Daughter, Father Serve as Air Force Instructors

April 7, 2015


By Air Force Airman 1st Class Justine Rho
502nd Air Base Wing

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2015 – When Air Force Staff Sgt. Amanda MacFarlane first donned the traditional “campaign hat” of the service’s military training instructors, she made history.

The man handing her the hat was her father, Tech. Sgt. James MacKay, a military training instructor with the 321st Training Squadron. They are now the first father-daughter duo to serve together as instructors for new recruits.

MacKay and MacFarlane have both had unique career experiences before becoming instructors, but they both noted their shared passion for mentorship and developing airmen. They both joined the Air Force Reserve as training instructors and are now training the next generation of Airmen.

“In my previous positions, I was often responsible for training new members on their on-the-job responsibilities, and to me, that was the best part of the job,” McFarlane said. “I felt like I could make a positive impact by ensuring the airmen and noncommissioned officers had the knowledge and tools they would need to get their job done and contribute to the mission. As an MTI, you have the tremendous opportunity to have a positive impact on the next generation of airmen.”

A Unique Path

MacKay entered the Air Force as a member of the Michigan Air National Guard in November 1983 and has since been a munitions systems specialist, air traffic controller and a fire protection specialist. He’s served on active duty, in the Air National Guard, and now, the Reserves.

In 2013, MacKay was accepted as an instructor candidate and transferred into the reserves. He credited his personal success to outstanding mentors who encouraged him to complete all of his goals, including graduating from the Defense Department Fire Academy at the age of 47.

“There were many times my mentors set me up for success, both personally and professionally,” MacKay said. “I hope to pay that forward and give our newest airmen the tools they need to thrive in today’s Air Force.”

MacKay, who has another daughter currently serving in the Air Force as an air traffic controller, said he feels an immense amount of pride in both of his daughter’s careers.

Family Pride in Service

“I have always been proud of my daughters and their military careers,” MacKay said. “When (Amanda) told me she had been accepted into the instructor program, I was thrilled. I think she has the same passion for teaching and mentoring others as I do, and I believe she will find this position as challenging and rewarding as anything she’s done previously.”

MacFarlane said she’s always been proud of her father’s service and professionalism and that she looks up to him for being a positive influence.

“I’m also proud to have this chance to be a part of [basic military training] and to be able to help prepare men and women for their careers as airmen,” she continued. “I get to serve alongside my Air Force family as well as my actual family, and that means a lot to me.”

April 3, 2015


The Battle for Iwo Jima – 70th Anniversary

March 26, 2015


Special Report: The Battle for Iwo Jima 70th Anniversary

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2015 – Seventy years after the Battle for Iwo Jima, the Defense Department remembers the courage and sacrifice of the service members who fought on the Pacific island, and those who gave their lives there.


Learn more in the Defense.gov Special Report: The Battle for Iwo Jima – 70th Anniversary.

Noted Actor Praises TAPS Program, Military Members

March 17, 2015


Noted Actor Praises TAPS Program, Military Members

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 17, 2015 – A noted actor visited Pentagon leaders and staffers today to discuss his support for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS.

“TAPS offers help, hope and healing to families of our fallen service men and women,” actor Eric Dane said during his visit.

TAPS is a nonprofit national veterans service organization that offers peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, casualty casework assistance and crisis intervention for military families.

Dane has acted in the television series Grey’s Anatomy, and is the current lead in the post-apocalyptic dramatic series The Last Ship. But perhaps his most meaningful role has been in real life, as the son of a Navy veteran who served in Vietnam and passed away when Eric was just 7 years old.

Telling the Military Story

Dane said working on the The Last Ship has afforded him the chance to meet people from across the ranks and military branches, a privilege he doesn’t take lightly.

“The more I learn from you, the more impressed I am by your service to this great country, and the more determined that I am that all of us on the show get it right when it comes to portraying military [people] on television,” Dane said to current and former service members and their families.

And though he feels a sense of pride when donning his “digi-blues,” the dark and light blue Navy pattern of the service’s utility uniform, he said, he’s humbled to be part of The Last Ship and, along with fellow cast members and crew, to help tell the stories of service members.

“My job is not just to entertain but also to manifest and honor the courage and commitment that each of you possess,” Dane said. “My show is fictional. You’re the real heroes.”

TAPS Honors Grieving Military Families


TAPS president Bonnie Carroll, who founded the organization following the death of her husband, Army Brig. Gen. Tom Carroll, in a C-12 plane crash in 1992, praised Dane’s involvement in bringing the challenges of mourning military families to light.

“TAPS has been very blessed to have wonderful support from many sectors of our society, citizens who have stepped forward to honor those who have selflessly served in the cause of freedom,” Carroll said.

Carroll said Dane takes his role on The Last Ship as Navy Commander Tom Chandler very seriously.

“He portrays the Navy in the absolute best light; it is a collaborative effort,” she said. “He is one of us … an extraordinary individual and a great citizen.”

The second season of The Last Ship will return in summer 2015.

You can get more info and support TAPS at http://www.taps.org!

YRA attends the Marine Corps Association & Foundation’s 2015 West Coast Dinner

February 2, 2015


1st Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General Provides Operational Insights at 2015 MCA&F West Coast Dinner.

Feb 2, 2015 – By Roxanne Baker

More than 400 guests attended the Marine Corps Association & Foundation’s West Coast Dinner at the Carlsbad Sheraton, Calif. on Jan. 28, 2015. The annual dinner is in its fifth year and emphasizes education, networking, and most importantly, camaraderie.

The guests enjoyed a cocktail hour for meeting new people and catching up with old friends at the beautiful hotel that overlooks the Pacific Ocean. Once seated in the ballroom, the 1st Marine Division Band kicked off the night with traditional favorites. MCA&F’s West Coast Area Representative SgtMaj Frank Pulley, USMC (Ret) called to post the colors and the band played the National Anthem and Marine Corps Hymn.

Following dinner, keynote speaker Lt Gen David Berger, Commanding General, I MEF thanked everyone for attending the MCA&F dinner as a show of support for the Marine Corps at large. He said the association is a “living, breathing organization” that fuels programs and awards for the Corps that would otherwise not be possible.

“They recognize us, they archive our history,” Berger said. “…They turn around every dollar back in the Marine Corps. It’s irreplaceable. I don’t think a lot of Marines know that.”

Berger presented a full update on the Marine Corps’ West Coast operations during his keynote speech. Units are currently deployed as a 911 response force in the Middle East and are building and enhancing relationships throughout the Pacific, he said. The shift to the Pacific is in full swing, especially in Japan and Australia.

“It’s a pretty exciting time to be in the Marine Corps,” Berger said.

Closer to home in California, the MEF has increased training with the local emergency response teams to prepare for natural disasters.  They are working with the police and fire departments throughout California to address the needs of communities throughout the state in case of a serious earthquake or wild fire.

“In every part of the MAGTF, your Marines are really knocking it out of the park every day,” Berger said.

Berger also addressed the unique opportunity the MCA&F dinner provided by bringing together Marines and professionals in the private technology sector. He suggested sharing ideas between the two groups to improve the Marine Corps’ capabilities. Innovation in technology sets a challenging pace to keep up with, he said, and both the military and civilian communities need to work together.

“We need equipment that’s expeditionary, energy efficient, reprogrammable and light,” Berger said.

Those ideas should start with “bottom up innovation” that address the needs of junior leadership, specifically sergeants, staff sergeants, lieutenants and captains.  The Marines and the professionals in the private sector might not always speak the same language, he said, but should use their different approaches to create gear modernization in the field.

“We’ll miss ideas if we all think the same,” Berger said. “This is the whole team pulling the same direction.”

A special thank you to the sponsors of the West Coast Dinner: Technologies, USAA, Nammo, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cask LLC, Harris, Sierra Nevada Corporation, AAFMAA, ADS, Inc, Military By Owner Advertising, Veterans United, ViaSat, UPS,  Raytheon, MSC Direct, Oshkosh, Divine Imaging, AXT, City of Oceanside, Gartner, Gov X, IE Pacific, Visit Oceanside and Engility.

The Marine Corps Association & Foundation hosts more than a dozen professional and awards dinners, luncheons, receptions, and related events to foster professional development and encourage camaraderie each year in keeping with our tradition of “Advancing Leadership and Recognizing Excellence Since 1913.”

YRA Febuary-March 2015 023We were very blessed to be able to attend the Marine Corps Association & Foundation’s 2015 West Coast Dinner and be among so many of America’s beloved Marines and their families. We are deeply honored to be a member and supporter of the Marine Corps Association & Foundation which has been proudly supporting America’s Marines for over 100+ years. You can support them also! Their website is https://www.mca-marines.org.

Consolidation of POW/MIA Mission Moving Forward

January 9, 2015


Consolidation of POW/MIA Mission Moving Forward

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Jan. 9, 2015 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today the Defense Department will, effective Monday, consolidate into one new agency the organizations that account for U.S. military prisoners of war and those missing in action.

Hagel called for a review early last year to bring together the Defense Prisoner of War/Missing Personnel Office, the Joint Personnel Accounting Command and related laboratories into a single DoD agency.

“Finding, recovering and identifying the remains of these individuals is one of our highest responsibilities, and I believed that DoD could more effectively and transparently account for our missing personnel while ensuring their families receive timely and accurate information,” Hagel said of the consolidation.

The secretary said the single agency will be accountable, responsive and transparent, with comprehensive oversight of personnel accounting resources, research and operations.

The new agency also will centralize communications with family members of the missing, he said, and “streamline the identification process; centralize budgetary resources; improve the search, recovery, and identification process; and develop proposals to expand public/private partnerships.”  It will initially be headquartered in the Washington area with a decision on its permanent location expected early next year.

Hagel named three flag officers — one from each of the services — to direct the new agency, which will be named with input from the families of POWs and MIAs, a senior defense official said during s background briefing today.

Navy Rear Adm. Michael Franken will be the agency’s interim director. Air Force Maj. Gen. Kelly McKeague, JPAC commander, will serve as deputy director, and Army Lt. Gen. Michael Linnington, military deputy to the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, will be the agency’s senior adviser to Christine Wormuth, undersecretary of defense for policy, whose office will oversee the agency.

Franken said he is indebted to the DoD professionals across the department who support POW and MIA identification work.  “Their efforts have been crucial to meeting our mission and fulfilling the commitment to the nation and the families of our missing and unaccounted for heroes,” he said.

“This is something that’s very close to Hagel. It’s an effort he wanted to make sure he addressed prior to his departure,” the senior defense official said.

“Secretary Hagel has said America will remain committed to always bringing home our missing and our fallen,” Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters. “The decisions we are announcing today will ensure that we honor that solemn obligation.”

Some 83,000 Americans are still listed as missing from past conflicts.

December 17, 2014
b78448134z120081224100645000gm8fqq931_lgWe dedicate our Tenth Christmas Drive to Mrs. Beverly Smiley USAR. She loved her Soldiers, their families and all of our Nations military and their families with all her heart and she showed it everyday.
She and her husband SFC Smiley (Ret.) was always there day and night helping the Soldiers and their families and anyone from any branch of the military in need…
You were the first USAR volunteer FRG person Yellow Ribbon America met and ten years later we can say without any doubt you were the best! We miss your great selfless heart, your great sense of humor and we know God has proudly welcomed you home.”
Op Christmas, US Army Reserve IrvineMrs Smiley and SFC Smiley (Ret), CWO 3 Horton and SSG Miller, 163rd Ord. Company, USAR, Tustin / Irvine, California, US Armed Forces Reserve Center 2004.


December 13, 2014

Covina CA: The Young Marines have Landed! To once again help support Operation Christmas For Our Troops & Their Families.


December 7, 2014

Operation Christmas For Our Troops & Their Families News!

Dec 6, 2014, the 40th Infantry Division HSC’s Unit Christmas Party at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos California.

40th ID HHC Dec 6, 2014 Unit Christmas Party 140th ID HHC Dec 6, 2014 Unit Christmas Party 240th ID HHC Dec 6, 2014 Unit Christmas Party 340th ID HHC Dec 6, 2014 Unit Christmas Party 440th ID HHC Dec 6, 2014 Unit Christmas Party 740th ID HHC Dec 6, 2014 Unit Christmas Party 9Photos taken by SGT Matthew Wright, 40ID Public Affairs Office.

Thank you to all of the wonderful people from the Los Angeles and Orange County, CA area’s that helped us support these Soldiers and their families this 2014 Christmas Season!

December 4, 2014

10th Annual Christmas Drive Begins!Santa Claus upgrades his ride to Christmas celebrationYRA_106832010 YRA Op Christmas EventYRA Deployment Event 10-30-09 628YRA Dec 2010 00634YRA OCFOT&FV 12-15-08 191Op Christmas Dec 2010 4942IMG_0370IMG_0392Operation Chrismas For Our Troops kick-off SAC 2005-2846Operation Chrismas For Our Troops & FamiliesRM_10623RM_10617Tom OP Christmas 2006, 163rd Irvine 6Tom OP Christmas 2006, 163rd Irvine 3Tom OP Christmas 2006, 163rd Irvine 9Tom OP Christmas 2006, 163rd Irvine 7YRA OCFOT&FV 11-1-08 180 (3)YRA Dec 2013 0162007 Op Christmas with  Mrs Smiley, Zack Falcon, CAPT Anderson and her LV  Soldiers

We dedicate our Tenth Christmas Drive to Mrs. Beverly Smiley USAR. She loved her Soldiers, their families and all of our Nations military and their families with all her heart and she showed it everyday. She and her husband SFC Smiley Ret. was always there day and night helping the Soldiers and their families and anyone from any branch of the military in need… You were the first USAR volunteer FRG person Yellow Ribbon America met and ten years later we can say without any doubt you were the best! We miss your great selfless heart, your great sense of humor and we know God has proudly welcomed you home.



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