Veterans United Home Loans in Scott Air Force Base hosts grand re-opening

SCOTT AFB – The O’Fallon-Shiloh Chamber of Commerce joined Veterans United Home Loans as they celebrated the expansion of their offices at 735 Seibert Road, Suite 3, in O’Fallon, Illinois.  They celebrated with a ribbon cutting ceremony and open house for real estate agent partners and clients on Wednesday, April 3.

On the same day, employees at Veterans United presented the local chapter of Disabled American Veterans with a donation of $5,000 through the company’s philanthropic arm, Veterans United Foundation. These funds will be used to help serve disabled Veterans in the St. Louis region through the Fisher House at Jefferson Barracks, meal programs, State Veterans Homes, honor flights and the Golden Age Games.

“We are proud to support such an incredible organization that is enhancing lives every single day,” said Michelle Dapkus, a loan officer for Veterans United at Scott Air Force Base.

Shiloh partners with Scott Air Base to improve water quality

SHILOH – At the Shiloh Village Board of Trustees on Monday, Mayor Jim Vernier was authorized to sign the lower silver creek watershed memorandum of understanding. 

The memorandum of understanding is a partnership between the Village of Shiloh and Scott Air Force Base to work together to encourage voluntary improvements to improve water quality and implement stormwater management practices. 

Shiloh trustees authorized Vernier to sign the voluntary memorandum of understanding. 

Trustees then authorized Vernier to sign the Yorktown Golf Course management agreement amendment for the 2018-19 contract. The contract will increase from $99,700 per year to $110,000. 

Trustees authorized Vernier to sign an agreement for highway construction and maintenance between the Village and St. Clair County for Shiloh Station Road sidewalks and for the bike path adjacent to Engelmann Farm Park.

The agreement is also for the streets in phases six, seven and eight of the Villages at Wingate Subdivision for maintenance. 

Vernier also approved improvements to South Second Street and East Street in Shiloh.

Scott honors fallen soldier

By 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

The motorcade for U.S. Army Sgt. Holli Bolinski passes the Heritage Drive gate during a dignified transfer at Scott Air Force Base, Ill., March 18, 2019. Bolinksi was assigned to the 657th Transportation Company, 419th Transportation Battalion, 103rd Sustainment Command, Mount Vernon, Ill.. Bolinski was killed in action on March 5, 2019 while on duty in Kuwait. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Chad Gorecki)

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Team Scott honored U.S. Army Sgt. Holli Bolinski, who was killed on March 5, 2019 while deployed to Kuwait, with a dignified transfer, March 18, 2019. After her family had a moment to say goodbye, members of the Patriot Guard Riders escorted Bolinski’s motorcade across the base and to her final resting place in Pinckeyville, Ill. Hundreds of service members and civilians lined the street to pay their respects as the procession made its way down Heritage Drive. 

Family members of U.S. Army Sgt. Holli Bolinski, 657th Transportation Company, 419th Transportation Battalion, 103rd Sustainment Command, Mount Vernon, Ill., say their final goodbyes to Bolinski, March 18, 2019 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. Bolinski died while serving in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Miranda Simpson)
Members of the U.S. Army Honor Guard carry the casket of Army Sgt. Holli Bolinski during her dignified transfer, March 18, 2019, at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. After her family had a moment to say their goodbyes on the flight line, the Patriot Guard Riders motorcycle organization led the motorcade to her final resting place in Pinckneyville, Ill. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tara Stetler)

Scott AFB commander selected to be SECAF advisor, departs in March

Col. Leslie Maher 
375th Air Mobility Wing and
Installation commander

SCOTT AFB – Col. Leslie Maher, 375th Air Mobility Wing and Installation commander, has been selected to be the Senior Military Assistant to the Secretary of the Air Force, and will report to her new duties in early March.  Assuming command of 375th AMW will be Col. Joseph Meyer, currently serving as its vice wing commander. He will serve in that position until Col. J. Scot Heathman takes command in late summer, who is currently serving as the vice commander at Fairchild Air Force Base, Washington.

Maher, who took command Feb. 20, 2018, said that while she is honored to be selected to serve for the SECAF, her heart – and family – will remain at Scott AFB.

“It’s been an incredible whirlwind ride this last year and it hurts to leave so many things mid-stride, but this wing has incredible, dedicated and talented people who will carry on and that makes it a little more bearable,” she said.

Gold Star families honored during Snow Ball Express

Students from the Alton High School JROTC program salute Gold Star families as they as they start their four day trip to Disney World as part of the Snow Ball Express Dec. 8, 2018 at the St. Louis-Lambert airport in St. Louis, Missouri.

By Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Hudson, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — The U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America performed for Gold Star families at the St.Louis-Lambert Airport in Missouri Dec. 8 as they started their journey to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, as part of the Snow Ball Express.

Gold Star families are the family members of fallen military members, and the Snow Ball Express is a four-day trip sponsored by American Airlines and the Gary Sinise Foundation to recognize their courage and strength.

The band Starlifter, part of the Band of Mid-America, performs for Gold Star families during the Snow Ball Express at the St. Louis-Lambert airport, Dec. 8, 2018, in St. Louis, Missouri. The Snow Ball Express is an event organized to give Gold Star families a four-day trip to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The trip is sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation and American Airlines.

Starlifter, one of the two rock bands within BOMA, performed during this event as a thank you to these families.     Members of local JROTC units greeted the families while cheering them on with American flags and noisemakers as they walked through the airport.

“It’s an honor for sure,” said Tech. Sgt. Mike Correa, Band of Mid-America director of operations. “Getting to play for American heroes, we’re really honored to be a part of this event.”

Col. Peter Wegler, Alton High Scool JROTC senior aerospace science instructor, who organized the sendoff and the volunteers for the event, wanted to make sure the trip started in a special way.

“It is a thank you to families who have lost someone in service to our great country,” said Wegler.“The families left behind are honored during this event in recognition of their courage and strength.”

Wegler asked his students and other JROTC cadets from around St. Louis to participate in the event as a thank you to the gold star families.

Gold Star families are cheered on as they enter the St. Louis-Lambert airport Dec. 8, 2018 in St. Louis, Missouri. Families from all over the country were flown to Disney World in Orlando, Florida, as part of the Snow Ball Express, a four-day trip sponsored by the Gary Sinise Foundation and American Airlines to honor Gold Star families.

“Anytime we’re doing community service it’s an opportunity to live the mission of JROTC,” said Wegler. “Developing citizens of character that are dedicated to servicing their nations and their community.”

For the BOMA, events like this highlight the importance and reach of their mission, said Correa. The band is always traveling and performing at events, but the honor of playing for Gold Star families isn’t lost on the group.

“This is one of the major parts of the band’s mission, to honor, inspire and connect,” said Correa. “That first one, honor, is what we’re doing right now, honoring our fallen heroes. It’s a huge part of not only Starlifter, but the whole Air Force Band.”

Altogether the event was a great way to show support for these families, especially during the holiday season, said Wegler.

“The event was a great opportunity for us to give a little back to those who lost so much” said Wegler. “I thought it went great.”

Chapel provides “home cooked” meals for dorm Airmen

Tech. Sgt. Aisha Terry, 375th Security Forces Squadron NCO in-charge of the Visitor Control Center, greets Airmen during a weekly dorm dinner Dec. 11, 2018, held at the Belleville Dorm Dayroom on Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The 375th Air Mobility Wing chapel staff manages a weekly “dorm dinner” program that allows organizations to provide home cooked dinners for Airmen. Along with yummy meals, the effort gets them out of the dorms to socialize and interact with each other and many members of the community both on and off base.

By Airman 1st Class Isaiah Gonzalez, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Life in the dorms can get a little bit lonely for some Airmen, and that’s one reason why the chapel staff have dedicated themselves to providing a venue for connections.

The 375th Air Mobility Wing chapel staff manages a weekly “dorm dinner” program that allows organizations to provide home cooked dinners for Airmen.  Along with yummy meals, the effort gets them out of the dorms to socialize and interact with each other and many members of the community both on and off base.

“The goal of the weekly dorm dinner program is to create community and build connections,” said Chaplain (1st Lt.) Anthony Angell. “Think of the dorm dinner as a weekly Thanksgiving where members of this Air Force family have the opportunity to come together, break bread and socialize at the ‘home’ of the dorm residents.”

The dinner is free and informal, and many are not aware that other Airmen who are in the ranks of E-1 through E-4 are also invited to attend.

Angell added, that “anytime you get people together and add food, good things happen. These events also provide a sort of ‘safe haven’ where interactions between unit personnel and the junior enlisted are in a neutral, non-threatening environment.”

The dinners have been well received by Airmen for several years with an average of 80 in attendance.  Sears said the chapel team have also added a cooking competition, in which the four highest rated units go head-to-head to determine the unit that prepares the best dorm dinner.

Sears said he hopes that even more Airmen feel welcomed to attend the dinners, especially if they will be here during the holidays.

Angell added, “I believe we all enjoy being cared for and a home cooked meal is a timeless token of appreciation.”

The dorm dinner take place every Tuesday in the Belleville Dorm Dayroom at 5 p.m., and the next one occurs on Dec. 18.  The chapel provides the funds and the units will purchase, prepare and serve the Airmen each week. Units or organizations willing to host the dinners should contact the chapel staff.

Team Scott graduates, inducts new Honorary Commanders

Inductees of the Honorary Commander program are matched with a military commander of a unit with the goal to educate and increase their knowledge and understanding of the Air Force and the installation. Col. Leslie Maher, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, gave her charge to the new team to be an active participant. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melissa Estévez)

By Karen Petitt, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Team Scott honored 27 outgoing civic leaders and welcomed 29 new ones during an Honorary Commander graduation and induction ceremony Oct. 19.

The Honorary Commander program matches community leaders of influence with a military commander of a unit with the goal to educate and increase their knowledge and understanding of the Air Force and the installation.

“This provides us an opportunity to build strong, positive, and lasting relationships with local community leaders while exploring mutual areas of interest and increasing public understanding of our military missions, our assets, and our people,” said Col. Leslie Maher, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander. “And, it’s those relationships that I really want us to commit to

Since the program started in 2016, the honorary commanders have participated in squadron changes of commands, promotions, and retirements, and quarterly tours of various mission areas on base, as well as special events such as the Air Force ball, the Centennial kickoff, airshow and other related events, as well as a fly-away tour to Macdill and Tyndall Air Force Bases in Florida.

Several civics, such as Patty Barnett, Explore St. Louis, felt that trip was truly a highlight of the program.

Team Scott honored 27 outgoing civic leaders during an Honorary Commander graduation and induction ceremony Oct. 19, 2018, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. Since the program started in 2016, the honorary commanders have participated in squadron changes of commands, promotions, and retirements, and quarterly tours of various mission areas on base, as well as special events such as the Air Force Ball, the Centennial kickoff, airshow and other related events, as well as a fly-away tour to Macdill and Tyndall Air Force Bases in Florida. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melissa Estévez)

“Attending the Community Relations tour was one of the best parts of my life…seriously! The tour was perfectly planned and the things we experienced during our visit to Tyndall and MacDill AFB was more than expected. I loved being a part of the Honorary Commander program and want to remain involved in one way or another. The people I have worked with have been amazing, and I wouldn’t trade any of them. I hope to be able to maintain the relationships that have been built. It truly has been my honor to work with each of you!”

Barnett, along with three other civic leaders were indeed asked to stay another two years as an alumni committee along with the Class of 2020, to continue to chart a way forward to ensure the program stays vibrant during commander turnovers and to follow up on partnerships that have developed during the past two years. The other alumni committee members are Dr. Janet Fontenot, Southwestern Illinois College, Dr. Lauren Hood-Olson, Olson Orthodontics, and Brad Reinhardt of Giltner St. Louis.

Participating along with the 375th AMW are the following units: 635th Supply Chain Operations Wing; 932nd Airlift Wing (Reserve), Air Force Network Integration Center; Air Combat Command’s Cyberspace Support Squadron and the 345th Recruiting Squadron.

While the program is meant to primarily educate those who are not as familiar with the military or how it operates, there have been several blossoming partnerships from these relationships such as the one the 635th SCOW has with their honorary commander, Dennis Wilmsmeyer who manages a large logistics operations—America’s Central Port.

Col. David Sanford, previous 635th SCOW commander, explained that “Dennis Wilmsmeyer is a great fit for the SCOW … and has partnered with the Gateway Logistics Office Association Chapter to provide professional development tours to logisticians assigned to Scott AFB. These tours have provided insight to Air Force logisticians on warehousing techniques and how to maximize multi-modal shipping. Additionally, he has leveraged relationships in the media to highlight the work performed by the SCOW.”

Alumni committee members Patty Barnett, Dr. Janet Fontenot, and Susan Holloway, pose for a photo during an Honorary Commander graduation and induction ceremony Oct. 19, 2018, at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. The purpose of the alumni committee is to keep up the consistency of the program after the military commanders have been replaced. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Melissa Estévez)

John Marquart, Shiloh’s Village Administrator, spoke highly of his relationship with the 932nd AW team saying that it had been beneficial in understanding the missions and how the commander leads the wing.

“I felt like the Village of Shiloh has a good relationship with the base, but that this program really strengthens it. I’ve learned things about the Air Force I never knew … keep it going!” he said.

Seven members of the group were added late in the season due to various reasons and will continue their journey with the new class of 2020. After the induction ceremony, Maher gave her charge to the new team to be an active participant, and let the graduates know that “they’ll always be part of our Team Scott family as we look for ways to stay connected. We don’t need a formal program to keep reaching out to each other. We need you to keep advocating for our Airmen, and we appreciate your continued support!”

 

ALS class honors Gold Star families

Eliana, Tristan and Caleb, children of fallen Master Sgt. Gregory Kuhse from the 3rd Manpower Requirements Squadron, receive coins from Col. Leslie Maher, 357th Air Mobility Wing commander, at the Class 18-G Airman Leadership School graduation, Oct. 11. This moment was part of the school’s new legacy project meant to honor past service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tara Stetler)

By Senior Airman Tara Stetler, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — Before students of Class 18-G received their diplomas at the latest Airman Leadership School graduation, five members of the audience were called to the stage: a blonde woman wearing a set of dog tags and a mother trailed by three children. After several moments, these Gold Star family members were met with a standing ovation from the audience.

This moment was part of the Chief Master Sgt. Bud Andrews Airman Leadership School’s new legacy project, which aimed to recognize veterans, fallen service members and their families.

Class 18-G chose to honor Maj. Phyllis Pelky and Master Sgt. Gregory Kuhse, who were killed in a 2015 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, by recognizing their families during the ceremony. Pelky’s sister, Cathy Berlin-Obregon, and Kuhse’s wife, Torri, and children were the five honored at the graduation.

“It lets them know that they are not forgotten,” said Tech. Sgt. Charles Hord, 375th Force Support Squadron Chief Master Sgt. Bud Andrews ALS commandant, and founder of the legacy project. “Leadership-wise, you want to be able to communicate with your Airmen the importance of the sacrifices others have made before you.”

Senior Airman Donovan White and Senior Airman Logan Trackwell volunteered to coordinate the event, which fell on the three-year anniversary of the crash.

“It gave me a deeper sense of appreciation for what others have gone through, what they’ve lost, and the impact of that missing part in the families’ lives,” said Trackwell.

White said he hoped the project showed the Obregon and Kuhse family that they are still appreciated and not forgotten.

Senior Airman Payton Long, 375th Civil Engineer Squadron structural apprentice, presents Cathy Berlin-Obregon a plaque honoring her sister, Air Force Academy instructor Maj. Phillis Pelky, at the Class 18-G Airman Leadership School graduation. Pelky was killed in a 2015 helicopter crash in Afghanistan, which also took the life of Kuhse. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Tara Stetler)

“It’s about just letting them know, ‘Hey, we still care about your family members. Their sacrifice is still resonating with us,’” said White. “As we’re becoming leaders and going into the supervisory position, it’s important for us to reflect back on past leaders.”

Torri said she felt the class did a good job of honoring her late husband.

“I just don’t want him to be forgotten,” said Torri, explaining how she wishes he’s remembered as a “fun, all-around caring, loving guy” rather than “just a name on a page and some story about the helicopter crash.”

One of the main goals of the legacy program is to bring veterans and fallen Airmen’s names into the spotlight and remind others that there are entire stories attached to them; stories that must be remembered as Airmen grow into leaders.

“When Airmen read [about fallen service members], especially in the Professional Development Guides [while] studying for promotions, you don’t think about the real-life story or the families,” said Kuhse. “You just learn it, so I think seeing Greg’s children and me, maybe it makes it real and helps people appreciate what they have: their families, their life, their careers. It can all be just gone in an instant, and life is fleeting.”

 

Scott AFB honors retirees at event

Col. Robert Grimmet, 375th Mission Support Group deputy commander, speaks with retired Air Force Col. Jim Harper. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Chad Gorecki)

By Airman 1st Class Chad Gorecki, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

SCOTT AFB –  Col. Leslie Maher, 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, welcomed retirees to Scott Air Force Base’s 33rd annual Retiree Appreciation Day, Oct. 6. 

Retirees were given the opportunity obtain information from several booths including the American Legion, Red Cross, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Airman and Family Readiness Center as well as have the ability to receive immunizations and update identification cards. 

Col. Robert Grimmet, 375th Mission Support Group deputy commander, was the keynote speaker for the event. Grimmet spoke on connectedness and the retirees’ service during the event after referring to Vince Lombardi. 

“You are brothers and sisters in arms,” said Grimmet. “It’s what connects us together.” 

Grimmet went on to add “It’s about your stories, about our stories, the stories we can never forget. More importantly, it’s what you did to ensure our freedom and our democracy so we can stand here today and raise the children we raise here in the cornfields of Middle America.”

Airman journeys from pro Australian basketball player to officer

First Lt. Brittnie Davis, Air Mobility Command intelligence officer, shares how hard work and determination helped her achieve her goals of playing basketball and becoming an officer. (Photo by Airman 1st Class Tara Stetler)

By Airman 1st Class Tara Stetler, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, IL. – “When you first go out there, you’re nervous,” said 1st Lt. Brittnie Davis, Air Mobility Command intelligence officer, as she described what it’s like to be on the court during a professional Australian basketball game.

“You have the lights on you. You have people in the crowd. You put a lot of pressure on yourself thinking, ‘Oh, I’ve got to do good,’ but after the ball tips, your focus is all on basketball at that point.”

Davis’ formal basketball career began when she asked Troy University’s coach if she could try-out as a walk on after she was not recruited.

“He said no one had walked onto the team in 10 years, and I was up for the challenge,” said Davis. “My freshman year I walked on.”

Making the team was only the beginning. It would take hours practice for Davis to work her way onto the court.

“There were girls who could out-shoot me, who were faster than me, but I was like, ‘I have to out-work them,’” said Davis. “Eventually I was able to shoot better and  run faster because of all the hard work.”

Davis’ dedication to improvement impressed her coach, who offered her a full scholarship for her sophomore year.

“By my junior year I was starting,” said Davis, “and I led my team in scoring my senior year.”

Her motivation and talent did not go unnoticed by her teammates, some of whom were Australian exchange students. They connected her with the Waratah League, a semi-professional league in New South Wales, Australia.

“One of them came to me and said ‘Hey, what do you think about playing in Australia?’ and just like that I ended up on a 14-hour flight to Australia,” said Davis.

Davis played for the Newcastle Hunters, one of 10 teams in the league.

“Going around, travelling, seeing different parts of a whole different continent was amazing,” said Davis. “The competition was different compared to college. It was, of course, a lot better, so it challenged me even more to play at a different level.”

After a year with the Hunters, she decided to return to the United States, but she began to miss the camaraderie she’d felt on her team. That was when she became interested in joining the military.

“Connecting with the team, it just wasn’t hard because you have one goal,” said Davis. “That’s the one thing I missed because you have one goal, and you’re fighting for the same thing. I was like, ‘Do I really want to find a regular job?’”

In 2012, Davis enlisted as an x-ray technician. However, with a master’s degree under her belt, she was determined to commission.

“I always knew I wanted to become an officer,” said Davis, “and I knew the only way I would do that is to do better than my peers, and that’s not stepping on people or being mean to other people to try to get up. If you see where you can help someone else, you help them, but you just give it your all regardless, and it does pay off.”

Davis was rewarded for her dedication when she became an intelligence officer in 2016.

“Hard work pays off,” she said. “I know that sounds cliché, but I’m serious. It works!”

General Maryanne Miller takes command of U.S. Air Mobility Command at Scott AFB

Gen. Maryanne Miller takes command of the U.S. Air Mobiliy Command with
a ceremonial flag exchange (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

By Annabelle Knef

SCOTT AFB – U.S. Air Force General Maryanne Miller took command of the Air Mobility Command at Scott Air Force Base on Friday, having succeeded Air Force Gen. Carlton Everhart II. 

“It is an honor and tremendous privilege to take the flag to lead Air Mobility Command,” Miller said. 

Miller is a command pilot with more than 4,800 flying hours in numerous aircraft. She has commanded two wings and held staff leadership positions at the unit, air staff and joint staff levels.

Prior to Miller’s current assignment, she was the Chief of Air Force Reserve, and Commander of Air Force Reserve Command. 

Miller said that Air Mobility is at the heart of our nation’s military response. 

“Through airlift, aerial refueling, aeromedical evacuation, mission support, and contingency response we ensure speed of delivery, create decision space for our senior leaders and communicate our resolve as a nation,” she said. 

Miller said that mobility operations must move at the speed of war to ensure that we achieve all of our key objectives in a contested environment. 

“This imperative is foundational to maintaining our competitive edge. As a total force, we will continue to improve our readiness posture and sharpen the edge of our rapid and resilient operations. And we actively stand watch in our role to support and sustain an effective nuclear response,” she said. 

Miller said that there is a common bond which guides all individuals, Airmen and public servants – “the bond of our core values and the inspiration to be a part of something much bigger than ourselves.” 

“As Airmen, we invest in serving this great nation and each other.” 

Air Force musicians to perform at SWIC

SCOTT AFB, IL – Members of the USAF Band of Mid-America will present a recital at Schmidt Art Center, Southwestern Illinois College, 200 Carlyle Ave, Belleville, IL on Tuesday, September 25th at 7:00 p.m.  Admission to the concert is free and tickets are not required.

Presented in partnership with SWIC Music Department and SWICarts Series, this is a family-friendly, all-ages event.

This concert features brass, woodwind, percussion, vocalists, and rhythm section members of the USAF Band of Mid-America.  These professional musicians represent the skill and professionalism of the United States Air Force as musical ambassadors before military and civilian audiences throughout the band’s ten-state area of responsibility. 

This recital offers an eclectic mix of solo, duo and chamber ensembles performing works from the renaissance period to contemporary styles.  Consider it a musical ‘grab bag,’ sure to inspire and entertain audience members of all ages.

Small ensembles may be available for performances and interviews during local news and public interest programs. Please contact (618) 229-8133 or email chantelle.friedman@us.af.mil to make arrangements.

2 September 1917 – The First Flight at Scott Field

Maj. George E.A. Reinburg (front seat) and Mr. William H. Couch (civilian instructor pilot) prepare to take off on the first flight from Scott Field on Sept. 2, 1917

By Mark Wilderman, 375th Air Mobility Wing History Office

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. — During WWI, Scott Field’s primary mission was to train pilots and ground crews for the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) being deployed to France to fight Imperial Germany.  On 2 September 1917, the very first training flight occurred at Scott Field.

Background.  On 12 August 1917, Airmen of the 11th and 21st Aero Squadrons of the U.S. Army Air Service (consisting of 300 men) arrived at the newly-built Scott Field from Kelly Field near San Antonio, Texas.  At Kelly Field, the Airmen had been accustomed to living in canvas tents with dust and cacti.  The sight of the new white wooden buildings at Scott Field made the Airmen cheer as they marched up the streets on Sunday morning.  Construction of Scott Field was completed on 1 September 1917, slightly over two months after work had begun.  .  However, Scott Field had no airplanes, as the first shipment had been delayed in transit.  It is believed that one or two Standard J-1 trainer aircraft were borrowed from Rantoul Field, Illinois to make Scott Fields’s first training flight.

The First Training Flight.  The first flight at Scott Field was made by Major George E.A. Reinburg (Scott Field Commander) and Mr. William H. Crouch (civilian flight instructor).

The Inaugural 1917 Flying Season.  Soon after the first flight, there were at least seven Standard J-1s at Scott Field, before the superior Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny” trainers arrived in early September.  More suitable to pilot training, the Jenny soon replaced the Standard J-1 as the primary training machine. A distinctive feature of the Jenny was its dual control.  The eight cylinder, 90-horsepower Jenny could be operated from either the front or rear seat position. With each of the hangars capable of housing six airplanes, Scott’s full assignment was expected to be 72 airplanes.  Formal flying instruction began on 11 September 1917 when civilian instructor pilot T.C. Jones took Cadet James H. Maupin fir the first airplane training flight, over nearly 100 envious cadets watching from the ground.  On 28 September 1917, pilot trainee, Cadet Merrit O. White, made the first solo flight.  Scott Field’s first aircraft mishap occurred on 17 September 1917, when instructor Curtis Jones’ Jenny #13 plunged to the ground with its nose, turning completely over.  Fortunately, Mr. Jones was not seriously injured.  A greater mishap occurred the next day, when Sgt A.L. Alexander, a 30-year-old aircraft mechanic, was killed instantly when a spinning propeller struck him on the back of the head, a sobering reminder of how dangerous early flight could be.

The flying cadets received only the rudiments of flying and airplane maintenance at Scott Field.  By the end of September, flying instruction had progressed to the point where it was not uncommon for visitors to see as many as 15 airplanes in the air at once.  Because there were no paved runways, chaos was avoided by requiring student pilots to take off and land from a large circle located in the center of the flying field. By the end of September, the Airmen of the 11th and 21st Aero Squadrons were joined by the 85th and 86th Aero Squadrons from Kelly Field and 20 aviation students from the Ground School at Champaign, Illinois, bringing Scott Field’s population close to its capacity of 1000 men.

In addition to pilot training, an Airplane Mechanics School was organized to give instruction on such subjects as remodeling and rebuilding, crew chief duties, motor repair, woodworking, propeller making, rigging, and aligning. An Enlisted Man’s School and a Transportation School were also established.

When the 1917 flying season ended on 16 December.  24 cadet had completed the Reserve military aviator course and received commissions as second lieutenants with another 56 cadets completing their flying training requirements at airfields in France or at other fields in the U.S., possibly due to a shortage of airplanes and instructors at Scott Field.   Lieutenant Paul Prevost, temporarily on loan from the French Army, and civilian instructors Couch, Hill, Jones, and Lewis guided these first students through the trials and thrills of flying. By mid-December, the civilian instructors had left for Gerstner Field at Lake Charles, Louisiana.  Little else is known of the 1917 pilot training program. The Allies’ urgent need for aerial firepower and reconnaissance on the Western Front meant that the 1917 pilot training program at Scott Field had to be developed with all haste.. Lacking the benefit of an extensive, formalized training program, each student was forced to pick up the basics of flying as best he could.

Sources:  375th Airlift Wing History Office Archive; The Illustrated History of Scott AFB, 1917-1987 by Betty R. Kennedy, Military Airlift Command History Office, September 1987

Cyber Operations Center opens on Scott AFB

Col. Leslie Maher 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, and the official party cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Cyber Operations Center, Aug. 23 2018 at Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The CyOC will act as a centralized reporting agency for over 14,000 users on Scott AFB, including it’s vital mission partners.

By Airman 1st Class Nathaniel Hudson, 375th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. —  The 375th Air Mobility Wing commander, Col. Leslie Maher, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 23 to signify the stand-up of the Air Mobility Command’s first Cyber Operations Center.

Completion of the CyOC is a big step towards enhancing customer support for its 14,000 Scott AFB users and will help the 375th CS provide robust and essential support to base customers through remote, proactive network monitoring.

“The CyOC acts as a centralized reporting agency for over 14,000 users on Scott AFB, including its vital mission partners,” said Master Sgt. Michael Raby, 375th Communications Squadron CyOC section chief.

The CyOC is located within the 375th CS in building P-61 and integrates key mission partners in the same building to better coordinate and de-conflict communications events across the base. This also culminates a multi-year, $500,000 project to renovate the historic P-61 building.

“Previously the focus was on a reactive approach of waiting for communications failures to be reported by the customers,” said Raby. “The CyOC will take a proactive approach of actively monitoring network traffic communications failures and intrusion detection attempts to ensure integrity of the Scott Metropolitan Area Network.”

The 375th CS provides 24 hours a day, seven days a week, support to 31 base units, including United States Transportation Command, Headquarters Air Mobility Command, 18th Air Force, and three flying wings.

General Stephen Lyons takes command of U.S. Transcom at Scott Air Force Base

U.S. Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis (left), U.S. Air Force Gen. Darren W. McDew (center) and U.S. Army Gen. Stephen R. Lyons (right) pay respect to the colors during a U.S. Transportation Command change of command ceremony at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, Aug. 24, 2018. Lyons is the first U.S. Army officer to lead the command since it was established 31 years ago. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Paul Villanueva II)

By Annabelle Knef

SCOTT AFB – U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Lyons took command of the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base on Friday, having succeeded Air Force Gen. Darren McDew, who retired after 36 years of military service.

Officiating the change of command ceremony was the U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

“When you see the connectivity and the capability and this remarkable Transcom, any doubts about America’s military might fade immediately,” Mattis said. “What remains is the deep respect for how General McDew has lead the way during his tenure at the devotion of this joint command civil military team.”

“Thus recognition of the high expectations that we hold for General Lyons as he takes on the responsibilities of his new role of the commander of the U.S. transportation command – the ones that I call miracle workers,” he said.

Mattis recognized the importance of Transcom’s mission.

“From the earliest times in history, the ability to swiftly move troops and equipment to the front lines have been in the central condition for military victory,” Mattis said.

Mattis addressed McDew and said that he was “very sorry” to see him leave active service.

“You have shown an unwavering commitment to the protection of this nation from any foe,” Mattis said.

“On behalf of the Department of Defense, thank you to the entire Transcom team for your efforts,” he said. “All that you do to keep America strong – you can be certain that America and our allies feel the impact of your actions every day.”

Mattis quoted Winston Churchill, “Victory is the beautiful, bright colored flower. Transportation is the stem without which it could not have blossomed.”

In addressing Lyons, who was promoted to the rank of general prior to the Friday morning ceremony, Mattis said that as the primary guardian of the most responsive, strategic mobility capability in the world, “I trust you to tend to that stem for it will connote to be the backbone of our military success. I have no doubt your command will remain the best in the world.”

Gen. Lyons speaks with the assembled media following the change of command ceremony on Friday, August 25. (O’Fallon Weekly Photo by Annabelle Knef)

After the change of command ceremony, Lyons said that “it’s good to be home” after what he described as a short stint at the Pentagon.

Lyons congratulated McDew for his “exceptional” tour of duty as Transcom commander and for the culmination of 36 years of “exceptional leadership and selfless service to our nation.”

He thanked Mattis for officiating the ceremony and for his trust and confidence “but more importantly for your leadership and your selfless service at this critical time in our nation’s history.”

Lyons said that Transcom only exists for one purpose, “to protect and sustain military power globally.”

“For decades the United States has enjoyed dominance in every operating domain – air, land, sea and cyberspace,” Lyons said. “We could generally deploy our forces when we wanted, assemble them where we wanted and operate how we wanted. Today, however, every domain is contested and the continental U.S. is no longer a sanctuary.”

Lyons said that the team of professionals at Transcom has a reputation for agile, adaptive and innovative leadership and it understands the imperative to evolve.

“History tells us that the future is unknown and ever changing,” he said. “Just as Transcom has adapted over the last 30 years, we will continue to change to maintain relevancy to the national defense strategy and anticipate the ever changing character of war.”