Amid higher operations tempo and more airmen deploying to Guam, the 36th Air Expeditionary Wing stepped up its safety programs, reducing reportable mishaps by 40 percent and earning an Air Force-level safety award for fiscal 2004.

The wing learned this week that it has won the Air Force Chief of Safety Special Achievement Award, beating out other wings nominated by Air Force major commands.

“To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve won this,” said Lt. Col. Brian Anderson, 36th ABW chief of safety.

“Our entire wing has contributed to this award, from commanders to supervisors to individuals. We integrated an aggressive and proactive safety program and decision-making process.”

With deployed aircraft maintaining a continuous presence at Andersen to support Pacific Air Forces and regional security interests, the wing assumed more responsibility and expanded its focus in flight, ground and weapons’ safety, Anderson said.

“We increased the number of persons coming in here, we’ve increased flight operations dramatically. And then in weapons safety, we not only have to worry about the ammunition storage itself, but also bombers are dropping live weapons,” he said, “and we’re having to look at loading of the weapons as well as employing the weapons.”

Before the first B-52 bombers from the United States deployed to Guam in February 2004 as part of a continuous rotation, the base supported only aircraft transiting through the Pacific.

“Now we actually have flight operations conducted here on a daily basis,” Anderson said. “We played a key safety role in making sure the bomber and tanker presence was executed safely.”

Officials said the Air Force safety award also recognized the wing for:

¶ Ensuring in-flight emergency response procedures included a timely flow of information and coordination between air crews and senior leadership.

¶ Expertly managing the Bird Aircraft Strike Hazard, or BASH, program to minimize bird and wildlife risks to flying operations. Since Andersen’s flight line sits near a jungle, deer and wild pigs — in addition to birds — can present a hazard to aircraft, Anderson said. “We had to step it (BASH) up because we had increased operations tempo,” he said.

¶ Briefing all newly assigned and temporary-duty personnel on Guam’s potential dangers, from the treacherous ocean reef to slippery road conditions during rainfall. “Within hours of them arriving on station, we’re briefing them on the hazards on Guam,” said Master Sgt. Roger Fladung, chief of ground safety, 36th Air Expeditionary Wing.

¶ Maintaining an aggressive beginners and experienced motorcycle riders program. Fladung said the wing trained more than 71 personnel last year.

¶ Reducing reportable on- and off-duty mishaps from 14 in fiscal 2003 to nine in fiscal 2004. “We’re getting a lot of buy-in from everybody on base,” Fladung said.

¶ Safely monitoring the operations and storage of PACAF’s largest air-to-ground munitions stock pile.

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Jennifer reports on the U.S. military from Kaiserslautern, Germany, where she writes about the Air Force, Army and DODEA schools. She’s had previous assignments for Stars and Stripes in Japan, reporting from Yokota and Misawa air bases. Before Stripes, she worked for daily newspapers in Wyoming and Colorado. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Virginia.

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