A look back at 2020 on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Maj. John Wang, health physicist, United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine Radiation Dosimetry Lab inspects a dual radiation dosimeter at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Dec. 19, 2019. For the first time in nearly 40 years, U.S. Air Force personnel who work near radioactive materials will be receiving newly designed, higher-sensitivity radiation dosimeters designed and fielded by USAFSAM Radiation Dosimetry Lab. The dosimeters record the amount of exposure to ionizing radiation for individuals. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/TY GREENLEES
Maj. John Wang, health physicist, United States Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine Radiation Dosimetry Lab inspects a dual radiation dosimeter at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Dec. 19, 2019. For the first time in nearly 40 years, U.S. Air Force personnel who work near radioactive materials will be receiving newly designed, higher-sensitivity radiation dosimeters designed and fielded by USAFSAM Radiation Dosimetry Lab. The dosimeters record the amount of exposure to ionizing radiation for individuals. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/TY GREENLEES

In 2020, the leadership, service members, civilian personnel, contractors and wider community at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base rose to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which touched virtually every aspect of the mission.

Throughout 2020, there were many significant milestones achieved by numerous organizations across WPAFB. Here are some of the milestones, events, COVID-19 related actions, awards and other things that contributed to overall mission success:

Technology & education

· For the first time in nearly 40 years, Air Force personnel who work near radioactive materials are receiving newly designed, higher-sensitivity radiation dosimeters that record the amount of exposure to ionizing radiation for individuals. Personnel in the USAFSAM Radiation Dosimetry Laboratory began work with the new dosimeter design in 2018.

· AFIT’s Graduate School of Engineering and Management awarded 229 master’s degrees and seven doctorate degrees in science, technology, engineering and math fields. Two graduate students received dual master’s degrees. Due to COVID-19 concerns, a commencement ceremony was not held. The graduating class included 195 Air Force officers, four Air Force noncommissioned officers, seven Army officers, four Marine Corps officers, 14 civilians and seven defense contractors. The school also graduated three international students from Australia and Brazil.

The Wright-Patterson Educational Outreach Office hosted a pick-up event to distribute backpacks filled with materials for its virtual summer camps. Funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory, the LEGACY program offers a free weeklong Craftsman Camp to 228 young participants where instructors live-stream various scientific experiments and hands-on activities. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/KEITH LEWIS
The Wright-Patterson Educational Outreach Office hosted a pick-up event to distribute backpacks filled with materials for its virtual summer camps. Funded by the Air Force Research Laboratory, the LEGACY program offers a free weeklong Craftsman Camp to 228 young participants where instructors live-stream various scientific experiments and hands-on activities. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/KEITH LEWIS

· The Educational Outreach Office hosted virtual summer camps and apprenticeships for more than 300 participants this year. Funded by AFRL, the LEGACY program registered 228 kids for its weeklong Craftsman Camps and arranged two-month apprenticeships for 82 high school and college students.

· The Community College of the Air Force held its fall graduation ceremony Nov. 19 in NMUSAF’s Carney Auditorium. Twenty-nine Airmen earned associate degrees.

Staff. Sgt. Sanja Mustic (left), 88th Air Base Medical Group, checks a vaccine cooler during an 88th Air Base Wing Force Support Squadron deployment exercise at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, March 5. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/TY GREENLEES
Staff. Sgt. Sanja Mustic (left), 88th Air Base Medical Group, checks a vaccine cooler during an 88th Air Base Wing Force Support Squadron deployment exercise at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, March 5. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/TY GREENLEES

Readiness & training

· The 788 CES fire department revved up its peer fitness program so firefighters can provide one-on-one training. Created from a partnership between the International Association of Firefighters and International Association of Fire Chiefs, the peer fitness program was created to improve firefighter quality of life.

· Airmen participated in a deployment-processing line exercise March 5, which simulated the base’s ability to quickly call upon a large amount of deployers. Also called a Phase 1 exercise, the Personnel Deployment Function, or PDF line, simulates a situation that could happen on WPAFB should a mass number of Airmen need to be deployed quickly. During the exercise, Wing Inspection Team members watched and evaluated the execution against various checklist items mandatory for proper procedures during such events. Every Air Force base is evaluated with an operational readiness inspection at regular intervals, so exercises like these are vital to keep in compliance with standards of being ready to support the mission anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice.

Miscellaneous

· Employment opportunities for military members and their spouses received a boost Jan. 27 from a bill signed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine during a ceremony at NMUSAF. Senate Bill 7 mandates state occupational licensing agencies to issue licenses or certification to qualifying members of the military and their spouses who are licensed in another state. That way, the military member or a spouse can practice their profession immediately.

· AFRL’s X-60A program achieved a key developmental milestone with the completion of integrated vehicle propulsion system verification ground testing. The X-60A is an air-launched rocket designed for hypersonic flight research. It is being developed by Generation Orbit Launch Services under an AFRL Small Business Innovation Research contract. The X-60A program’s goal is to provide affordable and routine access to relevant hypersonic flight conditions for technology maturation.

· A team under the direction of AFLCMC’s C-17 Program Office completed Block 21 upgrades on the entire fleet of 275 C-17 aircraft operated by the Air Force and eight allied countries, meeting the Jan. 1, 2020, mandate imposed by civil aviation authorities. With Block 21, the aircraft now have hardware and software for the Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast Out system required by the Federal Aviation Administration and aviation authorities in Europe, for planes operating in controlled airspace. ADS-B Out is a next-generation transponder system that broadcasts the precise position and location information of an aircraft in real time, giving air traffic control better visibility to track and manage aircraft while enhancing aircraft safety by providing aircrew more situational awareness of nearby aircraft.

Eight Community College of the Air Force graduates pose with Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander; Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer, 88th ABW command chief; and Chief Master Sgt. Arwa Cavendar, 88th Medical Support Squadron superintendent, after their graduation ceremony Nov. 19 at the National Museum of the Air Force. Only eight of the 29 graduates were able to attend due to the pandemic and no guests were allowed. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/R.J. ORIEZ
Eight Community College of the Air Force graduates pose with Col. Patrick Miller, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander; Chief Master Sgt. Jason Shaffer, 88th ABW command chief; and Chief Master Sgt. Arwa Cavendar, 88th Medical Support Squadron superintendent, after their graduation ceremony Nov. 19 at the National Museum of the Air Force. Only eight of the 29 graduates were able to attend due to the pandemic and no guests were allowed. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/R.J. ORIEZ

Credit: 88th Air Base Wing

Credit: 88th Air Base Wing

· A team of medical experts in AFRL’s 711 HPW traveled to Little Rock AFB, Arkansas, in mid-January to perform an initial site visit for what will be the first fully capable Operational Support Team. The 711 HPW was charged with developing a data-driven approach to provide direct operational medical support to all Air Force personnel. These teams are being established to help address the two largest reasons why Airmen utilize the medical clinics: musculoskeletal injuries and mental health. As such, OSTs are comprised of both musculoskeletal and mental health subject matter experts. During this visit, 711 HPW medical experts briefed LRAFB personnel on OST and met with base leaders to discuss their plans to integrate with existing base resources and initiatives.

· Telework capabilities were expanded for WPAFB personnel working from home due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Department of Defense provided a temporary collaboration of capabilities for at-home workers through the Commercial Virtual Remote environment and an increased number of VPN connections. Without requiring virtual private network connections, CVR provides commercially accessible versions of Microsoft Teams, SharePoint online, OneDrive and Skype for over 4 million DOD users outside the Air Force network.

· AFIT’s additive manufacturing laboratory printed face shield prototypes for NASIC to extend the longevity of N95 masks. The 88 MDG tested the prototypes. The first iteration of the N95 shields were 3D printed flat and then shaped to fit over the N95 mask. The shields are intended to prevent abrasion and keep liquids or particulates away from the mask. The second round of prototypes have been a face shield comprised of a headband with top and bottom structural supports.

· Three Air Force researchers were granted a patent on a method for stabilizing biological materials such as vaccines, antibodies, antivenoms and antibiotics without using refrigeration. Drs. Joseph Slocik, Rajesh Naik and Patrick Dennis of AFRL’s 711 HPW and Materials and Manufacturing Directorate have spent the last three years working on this vital project.

· AFLCMC’s Human Systems Division launched a new app in June that will give aircrews a quick and easy way to provide feedback and address concerns with their equipment and gear. The inception of this app occurred at a 2019 AFWERX event, where female aircrew expressed their desire for a streamlined method to provide feedback concerning gear and ensure their voices are being heard.

· To expedite the advancement and innovation of quantum technologies, AFRL awarded $5.25 million to 23 small businesses during a first-of-its-kind virtual quantum collider pitch event June 15-16.

A senior enlisted leader panel provides valuable tips for success in managing today’s workforce during the virtual Squadron Leader Orientation course. Pictured: Senior Master Sgt. Jeremiah Kern (front left); Master Sgt. Anna Garrett (front right); Back row (left to right): Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Lommen; Chief Master Sgt. Teresa Grolla; Chief Master Sgt. Andrew Carling; and Chief Master Sgt. Vernae Ellis. More than 60 Air Force leaders were present for the session, which explored how to conduct crucial conversations about diversity within an organization. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/RICHARD HOILES
A senior enlisted leader panel provides valuable tips for success in managing today’s workforce during the virtual Squadron Leader Orientation course. Pictured: Senior Master Sgt. Jeremiah Kern (front left); Master Sgt. Anna Garrett (front right); Back row (left to right): Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Lommen; Chief Master Sgt. Teresa Grolla; Chief Master Sgt. Andrew Carling; and Chief Master Sgt. Vernae Ellis. More than 60 Air Force leaders were present for the session, which explored how to conduct crucial conversations about diversity within an organization. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/RICHARD HOILES

· More than 50 first-time commanders and civilian materiel leaders were prepped for success during the first virtual Air Force Materiel Command Squadron Leader Orientation July 7-17.

· Team Wright-Patt jumped into action after being notified Aug. 20 that up to 72 aircraft may have been flying to WPAFB as a safe haven from Tropical Storm Marco and Hurricane Laura. After the storm track shifted, only eight F-22s ended up requiring shelter and arrived at Wright-Patterson AFB on Aug. 22. The aircraft are assigned to Tyndall AFB, Florida, but were flying out of Eglin AFB, Florida, due to damage on Tyndall’s flight line from a hurricane in October 2018.

· The Air Force’s 18th Intelligence Squadron was deactivated and then activated as the 73rd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Squadron, U.S. Space Force, during a ceremony Sept. 3 in NMUSAF’s Space Gallery. The unit is one of the first ISR squadrons to support space operations and acquisition. It will be located within WPAFB’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center, as the 18 IS was. It is assigned to Space Force Delta 7, Peterson-Schriever Garrison, Colorado.

· In a virtual, worldwide event led by Gen. John Raymond, U.S. Space Force chief of Space Operations, 15 Airmen from across WPAFB were ceremonially sworn into the Space Force on Sept. 15. The ceremony was part of Raymond’s keynote address on the Air Force Association 2020 Virtual Air, Space and Cyber Conference’s second day. More than 300 space professionals participated, including seven company grade officers and eight enlisted Airmen from AFIT and NASIC.

· An anniversary Nov. 21 reminded the WPAFB community that it served as location for the Dayton Peace Accords in 1995, which ended the brutal Bosnian War in Europe. A private wreath-laying ceremony took place at a commemorative bench and plaque along the winding Peace Walk between the Hope Hotel and Visiting Officer Quarters where diplomats stayed. The unofficial talks that happened as the diplomats walked back and forth are credited with playing a role in the war’s end.

· Two WPAFB Airmen stopped Nov. 18 to aid a teen who was hanging over the side of a bridge in Fairborn and appeared to be in distress. Tech. Sgt. Anthony Staton, National Air and Space Intelligence Center, and Senior Master Sgt. David Briden, Air Force Installation Contracting Center expeditionary operations manager, stayed with the teen until police and medics arrived.

Sports, fitness and awareness events

· To reflect on the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the 88th Security Forces Squadron and Wright-Patterson Company Grade Officers Association hosted 9/11 remembrance events. A Remembrance Walk was held at AFIT’s track. Participants walked the track in 30-minute intervals in teams of five to 10, carrying a flag, two rifles and two fire hoses. The second event, a stair-climbing challenge meant to pay tribute to the firefighters who responded bravely by climbing the 110 flights at the World Trade Center towers to save people trapped inside, was done independently.

Landscape workers Brandon Burke (left) and Chris Ryan plant a honey locust tree on the Properties at Wright Field, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Oct. 14. Through a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation, 83 trees of four different varieties were purchased from local nurseries to replace trees lost from tornadoes in 2019. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/TY GREENLEES
Landscape workers Brandon Burke (left) and Chris Ryan plant a honey locust tree on the Properties at Wright Field, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Oct. 14. Through a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation, 83 trees of four different varieties were purchased from local nurseries to replace trees lost from tornadoes in 2019. U.S. AIR FORCE PHOTO/TY GREENLEES

· New trees were planted at the Properties at Wright Field to replace some lost from tornadoes in 2019. Through a grant from the Arbor Day Foundation, 83 trees of four different varieties were purchased from local nurseries.

· With its newest race series in 2021, the Air Force Marathon aims to highlight retired aircraft that have shaped U.S. air power throughout history. On Dec. 1, registration opened for the first event in the six-part History & Heritage Race Series. Participants in each race series will receive a finisher’s medal, commemorative patch portraying the six featured aircraft, and information about the plane and its role within the Air Force. The chosen aircraft represent six unique categories: pre-World War I, World War II, Korean War Era, Vietnam Era, Post-Vietnam Era and Experimental. All featured aircraft can be found inside NMUSAF.

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