[caption id="attachment_3608" align="alignleft" width="250"] Army Sgt. 1st Class Gary Williard, left, and his son, Army Sgt. Joshua Williard, pose with a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter at Contingency Operating Base Adder, Iraq. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Neil Gussman[/caption] CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE ADDER, Iraqâ€“ Any parent whose child follows him into his profession will feel pride.
A Pennsylvania National Guard soldier here can be doubly proud, then, as one son has followed in his military footsteps while another is pursuing his civilian career.Army Sgt. 1st Class Gary Williard of Company D, Task Force Diablo, is a retired police officer and an Army National Guard aircraft maintenance platoon sergeant.His older son, Gary Jr., joined the Tower City Police Force in Pennsylvania, where his father retired in 2006 as chief of police. Williardâ€™s younger son, Army Sgt. Joshua Williard of 628th Aviation Support Battalionâ€™s Company B, worked in the next hangar over from his dad during much of their recent deployment here and is now completing his deployment with final processing in the United States. â€œI pinned on Joshuaâ€™s sergeant stripes when he got promoted here on Aug. 27,â€Â Williad said. â€œThat was quite a moment for me.â€Â Williard began his military career in 1976 as a propeller and rotor mechanic for the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. After a break in service from 1982 to 1990, he returned to the Guard and has worked in maintenance on many aircraft. His younger son said he plans on a career in aviation maintenance with the Army National Guard. Gary Jr. worked for his father for five years in the Tower City Police Department before moving to the Pennsylvania State Police, where he has worked for seven years. Williard and his wife, Dina, ran an automotive repair business together. Now they own rental apartments. â€œDina runs the apartments while I am away,â€Â Williard said. â€œWith Joshua and I deployed and Gary Jr. busy with work, sheâ€™ll be very happy for us to come home.â€Â Williard deployed from 2003 to 2004 to Kuwait in both aviation maintenance and security roles. â€œEven on deployment, I was still a cop,â€Â he said. Jan. 7, 2010: By Army Sgt. Neil Gussman-Special to American Forces Press Service (Army Sgt. Neil Gussman serves with Task Force Diablo.) ***SOT***
[caption id="attachment_3623" align="alignleft" width="250"] Air Force Maj. William Reynolds demonstrates how to evacuate the liquid nitrogen from a fire suppression bottle for the Mi-17 helicopter, Dec. 27, 2009, at Camp Taji, Iraq. Reynolds and Air Force Master Sgt. Jayme Hakenson created a process that will save the Iraqi air force tens of thousands of dollars. U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Trish Bunting[/caption] CAMP TAJI, Iraq â€“ Two U.S. airmen with 721st Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron here improvised a device to recharge fire suppression bottles for a Russian-made helicopter to save the Iraqi air force tens of thousands of dollars.
Maj. William Reynolds and Master Sgt. Jayme Hakenson worked together to design and modify a flightline fire extinguisher for the Mi-17 Hip helicopter that will allow Iraqis to fill fire suppression bottles themselves with the chemical Chladon 114B2."Chladon is a fire retardant," said Reynolds, a squadron maintenance officer deployed from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. "When released, it removes all the oxygen from the air and squelches the fire."Each aircraft has two fire suppression bottles installed on board in case of multiple fires."The problem weâ€™re facing is, itâ€™s very hot in Iraq and the bottles are located near the engine," said Hakenson, a production supervisor adviser deployed from Hurlburt Field, Fla. "When the bottle over-pressurizes, they vent overboard as a safety measure. Several bottles blew inadvertently during flights and without the safety bottles, the aircraft canâ€™t fly." The fire bottles have a 24-month service period. Once the 24 months pass, they have to be removed from the aircraft and checked by a servicing facility. However, the closest facility to fill the bottles is in neighboring Jordan. "Because of infrequent trips to Jordan, it took nearly 18 months to obtain the bottles," said Reynolds, of Oakridge, Tenn. "Every time one of them dies, it really hurts us because we donâ€™t have the spares to replace them." This motivated Reynolds and Hakenson to come up with a solution before they were completely out of supplies. Hakenson, a native of Wheatland, Calif., came up with the idea to use an empty flightline fire extinguisher. They determined if they drilled a hole through the bottom and welded on a piece of one-quarter-inch stainless steel tubing, they could maximize output. Army officials assisted by creating parts and giving pieces to help with the project. To understand how the fire suppression bottle worked, the airmen cut one in half and Reynolds figured out what he needed to do through trial and error. "Because the helicopter is Russian, the bottles required tools we just donâ€™t have, such as a flaring to create a 37-degree bevel," Reynolds said. "The Army's 1st Calvary Brigade helped create adapters that go from Russian specifications to U.S. specifications. They also gave us a piece of tubing that could withstand 9,000 pounds per square inch. "I put a 90-degree elbow on a piece of quarter-inch stainless steel tubing and placed it into the fire suppression bottle," he continued. "Then I connected the hose from the fire extinguisher bottle to the tubing and filled the bottle with five kilograms of Chladon." In addition to filling the bottles, they also discovered how to save some of the Chladon. "Before, there was no way to discharge the bottles. It wasnâ€™t safe to just open it up and vent it into the atmosphere because it pulls the oxygen out of the air," Reynolds said. "But with this recovery tank, we can actually discharge the bottles safely and recover the Chladon, allowing us to reuse it." The device is simple, inexpensive to manufacture and effective. After the Iraqi defense ministry gives approval, the Iraqi air force can begin recharging the bottles themselves. Because of the airmenâ€™s ingenuity, the Iraqis can save time and money and the Mi-17s will continue to fly for years to come. Jan. 6, 2010: By Air Force Senior Airman Jarrod R. Chavana Special to American Forces Press Service (Senior Airman Jarrod R. Chavana serves with U.S. Air Forces Central public affairs.) ***SOT***
[caption id="attachment_3619" align="alignleft" width="250"] Navy Lt. David M. Bartles reviews a report of operations being conducted in eastern Afghanistan at the joint operations command center at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Dec. 30, 2009. U.S. Army photo by Spc. B. Todd Willis[/caption] BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan â€“ In wartime, servicemembers often are required to master and perform duties outside their area of expertise.
Navy Lt. David M. Bartles, 29, spent his three previous years of duty on a nuclear submarine. Now, heâ€™s the night-shift battle captain for the Combined Joint Task Force 82 information operations section.â€œItâ€™s definitely a big change from what I am used to, but itâ€™s pretty exciting,â€Â Bartles said. The information operations section works with other sections in the communications action group in a variety of duties, including generating content that appears on radio and television stations in eastern Afghanistan. Servicemembers who accept duties outside their area of expertise incur some unique challenges. â€œThe most difficult thing thus far is the pace,â€Â Bartles said. â€œYou have to learn your job and the organization very quickly. Youâ€™re expected to be effective from Day One, and failure here can have profound effects.â€Â His day-shift counterpart says Bartles has stepped up to the challenge effectively. â€œI am definitely surprised at how quickly Lieutenant Bartles made the transition from working on a nuclear submarine to this,â€Â said Army Lt. Christopher L. Hunt, day-shift information operations battle captain. After earning a bachelorâ€™s degree in mechanical engineering from Virginia Military Institute and a masterâ€™s degree in engineering management from Old Dominion University, Bartles received two years of training in nuclear engineering in preparation for his duties on a submarine. During his six years serving in the Navy, Bartles has earned two Navy Commendation Medals, two Navy Expeditionary Medals and five Overseas Service Awards. â€œThe best thing about working on a submarine is the camaraderie,â€Â he said. â€œThe crew is pretty small, and we have to depend on each other to get through the day. We build strong relationships by sharing the hardships of life underwater.â€Â Still, Bartles said, opportunities to get off the sub were welcome during deployments. â€œPort calls arenâ€™t anything new to the Navy, but we ended up spending six weeks in Perth, Australia, one time,â€Â he said. â€œThe city was awesome. It had friendly people and beautiful beaches and an exciting nightlife. Also, I won a poker tournament and took a tour of southwest Australia, hopping from one park to the next.â€Â Bartles grew up in Falling Water, W.Va. He has two sisters and a brother, who also serves in the Navy. â€œThe hardest part of military service for me is being away from my family and friends,â€Â Bartles said. â€œI have been able to keep in touch using the Internet, and it will be nice to take the family out for dinner when I get home.â€Â Though his duty here has been a new experience, Bartles said, heâ€™s learned a great deal from it. â€œIâ€™ve gotten to work with people from other services and field areas,â€Â he explained. â€œThis has given me a better perspective on our effort here in Afghanistan.â€Â Jan. 5, 2010: By Army Spc. B. Todd Willis Special to American Forces Press Service (Army Spc. B. Todd Willis serves in the Combined Joint Task Force 82 public affairs office.) ***SOT***
[caption id="attachment_3613" align="alignleft" width="250"] Army Sgt. Nicanor Garcia left his native Panama in 1989 before the invasion by the U.S. Army and didnâ€™t return until 20 years later. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Travis Zielinski[/caption] CAMP TAJI, Iraq â€“ After the U.S. Army invaded Panama in 1989 to oust the dictator Gen. Manuel Noriega, the countryâ€™s people went on to rebuild their lives.
Twenty years after Operation Just Cause, a soldier deployed here who left Panama before the war began to live in the United States had the chance to return to his native country as a U.S. soldier.Army Sgt. Nicanor Garcia, a crew chief with the 1st Cavalry Divisionâ€™s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, said the road back to Panama was worth the long wait.Garcia, 34, who now calls Kileen, Texas, home, said growing up in Panama was mostly pleasant, with little to worry about in his early years.â€œI was living in Panama City in a decent neighborhood,â€Â he said. â€œIt wasnâ€™t middle class, but it wasnâ€™t lower class. It was something in between. Economically, it wasnâ€™t so good, but I had the love of my mother and I had a lot of friends, so it wasnâ€™t that bad.â€Â Garcia said things remained calm until Noriegaâ€™s regime began to take hold during the 1980s. â€œWe had an elected president, [and] things were going well, but slowly it started deteriorating, and a dictatorship was established by General Noriega,â€Â Garcia said. â€œSuddenly, there would be no buses to take us to school, â€¦ so I couldnâ€™t go to school because it was too far to walk.â€Â As the move toward war intensified, Garcia said Noriega began to resort to desperate measures to recruit for his army -- even trying to recruit boys as young as 11 -- and that his mother would have none of that. â€œI was 13 at that point,â€Â Garcia said, â€œso my mom said â€˜No, youâ€™re not going to be in Noriegaâ€™s army to defend him.â€™ She wanted to get me out of the country, so we went and applied for a visa, and thankfully I got approved.â€Â In April 1989 Garcia went to live with his grandmother in Brooklyn, N.Y., avoiding the war that would destroy his country. â€œGod knows what could have happened if Iâ€™d stayed,â€Â he said. â€œBack then, there was so much confusion in the country during the hours of the invasion that anything could have happened. Shots fired could have gone through our window or doors, things like that. It could have gone bad. So Iâ€™m glad my mother got me out of the country.â€Â Joining the Army was an easy decision after 9/11, Garcia said. â€œI love New York City, and I used to see the towers every day. When they came down, I said to myself â€˜I have to do something,â€™â€Â he said. â€œAnother reason I joined is this country has given me so much. â€¦ In Panama, I would never be working on Apaches and I would never have the lifestyle the U.S. offered me.â€Â After joining the 1st Air Cavalry Brigade, Garcia said, he dreamed of returning to Panama. â€œI had to delay going back to Panama in part because of my Army career,â€Â he explained. â€œAlso, I wanted to take my mom, who eventually came to the states and became a citizen. I wanted to take my family with me so we could experience it together, because I hadnâ€™t been back there for so long.â€Â Garcia took his mother, wife and 5-year-old daughter back to Panama while on leave from Iraq last year, and found himself reliving his childhood. â€œFrom the moment I landed, memories started coming back. â€¦ I remembered leaving that airport, and it looked pretty much the same. I saw the rest of my family that were there to greet me at the airport. A lot of them were older, of course, and I met brand new cousins that I had never seen before.â€Â Garcia said he visited his former neighborhood, and that although Panama City has become modernized, the people remain the same. â€œI went back to my old neighborhood where I grew up, and it had totally changed,â€Â Garcia said. â€œThere were still a few buildings that were there from when I was young; a mechanic and car repair shop with the same owner.â€Â â€œI went in and said hello to the owner, and he actually remembered me,â€Â he continued. â€œIt was funny and interesting, because the country has changed so much, but the people havenâ€™t.â€Â The experience left Garcia realizing things have improved significantly in Panama. â€œIt has changed for the better, definitely, because if it wasnâ€™t for the invasion, there wouldnâ€™t be democracy in Panama,â€Â Garcia said. â€œI liked the whole experience, because it brought me back to when I was a kid. But at the same time, [it] reminded me where I came from. â€œI wanted to stay, but I had to come back and complete the mission,â€Â Garcia said with a laugh. Jan. 4, 2010: By Army Sgt. Alun Thomas-Special to American Forces Press Service (Army Sgt. Alun Thomas serves with the 1st Cavalry Divisionâ€™s 1st Air Cavalry Brigade public affairs office.) ***SOT***
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