Red Tail E-Review

                                      POWER - PEOPLE - PARTNERS                 MAY 2019 

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"I am tremendously proud of the 477th Fighter Group and the
diligent, deliberate and mammoth effort output by each and
every airman to ensure our team is as compliant as it is lethal." Col. Brett R. Paola the Commander, 477th Fighter Group, Joint Base Elmendorf- Richardson, Alaska.

 Lt. Col. Clayton “Fokker” Johnson assumed command of the 477 MXS March 10, 2019.




U. S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Aaron C. Milner is the Deputy Group Commander for Maintenance 477th Fighter Group (DCM), Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER), Alaska. Lt. Col. Milner commanded the 477th Maintenance Squadron (MXS) from October 2016 to October 2018, at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska.
The 477 MXS consisted of Nondestructive Inspection (NDI), Low Observables (LO), Munitions, Armament, Aerospace Ground Equipment, Fuels, Egress, Maintenance Training Managers and the Maintenance Operation Control Center. Although all of the shops have different duties, they fall under the same F-22 readiness daily missions. Each year the 477th Fighter Group along with Total Force Integrated Partners from the 3d Wing at JBER, AK., averages 11,000 sorties and 5000 hours for F-22 missions.
While the 477 MXS did not have a commander for two years, the former Squadron Superintendent, Chief Master Sergeant (CMSgt) James Pineault, covered all the training programs and successfully maintained mission readiness during this gap in officer leadership. “Under the direction of CMSgt Pineault, he built a strong team. In speaking about the Senior Enlisted Leadership of the squadron,” Milner said. “The MXS Senior NCO’s are the best I had ever worked with. They are at the top of their game and operated without a commander for two years.”  
Lt. Col. Milner started his command of 477 MXS by establishing new focus areas, bringing his experience from previous commands to stabilize our training. “I wanted our Airmen to be the ones who lead the Air Force in their respective areas of expertise, earn the awards they deserved and ultimately develop the next level of leaders,” said Milner.
“One of my first’s tasks was to recruit more people. The second goal was to tweak the Unit Training Assembly (UTA) reservist training program to stabilize it, make it more predictable and ultimately enhance our personnel beyond just 3, 5, and 7 level proficiencies,” said Milner. He further elaborated by saying, "We achieved success in the second task and I see the fruits of that labor with our Airman, but I underestimated the difficulty in recruiting talent into our ranks."
"On the strength of the senior NCO's, they took control, and they provided some good quality training plans helping to push our force beyond just skill level training, and it identified areas that we needed to expend time or resources. I had them focus on troubleshooting and teaching lessons during the UTAs to enhance the importance and understanding of their jobs. I also invited one of the Intelligence NCO’s to brief us on our role in the big picture for INDOPACOM and what our tasks maybe if we ever had to employ the F-22,” Milner said.
“During my command, I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by outstanding individuals and teams. For example, NDI earned the best NDI Lab in all of the Air Force in 2016, and a large part of this TFI award was due to Master Sgt. Megan Silva, the former NDI Section Chief. Her leadership as a reservist in a Total Force Integrated unit helped the JBER NDI shop earn top honors. Additionally, Mr. J.R. Castro was recognized as a 2016 Leo Marquez Award winner at AFRC as the Aircraft Maintenance Civilian Technician, and finally, the SNCO's had a knack of cranking out consistent winners for quarterly and annual award packages recognizing their Airman," said Milner.
While dealing with current operations, he also began focusing on long term planning to help better prepare for future maintenance missions.  “In doing this, it enabled us to get better resources," said Milner.
Milner believes setting up the next leadership team for success while transitioning into his new 477 DCM roles is his responsibility as outgoing commander.
 “Leaving the MXS better than it had been was my goal even though hiring a new Superintendent and Commander, I want to think that was achieved. I also want to focus towards our new Group Commander's mission and vision of providing combat air power and driving a culture of true lethality and the strengths of the new commander, Lt. Col. Clayton “Fokker” Johnson a current F-22 pilot, dovetails exceptionally well with Col Paola’s direction,” said Milner.
“I wanted a warfighter who has led people in battle, knows the F-22 mission better than most and has the ability to translate maintenance into pilot speak and therefore advocate for MXS when the time comes. Those are the reasons why the 477 MXS needs him as their next leader,” said Milner.
Lt. Col. Johnson assumed command of the 477 MXS March 10, 2019.
As the Deputy Group Commander for Maintenance at the 477th Fighter Group JBER, Alaska, Lt. Col. Milner is taking on new opportunities and challenges.
“Learning the Raptor maintainers in AMXS, being the supervisor of a former co-worker, and taking a more strategic view versus tactical one are my biggest changes in the new job,” said Milner.
“How do we make our people better? How do we grow and develop the leaders we need for tomorrow? These are just a few questions I am focusing on now. The goal is to put the right people with the right mindset in the right place to do the most effective work for the 477th Fighter Group. All these questions can lead to better mission effectiveness,” Milner said.
Reflecting on his time as 477 MXS commander, Milner said, “I want the 477 MXS to know they were by far the best squadron I have ever had the privilege to command. They are one of the best I have ever seen, and I know the MXS is going to do great things with Lt. Col. Johnson and their new superintendent Senior Master Sergeant Keith Long.  The dynamic duo of Johnson and Long will meet Col. Paola’s Mission and Vision.”




WHAT THE UNITED STATES FLAG MEANS TO ME   By Technical Sgt. Robert Collier, 477th Fighter Group, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska

Technical Sgt. Robert Collier, 477 Cyber Superintendent, attended Non Commissioned Officers Academy Class 19-2 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Mar. 4 to April 5, 2019. As part of the class the members where given the opportunity to submit a Freedom Citation essay, in which he chose to write about his personal story on what the flag means to him. Chief Master Sergeant Michael J. Venning, commandant of the Elmendorf Professional Military Education Center at JBER, asked him to read his story at graduation.

To those who have made the ultimate sacrifice;
I knew it would be emotional for me to share, but I felt my story would help others. I wanted other military members to know it is okay to feel loss and grief, and that they will get past those feelings. I chose to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice by joining the Air Force Reserves and to help make a difference in the lives of those around me.  

What the American flag means to me is not easy to define. The flag has been a source of pride in my profession, has served as a symbol for tremendous loss and pain, and now serves as a reminder to be there for my brothers and sisters in arms. 
When I joined the Air Force, the flag gave me a sense of pride and symbolized my chosen profession. I was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician; my profession meant everything to me. I wanted to be the technician everyone wanted on their team. I wanted to serve my country and protect those around me. I was proud to stand outside and salute at retreat, and I didn't understand why other Airmen would run back inside to avoid retreat. I served in active duty faithfully for almost nine years and separated to attend college, to fulfill a promise to myself. However, the meaning of the flag would soon change drastically for me.
While I was on terminal leave August 21, 2006, a close friend was killed. I didn't realize just how much that would affect me; I was angry and confused. Five months later, another friend was killed, along with his entire team. Then on April 4, 2009, one of my best friends was killed. I was entirely at a loss and the lowest point in my life. I found myself on a plane bound for Washington D.C., to Arlington National cemetery. At his funeral the flag took on an entirely new meaning for me….  Even though I was a civilian, I was allowed to stand in the military formation. I watched as the horse-drawn carriage trotted up the road with the flag draped over his coffin. As I saluted, I saw an Explosive Ordnance Disposal technician drop to his knees.
I tried to focus on the flag, but I was consumed by an overwhelming sense of loss and grief. I knew the flag was supposed to represent the ultimate sacrifice of our fallen brothers and sister in arms. However, it ultimately reminded me of the pain and grief in the faces of their loved ones. I will never forget as I watched the honor guard fold the flag and hand it to my friend's wife as she sat next to her two small children. I collapsed inwardly and felt weak; I didn't know how else to feel. My emotions took over, and for a time, whenever I saw the flag, those emotions came back.
After graduating from college, I tried going back to the military on as active duty. However, the Air Force was cutting its numbers, and I ran into multiple roadblocks in that first year. As one year turned into two, I started working within the veteran community. I began to find real purpose in my life. I talked with many fellow veterans, and they still all said the same thing; they wanted to serve. Many of my close friends had sustained severe injuries and were not physically able to serve. However, I was not held back by injuries; I was willing and able to serve in any capacity. So I looked to the Air Force Reserve and was motivated to join. Thankfully I was accepted on February 15, 2013. 
Now that I am serving again, I see the flag in a new light. I see it as the embodiment of our fallen brothers and sisters, specifically their leadership and guidance, which was taken from us when they died. I feel I owe it to them to lead those around me and to make a difference in people’s lives. The flag represents that challenge to me to lead the way they would have led. 
I wear the uniform because I wanted to give all of myself to the military members around me. Moreover, I choose to embody the leadership qualities our fallen brothers and sisters would be proud of. I give everything I can because they are no longer able.
I hope that others can change their grief into something meaningful in their lives. 

TSgt Collier won the John L. Levitow Award for the Non Commissioned Officers Academy Class 19-2 graduation, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, April 5, 2019. The John L. Levitow Award is the highest award for enlisted Professional Military Education in the Air  Force and is presented to the student who demonstrates the most outstanding leadership and scholastic achievement throughout ALS, NCOA and SNCOA.






The Alaska Fisher House is a ‘home away from home’ for military members, veterans, and their families seeking medical care on JBER or in the Anchorage community. The house provides accommodations and resources for military and veteran families traveling to receive medical care in Anchorage. Fisher House is a non-profit operating completely by donations and volunteer activities. 
Support is greatly appreciated and positively impacts the healing process for patients and their families.  Volunteers may spend time completing a special project; daily operational functions;  hosting a meal; of paper products, toiletries, and gift cards for groceries, gas, or local restaurants. The 477th currently hosts meals for guests on the First Wednesday of every month.  If you are further interested in donating time or  in-kind donations, please the contact the Alaska Fisher House at 907-222-1673 or
Thank you for continuing to support the Fisher House.  


To accomplish the OSI prebrief, go to the AF portal and search "Foreign Travel." Navigate to "Foreign Travel
Prebrief and Debrief"

    Fiscal Fitness

REPLACEMENT OF WORN OUT UNIFORM ITEMS:  Military members must not buy uniform items for themselves with the intent of getting reimbursed.  Unit clothing purchasers are the only individuals authorized to buy
uniforms for members.

SEE YOUR RESERVE PAY OFFICE (RPO):  There are many good reasons to contact your RPO.  Here are a few:  1) change in marital status, 2) change state of legal residence, 3) change of address, 4) change number of dependents, 5) change in tax exemptions, and 6) change in direct deposit account.  Note that changes for tax exemptions and direct deposit can be accomplished in myPay.




RED TAIL E-REVIEW - 477th Fighter Group Public Affairs - 907-551-0477


The Red Tail E-Review is the online publication of the 477th Fighter Group, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. Questions regarding stories or photos should be directed to the 477th Fighter Group Public Affairs office at 907-551-0477.

Editorial Staff
477th Fighter Group Commander
Col. Brett R. Paola 

Public Affairs
TSgt. Michael Campbell

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