71st Intelligence Squadron change of command

Published: Friday, October 06, 2017 @ 11:01 AM


            The 71st Intelligence Squadron, 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group held a change of command ceremony honoring the outgoing squadron commander, Col. Julie Spears, and the incoming commander, to Lt. Col. Eric Bernkopf, Sept. 23. The 71st IS is one of three 655 ISRG squadrons based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, along with the group headquarters. (Contributed photo)
The 71st Intelligence Squadron, 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group held a change of command ceremony honoring the outgoing squadron commander, Col. Julie Spears, and the incoming commander, to Lt. Col. Eric Bernkopf, Sept. 23. The 71st IS is one of three 655 ISRG squadrons based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, along with the group headquarters. (Contributed photo)

The 71st Intelligence Squadron, 655th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group held a change of command ceremony honoring the outgoing squadron commander, Col. Julie Spears, and the incoming commander, to Lt. Col. Eric Bernkopf, Sept. 23.

The 71st IS is one of three 655 ISRG squadrons based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, along with the group headquarters.

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The change of command is rooted in military history dating back to the 18th Century. At that time, organizational flags were developed with color arrangements and symbols unique to each particular unit. The flag served as a rallying point and reminder of their allegiance to their leader during battle. To this flag and the commander, military members dedicated their loyalty and trust. When a change of command took place, the flag was passed to the individual assuming command in the presence of the entire unit. All unit members could witness their new leader assume responsibility and trust associated with the position of commander. He, or she, who possessed the flag also held the unit members’ allegiance.

Since assuming command of the 71 IS on May 11, 2015, Spears led the Air Force Reserve Command’s only geospatial, measurement, and signatures intelligence squadrons from initial operating capability to full operating capability three months ahead of schedule. She also directed an innovative recruiting strategy, nearly doubling squadron personnel, increasing manning to 109 percent.

Col. Spears credited her success to the support she received from her parents, her husband, and all the Airmen of the 71 IS.

“This isn’t the first squadron I’ve commanded,” she said. “It is, however, the best squadron I’ve commanded.”

Additionally, she led 61 squadron analysts in the execution of 42,736 mission hours, increasing active duty engagement hours by 95 percent and providing over 1,800 national-level intelligence products for deployed warfighters and senior Air Force leaders.

Lt. Col. Bernkopf, an Air Force Academy Top Graduate, previously served as Director of Operations, 71st IS where he led over 60 personnel in ensuring the operational integration of trained and ready Reserve personnel into the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, Geospatial and Signatures Intelligence Group.

In his acceptance speech, Bernkopf used a football example to illustrate how units should be Introspective and humble in their success.

“On April 16th of 2000, the New England patriots selected Tom Brady in the 6th round,” he said. “In terms of return on investment, it was the greatest pick in NFL history! The Patriots general management didn’t pat themselves on back. Instead, they were disappointed that they missed all of Brady’s intangible assets and waited until the 6th round. In their moment of success, they were humble and introspective enough to find an opportunity to improve.”

Bernkopf urged the 71 IS to follow this example and to closely examine their own processes so they can constantly find ways to improve.

655 ISRG Commander John D. McKaye spoke at the ceremony on the qualities both leaders possess.

“My first impressions of both of them were very similar,” he said. “They both were obviously very intelligent, knowledgeable and hard working. Col. Spears was already a solid leader, and in Lt. Col. Bernkopf I saw a future leader … both have worked together to make the 71st better, stronger and more efficient and effective.

“A change in leadership means an influx of new ideas and perspectives that help us remain the most powerful and respected Air Force in the world. I have no doubt, in fact I know, that the 71st will continue to thrive and grow under the leadership of Lt. Col. Bernkopf.”

The 655 Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group is dedicated to serving as the premier and most diverse ISR Group in the United States Air Force, delivering timely, reliable, accurate and actionable intelligence products enabling a decisive advantage over adversaries of the United States. The 655th consists of a headquarters and three tenant squadrons in Ohio, and 11 geographically separated units in California, Texas, Nebraska, Virginia, Florida and Maryland. For exciting and rewarding career opportunities with the 655th ISRG, contact a local Air Force Reserve recruiter or call 937-257-8117.

5 former presidents appear at hurricane relief concert

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 2:05 AM

From left, former Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama address the audience during the
From left, former Presidents George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama address the audience during the "Deep From The Heart: One America Appeal Concert" at Texas A&M University on Saturday.(Gary Miller/Getty Images)

All five living former Presidents appeared together for the first time since 2013 on Saturday, as they appeared at a benefit concert in Texas to raise money for hurricane relief efforts, CNN reported.

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Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama attended “Deep From the Heart: The One America Appeal” on the campus of Texas A&M University. President Donald Trump appeared in a taped video message to the concertgoers, CNN reported.

The concert featured rock and country musicians such as Lyle Lovett, Robert Earl Keen, Sam Moore and Yolanda Adams. Country music singer Lee Greenwood was emcee for the event.

Lady Gaga made an unbilled appearance and tweeted, "Nothing more beautiful than everyone putting their differences aside to help humanity in the face of catastrophe. #OneAmericaAppeal"

As of Saturday night, the "One Heart" effort had raised $31 million in tax-deductible, private funds from more than 80,000 donors since Sept. 7, said Jim McGrath, spokesman for George H.W. Bush. Funds collected through concert ticket sales will be distributed through various organizations in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.

Four of the five former presidents spoke at the concert, appealing for national unity to help those affected by the hurricanes. The elder Bush, sitting in his wheelchair, did not speak but smiled and waved to the crowd.

Carter told the crowd that Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization he has worked with for 36 years, has agreed to build 6,000 homes in devastated areas. The group has raised $20 million of a needed $100 million, he said.

Clinton said that the country “has been volunteering since before the Constitution, when Benjamin Franklin organized the first volunteer fire department in Philadelphia.”

“The heart of America, without regard to race or religion or political party, is greater than our problems,” Clinton said.

“What we’ve also seen was the spirit of America at its best,” Obama said. “When ordinary people step up and do extraordinary things.”

“I want to thank all the volunteers, but I am here for another reason. I speak for the folks right here when I say we really admire and love George H.W. Bush,” the younger Bush said.

The last time the five men appeared together was in 2013, when Obama was still in office, at the dedication of George W. Bush's presidential library in Dallas.

Trump thanked the former presidents in his taped message.

“To Presidents Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Melania and I want to express our deep gratitude for your tremendous assistance," Trump said. "This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and our devotion to one another.”

Air Force may recall up to 1,000 retired pilots

Published: Sunday, October 22, 2017 @ 12:24 AM

The U.S. Air Force may call up to 1,000 retired pilots back to active duty.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images
The U.S. Air Force may call up to 1,000 retired pilots back to active duty.(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The U.S. Air Force may recall as many as 1,000 retired military pilots to active duty because of an executive order signed Friday by President Donald Trump,  ABC News reported.

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By law, only 25 retired pilots can be recalled through voluntary programs to serve in any one branch of military service, but Trump’s executive order removes that limit, ABC News reported. The order expands the national state of emergency declared in 2001 by President George W. Bush in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as part of an effort “to mitigate the Air Force’s acute shortage of pilots,” said Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman.

Secretary of Air Force Heather Wilson said the service was short by 1,555 pilots -- including 1,211 fighter pilots -- at the end of the 2016 fiscal year.

"We anticipate that the Secretary of Defense will delegate the authority to the Secretary of the Air Force to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years," Ross said in a statement Friday. "The pilot supply shortage is a national level challenge that could have adverse effects on all aspects of both the government and commercial aviation sectors for years to come."

Father’s dying wish fulfilled as his 7 daughters stage wedding ceremony

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 9:09 AM

Wedding dresses.
Miquel Benitez/WireImage
Wedding dresses.(Miquel Benitez/WireImage)

Seven brides for one dying father.

An Ohio man was granted his final wish shortly before he died from brain cancer, as he got to give away his seven daughters in a bridal ceremony.

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William L. “Willie” Shelton died on Oct. 16 at the age of 44. Only one of his daughters is married, but all seven of them decided to create a ceremony so the former U.S. Army sergeant could experience the thrill of seeing all of them in wedding dresses, WJW reported.

“The one constant was always, ‘I want to see my girls grow up, and I want to walk them down the aisle,’” Shelton’s wife, Cheryl Shelton, told WJW.

Willie Shelton’s hospice center, along with a photographer and hair stylist, helped put the daughters’ plan into action within a few days.

"We had this idea we put together in three days,” Cheryl Shelton told WJW. “We got all the wedding gowns for the girls and hospice helped us out a great deal with some of the planning.”


The father was told that he would be giving away his daughter, Emily Flinn, who was renewing her vows with her husband, Tyler Flinn.

“We got married at a courthouse, so there wasn't the formality to it where he could actually give me away,” Emily Flinn said.

“He had no clue that this was going on and everybody got dressed, so I said, ‘She is going to have all the girls be the bridesmaids and everything for her.’ Little did he know that they were all going to be brides,” Cheryl Shelton told WJW.

Three days later, with Willie Shelton wearing his dress uniform in a backyard ceremony, each of his daughters came out of the house, one at a time, all in wedding gowns.

“He looked a little confused, and then it was just great to see everybody,” Flinn told WJW.

“This was very touching for him, and it was a dream that we could fulfill to the best or the closest we could possibly do,” Cheryl Shelton said.

Willie Shelton was helped out of his wheelchair and stood with his daughters during the ceremony, WJW reported.

“I always assumed that my dad would be there to walk me down the aisle, and when the possibility was there that he wasn't going to be able to -- this was everything,” Lindsey Shelton told WJW

Less than two weeks after the ceremony, Willie Shelton passed away -- but his daughters will carry his memory with them.

All seven daughters will receive a locket in which they will have a photo of their father with them in a wedding dress.

The words, "A father's love never ends," will be engraved on the back.

Thief unwittingly leaves wallet, photo ID at crime scene

Published: Saturday, October 21, 2017 @ 11:00 PM

A thief unwittingly turned himself in after leaving his wallet behind after leaving a Dayton store.

Police said they were dispatched to Dollar General on 2312 N. Main St. in Dayton around 8 a.m. Saturday, and found a wallet left behind by one of the suspects. Police found several items with the suspect’s name on them, including a photo ID. 

The second suspect was identified as a heavyset man between 30 and 40, wearing a blue hooded sweatshirt. The suspect ran away on foot south through the nearby alley, appearing to have several items hidden under his sweatshirt. 

According to reports, police found hangers with five children’s outfits near the wallet, as well as three packs of Ivory soap and a Halloween mask.