and room facilitators for the Science Bowl on day one of the program. NOBCChE is dedicated to building a cadre of young people from all walks of life, while inspiring and supporting minority students to pursue careers in science and technology.

AFTAC, the Department of Defense’s sole organization responsible for nuclear treaty monitoring, has more than 1,000 personnel who have vast scientific experience and educations: chemists, physicists, nuclear engineers, biologists, mathematicians, geologists and seismologists, just to name a few. They are highly sought after by schools, companies and organizations to assist with STEM-related events. The NOBCChE conference was no exception.

“It was a top-notch experience for me,” said Yvette Coleman, one of the 15 AFTAC volunteers. “I enjoyed seeing all the different universities and corporations that took part, but the most important highlight for me was watching the students participate in the Science Bowl.”

On day two of the conference, Airmen set up an interactive display in conference exhibit hall that included seismometers, vacuum pumps, 3-D printers and the always-entertaining Tesla coil. The high-voltage wireless transformer created visual bolts of lightning set to music, which has the capacity to generate up to 250,000 volts, and drew quite a crowd.

Alfred Cook, a science teacher at Flint Southwester Classical Academy in Flint, Mich., escorted four of his top students to the conference to expose them to STEM professionals from all walks of life and give them a chance to compete in the science bowl.

“Our goal on this trip was to take first place in the bowl while putting Flint and our school on the map,” Cook said with pride. “We’ve been training for this for months now, both before and after school, using our own curriculum as well as anything we could find online to give us a competitive edge. Of course our biggest challenge is always financing a trip like this, but these students are the best of the best and it’s a great experience for them.”

Flint has had its share of news headlines recently, most prominent being the water crisis the city has faced. The situation has had an obvious and influential impact on Cook’s science bowl competitors.

One of his students, Keishaun Wade, was unequivocal when asked what he wants to be when he graduates: “I will be an urban planner. I want to change Flint.”

James “Griff” Griffieth, a frequent AFTAC STEM volunteer, explained why he thinks it’s important to stay engaged with the youth of today.

“This year was especially meaningful to me since NOBCChE sponsored a school from Flint,” Griff said. “It was great getting to know these kids who have been through so much in their young lives, yet they are persevering in the quest for knowledge and looking at how they can change the future. People ask why I volunteer, and it comes down to two simple things: we are all responsible to give back to our community whenever possible, and I really derive a lot of joy from helping these young adults experience science and technology in hopes to inspire them to be the next Nikola Tesla or Mae Jamison.”

In addition to the interactive STEM display, AFTAC’s chief of recruiting, Rose Day, managed a booth in the exhibition hall to encourage students to consider employment with the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center.

“NOBCChE is my favorite recruiting event of the year because this organization really focuses on mentoring and inspiring the next generation of STEM professionals,” said Day. “Most of the students we met had been involved with NOBCChE since high school and are now stand-out undergraduate, graduate, and even doctoral students from the best technology institutions in the country such as MIT and Georgia Tech. Many of them were very interested in our SMART Service for Scholars and Palace Acquire Intern programs that help fund their education and guarantee employment upon graduation.”

For more information about AFTAC’s STEM outreach program or to learn more about a career at AFTAC, send an email to AFTAC.Jobs@us.af.mil

Creative prototype leads to fielded implementation - 9/20/2018

An computer-generated artist's rendering of a winch mast assembly crate that is now being used by the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., to ship and store precision seismic equipment. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

Tech. Sgt. Timothy Kavanagh, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of product support for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., explains to Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, command chief of Air Combat Command, how he designed a crate to better ship, house and store AFTAC's precision seismic equipment that is used to monitor worldwide nuclear activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

A sketch of a prototype shipping crate to store and house precision seismic equipment for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. The sketch was used to develop a workable solution to inventory issues at the nuclear treaty monitoring center's overseas detachments. (U.S. Air Force illustration)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
When members of the only agency in the Department of Defense charged with monitoring nuclear treaties discovered shipped equipment was not being accurately accounted for at forward supply points, they took to the drawing board to devise a solution.

Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center here were determined to solve negative inventory trends, so they sketched out a conceptual prototype the old-fashioned way – with pen and paper.

One aspect of the nuclear treaty monitoring center’s global mission is to gather seismic data to detect underground nuclear activity. The center uses seismometers positioned throughout the world to accomplish that mission. In order to perform routine maintenance on their precision equipment, AFTAC Airmen rely on what’s called a winch mast assembly that is used to install, troubleshoot, remove and replace seismometers that sit in boreholes up to 500 feet below the earth’s surface.

When the assembly, with its multiple parts and pieces, is hoisted out of the borehole, it’s either placed in storage, shipped back to Florida for maintenance, or repaired on site. Over time, many of the parts were being separated from the main assembly, which ultimately caused inventory, shipping and maintenance issues.

So a team of AFTAC logisticians got together to figure out how to solve the problem. Tom Lehnerz, chief materiel manager and a supply expert with the 709th Support Group’s logistics flight, spearheaded the effort. Once he and his team had a viable concept, they built a prototype, modified it a few times based on inputs from depot and field technicians, and came up with a workable solution.

“We noticed there was an issue with inventories of our tilt mass assembly and realized our equipment wasn’t being accurately accounted for at forward supply points. With some brain power, some trial-and-error tests, and a lot of ingenuity, the team developed a process that should result in a $20,000 cost savings for the Air Force,” said Lehnerz.

“A prototype is worth a thousand meetings,” said Tech. Sgt. Timothy Kavanagh, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of product support. “That’s why we opted to go straight to the drawing board to diagram out exactly what we needed. We worked closely with the 45th Space Wing’s woodworkers from their Transportation Management Office who deal with shipping crates on a daily basis to help us go from concept to reality.”

According to David Paynter, 709th SPTG logistics flight manager, the crate the team developed will decrease maintenance preparation time by 50 percent, improve inventory accuracy of $40,000 worth of precision equipment and reduce annual inventory time by 50 percent.

“We received tremendously positive feedback from our remote seismic station operators at several of our overseas sites as well as from our technical schoolhouse in Texas after we completed field implementation,” said Paynter. “We showcased it to the commander and command chief of Air Combat Command when they visited AFTAC, and they seemed quite impressed with the team’s ingenuity and innovativeness. Any time we can save the Air Force money while simultaneously improving the process, it’s a job well done.”

To date, Lehnerz’ team has built 11 crates and nine of them have been shipped to AFTAC’s overseas operating locations.

“As we continue to collect and gather feedback from the detachment chiefs at the OLs, we will build additional assemblies to meet their needs,” said Lehnerz.

Chemist at AFTAC earns award from national Hispanic organization - 9/19/2018

Diana Velosa, a chemist with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., talks about career opportunities with high school students attending STEMversity in Milledgeville, Ga. Velosa spends a good deal of her time, both on and off duty, mentoring students in forensic science and math as part of the organization’s STEM/diversity outreach program. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rose Day)

An ever-present participant when the Air Force Technical Applications Center showcases its mission on the road, Diana Velosa enjoys reaching out to America’s youth to encourage them to pursue careers in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and math. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Diana Velosa (center, in black) a chemist with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, provides mentorship to Dayana Paz (seated) during the June 2015 STEMversity program on the campus of Central State Hospital in Georgia. Velosa and fellow AFTAC member Maj. Allen Cohen (pictured), attended the summer program that focuses on STEM and gives underrepresented middle and high school youth an opportunity to conduct experiments and use precision instruments in real-life laboratories. (U.S. Air Force photo by Rose Day)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
A scientist at the Air Force Radiochemistry Laboratory here was selected to receive the Meritorious Service Award from National Image, Inc.

Diana Velosa, a chemist in the Air Force Technical Applications Center’s Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab, earned the award for “fostering an innovative and harmonic environment between the military and the Hispanic-American civilian community.”

As one of two lead technicians in AFTAC’s world-class clean room, Velosa safely processed nuclear samples for the International Atomic Energy Agency in an effort to combat nuclear weapons proliferation. She is responsible for analyzing and identifying radiological and nuclear debris from foreign nuclear explosions in support of national security requirements.

In addition to her role at the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, Velosa spent countless hours mentoring students and participating in regional community events to help bring science-related demonstrations and exhibits to local schools.

“Diana is a worker who not only has a huge impact on her co-workers and our national security, but also on those outside the walls of the lab,” said Lt. Col James Thomas, lab commander. “She has represented AFTAC at STEM fairs, national conferences, recruiting events and science bowls to help promote the importance of science, especially to young Americans who are still in high school, and she always receives the highest praise for her efforts. This award is very well deserved, and we’re proud to have her as a member of our scientific team.”

The mission of National Image, Inc., is to promote Hispanic employment in the federal government through training, leadership development, education and the advancement for civil rights. It is a non-profit organization and works with federal agencies to promote recruitment.

One of the traits the organization looks for when selecting recipients of their awards is leadership, especially with regard to education. Velosa’s resume certainly fits the bill.

“I am greatly honored to receive such prestigious recognition,” she said. “I truly enjoy helping my community, especially those in underprivileged areas, reach their full potential. My father moved my family and me from a country that has seen extreme violence and corruption for many years, and through his integrity, determination, honesty and work ethic, he was and always will be an inspiration to me.”

She added, “I work with some of the very best scientists in the Air Force and to know they nominated me for this award makes all my efforts so worthwhile. I can’t thank them and National Image, Inc., enough for such a great honor.”

eFAILution Wall: Failure + Learning = Successful Evolution - 9/18/2018

Projects developed by members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center are on display in the nuclear treaty monitoring center's Innovation Lab at Patrick AFB, Fla. The lab built an "eFAILution” wall – a prominent centerpiece showcasing projects that didn’t quite make the grade. It’s what lab personnel describe as "a lineage of success born of failure." (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

Members of the Air Force Technical Application Center's Innovation Lab pose in the nuclear treaty monitoring center's machine shop. The lab encourages and enables innovators at AFTAC to take calculated risks and evolve from failure to achieve success. Pictured (l to r starting in front row): Lt. Col. Christopher Hall, Staff Sgt. Josh Van Horne, Senior Airman James Rensehhouse, Master Sgt. Nathan Shaw, 1st Lt. Drew Belk, Tech. Sgt. Collin Pesicka, Tech. Sgt. Riley Mills, Capt. Barron Stone, and Senior Airman Matthew Goodrich. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Pictured: the eFAILution Wall at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. The wall, complete with motivational quotes and projects that failed to be implemented, is used as a means to cultivate and capitalize on the talent of the workers at AFTAC while encouraging them to take their concepts and make them a reality in a positive learning environment. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company and captain of industry once said, “Failure is the only opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.”

One Air Force organization is taking Ford’s words to heart. The Air Force Technical Applications Center, the sole agency within the Department of Defense tasked with monitoring nuclear treaties and nuclear detonations around the world, is emphasizing to its workforce the importance of learning through failure.

In 2013, AFTAC formed an Innovation Lab to find ways to improve and accomplish their mission by developing concepts and technologies faster and cheaper. But the number one reason for establishing the lab was to enable innovators within the center to take calculated risks and evolve from failure to achieve success. From that concept grew the center’s “eFAILution” wall – a prominent centerpiece of projects displayed on the wall that didn’t quite make the grade. It’s what lab personnel describe as “…a lineage of success born of failure…” and their central message is simple: continue to learn and evolve from your mistakes.

“AFTAC has some of the most incredibly talented people in the Air Force,” said Col. Chad Hartman, AFTAC commander, “but our most powerful attribute is this organization’s long-standing culture of continuous learning. We are not simply ‘celebrating failure’ at AFTAC; what we are celebrating is a willingness to take risks and fail forward in order to learn.”

While Webster’s defines failure as the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective, the team of AFTAC’s premier enablers of innovation looks at failure as a means to achieve a better, more productive outcome, with an aim at unleashing a innovation mindset.

“When people come to the lab with a concept, we don’t want them to feel discouraged if their design doesn’t work the first time,” said Master Sgt. Nathan Shaw, lab superintendent. “The whole idea is to cultivate and capitalize on the talent of the workers here at AFTAC and encourage them to take their concepts and make them a reality, all while operating in a positive learning environment.”

The lab’s wall has about a dozen projects ranging in scope from a cooked Raspberry Pi (a tiny single-board computer) to an entirely 3-D printed programmable rover that can be operated remotely or autonomously. The lessons gained from these failures have energized the lab team and AFTAC’s 1,000+ strong workforce to rethink solutions to problems.

“There has been a lot of discussion at all levels in the Air Force recently about failure,” said 1st Lt. Drew Belk, Innovation Lab flight commander. “The Secretary of the Air Force and the Air Force Chief of Staff have been stressing the importance of ‘shaping our competitive edge’ through innovation, which includes learning from failure, even if it means accepting more risk.”

Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson recently spoke at a conference in Montgomery, Ala., where she said, “It doesn’t matter to me if (Airmen) get it right the first time. It matters to all of us that we keep innovating constantly, rather than sitting back and analyzing people for failure.”

Belk is encouraged by Wilson’s leadership and views on the importance of failing in the name of mission accomplishment. “I believe the key thing to remember is failure is only fatal if it is final. Failure provides us the opportunity to learn and make the next iteration better,” he said.

Any successful inventor will tell you that virtually nothing ever works on the first try. That’s why AFTAC’s senior leaders realize one of the key ingredients to the lab’s success comes down to one word: persistence.

“Typically, high-speed thinkers are full of ideas and work hard to transfer their ideas from thought-to-product,” said Dr. Dan DeForest, AFTAC’s Director of Strategic Integration. “Sometimes, however, their ideas simply don’t come to fruition, whether that’s due to a design flaw, engineering obstacle, or even a lack of resources. But they don’t give up – they continue to persist and seek out workable solutions. It’s senior leadership’s job to clear the path to allow this persistence.”

Couple that persistence with failure and learning, and you have a recipe for success. “The value of learning from failure cannot be overstated,” said Hartman.

The Innovation Lab has grown exponentially since its inception and has been benchmarked by other organizations throughout the Air Force. The team of AFTAC Airmen who make up the Innovation Lab possess a diverse set of skills: electrical, chemical and mechanical engineers; computer scientists and programmers; technical applications specialists; and machinists, just to name a few. Each Airman has demonstrated a persistent desire to excel while applying their vast knowledge and abilities.

“One of the more enjoyable challenges in the lab is thinking of ways to improve things that already work,” said Tech. Sgt. Collin J. Pesicka, noncommissioned officer-in-charge of rapid development. “When you spend time fixing things that are broken, you can’t help but wonder about complacency. That’s why we began saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, make it better.’ It’s important to investigate all potential opportunities to fail during the continuous improvement process. And sometimes that includes reinventing the wheel.”

For example, lab personnel learned the hard way when they engineered a device to capture debris from a routing table by attaching a vacuum. They wanted to create a solution to reduce airborne effluents. However, after debris failed to get sucked up into the vacuum, they realized there was a huge bottleneck near the attachment.

“The initial design contained an unforeseen choke point, which failed to allow for effective dust extraction,” said Belk. “Through ‘eFAILution’ we prevailed and developed a better design that continues to suck to this day, which in this case is a good thing!”

With the requirement to develop more high-power computing capabilities and technologies, the potential for this kind of innovation is a game-changer.

“Failure in the U.S. Air Force has historically been a word whispered behind closed doors and swept under the rug as much as possible,” said Capt Barron Stone, 709th Support Squadron director of operations and former officer-in-charge of the Innovation Lab. “It’s encouraging to be a part of the culture change that highlights failure as a means of getting to a better final product. Grass-roots innovation and engineering efforts often require assumptions to expedite progress or save money. With these assumptions, failure is inevitable, but it allows us to learn quickly and make adjustments to get a successful prototype. It’s been extremely refreshing and rewarding to be a part of this team.”

Today, Air Force leadership at the highest levels have challenged its officers and senior enlisted advisors to create a culture where Airmen can and should put innovation at the forefront of their daily actions and encourage them to step outside their comfort zone to kick-start innovation while trying out new ideas.

AFTAC has proven it’s an organization that’s capitalizing on that challenge.

“Our National Defense Strategy recognizes that we have to be agile enough to deliver performance at the speed of relevance because the complexity and pace of change we face in the world today is only increasing,” said Hartman. “AFTAC’s mindset of iterative learning from failure is key to enabling the organizational agility we require to be successful. I’m extremely proud of our men and women’s ingenuity.”

Belk and his team are encouraging their co-workers to come to the lab with project ideas. “If the concept works, we’ll celebrate. If the concept doesn’t work, we’ll still celebrate and encourage them to go back to the drawing board to apply the lessons we’ve learned to make the next generation prototype a success.”

AFTAC Hockey takes trophy at charity match - 9/18/2018

Traveling Challenge Cup trophy earned by members of the Athletes for Teamwork and Charity (AFTAC) based at Patrick AFB, Fla., after their match with the Tampa Bay Fire Fighters. AFTAC won the game 9-7, with all proceeds going to Camp Hopetake, a sleepaway camp for children with burn injuries. (Courtesy photo)

Players from Athletes for Teamwork and Charity (AFTAC) and Tampa Bay Fire Fighters (TBFF) pose for a group photo after the two teams competed in a charity match to raise funds for Camp Hopetake, a sleepaway camp for children who have survived severe burns. (Courtesy photo)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Players from the Athletes for Teamwork and Charity Hockey Club competed against the Tampa Bay Firefighters Aug. 25 to raise money for adolescent burn victims and walked away with the coveted Traveling Challenge Cup trophy.

The AFTAC Hockey Club, a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization, faced off against firemen from the greater Tampa area for the fourth time in as many years to support TBFF’s adopted charity, Camp Hopetake – a sleepaway summer camp for children ages 5-17 who have survived burn injuries.

From the opening faceoff to the final buzzer, it was a see-saw scoring game, with AFTAC tallying the first goal. Quickly, TBFF fought back to take the lead. The second period saw end-to-end action and the fans were energized. As the teams entered the third period with Tampa up 7-6, AFTAC surged ahead, shutting down the firefighters’ vaunted offense and won the game, 9-7.

“By far, TBFF is the best team we’ve ever skated against, and this was probably the best game we’ve ever played as a team,” said Bill Hungate, team captain. “I’m so proud of our effort on and off the ice, especially when the outcome benefits children.”

His players had nothing but praise for Hungate’s motivational speech that propelled them toward victory.

“In between the second and third periods when we were down by two, Bill got us fired up by saying, ‘We’ve already won this game, guys – they just don’t know it yet.’ I took those words to heart and we went out there and gave it our all!” said center Mike Nolan. “I could not have asked for a better way to kick off the season.”

The matchup was an ‘across-the-board’ charitable event, with referees offering their services for free, discounted ice time at the rink, and the challenge cup donated by a local vendor. Between ticket sales and direct donations, the teams raised more than $1,500 to benefit TBFF’s chosen charity.

“Camp Hopetake provides a safe, comfortable, supportive environment for kids who have been through some pretty traumatic circumstances,” said defenseman Paul Bertrand. “The word ‘Hopetake’ is the Seminole Indian word for children, and many of us on the team are parents ourselves, so we take the game pretty seriously when we know the money raised goes to such a great cause.”

TBFF is supported by the Tampa Bay Lightning, a National Hockey League team that has authorized the use of its trademark lightning bolt in the TBFF logo. Members of the Lightning organization were on hand at the game to show support for their community team and were impressed with what they saw.

“The Lightning guys approached me after the game to say they are definitely interested in supporting future events between AFTAC and TBFF, which is a huge compliment to us as a team,” said Hungate. “I mean, some of the guys on TBFF have professional minor league hockey experience, and knowing we can impress pros from the NHL is pretty humbling. We’re looking forward to more matches with this outstanding club.”

Center exercises capability to relocate treaty monitoring mission - 9/6/2018

Keith Ewasiuk, (center) maintenance operations control center manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, explains to Col. Ralph E. Bordner III (lower right), AFTAC vice commander, how data is analyzed after the nuclear treaty monitoring center transfers the mission from its primary location at Patrick AFB, Fla., to its alternate location in Millington, Tenn. Also pictured (l to r): Maj. William J. Pattinson, 22nd Surveillance Squadron director of operations; Staff Sgt. Beau Brennan, subsurface analyst; and Lt. Col. Joseph H. Shupert, 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group deputy commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Millington, Tenn. - The Air Force Technical Applications Center exercised its capability to transfer its critical nuclear treaty monitoring mission Aug. 14-15 to the center’s newly established contingency operations location in Millington, Tenn.

AFTAC is the sole organization in the Department of Defense tasked with monitoring worldwide nuclear detonations and with providing national decision makers with data analysis on atomic events underwater, in the atmosphere, underground or in space.

Because of its no-fail 24/7 mission, AFTAC is tasked with providing uninterrupted access to nuclear event detection data to provide national decision makers at the highest levels in the U.S. government. The center also operates the U.S. National Data Center, the nation’s arm of the International Monitoring System that supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization to limit nuclear testing and proliferation worldwide.

Millington offers AFTAC leadership the unique opportunity to create a fully operational alternate operations center if needed in the event its primary location at Patrick AFB should become inhabitable due to a natural or man-made disaster.

Referred to as a COOP (contingency of operations), a team of subject matter experts traveled to Tennessee to establish communication lines, ensure connectivity was fully operational, and prepare to transfer the mission from AFTAC’s operations center to the alternate facility. While it sounds relatively simple, there are a lot of complicated and moving parts of the transfer.

“We don’t just operate off of one network,” said Master Sgt. Michael Nolan, cyber operations superintendent. “We collect, process and analyze and report data from three systems – our standard open-source network (NIPR), our secure router (SIPR) and our highly classified system (JWICS). It would be a lot simpler if we were just working from one unclassified system, but due to the nature of our mission, it’s critical for us to provide access to all three operational systems. So it does take some time and effort to ensure the team has precisely what they need to successfully transfer from one location to another.”

The team is also responsible to inform outside agencies and stakeholders, such as combatant commanders, international mission partners, AFTAC’s higher headquarters, and the National Military Command Center, just to name a few.

For this exercise, 2nd Lt. Morgan Snyder served as the senior duty officer overseeing execution of the transfer. Sitting at her side was Master Sgt. Jorge Garcia, AFTAC operations manager, who was responsible for systems validation and ensuring COOP team members were prepared to accept mission transfer.

“It’s always challenging to be geographically separated from your primary headquarters,” said Snyder, “but as the SDO, it falls upon me to make sure the transfer is seamless and successful. There are times when I feel a lot of pressure and responsibility, especially since our mission is so critical, but I have a lot of SMEs (subject matter experts) I can rely on to assist me if I have any questions or concerns. It’s a total team effort.”

AFTAC’s vice commander, Col. Ralph E. Bordner III, traveled to Millington to observe the process and learn how his Airmen execute the COOP.

“As the nation’s leading expert on nuclear detection, we as an organization need to ensure we are prepared for any contingency that may alter how we do business,” said Bordner. “One of the ways we do that is to conduct exercises that examine our critical functions, validate our ability to relocate our surveillance operations, and verify the effectiveness of our alert mission.”

He added, “For the past several months, the team here has been meticulously planning for the COOP, and by all accounts, the transfer was a huge success. It’s a testament to their hard work, and I’m confident should a hurricane head our way this season, we are fully prepared to deliver our findings to national decision makers.”

Breaking the STEM mold, one woman at a time - 8/24/2018

When Senior Master Sgt. Tonya L. Cobarruviaz enlisted in the Air Force more than 16 years ago, little did she know she would spend 14 of those 16 years with the same organization. It is a testament to her knowledge, skill and expertise that she remains one of the stalwart senior noncommissioned officers assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
In 1976, esteemed historian and author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich wrote a book entitled, “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History.” The premise of her work was to shine a light on famous women throughout history who challenged the way things were done. While the title may seem to be a modern-day rallying cry for women to go out and break the rules through misbehavior, that was not the premise of her message. Ulrich’s emphasis was to encourage women to do more – to break with convention, make a mark on history and prove that ordinary people, including women, can have a lasting impact on the world by doing the unexpected.

Today, women from all walks of life are taking Ulrich’s words to heart and finding ways to break those proverbial molds as they seek out careers in positions traditionally held by men.

Women make up half the current U.S. workforce, but only 26 percent of them are in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 61 percent of women in STEM are in the social sciences (communication, education, public health, etc.). Only 13 percent of women are in a hard science field such as engineering.

From an Air Force perspective, 64,367 of the nearly 321,000 Airmen currently on active duty are women. Of that 20 percent, even less are in STEM-related fields. Air Force leadership is trying to break that cycle.

In a live session with The Washington Post’s David Ignatius last month, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson discussed new Air Force initiatives aimed at inspiring more women to enter scientific career fields. During the interview, Wilson elaborated on steps the service is taking to recruit more women.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is to encourage more young women to go to engineering school,” said Wilson. “Sometimes the way in which we talk about engineering is not resonating with our daughters, and it is with our sons. We found that if you look at teenagers, more boys are satisfied by solving the problem. They get satisfaction out of fixing something. A disproportion number of girls want to know why the problem matters. So, if we say, ‘Come be an engineer and you can do cool stuff,’ we’re talking to the boys. If you say, ‘If you want to make a difference in someone’s life; if you want to have clean water or save the life of a family member you love, or make the environment cleaner, or provide energy to the world, be an engineer.’ Then we’re talking to both boys and girls.”

One Air Force entity has made great strides on making Wilson’s STEM goals a reality. The Air Force Technical Applications Center, headquartered at Patrick AFB, Fla., is a highly-technical organization made up of scientists, technicians, engineers and analysts whose role is to detect, identify, analyze and report nuclear detonations underground, in the atmosphere, underwater or in space.

It is the sole organization in the Department of Defense charged with this vital international mission.

Despite its vital role to national decision makers, AFTAC’s pool of employees leans heavily male. Of its more than 1,000+ members who make up the center’s workforce, only 160 are military or civilian females. Even fewer than that are in STEM positions.

One of the ways AFTAC is looking to increase the number of female employees in technically-skilled roles is hosting its annual Women in Science and Engineering Symposium. For the past four years, AFTAC has invited the best speakers from various industries – academia, defense, corporate and commercial – to share best practices on how to recruit, engage, employ and encourage women into hard science career paths.

Rose Day, AFTAC’s chief of civilian recruiting, believes the best way to “break the mold” is to expose girls at an early age to the sciences.

“One of the messages I like to relay to students when we travel for recruiting efforts is very simple: I tell the girls, ‘You are needed.’ Everyone wants to hear those words because it makes them feel like they are a valuable, needed contributor,” Day explained. “We have to be advocates, we have to set the example and we have to collaborate. But we can’t do this alone. We also have to partner with the men in the room because their advocacy is a critical part to the partnership. That’s how we break the mold.”

This year, America celebrates the 38th anniversary of the establishment of National Women’s Equality Day, on Aug. 26. The commemoration stemmed out of the National Women’s History Project as a way to promote and educate the role of women throughout history.

In honor of National Women’s Equality Day, here are just a few of AFTAC’s “mold-breakers:”

Staff Sgt. Terica G. Clewis
Staff Sgt. Terica Clewis has been assigned to the nuclear treaty monitoring center performing various roles for the past three years. Her current duties include designing innovated software systems that assist center personnel (as well as the rest of the Air Force) efficiently manage, store and process large-scale data.

“My team and I are responsible for exploring ways to apply machine-learning algorithms to the data so analysts can provide more robust information to leadership at a much faster rate,” Clewis explained. “I have been able to demonstrate how the development process can foster greater innovation and better teamwork. Collaborating together requires everyone to see the impact of communicating properly with colleagues. It’s extremely rewarding.”

But the “reward” didn’t always come easy to Clewis.

“I’m a single mom, and right after my daughter was born I was in a predominantly-male maintenance squadron. There were times I had to go above and beyond what was typically required just to prove I was part of the team. I volunteered for every repair job and performed all the preventative maintenance tasks to build up my skills and illustrate I was just as good – if not better – than my male coworkers. Because women sometimes have to juggle so many different responsibilities at once, we are great at finding creative ways to perform tasks faster and more efficiently.”

Clewis holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration and has her sights on earning her master’s degree in data science.

“Ten years from now, I see myself completing my graduate degree, recruiting more women into the 9S100 (scientific applications specialist) career field, mentoring other young female Airmen and preparing for military retirement!”

Tech. Sgt. BreAnne Groth
When AFTAC celebrated National Pi Day on March 14, Tech. Sgt. BreAnne Groth’s section was amazed when the NCO picked up a dry-erase marker and began writing out Pi in decimal form from memory. With ease, she surpassed 100 decimal points and stopped only because she ran out of room on the white board and had to get back to work.

Math and science have always been a passion of hers, and she definitely applies her knowledge in her everyday responsibilities at AFTAC. As the center’s satellite technique alert officer, she is a qualified national expert in analyzing and reporting global nuclear detonations to national decision makers in accordance with ratified nuclear treaties. She is also responsible for monitoring state-of-the-art health and configuration control of more than 200 sensors on 38 orbiting space vehicles.

“This means I’m not only concerned with ensuring and optimizing current sensor performance; I also advise the treaty monitoring community of future constellations and make recommendations for sensors that will be used well after I retire from the Air Force,” Groth said.

During the seven years she’s been assigned to AFTAC, Groth progressed through different positions: satellite data analyst, radiation measurements technician, space operations system analyst, and now noncommissioned officer in charge of U.S. Nuclear Detonation Detection System (USNDS) operations. She possesses two academic degrees, an associates degree in scientific analysis technology and a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics. Her goal is to be selected to attend the Air Force Institute of Technology to earn a master’s degree in space systems.

“My parents taught me when I was younger to ‘do what you love,’ and that has never steered me wrong,” said Groth. “Any career field may seem like a challenge, but the secret is to embrace and learn from the differences. STEM has so many different kinds of people, including really smart women, but the one thing we all have in common is our passion for science!”

Senior Master Sgt. Tonya L. Cobarruviaz
When Senior Master Sgt. Tonya L. Cobarruviaz enlisted in the Air Force more than 16 years ago, little did she know she would spend 14 of those 16 years with the same organization. It is a testament to her knowledge, skill and expertise that she remains one of the stalwart senior NCOs assigned to the center.

She arrived at AFTAC when she was a tender 20 years old, and over the years she has worked at AFTAC’s headquarters at Patrick AFB as well as at several of AFTAC’s overseas and stateside detachments.

As the superintendent for the experts who conduct advanced analysis on data received from geophysical and atmosphere and space mission sets, she is tasked with ensuring members of the 23rd Analysis Squadron have the resources they need to get the mission done. She also goes to great lengths to remove any barriers that may stand in their way to achieve the mission.

“I like helping people,” she said. “I feel very rewarded when there is something I can do that makes someone else’s job or life better, even slightly. It takes a lot of effort to affect change in a large organization like ours, and the few times I’ve been able to do that were some of the best work moments I’ve ever experienced.”

Cobarruviaz, who holds a dual-major bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies and business management, and a master’s degree in strategic intelligence, prides herself not only on what she’s accomplished academically, but also what she’s achieved physically.

“As one of the few women in an organization dominated by men, I have always pushed myself to be at least as good as the average male when it comes to physical fitness,” she said. “Male and female Airmen have different requirements for push-ups, run times, sit-ups and body measurements, but I typically use the men’s standards to push myself to be better. The older I get, the harder it is, but I still try. I think being mentally fit is equally important as being physically fit.”

Capt. Pamela Zhang
Capt. Pamela Zhang joined the AFTAC team in 2016 as a chemist. She’s parlayed the education she received at the U.S. Air Force Academy into an important leadership position within AFTAC’s 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group. She credits her continued success to a solid upbringing.

“My family was instrumental in creating a foundation where I felt encouraged to pursue science, and hard work made anything attainable,” Zhang stated. “I went to summer science camps and participated in a lot of extra-curricular STEM activities while I was growing up, so I think doing all those activities when I was young showed me how to have thick skin and to be OK with being different, especially since most of the camps were made up of boys. I remember one summer some younger boys were teasing me, and I was so infuriated with them for being so immature and unfair. But my parents made me return and taught me to never back down from any problem I faced. From that, I learned to ask a lot of questions of my teachers, instructors and counselors, and I think that had a lot to do with where I am today.”

Zhang, who also has a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, is pursuing a second graduate degree in international relations and contemporary war.

“Being well-rounded is an important part of education and being an officer,” she explained. “As much as I enjoy STEM and studying it, if we as STEM professionals fail to understand the greater global environment and how STEM is used by other nations, our work can lack impact and be used in unanticipated ways. I may regret leaving the safety of the STEM field, at least academically, but I’m excited to begin studying a new and foreign subject.”

Diana C. Velosa
An ever-present participant when AFTAC showcases its mission on the road, Diana Velosa enjoys reaching out to America’s youth to encourage them to pursue careers in STEM. For the past several years, members of the treaty monitoring center have conducted STEM outreach at numerous venues – science bowls, robotics competitions, science fair judging, school mentoring and summer science camps.

Her field of expertise is chemistry, and she puts her degree to good use in the Air Force’s only one of its kind capabilities, the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory.

“I’ve had the pleasure of being a part of the AFTAC family since 2014,” Velosa said. “I assist with separation, purification and analytical chemical techniques, as well as work with spectroscopy instrumentation and alpha, beta and gamma measurement equipment. I am very proud of our mission and what we are able to accomplish on a daily basis, especially when I know I am contributing to the safety of our country and that of our allies.”

When asked what it has been like as a woman to work in a predominantly male field of study, Velosa said, “I think our society has come a long way in accepting women as a vital part of the workforce, and we contribute just as much as our male counterparts. However, it is sometimes a lot more challenging for us to be a good mother, wife and scientist all at the same time. I’ve been very lucky, though – I’ve had many very supportive supervisors who put themselves in the shoes of us modern-day women, and they understand how much we have to balance.”

She added, “Being a Hispanic female scientist whose first language is not English, I’ve faced a lot of challenges. But if I could give my young self a piece of advice, I would say this: don’t worry about fitting into anybody else’s mold of what career a girl should pursue. Explore your interests and seek out internships to discover your passion. Then go for it!”

Parveen S. Kapoor
One of only four women in her squadron, Parveen Kapoor is the chief of the Atmosphere and Space Operations Flight within the 23rd Analysis Squadron at AFTAC. She leads a flight comprised of military and civilian scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technicians responsible for the operation and maintenance of the USNDS.

As a 34-year career civil servant, Kapoor served in a multitude of STEM roles for the Air Force, with 16 of those years at AFTAC. With a bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics and a minor in physics, coupled with her master’s degree in applied statistics, Kapoor’s broad educational background has proven instrumental to AFTAC’s success and mission accomplishment.

“As a young child, I struggled quite a bit in math,” Kapoor said. “In fact, my first grade teacher told my parents I would never be able to do math successfully. Even up to about 8th grade, I remember not understanding mathematical principles very well. It wasn’t until about my sophomore year in high school that I had a great algebra teacher who explained things in a very basic, easy-to-understand manner. All of a sudden, things began to click and my grades drastically improved. That was definitely a turning point in my early STEM education.”

Kapoor knows first-hand how important the right teacher is to a struggling student. So much so that she tutors high school and college students in her spare time.

“In order for us as a nation to be a technical superpower, we need to groom talent in STEM and it starts in the schools” she explained. “Recently, there has been a major emphasis placed in this area for young girls, and while I’m completely on board with that, I believe there needs to be encouragement across the board for both boys and girls in STEM.”

Contractor with treaty monitoring center puts lifesaving skills to the test - 8/24/2018

skills.jpg Christopher Minamyer (left) and his aunt, Leticia Godinez, are interviewed by local media after they helped save a drowning man at a Tampa-area beach. Minamyer, a mechanical engineering contractor for Kegman, Inc., at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., was lauded for his life-saving skills. (Photo courtesy of ABC Action News, WFTS-TV/Tampa)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
It started out as a relaxing day at the beach – abundant sunshine, warm water, comfortable sea breeze, and good company. But the serene setting was quickly interrupted when beachgoers rushed to help pull a drowning man to safety.

Christopher Minamyer, a mechanical engineering contractor for Kegman, Inc., at the Air Force Technical Applications Center here, was visiting his relatives recently on Florida’s Sun Coast. Chris and his wife were playing catch with their children as his aunt and uncle planted their beach chairs in the sand to enjoy the scenery and soak in the sun. As they were playing, Chris saw an exhausted couple attempting to drag a man on shore as a woman called for help.

He ran over while yelling to his aunt, Leticia Godinez, a registered nurse with 40 years’ experience, to join him at the shoreline to help. When they reached the prone man, the couple said they found him in the ocean, face down, and wasn’t sure how long he’d been underwater.

Chris, a former Air Force officer, allowed his military training skills to kick in. They pulled him away from the incoming waves to drier sand. The man was unconscious and unresponsive, so Leticia established an airway. Beachgoers flagged down a police officer who raced over on his all-terrain vehicle. Leticia and the officer worked together to get the man’s heart pumping faster, while Chris started stomach compressions on each exhale to get the water out of the victim’s lungs.

“When the paramedics finally arrived, they got an IV into him quickly, but were concerned about his heartrate,” said Chris. “They performed traditional CPR on him and quickly loaded him onto a stretcher. He was still unconscious at that point.”

According to a report by ABC Action News (WFTS-TV/Tampa), the 63-year-old victim was transported to Largo Medical Center with life-threatening injuries. Once he received medical care, he regained consciousness, was able to breathe on his own, and communicate with family members.

“Not a lot was going through my mind at the time we were trying to rescue him,” Chris said, “other than trying to get him to breathe and get him to safety. Afterwards, though, I was thinking about it a lot. I really thought he wasn’t going to make it based on the shape he was in when we found him. When I heard the next day he was alive, I was very relieved.”

The victim’s family contacted Chris and his aunt to express their thanks for their selfless actions.

“His daughter and sister were extremely grateful to my aunt and me for helping out,” Chris said. “They told me the doctors put him into a medically-induced coma for 24 hours, and after that he was responsive and talking to his family members. They also said he has a good chance to fully recover, but has a long road ahead of him. I’m keeping him in my prayers and glad he’s alive today.”

Minamyer’s supervisor had nothing but praise and admiration for his employee.

“Chris’ sacrificial and quick-thinking efforts to rescue a drowning man were surprising, but not unexpected,” said Rob Martin, geophysical acquisition manager for the MERC-G contract. “As a former Air Force officer and current contract engineer, Chris has consistently demonstrated a commitment to leadership, faith and service to others. We’re extremely proud to have him on our team.”

AFTAC upgrades phone system to enhance security - 8/23/2018

phone1.jpg James Griffieth (right), an equipment control officer for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., examines new phones with Staff Sgt. Dali Ramos, a member of Griffieth's installation upgrade team. The nuclear treaty monitoring center replaced more than 975 telephones to meet or exceed established security requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
Phone2.jpg A collection of old telephones is placed in a large cardboard box at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. The nuclear treaty monitoring center replaced its full complement of existing telephones with new systems to meet or exceed established security requirements. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The Air Force Technical Applications Center here replaced its full complement of telephones to meet or exceed established security requirements outlined in guidance from the Committee on National Security Systems.

AFTAC’s workforce of more than 1,000 operates in a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, where it conducts its international nuclear treaty monitoring mission. Due to the nature of the information the center processes on a daily basis, personnel require secure communications to execute their respective jobs and duty requirements.

Done in two phases, AFTAC’s team of comm experts began configuring and building user profiles prior to connecting the systems to the network. Once that process was complete, phase two was underway and the team began transferring more than 985 phone numbers from the existing switch belonging to the 45th Communications Squadron to AFTAC’s own new switch.

According to Staff Sgt. Sean Phillips, information technology project manager, upgrading AFTAC’s telephone system was necessary to eliminate any system vulnerabilities.

“Our new phone system is part of what’s called Telecommunications Security Group Six, or TSG-6, and it brings a lot of innovative features to desktop communications, with the most important being secure comms,” said Phillips.

James Griffieth, AFTAC equipment control officer, was the team lead for the installation upgrade and oversaw five Airmen who assisted with the transfer.

“AFTAC had been using Avaya Instruments for several years, and while they are quality phones, they didn’t meet the necessary security requirements when it comes to cybersecurity instructions,” said Griffieth. “We are replacing about 1,200 pieces of equipment with modified Cisco phones, which will put us in compliance with CNSS guidelines. It also gives our leadership peace of mind knowing the information is safe and secure.”

The cost of the conversion was about $2.1 million -- $1.8 million during phase one, and about $350,000 for phase two.

Griffieth said the new phones will have many of the same features as the old phones – speed dial, voice mail, ring tones, phone directory, etc., but pointed out one feature center personnel will have to get used to. “Be sure to push the TSG-6 red button to speak to your caller!”

Cop for a Day: AFTAC Airmen learn role of base Security Forces - 8/21/2018

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Tech. Sgt. Scott Buske, a spectral analysis section chief with the 21st Surveillance Squadron, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., takes aim at a virtual active shooter using VirTra, a 300-degree wrap-around simulator used by members of the 45th Security Forces Squadron. Buske and 17 members of his squadron spent a day with the law enforcement agents to learn more about how they protect the base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

sfs2.jpg Senior Airman Nam Tran, a deployed analysis system technician with the 21st Surveillance Squadron, reacts to voltage from a conducted electrical weapon delivered by James “Chewy” Chenoweth, a security forces trainer with the 45th Security Forces Squadron. Tran and 17 other members of his squadron based at Patrick AFB, Fla., spent a day with Airmen of the 45th SFS to learn more about the law enforcement officers who patrol and protect the installation and its people. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)
sfs3.jpg Senior Airman Jenna Bruzual, a spectral analyst with the 21st Surveillance Squadron at Patrick AFB, Fla., is spotted by Tech. Sgt. Thomas Angelini, 45th Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of training, and Senior Airman Steven Morales, 45th SFS unit schedule and training specialist, as trainer James “Chewy” Chenoweth delivers a high voltage jolt with a Taser. Bruzual was one of 18 Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center who visited the base law enforcement squadron to learn more about their role in personnel and installation protection. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here spent a day with Airmen of the 45th Security Forces Squadron to learn more about the law enforcement officers who patrol and protect the installation and its most critical resource: the people.

Eighteen military and civilian personnel of AFTAC’s 21st Surveillance Squadron teamed up with cops July 30 to get an up-close-and-personal look into how base law enforcement trains in shoot/no-shoot scenarios and to experience what it feels like to be stunned by a Taser.

Staff Sgt. Adam Edwards, non-commissioned officer-in-charge of deployed analysis system (DAS) logistics, suggested to his squadron commander that pairing up with the 45th SFS would be a great way to spend their Comprehensive Airman Fitness Day. His commander concurred, and Edwards coordinated the visit with the unit scheduler at the 45th SFS.

Once the coordination efforts were complete, the team of AFTAC scientists, engineers, technicians and analysts made the trip to the base defense operations center where they were met by Tech. Sgt. Thomas Angelini, noncommissioned officer in charge of training, and Senior Airman Steven Morales, unit schedule and training specialist. The group was led into a large room that houses the SFS’ VirTra System, a state-of-the-art training simulator security forces experts use to train for the most difficult real-world situations.

“VirTra is a 300-degree wrap-around simulator that’s configured to employ an M4 (rifle) and an M9 (handgun) with realistic visual scenarios to give our guys an understanding of what it looks like downrange under extremely stressful situations,” said Angelini. “We’ve been using the system for about two years now, and it’s been extremely beneficial. We’re able to train using dozens of scenarios, like an active shooter, a suicidal ideation, use of force, or even urban combat conditions. It’s an incredibly realistic system.”

Each member of the 21st had a chance to get a feel of what the VirTra training platform had to offer using either type of weapon available.

“It was very realistic training,” said Tech. Sgt. Scott Buske, 21st SURS spectral analysis section chief. “We go through active shooter exercises and they’re helpful and all, but being able to use simulation equipment like this really brings it to a totally different level. I definitely walked away with a lot of respect for the guys who face these threats in real life. Big thanks to the 45th for giving us the chance to experience it.”

After the virtual firing range action was complete, the Airmen were introduced to James “Chewy” Chenoweth, a security forces trainer and retired Air Force senior noncommissioned officer.

Chewy demonstrated techniques used when employing a Conducted Electrical Weapon, more commonly known as a Taser. The gun uses compressed gas to fire two small darts that are attached to copper wires. When the darts pierce the skin, an electric current flows through the body, immediately subduing the suspect.

He explained why law enforcement agencies use stun gun technology as a tool in their arsenal.

“Generally speaking, it’s a safe and effective means to controlling a subject without having to resort to deadly force,” said Chewy. “It delivers a high voltage, low amperage jolt to the human body that temporarily causes the suspect to lose voluntary muscle control. More often than not, the ‘damage’ a recipient experiences is during the fall when the Taser makes contact, not from the voltage itself.”

Since injury from falling is a factor, the Security Forces Squadron requires trainees to be in a prone position on floor mats with two spotters on each side of the recipient to ensure his or her safety.

Six brave AFTACers took on the challenge to allow themselves to receive up to 50,000 volts from Chewy’s Taser.

“As soon as I heard the buzzing sound, I felt my body seize up and stiffen like a plank,” said Senior Airman Nam Tran, a DAS operations technician. “I didn’t black out or anything – I was completely aware of what was going on around me – but I couldn’t move a muscle. What felt like several minutes was only a few seconds. It was rough!”

Edwards was pleased with the outcome of his squadron’s CAF Day, and walked away with an even greater appreciation of the work Patrick AFB’s law enforcement sentinels perform every day.

“This was extremely beneficial for all of us,” said Edwards. “I walked away with a lot of admiration and respect for the cops who are on guard 24/7 to keep us safe, and a much greater understanding of the role they play as defenders of the base and its people. I hope we can reciprocate by having them come over to our building to learn more about how we monitor nuclear treaties around the world.”

Lt. Col. Matt Morello, commander of the 21st SURS, praised his Airmen for putting teamwork at the forefront of his squadron’s CAF Day efforts.

“This was a very effective way for us to build our internal team as well as build a partnership with our Security Forces counterparts here at Patrick,” said Morello. “The level of courage and professionalism required of the SFS Airmen is difficult to grasp. Running through the simulator gave us a glimpse into what is required of them daily.”

Angelini added, “I’m really proud of the men and women of the 45th Security Forces Squadron, and it was a pleasure to have AFTAC Airmen come over to learn more about what we do. It’s a job that has hours of boredom with moments of terror, so it’s critical for us to make sure we’re trained for those moments. It’s great to be able to illustrate that to our fellow Team Patrick-Cape members.”

Not just a buzzword; AFTAC showcases innovation to ISR community - 7/9/2018

Capt. Corey Buran, an assistant director of operations at the 363rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, Langley AFB, Va., examines some projects produced by members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Innovation Lab during a visit June 1, 2018. Buran was one of 35 Airmen within the ISR community to visit the nuclear treaty monitoring center at Patrick AFB, Fla., to learn more about how AFTAC employs innovation to improve its processes. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Thirty-five Airmen from across the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance enterprise converged at the Air Force Technical Applications Center here recently to get a first-hand view of how the nuclear treaty monitoring center applies innovation techniques to its worldwide mission.

Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC’s Command Chief, thought it would be beneficial to have Air Force ISR counterparts meet with members of AFTAC’s Innovation Lab to learn how Airmen have capitalized on the vast amount of knowledge, expertise, skill and talent within the center to find non-traditional ways to solve problems using innovation. So he invited three dozen people from ISR units across the U.S., including Airmen from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing at Beale AFB, Calif.; the 319th Air Base Wing at Grand Forks AFB, N.D.; the 480th ISR Wing and 363rd Wing at Langley AFB, Va.; the 70th ISR Wing at Ft. Meade, Md.; and the 655th ISR Group and National Air and Space Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio.

AFTAC, a surveillance wing of 25th Air Force’s ISR structure, created its Innovation Lab in 2014 as a way to encourage the workforce to figure out ways to develop and streamline technologies and processes at a cheaper cost while simultaneously addressing mission gaps.

According to Joseph, innovation has been part of the AFTAC culture and is nothing new for the nuclear surveillance organization.

“The men and women of AFTAC have been doing innovation for 70 years,” he said. “The purpose of this visit was to see how we can collaborate better and highlight issues to remove barriers our Airmen face. We have smart, innovative Airmen across the Air Force and in the 25th, and each wing has programs and initiatives that can make our Air Force better and more effective in accomplishing our mission.”

During their visit, the group toured various places within DoD’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. Some stops on the itinerary included AFTAC’s machine shop, Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab, Heritage Room, Logistics Warehouse, Innovation Lab and Operations Center.

On the last day of the visit, Joseph ensured time was carved out to break the teams into groups for brainstorming and collaboration sessions, as well as to capture takeaways for both the visitors and the hosts.

Chief Master Sgt. Jessica L. Bender, Command Chief for the 9th RW, took note of the Airmen she met during her visit.

“I was very impressed with the skills and expertise of even the youngest Airmen here,” Bender said. “Everyone seems proud to be part of AFTAC and it was a very positive environment.”

She added that this was a great opportunity to network with other Airmen from different bases to help develop innovative programs at their respective organizations.

“We gained a greater perspective on the capabilities of other units, what projects they are working on, and how to reach out to ask for assistance if needed. Our Airmen were already floating ideas prior to the last day (of our visit). They were thinking outside the box, and that’s good for any career field or specialty.”

David Paynter, Logistics Flight Chief in the 709th Support Squadron, was glad host the group that visited his warehouse to showcase some of the innovative ways his section has improved logistic processes and procedures.

“I have been pushing innovation and thinking outside the box in terms of logistics support to AFTAC for some time now,” said Paynter. “Tom Lehnerz, our materiel management lead, and his team of experts took that to heart. During this recent visit, we were able to showcase some of the projects we’ve been working on, including a prototype diagram of a crate that houses precision seismic components related to our worldwide mission to ensure the equipment can be safely and securely shipped. This prototype is expected to decrease maintenance preparation and annual inventory time in half, improve our inventory accuracy, and save nearly $20,000 in commercial fabrication costs.”

He added, “The visitors seemed to be very impressed with our creativity and innovative approach to logistics, and I’m extremely proud of a job well done!”

Officials announce 2018 ACC STEM Award winners - 6/26/2018

Air Combat Command Public Affairs, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.
Air Combat Command officials have announced the ACC Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Award winners for 2018.

The awards fall into two categories: science and technology and annual acquisition.

The 2018 ACC Science and Technology Award winners are:

  • Air Force Science and Engineering Award for Research and Development: 2nd Lt. Joseph Conrad, 7th Intelligence Squadron, Fort George G. Meade, Maryland
  • Air Force Science and Engineering Award for Research Management: Maj. Bobby Birrer, 7th IS, Fort George G. Meade
  • Air Force Science and Engineering Award for Advanced Technology Development - Individual: Staff Sgt. Rogelio Reyes IV, 7th IS, Fort George G. Meade
  • Air Force Science and Engineering Team Award for Advanced Technology Development: Technology Coordination Office’s Cape Canaveral Team, AFTAC, Patrick Air Force Base, Florida
  • Air Force Science and Engineering Award for Engineering Achievement: Capt. Benjamin Bruckman, 7th IS, Fort George G. Meade
  • Air Force Science and Engineering Award for Manufacturing Technology: Capt. William Sinkey, 7th IS, Fort George G. Meade
  • Harold Brown Award: Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden, AFTAC/ST, Patrick Air Force Base

The Harold Brown Award is the highest award given by the United States Air Force to a scientist or engineer who applies scientific research to solve a problem critical to the needs of the Air Force.

The 2018 ACC Annual Acquisition Award winners are:

  • Air Force Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Award for Junior Military: 1st Lt. Brittany A. Graham, AFTAC, Patrick Air Force Base
  • Air Force Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Award for Mid-Career Military: Capt. Jeffrey B. Archer, AFTAC, Patrick Air Force Base
  • Air Force Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Award for Senior Military: Col. William E. Young, Jr. 53rd Electronic Warfare Group, Eglin Air Force Base, Florida
  • Air Force Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Award for Junior Civilian: Dr. Theresa E. Hofstetter, AFTAC, Patrick Air Force Base
  • Air Force Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Award for Mid-Career Civilian: Mr. Christopher M. Hereford, 68th Electronic Warfare Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base
  • Air Force Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Award for Senior Civilian: Mr. Steve A. Ordonia, 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base
  • Air Force Outstanding Scientist/Engineer Team Award: 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron Operational Test Team, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron, Eglin Air Force Base
  • Air Force Outstanding STEM Outreach Champion Award Individual Award: Maj. Mandi Fuller, AFTAC, Patrick Air Force Base
  • Air Force Outstanding STEM Outreach Champion Team Award: AFTAC STEM Outreach Team, AFTAC, Patrick Air Force Base
  • General Lester Lyles Developmental Engineer of the Year: Mr. Brian J. Cook, 25th Air Force, Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas
  • Dr. Paul G. Kaminski Most Promising Systems Engineer of the Year: Capt. Jared C. Biindl, 25th Space Range Squadron, Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado

When the storms of life arise, how do you survive the onslaught? - 6/25/2018

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Commentary by Senior Master Sgt. Eric V. Reynolds
The storms of life appear in many forms. Some are small and arise as unexpected showers to rain on your parade, while others last so long they leave you exhausted -- mentally, physically, emotionally or even spiritually.

Small storms can make their metaphoric appearance in the form of a bad day at work, annoying car troubles, locking yourself out of your house, or the many everyday challenges of parenting young children. Sometimes, these small storms linger overhead longer than anticipated and test your resolve and patience. Worse yet and unbeknownst to you, your car becomes home to a group of mice that make a nest in your glove compartment, perish, and leave their malodorous essence behind no matter how much you clean, scrub, sanitize and deodorize. Compound those challenges with the necessity to work a very demanding job, and those small storms can make it seem like the sun will never shine again.

Larger storms, however, have a far deeper and long-lasting impact. They linger over you for weeks, months, or even years and can be so overwhelming that you feel you may not survive the onslaught: a wife’s post-partum depression; a hurricane destroying your home and your possessions; a suffocating cancer diagnosis, or even a cataclysmic event like the death of a child.

Depending on the circumstances, dealing with any one of those storms – large or small – can seem like a monumental hurdle. Dealing with all of them one after another is enough to scare you right off the track.

This is my story of how I’ve jumped, many times blindly crashing, through each and every heartbreaking hurdle (including the mice) and found a way to get back on track.

I thought I was resilient. I’d gone through countless training sessions about the importance of resilience. I thought I could handle anything. I had already overcome other obstacles in my life, including an emotionally-challenging childhood, attending ten schools prior to graduating high school, a chronic auto-immune disease with serious digestive side effects that was misdiagnosed for three years, marital hardships, deployments and constant relocations that come with military service.

I didn’t have much confidence as a young man, but in 2001, the Air Force, my newfound faith, and the love of a good woman changed my life. I thrived, and after 15 years in the Air Force I still had that same beautiful wife by my side and a rapidly-growing family. I was six months into my dream job as the Commandant of an Airman Leadership School. I was widely respected as a leader in my church and served as the children’s ministries pastor. I thought I had all four pillars of Comprehensive Airman Fitness covered.

None of those things, past or present – NONE – prepared me for what was about to happen.

In June 2016, my son Marshall was born via emergency cesarean section. Just a few hours after he came into the world, he passed away. I occasionally flash back to that day, picturing myself mentally locked in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, helplessly watching his tiny legs convulse from seizures, desperately wishing he could reflexively grasp my finger the way my other children had, and dreading the decision I was ultimately forced to make.

After the death of my son, I hid from myself. Right or wrong, I blamed myself for what had happened and struggled with depression. I started to question the paths I had previously chosen and began to ignore my God-given gifts and passions. Despite my demeanor, my leadership team took care of and looked out for me. They asked all the right questions and I knew they cared. I was returned to my former career field and asked to help stand up a new squadron as part of a massive wing re-organization. I was excited about the opportunities, but at this juncture I still hadn’t fully dealt with my pain. And sadly, there was so much more coming.

Shortly after starting the new job, we evacuated to avoid the brunt of Hurricane Matthew. A couple months later we found out that my wife was pregnant again, leading to seven months of sheer terror for both of us, because we still hadn’t gotten a good answer on what went wrong and caused Marshall’s death. Three months before the baby was due, I found a mass on my left cheek. After having it removed, I was told I had a form of Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – a cancer.

Around the same time, I received an assignment that would have moved us closer than we had ever been to family and it was a tremendous career opportunity. We were thrilled! But our excitement was short-lived. The assignment was canceled due to the cancer and the treatment I would need. I tried to smile and carry on, but inside I was a wreck, and I doubt I hid it very well.

Thankfully and by the grace of God, my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl without complications. Just two days later, she was rapidly released from the hospital because Hurricane Irma was bearing down on Florida and they had to shut down. Here we were again -- forced to evacuate our home due to a Category 3 storm.

We made the best of the situation, just happy to have our little girl after everything we went through with my son, but returned to a flooded house, rank with the smell of mold, and thousands of dollars in personal property damage which was not covered by insurance. We were told our home wouldn’t be repaired for at least 12 weeks. Now a family of seven, we gratefully took up residence in a two-bedroom temporary lodging facility until we found a new home. We tried to keep perspective on our situation by recognizing that one of our lodging neighbors was a recruiter with his large family from Puerto Rico.

I got a second opinion on the cancer, and ended up hopeful, yet frustrated. They walked back the diagnosis of lymphoma, calling it ‘suspicious’ and suggested it was an ‘evolving’ lymphoma. It certainly wasn’t normal and they didn’t know what to call it. The updated diagnosis didn’t bring the assignment back that got canceled, however. Every day I walked a fine line, hoping to contain the anger, hide the depression, and push back the fear that was growing. Then I found another mass in my neck.

As the tsunami of despair built around me and my pillars crumbled, I slipped into the mentality that I was a victim of bad circumstances. I let myself believe I couldn't be who I wanted to be because of the things that were happening outside of my control. I just wanted to feel better, so I began to self-medicate with lots of sugar, sex, video games, and Amazon Prime’s free two-day shipping.

Instead of simply passing over, the storms became more numerous and impactful on my life. Each new storm took on an outsized effect as it joined in with the greater tempest. The anxiety and stress of all these events kicked my digestive disorder into overdrive. In the midst of these storms, I sought help privately through the base Mental Health clinic, attended various support groups in the local community, and even asked if I could go to an in-patient clinic to help resolve my anxiety and resulting behavioral issues. I desperately wanted someone to fix me so I could get back to being the man I used to be.

I found myself waiting for two things: a biopsy of the new mass with hopefully clearer results on my “evolving” lymphoma, and results from a medical malpractice investigation into the cause of my son’s death. I thought if only they could rule out the cancer and I had someone else to blame, then I could go back to work and be normal again.

My catalyst to recovery was a simple question asked by one of my doctors at the base Mental Health clinic. I was asked, “What if the results you’re waiting for don't come back the way you want?” Pretty heady stuff to ponder. Then I realized they didn't matter. I wouldn't expect myself to be any different. If I had waited and gotten bad results, they may have influenced me negatively and kept me in a depressive cycle.

But, proactively reflecting on who I was rather than what I was facing led to a revelation. When I focused on who I was -- my foundations, my support, and my goals -- the storms didn't matter at all. They didn't change a single thing of substance. The storm may rage, but my foundation is firm. My visibility might decrease, but my support system -- my family, friends, and mentors -- will keep me moving in the right direction. The path may change, but the goal remains constant.

The only thing holding me back was me. In reality, I had not changed, I was just exhausted because I allowed my attention to be whipped around like a littered candy wrapper in a West Texas dust devil. I discovered that while each storm affected my path and forced me to recalibrate, they didn’t require me to abandon my passions, goals, or overall sense of who I was. I began to focus on who I was and where I wanted to go, rather than how the storms should be affecting me. Once the storms were no longer the primary focus of my attention, they got smaller, less significant, and much easier to overcome.

My family, friends and leadership team were all very supportive, extending what seemed like an inexhaustible supply of grace. They told me to take my time and focus on my family and getting well, that I had been through enough and deserved a break, and not to hurry back to work. So I took my time, did less, and was ultimately miserable. But, I rediscovered who I was meant to be in the midst of that misery. I was still the 104-pound high-school freshman dragging three football dummies across the field because no one else stayed to clean up after practice. I did the dirty work, but I also was the dreamer. I needed to be challenged. I needed big goals. I needed to use my talents to translate impossible visions into reality. So, I started dreaming big again, and got started doing the dirty work that would help me realize those goals.

Today, I stand on an unshakeable foundation, conjoined in support of, and with, others; focused on a set of radical-yet healthy goals; and committed to being the best husband, father, son, and Airman possible. I may struggle constantly with the idea that I’m not good enough, strong enough, or smart enough, but what I don’t doubt is the love of my God and family, my ability to get better, and my understanding that persistent hustle gets you closer to your goals than waiting for others to recognize how wonderfully talented we might be and how badly the world has treated us.

I encourage you to take some time and look at your life. What is going to keep you going, or pull you out of the storms when they come? For me, my spiritual pillar kept me alive and my family tightly bound together during our extended season of extreme weather. I’m still rebuilding my other pillars and grateful for the opportunity to share this story.

If you are in the middle of a tempest today, get real about your situation and get help as soon as you can. You are not alone, and we very much need you - even if you can’t see it right now. One team, one fight!

P.S. I sought mental health assistance and I kept my security clearance. But even if I had lost it, it would have been worth it to get the help I needed. I love the Air Force, but I love my wife and kids more. They deserve the best me I can give them

New commander inherits newly-structured Air Force organization - 6/20/2018

Col. Steven M. Gorski (left) shares a laugh with Col. Chad J. Hartman during their Change of Command ceremony at Patrick AFB, Fla. Hartman assumed command of the Air Force Technical Applications Center from Gorski who served as the nuclear treaty monitoring center's commander since July 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phillip C. Sunkel IV)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Through the tradition of military pomp and circumstance, members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center here witnessed the change of command between the center's outgoing and incoming commander today.

Col. Chad J. Hartman assumed command from Col. Steven M. Gorski under the authority of the presiding official, Maj. Gen. Mary F. O'Brien, commander of 25th Air Force.

With two formations of 48 Airmen serving as the formidable backdrop of the ceremony, more than 300 family members, base personnel and distinguished guests from the local community attended the event that took place at the nuclear treaty monitoring center's outdoor pavilion.

The early morning warm temperatures and high Florida humidity didn't appear to dampen the spirits of the members of the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center as the unit's guidon was ceremoniously passed from one leader to the next.

An Air Force change of command ceremony is steeped in tradition and represents the formal transfer of authority and responsibility. It is also a way to recognize the achievements of an outgoing commander as well as welcome and introduce the new commander to the people he or she will be leading.

O'Brien, whose Numbered Air Force directly oversees the AFTAC mission, traveled from San Antonio to officiate the transfer and provide insight into Gorski's accomplishments since he took command of the center in July 2016.

"Colonel Gorski was destined to lead this organization," said O'Brien. "His academic credentials combined with his multiple operational assignments resulted in his ability to hit the ground running, directly impacting national policy. Even Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson noticed his leadership and AFTAC's culture of innovation at the 2018 Air Force Association conference in Orlando. She said, 'Here at Patrick Air Force Base, where Airmen do nuclear detection and treaty verification, the commander gives his Airmen 10 percent of their time to develop new things - sensors, software and other tools of their trade.'"

She added, "Steve oversaw a 'no-fail mission' and I congratulate him on flawlessly leading this enterprise."

As the attendees stood at attention, O'Brien presented Gorski with the prestigious Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious service.

During his tenure, Gorski led a $3 billion, 1,000+ member enterprise tasked to operate the Air Force's largest multi-domain sensor network on every continent. At the helm, Gorski supervised the detection and reporting of two North Korean-declared nuclear tests, one in September 2016, and the second in September 2017, which ultimately shaped the U.S. government's strategic response and the issuance of United Nations sanctions against the North Korean regime.

Gorski's shining achievement was the implementation of the center's organizational restructure, which established two groups, two executive directorates and eight new squadrons, shaping more than $400 million in acquisition strategy oversight, weapons of mass destruction threat monitoring capabilities, and interagency investments across the Department of Energy and civilian laboratory networks.

Following the medal presentation, Gorski expressed his gratitude to the men and women who worked for him for the past 24 months.

"To the squadron commanders, directors, superintendents, technical advisors, and senior civilians, the Air Force Chief of Staff says you lead at the level that is the beating heart of the Air Force, and you certainly hold the heart of AFTAC in your hands. Lead well, lead boldly, and set the example for our next generation of leaders by working together. To the center staff, thank you for entertaining all my wild ideas and humoring me - you are all true professionals."

Once the guidon was passed, AFTAC's new commander received his first salute from the Airmen in formation, led by AFTAC Vice Commander Col. Michael G. Sawyer.

Hartman, a career intelligence officer, is coming from Washington, D.C., where he recently served as the Chief of Strategic Studies for the Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force. He is an Army War College distinguished graduate with extensive combat experience in multiple overseas campaigns including Operations Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, Inherent Resolve, Enduring Freedom, Allied Force and Deliberate Guard.

"Thank you for the opportunity to lead this outfit," Hartman said to O'Brien. "It is an honor to join this team - a team that started with an explosion way back in 1945 and brought about the dawn of a new age. From the development of the long range detection system grew this exceptional array of people and global sensors made up of fascinating technologies and intriguing capabilities. It is an incredible time of transition for AFTAC and I'm honored to join this team and become an AFTACer."

This will be Hartman's fourth command tour, but his first as a wing commander. Gorski is moving to the Pentagon to become the military assistant to the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence.

24/7 treaty monitoring center ready for contingency ops - 6/15/2018

Contractors from Chief Electric Company connect a 750-kilowatt generator that will be used to power the contingency operations location for the Air Force Technical Applications Center in Millington, Tenn. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Chris Gaskill)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Much like the famous words inscribed of the exterior of the New York City Post Office, neither rain nor snow nor heat nor gloom of night will keep the Air Force Technical Applications Center from the swift completion of its appointed rounds.

Recently, the nuclear treaty monitoring center here transferred its Contingency of Operations (COOP) and the Alternate U.S. National Data Center location from San Antonio, Texas to Millington, Tenn. For the past five years, AFTAC’s alternate site was located at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, in close proximity to 25th Air Force, AFTAC’s Numbered Air Force. In December 2015, the space occupied by the COOP team was reclaimed by 25th AF, so AFTAC needed to find another place for its alternate operations site.

Over the course of the project, AFTAC assembled a team of subject matter experts specializing in security, mission operations, facility management, information technology, civil engineering, communications, and planning to execute the AFTAC commander’s intent: find and establish a new site for contingency operations.

The team developed criteria that addressed 17 key factors based on current mission needs and potential for future growth. After visiting potential bases and locations throughout the U.S. to determine which site presented itself with the best and most viable options, AFTAC leadership decided to partner with Naval Support Activity Mid-South in Millington, Tenn. NSA Mid-South serves as the U.S. Navy’s Human Resources Center of Excellence, and is home to Navy Personnel Command, Navy Recruiting Command, the Navy Manpower Analysis Center and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Finance and Logistics national centers

NSA Mid-South is also home to the Joint Reserve Intelligence Center-Memphis, which provides training and facility support to all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces in various fields including cryptology, information operations, networks, signals intelligence and space operations to meet Total Force Information Warfare Community requirements. Nestled in the small farming town of Millington with a civilian population of just over 10,000, NSA Mid-South is home to a secure, 24-7 facility with a full complement of network and information technology connectivity, and employs more than 6,500 officers, enlisted, civilian and full-time contract personnel.

AFTAC, the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, is tasked with providing uninterrupted access to nuclear event detection data to provide to national decision-makers at the highest level in the U.S. government. The center also operates the U.S. NDC, the nation’s arm of the International Monitoring System that supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization to limit nuclear testing and proliferation worldwide. Some of the monitoring center’s work falls into the classified realm and requires additional protection that a standard office building cannot provide.

“The facility in Tennessee presented the best long-term solution to our COOP relocation,” said Mark Smith, program analyst and relocation project manager assigned to AFTAC’s Plans and Programs Directorate. “The center offers more than 31,000 square feet of dedicated space in a secure facility, and the Navy has been exceedingly accommodating to our unique needs and requirements.”

Smith said the space also provides AFTAC with the ability to expand its operations in the future if needed.

“Millington offers our leadership the unique opportunity to create a fully operational alternate operations center if needed in the event Patrick AFB should become inhabitable due to a natural or man-made disaster,” said Smith. “Our new location, which we’ve dubbed as ‘AFTAC Mid-South,’ presents possibilities never before available to AFTAC, and our leadership is already exploring several future operational capability options for our squadrons.”

On March 1, 2017, the two services signed a 25-year host-tenant real estate agreement giving AFTAC a stable and secure location for its contingency operations through 2042, and on April 11, 2017, contractors broke ground to renovate more than 8,500 square feet of the available 31,000 square foot workspace.

“Ours is a 24/7/365 no-fail mission,” said Col. Greg Sawyer, AFTAC vice commander, “and as such, we need to ensure we are prepared for any contingency that may alter how we do business. We are the only organization whose mission is to operate and maintain the Air Force’s largest sensor network to detect disturbances underground, underwater, in the atmosphere or in space and determine if the event is nuclear in nature.”

Anytime an organization is forced to relocate, it poses significant logistical hurdles that place heavy demands its employees. In 2017, AFTAC was forced to deploy to its alternate facility in Texas when Hurricane Irma threatened Florida’s Space Coast. It was doubly challenging for AFTAC’s 1,000+ member workforce – not only did center personnel have to juggle the prospect of a Category 3 storm heading its way, they were also in the middle of analyzing a confirmed North Korean nuclear test four days earlier.

Navy Capt. Michael S. Wathen, commanding officer of NSA Mid-South, expressed his thoughts about the new tenant on his installation.

“We are happy to add the Air Force and AFTAC to our Mid-South team,” said Wathen. “We are looking forward to providing the support they needs as a COOP location and a lasting Air Force partnership on the installation.

The treaty monitoring center’s senior leader also expressed his gratitude for the amount of work that went into such a complex project.

“The COOP team accomplished this transfer two years ahead of schedule and right at budget,” said Col. Steven M. Gorski, AFTAC commander. “It is a rare event that we have the chance to open a new operating location, and I am exceptionally proud of the effort everyone put forth to make this happen. The project took significant planning, and AFTAC personnel rose to the occasion.”

Gorski added, “I want to reassure our customers that regardless of what obstacles or conditions are thrown at us, a team of experts here at AFTAC will be on watch for what the National Security Strategy has declared the greatest threat to our nation – the use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States or our allies. This project should serve as an example of what we can accomplish when we work together as a team.”

The move cost approximately $3.9 million, which included facility/infrastructure modifications, IT/communications installation, equipment procurement, security upgrades and various TDY expenses.

“There were countless moving parts and dozens of people who made this concept come to fruition,” said Smith. “As the project manager for this undertaking, we are grateful to 25th Air Force, especially the men and women of the 625th Air Communications Squadron, for assisting with sustaining the alternate national data center since 2013. They were not only integral in sustaining our COOP location, but they also played a key role in helping AFTAC Mid-South secure the necessary authorities to make this a reality. Kudos to all the folks at NSA Mid-South for their partnership and willingness to go above and beyond every step of the way. I also want to extend my personal thanks to my AFTAC co-workers who put in innumerable hours of hard work on this project. It’s great to be a part of such a phenomenal team of dedicated professionals.”

Florida Airmen Skype with Georgia middle school students - 5/12/2018

Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson, a web developer for the 709th Cyberspace Squadron, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., Skypes with Daniell Middle School student Collin Fairey April 25, 2018. Peterson discussed his military service with Fairey and his fellow Advance Reading classmates about life in the military and the importance of a STEM education. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Tech. Sgt. BreAnne Groth, a satellite operations system analyst with the 23rd Analysis Squadron, Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., answers a question via Skype from Haley Hargrove, a 6th grader from Daniell Middle School in Marietta, Ga. The school requested to have Airmen speak with students April 25, 2018 about how science, technology, engineering and math are used by members of the military. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Two Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center here chatted with students from a Georgia middle school via Skype April 25 to discuss how science, technology, engineering and math are used by members of the military.

Tech. Sgt. BreAnne Groth, a satellite operations system analyst, and Staff Sgt. Jordan Peterson, an AFTAC web developer, video conferenced with 6th graders from Daniell Middle School in Marietta, Ga., and took questions from the inquisitive teens on a wide range of topics.

The request for Air Force support came through the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. DVIDS is a visual imagery distribution hub operated by the Defense Media Activity that gives customers the opportunity to connect with servicemembers across the globe.

Peterson was first to connect with Ms. Leigh Anna Engkaninan’s advanced reading class, and the students jumped right in with their well-developed questions.

“What does a web developer do for the Air Force?” “Have you read any books that have really helped you with your job?” “Have you developed any games?” “Has it always been your dream to be in the Air Force?” “Do you like your career?”

Peterson answered as many questions as time would allow, providing succinct, easy-to-understand responses, while simultaneously relaying the Air Force story to the impressionable young adults.

“When I was asked to participate in this event, I couldn’t pass it up,” said Peterson. “Over the last few years, I’ve found that I take tremendous pride and enjoyment in cultivating the minds of the next generation. But I was a bit saddened to hear that some of them are experiencing a bit of negativity directed at them at such a crucial point in their development. So to reassure them, I explained that those who succeed in the daunting task of overcoming negativity and pushing through their frustrations will likely become their generation’s most adaptive leaders.”

Groth was next in the line-up to field well-thought-out questions from a new team of advanced readers.

“What is the process of detecting nuclear explosions?” “Have you ever found anything nuclear in space?” “What obstacles have you faced as a woman in the Air Force?” “Has becoming a technical sergeant always been a dream of yours?” “Have you ever had a moment when you just wanted to quit because it was too hard?”

Groth eagerly responded.

“I’ve used online video chat to keep in touch with family and friends who live far away, but this was my first time using it to connect with school kids,” said Groth. “The most intriguing question I got was, ‘If you could go back and talk to your old self, what would you say?’ It thought that was an incredibly profound question! Being involved in programs like this gives us the chance to illustrate the fact that there is a real person behind every uniform – one who can smile and laugh while also working hard to get the Air Force mission accomplished.”

Establishing a video chat connection is no easy feat in a facility that goes to great lengths to protect its national security interests. AFTAC is the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center and much of its mission takes place within the walls of its sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF.

Despite those hurdles, two skilled Airmen from AFTAC’s 709th Cyberspace Squadron worked diligently to set up a signal between the center and the school. James Griffieth and Staff Sgt. Dali Ramos spent several hours wiring, audio checking and testing the connectivity to ensure a strong signal was established, while also ensuring all operations security measures were in place.

“AFTAC has a robust video teleconference system within our building, but those are typically used for secure communications,” said Ramos. “Due to the nature of our mission, the center doesn’t permit external electronic devices like tablets, cell phones or personal hot spots. So for this event, we needed to come up with a workable solution to connect our Airmen with the students. Griff and I were able to do that using existing equipment and the approval of our physical security experts.”

Griffieth added, “It took a lot of work and ingenuity, but after seeing the looks on the kids’ faces when they connected with Sergeant Groth and Sergeant Peterson, it was definitely worth the effort!”

Daniell Middle School’s teacher seemed quite pleased with how her advanced readers conducted themselves during the video chat.

“As an educator, I think this is an invaluable learning opportunity,” Engkaninan said. “The students were intrigued at how (the Airmen) use STEM in their jobs. They still had many questions they didn’t have time to ask like ‘Do you have wear your uniform all the time, and are there different uniforms for different occasions?’ They really had fun speaking with the troops and I already have 11 students interested in learning more about joining the Air Force. I hope we can do this again in the future.”

Engkaninan said the students were also very surprised at how much they seemed to love their jobs. It’s a message that resonated with AFTAC’s web developer.

“These kids are leaps-and-bounds ahead of where I was in middle school,” said Peterson. “I could have never asked the level of questions these students asked me. They’re intelligent, have a strong understanding of web development and information technology, and also have a grasp on how important education can be to succeed in a national defense of cyber security field.”

He continued, “This generation is built around the concept of ever-advancing technology, and they’re adaptive to the effects it has on the way society works. They move forward while accepting, integrating and innovating the advancements around them. I think we should all lend an experienced hand to the future leaders of our country.”

Reorganization brings structure, leadership to treaty monitoring center - 5/9/2018

Lt. Col. Jeremy Goodwin (right), 23rd Analysis Squadron commander, accepts his unit’s guidon from Col. Jonathan VanNoord, 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group commander during a ceremony in the Doyle M. Northrup Auditorium at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., April 4, 2018. Goodwin assumed command of the newly formed squadron after the nuclear treaty monitoring center reorganized to improve mission effectiveness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Matthew S. Jurgens)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
In a week that saw 13 formal ceremonies including 11 activations, five inactivations, and 10 assumptions of command, the Air Force Technical Applications Center here successfully completed its reorganization April 9-13 after more than five years of planning.

The organization change request, better known as “AFTAC 2.0” to the center’s 1,000+ workforce, became reality April 1 and sees the addition of nine new squadrons, two new groups, one new detachment and two new directorates.

“Historically, AFTAC has been structured around mission areas – techniques to gather information with mission area managers who were experts in their respective disciplines,” said Col. Steven M. Gorski, AFTAC commander. “While this type of organizational structure works well in a resource-rich environment, it has inherent mission-effectiveness flaws. Our new organizational flow establishes clear responsibilities with common skills that allow us to develop our workforce more effectively.”

To commemorate this historic event, ceremonies were held in AFTAC’s Doyle M. Northrup Auditorium where members of the center witnessed the transfer of authority to the incoming commanders.

The Groups
The wing is divided into two groups – the 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group and the 709th Support Group. Each group, led by an Air Force O-6, has roughly 400 personnel assigned, military and civilian, and fall under Gorski’s command.

The 709th SAG monitors all suspected and confirmed nuclear detonations underground, above ground or in space and reports their findings to senior decision makers. This vital mission is achieved through five of the nine new squadrons.

“The work we perform reaches all levels of government, to include President of the United States,” said Col. Jonathan VanNoord, 709th SAG commander. “We hear about the giants of long range detection who went before us to forge our vital mission into what it is today; and now before me, I’m looking into the eyes of future giants – Airmen who continue to carry on the important legacy of providing quality technical measurements to command authorities. It’s a historic day for AFTAC.”

The 709th SPTG is AFTAC’s premier support team, providing enterprise information dominance, superior engineering and maintenance, and life-cycle management using innovative and creative processes to enable mission success. Col. Richard Mendez was handed the group’s guidon and will be responsible for ensuring his team establishes and executes logistical and IT requirements.

“It is an honor and a privilege to carry on the historic roots of our group’s designation that dates back to World War II,” said Mendez. “Our 24/7 global support team stands ready to serve. I appreciate the trust and confidence placed in me to lead the men and women of the 709th Support Group.”

The Squadrons
Prior to the reorg, AFTAC had stood up five squadrons in 2014 after the center became an Air Force wing equivalent. Those five (Technical Surveillance Squadron, Technical Operations Squadron, Technical Support Squadron, Technical Sustainment Squadron and Cyber Capabilities Squadron) were officially inactivated, and their mission responsibilities transferred to the newly-activated squadrons.

The 21st Surveillance Squadron, led by Lt. Col. Ty Miller, executes the Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis and National Technical Nuclear Forensics missions. Miller and his team will conduct worldwide surveillance via aerial and ground collection. “I’m excited about the direction we’re headed in,” Miller said during his activation ceremony. “We have a huge responsibility to the overall success of this organization, and our role in long range detection is rich and invaluable.”

The 22nd Surveillance Squadron, commanded by Lt. Col. Ed Ferguson, operates AFTAC’s 24/7/365 operations center, providing front-line, persistent and state-of-the-art surveillance to detect, identify and locate nuclear and seismic events worldwide. The squadron’s ballistic missile technical collection mission provides data on foreign ballistic missile tests and supports the Missile Defense Agency.

“In the 22nd, AFTAC has combined its maritime radar assets, two constellations of atmospheric and space sensors, three 24/7 operations facilities, and the cornerstone of our historic mission, alert management,” said Ferguson. “This alignment allows us to optimize our focal point for command and control of our around-the-clock surveillance mission.”

The 23rd Analysis Squadron is headed up by Lt. Col. Jeremy Goodwin. The 23rd ANS is tasked with detecting, identifying and classifying events recorded by a worldwide network of seismic, infrasonic and hydroacoustic sensors used in nuclear treaty monitoring.

“I am very excited to take command of this great group of highly talented men and women,” said Goodwin. “We’ve been preparing for this for the last year, and now we are officially plank owners. I promise that no one will work harder than I will to achieve mission accomplishment.”

The 24th Analysis Squadron sees AFTAC’s first civilian leader at the helm. Thomas Buist, a chemical engineer by trade, worked in the center’s Materials Technology Directorate before being tapped to take over the 24th. The OCR creates opportunity for civilian scientists to serve in significant leadership positions within the center. Buist’s unit provides technical reporting on foreign weapons of mass destruction activities through forensic science. The 24th ANS also supports International Atomic Energy Agency missions and provides meteorological modeling and weather support to all AFTAC mission areas.

“I am thankful for the opportunity to serve the wonderful men and women of the 24th,” said Buist. “It is humbling to know that we now carry the torch held by many great AFTAC Airmen. In their honor, we will proudly and confidently execute the mission and continue to influence the future of our country.”

The 709th Support Squadron is overseen by Lt. Col. Christopher Hall, who commanded the now-inactivated Technical Sustainment Squadron. Hall’s workforce provides deployment readiness oversight, manages warehousing, transportation, life-cycle logistics and enterprise asset management support. He is also oversees all military and civilian personnel actions through human resource management and workforce development efforts. Additionally, the 709th SPTS commander manages AFTAC’s facility and infrastructure operations and service contracts – no small feat for a single squadron.

“George Bernard Shaw once said, ‘Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything,’” Hall said during his activation ceremony. “Our squadron’s scope of responsibility has expanded immensely, and I’m grateful for the faith and trust that’s been placed in me on this day of major transition. This squadron will always be aces!”

The 709th Cyberspace Squadron, another one of the original five squadrons that was inactivated, is under the command of Lt. Col. Nathan Loyd. This squadron generates and sustains full-spectrum cyberspace capabilities by providing mission assurance for the center’s global information enterprise. Loyd’s staff exercises operational management control over cyberspace terrain to ensure national decision makers receive quality technical measurements to monitor nuclear treaty compliance.

“Despite two major hurricanes – one during a real-world nuclear alert, the full migration to Windows 10 (the first organization to do so in 25th Air Force), relocating our contingency operations location from Texas to Tennessee, and transitioning the squadron from CYCS to the 709th, the men and women of my squadron were still able to maintain a 99 percent data availability rating,” said Loyd. “That is a testament to their incredible dedication and work ethic. This mission could not happen without cyber support. Our long-term vision is bright, and we’re making it happen.”

The inactivated Technical Support Squadron is now the 709th Technical Maintenance Squadron, led by Lt. Col. Paul Hendrickson. This unit boasts the largest number of enlisted members of all the squadrons in AFTAC, and is responsible for maintaining and sustaining the center’s 3,600 network sensors across the globe. The Airmen of the 709th TMXS conduct depot and in-field maintenance, track sensor network performance, and provides technical assistance to the Systems Development Directorate.

“The men and women of the 709th Technical Maintenance Squadron are phenomenal technicians, maintainers, operators and liaisons,” said Hendrickson. “Together, we will take the best that Air Force maintenance has to offer and merge that with what we do best – and we will be a force to be reckoned with. You have the spirit and the talent to accomplish anything, anywhere, anytime.”

While the facility itself is still called the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory, the official squadron designation is now the USAF Radiochemistry Laboratory, with Lt. Col. James Thomas as its commander. The “Lab Rats” conduct nuclear measurements and radiochemistry operations to detect, isolate, quantify and analyze nuclear materials in support of AFTAC’s nuclear treaty monitoring mission. Thomas also manages the Harkins Laboratory located at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., which supports AFTAC’s low-level radiation detection research.

“Our job is to look beyond the battlefield – to look into the scientific shadows seeking trace amounts of particles and debris to discriminate non-weapons sources of radionuclides from potential nuclear weapons test debris,” said Thomas. “The Lab Rats work day in and day out to support our nation and its allies, and I’m incredibly proud to command such a professional group of Airmen.”

The Detachments
AFTAC operates more than two dozen detachments and operating locations worldwide. Adding to the list of stateside and overseas locations is Detachment, 709th SPTG. Det 1 will provide support the application and execution of scarce research and development resources to the warfighter and national customers. Det 1 personnel will also provide various government agencies with demonstration and testing capabilities and will coordinate execution of new initiatives at national laboratories.

“This is the finest team I have ever worked with in my career,” said Lt. Col. David Laird, Det 1 commander. “It is truly an honor to be selected as their commander and I’m very excited as I look forward to the innovative ways we’ll be solving technological hurdles for the Department of Defense.”

Gorski showered his leadership team with praise and offered each commander a piece of sage advice.

“The leaders who have taken command of their respective groups and squadrons were selected because they are the best of the best,” said Gorski. “They have demonstrated the will to succeed, the need for excellence in all they do, and the drive to ensure the mission is accomplished. I urge each of them to remember that they’ll have daily challenges that may seem insurmountable as they face them, but some of the most successful leaders in history are the ones who lead through adversity. As the saying goes, ‘The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.’ This is a new and excitng chapter in AFTAC’s history, and I have the greatest amount of trust in each and every one of them.”

Reserve Citizen Airman sets sail as first reserve mission commander - 5/1/2018

Maj. Christina Light, the Technical Operations Squadron Director of Operations with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., stands in front of the USNS Howard O. Lorenzen, a U.S. naval ship that hosts the $1.7 billion Cobra King radar platform. Light is a certified mission commander responsible for the overall operation and maintenance of the ship and its radar systems. (Courtesy photo)

Maj. Christina Light (in red), Technical Operations Squadron Director of Operations with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., receives a briefing from Sean Kelly, the Ship's Operations Manager, for an upcoming balloon calibration sphere launch. Light is a trained and certified mission commander aboard USNS Howard O. Lorenzen, one of two naval ships that conduct ballistic missile surveillance operations for the Department of Defense's sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. (Courtesy photo)

By Senior Master Sgt. Timm Huffman, Headquarters Individual Reservist Readiness and Integration Organization BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.
While many Airmen take to the skies, Reserve Citizen Airman Maj. Christina Light sets sail.

The space and missile operations officer, assigned to the Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) Technical Operations Squadron (TOPS) as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee, is the first Air Force Reservist certified to serve as a mission commander on one of the organization’s radar ships, the USNS Howard O. Lorenzen.

AFTAC, based at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, performs nuclear treaty monitoring and nuclear event detection. AFTAC provides national authorities quality technical measurements to monitor treaty compliance. It also performs research and development of new proliferation detection technologies to enhance or assist treaty verification to limit the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Maj. Light first came to AFTAC as a contractor after 10 years on active duty. She left the active-duty Air Force in 2014 to be on the same continent as her husband and joined the Air Force’s traditional reserve program to continue serving in uniform. However, her reserve unit was a nine-hour commute, one way, and she didn’t feel like she could really be part of the unit. AFTAC indicated they wanted her support in both military and civilian status, so she transitioned into a vacant IMA billet in 2015.

IMAs are part of the Air Force Reserve’s Individual Reserve program and are assigned to augment active-component organizations and government agencies. Unlike traditional reservists, who drill one weekend a month and have two weeks of annual tour to complete, IRs work with their unit supervisors to create a custom duty schedule; they often complete their 24 to 36 days of requirements in one or two blocks of time.

Wanting to get more familiar with her new role, Maj. Light asked for active-duty orders so she could work in uniformed status full-time. After her request was granted, she realized she might have something to contribute to the ship mission.

According to Lt. Col. Don Wittenberg, the TOPS commander, his squadron didn’t have as many active-duty mission commanders as they would like, so when Maj. Light petitioned to become the first reserve mission commander, he welcomed the idea.

As a field grade officer, Maj. Light brought a maturity of leadership and expertise to the active-duty mission commanders, who are more junior, said Lt. Col. Wittenberg. Her augmentation also reduced the burden on the new officers coming into the program, allowing them time to focus on their spin-up training and qualifications rather than putting out to sea.

The USNS Lorenzen is operated by U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command to carry AFTAC’s state-of-the-art Cobra King mobile radar system wherever it’s needed. The radar is employed to provide worldwide, high quality, high resolution, multi-wavelength radar data to the Department of Defense's strategic community, the Missile Defense Agency and other government agencies.

The radar and ship are the sea component of DoD's Cobra program that monitors ballistic missile launches. Other Cobra platforms include the Cobra Ball (airborne tracker) and Cobra Dane (stationary array).

The ship operates with a crew of civilian mariners who are responsible for operating and navigating the ship, as well as and civilian contractors who operate and maintain the radar and communications equipment.

Maj. Light’s first sea tour started in the spring of 2017 when the Lorenzen headed into U.S. Pacific Command. As the only Airman aboard, she was one-deep in her leadership role. It was her responsibility to ensure the platform team members were able to successfully collect mission data. In addition to daily mission taskings, she also worked closely with experts from MSC to develop a prioritized listing of necessary ship-related items to address whenever the vessel is in port or at the shipyard.

Even with all her certifications, Maj. Light said once in place, there was still a steep learning curve to the job. However, with a high operational tempo and a highly experienced team of contractors, it didn’t take long to learn the ropes. Maj. Light was particularly impressed with the dedication and proficiency of the contractors.

“They go to sea for months on end, year after year, by choice. They have decades of experience,” she said.

Life on the ship was a new experience for the Reserve Citizen Airman. She said the rhythm of the days was set by meals at the galley. Her state room--living quarters and bath--were attached to her office, which meant work was never far away. She also learned the importance of building a network of connections with the Navy officers around the fleet.

According to Lt. Col. Wittenberg, the first time an Airman goes out on the ship they are like an outsider on an island. But, as a field grade officer, her leadership and experience enabled her to get right in there and get the mission done.

After returning from her first tour at sea, Maj. Light split her time between her contractor position and military orders. In mid-August 2017, she decided to leave her contractor job to focus on the military mission full-time and prepare for her next sea deployment on the USNS Invincible later this year.

“I love my career field, wearing the uniform and everything that goes along with it,” she said.

According to Lt. Col. Wittenberg, his reservist was recently selected to attend Intermediate Developmental Education (IDE) in-residence via the CSAF’s Blue Horizons Program and will begin the next phase of her career, following her ship deployment.

“I am proud of what she has done. She has brought a lot to our squadron,” he said.

DoD’s sole nuclear surveillance unit undergoes organizational change - 4/25/2018

Photo of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., headquarters of the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Col. Jonathan VanNoord (right), commander of the newly-activated 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group, slowly unfurls his group’s new guidon flag with the help of Col. Steven M. Gorski (left), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. VanNoord took command of the 709th SAG April 1, 2018. Holding the guidon is Senior Master Sgt. Robert Christman, a squadron superintendent under VanNoord’s command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phillip C. Sunkel IV)

Col. Richard Mendez (right), commander of the newly-activated 709th Support Group, salutes and accepts command from Col. Steven M. Gorski (left), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications, Patrick AFB, Fla. Holding the guidon is Senior Master Sgt. Braderick Adams, group first sergeant under Mendez’ command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phillip C. Sunkel IV)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The Air Force Technical Applications Center, the sole agency in the Department of Defense that conducts global nuclear surveillance, underwent a full-scale organizational change April 1 to better align the center’s vital capabilities to improve mission effectiveness.

The reorganization, which was approved by the Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Feb. 21, 2018, completes an effort that began in 2013 to unitize AFTAC. Charged with nuclear event detonation detection, weapons of mass destruction material collection and forensic analysis, as well as operating and maintaining the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force, AFTAC senior leadership analyzed every aspect of the center’s structure to optimize its performance in line with the vision of the Air Force Chief of Staff and commander of Air Combat Command.

Much like other wings throughout the Air Force, AFTAC has functional roles that include surveillance operations, maintenance, cyber operations and logistics. Unlike other Air Force wings, AFTAC has inherently scientific mission areas that are unique in nature, including the Air Force’s only radiochemistry laboratory. Leadership recognized the similarities and differences from Air Force standards and incorporated them into the new organizational design.

“Historically, AFTAC did not resemble any other agency in the Air Force, which oftentimes presented challenges to mission accomplishment – both internally and externally,” said Col. Steven M. Gorski, AFTAC commander. “Our goal of this reorganization was to optimize the unit to fit the missions assigned to us. We focused on improving readiness, enhancing opportunities to grow our civilian, enlisted and officer leaders, and streamlining our research and acquisition processes. As the CSAF said, squadrons are the basic building block of the Air Force that provide specific operational and support capabilities. Establishing squadrons here at AFTAC will allow us to push authorities down to the lowest level possible, while forming a leadership team charged with taking care of our military and civilian Airmen and their families.”

The reorganization establishes two new groups, eight new squadrons and a detachment, allowing for greater unity of command and cohesion. The 709th Surveillance and Analysis Group will be responsible for executing AFTAC’s 24/7 monitoring mission in every physical domain: land, sea, air and space. This group will oversee the 21st and 22nd Surveillance Squadrons; the 23rd and 24th Analysis Squadrons; and the Air Force Radiochemistry Laboratory. The 24th will be led by an Air Force civil servant, with the same authorities and responsibilities as their military squadron commander counterparts (minus specific Uniform Code of Military Justice authorities) – a first for AFTAC.

In addition to the groups and squadrons, the center developed two new directorates as well. David Merker will be responsible for the Strategic Development Directorate, which is comparable to a system program office, and will focus on AFTAC’s operational requirements.

“Mr. Merker will lead his team to provide acquisition expertise, full spectrum program management, resource planning and strategic planning development,” Gorski said. “Having an embedded program office within the center, working side-by-side with our operators and maintainers, is a critical component and enables the agile acquisition processes called for by the Secretary of the Air Force.”

Dr. Dan DeForest will lead the Strategic Integration Directorate, which will perform mission analysis, research and development, and partner outreach. “The SI Directorate postures AFTAC to drive innovation in our mission areas by having a dedicated team focused on developing a strategic plan, engaging our industry and academic partner base, and executing our R&D portfolio,” said Gorski. “This will ensure we maintain a technological edge against our competitors.”

AFTAC’s Chief Scientist, Dr. Glenn Sjoden, is anxious to see how his team of highly skilled scientists, engineers and analysts will succeed under the new organizational structure.

“The advent of unitization brings added efficiency to mission execution as well as technical cohesion in the new R&D acquisitions,” said Sjoden. “It also opens up new opportunities for civilian leadership and I’m looking forward to our next chapter in nuclear surveillance for the United States. There is no doubt this organizational structure will facilitate the application of the highest quality scientific work to ensure AFTAC remains a respected authority in both the U.S. and global scientific communities.”

For the past 70 years, the center’s lineage has rich history of innovation and agility to meet whatever challenges the U.S. has faced.

“This reorganization pushes authorities down to the appropriate levels,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC command chief. “This will allow our organization to adapt and make decisions quicker, and will empower our highly-skilled workforce to get after our biggest challenges without redundant or conflicting lines of effort. I know our professional workforce will continue to innovate and prepare for the future, which will ultimately give our national decision makers the best data available to help shape national policy.”

Gorski added, “I am extremely proud of how the men and women of the Air Force Technical Applications Center executed the center’s unitization, and I expect our organization will work together seamlessly to deliver a decision advantage to both warfighters and national decision makers.”

With help from Airmen, Boy Scouts earn prestigious merit badge - 4/15/2018

Capt. Sky Thai (left), a physicist at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., briefs a group of Boy Scouts about his job at the center’s Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab March 31, 2018. Thai spearheaded the effort to help 98 scouts from across Central Florida earn their Nuclear Science Merit Badge. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Nearly 100 Boy Scouts from 25 troops across Central Florida traveled to Patrick AFB March 31 to earn the much-sought-after Nuclear Science Merit Badge with the help of Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center here.

AFTAC, the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, is filled with highly skilled and educated scientists, analysts, engineers and technicians with academic degrees and backgrounds in nuclear physics, chemistry, biology, geophysics and mathematics, just to name a few. The center is also filled with highly motivated Airmen who consistently volunteer their time to help the local community.

Capt. Sky Thai, this year’s project officer and physicist at AFTAC’s radiochemistry laboratory, coordinated a full day of events for the scouts that included classroom instruction, hands-on projects, and visual experiments and displays.

The boys’ Saturday morning started early, with an introduction by Lt. Col. James Thomas, commander of the Air Force Radiochemistry Laboratory. The next several speakers briefed the scouts on radioisotopes, particle accelerators, nuclear medicine and its industrial applications, and what happens to when the forces that hold atoms together are broken, while boys took copious notes into their handbooks to ensure they captured all the pertinent information required to earn the badge.

Once the briefings were complete, attendees were broken up into smaller groups where they conducted hands-on experiments that included building a 3-D model of an element and its isotopes, drawing the nuclear fission process, and creating a cloud chamber.

After breaking for an outdoor lunch prepared at AFTAC’s pavilion, the scouts were taken to the radiochemistry lab to get an even closer look at nuclear science in action.

One group visited AFTAC’s Count Room, where briefers discussed how AFTAC employs alpha, beta, and gamma detectors to measure samples of radioactivity. A second group toured the lab’s Sample Receipt Room, where they were shown the process of how real-world radioactive samples are brought into the facility. Group three saw a demonstration of a Thermal Ionization Mass Spectrometer and learned how it worked, while a fourth group was taken to the AFTAC Warehouse where Airmen demonstrated the properties of liquid nitrogen and the power of radioactivity in everyday common items.

Luke Seilger, an 8th grader at Milwee Middle School in Longwood, Fla., came with his fellow scouts from Troop #773 to participate in the day’s events.

“This is so much fun!” Luke exclaimed. “When our Scoutmaster told us about it, I was the first one from my troop to jump on the chance to participate. I’ve been so excited waiting for this day to come. When I grow up I want to be an engineer, and now after seeing all this today, I’m pretty sure I want to be a nuclear engineer!”

In addition to the scouts and their leaders coming to the base, many parents accompanied their children to watch and observe.

Sherry Suarez came with her sons Joshua, 13, and Jacob, 12, who both attend St. Cloud Middle School. From all accounts, Suarez was very impressed with the program.

“Our boys have been counting down the days to come to the base, and quite frankly, so have my husband and I!” she said. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to make it, so I’m trying to absorb everything so I can tell him all about it. Earlier today, the lab commander said something about how he hopes he can light the spark in just one boy to consider a career in science or the military. That’s exactly what we want for our boys – we love the military atmosphere!”

Throughout the day, the Scoutmasters observed their troops interact with boys from other regions in Florida and work together on the hands-on projects. Norman Payson, Assistant Scoutmaster from Troop #192 in Osceola, enjoyed the day’s events.

“This is the best kind of opportunity for the boys to earn such a technical badge,” he said. “When you are learning about the subject from the people who actually do the job, you’re getting it right from the source, which makes the badge even more worthwhile. I’m excited for them, especially since it’s not an easy badge to get. Big thanks to the Air Force and AFTAC!”

Assistant Scoutmaster Shelle Pendergrast from Troop #330 in Ormond Beach said she was amazed at the skill level displayed by the AFTAC Airmen.

“It’s very difficult to find places for the boys to earn merit badges from real subject matter experts,” she said. “So when an opportunity like this arises, we seize the moment so our scouts can learn from those experts. I can’t thank the men and women of AFTAC enough for putting this on for us, and I’m just so thrilled with the level of professionalism everyone had shown. It’s so important for the boys to witness these successful leaders who run our Air Force – they’re making a difference to our kids, and that’s what Scouting is all about.”

For many of the Airmen who volunteered, this wasn’t their first time assisting with the merit badge event, and both military and civilian personnel signed up to help coordinate the day’s agenda.

“This is such an enjoyable event,” said Tammie Anglin, secretary at the radiochemistry lab. “I love seeing their faces light up and see our officers show off what they know and how smart they are—it makes me proud to be a part of AFTAC. I hope my little grandson gets involved in scouting someday because I can see him really enjoying a program like this. And I love being involved because it’s my small way of giving back to the community. It’s really a lot of fun!”

In 2012, AFTAC invited local scouts to the base to earn what was formally known as the Atomic Energy Merit Badge. That year saw 32 boys ranging in age from 11 to 16, and since that first year, the number of attendees has tripled.

“When we first started hosting the troops, we wanted to give the boys the best possible experience,” said Troy Porter, AFTAC’s equipment maintenance technician and Scoutmaster for Troop #314 in W. Melbourne. “We’ve continued to improve the program – from better, more interactive briefings to increased access to our lab and its equipment. It’s been exciting to see how far we’ve come since the first year, and I’m always impressed with the level of dedication our Airmen put forth to make this worthwhile for the boys. I appreciate the effort by the boys, the support from the parents, the collaboration with the Troop Leaders, and the volunteer spirit from the men and women of AFTAC. I can’t thank everyone enough, especially Capt. Thai, for making this a first-class event.”

Thomas echoed Porter’s comments, and added a few thoughts of his own.

“If we can spark an interest in one boy – one family – towards a career in STEM, then my job is done,” he said. “When I look back, I never pictured myself becoming an Air Force scientist, yet here I am. I hope the boys had as much fun as we did, and I’m very proud of all the AFTAC volunteers who came out on their day off to make this a first-class event. Capt. Thai and his team did an outstanding job and set the bar high for next year’s team. We had a great time.”

According to the Boy Scouts of America web page, the Nuclear Science Merit Badge is earned by less than one percent of Boys Scouts worldwide. Porter said he hopes the tradition of hosting the event continues well into the future.

Treaty Monitoring Center inducts three to its Wall of Honor - 4/4/2018

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Twelve medallions were presented to the initial cadre of the Air Force Technical Applications Center's Wall of Honor at a ceremony May 30, 2015. The medallion, which was created by 1st Lt. Adam Satterfield and Master Sgt. Chad Taguba, both members of AFTAC, symbolizes the 12 inductees' contributions to long range detection and nuclear treaty monitoring, AFTAC's primary mission. The back of the medallion has a personalized inscription that reads, “Let this medallion signify its recipient is a member of an elite and noble group of Airmen who stand in silent vigil for the good of all humankind.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Chad Taguba)

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The Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick AFB, Fla., inducted three members to its historic Wall of Honor at a ceremony held March 27, 2018 in the center’s Doyle Northrup Auditorium. The inductees were Lt. Col. (ret.) Robert E. Wiley, Chief Master Sgt. (ret.) William J. McClelland, and Chief Master Sgt. (ret.) Susan J. Spencer. Pictured here in front of the newly-engraved plaques are Chief Master Sgt. Wesley A. Schuler, AFTAC superintendent; McClelland; Doris Bruner, proxy for Spencer; Wiley; and Col. Greg Sawyer, AFTAC vice commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phillip C. Sunkel IV)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The Air Force Technical Applications Center here inducted three new members to its Wall of Honor at a ceremony held in the center’s Doyle Northrup Auditorium March 27, 2018.

Lt. Col. Robert Wiley, Chief Master Sgt. Bill McClelland and Chief Master Sgt. Sue Spencer, all former members of the nuclear treaty monitoring center, were recognized for their contributions to AFTAC’s long range detection mission by having their names engraved on the wall in the center’s main lobby.

The tradition began four years ago after AFTAC moved in to its newly constructed headquarters in 2014. The center’s Heritage Committee was formed and its first order of business was to develop the criteria to establish a way to recognize individuals who profoundly contributed to AFTAC’s global mission, while personifying the Air Force Core Values: integrity, service, excellence.

This year’s selectees bring more than 75 years of experience and service to the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center.

Wiley, a career physicist and nuclear explosion detection expert, spent a good deal of his time at AFTAC working in the Space Operations Division, managing the center’s multi-million dollar acquisition support contracts for the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System. Many of the techniques he implemented during his tenure with AFTAC are still used today.

“I hadn’t really expected to receive this recognition,” Wiley said, who is also very active in the AFTAC Alumni Association. “I’ve attended every ceremony since the wall was initiated, but never thought I’d be eligible for induction, especially when you think of some of the other fantastic people who have had their name put on the wall. I’m always impressed how the men and women of AFTAC do everything ‘first-class’ and today was no exception.”

McClelland joined the AFTAC’s long range detection team in 1964. During his career, he served at various overseas detachments in New Zealand, Ascension Island and Korea, as well as at the 1155th Technical Operations Squadron at the now-defunct McClellan Air Force Base in California. While the chief retired in 1984, he continued his tenure with the treaty monitoring center as a contractor, where he still serves today.

The chief’s daughter was overcome with emotion after witnessing her father’s induction.

“This is so impressive,” said Cheryl McClelland, choking back tears of pride. “My father has always been the best dad a girl could ever ask for, and seeing him recognized for a lifetime of achievement is incredibly overwhelming. I’m so thrilled for all of today’s inductees, and can’t thank the men and women of AFTAC enough for being like family to us. It’s such an honor!”

The third inductee served 26 years on active duty. Spencer began her Air Force career as a pharmacy technician, but ultimately cross-trained to become an applied physics lab specialist. She was a gifted microscopist and oversaw AFTAC’s trace particle program throughout the years. Prior to her retirement in 1999 and because of her vast knowledge and skills, she was selected to support the closure of the McClellan Central Laboratory and AFTAC’s Technical Operations Division.

While Wiley and McClelland were able to attend the ceremony in person, Spencer was unable to make it to Florida’s Space Coast. Instead, she asked to have former co-worker and friend Doris Bruner accept the award on her behalf. Bruner is the technical advisor for AFTAC’s Director of Operations and said it was a privilege to serve as Spencer’s proxy.

“When Chief Spencer found out she was being inducted, she told me it was an honor and greatly appreciated,” said Bruner. “She was disappointed she couldn’t attend the ceremony, and hopes to arrange a visit one day in person to see her name on the wall. She also wanted me to express her thanks and gratitude to all those who made this happen – she knows what a huge effort and time commitment it takes.”

Bruner added, “Chief said the best part is she’s now back in touch with everyone from the Alumni Association, and is thrilled to be in contact with so many from her AFTAC family, past and present.”

Each inductee received a hefty medallion with an inscription that reads, “Let this medallion signify its recipient is a member of an elite and noble group of Airmen who stand in silent vigil for the good of all humankind.”

Pictured on the medallion is an American Bald Eagle clutching a scroll in one talon and a sword in the other. The scroll symbolizes the Limited Test Ban Treaty and the sword illustrates military strength and might. Above the eagle are the words “Sapientia Potentia Est,” Latin for “Wisdom is Power.”

Col. Greg Sawyer, AFTAC’s vice commander, officiated the ceremony.

“Today, we honor our collective history and the legacy of three fellow Airmen whose distinguished service provides innumerable examples of innovation that outpaced and countered our adversaries,” Sawyer said. “We honor their service and contributions, and we honor them for the inheritance they have provided this generation of AFTAC personnel. On this day, you join the ranks of our AFTAC forefathers and luminaries, and we are better for having shared its spaces and responsibilities with you. A significant portion of your lives and talents have been freely given to this organization, and for that we are eternally grateful.”

Immediately following the medallion presentation, the inductees and their family members were invited to pose for photos in front of their newly-engraved plaques.

Dr. Mike Young, AFTAC’s Historian, spearheaded the effort to induct this year’s honorees.

“Selection to the Wall of Honor is no easy feat,” Young explained. “The Heritage Committee meticulously reviews dozens of nomination packages of former scientists, analysts, engineers and technicians, and only three per year are considered for induction. The committee looks for nominees who demonstrated great character and whose actions truly discriminated them from thousands of other center employees, both military and civilian. The 2018 inductees absolutely exceed those standards, and it was a privilege to be a part of this process.”

Grass does not grow under this octogenarian’s feet - 3/31/2018

Dr. Bob Kemerait, senior scientist and Defense Intelligence Senior Level executive at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., poses for a picture prior to the start of the Plenary Session of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization’s Preparatory Commission at its headquarters in Vienna March 19, 2018. Kemerait was recognized by CTBTO Executive Secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo as the only person from any nation in the world to attend every Working Group B meeting since its inception in 1997. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
With 82-plus years under his belt, a long and storied career with the federal government, and elbows that have rubbed with the likes of astronauts, diplomats, presidential appointees and renowned international scientists alike, one would think he’d have slowed down by now.

One would think. But that’s not the case for Dr. Bob Kemerait, a senior scientist and Defense Intelligence Senior Level executive at the Air Force Technical Applications Center here. On the contrary, Kemerait shows no signs of seeking out retirement community living or hanging up his proverbial lab coat – at least, not just yet.

For the past 44 years, Kemerait has been associated with the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center specializing in seismic systems development, data processing and collection, and supporting the U.S. National Data Center.

Born in 1935, Kemerait grew up in a small town 50 miles east of Cleveland, Ohio, and recalls an event from his childhood that proved pivotal to his lifelong pursuit and love of science.

“It was four days before my 10th birthday,” he explained. “I woke up and found my parents huddled around the radio listening to the news about the A-bomb the United States had just dropped on Hiroshima. I remember thinking to myself, ‘Maybe President Truman’s decision to bomb Japan would be the step needed to finally end the war.’ Little did I know my future career would be spent seeking out the comprehensive ban on nuclear testing.”

In 1996, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organization was founded and is currently based in Vienna. Its main focus is the promotion, negotiation and ultimate ratification of the CTBT. Led by Dr. Lassina Zerbo, CTBTO’s executive secretary, the organization conducts recurring working groups with representatives from more than 80 countries across the globe.

Recently, the CTBTO held its 50th Working Group B session at its Austrian headquarters, where member-states delivered their respective statuses on signatory monitoring, compliance and verification. The commission also took the time to recognize Kemerait for being the only representative of any nation to have attended all 50 Working Group B sessions since its inception.

“When I was selected for this job, I wasn’t the ‘usual suspect’ people had become accustomed to seeing as the executive secretary,” said Zerbo. “I wasn’t part of the long-standing ‘inner group’ of participants, and many people were heard saying, ‘Who is this guy, and what does he know?’ But not Bob Kemerait. He was one of the few people at the very start of my tenure who gave me hope. He looked me in my eyes and gave me advice on very technical issues. He listened to what my vision was, and I learned from him. He also made me believe that all things are possible, even a treaty as complicated as the CTBT.”

For the past 14 years, Zerbo and Kemerait have developed a long-standing professional relationship as well as a deep friendship. That was evident in the gift Zerbo presented to AFTAC’s senior scientist at a ceremony to honor his 50th WGB perfect attendance.

“I come from a very small country in Africa (Burkina Faso), so I wanted to present something from my homeland to honor Bob and recognize the support he has given to this very noble cause,” Zerbo explained. “I present to him a statue of a man carrying heavy pails of water on each shoulder, which represents what Bob has done for more than two decades – carry water for his country to get this treaty ratified. He has made it his life’s work, much like this water carrier in the statue.”

In addition to accolades from Zerbo, Nicole Shampaine, Chargé d’Affaires for the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna, also delivered words of praise to Kemerait’s dedicated service.

“Dr. Kemerait’s involvement with the mission dates back to 1997 when we held the first Working Group B session,” Shampaine said. “He has been a champion of data authentication requirements and his contributions have proven invaluable. We have the utmost confidence in his skills and knowledge and we can’t thank him enough for his continued involvement with the CTBTO.”

During the Cold War, many attempts were made to negotiate a comprehensive nuclear test ban, but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the treaty became a reality. Between 1994 and 1996, the CTBT was negotiated in Geneva. One hundred and eighty three countries have signed the treaty; 166 have ratified it, including three nuclear weapons States (France, the United Kingdom, and the Russian Federation). President Bill Clinton signed the treaty, but the U.S. Senate has not yet ratified it.

AFTAC’s support to the CTBTO comes in the shape of its data-sharing capabilities through the International Monitoring System. The center provides collaborative software subject matter expertise and systems engineering expertise to the International Data Centre as well as sustainment and logistics support to the IMS. Additionally, AFTAC develops sparing requirements, manning requirements and special support equipment for IMS contributors.

As the nation’s caretaker of the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System (the largest sensor network in the Air Force), AFTAC operates and maintains more than 3,600 nuclear event detection sensors worldwide.

Kemerait’s primary focus as a senior scientist has been on waveforms – seismic, hydroacoustic and infrasound.

“My work energizes me,” Kemerait said. “I still feel I have things to contribute to this incredible mission. I truly enjoy what I’m doing, and I feel I can run with the best of them, so why would I want to retire? It’s even more rewarding when I get to work with people like our chief scientist, Dr. Glenn Sjoden, who’s been a great influence on me. He’s just one of the many people I’ve been blessed to work with over the years.”

AFTAC’s chief scientist had some of his own words to describe Kemerait’s work ethic.

“Don’t let Bob’s age fool you,” said Sjoden. “He has more energy and ‘joie-de-vivre’ than people half his age, and it shows. He has been a mainstay and significant presence for us with our counterparts in Vienna, and we rely on him to serve as our primary advisor and conduit between the various countries who attend WGB sessions as well as the senior executives with the Preparatory Commission. He is been a stalwart participant of the commission’s plenary body and Provisional Technical Secretariat, and I’m extremely proud of the role he’s played. He’s a true ambassador for AFTAC.”

When asked what the most memorable part of his involvement with WGB and the CTBTO has been, Kemerait paused and gave it great thought.

“At times, WGB can be very political, and I try to avoid that stuff,” he explained. “I’m not here for the politics; I’m here to get the job done and see about getting this treaty ratified. It’s been my life work, and I wouldn’t change a thing about this journey I’ve been on. Some of my best friends are right here in Vienna – either those who live and work here, or those who travel to the sessions from other countries – and like Dr. Zerbo said, I won’t retire until I see the CTBTO entered into force.”

He added, “What amazes me most is that I’ve worked with giants from all nations, and while most move on to other positions, the ones who come in their place are equal giants – the best in the field. It motivates me to be able to work with such intelligent men and women from all over the world, and it rejuvenates me to continue on this path towards a safer planet and safer society free of nuclear testing. I pray I can see that in my lifetime.”

AFTAC Hockey Team receives special Congressional recognition - 3/31/2018

Master Sgt. Michael Nolan, a member of the Athletes for Teamwork and Charity hockey team at Patrick AFB, Fla., takes a face-off against a player from Florida Institute of Technology during a charity game March 24, 2018 in Rockledge, Fla. Nolan and his teammates were recognized by Rep. Bill Posey (FL-15) for outstanding contributions to the community. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Before the anthem was sung and the puck dropped at center ice, Airmen from the Air Force Technical Applications Center hockey team were recognized by a member of Congress for their charitable fundraising efforts at a game versus Florida Institute of Technology March 24.

Rob Medina, Director of Community Relations for Rep. Bill Posey (FL-15), presented a Certificate of Special Recognition to team captain Bill Hungate before a charity game with FlT at the Space Coast IcePlex in Rockledge, Fla. Medina also presented a signed Letter of Commendation from Posey to each player thanking them for their service, devotion to duty, loyalty and outstanding achievements.

“”We’re here to honor these players and commend them for the money they’ve raised for some really great causes,” said Medina. “Here these folks put on a military uniform every day, are on call 24/7, deploy all over the world, yet they still find time to practice, play games and raise money for charities. And today I have the distinct honor to present these certificates and letters to them on behalf of Congressman Posey. I’m really proud of these dedicated athletes and Airmen—they truly walk the walk!”

Since the team formed in 2015, the players have raised more than $50,000 for various charities and causes in Central Florida. This match raised $1,500 for Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando.

AFTAC leadership was in attendance for the game, and the center’s command chief expressed why events like this matter.

“This fundraiser gives us the opportunity to give back to the community and enjoy a great hockey game,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph. “It fills me with a lot of pride when I see our Airmen out there giving it their all in the name of charity. It’s something we as a force do well – we care about those around us who may need assistance. It’s also a great morale-builder!”

While one might think the AFTAC logo on their jerseys represents the organization most of the players work for, it actually stands for “Athletes for Teamwork and Charity.” The team formed as an official non-profit enterprise in 2016 as a means to raise money for people and charities in need, while also having fun on the ice, networking with other teams in the region, and working up a good sweat.

“For me, it’s really all about camaraderie,” said Hungate. “The sense of pride I get when I see my co-workers and teammates come together to raise funds for others is indescribable. Hockey has always been a passion for me, and forming this team with my mate Aaron Trudel has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.”

For more information about AFTAC hockey including upcoming games, visit the team’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/AFTAChockey/

25th AF commander immerses into treaty monitoring mission - 3/1/2018

Staff Sgt. Justin A. Baldwin (left) a radiochemistry noncommissioned officer at the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., explains to Maj. Gen. Mary F. O’Brien, 25th Air Force commander and Chief Master Sgt. Stanley Cadell, 25th AF command chief, how he prepares reagents and small equipment prior to conducting chemistry operations in the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Laboratory. O’Brien and Cadell toured the facility Feb. 21, 2018 during a visit to the nuclear treaty monitoring center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The commander of 25th Air Force visited the Air Force Technical Applications Center here to meet with senior leadership, learn more about the AFTAC mission, and discuss her priorities with center personnel.

Maj. Gen. Mary F. O’Brien paid her first visit to the nuclear treaty monitoring center Feb. 20-21, and traveled with her command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Stanley Cadell, to ensure enlisted areas of concern were also addressed during the visit.

After a courtesy call with Patrick AFB’s installation commander, Brig. Gen. Wayne Monteith and his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Kimberly Vinson, the 25th AF leadership team arrived at AFTAC’s headquarters building to begin their immersion into the AFTAC mission.

The first stop on their agenda was to AFTAC’s Clean Room, where they learned more about how scientists prepare and split environmental samples for further analysis by AFTAC’s network of laboratories that support the International Atomic Energy Agency. Clean Room operators demonstrated how technicians handle samples and the method in which radioactive particles are identified, isolated and processed for further analysis and reporting.

O’Brien and Cadell were briefed on various aspects of AFTAC global responsibilities, such as the Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis program, the National Data Center, Directed Energy Weapons, Reactor Product and Nuclear Plant Programs, and Environmental Modeling and Simulation.

"I've been looking forward to this opportunity to get out and visit our Airmen in the field who are doing great things for our Air Force," said O’Brien. “What impressed me about the Airmen here at AFTAC was their ability to take very technical information and make it understandable for those who might not have a background in science. While I have a degree in chemistry, I haven’t applied much of that degree throughout my career, and Chief Cadell, who is a maintainer by trade, commented about how well the people here at AFTAC are able to explain the significance of their respective jobs coherently and concisely.”

The pair also spent the afternoon touring AFTAC’s Innovation Lab to get a first-hand look at some ongoing projects and innovations. Tech. Sgt. Collin J. Pesicka, noncommissioned officer in charge of rapid development, briefed the general and the chief on current operations the lab is undertaking.

“We highlighted to General O’Brien and Chief Cadell an ongoing project to improve one of AFTAC’s legacy monitoring systems using commercial off-the-shelf technology,” Pesicka said. “We also explained how the Innovation Lab is expediting the research and development process, while reducing overall funding requirements. The concept of rapid development not only gives AFTAC members the opportunity to fail; it also helps them apply those lessons learned to further their ideas. I hope our NAF commander and command chief walked away with a better sense of the great work our Innovation Lab is conducting each and every day.”

The tour wrapped up with a visit to the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab, the only one of its kind in the Department of Defense. CRL personnel analyze radioactive debris to determine if effluents from a potential nuclear explosion are present in the atmosphere.

During her visit, O’Brien presented her coin to five outstanding performers: Master Sgt. Matthew Wilkens, Senior Airman Christian Hagen, Capt. Rhonda Jones, Mr. Kevin Jensen, and Staff Sgt. Nathan Korytko. Traditionally, a commander presents a challenge coin to an individual for a job well done or for going above-and-beyond normal duty requirements. It’s also a way to build a personal bond between recipient and presenter.

“I was really honored to receive General O’Brien’s coin,” said Korytko, noncommissioned officer in charge of Count Room Operations. “It was already an honor to be asked to brief her on my role here at AFTAC, but to have her hand me her coin is really the best highlight of my time in the Air Force so far. I really appreciate her taking the time to acknowledge my work.”

At the conclusion of their visit, O’Brien took a few minutes to reflect on what she learned from the immersion.

“These Airmen are impressive!” she said. “I already had a good idea of ‘what’ was being done here at AFTAC; now I have a much better picture of the ‘who’ and the ‘how.’ Everyone we met – officer, enlisted and civilian alike – had an acute operational mindset and it’s obvious the commander is providing them with the tools they need to meet challenges and solve hard problems that impact us as a nation. There is a good mix of experience, background and leadership here.”

AFTAC’s commander, Col. Steven M. Gorski, realizes the impact an “in-person” visit from a general officer visit within the chain of command has on a workforce.

“General O’Brien and Chief Cadell’s visit to AFTAC was very much appreciated. They are extremely busy running an expansive mission providing multi-domain ISR to warfighters across the globe,” said Gorski. “We are glad they took the time to meet the Airmen executing the mission. We discussed recent successes and ideas to continuously improve on our mission to ultimately provide persistent strategic deterrence for our nation. The 25th senior leadership team observed what we already knew: the men and women of AFTAC are dedicated professionals who get the mission with done unmatched passion and innovation.”

O’Brien added, “I want to say thanks for a great visit, and I look forward to coming back to see more of the great things the Airmen are doing here.

Industry Day brings high-tech companies to AFTAC - 2/28/2018

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Maj. Kelly Greiner, program manager for Nuclear ISR Field Systems and Industry Day’s event coordinator, discusses network opportunities with Seni Aguiar (left), and Michael Ballard at Industry Day Feb. 9, 2018, hosted by the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla. Ballard, president and founder of TechRev, brought Aguiar, his operations manager, to the event to learn more about partnerships with the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

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More than three dozen companies from across the United States attended Industry Day, an annual event hosted by the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., Feb. 9, 2018. The event gave attendees the opportunity to learn more about the nuclear treaty monitoring center’s global mission and how companies can partner with the center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The Air Force Technical Applications Center hosted a Nuclear Treaty Monitoring Industry Day Feb. 9 to give high-tech companies an opportunity to network with center scientists, engineers and technicians and share ideas about the capabilities contractors can offer that affect AFTAC’s mission areas.

Held at Patrick AFB’s Shark Center, more than three dozen agencies attended to discuss topic areas ranging from geophysics and seismology to directed energy weapons and air and space operations.

AFTAC is the sole organization in the Department of Defense responsible for monitoring nuclear treaties, and operates the largest sensor network in the U.S. Air Force. The center also maintains the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System – a global network of precision nuclear event detection equipment that can detect disturbances underground, underwater, in space, or in the atmosphere.

Industry Day was held in conjunction with the release of AFTAC’s first Broad Agency Announcement contract vehicle used to efficiently award research and development contracts. The BAA also includes Other Transaction Agreement language, which allows for contracts with companies the government does not traditionally seek partnerships with.

Maj. Kelly Greiner, program manager for Nuclear ISR Field Systems and Industry Day’s event coordinator, was impressed with this year’s turn out and the degree of expertise each attendee brought to the table.

“I was thrilled to see the varied and diverse turnout we had,” said Greiner. “The 38 companies represented large and small businesses, both local and national, as well as from academia. Most haven’t worked with AFTAC in the past, so I’m hoping we can broaden our industry base and allow for an influx of innovative solutions to AFTAC’s most pressing needs.”

Chief Executive Officer of The Morris Analysis Group LLC, John Morris, represented one of the companies that attended Industry Day. His organization focuses on engineering, research and management industries, and has been associated with the DoD for more than 30 years in various capacities.

“The reason I wanted to attend this event was to try and help improve AFTAC’s tech sensor program,” Morris said. “From a business perspective, my company looks for opportunities to integrate cyber into all mission areas, and bring new capabilities and quality platforms to the forefront in order to move the mission space forward. It seemed like a perfect fit to attend.”

After lunch, companies with security clearances were invited to attend a classified session at AFTAC’s headquarters building. Many of the topics discussed pertained to directed energy weapons, materials technology, and air and space operations – significant mission sets that help AFTAC accomplish its nuclear event detection role.

“My company was drawn to this event to see how we can form a partnership with AFTAC and help them find the right IT solution while also mitigating any potential risks,” said Alexandria Faulkner, account executive for Gartner. “We are the largest IT research and advisory firm in the world, equipping businesses with cross-domain solutions to achieve their organizational goals. Participating in events like this is a great opportunity for us.”

While most of the companies that attended Industry Day were from out of town, one owner calls Melbourne, Fla., home, and was excited about attending the event and networking with other professionals from various industries.

“This has been a very informative program,” said Michael Ballard, president and founder of TechRev. “As a systems and software engineering firm and a veteran-owned small business in Brevard County, I am always looking for ways my company can tailor proposals to suit the customer’s needs. Our goal is to introduce solid business practices like cloud applications to older legacy systems while delivering exceptional quality to our clients. I’m glad we had the chance to attend and meet with the AFTAC staff. It was highly beneficial.”

AFTAC hosts annual WiSE Symposium - 2/15/2018

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson gives the keynote address at the 2018 Women in Science and Engineering Symposium, hosted by the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., Feb. 8, 2018. Wilson was one of many high profile women who spoke to symposium attendees about the value that gender diversity brings to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce. (U.S. Air Force photo by Phillip C. Sunkel IV)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
For the fourth time in as many years, the Air Force Technical Applications Center hosted its annual Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Symposium Feb. 7-8, with Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson as the featured keynote speaker.

The symposium was established in 2013 to bring attention to and highlight the value that gender diversity brings to the science, technology, engineering and mathematics workforce. It also focuses on encouraging mentorship and networking opportunities for those interested in pursuing and excelling in STEM careers.

“The idea of the conference is to bring the brightest women who have achieved enormous success together with young minds interested in STEM,” said Col. Steven M. Gorski, AFTAC commander. “We invite the best speakers from various industries – academia, defense, corporate, and commercial – to share best practices in promoting STEM, resources available to both employers and potential candidates, and most important to inspire the leaders of tomorrow.”

During her presentation, Wilson touched on many of those concepts Gorski listed, with a heavy emphasis on the importance of adding proverbial tools to your tool box.

“We all must find what we’re passionate about,” Wilson explained, “and once you find your passion, whatever you’re doing really doesn’t feel like work. Continue to develop your skills, surround yourself with smart, enthusiastic people, and seek out opportunities to find better ways to do business. Keep adding those tools to your tool box, and one day you’ll put them to good use. You may not realize it at the time, but ultimately you’ll be glad you did.”

Other keynote speakers included Gen. (ret.) Janet Wolfenbarger, first Air Force female 4-star general; Lt. Gen. Stayce Harris, first Air Force African American female 3-star general; and Lt. Gen. Veralinn “Dash” Jamieson, Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

Harris, the current Inspector General of the Air Force, discussed the need for senior leaders to “develop our STEM successors” and gave tips on how to recruit the next generation of STEM professionals.

“Discipline, teamwork and leadership are absolutely critical characteristics for those just entering today’s workforce,” she said. “As leaders, we must pay attention and embrace opportunities that present themselves to us, teach the up-and-comers the need to persevere, and ensure we as senior decision makers widen our aperture to ensure we’re fully developing future STEM candidates. Our nation needs sharp, smart scientists, and events like this give those in the local community the chance to be exposed to great minds and great mentors.”

Attendees also had the opportunity to meet Mae Krier, one of the original “Rosie the Riveters,” who conducted a break-out session to discuss her experiences constructing B-17s and B-29s during World War II.

“It was so very nice to be asked to be a part of this wonderful event,” Krier said. “When someone asks me to give advice on how to make a difference in the world, I always say, ‘You’ve been given a brain, now you’ve got to use it!’ That’s how we made it through the Great Depression. The things you value most in your life are the things you have to work hard for. We were poor back then, with not much opportunities, but we were happy, and we shared what we had. I think that’s an important lesson.”

Wolfenbarger praised Krier and other women in the service whose footsteps the general has followed.

“We owe a huge debt of gratitude to women like Mae and those who have served our nation, going all the way back to America’s Revolutionary War,” she said. “Some have called me a pioneer of sorts, and it’s humbling, but I never really wanted to be known as the ‘first woman’ at something; I wanted to be recognized for the mission I was accomplishing the best way I knew how. I’ve seen great change and progress over the span of my military career, and I’m proud of the gender diversity our service has seen throughout the course of my 35+ years as an Air Force Airman. But we’re not done yet!”

For the first time, AFTAC invited students from various Brevard County schools to showcase their winning Science Fair projects, all which received words of praise from WiSE attendee Matt Susin, Brevard School Board District 4 member.

AFTAC’s WiSE program coordinator Maj. Mandi Fuller, was proud of the work her team accomplished to make the event a continued success, and was touched that the program is achieving its goal.

“On day two of the conference, I had a young girl, probably about 12 years old or so, approach me to say thanks for putting on the conference. She said she’s always had a passion for flying, and now she is doubly inspired to become a pilot. I thanked her right back, winked, and told her she better be looking at becoming an Air Force pilot!”

The program has grown from 14 speakers and panelists in 2014 to 25 in 2018. For more information about this year’s event, including speaker biographies, break out session topics, photos of past presenters, and the symposium agenda, visit www.wiseusaf.com

SecAF briefed on AFTAC role in nuclear explosions - 2/15/2018

Col. Steven M. Gorski (right), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., briefs Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson on AFTAC’s role in nuclear event detection. Wilson visited the treaty monitoring center Feb. 8, 2018 to gain perspective into the Air Force’s largest sensor network and organization responsible for the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson visited the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center Feb. 8, 2018 to get a first-hand glimpse into the role the center plays in worldwide nuclear event detection.

The Air Force Technical Applications Center hosted Wilson while she was in town for AFTAC’s annual Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Symposium. AFTAC commander, Col. Steven M. Gorski, briefed Wilson on current operations and ongoing analysis of recent nuclear events in the Korean peninsula. A robust question-and-answer session ensued, which provided Wilson a greater understanding of precisely how AFTAC operates the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System and ensures signatory compliance to established global treaties.

After the briefing, Wilson toured the center’s operations floor, Clean Room and Innovation Lab, and met many Airmen who oversee the Air Force’s largest sensor network.

“I’ve been trying to get down here to see AFTAC for a long time,” Wilson said. “It was a pleasure to spend part of my day with these exceptional Airmen. I definitely could have spent several more hours here, especially in your Innovation Lab!”

This is the second time the sitting Air Force Secretary has visited the nuclear treaty monitoring center while in town for WiSE. In 2016, former Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James was the keynote speaker for the symposium and also received a timely mission briefing in the wake of a purported North Korean nuclear detonation.

Holmes, Batten pay first visit to nuclear treaty monitoring center - 1/26/2018

Senior Airman Dylan B. Melone (right), a clean room technician with the Air Force Technical Applications Center, shows Gen. Mike Holmes, commander of Air Combat Command, a transmission electron microscope grid he uses to accomplish AFTAC's trace particle analysis mission. Holmes visited the nuclear treaty monitoring center, Patrick AFB, Fla., Jan. 24, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The commander of Air Combat Command paid his first visit to the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center recently to meet the Airmen responsible for providing forensic-level scientific data to support ACC and national decision makers.

Gen. Mike Holmes, accompanied by his command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, flew in to Patrick AFB and spent the day learning more about the organization that falls under their command. Col. Steven M. Gorski, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Dr. Glenn E. Sjoden, AFTAC chief scientist, and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC’s command chief, accompanied the ACC leadership team throughout the visit to introduce them to the scientists, engineers, analysts, operators and support technicians who execute the AFTAC mission.

“I was told early in my tenure as COMACC about AFTAC and how I needed to see for myself what this organization was all about,” said Holmes. “It was everything I expected it to be, and more.”

The itinerary took the general and chief on tours of AFTAC’s clean room, its 24/7 operations center, radiochemistry lab, heritage room, help desk, maintenance warehouse, innovation lab and data center. At each location, AFTAC Airmen briefed Holmes and Batten on how they execute the mission of nuclear event detection, technical nuclear forensics, nuclear debris collection and analysis, and countering weapons of mass destruction.

Holmes was particularly interested in seeing AFTAC’s Innovation Lab, which he had heard a lot about before his arrival.

“The Secretary of the Air Force (Heather Wilson) has a keen interest in innovation,” said Holmes. “I was aware of the innovative work being accomplished here at AFTAC, but I didn’t know the exact projects your innovation lab was specifically working on. I did know they were important enough to be showcased at the AFA (Air Force Association) symposium in Orlando, and it was great to be able to see these Airmen in action and the important mission they perform. Very impressive!”

ACC’s senior enlisted leader was equally impressed with the center’s work force.

“The AFTAC Airmen’s innovative spirit and mission focus impressed me,” said Batten. “I enjoyed sharing time with Airmen who were not apprehensive to try something and fail. Mistakes can make us better and teach lessons, and they built upon that to overcome many challenges.”

He added, “I didn’t realize prior to the visit just what (these Airmen) fully did, and I left just blown away.”

In 2015, AFTAC became a subordinate unit under ACC as one of the command’s premier surveillance organizations under 25th Air Force. While AFTAC personnel have had significant interaction with their counterparts at ACC’s headquarters at Langley AFB, Va., this was the first time Holmes and Batten had the opportunity to visit the nuclear treaty monitoring center since Holmes took command of ACC in 2017.

With the eyes of the world focused on the emerging nuclear threat, the general received briefings on AFTAC’s first-hand role in recent global events, including how scientific data are collected and analyzed, how the information is reported to senior leaders, and how it shapes national policy and international response – all keys to the U.S. nuclear deterrence strategy.

“The world is a different place than it was 25 years ago,” Holmes said. “Our challenges are different – the enemy operates in an asymmetrical fashion and they square off against us in unconventional, irregular ways. That’s why it’s so important for us to operate across our multi-domain platforms within the whole government strategy, which is where AFTAC plays a significant role in what they bring to the fight. You guys are key in that regard.”

After meeting scores of Airmen who call AFTAC home, including three of AFTAC’s overseas detachment chiefs via video teleconference, Batten wasn’t able to meet them all, so he offered a few key pieces of advice for the center’s junior enlisted force.

“While timing and luck play a part in getting through life, I think it’s a pretty easy formula to set yourself up for great opportunities,” he explained. “My three steps are simple: learn your job and do it well; take care of those Airmen entrusted to you; and you won’t always get it right, but try every day to make yourself a little better.”

The command chief has upcoming travel in the near future and hopes to be able to connect with Airmen at AFTAC’s overseas detachments.

“I think getting out to those locations is important, especially to thank these great Airmen for their hard work and dedication to such a vital mission. I look forward to seeing the detachments in these areas.”

The visit also included the opportunity for Holmes to recognize several outstanding performers. Capt. Joshua Ford, Hugh Brown, Senior Airman Andrew Pouncy, Christopher Lockridge, Staff Sgt. BreAnne Groth, and Senior Airman Samuel Carmichael all received coins from Holmes for their hard work.

“It was very satisfying to be acknowledged for the work our whole team has done in standing up the AFTAC mission defense team, which will be part of the larger Air Force transition from a traditional communications squadron construct to the new active cyber defense concept,” said Hugh Brown, AFTAC’s MDT threat emulation lead. “The efforts the ACC/A6 has provided have been invaluable, and they have been pivotal in their help to get us where we need to be. It was an honor to be recognized.”

Gorski reflected on the importance of their visit.

“This was an outstanding opportunity to showcase the men and women of AFTAC to COMACC and the ACC Command Chief,” said Gorski. “While they knew our mission well, they were able to connect with our folks on a personal level – to see their passion, professionalism and deep expertise first-hand. Gen. Holmes and Chief Batten got a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at how we produce timely and relevant information for our senior officials as well as to the warfighter, and to personally meet the people who are the backbone of this great organization. It was a pleasure to host them.”

Airmen travel to Earth’s southernmost point for annual maintenance 1/16/2018

Airman from the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., walk on a frozen lake in Antarctica after a full day of performing maintenance on the center’s seismic equipment near Bull Pass. The photo, taken at about 10 p.m., illustrates the 24-hour daylight cycle at Earth’s southernmost point. Pictured from left to right: Staff. Sgt. Jeremy Hannah, Senior Airman Andrew Pouncy and Staff Sgt. Justin Sherman. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Richard Westra)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
With 24 hours of daily sunlight in their favor, a team of seismic technicians traveled to the southernmost point on Earth to conduct annual maintenance of the equipment they use to monitor global nuclear treaties.

Six members of the Air Force Technical Applications Center made the trek from their home base at Patrick AFB, Fla., to Antarctica to troubleshoot and replace seismometers that contribute to the International Monitoring System.

The team also conducted full inventories at the sites and replaced generator starter batteries used to power the stations. The seismic equipment is used to detect activity caused by naturally-occurring events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or lightning strikes, as well as man-made events such as mining activity or nuclear explosions.

Staff Sgt. Jeremy Hannah, a geophysical maintenance supervisor, served as the team lead during the five weeks the team was deployed. He and his fellow seismic maintainers flew from the United States to New Zealand, then on to McMurdo Station in Antarctica, a 14+hour trek from one hemisphere to another, including flights aboard an Air Force C-17 and a Bell 212 helicopter.

McMurdo Station is the logistics and research hub of the U.S. Antarctic Program and is managed by the National Science Foundation. As part of its global nuclear treaty monitoring mission, AFTAC analyzes seismic data collected from the station and provides it to the U.S. National Data Center.

The Antarctica site, located 1,200 miles north of the South Pole in the McMurdo Dry Valleys near Lake Vanda, supports the International Monitoring System as part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, and is one of thousands of sensors within AFTAC’s global network, the largest in the U.S. Air Force.

A typical duty day for the team consisted of an early rise, breakfast, field work, lunch, preventive maintenance requirements, dinner, then a few hours of enjoying the beauty of the landscape. When the team is at the station, they sleep in hardened facilities; in the field, they’re in sleeping bags on the floor of the hybrid power station at Bull Pass or Mt. Newall.

Staying properly nourished in sub-zero temperatures is critical to team safety and wellness. When they’re at McMurdo, they enjoy their meals at the station’s cafeteria. When they’re in the field, however, they cook their meals using a camping stove and crockpot. And while most would think the frigid temperatures and austere conditions are the most challenging aspect of their mission, one team member said his biggest hurdle was sunlight.

“Personally for me, having no real track or sense of time was difficult to get used to,” Senior Airman Richard Westra, a geophysical maintenance supervisor. “Twenty-four hours of sunlight was a blessing because we could accomplish so much work without worrying about darkness, but it was also somewhat disconcerting not knowing if it was 10 a.m. or 10 p.m.!”

He added, “After a full day of work though, it’s great to be able to take a hike or walk around to see a place very few people in the world get to experience,” Westra said. “Every morning I’d get up and just look outside for several minutes, taking it all in. It’s absolutely breathtaking and the views blow your mind each day.”

Of the six Airmen who made the journey, four had never visited the site before. Travel to AFTAC’s site, located 1,200 miles north of the South Pole, requires airlift via helicopter, which was one team member’s favorite part of the journey.

“It was so cool to fly over a partially-frozen sea, see penguins and orcas and witness the scenery below in a helicopter no less,” said Senior Airman Andrew Pouncy, one of the first-time visitors. “It was an opportunity of a lifetime, and I hope I’ll be able to make the trip again.”

In addition to providing seismic information to senior U.S. decision makers, the data from these sensors also help scientific and academic communities-at-large.

“We closely coordinate with the NSF and the U.S. Antarctic Program not only when we are deployed to the southern hemisphere, but also when we are back home in Florida,” said Hannah. “This trip, we also worked with the Berg Field Center, the place that outfits both ground and helo teams that work near and around McMurdo. They are an invaluable resource for us.”

The team also serviced AFTAC’s solar generators and wind turbines, better known as hybrid power stations.

“Maintaining our seismic equipment at Vanda is critical to our treaty monitoring mission,” said Hannah. “Because of the weather and rugged terrain, we have a small window of opportunity to perform the necessary troubleshooting to ensure the data is transmitted to the NDC in support of the International Monitoring System as part of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. I’m really proud of the team and what they were able to accomplish on this trip.”

The Airmen are now authorized to wear the Antarctica Service Medal on their uniform.

AFTAC civilian, Army Reservist selected for promotion to brigadier general 12/5/2017

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
Brig. Gen. Donald B. Absher, a civilian physical scientist for AFTAC’s Materials Technology Directorate, was selected for promotion in the Army Reserve, where he has served for almost 30 years. Absher graduated from Officer Candidate School in 1988 after earning a bachelor’s degree in cell biology from California State University, and over the course of his three decades in uniform, he divided his time between active duty, the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve.

As a civilian physical scientist for the Department of Defense’s sole nuclear treaty monitoring center, Absher is responsible for leading an interdisciplinary scientific technical team that coordinates the materials collection, analysis and data reporting functions supporting the National Technical Nuclear Forensics program.

The newly-minted general officer has held a number of prestigious titles throughout his military career, including operations officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency’s Chemical and Biological Intelligence Support Team, U.S. Transportation Command’s chief of deployment and distribution operations center, and most recently as deputy commander of the 143rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command – the largest sustainment command in the U.S. Army.

A Bronze Star recipient, Absher has deployed numerous times to Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. During Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, he served as a platoon leader during for the 24th Infantry Division. From 2007 to 2008, he deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait as the 595th Transportation Brigade’s chief resource management officer. And in 2011, he was the commander of the 1182nd Deployment and Distribution Battalion in Southwest Asia.

With the promotion comes a change of title and increased responsibility. The 1-star is now the vice commander of the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command under U.S. Transportation Command located in Norfolk, Va. JECC is responsible for providing decisive joint communications, planning and public affairs support to joint forces to meet the emerging requirements of Combatant Commands and Joint Task Force-capable headquarters.

The Santa Rosa, Calif., native joined AFTAC in 1994 and has deftly balanced his busy civilian occupation with his demanding military career.

“With family being my first priority, I believe it’s a unique and continuous challenge for many Reserve personnel to appropriately balance civilian career responsibilities with their military obligations,” Absher said. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to have very supportive management here at AFTAC, and that has significantly lowered the associated stresses on my family and myself throughout multiple overseas deployments and extended exercises.”

While he’s humbled at the amount of faith his Army leadership has placed in him as evidenced by his promotion selection, his pride comes tumbling to the forefront when he talks about the military success of his children.

“My son is an Air Force F-16 pilot, and my daughter is married to a Navy nuclear reactor operator,” said Absher. “Taylor is a first lieutenant in Japan and has already participated in several Pacific Air Force-led exercises, including Red Flag in Alaska this past summer. Elizabeth lives in San Diego, and her husband is assigned to the USS Pasadena, a nuclear submarine. She juggles her full time ‘mom’ responsibilities with two young children while she serves as the Family Readiness Coordinator for the USS Pasadena families. Understandably, these responsibilities are both compounded when her husband is out to sea.”

Lt. Col. Ty Miller, chief of AFTAC’s Verification Science Division, is Absher’s civilian supervisor and had nothing but praise for his leadership capabilities.

“It comes as no surprise to me that Don was selected to serve in the general officer ranks,” said Miller. “He is a supremely gifted leader and an extremely dedicated employee. His leadership skills come shining through with every project he works on, and I oftentimes look to him for mentorship on situations that arise in our division.”

Miller joked, “I don’t know many Air Force lieutenant colonels who have the privilege of having an Army brigadier general in their unit, so I’m going to milk that as much as I can!”

AFTAC civilian returns to duty after Hurricane Maria relief efforts 11/30/2017

Claudette Wells, an acquisition program manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., stands near the dock at Frederiksted, St. Croix as she prepares to head out to work as a Federal Emergency Management Agency disaster relief volunteer. Wells was part of FEMA's Surge Capacity Force that helped those affected by Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm that barreled through the Caribbean in September 2017. (Courtesy photo)

Fallen power lines and uprooted trees litter the streets of St. Croix where Claudette Wells, an acquisition program manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center, Patrick AFB, Fla., volunteered to serve as a disaster relief worker for the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricane Maria impacted the island. "The damage was unimaginable," said Wells. (U.S. Air Force photo by M. Claudette Wells)

The sun slowly rises over the Lesser Antilles as Carnival Cruise Lines' ship, Fascination, can be seen moored at Frederiksted, St. Croix. The docked ship was used to feed and house Federal Emergency Management Agency personnel who volunteered to help with disaster relief efforts after Hurricane Maria impacted the region in October 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by M. Claudette Wells)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
“They have no power, no running water, limited transportation, little food, and the damage is unimaginable.”

Those are the words of Claudette Wells, an acquisition program manager for the Air Force Technical Applications Center here, speaking about the citizens of St. Croix, a U.S. territory. Wells recently returned from the island nation after volunteering to help with Hurricane Maria disaster relief efforts and spent six weeks on the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Surge Capacity Force.

Shortly after the Category 5 storm barreled through the Caribbean, Greater and Lesser Antilles, the Department of Homeland Security sent a message to all civilian federal employees seeking volunteers to help those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Wells jumped at the chance to assist in any way she could.

“I was lucky enough to have an employer who was willing to let me go for 45 days, a desire to help those in need, and a wife who knows what I find rewarding,” said Wells. “After seeing the devastation in Houston after Hurricane Harvey, I knew I had to do something to contribute to the relief efforts that hit so close to home here in Florida.”

Once Wells got the go-ahead from her local chain of command, she flew to Anniston, Ala., where she received what’s called “just-in-time” emergency response training – a condensed course that provided basic information on how to handle the needs of those affected by the catastrophe. She was also issued a laptop and cell phone she would need for the duration of her temporary duty.

From Anniston, Wells flew to St. Croix and landed at Henry E. Rohlsen Airport in Frederiksted on the western tip of the island, where she was met by other FEMA disaster relief personnel. Once on the ground, she was initially tasked with conducting Disability Integration operations – work that involved following up on referrals for citizens with functional disabilities or unmet needs.

“I worked with folks who had vision, hearing, mobility or cognitive disabilities,” she said. “We helped connect them with local agencies that provide a specialized service to those with a particular disability, and we helped identify and distribute the durable medical equipment they needed like canes, walker and wheelchairs.”

After several days of work on the DI team, Wells was transferred to the Individual Assistance group. There, she worked with a small cadre of surge personnel and made more than 1,000 calls to victims who had already filed paperwork with FEMA and needed additional medical assistance. “We usually had to make multiple calls to the same number because of the poor cellular network, and some we just were never able to reach,” she lamented.

Wells also spent time with the Disaster Support Assistance team, which was responsible for canvassing certain geographical areas to make contact with those most impacted by the storm.

“We’d go door-to-door – always in the buddy system – to determine if residents had registered for assistance or not,” she explained. “If they hadn’t, we’d offer to register them right there on the spot. That is, if we had connectivity. If cell service was down, we’d fill out a form and upload it to FEMA’s database when we returned to the ship.”

The ship to which Wells referred was an aging Carnival Cruise Liner, the Fascination. Carnival docked the 2,056 passenger ship in St. Croix after receiving a partnership request from FEMA, and the vessel’s certified crew members provided housing and meals to relief workers.

“It was a bit surreal to spend my days under extremely austere conditions, witnessing the abject conditions the people of St. Croix had to endure, then turn around and return to a luxury cruise liner with great food, air conditioning, running water and electricity. It was very humbling and made me realize just how fortunate I am,” Wells stated.

Wells, a retired U.S. Navy officer who has been with AFTAC since 2003, rates this event as one she will never forget.

“What struck me the most about this entire experience was the patience of the disaster survivors,” she said. “When I arrived at St. Croix, they had already been without power for more than three weeks. Things like clean drinking water and fuel were scarce, but they weren’t out there looting or complaining or rioting. They seemed genuinely grateful for the presence of FEMA and its volunteers, and just about everyone I came in contact with thanked us for being there.”

She added, “I was just a small cog helping a very large machine help people in need. And if my wife Helen hadn’t been willing to make the sacrifice to maintain our household by herself, I’m not sure I would have been able to make the trip. She was totally supportive from the start, and I’m glad I was able to be a part of the effort.”

According to the National Hurricane Center, Maria was the 10th most intense Atlantic hurricane on record and caused catastrophic damage to the islands of Dominica, Guadeloupe, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and recovery efforts are still ongoing.

AFTAC names lab after ‘giant’ of nuclear forensics 11/24/2017

Col. Steven M. Gorski (right), commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, and Chief Master Sgt. Michael Joseph, AFTAC’s command chief, pose next to the plaque that officially dedicates the center’s research laboratory after former AFTAC senior scientist, Michael Harkins, at a ceremony at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo. Harkins’ official portrait is on the right. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Mr. Jeff Moore, director of the Harkins Laboratory Complex at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., reads remarks from Michael Harkins after the research lab was named after Harkins Oct. 24, 2017. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

Members of the Harkins Laboratory Complex at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., listen to remarks from Col. Steven M. Gorski, commander of the Air Force Technical Applications Center, during the dedication ceremony that named the lab after Michael Harkins, a former AFTAC senior scientist. Harkins’ official portrait is seen in the center of photo. (U.S. Air Force photo by Susan A. Romano)

By Susan A. Romano, AFTAC Public Affairs PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.
The Air Force Technical Applications Center dedicated its research laboratory in Colorado after a pioneer of gas analysis techniques at a ceremony held Oct. 24, 2017.

Formerly known as Operating Location GT, the Harkins Laboratory Complex was officially named after Michael Harkins, a nuclear engineer who served as the senior scientist of AFTAC’s Technical Operations Division, Gas Analysis Laboratory, from April 1975 to July 1999.

Harkins pioneered lab methods and technologies that were critical to AFTAC’s global nuclear treaty monitoring mission. Over the course of his distinguished career, he developed ground-breaking approaches to gas analysis and oversaw the design of advanced lab equipment that exponentially increased the lab’s analysis capabilities.

“Mr. Harkins was a giant in the field of nuclear forensics,” said Jeff Moore, director of the Harkins Lab Complex. “I first met him when I was assigned to AFTAC’s gas analysis laboratory in 1989. Mike was the sole civilian in the lab, and over the course of the next six years he taught me so much about gas analysis and AFTAC’s reactor products program. The knowledge he shared with me and the guidance he provided became the foundation for my future, and has had a continued influence to this day.”

The complex operates two research lab facilities to conduct research and development in ultra-low background radiological analysis methods. The nuclear measur