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Preliminary Hearing Held for Accused in Guam Stabbing Death

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A Barksdale Air Force Base colonel is reviewing preliminary evidence to determine whether Airman 1st Class Isaiah Edwards should stand trial in the March stabbing death of a fellow airman in Guam.

Edwards is in custody at Barksdale in Louisiana, and has been charged with murder in the stabbing death of Airman 1st Class Bradley Hale on March 26 at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

The airmen were assigned to Barksdale and deployed to Guam.

Both Hale and Edwards were assigned to the 2nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 2nd Bomb Wing, as electronic warfare journeymen.

Hale, a native of Montgomery, Texas, had been in the Air Force about two years.

Col. Ty Neuman, the commander of 2nd Bomb Wing, directed that a preliminary hearing, also called an Article 32 hearing, be held for the charge of murder in Hale’s death.

The hearing was held May 11, and Neuman is currently reviewing the preliminary hearing officer’s report to determine the next step in the trial process, the Air Force said. Edwards is considered innocent unless proven guilty during court martial beyond reasonable doubt, the Air Force said.

An Article 32 hearing, so named for its citation in the Uniform Code of Military Justice, is conducted to determine whether probable cause exists to proceed to a court martial.

No timeline in adjudication of this case was available, the Air Force said.

The 20-year-old Hale had been found unresponsive at a temporary lodging facility at Andersen and declared dead March 27 at about 3 a.m., the Air Force said.

Edwards was arrested after a knife was found at the scene.

Dr. Aurelio Espinola, chief medical examiner in Guam, said there were three fatal wounds to Hale’s neck along with numerous superficial cuts.

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This article is written by Wyatt Olson from Stars and Stripes and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Air Force to Get First Female Air Commando General

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HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. — In another milestone for women in the military, Air Force Special Operations Command will soon have its first female air commando brigadier general, who will become the command’s director of operations, according to Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, commander of AFSOC.

Col. Brenda Cartier, currently commander of the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base, New Mexico, will transition to Hurlburt in the summer.

“We have a vice wing commander who’s female now, several group commanders. I can’t tell you how many squadron commanders — that should tell you something — there’s a lot. We’re in the double digits of chief master sergeants and first sergeants on the enlisted side in AFSOC,” Webb said.

None of this was in the Air Force’s vision even 20 years ago, he said.

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During a trip to AFSOC earlier this month, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and other service leaders spoke to Military.com about the strides the service has made in opening roles and career fields fully to women.

Wilson said she could recall exactly where she was when she saw a woman wearing pilot wings for the first time.

“I was a cadet. I was at the base of the ramp at the Air Force Academy. I walked by, saluted her — I was on my way to the cadet clinic — and said, ‘Ma’am, can I ask you a question?’ It was something completely stupid like, ‘Where’d you get those?’ ” Wilson said.

“But I had been in the Air Force six years before I saw a full colonel who was a woman. I didn’t feel limited in what I could be. But the fact that I noticed that when I saw it told me that young people need role models,” she told Military.com during an interview here May 4.

It’s a moment that’s stuck with her not only in her Air Force career, but throughout her journey as a leader, serving in Congress and as president of a science and engineering university in South Dakota.

In recent months, Wilson has often said it is natural to think of women as protectors. That outlook may speak to why serving in the military is a natural fit.

But the message may not be enough, she said.

“People have heard that from me. I’m not sure that will change things significantly in any short-term time in the way we recruit, but [there are] tremendously talented young women, girls who can make huge contributions,” Wilson said.

If being seen as a protector doesn’t speak to young girls, perhaps another viewpoint can.

For months, the service has touted its stance on innovation, that breaking technological barriers will help the Air Force advance in the next high-end fight.

For women contemplating the service or those who wish to challenge themselves in a new career field, a similar message resonates: You can break barriers too.

“Twenty percent of the Air Force is women, which is still the highest of any service, although probably still too low for the talent that’s available,” Wilson said.

Wilson herself graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1982, part of the third class to include women. She is the third woman to serve as Air Force secretary.

“What matters is the ability to do the mission,” she said.

Wilson said women moving up the ranks matters to future generations looking to lead.

For example, in 1967, women were allowed to hold rank above lieutenant colonel outside administrative support jobs. In 1973, ROTC opened to women. Three years later, the Air Force Academy granted admission to women, and pilot training was extended to those who wanted to fly.

Still, women could not fly combat aircraft until 1991.

“There was a group of women, including me, who went to Congress to help … change that law,” Wilson said. “The change to that law really meant 99.9 percent of positions were open to women.”

Fast forward to 2015 when then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced that all military occupational specialties would open to women, including battlefield airman specialties.

And while the service to date has not been able to graduate a female airman in a special tactics or battlefield airman role, it is weighing how it can better “target those likely to pass in addition to those already coming forward,” Webb said.

If the service readily recognizes potential, progression will become more natural, he said.

“[Let’s] talk about it. There’s some preparation that has to have been done mentally as well as physically to get in[to the battlefield pipeline], but it can certainly be done, and it will, and it will be naturalized,” Webb said.

The Air Force knows new potential female recruits and future leaders are out there. It’s just a matter of time before they come forward, Wilson added.

“Are we changing the way in which we recruit? We know there are highly talented women who may have not thought of themselves as airmen” yet, she said. “I think that sometimes some of our recruiting material appeals more to boys that to girls. If you ask an aircrew, ‘When did you first think of flying?’ Most boys [will answer] it’s in elementary school or middle school. Most girls and also minorities? It’s in college.”

She continued, “They get enamored with this idea later. And it may be who’s talking to them about what it’s OK to be, what it’s OK to dream.

“We need to recognize that this decision happens later. And some of that is seeing women in those roles,” Wilson said.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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6th Woman in Battlefield Airman Training Drops Out

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The sixth woman to attempt the U.S. Air Force‘s battlefield airman training program has self-eliminated, the service said Thursday.

The airman, whose identity has not been made public due to privacy concerns, began her first block of Tactical Air Control Party apprentice training March 12, but did not finish.

“The sixth woman who entered the pipeline self-eliminated and is no longer in the pipeline. There are currently no females in TACP training,” Air Education and Training Command spokeswoman 1st Lt. Geneva Croxton told Military.com.

Two female airmen who began battlefield training in August also attempted to become TACP specialists, but did not succeed, officials said.

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Separately, another TACP trainee removed herself from training due to a leg injury in 2016; a combat rescue officer candidate passed the physical test but never completed the selection program application; and another non-prior service TACP candidate couldn’t meet entry standards following Basic Military Training at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

“The principle here is that … every career field [is open to women],” AETC commander Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast said during a breakfast Thursday with reporters in Washington, D.C.

Before it was made known that no women are currently in the pipeline, Kwast spoke generally about the training program.

“Our effort [is] to make sure we’re treating everybody like they’re world-class athletes, where we’re proactively using physical therapy and training techniques that are uniquely fit for the human being that’s in the program to make them healthy,” he said.

The new training concepts differ from “the industrial-age model of putting a rucksack on their back; you put them in combat boots and you make them run five miles. Those are the days of old,” Kwast said.

He continued, “We make sure that every woman who is coming into the battlefield airman [pipeline] has a coach, and those coaches are designing the training uniquely for them, to make them healthier, faster, better, stronger and smarter all the way along.”

Similar physical training and therapy elements exist in the Air Force Special Operations Command community, where some battlefield airmen would go after their combat training is complete.

The new training techniques are not just for women but for any airman attempting some of the toughest career fields in the U.S. military, Kwast said.

The tailored physical training looks at all of the characteristics of an individual attempting the courses, which average roughly two years to complete. For example, if someone is tall, the coaches will create unique exercises and muscle development training so he or she doesn’t develop a detrimental lower back condition later on, he said.

Kwast said the command has seen results in that “the washout rate is going way down, but the competency and the level of performance is going up.”

Last year, Lt. Gen. Darryl Roberson, then-head of AETC, noted the community has some of the highest washout rates in the Air Force due to the grueling nature of its work.

At any given time, the service is training 1,000 to 1,500 airmen for battlefield career fields. On average, only 20 percent of those graduate.

Battlefield airmen — special tactics officer (13CX), combat rescue officer (13DX), combat controller (1C2XX), pararescue (1T2XX), special operations weather (1WOX2), TACP (1C4XX) and air liaison officer (13LX) — “have the highest attrition rate of any specialty in the U.S. Air Force,” Roberson said in September at the Air Force Association’s annual Air, Space and Cyber conference.

Through its Battlefield Airmen Recruiting Squadron, the Air Force hopes to better pinpoint individuals ready for the task.

“We still have to work harder at the recruiting piece, where we are inspiring a broader swath of society to come into this because we align their passion, their propensity and their skills and talents with our requirements,” Kwast said.

Part of that requirement is fostering diversity, so the Air Force “looks like the demographics of America,” he said.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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Medal of Liberty Presented to Families of Fallen Service Members

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BOSTON — During a ceremony at the State House May 22, Governor Charlie Baker and Air Force Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe, adjutant general, Massachusetts National Guard, awarded 14 Medals of Liberty to the families of fallen Massachusetts service members.

Established by an act of the Massachusetts General Court, the medal is “awarded to the next of kin of service men and women from the Commonwealth killed in action or who died in service while in a designated combat area in the line of duty or who died as a result of wounds received in action.”

“Today we remember the Massachusetts Medal of Liberty and a timeless and tireless symbol of the service and sacrifice of Massachusetts citizens that answer our nation’s call to duty,” said Keefe. “More importantly it’s a public statement to the families of the fallen that they are not alone, and will never be alone.”

The governor echoed Keefe’s sentiments.

“When somebody serves, their whole family serves alongside them,” said Baker. “For the folks who lose someone, the most important thing they need to know is that we will honor, treasure and cherish that person’s service.”

Three of the medals awarded were in honor of service members killed in the line of duty during the recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The remainder were in recognition of service members’ sacrifice during conflicts of less recent memory.

Mark Conry was on hand to represent his brother, Dennis Conry a Marine killed in action during the Vietnam War.

“It’s bittersweet,” said Conry, choking back tears at the memory of his brother. “The pain never goes away, but we’re proud of him, that’s why we’re here today.”

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Dyess Awarded Congressional Gold Medal 75 Years After his Death

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Lt. Col. William Edwin Dyess was honored with the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of his service in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, on May 11.

Dyess died in 1943 due to an aircraft mishap during a training flight in California. His youngest sister and only surviving immediate family member, Elizabeth “Nell” Denman, received the medal on his behalf.

The Congressional Gold Medal is an award bestowed by the U.S. Congress and is one of highest expressions of national appreciation for distinguished achievements and contributions. Each medal honors a particular individual, institution or event.

“The medal is awarded to those who have made significant achievement that profoundly touch American history and its culture,” said 1st Lt. McCall Sears, 7th Medical Support Squadron resource management flight commander and one of the coordinators of the ceremony.

George Washington was the first to receive this award in 1776. Only 160 individuals, groups and organizations have received this prestigious award since then.

The medal was awarded to Dyess in recognition of his sacrifice and dedication to the Army Air Corps between the years of 1916 and 1943. He distinguished himself by his heroism as an Army Air Corps aviator, Prisoner of War escapee from the Davao Penal Colony prison camp in the Philippines.

“We are honored to present this prestigious award to Dyess’ family and be a part of honoring our base’s namesake,” said Sears.

During the event, Denman and her family had the opportunity to witness the gratitude of Dyess Airmen for her older brother’s sacrifice.

“It is days like these, that make me so proud to be a citizen of this great nation,” said Col. Brandon Parker, 7th Bomb Wing commander. “This day is 75 years in the making, but it doesn’t lessen the legacy or the meaning of why we are here.”

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Corps Fires CO, Senior Enlisted Leader at Light Armored Battalion

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The Marines fired two top leaders of a Twentynine Palms unit on Monday.

Maj. Gen. Maj. Gen. Eric Smith, commander of 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton, removed Lt. Col. Rafael A. Candelario II and Sgt. Maj. Marcus A. Chestnut of 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.

Candelario, 47, was the commander of the “Wolfpack” and Chestnut, 45, his senior enlisted Marine.

“All I can say is that the commanding general lost confidence in their ability to lead 3rd LAR,” said division spokesman Capt. Paul Gainey during a telephone interview late Wednesday.

Smith ordered Lt. Col. John Kinitz to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms to assume command of the battalion until a permanent replacement can be named.

“He’s in Twentynine Palms now and he’s taken command,” said Gainey.

Gainey declined to say why Smith lost confidence in the senior leaders or if an investigation was underway.

The 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion is a fast vehicular unit that conducts reconnaissance-in-force ahead of infantry forces.

In March the unit participated in its Marine Corps Combat Readiness Evaluation at the sprawling San Bernardino County base. The grueling tests are designed to test a unit’s ability to function in battle.

The former battalion sergeant major for 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, Chestnut joined 3rd LAR on March 18, 2016, according to military records.

A South Carolina native who became a canoneer crewman, he had served in Australia as the Marine Air Ground Task Force Sergeant Major in support of Marine Rotational Force Darwin.

“To the Marines and sailors of the ‘Wolf Pack’, you don’t owe me anything, but I owe you a lot,” Chestnut said when he was welcomed to Twentynine Palms. “I’m here to tell you that I am here to serve you.”

He is a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A woman who answered at his home on Wednesday said he could not come to the phone.

The son of a Marine, Candelario graduated in 1994 from Davidson College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History with a concentration in Gender Studies.

He made multiple deployments overseas, including to Afghanistan, Kuwait, Okinawa and Djibouti.

After graduating early from the Naval Postgraduate School in 2007, he served in the U.S. Embassy in Botswana before becoming the executive officer of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marines.

Assigned as a Recovery Team Leader with the Joint Prisoner of War/Missing in Action Command, he led two missions in Vietnam and Laos.

After serving as the regimental operations officer, regimental executive officer, and the acting regimental commander of 5th Marines at Camp Pendleton, he took command of 3rd LAR on June 15, 2017.

Efforts to reach Candelario by telephone on Wednesday were unsuccessful. He did not answer multiple emails seeking comment.

This article is written by Carl Prine from The San Diego Union-Tribune and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Japanese Defense Minister Expresses Concern After Osprey Crash Report

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Japan’s defense minister has expressed concerns about the safety of Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft after a report blamed downwash for a crash off Australia that killed three last summer.

In a report dated March 21, investigators said the Aug. 5, 2017, incident was caused by a heavy downwash of air as the Osprey from Okinawa’s Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 265 attempted to land on the USS Green Bay.

“There will be a need to deal with the matter after obtaining the relevant information from the United States,” Itsunori Onodera told reporters Tuesday, according to the Asahi newspaper.

The downwash was so heavy that the Osprey didn’t have enough thrust to hold its hover and collided with the ship before falling into the sea, killing three and injuring 23, according to the report.

“The mission was complex, challenging, and included flying into and out of a highly congested operational area. Executing this mission required a detailed plan and superior technical performance,” Maj. Gen. Thomas Weidley, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general, wrote in an endorsement of the report.

“The Marines manning the mishap aircraft were mission capable, fully-trained, and qualified. The mishap aircraft was mechanically sound,” he said.

Naval Air Systems Command engineers have looked at the effects of downwash and the amount of power an Osprey needs to land safely. They have made adjustments to the amount of weight an Osprey can carry when it’s approaching a ship at sea to make sure it has enough power to land, the U.S. Naval Institute reported Monday.

Twenty-four MV-22B Ospreys fly out of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, and five CV-22 Ospreys — part of a squadron that will grow to 10 aircraft — began operating out of Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo last month.

The Japan Self-Defense Forces plan to acquire 17 of their own Ospreys this fiscal year.

Protesters have questioned the safety of the aircraft, which are capable of taking off like helicopters, then tilting their rotors to fly long distances as fixed-wing planes.

Officials blamed the December 2016 crash-landing of a Futenma-based Osprey off Okinawa on weather and human error.

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Former Marine Found Guilty of 5 California Murders

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SANTA ANA, Calif. — A convicted Illinois killer was found guilty Wednesday of the murders of five women in Southern California more than two decades ago.

Orange County jurors convicted Andrew Urdiales of five counts of murder with enhancements for attacking a volunteer usher after a college piano concert and picking up four prostitutes, driving them to remote or deserted areas, having sex with them and killing them.

The verdict raises to eight the number of women killed by the 53-year-old former Marine.

Urdiales was previously convicted of killing three women in Illinois in 2002 and 2004. He was given a death sentence that was commuted to life without parole after Illinois barred the death penalty.

He was extradited to California in 2011 to stand trial in the murders of five women in Riverside, Orange and San Diego counties between 1986 and 1995. For these killings, California prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

The penalty phase of the trial will begin Thursday for jurors to evaluate whether to recommend a death sentence for Urdiales or life without parole.

Attorneys declined to comment publicly on the verdicts before the trial has concluded.

Authorities said Urdiales, who moved to Southern California in 1984 as a 19-year-old Marine, killed four women while in the military and a fifth while vacationing in Palm Springs in 1995.

He attacked 23-year-old Robbin Brandley after a jazz piano concert in 1986 at an Orange County community college and stabbed her to death in the parking lot. Two years later, he picked up Julie McGhee, a 29-year-old prostitute, and drove her to a remote area, had sex with her, shot her in the head and left her body in the desert, authorities said.

Urdiales went on to attack and kill three more Southern California women and three Illinois women who were working as prostitutes, authorities said.

The California murders went unsolved for more than a decade until Urdiales was arrested after he returned home to Illinois.

Authorities stopped Urdiales in 1996 and found a weapon in his truck that he wasn’t allowed to carry, prosecutors said. The next year, authorities matched the weapon to the one used to kill the Illinois women and arrested him for those murders.

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Air Force Commander Fired After Grenades, Machine Gun Go Missing

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The commander responsible for the Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, unit that lost both a machine gun and a box of grenades in recent weeks has been fired, the Air Force announced Wednesday.

Col. Jason Beers, 91st Security Forces Group commander, was relieved of his duties May 23 due “to a loss of trust and confidence after a series of events under the scope of his leadership, including a recent loss of ammunition and weapons,” Minot officials said in a release.

His firing comes after airmen with the 91st lost a box of 32 40mm high-explosive MK 19 grenades May 1, which fell out of the back of a Humvee. After a quick, unsuccessful search, officials offered a $5,000 reward to anyone who may have picked up the box in Mountrail County. Days later, the 91st discovered it also was missing an M240 machine gun.

Neither the grenades nor the machine gun have been located. The unit’s airmen are tasked with protecting the base’s nuclear sites.

Air Force Global Strike Command, which oversees the base, initiated an immediate command-wide inventory check on all weapons following the two losses.

Beers was responsible for ensuring the 91st SFG was “trained, organized and equipped to secure 150 Minuteman III missiles and launch facilities and 15 missile alert facilities geographically separated throughout 8,500 square miles of the missile complex,” the release said.

The Air Force did not disclose if a replacement for Beers has been named.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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Pilots Eject Safely as T-38 Trainer Crashes in Mississippi

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A U.S. Air Force T-38 Talon II trainer jet crashed Wednesday morning near Columbus Air Force Base, Mississippi. Both pilots safely ejected from the aircraft.

The incident occurred at 8:30 a.m., the base said in a Facebook post.

“Local law enforcement and first responders are on the scene. First responders have extinguished the fire and are securing the area. The pilots have been transported to a local hospital for evaluation,” officials said, adding there was no immediate threat to the area.

The incident marks the second crash of a T-38 trainer in six months.

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In November, Capt. Paul J. Barbour, 32, died in a T-38 crash about 15 miles northwest of Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas.

Barbour, a native of Van Nuys, California, was the aircrew flight equipment flight commander with the 47th Operations Support Squadron and an instructor pilot with the 87th Flying Training Squadron.

Capt. Joshua Hammervold, an instructor pilot for the 87th FTS, was injured in the accident.

The latest crash comes three weeks after a WC-130 crashed in Georgia. All nine aboard were killed.

The Air Force has lost 18 service members since November to aviation mishaps.

As of May 2, manned aviation Class-A mishaps — defined as involving fatalities, severe damage totaling $2 million or more, or a complete loss of the aircraft — have increased 48 percent in fiscal 2018, officials said recently.

The latest accident comes as the service is conducting a staggered one-day stand-down ordered by Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein on May 7 to give units “the chance to identify issues that they can work and elevate up to the [major command level] … and the Air Staff if necessary,” said Maj. Gen. John T. Rauch, chief of safety for the service and commander of the Air Force Safety Center.

— Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @Oriana0214.

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