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Yesterday’s Air Force: AF museum opens new building

The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, is showing off its brand new hangar full of historical aircraft and tons of Air Force history. It features four sections: presidential, research and development, space, and global reach.

Montana's last Doolittle Raider honored

Seventy-four years after the historic Doolittle Tokyo Raid, former Staff Sgt. David J. Thatcher, one of two remaining Doolittle Raiders, was laid to rest June 27 in Missoula. He was 94.

Training for new civilian performance management program now available

Educational training is available to civilians and their supervisors in advance of the Air Force’s April 2017 transition to the new Department of Defense-wide Performance Management and Appraisal Program.<br /> <br /> A phased implementation of DPMAP, part of the DOD’s collaborative labor-management effort, New Beginnings, began in April 2016 with a limited number of Army, Navy and defense agency civilians. <br /> <br /> Department of the Air Force civilians are part of phase II with the first annual appraisal period beginning April 1, 2017, and closing March 31, 2018. <br /> <br /> “Our Airmen, including our civilian Airmen, are critical to accomplishing the Air Force’s mission,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “New Beginnings focuses on institutionalizing a culture of high performance through greater employee-supervisor communication and accountability, increased employee engagement, transparent processes, and improved capabilities in recruiting, developing and rewarding our workforce.”<br /> <br /> Training options include either the six-hour web-based training via <a href=" target="_blank">Joint Knowledge Online</a>, a 14-hour in-resident class, or a combination of the two. Training must be complete for transition into DPMAP. The online JKO training is available under course numbers PM101A for part one, and PM101B for part two. While the online training is available now, employees will receive further information when DPMAP training is scheduled for their base.<br /> <br /> “The new program will bring some administrative changes, but the key tenet of our current civilian evaluation system will be retained -- individual performance will be linked to organizational mission and goals,” James said.<br /> <br /> Additional Air Force training related to DPMAP and New Beginnings, expected in the fall, includes a performance management coaching program that will provide short, facilitated, interactive learning opportunities. Performance management coaching will be implemented in group or individual sessions on topics such as active listening, holding critical conversations and developing performance standards.<br /> <br /> For more information on the Air Force implementation of the DPMAP, visit myPers by clicking <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>. Additional information on “New Beginnings” is available <a href="" target="_blank">here</a>.<br />

AF announces total force award

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James announced the annual General Mark A. Welsh III One Air Force Award during a retirement dinner held in honor of the award’s namesake in Washington, D.C., June 23, 2016.This new Air Force-level award will be presented to the service’s top total force team that demonstrates improved effectiveness, operational

Air Force bids farewell to Welsh

Stealing a moment of silence, looking into the eyes of his wife, he takes a deep breath and prepares for what’s to come. Standing tall and proud, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III walks into a hangar in front of hundreds of onlookers, all there to bid him farewell.

AF Week in Photos

This week's photos feature Airmen from around the globe involved in activities supporting expeditionary operations and defending America. This weekly feature showcases the men and women of the Air Force.

James: ‘The DOD needs to continue with momentum gained’

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James participated in the Center for a New American Security’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., on June 20.

BLUE: Khobar Towers

Air Force TV has released the latest episode of the Air Force's flagship television program, BLUE. On June 25, 1996, the U.S. Air Force experienced one of the most horrific attacks in its history. Three Airmen look back on the incident and how it changed them and the Air Force -- forever.

20 years later: Remembering the attack on Khobar Towers

Alfredo Guerrero, a staff sergeant at the time, wasn’t supposed to be on top of Bldg. 131 in the Khobar Towers complex in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, on the night of June 25, 1996. But as the acting flight sergeant for the military police unit, he was checking on the Airmen who were assigned to sentry posts.<br /> <br /> Most of the Airmen in the building were assigned to the 4404th Wing (Provisional), and were in Saudi Arabia supporting Operation Southern Watch.<br /> <br /> It was a time before the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant became a threat. In 1996, Hezbollah and Iran targeted Americans. <br /> <br /> That night Guerrero arrived on the rooftop around 10 p.m., as he watched a large gas truck, followed by a car, make its way to the building he was on.<br /> <br /> That same car and truck was also spotted by then-1st Lt. Michael Harner, who was inside the building beside Guerrero. Harner, who had only been on station for several days, had just returned to his room, opened a sliding glass door and stepped out onto his balcony. Before the truck made its way to Guerrero’s building, Harner noticed it parked in a parking lot next to a mosque that was under construction. Days earlier, there had been no vehicle traffic through the parking lot.<br /> <br /> “I watched as it drove right in front of me, and the lights from the compound shone, so I could see the people in the truck, and there was actually a vehicle following the truck,” Harner said. “I thought that was very unusual to see that, and I didn’t know quite what to do about it, (because) nobody’s shooting or nobody’s doing anything.”<br /> <br /> The truck then parked beside Guererro’s building. Two men got out and hurried into the car, which sped off. At that moment, it clicked for Guerrero that this wasn’t normal and something bad was about to happen.<br /> <br /> “I got on the radio and called the control center to tell them what was going on, and, before I finished my first transmission, I thought about the people in the building and realized, ‘Well, if this is what I think it is, this building is going down,’” Guerrero said. “And so, before I finished my first transmission, I told them I was beginning to evacuate the building.” <br /> <br /> The Airman with Guerrero overheard his radio transmissions and rushed into the building to begin evacuating. Guerrero got the attention of another Airman on the other side of the building and the two of them also began evacuating the eight-story building. <br /> <br /> <strong>The explosion</strong><br /> <br /> Guerrero only made it down a few floors before the blast went off. <br /> <br /> “I was fortunate enough to be behind an interior wall and so most of the overpressure from the bomb went right behind me. So, I was kind of in a protected area,” he said. “It just spun me around; it didn’t knock me down or anything.”<br /> <br /> Not all were that lucky. The explosion killed 19 Airmen and injured more than 350 service members and civilians. It was so powerful that all of the windows in a 2-mile radius were blown out.<br /> <br /> Sitting near the balcony door in the dorm’s common room, Harner recalled seeing a flash of light before the door was blown apart.<br /> <br /> “I ate that sliding glass door,” Harner said, as he described how the glass shredded his face, shoulder, arm and leg. <br /> <br /> Both towers were dark. As Harner tried to feel his way around his dorm, he made his way back into his bedroom. He remembered yelling out of the hole in the wall where his window once was, “Is there anybody out there?<br /> <br /> “It was dead silence,” he said. “And it was probably one of the most eerie feelings I have ever had in my entire life.”<br /> <br /> Over in Guerrero’s building, an entire side of the building had completely collapsed. <br /> <br /> “The next thing I knew, everything was pitch black. I couldn’t hear anything or see anything,” he said. <br /> <br /> After he collected himself and was aware of where he was, Guerrero immediately began assisting the injured. After helping an Airman down the stairs and out of the building, he headed back inside to the second floor. It was there he saw a few Airmen lying motionless under some rubble. <br /> <br /> “Everything was kind of blurry and surreal,” he said.<br /> <br /> Soon after, his leadership arrived. He briefed them on what he had experienced and was sent away to get checked out and cleaned up. <br /> <br /> <strong>‘Life left his body’</strong><br /> <br /> Right before the explosion, then-Staff Sgt. Selena Zuhoski was watching a movie in the recreation building with fellow Airmen. <br /> <br /> “I remembered the lights flickered, and then I heard a deep ‘boom.’ And then I remember … dust billowing in,” she said.<br /> Zuhoski would later learn that she had been knocked unconscious. <br /> <br /> As she regained consciousness, she and a group of people headed outside, where they saw a mushroom cloud around the site of the explosion. When they headed toward the damaged building, she said she saw people coming over the fence. Her first thought was that they were under attack.<br /> <br /> The people hopping the fence were locals, coming to help.<br /> <br /> After reaching the building, Zuhoski heard “there’s a guy dying on the fourth floor. He’s going into shock.” With a flashlight in hand, she and others headed upstairs. <br /> <br /> “There was a man there in a puddle of blood and there was a door that had been blown off its hinges,” she recalled.<br /> <br /> The group utilized the door as a makeshift gurney and carefully loaded the injured man onto it and carried him downstairs and outside, where they put him on a table until paramedics arrived. <br /> <br /> As the group headed back into the building, Zuhoski waited with the man until more help arrived.<br /> <br /> “I held his hand and I was covering this wound on his chest,” she said. “I was saying, you know, ‘Hold on, it’s gonna be OK.’ His hand was really cold and he was saying ‘Oh, God. Oh, God.’ And I said ‘Please. Please hold on.’ And then … I could tell the instant that the life left his body.”<br /> <br /> Paramedics arrived and took the man away, loading him onto a bus. Zuhoksi then went back into the building to help more victims. <br /> <br /> <strong>Post-traumatic stress</strong><br /> <br /> Harner, who at the time was a pavements engineer for the 4404th WG, suffered deep wounds from broken glass, along with PTSD. After being transported to a local hospital, they cleaned him up and packed him full of gauze, concerned that sewing him up with glass left inside of his body could lead to infection. <br /> <br /> Harner, who was deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, was medically evacuated the next day to Germany, where he spent two days before being sent back stateside.<br /> <br /> He would go on to receive the Purple Heart, and for the next decade, shards of glass would continue to work their way out of his body. <br /> <br /> Harner, now a colonel, serves as the associate director of civil engineers at the Pentagon. <br /> <br /> Along with him and others, Zuhoski also suffered from PTSD.<br /> <br /> “I probably didn’t even realize the impact that this would have on me as far as being like a lifelong … traumatic event,” she said. “I thought that … it would eventually fade, but it hasn’t. It’s gotten worse. I have nightmares, I have guilt. (I) wish I would have been able to do more.”<br /> <br /> With the support of her husband, Zuhoski said she’s been able to use art as an outlet. Her husband set up a studio for her in their home about a year ago. “It’s really been therapeutic for me,” she said. <br /> <br /> Zuhoski said talking openly to others who experienced the same tragedy has also helped.<br /> <br /> With every tragedy, policies, procedures and ways of thinking are updated to help prevent another one.<br /> <br /> Guerrero, now the anti-terrorism program manager at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, said one point he hits hard on when giving anti-terrorism briefings is to know the enemy.<br /> <br /> “You have to know who you’re dealing with and how far they’re willing to go, what types of targets they’re looking for,” he said. <br /> <br /> He said there are no front lines anymore, and it’s everybody’s responsibility to be vigilant.<br /> <br /> “I think we’ve come a long way for protecting our folks. We’re teaching other countries how to do it,” Guerrero said. “My hope is that we’ve learned enough on where we can stop the next one, and so that’s what scares me -- the next one. What is the next one and how far are they willing to go.”

Air Force announces KC-46A candidate bases

Air Force officials announced fives bases as candidates for the next round of active duty-led KC-46A Pegasus basing on June 23.<br /><br />The bases include Dover Air Force Base, Delaware; Fairchild AFB, Washington; Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota; Travis AFB, California; and Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey.<br /><br />The KC-46As are expected to begin arriving at the second active duty-led global mobility wing in fiscal year 2020.<br /><br />“The KC-46A Pegasus aerial tanker remains one of our top acquisition priorities,” said Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James. “It is absolutely essential that we replace our aging tanker fleet so we have the aircraft necessary to maintain the nation’s global reach for years to come.”<br /><br />Air Mobility Command will soon conduct detailed, on-the-ground site surveys of each candidate base in approved assessment areas. They will assess each location against operational requirements, potential impacts to existing missions, housing, infrastructure and manpower.<br /><br />Additionally, AMC will develop cost estimates to bed down the KC-46A for each candidate base. Once the site surveys are completed, the results will be briefed to Air Force leadership who will select preferred and reasonable alternatives for the operating location. The Air Force plans to announce the second active duty-led KC-46A preferred alternative by the end of 2016.<br /><br />"Bringing the KC-46A online is a critical first step in recapitalizing a tanker fleet that has been at the heart of global response for more than five decades," said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. "This great new aircraft will achieve better mission-capable rates, suffer less maintenance downtime, and improve the U.S. military's ability to respond rapidly to humanitarian crises and contingency operations around the world.”<br /><br />The Air Force also stressed the importance of its strategic basing process in creating deliberate, repeatable and standardized decisions.<br /><br />“In this process, the Air Force uses criteria-based analysis and military judgment,” said Jennifer Miller, the deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force for installations. “We look forward to the next phase of the process when the preferred alternative is announced and our candidate base communities have an opportunity to participate by providing input for the environmental analysis.”<br /><br />The KC-46A will provide improved capability, including boom and drogue refueling on the same sortie, worldwide navigation and communication, airlift capability on the entire main deck floor, receiver air refueling, improved force protection and survivability, and multipoint air refueling capability.