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Deployed diaries

Swappin' out booms

Staff Sgt. Robert Prier changes out a KC-135 Stratotanker boom used to move fuel from the tanker during aerial refueling missions. He is a crew chief with the 28th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron at a forward-deployed location and is from MacDill.

Photo by Staff Sgt. Joceyln Rich
Warrior of the Week

Senior Airman Cecilia Gomez-Ramos was recently named "Warrior of the Week" during her deployment to the 376th Expeditionary Medical Group at Manas Air Base, Kyrgyzstan. She is an Aerospace medicine medical technician from MacDill.

"During the Memorial Day service formation, Airman Gomez-Ramos was one of the first technicians to rescue a patient displaying a heat stress condition," said Master Sgt. Navoy Frederick, supervisor. "She has a great willingness and a thirst for knowledge, and displays not only an 'I can' but an 'I will' attitude."

Photo by Staff Sgt. Connie Bias

Weather reporting in SWA: Stating more than the obvious

by Master Sgt. Cheryl L. Toner
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Editor's note: Senior Airman Michael Ragsdale and Master Sgt. Wesley Mathias are deployed from MacDill.

When people think of the job a weather observer has in Southwest Asia, they may believe it would be relatively simple. After all, day after day, it's hot, humid and dusty, right? What else would there be to report?

More than meets the eye, especially when taking into consideration the mission of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing. Realizing this, the answer becomes much more complex. With a number of different airframes here - each operating within its own parameters "What will the weather be like today?" is not a redundant question.

"No aircraft can take off or land without talking to us," said Master Sgt. Wesley Mathias, who heads up the weather observer station in the 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron. Since he said wind drives the temperature, wind direction and speed are "critical for our aircraft."

With daily briefings, five-day forecasts, watches, advisories and maintenance of two tactical systems, as well as briefings for every flight, four-man crew finds business is good.

While weather forecasts are vital for each flight, the tactical set-up here creates a little extra work for the observers. Sergeant Mathias said he checks and cleans both systems bimonthly, a system that wouldn't require as much maintenance if the set-up was fixed. However, he said a fixed system is in the works.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Mathias said satellite imagery is one of their primary tools. As he pointed on his ever-changing monitor to a recent massive dust storm in Iraq, he said observers are trained to differentiate between sand and clouds. "We were watching that," he said.

With the 360 degree look at weather here, the observers know the thresholds for the various aircraft and their pilots. For instance, a U2 pilot suited up in a spacesuit can only endure so much time sitting in his aircraft, warming up in more than 105 degree weather, before he takes off. "They'll pass out if they sit there long enough," said weather observer Senior Airman Michael Ragsdale.

Senior Airman Michael Ragsdale, 380th Expeditionary Operations Support Squadron weather observer, demonstrates the use of a Kestrul 4000, a portable back-up method of obtaining weather readings.

Photo by Senior Airman Elijah Roberts

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