What is AFSOC?

Photo of U.S. Air Force planeI’d like to share a little about what AFSOC is and why the protagonist in my School Marshal series is a retired AFSOC pararescueman.

As many fiction writers do, I wanted to incorporate some of my personal life into my stories. I wanted my protagonist to have military experience and be someone who wanted to help others. My son-in-law, who will soon retire from the U.S. Air Force after twenty years, told me about AFSOC. The AFSOC motto is “That Others May Live”. It wasn’t long into my research, I knew my “good guy” was a retired AFSOC pararescueman.

A behind the story detail: The first base my son-in-law was assigned to in the United States was Hurlburt Field in Florida, also home to AFSOC headquarters.

You can read more about AFSOC here. The following is an excerpt from the United States Air Force Special Operations Command’s (AFSOC) website:

Air Commandos – Quiet Professionals

Air Force Special Operations Command was established May 22, 1990, with headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Fla. AFSOC is one of ten major Air Force commands, and the Air Force component of U.S. Special Operations Command, a unified command located at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.

Vision

Air Commandos, highly trained, capable and ready to conduct special operations…Anytime…Anyplace

Mission

Organize, train and equip Airmen to execute global special operations…We are America’s Air Commandos

The command’s core missions include battlefield air operations, agile combat support, aviation foreign internal defense, information operations/military support operations, precision strike, specialized air mobility; command and combat; and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

Lt. General Brad Heithold, Commander of AFSOC said, ‘“Right’ is when our Air Commandos step up to the plate and stop at nothing to get the mission done. ‘Right’ is also when we, together with our community, join forces to take care of our Air Commando family. ‘Right’ is when we take a pause from the daily grind to recognize the outstanding achievements of our Air Commandos. ‘Right’ does not mean perfection, although that’s what we strive for. It means we’re holding ourselves to high standards, leading from the front, and taking care of one another.”

In a post on the AFSOC website, Lt. General Heithold proudly boasts about a few specific examples of what AFSOC does ‘Right’. Read the full post here: ‘“Right’ is about Air Commando pride, dedication, achievement”.

During the holidays, while most people are celebrating with family and friends, we should all remember the military who are sacrificing to make sure we have the freedom to celebrate.

Have a safe and happy new year!

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2015 DoD Warrior Games

Photo of wounded vets playing wheelchair basketballCount down to the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games. June 19-28 at Marine Corps Base in Quantico, VA. You can find out more information, see the scheduled games and watch live via DEFENSE TV from the Department of Defense website. 2015 Warrior Games

Haven’t heard of the DoD Warrior Games? DoD explains it best: The 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games will feature eight sporting events with approximately 200 athletes representing teams from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, U.S. Special Operations Command and British Armed Forces. Adaptive sports and athletic reconditioning activities play a fundamental role in the recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration of our service members. The events of the 2015 Department of Defense Warrior Games embody the spirit of the U.S. and British Armed Forces, and celebrate the triumphs, personal courage and of our wounded, ill and injured service members.

Go Air Force!!

Posted by Robin Lyons, Author on Friday, June 12, 2015

48 Hour Battle

USAF soldiers receiving medals.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold (far left), the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, and Navy Vice Adm. Sean A. Pybus, the deputy commander of U.S. Special Operations Command applaud (from left to right) Senior Airman Goodie J. Goodman, Tech. Sgt. Matthew J. Greiner, Senior Airman Dustin T. Temple. They are credited with saving the lives of more than 80 Army special forces and Afghan commando teammates by providing flawless air-to-ground integration in the special operations battlefield. (U.S. Air Force photo/Airman 1st Class Ryan Conroy)

If you’re not a frequent flyer of United States Air Force news you probably missed this article. I couldn’t cut a single word off for you to click through to read, so I included everything. If you’d like to read the original article published May 7, 2015, on the USAF website you may do so here:

http://1.usa.gov/1ch1Erb

There is nothing Hollywood about the action these brave soldiers took or the danger they experienced. This is the real stuff that heroes are made from.

POPE ARMY AIRFIELD, N.C. (AFNS) — Three special tactics combat controllers were awarded the Air Force Cross and two Silver Star medals here May 6, for extraordinary heroism and gallantry in the face of danger while on a deployment to Afghanistan in September 2014.

The Airmen, all from the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, were recognized for their superior integration of air and ground power against armed enemies of the U.S.

Lt. Gen. Bradley A. Heithold, the commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, presented Senior Airman Dustin T. Temple the seventh Air Force Cross since 9/11.

He also presented Tech. Sgt. Matthew J. Greiner and Senior Airman Goodie J. Goodman the Silver Star medal — the 31st and 32nd Silver Star medals for the special tactics community since 9/11.

“You are the guardians who run toward the sound of the guns and not away from them,” Heithold said. “Your bravery, your intensity and your pure guts … you epitomize what being an air commando is all about.

“Not everyone deserves to be called a hero … you do,” Heithold said.

This is only the second battle, which the Air Force has been involved in, within the last 15 years that resulted in an Air Force Cross and multiple Silver Star medals.

The three combat controllers were embedded with a U.S. special forces team in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when their team infiltrated a well-known enemy staging point by helicopter on Sept. 27, 2014.

Their mission was to disrupt insurgent operations, including drug and weapons cache, and enemy command and control. Their unit came under heavy machine gun, rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire from approximately 100 insurgents who would not back down.

The combat controllers acted on instinct and training and immediately assessed the situation before jumping to action.

“It was unlike anything I could have ever imagined … unlike anything you can prepare yourself for,” Temple said. “It all came back to training for me at that point. I remember thinking back to those days in training that were really tough, and now I realize they were preparing me for something like this.”

A teammate, Army Sgt. 1st Class Andrew Weathers, was gravely wounded by a sniper, and Temple put himself in the direct line of fire to drag his wounded teammate from a rooftop. At this same time, Goodman was under a barrage of machine gun fire, with bullets missing his head by inches, according to the award citation. Still, Goodman secured his rooftop position in order to repel the insurgent force with close air support and his personal weapon.

With friendly forces taking fire from within 200 meters, Greiner and Goodman began coordinating multiple close air support strikes from AH-64 Apache on the closest threats, while simultaneously coordinating mortar fire on enemy forces 300 meters away.

With a medical evacuation helicopter inbound, Temple once again risked his own life, carrying his wounded teammate across 100 meters of open terrain to a landing zone.

As overwhelming and accurate enemy machine gun fire suppressed Temple and his team, he remained on the open landing zone providing cover fire while his teammates pulled back.

After he returned to the compound, enemy fighters surged within 40 meters after intercepted communications stated, “Take the Americans alive.” Temple immediately directed F-16 Fighting Falcon strafing runs to repel the assault.

As the supplies dwindled during the 48-hour firefight, Temple braved open terrain several times to retrieve critical ammunition from a resupply helicopter. At the same time, Greiner coordinated precision airstrikes to cover Temple and the other special forces team members.

That Others May Live

“These Airmen are much of the reason I am standing here today,” said Army Capt. Evan Lacenski, the special forces team leader for the combat controllers while deployed. “They were faced with one of the most significant battles of Operation Enduring Freedom, in my opinion, and they acted professionally, valorously, flawlessly and executed the mission. I couldn’t ask for a better group of Airmen.”

The men are credited with saving the lives of 21 U.S. Special Operations Command forces and approximately 60 Afghanistan commandos.

“These special tactics Airmen turned the tide of the battle with heroism and extraordinary competence. I’m privileged to be on this stage with them this morning,” said Navy Vice Adm. Sean A. Pybus, the deputy commander of SOCOM. “These are the best of us.”

The event drew more than 450 attendees, including the Airmen’s families, friends and colleagues. Pybus and Heithold both took time to thank the families for their support.

“I want to thank their families for allowing them to serve at AFSOC, and supporting their service … You have our gratitude and our enduring thanks,” Pybus said.

The Airmen’s integration of airpower during the battle tallied a total of 80 airstrikes, eliminating a confirmed 38 insurgents, destroying 28 vehicles, 17 buildings and 32 enemy fighting positions.

“Every combat controller I know has the ability and training to do what it takes,” Temple said. “I know that any of those guys would have my back in a situation like this. That’s just the level of expertise and competence in our community.”

The three combat controllers were all awarded the Bronze Star medal for the same tour. Greiner’s Bronze Star was with Valor. Additionally, other Airmen of the 21st STS received 19 Bronze Star medals, nine Air Force Combat Action Medals, and more than 40 other medals for their actions for the same deployment, adding to the legacy of the 21st STS, the most highly decorated unit in the Air Force since Vietnam.

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