10. September 2009 · Comments Off on An Article About the Shaw Reserve Unit I Just Left… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: ,

This was just released through USAF Public Affairs channels. Enjoy!

True team effort behind squadron’s success

Shared via AddThis

18. August 2009 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I just received this afghan in the mail today to put together. I do this in support of The Handmade Afghans to Thank Our Armed Forces Project.

I love the colors on this one!

More evidence that I tend to lead a double life. I have the honor of not just being a member of the military, but I’m also a proud Air Force wife.

When I was active duty, I’d attempt to participate in spouse functions, sometimes successfully, but sometimes NOT. Most were very welcoming and I had a great time playing Bunco, going on shopping trips, and attending countless bridal and baby showers.

The Air Force Wive’s group when I was in Korea in the late 90s was a prime example of not feeling welcome…most of their functions were tailored to times when the kids were in school, but once I made it to an evening event, and, to be honest, I wasn’t very comfortable listening to the men I worked with being referred to as “Billy”, “Joey”, “Tommy”, etc.

On the other hand, when I was stationed with the Army in my first years in the USAF, many of the Army ladies’ functions I participated in were great! They seemed much more laid back, and I didn’t see the distinctions between whether your spouse is enlisted, officer, the commander, etc. And they certainly didn’t care that I was Air Force, not Army.

If you’re a commander’s wife, you’re expected to be a leader in the spouse’s group. Obviously it isn’t required, but the other spouses will look to the commander’s spouse for guidance.

“What in the world is making you think of this NOW?”

Here’s what. Last week I attended a spouse’s appreciation function at Dave’s office. There were about 20 of us, we had a nice catered lunch and they even had some young Airmen who took Timmy and sat with him in a conference room where “Tale of Desperaux” was playing. After the lunch, we received the official Air Force Weather Agency briefing and then got a tour of the relatively-new building they work in now.

I like things like this.  Dave will tell you about how much fun I have at social functions, and it’s important to me to know about the people and their families in Dave’s professional life, we help each other out in times of need.

During the function, the AFWA commander came out and addressed us, thanking us for supporting our husbands and even giving us these lovely certificates.

From 2009 05 11 AFWA Spouse Certificate

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03. February 2009 · 8 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,

For you South Park fans out there, this image came up while I was Google Image searching something else and thought it was awesome!

“What were you searching for?”

Well, it’s funny you asked. As a stray blog topic, I was going to discuss the art/science of the military pilot call sign.

[Wagging her finger] Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. You’ve all seen Top Gun! Maverick? Goose? Here, let me refresh your memory…

I’ve met two pilots here named “Tim [something]” and apparently they’re young enough to get the call sign “Timmay!” Exclamation point and everything. In other words, an officer who came into the service after about 2000, when Timmay! was first introduced on South Park.

Between meeting a couple of “Timmay!”s and dozens of other fighter/bomber pilots with the work I’m doing here, it got me thinking about these pilots and their call signs.

Working among this is new to me. You can read a bit about the Air Force call sign tradition here. I spent most of my aviation-weather-forecasting years among Army pilots, who don’t use call signs as much. I’ve never had to do weather work for fighter pilots before. Apparently they’re the ones who go by call signs. You ask a tanker or cargo pilot his call sign and he looks all confused at you. I’m now in a unit that’s run by call-signed pilots, and that’s the jargon around here.

“Hey, Squatter wants to know whether you’re changing the number of planes Claw can use for Cheetah’s missions”.

These call-signed pilots tend to assume that everyone around them has call signs.

“So, Major Vollmer, what’s YOUR call sign?”

Ummmm…..no? At most, I was called “WEATHER!” All caps and everything, and that was usually from someone angry with a bad forecast. I know some weather officers who did get theirs by working with fighter pilots early in their careers.

How do the pilots get their call signs? Sometimes it’s obvious…a guy with a big nose will get tagged “Nose”. And it sticks for the rest of his career. Sometimes it seems random. I know so many “Fang”s, “Snake”s and “Sparky”s from throughout my career. I believe they get named at a big Officer’s Club party during pilot training. It might be formal…but to be honest, I don’t know.

We have a Marine pilot named Farquaad here, you know…from Shrek. He’s short (5′ 7″) and his face seemed to be shaped like the Shrek character, with the square protruding chin. Really. If you didn’t say anything, you wouldn’t notice, but once I heard our chief scream “FAHRQUAAD!” across the room to this guy the first time, I had to stop and laugh.

Our former Chief of Staff of the Air Force, General T. Michael Moseley, went by “Buzz” his entire career. (Note: that was among his peers and other fighter pilots…*I* would never get to call him “Buzz”). Since our current CSAF has a cargo pilot background, he allegedly doesn’t have a call sign.

Last week I took pictures of some of my colleagues at our social tent last week and I wanted to e-mail copies of the pictures to the subjects themselves. So here I am at my laptop, ready to fill in the “To:” block and I realize I’m stuck.

How do I send pictures out to “Runt”, “Stork”, “Trojan”, “Snake” and “Atlas”? That’s how these fighter/bomber pilots do everything at work — I really truly did not know these guys’ first or last names for my first 3 1/2 weeks here! I had to ask this week, “What’s so-and-so’s real name so I can e-mail him this picture?”

So there you go — hopefully Farquaad doesn’t see that I was talking about him on here. At least you won’t know his real name so I’ve protected the innocent, right?

Ok, workout time!

This one is about the the incredible support structure at this base. Permanant Air Force bases have an assortment of “services”: a fitness center, lounge/bar/club, library, laundry/dry cleaners, a finance office, movie theater, food service, chapel services, and medical services. They usually operate at hours similar to civilian versions.

All of that stuff has been made available to us here 22-24 hours per day, 7 days per week! Since I’m working nights, it’s fascinating knowing that I can grab a Starbucks coffee* at 11pm, check out a book from the library at 6am, cash a check at 3am, or see “Marley and Me” at the theater at 8am! The fitness centers are open around the clock, laundry drop off/pick up is available around the clock and many of the other services are closed 1-2 hours per day just for cleaning.

The WiFi here is great, by the way! It’s a decent connection, but I’ve been plagued with having to find an available power outlet…along with everyone else with laptops whose batteries don’t last that long. So my first day here I dropped about $100 on not one but TWO batteries (I have two battery ports, since my DVD drive is broken). I can’t wait till they get here…I can plant myself anywhere in the “base services” area and blog or post Facebook statuses…

I’ve attempted the webcam thing with the family just once so far, my work hours have made it hard to merry up with Dave’s and the boys’ school and sleep schedules, but I think that’s going to improve as my schedule settles in better. We have a couple of prime opportunities on weekends…when my battery arrives it should be better. I can plant myself near the WiFi source and get better signals.

When I was younger I used to balk at the limited hours other base agencies would have and the premium placed on morale services available to the troops. Remember, I’m a weatherman…and weather stops for no mission!

The Air Force is often ridiculed by the other services for how laid back they seem — think about it: Air Force troops historically have the best quarters and best services in any given war…

…and because of it, the best morale of all the services and (in my opinion) the most fortitude to work their tails off when it comes time to do so! Like here at this base, right now!

The last time I was in a hostile fire zone, I was a 1st Lieutenant. I was working 16 hour days — and expected the same from everyone around me and didn’t think it was fair that I had to work 16 hours per day, and others on the base only had to work 12 hour days.

I’m now older and I wiser, I guess, and since I’ve arrived I’ve been constantly processing my information as a leader instead of a follower. I’m watching the younger troops’ well being like a hawk and constantly asking if they’re happy with the food and dorms, if they’re getting enough sleep, can they communicate with their families enough, and is there anything more they’d need in terms of morale items? Yes, even in the 4-5 days I’ve been here!

That being said, here’s a link to a photo album I’ve started that covers some of the morale and quality of life items we’re provided over here. You also can enjoy the stunning scenery here. We have strict restrictions on what we can/can’t photograph: no operational stuff, such as aircraft or buildings that contain mission-related stuff and no foreigners without their permission. Some of the things I’d want to photograph often have foreigners around so I’m avoiding it.

*Yes, you read right: We have Starbucks here. See the photo album if you don’t believe me! YUM!

06. January 2009 · Comments Off on "Are You in the REAL Army???" · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

At the gate in Omaha, a little boy (7-8 years old, I would guess) came
up to me and asked,”Are you in the REAL Army?”  My answer was
“Actually, I’m in the Air Force”. And I pointed to my uniform where it
reads “U.S. Air Force”. He said “Cool!” and returned to his parents.
I had to resist the tempation to explain to the child the crime of
inpersonating a military member. Or tell him that I’m in a fake
Army. 🙂
(Smile! That was meant to be funny!)

12. November 2008 · 8 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

C-130 landing at Ramstein AB, Germany for some R&R during a Bosnia deployment, Jan. 1, 1998. Dave was deployed to Bosnia for an overlapping period of time, but we were in separate locations.

First of all, Happy Veteran’s Day! To my fellow Veterans out there, thanks for reading my blog and for serving our great nation.

But allow me to stir the pot a little. I posted this NY Times article on my Facebook profile this morning and it generated quite a bit of commentary.

I was livid when I read this — I’ve been through enough Public Affairs training in my day to understand that the military’s relationship with the media is a delicate one. If you shut them out, they’ll just come up with their own information and possibly send the American public the wrong message about what the Dept. of Defense is up to. So the DoD’s position is to allow the media as much access as safety and security will allow. This is how we had such great coverage of the invasion of Iraq in March 2003, and also why ABC’s Bob Woodruff and his cameraman were injured by an IED in 2006. (I’m glad they’re recovered!). The journalists are aware of the risks for such media coverage.

Anyway, this article claims “senior officials” told the NY Times about some “secret orders” for “secret missions” into Pakistan and Syria to covertly chase down Al Qaeda.

I do not know whether this information is true or not. As the Army used to say about speaking about topics unrelated to what you do, “Stay in your lane.” I don’t know anything about this.

I’m upset because the media publishing a story full of the word “secret” probably means that America’s people, resources and national interests might be risked. We are not in a vacuum — Pakistan and Syria have now perked up their ears like a dog hearing the word “Walk?”, and even Al Qaeda probably knows this story now and will act accordingly. Go into further hiding, find other nations for safe haven, or otherwise change their tactics.

Or…they can go on the offensive, and something bad can happen to those Special Operations forces.

And if you REALLY want a good time, delve into the 300+ comments this story has generated. I was pleased to see how many Americans feel that the secret missions were justified, but also horrified by some of the not-so-nice things foreigners had to say about the situation.

Bottom line: New York Times, your story was poorly timed and probably put the lives of American servicemembers at risk. And whoever you “senior officials” are, are you sleeping soundly at night?

09. October 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

Over the weekend I officially got permission to post a nice photo and talk about Paul on my blog. He’s my USAF “partner in crime”, we’ve been colleagues for as long as I’ve been a reservist — nearly 4 years! We now work together in SC, although I actually only see him 3-4 times per year on the occasional drill weekend. He’s in a holding pattern waiting to be our unit’s commander — I hope it’s soon for his sake, he’s starting to bounce off the walls wanting to boss us around 😉

Many of the things you see on my blog are inspired by conversations I’ve had with him. Such as the polls. He and I trade ideas about cake decorating, family dinners, what new cars to buy, Wii games, new gadgets, activities to do with the family on weekends, and many many many professional matters. He and his wife introduced me to the Pioneer Woman!

In fact, just today he mailed me this blog to read. I thought I’d share with you an example of the fun stuff we discuss.

All this time I’ve been telling Paul, “Get your own blog” so he can pontificate about his adoration of Costco, GPS units, separate master bedrooms and the true value of your vote in America.

Paul and I are taking a deployment to the Middle East in 2009 — not together. He and I received permission to split a rotation, I’ll take the first half, he’ll take the 2nd. I think this is a wonderful opportunity presented to the two of us — our opportunities to serve the Global War on Terror without being away from home for too long, and a testament of the trust and friendship he and I have for each other that we both said “Okay, we’ll do it”. After all, if one of us bails, the other is held responsible for the ENTIRE trip.

For those who knew this was coming up, I won’t discuss the details here, but I’m leaving sometime after Christmas and should be back in early April. I’m not going to Iraq or Afghanistan, but to another location that supports those locations. Please rest assured that I will be safe in this location, provided the area remains as stable as it has been for the past several years. The job I’ll be performing is quite exciting and I’m sure I’ll be super-busy! Relative to most other military members, this is a very short deployment, although one day away from my boys is a day too many.

Tangent: I’ve promised to Dave that after this trip I will never voluntarily take a deployment for the remaining 6 years of my AF career. He’s going to have a challenge playing single Dad during our first Nebraska winter, and he’s been a great sport at keeping it in perspective. He wants to introduce the boys to skiing while I’m gone!

So here’s to you Paul (I’m raising my cotton boll to you!) — thanks for your personal and professional friendship, and for splitting the trip the desert.

PS: The picture above was taken in May 2008 at a picnic while we were working in SC. At first we were both posing like superheroes and the line “Wondertwin Powers, Activate!” went through my head.

09. October 2008 · 6 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

First of all, I realize that I’m part of a very small American population. I’m an (almost) stay-at-home Mom who likes airplanes. And the things I’ve had to learn about American airpower are pretty nit-noid. An F-22 brings a different capability to the fight than an F-16, F-18 or F-35.

I scanned this picture from a to-remain-unnamed product catalog that I got in the mail last weekend. I’m sure many of you will see hints of where this came from and that’s fine. For the most part, I love the company. I find many unique babyproofing and kids’ travel items here, so I place orders 1-2 times per year.

I turned to this page and had to scratch my head at this one.

1.) The real Blue Angels don’t fly F/A-22 Raptors. They fly F/A-18 Hornets.

The F-22 is an Air Force aircraft. The Thunderbirds are the Air Force’s demonstration flight team. The Thunderbirds fly F-16s.

The F-18 is flown by both the Navy and the Marine Corps. The Blue Angels are the Navy’s precision flying demo team.

So I took the time to look at pictures of these two planes and I have to admit, I can’t really tell which of the two this toy is trying to emulate.

2.) So I followed a link to the F-35, which is an aircraft still in production. Several prototypes are out and about, doing testing for the Air Force, Navy and Marines. I wonder if the toy will look the most like an F-35? You be the judge.

3.) The flight suit is cute, isn’t it? I LOVE how one of the patches shows the kid as a “U.S. Air Force Top Gun”. And the F-117 patch, too. Really cute.

The “Top Gun” school made famous in the Tom Cruise movie was based on the Navy Fighter Weapon School at NAS Miramar, CA. The school is now at NAS Fallon, Nevada.

Not Air Force. I think an AF pilot might punch me if I called him a “Top Gun”.

The Air Force has a similar school at Nellis AFB, near Las Vegas, Nevada. I don’t know what nicknames are associated with the school, but I’m sure “Top Gun” isn’t one of them.

So I guess what we have here is this cute little hybrid Air Force/Navy airplane and flight suit outfit for your budding fighter pilot to enjoy. Regardless of whether he wants to join the Air Force or Navy. Think Purple — One Team, One Fight, right?

Some might argue: who the hell cares? It’s just a toy!

I guess so…

Perhaps I’ll get on a soap box another time about teaching things to kids WRONG. Especially when those things are taught to MY kids wrong.

Note: I just discovered this toy was manufactured by Little Tikes and is no-kidding marketed as an F-22. I thought it was the catalog’s misinformation. I guess not. Click on the link if you want to get one for your kid. I’m not saying “Don’t buy it!”. After all, it sure does look cute…but you won’t see me buy one. My kids need to learn to pedal their bikes/big wheels under their own power first.

05. September 2008 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

This is what Jacob greeted me with this morning. At least he said “Good Morning” first.

No, my house isn’t that filthy! As you’ll remember from my Pros and Cons posting at the end of last month, our neighborhood sits just north of a large cattle farm. When the wind is from the south or the west, we get the “rural” smells from the farms. I’ve had the windows open in the house since Tuesday, so overnight the “zoo” odors crept in.

To all my friends living in the paths of Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike, good luck to you!

BTW: When the winds are from the east, we’re able to hear Offutt AFB’s broadcast of Taps at 10pm. Not super-loud, but if it’s otherwise quiet, you can’t miss it. Dave and I thought that was pretty neat.