House defense leader at Wright Patt, says AF pilot shortage growing

Published: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 3:43 PM
Updated: Monday, October 23, 2017 @ 4:45 PM

Making his first trek to Wright-Patterson, House Armed Services Committee chairman and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said the shortage of Air Force pilots could exceed 1,900 based on what the high-level congressional leader was told last week.

The Air Force has been “hemorrhaging” pilots in a growing shortage that shows the impact sequestration has had on the military, a top congressional defense leader said.

Making his first trek to Wright-Patterson, House Armed Services Committee chairman and U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, said the shortage of Air Force pilots could exceed 1,900 based on what the high-level congressional leader was told last week. At the end of fiscal year 2016, the Air Force estimated it was about 1,500 aviators short.

“This is an example of where cutting the defense budget by 20 percent since 2010 has real consequences,” Thornberry said at a press conference Monday at the Miami Valley base with U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, chairman of the House Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee.

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Thornberry and Turner went on a private tour Monday of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, which dedicated a $29.5 million foreign technology exploitation facility last Friday, and met with Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of the Air Force Materiel Command, to discuss defense needs.

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Turner said sequestration, or automatic defense budget cuts, has had a “devastating impact across the board” to the Department of Defense. The spending reductions were enacted under the Budget Control Act of 2011 and meant to last a decade.

“This is all about we need an adequately funded budget with consistency so that the Department of Defense can plan,” he said.

On Friday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order expanding Air Force authority to recall up to 1,000 retired pilots for up to three years, but an Air Force spokesperson said the military branch did not plan currently to pull those pilots back into the cockpit, the Associated Press reported.

The Air Force was limited to recalling 25 retired pilots under current law.

“We are short (aircraft) maintainers in the thousands and even if we are able to pass the ideal defense budget next week, you can’t just flip a switch and have a competent fighter pilot or a competent maintainer appear out of thin air,” Thornberry said. “It takes time to develop the expertise, it takes money to go through the training.

“That’s part of the reason the Air Force is looking at these other authorities to bring people back in because we’ve been hemorrhaging pilots,” the congressman added. “When they can’t fly, they leave.”

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Pentagon spending has been capped at last fiscal year’s levels since Oct. 1 when Congress failed to pass a new defense bill before the start of the 2017 fiscal year. Since then, the military has operated under a continuing resolution, set to expire Dec. 8.

“One of the highest priorities … in the next few weeks in Congress is to have an adequate defense budget passed and signed into law so that these people (at Wright-Patterson) have the resources and the funding stability they need to just focus on their work,” Thornberry said. “They don’t need to worry about Washington politics interfering with what they do because it is so important to the country.”

While the Pentagon has pushed as recently as this month for a Base Realignment and Closure process, citing nearly 20 percent excess capacity, Thornberry said an analysis is needed first before bases close or units relocate.

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“Before you start closing bases or giving up training ranges, you better know what size military you will need because once you give something up, you’re never going to get it back,” he said. “Certainly for me, I don’t rule it out, but I want to see the data and I want to see the assumptions that it’s based upon before me move forward.”

Off-duty officer responds to crash into building in Kettering

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 3:41 PM
Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 4:31 PM

Vehicle crashes into building in Kettering

UPDATE @ 4:31 p.m.

The vehicle that struck the building was part of a four-vehicle crash near the intersection. 

No major injuries were reported by police on scene.

FIRST REPORT

A vehicle has struck a building in the area of Bigger and Rahn roads in Kettering. 

An off-duty Xenia officer called in a “serious injury crash,” according to emergency dispatch traffic. 

A person was reportedly trapped. 

We’ve got a photographer on the way and will update this report. 

Multiple injuries after two crashes at Dayton intersection

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 3:39 PM
Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 4:05 PM

Jarod Thrush/Staff
Jarod Thrush/Staff

UPDATE @ 4 p.m. 

Two separate crashes at the intersection of South Gettysburg Avenue and Nicholas Road have sent at least four people to area hospitals. 

The first crash occurred between a black sedan and a white SUV. A Good Samaritan pulled over to check on the people involved in the first crash, when a blue Chevrolet SUV slammed into the back of that vehicle. 

Nine occupants were inside the blue SUV in the second crash, including three people sitting on the floor where the third row of seats normally would be. 

One woman has been placed in a police cruiser after she became irate after the crash, police said. The woman will not be arrested or charged. 

The severity of the injuries sustained in the crash was not immediately known. 

FIRST REPORT

Four medics have been requested to a crash at the intersection of South Gettysburg Avenue and Nicholas Road in Dayton Thursday. 

A unit responding to a different call reported the crash at the intersection around 3:10 p.m.

Initial reports indicate occupants of the two vehicles were fighting after the crash. 

We have a crew on the way and we’ll update this page as we learn more. 

Quiet and cold tonight

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 4:53 AM
Updated: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 4:00 PM

More clearing is expected for the rest of the day today in the Dayton area.

QUICK-LOOK FORECAST

  • Clearing and cold tonight
  • More sunshine and milder Friday
  • Slight chance for rain early Saturday

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

DETAILED FORECAST

Tonight: Skies clearing into the night. Turning cold with lows back into the upper 20s.

>> Storm Center 7: Thanksgiving travel weather outlook

Friday: A cold morning followed by a mild afternoon. Mostly sunny skies expected with highs into the lower 50s.

>> WHIO WEATHER APP: Have it for your Thanksgiving travel

Saturday: Clouds return in by morning with the slight chance for a few passing showers early as a cold front moves through. Most areas will likely remain dry. Highs will be in the lower 50s early on, then falling through the 40s most of the day.

>> Christmas tree farms get healthy on good weather

>> How to watch NewsCenter 7 if you’re traveling

Sunday: Partly sunny skies are expected with highs in the lower to mid-40s.

Reunions, friendships, gratitude highlight 49th annual Feast of Giving

Published: Thursday, November 23, 2017 @ 2:09 PM

Feast of Giving held in Dayton

Every year for the past several, Marquita R. Robinson sits at a table at the Feast of Giving inside a massive room at the Dayton Convention Center to have Thanksgiving dinner with several thousand of her neighbors.

It’s also a homecoming of sorts.

“This is the place where a lot of my friends (meet) to see each other and we haven’t seen each other throughout the whole year,” the 32-year-old Dayton resident said before standing up and shouting and waving at a friend.

More than 8,000 people were expected to stream through the convention center’s doors Thursday. Marking it’s 49th year, the Thanksgiving Day tradition draws people of all ages and backgrounds who come together one day as a community, many interacting with strangers they have never met.

Richard C. Jones, 50, of Dayton, stopped in for his first trip to Feast of Giving since moving to the Gem City from Atlanta.

“I didn’t have any plans and I’m relatively new to Dayton,” he said.

Last year, he said he spent Thanksgiving alone. That changed this time once he found out about the dinner.

“I’m hoping to meet some of my Dayton neighbors,” he said as a band played on a stage near his table. “I’m not really an outgoing person. This is like something brand new and hopefully becomes a tradition.”

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The gathering had 500 volunteers — and turned away another 700 — to prepare and serve free meals to throngs of attendees, said Stephen Levitt, one of the event’s organizers.

“There’s always a few hang-ups, but we make it work,” he said.

Stephanie Richardson, 53, of Dayton, and Amy Schmitt, 59, of Beavercreek, set out place mats and prepared decorations in a room set aside for children.

The Thanksgiving spirit of giving “just spoke to me,” said Richardson, volunteering for the first time at the dinner since she recently moved to Dayton from the Virgin Islands.

Schmitt, a self-described “people person” and a public health nurse, wanted to work with children.

“It’s fun,” she said. And it gave her a sense of appreciation. “You come in here and serve today and you walk out with no complaints.”

Carol and Roger Ober of Beavercreek, volunteered for the first time, working as security monitors.

Carol Ober, a 71-year-old retired school teacher, said they wanted “to be part of something bigger than yourself and this is definitely big.”

The community dinner is so big it takes days to cook food for thousands.

Thursday started with a very basic ingredient that was the hardest to manage: Boiling water, said Sous-Chief Andrew Payne.

“Probably close to 1,000 gallons of water we had to get to a boil to be able to make the stuffing, to make the gravy, to make the mashed potatoes,” he said. “It’s constant. We started boiling water at two o’clock this morning.”

Payne also was one of about a dozen who spent seven to 10 hours Monday slicing 3,000 pounds of turkey.

The shopping list this year included 2,600 pounds of mashed potatoes, 2,000 pounds each of green beans and breaded stuffing, and 100 gallons of gravy. For dessert, the feast rolled out 900 pies of all sorts and 8,000 servings of ice cream.

Vanilla is the most popular flavor, said Joe Hartenstein, 62, of Trotwood. The long-time event volunteer and retired school truant officer also hands out chocolate and sherbet ice cream.

RELATED: Thousands enjoy friends, good food at Feast of Giving

For Robinson, a restaurant cashier, the mashed potatoes are the best on a filled Thanksgiving plate.

“I always get double mash every time I come down here,” she said. “Because it’s all silky. You add some butter to them and they’re awesome.”

Organizers stepped in nearly a decade ago when the Beerman Foundation, which had sponsored the event since 1969, announced plans to end the Thanksgiving tradition in Dayton.

The event costs about $180,000, half of which represent purveyors who donate food and equipment and the rest represents monetary donations, Levitt said.