Posts tagged ‘U.S. Air Force’

THE FRIDAY FOTO (May 26, 2023)


(U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Matthew Plew)

A specially-painted U.S. Air Force F-16C Fighting Falcon, assigned to the Colorado Air National Guard’s 120th Fighter Squadron (FS), commemorated the 100th anniversary of the unit in a flight flies over Leadville, Colorado and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on May 8, 2023.

Accompanying the Colorado ANG fighter was an F-35A Lightning II, the Air Force latest fifth-generation fighter, assigned to the 134th Fighter Squadron of the Vermont Air National Guard. TheF-35s are replacing the F-16s and other fourth-generation aircraft.

The “Redeyes” of the 120th FS began service on June 27th, 1923, flying the Curtiss JNSE “Jennie” (or Jenny). The 120th Fighter Squadron, while flying P-51 Mustangs in 1946, became the first Air National Guard unit to obtain Federal recognition, thus the motto “FIRST IN THE AIR GUARD,” visible on the Falcon’s tail below a rendering of a Jenny biplane.

Today the Redeyes are a dual-purpose fighter squadron with pilots qualified to perform air-to-air and air-to-ground missions including Offensive Counter-Air , Defensive Counter-Air, Offensive aircraft interdiction, Close Air Support and Combat Search and Rescue missions.

May 26, 2023 at 1:57 am Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO: And Now for Something Completely Different


Sometimes people in the U.S. military  do some things that look — well, a little weird. Sometimes its training. Sometimes it’s tradition.

Here are a few examples. Hope they inform as well as amuse. Please click on the photos to enlarge the image.


 (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Corporal Elliott A. Flood-Johnson)

Marine Corps recruits with Delta Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion, execute a floating technique during a swim qualificaction at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego (California) on May 15, 2023. In order to continue training toward becoming Marines, recruits must pass a series of aquatic tests such as floating, learning different swim strokes, and jumping into water from platforms of varying heights.


(U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger)

Soldiers assigned to the 1st Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment run down Monte Kaolino after the unit spur ride ceremony in Hirschau, near Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany on  May 11, 2023. During the event, Troopers must complete a series of warrior tasks and drills in order to obtain the right to wear the cavalry’s coveted spurs.


(U.S. Army National Guard photo by Specialist Michael Schwenk)

Soldiers, with the New Jersey National Guard’s Reconnaissance and Sniper Platoon, 1-114th Infantry Regiment, participate in a ghillie wash at the Fort Dix Ranges on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey on March 25, 2023. The Soldiers use sand, water and mud, all in an effort to perfect their suits’ camouflage.


(U.S. Navy photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tom Tonthat)

Navy Captain Daniel Keeler takes a pie in the face from Petty Officer 2nd Class Roberto Griffin during a Second Class Petty Officer Association fundraiser event aboard the USS Anchorage in the South China Sea on April 23, 2023. The association’s mission is to enhance the social and professional interaction of sailors by building camaraderie and increasing command morale. (Note at least two other pie targets in the background between the two men.)


 (U.S. Air Force photo by Trevor Cokley)

Prior to their upcoming graduation, senior Air Force Academy cadets continue the tradition of jumping into the Terazzo’s Air Garden fountains to celebrate the completion of final exams at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 12, 2023.

May 19, 2023 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: New Tongue-Twister Name for Greenland’s Thule Air Base


Thule Air Base, Greenland — the northern-most U.S. military base on the planet — has a new name: Pituffik Space Base. U.S. and Greenland officials unveiled the new base sign during the base renaming ceremony on April 6, 2023.  (U.S. Space Force photo by Senior Airman Kaitlin Castillo)

In an era when a number of U.S. military facilities are having their names changed to eliminate their links to the Confederacy and the Southern Rebellion’s ties to slavery, Thule Air Base, the Defense Department’s northernmost installation, has been renamed for entirely different reasons.

The name change to Pituffik Space Base has a two-fold purpose: To recognize Greenland’s cultural heritage and better reflect that the installation is now a U.S. Space Force Base.

Pituffik (pronounced bee-doo-FEEK) is the traditional Greenlandic name of the region where the base is located. The renaming better reflects its role in the U.S. Space Force, while paying homage to its ties to the Greenlandic people and culture, according to U.S. Space Force . The base is located approximately 750 miles north of the Arctic Circle on the northwestern coast of Greenland (see map below).

“This renaming represents our wish to celebrate and acknowledge the rich cultural heritage of Greenland and its people and how important they are to the sustainment of this installation against the harsh environment north of the Arctic Circle,” Chief of Space Operations U.S. Space Force Gen. Chance Saltzman, said  in his opening remarks at the April 6 ceremony.

He was joined by officials from both countries. Shown in the photo at the top of this post, from left to right, Colonel Brian Capps, 821st Space Base Group commander; Saltzman; Greenlandic Minister of Affairs, Business and Trade Vivian Motzfeldt, U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Denmark Alan Leventhal and Chief Master Sergeant Christopher Clark, the 821st Space Group command chief.

Greenland maps (The World Factbook 2021. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2021.)


Saltzman noted that renewed strategic competition in the Arctic can be expected with Russia’s historically significant presence in the region and the People’s Republic of China, a self-proclaimed near-Arctic power, seeking opportunities to expand its influence.

“From here, we have maintained an unbreakable bond working towards the collective defense and stability of the northern Arctic,” said Saltzman. “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the people of Greenland and Denmark for their partnership and friendship over the years. Today marks a new chapter in our shared history, one in which we recognize and celebrate the contributions and traditions of this land and its people…Together the men and women of Pituffik Space Base and our Greenlandic and Danish partners will ensure a safe, secure, and prosperous future both in space and above the Arctic Circle.”

Motzfeldt expressed her pride in Pituffik and Greenland and their part in ensuring the security and defense of the people of Greenland, the United States, and the transatlantic community.

“With the decision to re-name, the U.S. has demonstrated its respect to the friendship between us, recognizing cultural heritage, and the history of the base,” said Motzfeldt. “I hope that this day will serve as an example of the ability of great nations to listen to even their smallest neighbors…Today the U.S. has proclaimed to the world, that here lies Pituffik Space Base, where even this far north, there is a people, and they have a name for the place from where we keep watch over all our peoples.”


The renaming ceremony was hosted in conjunction with the Greenlandic Heritage Week festival held annually at the base. Greenlandic Heritage Week is a festival that celebrates Greenlandic Inuit culture and is attended by residents from local villages, with some making the multi-day trek by dog sled across the sea ice.

The base, built in 1951, provides installation support for vital space-based missions, is home to the DoD’s northernmost deep-water port, and has a 10,000-foot runway. It is operated by the 821st Space Base Group, a geographically separated unit of Space Base Delta 1 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The 821st SBG provides mission support to the base, including security forces, airfield management, and the day-to-day operations to enable force projection, space superiority, and scientific research in the Arctic region for North America and its allies. Pituffik Space Base also hosts the 12th Space Warning Squadron and 23rd Space Operations Squadron, Detachment 1.


Greenland, the world’s largest island, is about 80 percent ice-capped. Vikings reached the island in the 10th century from Iceland; Danish colonization began in the 18th century, and Greenland became an integral part of the Danish Realm in 1953.

Greenland was granted self-government in 1979 by the Danish parliament; the law went into effect the following year. Greenland voted in favor of increased self-rule in November 2008 and acquired greater responsibility for internal affairs when the Act on Greenland Self-Government was signed into law in June 2009. Denmark, however, continues to exercise control over several policy areas on behalf of Greenland, including foreign affairs, security, and financial policy in consultation with Greenland’s Self-Rule Government, according to the CIA’s World Fact Book.

The village of Qaanaaq, formerly Thule, located about 65 miles north of the base. Qaanaaq is home to about 600 people. This photo was taken in late summer 2007. (U.S. Air Force photo by Colonel Lee-Volker Cox) Click on the photo to enlarge image.

April 11, 2023 at 11:46 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (April 7, 2023)


(U.S. Air Force photo by Staff SERGEANT Nicholas Ross) Click on photo to enlarge image.

U.S. Air Force Captain Lindsay “MAD” Johnson  flies her A-10C Thunderbolt II jet with a heavenly backdrop over Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona on March 26, 2023.

Johnson was certified the new A-10C Thunderbolt II Demonstration Team’s pilot and commander, by Air Combat Command chief General Mark Kelly just 13 days earlier on March 3, 2023.

As the Demonstration Team pilot, Johnson is responsible for showcasing the A-10 Thunderbolt II at over 20 airshows annually around the country and internationally. As commander, she is also responsible for leadership of a 10-person team that includes maintenance and public affairs Airmen.

During her performance on March 26, Johnson — a veteran instructor pilot, who has amassed over 1,250 flight hours, including 431 combat flight hours in support of both Operation Freedom’s Sentinel and the Resolute Support Mission — showcased different aerial maneuvers, including simulated gun runs,  highlighting the A-10’s capabilities as the Air Force’s close air support fighter.

April 7, 2023 at 3:45 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (March 17, 2023)


(U.S. Air Force photo by Alejandro Peña) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

The strange angle from which this photo was taken caught our attention this week. It took a moment to even figure out what we were looking at: Paratroopers photographed either by one of their own jumping with them or from a plane looking up from below them — although that sounds prohibitively risky.

What we’re seeing is paratroopers from the U.S. Army’s 11th Airborne Division jumping out of a U.S. Air Force C-130J Super Hercules cargo plane.

But wait, there’s something else unusual about this photo. All these sky soldiers are women.

It was an all-women’s jump over Malemute Drop Zone, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Alaska on March 7, 2023. The airborne operation was held in recognition of women’s history month, and marked the first all-female jump in division history.

Every battalion in the 2/11 was represented in the jump, as well as members of Division staff. All of the jumpers are assigned to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) of the 11th Airborne Division.

The C-130 was supplied by the 19th Airlift Wing, from Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas.

To read more about this fascinating airborne op, and see some arresting photos, click here for a the whole story.

Oh, and before it’s too late, HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S DAY!

March 17, 2023 at 11:49 pm 2 comments

THE FRIDAY FOTO (February, 10, 2023)


(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sergeant Clayton Wear) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

Master Sergeant Rudy Parsons, a pararescueman assigned to the Kentucky Air National Guard’s 123rd Special Tactics Squadron, rappels from the Big Four Bridge in Louisville, Kentucky, with Callie, a search and rescue dog last December.

When we first spotted this Air Force photo, we thought it was an amusing out-of-the-ordinary thing to do with a military service dog. But we learned that Callie was the first and — may still be — the only search and rescue dog in the entire U.S. military.

The need for such a military canine capability arose while Master Sergeant Parsons and his unit were assisting disaster relief operations in Haiti after the devastating 2010 earthquake.

Segments of Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC) played a big part in the relief effort. AFSOC’s Combat Controllers specialize in securing safe air fields in war- or disaster-wracked zones as well as providing air traffic control to get needed supplies and emergency assistance in and out safely. AFSOC’s Pararescuemen (PJs), like Parsons, are members of the sole U.S. military unit specially trained and equipped for search-and-rescue (SAR).

In 2010, however, Parsons and his teammates were frustrated with how difficult and slow it was to sift through the rubble of a collapsed school, where 40 children were believed trapped.

A few days into the search, the civilian Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was finally able to land at Port-au-Prince’s crippled airport. They brought a dog to the schoolhouse debris and were able to clear it in about 20 minutes. There were no children or anyone else in rubble pile.

“It had been a couple days of wasted labor that could’ve been used to help save other lives,” Parsons said in a 2019 Air Force news story. “It was at that time that we kind of realized the importance and the capability that dogs can bring to search and rescue. Every environment presents different difficulties, but it’s all restricted by our human limitations.”

Parsons spearheaded developing the squadron’s Search and Rescue K-9 program. The effort, launched in 2018, was designed to increase the capabilities of disaster response teams through the use of canines specially trained in mountain rescue (rappelling plus ice, snow and alpine maneuvers), descending in a static line or freefall parachute drop.

The first was Callie, a Dutch Shepherd, who is still on the job. In August, the now 5-year-old 123rd Airlift Wing veteran was searching for missing people in eastern Kentucky floodwaters.

No word yet on whether Callie and her human colleagues are being sent to Turkey assist in search and rescue efforts following massive earthquakes that have killed thousands.

The Pentagon said February 8 it had transported two civilian urban search and rescue teams as part of the rapid U.S. relief effort.

February 10, 2023 at 12:48 pm Leave a comment

HOMELAND SECURITY: About That Big Ballooon …


By now, you’ve probably heard about the enormous Chinese high-altitude “weather” balloon that an Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter jet shot down off the South Carolina coast February 4, after U.S. authorities determined: 1. It was a surveillance craft, 2. scoping out U.S. defense facilities in Montana and elsewhere across the heartland, 3. in violation of international law, 4. and shooting it down over land would endanger American lives and property.

F-22 Raptor over Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia on December 9, 2022. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sergean. Marcus M. Bullock)

However, we noted in a February 6 briefing about the event — which roiled already difficult U.S-Chinese relations — Air Force General Glen VanHerck, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, disclosed that the flight of two F-22s sent to bring down the balloon, had the call sign Frank 01. And the second, backup flight of Raptors, used call sign Luke 01.

The call sign name choice wasn’t random. Lieutenant Frank Luke was a World War pilot awarded the Medal of Honor for his relentless attacks against observation balloons ringed by anti-aircraft guns and guarded by German aircraft.

2nd Lieutenant Frank Luke, Jr. with his SPAD S.XIII on September 19, 1918 near Rattentout Farm, France.


A native of Phoenix, Arizona, Luke was the Number 2 U.S. air ace in World War I (after the better known Captain Eddie Rickenbacker). In just a few short weeks in 1918, Luke shot down eight German planes and 14 enemy observation balloons. His head-on attacks on the hydrogen-filled, heavily guarded balloons earned him the nickname the “Arizona Balloon Buster,” as we noted in an October 4, 2018 posting on 4GWAR blog.

Luke was killed in his final attack on a line of balloons on September 29, 1918 — destroying three — before being mortally wounded by ground fire. He landed his plane but refused to surrender to surrounding German troops, firing his handgun at them until he succumbed to his wound.

“So how fitting is it that Frank 01 took down this balloon in sovereign air space of the United States of America within our territorial waters,” General VanHerck noted.

February 7, 2023 at 1:38 pm Leave a comment

SHAKO: Headgear That Bears Watching


A drum major wearing a bearskin cap leads bandsmen of the Army’s official ceremonial unit, known as “The Old Guard,” to a ceremony at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Virginia on January 25, 2023. (U.S. Army photo). Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

Most of us have seen at sometime one of Britain’s five regiments of Foot Guards in their bright red coats and tall black bearskin hats at ceremonies like the Trooping of the Colours or changing of the guard outside Buckingham Palace, but did you know that there are units in all the U.S. armed services where at least one person wears a bearskin cap — the drum majors of ceremonial bands like the “The President’s Own” Marine Band or “The Old Guard” shown above.

The bearskin hat, or cap, first appeared in the 17th Century but became popular in the late 18th and 19th centuries among guard and grenadier units like Napoleon’s Imperial Guard. The tall headgear was supposed to make soldiers look bigger and intimidate the enemy.


“The Thin Red Line,” 1881 by Robert Gibb, depicts the 93rd (Sutherland Highlanders) Regiment of Foot at the Battle of Balaclava on October 25, 1854, during the Crimean War. (National War Museum, Edinburgh , Scotland via wikipedia). Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

While militia units in the Civil War, mostly in the Union army, wore bearskin hats with their parade uniforms, the tall headgear eventually was used only by the drum major of military marching bands.

The earliest known photographs of an American military band displayed with the Drum Major in full military regalia, including the busby, is the United States Military Academy at West Point -1864 and the United States Marine band in the same year, according to the website Military

While the Air Force, Army, Navy and Coast Guard all have official ceremonial bands led by a drum major wearing a bearskin hat, perhaps the most ornately attired is the Marine Corps Band’s drum major. The ornate sash worn across his chest is called a baldric. Embroidered with the Marine Band’s crest and the Marine Corps’ battle colors, it signifies his position as Drum Major of the Marine Corps. He wears a bearskin headpiece and carries a mace, embossed with the battles and campaigns of the Marine Corps, which he uses to signal commands to the musicians.

“The President’s Own” United States Marine Band stands at attention during the Pentagon arrival ceremony for Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on April 21, 2022. (Marine Corps photo by Staff Sergeant) Chase Baran) Click on photo to enlarge image.


February 2, 2023 at 11:50 pm Leave a comment

THE FRIDAY FOTO (January 20, 2023)


(U.S. Air Force photo by Technical Sergeant Diana M. Cossaboom). Click on photo to enlarge the image.

U.S. Air Force pilots flying a KC-135 Stratotanker, get a first hand look at the phenomenon of St. Elmo’s Fire while flying through weather in the Middle East on January 6, 2023.

St. Elmo’s Fire occurs through electric friction caused by specific weather conditions. St. Elmo’s fire, or corona discharge, is commonly observed on the periphery of propellers and along the wing tips, windshield, and nose of aircraft flying in dry snow, ice crystals,or near thunderstorms, according to the Britannica website, where you can see a more thorough explanation of the phenomenon, also known as Witchfire or Witch’s Fire.

Thsee aerial refueling tanker pilots are assigned to the 91st Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, part of the 6th Air Mobility Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.

January 20, 2023 at 1:59 am Leave a comment



(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Class Patrick Sullivan) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

U.S. Air Force fire protection specialists assigned to the 673d Civil Engineer Squadron conduct ice rescue training at Six Mile Lake, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), Alaska on January 8, 2023.

According to the Air Force, Fire Protection specialists deal with everything from brush fires to burning rocket fuel and hazardous material fires. “Upholding our mission to ensure the safety of others, these specialists don’t just act on Air Force bases, but assist civilian fire departments when needed as well.”

After completing a classroom course, the JBER firefighters in the photo above took to the ice to test their skills in a series of scenarios designed to simulate real-world rescues. The firefighters received certifications as ice rescue technicians after qualifying in the skills needed to conduct ice rescue and recovery efforts in extreme cold-weather environments.


Especially in Alaska, in January.

(U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Class Patrick Sullivan) Click on the photo to enlarge the image.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sergeant Joseph Jenkins, a fire protection specialist assigned to the 673d Civil Engineer Squadron, pulls a fellow firefighter out of the water during ice rescue training at Six Mile Lake. Brrrrr.

January 13, 2023 at 5:05 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


May 2023


%d bloggers like this: