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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Alabama company awarded defense contract

Austal USA of Mobile is being awarded a $204,238,728 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-2217) to exercise options for Ships 2 and 3 of the Joint High Speed Vessel (JHSV) program.

The JHSV will provide high speed, shallow draft transportation capability to support the intra-theater maneuver of personnel, supplies, and equipment for the Navy, Marine Corps and Army.

Work will be performed in Mobile and is expected to be completed by July 2012.

Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tops in Blue coming to Montgomery

Tops In Blue, the all active duty U.S. Air Force performance unit, is coming to town.

The group will be here Feb. 5-6 and will perform at the Davis Theater.

Tickets are free and may be picked up on base or at Max Credit Union.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m.

Tops In Blue is a team of 35 vocalists, musicians, dancers, comedians, magicians and dramatists. They're known as the Air Force's Expeditionary Entertainers and primarily perform for military members and their families worldwide.

For more information, go to the group's Web site.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Alabama company awarded defense contract

BAE Systems Inc. of Anniston was awarded a $29,247,535 firm-fixed-price contract for the Centralized and National Level RESET of a total of 417 M113 Family of Vehicles.

Work is to be performed in Anniston with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010.

One bid was solicited with one bid received.

TACOM, CCTA-AHLA, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity.

Photo of the Day

British Royal navy Cmdr. David Salisbury, right, the director of staff for Africa Partnership Station (APS) West, helps deliver relief supplies donated by Mexico to more than a thousand people at a school yard on Haitian Coast Guard base Amiral Killick in Carrefour, Haiti, Jan. 24, 2010. The amphibious dock landing ship USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) was diverted from its Africa Partnership Station (APS) West mission to support Operation Unified Response following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake near Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Martine Cuaron, U.S. Navy/Released)
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

908th joins relief efforts in Haiti

The 908th Airlift Wing at Maxwell Air Force Base is supporting the military’s relief efforts in Haiti.

The state’s only Air Force Reserve unit began sending aircraft and personnel on Friday and another crew took off Monday morning with vehicles loaded on its C-130 Hercules cargo plane. Several missions took place over the weekend and more are expected this week.

Col. Brett Clark said the wing is coordinating with other military commands to support the relief effort. It’s tough to get into Haiti because of the volume of traffic of relief efforts at Port-au-Prince airport, he said.

Members of the 908th started volunteering for the humanitarian mission shortly after the massive earthquake hit Haiti, Clark said.

“The volunteerism has really done by heart proud,” Clark said.

Capt. David Kemp was the co-pilot on the C-130 that left Wednesday. He and the rest of the 8-person crew took several vehicles including a Humvee and Gators to Haiti.

Kemp said it’s rewarding to participate in the humanitarian mission, but they aren’t sure what to expect when they get there.

“We know it’s not going to be pretty,” he said.

Tech. Sgt. Glenn Swindle expects to be on a mission to Haiti later this week. He’s an Air Reserve Technician at the 908th, meaning he’s a traditional reservist and works as a civilian at the 908th during the week.
“I hate it for those folks, but I’m glad we’re able to help like this,” Tech. Sgt. Glenn Swindle said. “If we’re going to spend the money and fuel and train, this is what we need to be doing.”

Military voting bill passes Alabama House

A bill expanding voting options for military members and overseas citizens has passed the Alabama House of Representatives.

The bill, HB 30, passed 96-0 on Tuesday and now goes to the Senate.

The bill would give military and overseas voters four ways to obtain a ballot other than the US Postal Service. These other methods include: commercial carriers such as UPS and Fed Ex, a secure fax line, email, and secure electronic transmission. The bill will also authorize overseas voters to return their ballots using those same means except through electronic transmission.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010

908th helping Haiti

I hear that the 908th is participating in Haiti relief efforts. Will post more once I have better details.

Alabama company awarded defense contract

WTAK-2, Inc. of Mobile is being awarded $28,000,000 to exercise an option under a previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (N00033-82-C-1021) for the purchase of maritime prepositioning ship MV PFC Eugene A. Obregon. WTAK-2, which held Military Sealift Command's (MSC) previous long-term charter for Obregon, is executing the sale on behalf of Bell Atlantic Tricon Leasing.

The ship's new name will be USNS PFC Eugene A. Obregon.

The ship has been under long-term charter to MSC since 1985. The ship will remain crewed by about 26 U.S. merchant mariners employed by Waterman Steamship Corp. of Mobile.

Obregon is one of 15 maritime prepositioning ships that strategically place Marine Corps equipment and supplies at sea around the world, making the cargo readily available to warfighters who are flown into a theater of operations.

The ship will transfer to U.S. government ownership on Jan. 15, 2010, and will continue to operate worldwide.

Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Military Sealift Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Military voting bill passes first House committee

The military voting bill, HB 30, unanimously passed the Constitution and Elections Committee of the Alabama House of Representatives.

The legislation would give members of the military four additional ways other than the US Postal Service to obtain their ballot. These methods include: commercial carriers such as FedEx and UPS, a secure fax line, email and secure electronic transmission. The bill will also authorize those overseas voters to return their ballots using any of those methods except electronic transmission.

Members voting in favor of the legislation include: Representatives Jimmy Martin (D-Clanton), Tommy Sherer (D-Jasper), Jay Love (R-Montgomery), Randy Davis (R-Daphne), Chad Fincher (R-Semmes), James Gordon (D-Saraland), Barry Mask (R-Wetumpka) and Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham).

Photo of the Day

An F-22 Raptor aircraft assigned to the 90th Fighter Squadron out of Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, lands on Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Jan. 13, 2010. The Raptor is one of fifteen from Elmendorf that are forward deployed to Guam to maintain a continuous bomber presence in the Pacific region. (DoD photo by Airman 1st Class Julian North, U.S. Navy/Released)

Military voting bill in committee today

A bill to expand voting options in Alabama for military and overseas citizens is in committee this morning.

HB30, sponsored by Rep. Jimmy Martin. D-Clanton, is in the House Constitution and Elections committee at 9:30 a.m. today.

Last year, the same bill made it through the legislature but was killed at the last minute due to an amendment that many in the Senate perceived to be aimed at Artur Davis' campaign for governor.

Secretary of State Beth Chapman and her staff have championed this bill for several years and they hope to see it pass this year, they've said in multiple interviews with the Montgomery Advertiser.
Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Alabama company awarded defense contract

Wyle Laboratories, Inc. of Huntsville is being awarded a $10,803,500 cost-plus fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to provide airborne electronic attack engineering support for the EA-6B, EA-18G, and other advanced electronic attack derivatives at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division (NAWCWD), Point Mugu, Calif.

Work will be performed at NAWCWD, Point Mugu, Calif. (85 percent); NAWCWD, China Lake, Calif. (5 percent); Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Md. (5 percent); and Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island, Wash. (5 percent).

Work is expected to be completed in January 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

This contract was not competitively procured pursuant to FAR. NAWCWD, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Hometown News Tues

Army Master Sgt. Terry J. Coleman has graduated from Central Texas College in 2009 with an associate of applied science degree in technology as a participant in the GoArmyEd Program.

Soldiers pursuing a college degree can register for Army tuition assistance via the GoArmyEd Web site. The Web site allows active duty soldiers to apply for and receive tuition assistance for regular classroom, distance learning, or classes held at Army installations.

Coleman is a quartermaster external evaluator assigned to the Headquarters Company Combined Arms Support Command at Fort Lee, Petersburg, Va. He has served in the military for 21 years.

He is the son of Garnelden and Vanessa Huffman of Notasulga.

His sister, Elenor E. Thorton, resides in Tallassee.

The master sergeant graduated in 1988 from Notasulga High School.


Army Pvt. Courtnie C. Thompson has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.

He is the son of Veronica Thompson of Brookview Drive, and grandson of Earthy Hunter of Boone St., both of Montgomery.

Thompson is a 2008 graduate of George Washington Carver High School, Montgomery.


Army National Guard Pfc. Terry Moorer II has graduated from Basic Combat Training at Fort Sill, Lawton, Okla.

He is the son of Terry Moorer of Pampas Place, Montgomery.

Moorer is a 2008 graduate of Evangel Christian Academy, Montgomery.


Follow these updates and more from the River Region Military blog at 822. Use #HomtownNewsTues to find local military graduations and promotions.

Alabama Civil Air Patrol getting its first female commander

The Civil Air Patrol in Alabama will soon have its first female commander.

Lt. Col. Lisa Robinson, of Birmingham, has been selected as the Wing Commander-elect for the Alabama Wing of the Civil Air Patrol.

The Change of Command Ceremony will be held at the Wing Conference in Birmingham, February 6-7, 2010. Col. Michael Oakman, current wing commander also of Birmingham, will relinquish command to her in a formal ceremony presided over by national and regional officers with Alabama CAP volunteers in attendance.

Robinson has completed the five levels of senior member training, concluding with the Gill Robb Wilson Award in December, 2007. This award recognizes those senior members who have dedicated themselves to leadership and personal development in Civil Air Patrol. It was first awarded in 1964 and honors the late Gill Robb Wilson, the founder of Civil Air Patrol and its first executive Officer.

Each level required Robinson to become more involved in CAP activities, master skills in one of twenty-three technical areas and develop leadership ability.

She has a Master Rating in Flight Operations and Cadet Programs, as well as a senior rating in Public Affairs. A private pilot, she is also a Satellite-Transmitted Digital Imagining System (SDIS) operator, a Mission Observer, and Mission Information Officer in addition to other ES qualifications.

She has multiple Civil Air Patrol awards, including an Exceptional Service Award, Commander’s Commendation with three Bronze Clasps, and the Yeager Award. Other awards were given for her excellence in service to the Alabama Wing and Civil Air Patrol.

Robinson is currently the Chief of Staff and Acting Vice Commander for the Alabama Wing. She has held commander, deputy commander for seniors at Alabama’s 117th CAP Squadron in Birmingham. She completed the National Staff College at Maxwell AFB in 2007.

Robinson is employed by the Baptist Health System in Birmingham as an application analyst, providing 24 hour support for the Radiology Management System, networked to seven facilities. She earned an Associate Degree in Applied Science in Radiological Technology with honors from Jefferson State Jr. College, a Bachelor Science in Allied Health and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 900 members in the state. CAP, in its Air Force auxiliary role, performs 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC). Alabama CAP was credited with 51 finds and 7 saves during FY2008. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counter-drug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 250 young people currently participating in Alabama cadet programs.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Photo of the Day

Tugboats guide the Battleship Missouri Memorial back to its pier at Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Jan. 7, 2010, following three-months and $18 million of preservation and maintenance repairs at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, U.S. Navy/Released)
Friday, January 8, 2010

Thunderbirds are coming and looking for a hero

The Thunderbirds are coming to town and are looking for someone who's been good.

In the spirit of heroes like the Wright Brothers and of Airmen serving their country around the world, the Thunderbirds’ Hometown Hero program seeks to feature local heroes from communities where the Thunderbirds perform. A selected hometown hero will be scheduled to fly in one of the Thunderbirds’ F-16Ds.

The selected hero will fly with the Thunderbirds before the 2010 Open House and Air Show at Maxwell. The show is scheduled for March 27-28 and will highlight 100 years of flight since the Wright Brothers established their flying school at a site now part of Maxwell.

Nominations are solicited from local civic groups, law enforcement and other public safety agencies, education institutions and any other area where people perform acts of heroism or mentorship. Heroes might include, but are not limited to, an average citizen who heroically saved a life; a renowned teacher; a community humanitarian; a local firefighter, paramedic or police officer; one who mentors children or volunteers as a coach or tutor in a youth program; or someone who dedicates his/her life to working with at-risk children.

Hometown Hero flights are not a reward for an individual’s action. Instead, it is a way to showcase American people doing amazing things in their communities.

Nominees for the Hometown Hero flight must pass physical requirements and other qualifications. To nominate an individual for the Hometown Hero flight with the Thunderbirds, send an e-mail message to with the subject “Hometown Hero Nomination,” or write to Hometown Hero Nomination, Air University Public Affairs, 130 W. Maxwell Blvd, Maxwell AFB, AL, 36112. Provide a brief (less than 250 words) description about the nominee and the heroic act or community service for which the person is nominated. Please include a reliable phone number, the nominee’s full name, and their city of residence.

Nominees must meet Air Force flying Class II medical standards and must weigh between 140 and 211 lbs. (waivers must be requested outside this range; absolute max. and min. weight is 103-245 lbs.), be no taller than 6'5", no older than 55, have a men's boot size between 5 and 13; have a chest size between 34" and 48", waist size no larger than 38”, and must be able to speak and understand English. If selected, nominees must complete application materials. The flight, which will be scheduled on or around March 25, is subject to cancellation by the Thunderbirds for any reason, including weather, operational, logistical, medical, or other factors.

Those ineligible for the program include, but are not limited to, elected and appointed officials, newscasters, reporters or others who have the ability to garner publicity in their own right. People with felony convictions are not eligible for a flight under this program.

Nominations must be received (not postmarked) no later than Friday, Jan. 22, 2010. Nominations received after this date will not be considered.

Air show information can be found at The site is being continually updated, so check often.

For more information, call Ms. Lisa Warr at Air University Public Affairs at (334) 953-2014.

187th has a new F-16 display at HQ

The 187th Fighter Wing received a new static display, an F-16 that once flew in combat.

The F-16C is now in front of the new headquarters building at Dannelly Field.

The airframe had to be dismantled before painting could begin. Both wings were removed before transport; also removed were the horizontal stabilizers, fuel tanks, weapons pylons.

A crane and special harness were used to remove and replace the F-16 on the static display pedestal. They used a low boy truck used for transport that had to be specially engineered with custom built rails to properly secure the F-16 during transit to and from the painting facility in Peachtree City, Ga.

To paint the F-16 accurately, Clayton International Inc. used a hangar-like paint studio.

The red paint on the tail represents the historic Tuskegee Airmen. The 187th adopted their flash in a ceremony at Maxwell Air Force Base in September 2007. The vertical stabilizer highlights the state of Alabama and the 187th FW in white paint, the Air National Guard emblem and corresponding tail code numbers.

Col. Jeff “CAG” Smiley’s name appears in black below the canopy as well as Tech. Sgt. Felix “Cat” Gordon as the last assigned crew chief. Smiley is the 187th commander.

The city of Montgomery is painted below the tail in black and the US Air Force symbol is stenciled in white between the tail and the wing. The two-tone gray sheen on the body of the jet provides spectators a perfect backdrop to see what a real F-16 and all its markings looks like.
187th FW Inspector General, Major Chris Watson explained the significance of the newly painted F-16, “The historical value of the F-16 is obvious, but the updated red tail is a great tribute to the Wing and the Tuskegee Airmen legacy.”

Upon hearing of the news at a local Tuskegee Airmen Litho Signing, Lt Col (Ret.) Herb Carter was impressed with the accomplishment.

“That is real good,” said Carter with a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.

Carter was an original member of the Tuskegee Airmen and championed the ceremonial efforts of the adoption of the red flash.

Photo of the Day

USS Virginia (SSN 774) cruises through the Bay of Naples in Italy Jan. 7, 2010. Virginia is on deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Pittman, U.S. Navy/Released)
Thursday, January 7, 2010

OTS 50th anniversary celebration Feb. 5-7

The Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base is preparing for its 50th anniversary Feb. 5-7 and registration is still open.

They're working on putting together a weekend of festivities and opening the campus to former students, instructors and commanders who will return to Maxwell to reminisce.

The first OTS class, Class 60A, graduated in February 1960. In February 2010, a new class of Air Force second lieutenants will be graduating around the same time as the anniversary celebration.

For more information and to register, click here.

Here's my story on the anniversary planning from November. More to come.

Officials at the Officer Training School at Maxwell Air Force Base are planning for the school's 50th anniversary, which is coming up in February.

They're working on putting together a weekend of festivities and opening the campus to former students, instructors and commanders who will return to Maxwell to reminisce.

Capt. Stephen Masternak said they want alumni to visit in February "to see how things have changed, but also how they've stayed the same."

Masternak is an OTS alumnus and is now an instructor at the school.

More than a third of the Air Force's officers have graduated from Officer Training School, housed at Maxwell Air Force Base since 1993.

Officer Candidate School was established in 1942 in Florida. It was moved in 1959 to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, reorganized and was renamed OTS.

OTS came to Maxwell in 1993 as part of an initiative by then Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill McPeak to put all officer education and training programs under Air University.

The number of officers who graduate from OTS varies by year, ranging from as few as 323 when the school opened to as many as 7,894 in 1967. The size of each class is determined by how many officers the Air Force needs and the number of officers the Air Force Academy and ROTC programs are expected to produce.

OTS is one of three routes to becoming an officer. The other two are college ROTC programs and the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

OTS has two programs: Basic Officer Training and Commissioned Officer Training. The basic training is for members with no prior military service or enlisted airmen. The commissioned training is for medical, legal or religious professionals.

Masternak and fellow event planners, Capts. Casey Pombert and Eric Mason, are working to bring the first OTS graduate to become a general and an OTS graduate who spent six years as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War to attend next year's events.

The first OTS class, Class 60A, graduated in February 1960. In February 2010, a new class of Air Force second lieutenants will be graduating around the same time as the anniversary celebration, Feb. 5-7.

Pombert said the ceremony on Feb. 5 will be emotional for the participants. They plan to call the names of all the OTS alumni who have been killed in action. Those names will likely be familiar to many at the ceremony, she said.

They're also hoping to link early graduates with those from different eras, including recent graduates, throughout the weekend to compare and contrast experiences.

More Army commands coming to Alabama

From the Army:

The Army announced today the decision to relocate Headquarters, Army Contracting Command and Headquarters, Expeditionary Contracting Command from Fort Belvoir, Va., to Redstone Arsenal. These force structure actions will result in the reassignment of 79 soldiers and 234 civilians to Redstone Arsenal. The move is expected to be completed in August 2011.

Headquarters, Army Contracting Command provides global contracting support to combatant commanders, and Headquarters, Expeditionary Contracting Command plans and executes contracting support for Army service component commanders in support of Army and joint operations. Headquarters, Expeditionary Contracting Command also provides support for multi-national contracting requirements.

Both contracting commands will collocate with the U.S. Army Materiel Command and the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command, which are also moving to Redstone Arsenal as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process.
The collocation of these organizations will serve to improve the integration of contracting services within the continental United States, overseas installations, and theater operations.

From Sen. Jeff Sessions today:

“I am delighted with the Army’s announcement to relocate the Army Contracting Command and Headquarters to Redstone Arsenal. The relocation, which will create over 300 new positions at Redstone, is an important decision for the Army, and it further proves that Alabama maintains a strong position in our national defense. This move is the result of great leadership at Redstone, and it’s great to see it become a reality. I look forward to working with the new leadership and command, and on behalf of the Huntsville community, we say welcome.”

Photo of the Day

Jon Stewart interviews Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen during an airing of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart in New York City Jan. 6, 2010. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley, U.S. Navy/Released)
Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Photo of the Day

Two F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft assigned to the “Black Aces” of Strike Fighter Squadron 41 launch from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Jan. 5, 2010, while under way in the North Arabian Sea. The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is on a routine deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (DoD photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Philip Wagner Jr., U.S. Navy/Released)

Lowndes County VSO moves to Montgomery

The Lowndes County Veterans Service Office has moved to the Montgomery County Courthouse effective January 4.

The VA office has merged its services with the Montgomery County Veterans Service Office located at 125 Washington Avenue on the second floor of the courthouse annex in room 223.

The new location will improve overall access to services by consolidating two veterans service offices into one. With a relatively small population of approximately 700 veterans in the area, the Lowndes County VA office was open twice a month with itinerant services provided by the Montgomery County Veterans Service Office. Veterans and their family members from Lowndes County now have access to VA services in Montgomery throughout the week.

The Montgomery County Veterans Service Office is open Monday throughFriday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For assistance, veterans can call the county VA office at (334) 832-1392, or visit the ADVA Website at

Monday, January 4, 2010

Alabama company awarded defense contract

General Dynamics, Ordnance and Tactical Systems in Anniston is being awarded a $9,840,219 firm-fixed-price indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for the procurement of up to 222 Standoff Land-Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) titanium warhead housings for the U.S. Navy and various Foreign Military Sales customers.

Work will be performed in Anniston, and is expected to be completed in January 2015.

Contract funds in the amount of $568,976 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

This contract was not competitively procured.

The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity.
My Photo

I grew up in the military. Mom was an Air Force nurse for a few years, dad was a navigator on B-52s, among other things. One grandfather served in World War II, uncle is retired Navy, other grandfather and great-uncle served in Korea and a cousin is currently serving in the Marine Corps. Currently, I'm the military reporter for the Great Falls Tribune in Montana. Previously, 

As a military kids, we moved all over. As an adult, I've traveled all over and moved for work. But now, I'm putting down roots in Montana with my boyfriend. We just bought a house and are slowly but surely making it our home. We have more land that we know what to do with at the moment. Now we're getting a garden started, tearing down walls and having loads of fun at what we call the Homestead.

In a part life, I did PR for the guy who built the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on the National Mall, social media for the National Museum of Health and Medicine, before that, edited two military technology magazines for a publishing group in the DC area and before that, I was the military reporter (among other things) at the Montgomery Advertiser, covering Maxwell Air Force Base, the Alabama National Guard, veterans and anything else military related in the area. And in between all of that, I leave town, preferably the country, whenever possible. It all started when I spent a semester in New Zealand.

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