|2/7/2018||Nebraska Airmen train for today's warfight||Air||Staff Sgt. Jason Wilson|
More than 20 members of Nebraska Air National Guard’s 155th Air Refueling Wing completed their chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive, or CBRNE, refresher training course Feb. 4, 2018, at the Nebraska National Guard air base in Lincoln, Nebraska.
The Air Force recently mandated all Airmen be trained on CBRNE every 18 months instead of every three years. The training begins with online training followed by hands-on training.
Getting all Airmen up to speed will be challenging but useful in this era of defense.
“We have until March 31, to get 900 plus members trained," said Staff Sgt. Ryne S. Packett, an emergency management journeyman with the 155th Civil Engineering Squadron. “The reason why the training went from three years to 18 months is due to recent events in the world. With the confirmed chemical attacks and the increase in deployment cycles, we want to make sure that our Airmen know what they are doing and how to use the gear.”
To adhere to the new guidance, multiple training events will be offered to get as many people current as possible.
“The process isn’t set in stone, but the goal is to get as many Airmen as we can through the class so we can knock the numbers down,” Packett said. “We are holding two classes today and will potentially have classes during the upcoming weeks for full-time guard members. We also have a class of 100 plus members scheduled for April and a bigger one in June.”
The two-hour course builds upon the online CBRNE computer-based training and provides Airmen hands-on practice so they can walk away with knowledge of the chemical detection process and their personal protective equipment.
“Students will learn how to read liquid detection points with the M-9 paper to detect any chemicals in the air and how to use the auto injector atropines," Packett said. “However, the main focus is on Airmen learning how to correctly put on and seal their mask and suit so that they can survive a chemical attack.”
|2/4/2018||Shooting for perfection||Air||Airman 1st Class Jamie Titus|
Nineteen members of the Nebraska Air National Guard’s 155th Maintenance Group took part in annual weapons qualification training Feb. 3, 2018 at the Nebraska Army National Guard’s Greenlief Training Center, near Hastings, Nebraska.
Airmen with the 155th Air Refueling Wing in Lincoln, Nebraska, must qualify on the M4 carbine every year in order to stay proficient and be prepared for any situation they might encounter at home or abroad.
“Being part of the maintenance squadron, we travel with aircraft, since wherever the aircraft needs to go, is where the people go,” said Master Sgt. Lyle Stara, first sergeant for the 155th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. “All the mechanics, all the hydraulics, all the (electrical and environmental) people have to be able to support the mission wherever the airplane and wherever the aircrew is and that can take us into any area, any hostile area. It could take us any place in the world where the airplane needs to go.”
The training began with a class on the basics of a the rifle. In that class they learned about safety features of the M4, what ammunition is compatible with it, how to take the rifle apart and put it back together, and how to clean it. They also learned about marksmanship fundamentals, and how to clear the weapon before and after using it.
Following classroom training, the Airmen moved to the range to apply what they had learned earlier. Eight members of the 155th Security Forces Squadron monitored the training, giving instruction on what they needed to adjust or fix in order to qualify with their weapon.
The value of the training was not lost on those being trained.
“I think it puts us at a position where there’s one less thing for us to worry about because we can be confident that if the case were to come to a point where we needed to defend (the aircraft)… we have the ability to do so and just protect that mission as a whole,” said Senior Airman Timothy Aulner, an aircraft electrical and environmental systems technician with the 155th MXG. “That can apply to anywhere in the U.S. or overseas as well.”
Training like this annually allows these Airmen to build muscle memory that they can fall back on if necessary.
“You can only do so much training,” said Potter. “But when a situation arises, you’re going to go back to your instincts and having this training basically built into you, constantly doing it year after year, it makes you a lot more confident that you’re going to be able to do your job effectively.”
Once trained, these Airmen can help security forces maintain a safety and security.
“The main importance of why we have to train everyone else is if we don’t have enough manning, we call on other squadrons to come on as augmentees and if they’re posted with a security forces member they will be armed up in that case,” said Staff Sgt. Brent Potter, a Combat Arms Training Maintenance (CATM) firearms instructor with the 155th SFS. “If the situation arises, they have to be qualified to use the M4. Say someone tries to take over an aircraft and the security forces member or someone of security can’t get there fast enough, there’s a trained and qualified individual that is with that asset to protect it and make sure it doesn’t get taken or damaged.”
Airmen must remain ready to deploy by consistently training in every area required in not only their own career field but in the skills every Airmen should have as a warrior Airmen.
“I think it’s pretty important that we are all trained, we’re ready, we’re willing to do whatever it takes to support the mission,” said Stara. “To support whatever we need to, to make sure that we’re ready and willing and able not knowing what could possibly be thrown in our direction.”
|1/16/2018||Nebraska National Guard; Nebraska; Lincoln; Lincoln air base; Nebraska National Guard air base; security; cold; layers; mask; police; ||Nebraska National Guard air base personnel brave holiday snow, cold ||Joint||Spc. Lisa Crawford|
the calendar turned from 2017 to 2018, most full-time Soldiers, Airmen and
Nebraska Military Department civilian employees were off work enjoying the
holidays in the warmth and comfort of their homes. But with temperatures in the
state falling below even those in Antarctica, warmth wasn’t the case for
hurts,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Raymond Sturgeon, a security specialist with
the 155th Security Forces Squadron. “It hurts when you breathe. It shouldn’t
hurt when you breathe.”
Several full-time Soldiers, Airmen and civilian employees alike were left
working around the clock to keep the Nebraska National Guard air base in
Lincoln running over the holidays as cold temperatures plummeted to near record
Sturgeon, considered one of just a few essential personnel, said the cold began
to take a toll after he worked in the brutal temperatures for three days
straight conducting vehicle inspections, checking IDs
and securing buildings without much help over the New Year holiday.
“My sinuses were so inflamed from breathing the cold air that I was getting a
migraine,” he said.
“It was just painfully cold.” Army Sgt. Dylan Hergenrader, a full-time UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter mechanic,
agreed, finding the cold temperatures to be miserable, especially for his first
winter home following a year-long deployment last summer to Afghanistan.
“I prefer the cold to the heat, but at least when it’s hot out I can feel my
fingers when I’m turning a wrench,” Hergenrader said.
Fortunately, most of Hergenrader’s job can be completed inside the heated
hangar of the Nebraska National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility No. 1 on
the air base in Lincoln.
“We can’t leave the aircraft outside very long in the cold like this because
the (equipment) will contract and start leaking,” Hergenrader said.
do maintenance outside when it’s warmer, so now every time we even need to do
something little we have to bring the birds in from the cold to work on them.” Army Spc. Tate Hanzlicek, a full-time petroleum supply specialist at AASF No.
1, isn’t as lucky.
“Refueling has to be done outside, and it takes at least 15 minutes to do that,” Hanzlicek said.
With temperatures near negative 20 degrees before the wind chills, Hanzlicek
said he’s been spending even more time exposed readying fuel trucks and
ensuring they start properly.
“The other day I had a problem with them starting because it was so cold, which
always just makes the thing worse,” he said.
The AASF No. 1 crew is responsible for all rotary assets at the air base in
Lincoln, including snow and ice removal from the flight line attached to the
Army hangar. When the cold temperatures of winter hit, the crews take immediate
action to tailor both preventative and reactive maintenance plans to the weather’s
effects on equipment. And even as the weather warms, they will continue to
monitor for possible issues.
“Any extreme one way or another is not good for them,” Hergenrader said.
“I compare it to being just like your body,” Hanzlicek said. “If you’re outside
for long periods of time, you’re more prone to getting sick.”
While the Soldiers manage the Army hangar, the majority of the air base is
maintained by the 155th Civil Engineer Squadron. The 155th CES is responsible
for providing winter salt and shovels to individual buildings, and snow removal from sidewalks, main roads and the 155th Air Refueling Wing’s entire flight line, which supports multiple KC-135R
Stratotanker refueling planes.
“It’s a collective effort,” said Janelle Priest, the base facilities
maintenance manager. “I’m very fortunate for the people we have in the CES.
They go out of their way to help out every craft. Even if they aren’t in roads
and grounds, they will assist us with snow removal. Everybody helps everybody
Priest said the first snow of the season, which came right before the Christmas
holiday, was a great example of how the team comes together when there is a
“There’s just a lot sense of pride and ownership in what we do for the entire
base,” Priest said about the team of Airmen and civilian employees who came in
right before the holiday to clear the snow. “You might sacrifice a little now,
but that’s okay when you take pride in your job.”
Keeping warm is the main concern Priest has for her staff, and everyone else
working outdoors on the base in the extreme cold. She said she briefs her staff
regularly on wearing proper cold-weather attire and personal protective
equipment at all times, as well as limiting exposure by ensuring snow crews take needed breaks and rotate shifts.
“This type of cold isn’t very enjoyable,” Priest said. “So, unless you absolutely have to be outside, don’t.”
Sturgeon said the security personnel manning the front gate try to keep a good
exposure cycle, but that isn’t always possible.
“The main thing that can help us is for people visiting the base to make sure
they are ready with their ID when they pull up to the gate,” Sturgeon said.
“Not being ready just means more time we’re all exposed to the elements, so
having the appropriate paperwork ready to go helps lessen everybody’s
Sturgeon also encourages everyone coming onto base to be dressed in
weather-appropriate attire at all times, as the security forces mission never
“We’re here 24/7, 365 days a year, and we still have all out anti-terrorism
efforts to meet,” Sturgeon said. “Dress for the weather, not your destination,
so you don’t find yourself randomly selected for a vehicle inspection while
you’re wearing shorts and flip flops in subzero temperatures.”
“Still,” Sturgeon added, “fingers crossed this is the coldest weather we’ll see
|12/22/2017||National Guard; Nebraska National Guard; Nebraska Army National Guard; Citizen Soldier; Nebraska; Best Warrior Competition; Greenlief Training Site; Hastings||Nebraska prepares for improved Best Warrior contest||Army||Spc. Lisa Crawford|
The Nebraska Army National Guard’s Best Warrior
Competition is an annual opportunity for Nebraska Soldiers to showcase their
individual skills and talents while competing to qualify for regional and
national contests, which, in turn, can possibly elevate a Soldier’s career.
evolving, Nebraska’s Best Warrior Competition is never quite the same from year
to year. A state planning committee annually adjusts the competition to
ultimately find the state’s one Soldier and noncommissioned officer who can
best shoot, move and communicate.
it shouldn’t come as any surprise that next year’s Best Warrior Competition
will be different than the 2017 version, which was overhauled from 2016.
Probably the biggest change for the upcoming competition is the date, which
moved from early March to April 12-15, to position the state-level competition
closer to the regional competition in May.
to the state’s senior Army National Guard noncommissioned officer, the changes
are all designed to improve the overall competition and the ability of selected
Soldiers to compete with their peers.
think we have a pretty good product built, especially the support package
piece,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Marty Baker, state command sergeant major.
example, the competition used to include more than 80 different support
personnel manning each event, but the restructure has cut that number in half
and increased continuity within the planning committee.
having a small task force support the entire time, to take a little stress off
the battalions especially right before the start of (annual training) planning
season,” said Master Sgt. Chris Roemig, this year’s noncomissioned officer-in-charge.
for the 2018 event kicked off in October. Early on, the decision was made to
retain most of the structure from the previous year, while adjusting for minor
things based on previous after-action response comments. Roemig said he believes
the planning is going well, and he’s looking forward to this year’s
any military operation, what you don’t see is the important part,” Roemig said.
“There’s a lot of planning and effort that goes into it ahead of time, so when
it goes off well, that shows good credit to the support staff. The competitors
shouldn’t have a poor competition because we forgot to plan.”
of the events from last year which are being retained include hosting a full
awards banquet utilizing Nebraska’s Army culinary specialists and adjusting the
schedule for Soldiers to decompress with a social event Saturday evening before
returning home Sunday morning.
said he also hopes to keep scores secret throughout the competition to keep
participants motivated instead of discouraged based upon scoring results
following each category.
competition, said one past winner, is definitely a chance for Nebraska Soldiers
to begin making names for themselves.
competition allows you to show your unit and your state what you are capable
of,” said Hunter Smith, a senior gunner with Troop B, 1-134th Cavalry Squadron,
and last year’s Soldier of the Year winner. “And most importantly it shows you
what you can do for yourself.”
competed in the state competition last March with less than a week’s notice to
prepare. He said he wasn’t sure what to expect, but he gave each event his very
best, which ultimately allowed him to win the Soldier category.
went on to represent Nebraska in the Region V competition in May at Camp
Beauregard in Pineville, Louisiana. Battling both a knee injury and severe
cold, Smith powered through each obstacle and challenge, ultimately finishing
favorite opportunity from the regional competition was the ability to actually
talk to the state (command sergeant major) in a comfortable environment, as a
person and not as your boss,” Smith said. “The amount of knowledge you can get
from a senior NCO like that…you don’t usually get when you’re lower enlisted.”
said that’s the first thing the Best Warrior Competition offers competitors:
the opportunity to learn from and work with peers, sponsors and senior leaders,
winning the state’s competition, Smith has had a lot of new experiences, most
recently graduating from Fort Benning’s Air Assault School on Dec. 7. While
Smith said he had hoped to attend Air Assault at some point in his career, he
credits his Best Warrior title for helping to expedite the process.
competition is a good way for any Soldier who thinks they might be overlooked
to show what they are made of,” he said. “It brings good attention to the
Soldier, and to the unit for raising and training the Soldier efficiently. You
can’t just claim to be a competitor or to hold a winning title, you have to
said he’s watched many Soldiers benefit from the Best Warrior Competition,
including alums like Sgt. Calvin Koziol who won the state, regional and
national competition in 2016, and Staff Sgt. Luke Katz who won the state competition
in 2013 who then went on to graduate from the U.S. Army’s Ranger School and
then compete twice in the annual David E. Grange Jr. Best Ranger Competition.
“It just opens a lot of doors,” Baker said. “When you
have your order of merit lists, you take and you reward your Soldiers. Smith
went to Air Assault school. By winning the national competition, Koziol was
priority for Air Assault and invited to D.C. for a recognition event. And
Katz’s name is now known nationally among the Best Ranger community.”
Baker said the competition also helps with retention by
making competitors “Soldiers for Life.”
that has won the Soldier or NCO of the Year that I know of are still in,” Baker
said. “I’ve said it before that, competition breeds excellence. When you
compete because you want to, you are not just going to go through the motions.
You’re going to strive to be the absolute best.”
Roemig said unit-level competitions are in progress now,
selecting competitors for the upcoming state contest at the Greenlief Training
Site near Hastings, Nebraska. Soldiers wanting to compete should share their
interest with their chain of command.
“This year’s competition will be both physically
demanding and intellectually challenging,” Roemig said. “The goal of the
competition is to find a well-rounded Soldier who can do it all.”
Roemig, who has been involved with the competition for
nearly a decade, said he’s watched first-hand the impact it has on Soldiers and
competitors I’ve seen at the end of it have been motivated, grateful and
pleased with the opportunity to compete,” Roemig said. “Even the ones who
didn’t win come out of it with a positive experience. There is always plenty of
camaraderie that’s built between the competitors, even across the NCOs and the
Roemig said some of those interactions last for years,
and the time and interaction winners have with the state senior enlisted
leaders is invaluable for networking and potential future opportunities.
“I think it is potentially a large boost to your
career,” he said. “Maybe not always directly, but it does give you confidence
in what you’re doing, plus now you’ve interacted with senior NCOs and got some
of their mentorship and guidance as well.”
Smith said he believes all Soldiers should consider
trying to compete in the Best Warrior Competition for the experience, knowledge
and camaraderie that stems from the event.
“This is the best
opportunity the state has for Soldiers to put their name out there,” Smith
said. “It’s a gut check for individual Soldiers to see who they really are, and
it’s a really cool experience most never get to do in their career.”
Baker said the state’s contest also allows Soldiers to
showcase their skills and network on an international level, by competing
alongside Czech Republic service members invited to Nebraska as part of the
Nebraska National Guard’s State Partnership Program with the country.
“It’s a great opportunity for our Czech partners to
interact with their American counterparts in a friendly, yet competitive
environment,” Baker said.
|12/20/2017||National Guard; Nebraska National Guard; Nebraska Air National Guard; Citizen Airmen; Nebraska; Airman's Medal; Waterloo; State Capitol||Life-saving efforts net Nebraska Air Guard sergeant Airman's medal||Air||Airman 1st Class Jamie Titus|
Philip J. Francis, a power production specialist with the Nebraska Air National
Guard’s 155th Civil Engineering Squadron, was awarded the Airman’s Medal for
risking his life to rescue an injured motorist from a burning car during an
award ceremony conducted Dec. 20 in the Nebraska State Capitol Rotunda.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts and Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, Nebraska adjutant general,
officiated the ceremony which took place as part of the annual National Guard
Airman’s Medal of Heroism is granted to service members in the U.S. Air Force
who distinguish themselves by heroic actions, mostly at the voluntary risk of
live, but not involving actual combat.
award goes back to a serious accident that occurred May 1, 2013, outside of
Waterloo, Nebraska. Traveling to Omaha with his wife, Anna, Francis said the
weather was unseasonably cold when it suddenly began to hail.
pausing underneath an overpass to allow the storm to pass, Francis said that
they were just getting underway again when they came upon a car crash near a
curve. He added that he quickly realized the head-on collision was bad and had
obviously just occurred.
pulling over, Francis sprinted to the first victim and, using skills he had
learned through numerous training exercises in the Nebraska Air National Guard,
began performing self aid buddy care to treat a woman who was ejected from the
vehicle. He then helped rescue another woman who was trapped in her vehicle
before ultimately saving a man who was trapped inside another vehicle that had
caught on fire.
then continued to assist by loading victims onto stretchers and into
ambulances, and assisted the medical team in splinting one of the victim’s
to Ricketts and Bohac, Francis exemplifies what it means to be a Nebraska
National Guard Airman.
Sgt. Francis’ actions) just shows why Nebraska is the best place in the world
to live,” said Ricketts, prior to pinning the new medal on Francis’ uniform
while members of his family and friends sat nearby. “When we have people like
[Tech.] Sgt. Francis, who are willing to step up and put themselves at risk to
save another, and it exemplifies the spirit of the Nebraska National Guard.”
Francis said he felt humbled by the honor.
feel like I was in the right place at the right time,” Francis said. “If anyone
who’s in my unit or in the Guard here in Nebraska or Active Duty, if they had
come upon that situation, I feel like they would have done the same thing, but
it means a lot to be honored for something like this.”
would hope that if you were put into a situation where you have to do something
like that for someone, your life is just as important as theirs, and if you
have the will and the means to help them out, you do that,” he added.
|12/15/2017||National Guard; Nebraska National Guard; Nebraska Air National Guard; Citizen Airmen; Nebraska; Outstaning Unit Award||155th Air Refueling Wing earns 13th outstanding unit award||Air||Staff Sgt. Jason Wilson|
Following a two-year period of intense deployments, record-setting flying, a massively successful air show and numerous other support missions, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts announced Dec. 15 that the Nebraska Air National Guard’s Lincoln-based 155th Air Refueling Wing has been awarded the U.S. Air Force’s prestigious Outstanding Unit Award.
This marks the 13th time receiving this award for the Nebraska Air National Guard’s largest unit in its 71-year history. More than 860 Airmen are assigned to the refueling unit in a variety of different occupational positions, all of whom contributed to the award.
“This unit has always performed at an outstanding level,” Ricketts said. “You have been able to support our allies, our coalition forces and fellow members of service around the world and in U.S Central Command operations.”
“You have demonstrated all the great values that we want to see, not only in our military, but as Nebraskans,” he added. “Hard work, team work, dedication, helping your neighbors and sacrificing so that we can continue to enjoy the freedoms we have in this country.”
The U.S. Air Force Outstanding unit is awarded by the Secretary of the Air Force to numbered units that have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units.
The current award covers the period of Sept. 1, 2014 to Aug. 31, 2016.
“As a former member of the 155th, I am incredibly proud of your accomplishment and continue to take great pride in what you do,” said Maj. Gen. Daryl Bohac, Nebraska adjutant general.
“The first award the wing received was in 1980.” Bohac said. “Twenty-six of 36 years, your excellence has been acknowledged by the Secretary of the Air Force. I think it is a testament to who we are as Nebraskans. We bring a certain kind of work ethic, attitude and value system to what we do each and every day.”
Former commander of the 155th ARW, Brig. Gen James “Bob” Stevenson said the people of the unit are what sets the unit apart from others.
“The people of this unit are what distinguishes this unit,” Stevenson said. “It is a championship team. They understand the obligation that comes along with it and they believe in what we are doing.”
Col. Robert Hargens, commander of the 155th ARW, agreed. “Often times the sacrifice and the efforts of the wing members is easy for it to go unnoticed and this is a time to celebrate and let people know all the fantastic things our airmen and soldiers are doing across the world,” Hargens said.
The statistics accumulated by the Airmen of the 155th ARW definitely reinforce those thoughts. For example, during the award time period, the organization:
• Flew 2,276 sorties for a record 10,964 hours while offloading almost 3 million gallons of fuel in support of U.S. and Coalition aircraft conducting both operational and training missions;
• Continued its legacy of Class A/B mishap-free flying – 142,000-plus hours since 1977;
• Served as the lead/host U.S. Air force KC-135 Stratotanker unit during the nation-wide modernization and upgrade of the KC-135s’ avionics systems;
• Conducted 10 separate deployment rotations involving 512 of the 155th ARW’s Airmen to locations around the globe, including multiple rotations to the U.S. Central Command area of operations, where they conducted a wide variety of functions in support of ongoing U.S. operations;
• Partnered with local and state entities to successfully conduct a major open house and air show in 2016 that attracted more than 250,000 spectators;
• Supported numerous other community outreach events to include the annual Lincoln Marathon, Cornhusker State Games, Skills USA competitions, Lincoln Public School Science Fair and more than 30 events in local schools and colleges;
• Maintained an overall personnel strength of more than 100 percent through concentrated recruiting and retention efforts;
• Underwent frequent major inspections that resulted in numerous laudatory results;
• Members of the unit also earned numerous national-level awards to include the 2015 Air Reserve Component Air Transportation Activity of the year; the 2015 Daedalian Logistics Effectiveness Awards; the USAFCENT’s May 2016 Aircrew Safety Award of Distinction; the 2015 Region II Recruiting Office Supervisor of the Year; and the 2016 Armed Forces Insurance National Guard Spouse of the Year.
The members of the 155th Air Refueling Wing will be officially presented with its 13th U.S. Air Force Outstanding Unit Award at a future date.