May / June 2008
"Self-Help"…in my Air Force
experience that's what you did when
your office needed fresh paint and
carpet. Well, not anymore, especially
with all those personnel actions you
once came over to the MSF to have
done for you.
For those of you shaking your
heads, trust me, I feel your pain…it
took me years to switch to online
banking but now I wonder how I
survived without it. I love doing
business from the comfort of my
home at any time I want. Guess what?
That is the beauty of the Personnel
Service Delivery Transformation
(PSDT). You can do things from
home when it's convenient for you.
And like the bank, we're still here
during normal business hours if you
Currently, there are two systems that
provide online self service actions:
virtual Military Personnel Flight
(vMPF), accessed through the AF
Portal, and virtual Personnel Center-
Guard & Reserve (vPC-GR),
accessed through http://arpc.afrc.af.
mil. Within the next few years,
applications from both of these plus
lots more, will be combined into
Defense Integrated Military Human
Resources System (DIMHRS).
DIMHRS is a Department of Defense
system that will revolutionize human
resource administration for the
military. It is a single, centralized
system for pay and personnel actions
that ensures we can access
information and resolve issues no
matter where we are. How great for
the deployed Air Guard member who
happens to be at another service's
base. As one story has it, an Air Guard
member stationed at a Marine base
had to ride a convoy 60 dangerous
miles to the nearest Air Force
installation to resolve some pay and
Thanks to the vMPF and vPC-GR,
that guardsman can stay at the secure
Marine base or you, from the comfort
of your home, can easily check your
records and complete a variety of
actions. What actions, you ask?
Currently, on vMPF you'll find items
we have in common with our active
duty brethren: correction of military
record (BCMR), virtual record of
emergency data (vRED), point
summary…you really need to go to
the site and see everything that's there.
On the vPC-GR you'll find items with
processes that are unique to us in the
Guard: point corrections, retirement
applications and very soon
evaluations and awards and
decorations. So for the 10% of you
who haven't yet gotten your account,
Just Do It!
The on-line transition is only one of
the many things keeping us busy. I'm
thrilled to report that after a couple of
tough years transitioning from the
tanker to Predator, we have achieved
103% end strength for Wing manning
(yep, we're doing the happy dance).
This is a huge accomplishment that
starts with recruiting and retention but
quickly involves the efforts of every
section in the MSF, MDG and the
gaining units-it takes the whole team
to acquire the high quality folks we
call Grizzlies. But don't stop your
efforts referring friends, neighbors,
coworkers, or the guy at the dry
cleaners we still have many
opportunities within the Wing for
these people, especially in Operations
Finally, I'd like to ask for everyone's
help as we move to return to normal
operations. We've worked hard to be
very flexible-mission first, paper
second. I need to ask you all to do
your part to start sending the
paperwork and normalizing timelines.
Although we can get someone to
school within days it's better for all of
us if a training request is
accomplished and classes selected in
months not days. Also, since the
ANG Reset took affect April 1st we
need to clean up the paperwork
ensuring our folks are properly
assigned to their positions. If you can
help us, I'd appreciate it and it will
allow us to better help you when it
comes time for things like awards,
promotions or school.
This is a great Wing, filled with
topnotch people and we are honored
to have the opportunity to serve you
and ensure your careers and families
are taken care of.
CARRIE COLAS, LT. COL. CA ANG
Mission Support Flight Commander
y Senior Airman Paul Duquette
March 10 marked a day of accomplishment
for 2nd Lt. Kel Thede, who
participated in his first National Guard
Biathlon competition at Camp Ripley in
The lieutenant, who is assigned to the
163d Reconnaissance Wing Military
Equal Opportunity Office, took part in the
competition, which consisted of three
different race types: individual sprint, team
ski patrol and relay.
Lieutenant Thede competed in two of
the three race types; one 10k and a 20k
individual sprint and a 15k ski patrol race.
"To prepare for the competition, I roller
bladed to simulate the cross country skiing
and then went to the shooting range to
practice the rifle," said Lieutenant Thede,
"The rifle is pretty unique and it has a
Wing Member Participates in National Guard Biathlon
different feel from most rifles. Another
thing that was different, was trying to
simulate having skis on at the firing range."
While Lieutenant Thede was
competing in his first race, he questioned
himself about his reasons for participating,
but by the end of his third race he was
already looking forward to competing in
next year's biathlon.
"After I progressed through the
individual races to the ski patrol, some of
my teammates and competitors
complimented me on a noticeable
improvement," said Lieutenant Thede.
Photo submitted by 2nd Lt. Kel Thede
In full gear, 2nd Lt. Kel Thede participates in the National Guard biathlon competition.
Submitted by Senior Master Sgt.
Over the next three On Guard
Issues the issue of Sleep Deprivation
will be discussed to include mishaps,
weight gain, stress and shift work.
The first to be discussed is mishaps.
Almost everyone knows that
sleep deprivation is a major cause of
highway accidents. According to the
National Highway Transportation
Board (NTSB), driver drowsiness
and fatigue account for more than
1,500 deaths a year on our highways.
Let's take a look at how lack of
sleep may also have been the cause
of some of the major disasters in
In March 1979, the nuclear
accident at the Three Mile Island
occurred between midnight and 3
a.m. (when night workers tend to be
the drowsiest) and was caused by a
serious lack of judgment.
In January 1986, the managers
who authorized the launch prior to
the Challenger explosion had little
sleep the night before. The mission
had problems from the start, which
kept crews working around the clock
to iron them out. Seventy-three
seconds into the mission, the
Challenger exploded, killing the
In April 1986, a shutdown and
test of reactor #4 at the Chernobyl
Nuclear facility was to take place at
1 a.m. Things went wrong when
several safety features were turned
off. Thirty-one people died shortly
after the explosion, but thousands
more will die from the long-term
effects of radiation.
There is a cumulative impairment
that develops in the brain's ability to
think fast, react quickly and
remember things. A single night at
four to six hours of sleep can cause
the speed at which we think to slow
down. Each day adds an additional
burden or deficit to your cognitive
Most people can get by a day or
two by using counter measures, such
as caffeine, physical activity and
bright lights, but at some point the
impairment gets so bad, there is
nothing that helps except sleep.
Bivouac Provides Readiness Training For CES Troops
Civil Engineers set up tents during a readiness exercise, which took place April 3-6 at the March ARB Regional Training Site.
Story and photos by
Tech. Sgt. Julie Avey
Imagine being the first person, or
among the first group of people, to arrive
in a battlezone or disaster area and your
responsibility is to prepare for follow on
forces to arrive.
For the men and women of the 163d
Civil Engineer Squadron the scenario
previously described is a reality they face
at a moment's notice, and for that reason
constant training and preparation is a way
of life. In fact, the squadron recently
conducted a bivouac to gauge their
effectiveness in such situations.
The dictionary defines the word
bivouac as a military encampment made
with tents or improvised shelters usually
without shelter from enemy fire. Once at
the selected site, troops temporarily
provide the basic requirements needed for
survival until additional forces and
equipment can arrive to provide the
requirements on a sustainable basis.
Although temporary, ranging from
several hours to just a few days, the
mission that takes place at the camp site is
complex and is a necessity for the survival
of those setting up the camp and the
forces that follow. Airmen from the CES
took part in a Bivouac over the April drill
weekend as part of their annual training,
which is also an Air Force requirement.
According to Master Sgt. John Nortz,
deployment scheduler for the squadron's
Prime Base Engineer Emergency Force
(Prime BEEF) component, the exercises
are an important part of the squadron's
"The squadron has to train like we
deploy, and that is the main reason behind
holding an exercise such as the Bivouac,"
Sergeant Nortz said.
But gearing up for deployment does
not always mean going overseas.
Although the unit has supported combat
few miles down the road from home to
support a local emergency.
In fact, the last two deployments for the
CES took place in the U.S., one of which
only about 100 miles away. In 2005, the
squadron was tasked with providing
support to the greater New Orleans area
during Hurricane Katrina disaster relief
operations, and in late 2007, the unit
deployed to the San Diego area to support
efforts to suppress the California wildfires.
"The public does not always
recognize how much of a first responder
the military civil engineering group is
SEE BIVOUAC PAGE 5
Senior Airman Chris Valenzano (right),
Senior Airman Zachary Gray, 163d Civil operations during Operation Iraqi 163d Civil Engineer Squadron, explains
Engineer Squadron, places a stake Freedom and has even deployed to how to set up a decontamination tent to
used to secure a decontamination tent
Senior Airmen Shawn Oommen and
overseas locations such as Turkey, for Air
during a CES readiness exercise, which
Vernonica Lemus, also from the 163d
took place April 3-6 at the March Air National Guard units, deploying can also CES, during a CES readiness exercise
Reserve Base Regional Training Site. mean loading up your gear and moving a held April 3-6.
y Senior Airman Duquette
Three Wing members from the 163d
Maintenance Group returned recently
from a four-month tour at Kandahar Air
Base in Afghanistan, where they
supported ‘round-the-clock MQ-1
Predator operations overseas.
For all three members, Staff Sgts
Michael Astolfo, Skyler Swinhart,
Predator crew chiefs, and Senior Airman
Eric Hurley, a Predator avionics
technician, this was their first deployment
with the Predator. The team replaced two
other Wing members, Master Sgt. Allen
King, a Predator crew chief, and Senior
Airman Dustin Cornell, a Predator
avionics technician, who returned in
December after being the first California
Air National Guard maintainers to deploy
in support of overseas maintenance
operations for the Predator.
While tasked with providing
maintenance support to warfighters in the
area of operations, the team also had to
face the threat of attacks against the base
by enemy forces.
"The base was attacked on a regular
basis," said Airman Cornell, "The first
time we were attacked was a wake up call
Maintenance Group Members Return From Afghanistan
to me. It made me realize I was in a war
But, despite the hazards, Sergeant
Astolfo said there were ways to take your
mind off the situation.
"It wasn't all war over there, we had
some fun too," said Sergeant Astolfo,
"Both myself and Sergeant Skyler won
the best mustache award. Sergeant Skyler
won it because he had the best, but mine
wouldn't grow right, so I won it because it
was the most messed up."
During their tour, Sergeant Astolfo
and Airman Hurley were both recognized
for being the maintainers of the month.
Photo submitted by Senior Airman Dustin Cornell
Senior Airman Dustin Cornell points to a
graphic painted on a Predator. Each
graphic represents a successful strike.
Photo submitted by Staff Sgt. Michael Astolfo
Left to right, Staff Sgt. Skyler Swinhart, Senior Airman Eric Hurley and Staff Sgt.
Michael Astolfo were all recognized for their accomplishments during a four-month
deployment to Kandahar Air Base in Afghanistan.
FROM BIVOUAC PAGE 4
until the disaster plan is in full swing
during a real-world event and people see
us out there," Sergeant Nortz said. "The
public is always appreciative of what we
do when we're out there supporting realworld
operations, so the training really
makes a difference to the nation when put
it into action."
Many for the civil engineering
occupations that are called to do the
mission include carpenters, electricians,
air conditioning and heating (HVAC)
technicians and heavy equipment
According to Chief Master Sgt. Jeff
Myers, CES, the unit trains to support all
types of missions because a big part of the
squadron's responsibility is to be ready for
"The Bivouac exercise is a chance for
Airmen to practice their skills in a learning
environment in order to be ready for the
real-world call," Chief Myers said. "We
don't always know who, or what rank, will
be tasked to deploy, so training scenarios
help mentor and put supervisors and
subordinates in different roles that they
may be asked to fulfill under real-world
circumstances. It also provides an
opportunity to see the process and see
where we stand individually and as a
"No matter what job you have you
need to learn basic war time tasking skills,
and this helped me grow in that area,"
said Senior Airman Marissa Lopez, a
CES material manager, who augmented
the security forces team for the exercise.
"This exercise gave me a good
perspective on issues that I would have
otherwise not thought of and helped me to
prepare for the increased stress level that
may occur. I may be called upon to fill
different roles and positions during realworld
events, and now I'll better
y Senior Airman Paul Duquette
Though the forecast called for rain,
more than 150 Grizzlies, friends and
family members enjoyed a mostly
bright and shiny Southern California
day during the sixth annual Spring
Fling, which took place March 15.
Among the festivities were an
Easter egg hunt, face painting, jumpers,
food, cupcake decorating, a new fire
truck, horse rides, a motorcycle
policeman, the Chik-fil-A Cow and, of
course, the Easter Bunny.
Chief Master Sgt. Patricia Vegas,
who has played the role of the Easter
Bunny every year since the creation of
the Spring Fling, commented on her
feeling of donning the long-eared
"I love playing the Easter Bunny,
the children are fantastic,” she said.
“This year, the Easter Bunny paid a
Photos by Staff Sgt. Diane Ducat
Above, Gavin, son of Staff Sgt. Diane Ducat rides a pony. Below, Senior Master Sgt.
Tyler Hessheimer, Jonanthan Dodge and Derek Hessheimer sit with the Easter
Bunny, played by Chief Master Sgt. Patricia Vegas, during the 163d Reconnaissance
Wing’s annual Spring Fling on March 15 at the Black Forest.
special visit to the members in the ground
control station, to raise their spirits. If
people could see what I see, through the
bunny's eyes, everyone would volunteer."
"The Spring Fling is a nice event for our
families and friends, and the people who
organized it did a great job," said
Information Management Specialist Staff
Sgt. Al Dupont. "It's awesome to have the
opportunity to meet the families of our
"I want to give a special thanks to
everyone who helped make this a great
event," said the Family Readiness Program
Manager Debbie Hambrick. "Everyone had
a great time and the kids had tons of fun."
"Despite the potential for less than perfect
weather conditions, volunteers pulled
together to host a very successful and fun
event," said Col. Albert Aimar, 163d
Reconnaissaince Wing commander. "Thanks
to all those who made this event possible."
Photos by Staff Sgt. Diane Ducat
Above - Senior Master Sgt. Silvia Aceves puts her paintbrush to
work as a face painter during the Spring Fling, something she’s done
since the event began six years ago. Left - Sara Gardner gives the
Easter Bunny a “bunny hug” during the day’s festivities. Below (left
to right) - Master Sgt. Rudy Robles, Staff Sgt. Luis Robles, Staff
Sgt. Al Dupont, Senior Master Sgt. Ernie Pallares and Senior Airman
Paul Duquette share cooking duties for the more than 150 Spring
Hesperia High School ROTC Unit Gets Hands on Look at Predator
Photo by Senior Airman Paul Duquette
First Lt. David Gunty, from the 163d Maintenance Group, talks about the MQ-1 Predator and Wing’s mission to a group of
cadets from Hesperia High School’s Air Force Junior ROTC Unit CA872 during a visit to the Wing March 26. In addition to
seeing a Predator up-close, they were also treated to a briefing from one of the Wing’s Predator pilots.
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Julie Avey
General Sees Predator Wing During JA Visit
Brigidier General Andrew Turley, Air National Guard advisor for the
Air Combat Command Judge Advocate from Langley Air Force
Base, Va., receives a briefing from Tech. Sgt. Heath Branham
during a visit to the 163d Reconnaissance Wing’s Judge Advocate
office March 2. During his visit, the general received tours of
Predator facilities an briefings on the Wing’s mission.
Photo byTech. Sgt. Julie Avey
Wing Medical Group Gears Up
Senior Airman Angel Gonzalez receives a dental
examination as part of preparations for the 163d
Medical Group’s biennial Health Services
Inspection, which took place April 3-5.
May and June
UTA Meal Schedule
Both UTAs are shared with the
452nd AMW. When enlisted
members are authorized lodging
Friday before the unit training
assembly, they are entitled to
breakfast Saturday morning, as well
as lunch and dinner Saturday and
breakfast and lunch Sunday. All
meals will be provided by the Hap
Arnold Club and no letters are
If you have any issues,
complaints, or concerns regarding
your billeting reservations or
contracted room, or if you need to
make a last minute cancellation of a
reservation, please notify the first
sergeant's on-call hotline number at
(951) 453-5433. A Wing first
sergeant will answer this phone
number beginning Friday evening
and continuing through the Sunday
morning of each drill weekend. If
you need to cancel a reservation
during the month, please contact
your lodging point of contact.
Remembering Our Veterans
The 11th Annual "Remembering
Our Veterans and Their Families:
Past, Present and Future" event is
scheduled for Saturday, May 24,
from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at
Arcadia County Park, 405 South
Santa Anita Ave., Arcadia, 91006.
A special tribute to the armed
forces, co-hosted by News Channel
4 Weatherman Fritz Coleman, will
be held at 11:30 a.m. The event will
include skydivers, flyovers, a "Wall
of Remembrance" for veterans,
military displays, food, live
entertainment and other events and
information for the entire family.
The event will be held rain or shine.
For more information, call (626)
967-1441 or (909) 394-2264.
The Family Readiness office is a
valuable resource that can provide
assistance to Wing members and their
families during times of need. The
office also offers a wide array of
literature and informational materials
on benefits and entitlements as well
as benevolence opportunities. For
more information please contact
Debbie Hambrick at extension 2165.
DoD Transition Assistance
Turbo Tap is Department of
Defense's official Web site for
providing information for
servicemembers transitioning from
military service. The site, also
supported by the Departments of
Labor and Veterans Affairs, is
intended to supplement the services
offered by the Transition Assistance
Offices and other groups. For more
information or to register, visit the
Web site at www.transition
SERE 100 Training
Due to extreme demand to
access SERE100, Level B Code of
Conduct, the Advanced Distributed
Learning System Web site is
experiencing an overwhelming
number of attempts to access and
use the system resulting in
degraded performance. To fix the
issue, new servers are sheduled to
be added April 14 to support the
larger client load. In an effort to
further reduce the workload, those
who do not require the training
within the next 30 to 60 days for
deployment or permanent change of
station are encouraged to wait until
the new servers are installed.
Due to delays in completing the
training, Air Force Chief of Staff
General T. Michael Moseley has
pushed the completion date back to
Oct. 31 for the service’s Air
Pilot Selection Board
The 163d Reconnaissance Wing
Operations Group will hold a pilot
selection board June 7. Interested
applicants should e-mail Lt. Col.
Kirby Colas at kirby.colas
applicants must submit an
electronic resume, introduction
letter and no more then three letters
of recommendation by June 6.
Applicants will be notified with the
time and location of the board upon
review of their package.
Sensor Operator Board
The 163d Reconnaissance Wing
Operations Group will hold a sensor
operator selection board May 17.
Interested applicants should e-mail
Chief Master Sgt. Bruce Garcia at
Additionally, applicants must
submit an electronic resume,
introduction letter and no more then
three letters of recommendation by
May 9. Applicants will be notified
with the time and location of the
board upon review of their package.
New Year, New Laws
Beginning July 1, it will be
illegal to use a handheld wireless
telephone while operating a motor
vehicle in California. Once passed,
penalties for violations of the law
include fines ranging from $20 to
$76 for the first offense and $50 to
$190 for subsequent offenses.
Motorists are authorized to use
by Senior Airman Paul Duquette
Staff Sgt. Nathan Fisher has been in
the military for a combined total of
seven years - four with the Marines and
the last three years with the Wing. His
experience with the Marines as a small
computer specialist allowed him to
transfer straight over to the Air National
Guard without initial or retraining for
his traditional position as an
Information Assurance technician.
But, dealing with computers doesn’t
stop at the base gates for Sergeant
Fisher. As a civilian, he works as an
information technology manager for
LDI Mechanical. In this capacity, his
duties range from Web site and
computer maintenance to network or
vendor contract problems. Working at
the main office in Corona, he oversees
branches in Sacramento and Costa
Photo submitted by Master Sgt. Stan Thompson
Staff Sgt. Nathan Fisher provides
technical support to Staff Sgt. Grant Cera
with an active directory issue.
Mesa, Calif.; Las Vegas, Nev.;
Baltimore, Md.; New Jersey, N.J. and
Staff Sgt. Nathan Fisher
Working in the IA department,
Sergeant Fisher issues home Common
Access Card readers and assists
customers with any problems they may
have, but he also works with folder
security and active directory.
"My military experiences have
helped me in my civilian job," said
Sergeant Fisher, "The Marine Corps
gave me a general understanding of all
of the IT aspects, so I was sort of a Jack
of all trades and master of none. But the
Air Force gave me a more specialized
knowledge of my job, so I learned
certain aspects of my field more in
So, whether he's assisting customers
with technical support or traveling to
Baltimore to fix a network problem, one
could say, Sergeant Fisher adepts to his
surroundings and uses his military
training and experiences to his advantage.
Recongizes Wing Airmen
Photo by Tech. Sgt. Julie Avey
Congratulations to Tech. Sgt. Jonathan
Gaygay, who was presented a
certificate of appreciation for service in
the Blue Eagle Honor Guard.
Photo by 1st. Lt. David Gunty
Congratulations to Structural and Fabrication Mechanic Tech. Sgt. Michael Porter
who retired April UTA after 33 years of service. Above Maintenance Squadron
Commander Maj. John Keen presents the retirement certificate.
Airman 1st Class
Airman 1st Class
Airman 1st Class
Congratulations to Maj. Matthew Dutkiewicz, who completed Air
Command and Staff College via correspondence.
Hats off to Staff Sgt. Richard Merrall and Senior Airmen Vance Jackson,
Randall Miller and Jedd Penaflor, who all completed Airman Leadership School
via correspondence. Airman Jackson also scored a 90 percent on Course 1 of
Congratulations to Tech. Sgt. Mathew Rose, who completed the NCO
Academy course via correspondence.
Also, congratulations to Airman Basic Zakia Webster, who was awarded the
Honor Graduate ribbon for completing Air Force Basic Military Training.
The ON GUARD is proudly
published for the members of the 163d
Reconnaissance Wing and their
Col. Albert Aimar
Public Affairs Office
Maj. Brenda Hendricksen
Capt. Al Bosco
Master Sgt. Stan Thompson
Tech. Sgt. Joe Prouse
Tech. Sgt. Julie Avey
Staff Sgt. Diane Ducat
Senior Airman Paul Duquette
Senior Airman Clint Woods
The ON GUARD is the official
newsletter published by and for the
members of the 163d
Reconnaissance Wing, March Air
Reserve Base, CA. The contents of
the ON GUARD are not
necessarily the official views of, or
endorsed by, the US government,
DoD, Department of the Air Force,
or the 163d RW.
MARCH ARB CA 92518-1627
UNITED STATES AIR FORCE
TO THE FAMILY OF:
THIRD CLASS MAIL