B-17s, P-51s fly over Air Force museum in salute to Memphis Belle

Published: Wednesday, May 16, 2018 @ 12:45 PM

World War II era aircraft including three B-17 bombers and 5 P-51 Mustangs flew over the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday as part of the festivities included in the opening of the Memphis Belle exhibit.

The rumble of World War II planes soared over the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday in a tribute to the restoration of the restored icon the B-17F Memphis Belle.

Three- B-17 Flying Fortresses and five P-51 Mustangs — flying in from staging airfields at Grimes Field in Urbana and Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport in Miami Twp. — canceled plans to land after a more than two-hour rain delay, but flew in formation over the museum and cars and trucks parked along the roadside in advance of the Memphis Belle unveiling Wednesday night.

A museum spokesman said the planes could make another attempt to land Thursday or Friday.

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Bruce and Marti Balsink, a married couple from Kettering, planned to return a second time if the planes land.

“It’s just fun to see, the nostalgia,” said Marti Balsink, whose father was a World War II bomber pilot. “We’ll just come back again.”

“I like the nostalgia of the airplanes,” said Bruce Balsink, 62. “I like working on them. I’ve gotten to fly in them. There’s no part of it that I don’t find interesting.”

The roll call of bombers included the movie version of the Memphis Belle from the National Warplane Museum in New York, the Experimental Aircraft Association’s B-17 Aluminum Overcast based in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and the Yankee Lady from the Yankee Air Force near Detroit.

Jim Enwright, 62, and his daughter Julianne, 20, waited patiently for the clouds to break and the rain to end.

“I’m kind of a motor head,” said Jim Enwright, of Kettering, who’s father was part of a B-17 crew in World War II. “I find that kind of invigorating, kind of inspiring. Those big radial motors coming in. It’s cool. I wish they were landing.”

If the planes land this week, they will stay on static display at the air strip through Friday.

David Predis, 32, of Dayton, an aeronautical engineer at Wright-Patterson, looked into history as he scanned the sky Wednesday.

“I’ve loved airplanes all my life,” he said. “I just think it’s always neat to see aircraft that are still maintained from World War II, such historical significance. The B-17 in particular was an incredible aircraft when it was designed.”

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Two of the bombers and the P-51 Mustangs flew in from Grimes Field inear Urbana and one bomber— Aluminum Overcast — flew in from Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport. Three World War II trainers scheduled to land didn’t fly because they were not fast enough to keep up with the fighter and bomber formation, museum spokesman Rob Bardua said.

Since 2005, restorers and volunteers at the museum have spent 55,000 hours working on the Memphis Belle, the first U.S. Army Air Forces bomber to complete 25 missions over Europe and return to the United States. On Wednesday evening, it was due to be unveiled in a private ceremony with 1,000 people, including dozens of family members of the late crew, as the centerpiece in a new strategic bombing exhibit. A public-ribbon cutting was scheduled around 9:15 a.m.Thursday in the World War II Gallery.

The celebration, highlighted by the unveiling of the Memphis Belle, the warplane fly-over and more than 160 World War II re-enactors, was expected to draw thousands to the museum at Wright-Patterson.

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Air Force rolls out new enlisted personnel handbook: Here’s what changed

Published: Thursday, July 12, 2018 @ 10:08 AM

Airmen from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base hold a large American flag during a pregame ceremony prior to a Wright State University basketball game at the Nutter Center. The college hosted a military appreciation night. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)
Staff Writer
Airmen from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base hold a large American flag during a pregame ceremony prior to a Wright State University basketball game at the Nutter Center. The college hosted a military appreciation night. (U.S. Air Force photo/R.J. Oriez)(Staff Writer)

The U.S. Air Force just rolled out its new enlisted personnel handbook, and it’s changing up the way enlisted airmen will address senior master sergeants.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright announced the changes on Facebook. The Air Force no longer requires an associate’s degree from the Community College of the Air Force as a promotion requirement for master sergeants.

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“One of the biggest changes you’ll see, one that we’re also working to codify in our other AFIs, comes in para 3.1.3.1. An Associate’s Degree from the CCAF is no longer a promotion requirement,” Wright said.

New changes also address the way airmen address their top enlisted leaders. Airmen may address E-8s as “senior” or “sergeant” now, according to the handbook. The handbook defines the enlisted force structure and implements policy. This new handbook replaces the 2009 Air Force rules. View the handbook here.

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“To all the Seniors who’ve been telling people to stop using Senior, apparently now you’re officially a Senior, Senior,” one airmen commented on Wright’s announcement.

The changes are part of an initiative to address dated amendments.

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Dayton VA loses $90K in equipment. Why that’s ‘as close to zero as we can reasonably get.’

Published: Wednesday, July 11, 2018 @ 6:39 PM


            Dayton VA Medical Center. JIM NOELKER/STAFF
Dayton VA Medical Center. JIM NOELKER/STAFF

The Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center lost more than $90,000 in equipment between 2014 and 2017, according to a new investigation.

Dayton VA Public Affairs Officer Ted Froats said the number, which equates to about $22,500 a year, represents a fraction of the Dayton VA’s yearly inventory — around .0002 percent.

“The reality of running a 24/7 hospital with 500,000 outpatient visits a year is that that’s probably as close to zero as we can reasonably get,” Froats told this news organization in an email.

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VA facilities across the country lost more than $1 million in that time period, according to a WBNS-10TV investigation.

In Dayton, a total of $90,305 was lost.

John Hoellwarth, the national director of communications for AMVETS, said veterans deserve accountability regardless of the value.

“Whether it’s $1 million or $1.50, veterans deserve a VA that’s accountable,” Hoellwarth said.

Froats said that from 2015 to 2016, the Dayton VA cut their lost equipment per year in half, and the organization continued that progress into 2017.

The Dayton VA lost the least amount of equipment of the centers that were investigated. In Columbus, the VA facility lost $318,068.38; in Chillicothe, that number was $279,912.45.

The losses came even after the VA spent $24 million in Ohio to attach tracking devices to some equipment. The tracking devices, also known as real-time location systems or RTLS, either ping out a device’s location or allow a VA employee to scan for the items to keep track of them, according to the investigation.

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That doesn’t mean the devices will always work. According to records obtained as part of the investigation, the Dayton VA hired a contractor in 2014 to do an inventory of its equipment inventory listings, but the contractor left more than 1,000 items out of the inventory.

According to the records, the individuals that installed the RTLS in Dayton “did not perform well” and some of the devices were shown as being in rooms other than what they were, making the RTLS useless in the facility’s search for the lost items.

Records noted that the VA expected to find most or all of the missing equipment with the next inventory.

“It is our belief these items are not stolen and should be identified when the next wall-to-wall inventory is conducted,” the report reads.

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Froats said theft isn’t always the cause of losses, and items like stretchers or infusion pumps that travel with patients and can be mixed up in other units or even another hospital.

Froats said the Dayton VA prides itself on keeping track of its equipment.

“I’m a taxpayer, my boss is a taxpayer, her boss is a taxpayer,” Froats said. “We take lost equipment very seriously at the Dayton VAMC, and that’s why we’re proud to be the best in Ohio – successfully tracking 99.9998 percent of our annual inventory.”

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Thunderbirds celebrate milestone year representing US Air Force

Published: Tuesday, July 10, 2018 @ 9:05 AM

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The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have been roaring through the skies for 65 years.

The Thunderbirds are celebrating its 65th year of representing the U.S. Air Force. On May 25, 1953, the Air Force’s official air demonstration team, designated the 3600th Air Demonstration Unit, was activated at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona. The unit was named the “Thunderbirds” in part because of the strong Native American culture in Arizona.

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The first demonstration team flew and maintained the F-84G Thunderjet. “The straight-wing configuration of the F-84G was considered well suited for aerobatic and demonstration maneuvers, though the aircraft could not exceed the speed of sound,” according to the Thunderbirds team.

The Thunderbirds have traded aircraft throughout the years, flying the F-84F Thunderstreak, the F-105B Thunderchief, the F-100Ds and the F-16.

<p> FILE - In this June 18, 2010 file photo the U. S. Air Force Thunderbirds practice a maneuver during a rehearsal in preparation for a weekend air show, in Oklahoma City. The U.S. Air Force says a member of its Thunderbirds flight demonstration team was killed in the crash of his F-16 fighter jet in central Nevada. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki,File) </p>(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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The Thunderbirds did not fly at the Vectren Dayton Air Show this year. Military jet teams like the Thunderbirds and the Navy Blue Angels are the biggest draw for the air show and organizers bank on their appearance to bring tens of thousands to the grounds at James M. Cox Dayton International Airport. The show can draw as many as 65,000 or more spectators when the teams fly, officials say.

In 2016, the Thunderbirds crashed prior to the Dayton Air Show, and injured Pilot Capt. Erik Gonsalves and Tactical Aircraft Maintainer Staff Sgt. Kenneth Cordova. The F-16 sustained significant damage, and the Thunderbirds cancelled all performances at the air show.

WATCH the Thunderbirds commemorate 65 years.

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Verizon’s new military discount program could save you hundreds

Published: Thursday, July 05, 2018 @ 10:53 AM

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Verizon’s new military discount program could save you hundreds of dollars every year.

Last week, Verizon launched its new program — active military, veterans and Gold Star families are eligible to save up to $40 every month on their cellphone plans. The deal offers $15 off regular monthly prices on one phone plan. It also offers $30 off on two lines or $40 off on three lines under Verizon’s unlimited plans.

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Military families can receive a $200 Mastercard prepaid card when activating a new 4G LTE smartphone on a new line of service, according to the company.

To get the military discount, simply login to your account and choose the unlimited plans you need.

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