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Story Last modified at 3:04 p.m. on Wednesday, August 10, 2011

JBER soldiers earn recognition at Washington 'rodeo'

BY Capt. Corinna Jones
302d Airlift Wing Public Affairs

photo:Military

673rd Air Base Wing Security Forces members Senior Airman Brent Hayes and Senior Airman Payton Barnes jump onto the rolling log portion of the Combat Skills Endurance event at the 2011 Air Mobility Command Rodeo at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on July 28. Team Alaska was named Best Security Forces Combat Skills Endurance Team.
U.S. air force photos/capt. corinna jones
photo:Military

Sgt Cody Phillips, Tech. Sgt Michael Gogue, Staff Sgt. Michael Cochran, Staff Sgt. John McGuire and Staff Sgt. Chris Boles runoff the Team Alaska 517th Airlift Squadron C-17 during the Engine Running Offload Event at the 2011 AMC Rodeo on July 27 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington.

Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Airmen rode off into the sunset with two prestigious awards after competing at the 2011 Air Mobility Command Rodeo, July 24 through July 29 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

The 673d Security Forces Team was recognized as the "Best Combat Endurance Team" and the 3rd Wing's 517th Airlift Squadron was recognized as the "Best Airdrop Crew."

The Rodeo is a biannual Olympic-style competition, which began in 1962, and involves mobility aircraft with air crew, maintainers, aeromedical evacuation personal, aerial port and security forces personnel competing in their respective core skills.

"This competition has enabled me to receive some great training. I feel more confident in my day to day job and abilities," said Senior Airman Evan Gillies, 673d ABW Security Forces Patrolman and Team Alaska participant.

Team Alaska was made up of 45 members from the 773d Logistics Readiness Squadron, 517th Airlift Squadron, 3rd Equipment Maintenance Squadron, 517th Aircraft Maintenance Unit, 176th AMU and 673d Security Forces Squadron.

"Airmen from three wings came together and performed as one, tight-knit unit, said Air Force Col. Ed Thomas, 673d Mission Support Group commander, who accompanied the team to Washington.

"Just like here at this joint base, our Airmen deliver eye-watering results when it comes to getting the mission done - whether 3rd Wing, 673d or 176th. Their patch didn't matter. We are an Alaskan war-fighting team."

The rodeo event is designed to showcase the abilities of U.S. and international mobility forces' and allows teams to share the best tactics and techniques in the continued pursuit of coalition operations around the world.

"I saw a sense of teamwork in all the competitors. The central theme of this whole competition was teamwork. We train as a team, we fight as a team and we competed as a team," said Air Force Lt. Col. Derek France, 3rd Operations Group Commander. "There were no individual awards, only teams competed. The last person across the finish line was how each event was timed."

France said attention to detail and integrity matter in the operational Air Force and they mattered in the Rodeo competition.

"It was very telling of our team because Team Alaska competed with passion and integrity, they consistently did the right thing even when points were at stake," he said.

Team Alaska was one of approximately 40 teams to participate in the 2011 Rodeo. Units from around the world traveled to Washington to compete, including seven international teams.

"Rodeo 2011 provided an opportunity to hone our professional skills and combat capabilities," said Air Force Capt. Brian Muto, Team Alaska team chief. "We set out to show the mobility air forces of the world that we are the best of the best, and to bring home lessons that will improve JBER's combat effectiveness and we did just that."

Muto said Team Alaska participants competed, but JBER as a whole earned the trophies.

"I could not be more proud. The success of Team Alaska is largely owed to those who stayed behind and picked up the extra duty, and the extra burden that allowed Team Alaska to prepare and compete," he said. "From day one we knew that Rodeo 2011 would be a tough, maximum effort competition and that it would demand our very best people and an "all out" effort. I fully expect that Rodeo 2013 will include a Team Alaska."

The team agreed that participation in an Air Mobility Competition would not be appropriate without recognizing the anniversary of the July 28, 2010 Sitka 43 C-17 accident, when four JBER Air Mobility Airmen lost their lives. Team Alaska closed down their tent for 15 minutes, took off their hats and rang the bell of remembrance.



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, August 10, 2011.