NEWS OF THE FORCE: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 - Page 2

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Feb 23, 2016, 2:27:08 PM2/23/16
  NEWS OF THE FORCE: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 - Page 2

U.S. Air Force
    On Dec. 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in shootings in San Bernardino, Calif., that shook the lives of all involved. While many grieved and sent condolences to the families involved, one man decided to take action. Air Force Capt. Costas Dracopoulos, the 961st Airborne Air Control Squadron's flight safety officer at Kadena Air Base, Japan, rallied the troops and organized a toy drive for the children of the victims. Dracopoulos grew up in San Bernardino and went to college in the area. The tragedy struck home to him. “What really affected me the most was that a friend of mine was one of the victims,” he said. “He left behind six children, so it was a tough time for his family.” Not only were his friend’s children affected, but other families were affected as well, and Dracopoulos decided he would take responsibility to help in any way possible. “I was on leave in Kyoto when I first found out. I saw it on the news,” Drocopoulos said. “It hit even deeper when I got on Facebook and saw messages that one of my friends was a victim, so I thought I should do something about it.” Dracopoulos used his resources - such as a chaplain and the Red Cross - to find the best course of action. After talking to the San Bernardino mayor’s office, he found out how to help. “I put a message out to the squadron, and they were more than happy to give out toys in less than a week and ship them out a few days later,” Dracopoulos said. The 961st AACS answered the call, and in less than a week the airmen gathered more than 50 toys. Having connections still in the San Bernardino Police Department and the mayor’s office, Dracopoulos ensured the relief was delivered to those in need. San Bernardino Mayor Carey Davis sent a heartfelt thank you letter back to the 961st. “I am proud of the united manner by which our nation has responded to the tragic events that forever impacted several lives,” Davis wrote. “Your willing and generous response to the crisis and your selflessness are greatly appreciated. Thank you for going out of your way and facilitating the process between my staff and your squadron.” Dracopoulos stepped up to support not only his friends and family, but also all others affected as well. “It shows the compassion he has for his friends and family,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Kyle Anderson, the 961st AACS' commander. “It also shows how tight of a family we have here in the squadron, that they are willing to help his effort to make it a reality.” The quick response demonstrated by Dracopoulos and all of the members of the squadron showcases their camaraderie and compassion to help. “He is an amazing warrior,” Anderson said of Dracopoulos. “He just got back from a deployment. The tragedy occurred during his rest and relaxation time, so it shows a lot when he’s out doing something else away from the squadron and he has the idea and ideals to push forward and take care of the folks that the tragedy affected.” Anderson emphasized how proud he is of the members of his squadron. “I’m ecstatic that our 961st family supported him, and it also bodes well for the squadron for one of our own to put on an event like that,” Anderson said. “We live in a small world and it shows how a tragedy stateside can affect service members over here.” It is the actions of the brave, whether big or small, that can really affect those close to the tragedy. “San Bernardino is fortunate to have the support of individuals like Drocopolous and your base,” Davis added. “Once again, please accept my sincere and personal thanks. Your generosity and your willingness to give have significantly impacted the morale of our staff and community.”
    The Air Force's 2017 budget assigns eight KC-135 tanker aircraft to Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, N.Y., starting next year.
    The Maryland Air National Guard is preparing to make its first major deployment in the U.S.-led fight against the Islamic State group.
    Two airmen serving with the 109th Airlift Wing, at Stratton Air National Guard Base in Scotia, N.Y., have been selected as the top noncommissioned officers in the state's Air National Guard.
    Airmen from the Hawaii-based 154th Maintenance Squadron and the Alaska-based 477th MXS are working together on Hawaii Air National Guard planes.
    The Civil Air Patrol focuses on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) opportunities, as well as education in emergency services, leadership and military customs and courtesies.
    And the saga of the CAP's Florida Wing continues. A statement of events was shared with Florida Wing headquarters regarding a flight in which Jason Scott Duey violated several FAA regulations and endangered the life of a cadet in the plane and several others on the ground. His actions included low over-flight of highly populated areas, and "high-performance takeoffs" and aerobatic maneuvers that could've led to loss of control and total destruction of life and property. N995CP’s airframe was overstressed past its operating limitations and is still being operated today. Major Michael Croteau learned about this a few months later and encouraged the cadet to come forward about this, despite threats Capt. Duey had directed to the cadet about telling others about the flights. Major Croteau was the Incident Commander of 14-T-7210, a SAR training exercise that took place over two days in Group 6. The flights discussed were relocation flights from Opa Locka to Lantana, and vice-versa. When Major Croteau informed then-Major John Clark of the allegations, Clark tried to stop the process of grounding Duey. As incident commander, Major Croteau overrode Clark and sent in a letter to wing HQ calling for the grounding of Jason Duey. In retaliation, Major Clark issued the cadet a notice of grounding for allowing an aircraft to descend below 500 feet, even though the cadet involved wasn’t the pilot of the airplane, as shown by flight records. Capt. Duey sent several threatening text messages to Major Croteau, then subsequently resigned from the CAP. Then in March 2015, the cadet reportedly received an e-mail from Lt. Col. Jorge Del Rio, who claimed he was investigating the circumstances of 14-T-7210. He harassed the cadet over several phone calls asking for information, warning the cadet that he was a highly-qualified investigator and a government agent. He informed me I was banned from speaking with Major Croteau, who was also the cadet's squadron commander at the time. Additionally, he informed the cadet that the cadet was required to meet with him in Lakeland, Fla., at his own discretion of date and time, and that the cadet's parents had spoken with him already. When questioning the cadet's parents about this meeting, they said, “Who is this Del Rio guy?" They say they never spoke with any CAP investigator. In many of the calls, Lt. Col. Del Rio also referred to himself as the Southeast Region IG and also the Assistant National Headquarters' IG. A few weeks later, after another harassing phone call, the cadet snapped and informed Del Rio that the cadet believed he [Del Rio] was the “most incompetent investigator I ever spoken with,” and that a background search on him showed that he was just a guard employed with the Florida Department of Corrections. Lt. Col. Del Rio instantly became apologetic, and informed the cadet that he is the man "sent in when terminations are at play." He was sent by Col. Irizarry, the Florida Wing commander, not to investigate Jason Duey, but to find grounds for the membership termination for Major Croteau. That same week, he told Major Croteau the exact same story, except he was finding grounds for the cadet's termination. At the 2015 Florida Wing Conference, sources tell News of the Force, the cadet confronted Col. Irizarry in person regarding the cadet's grounding and then threatened make the cadet's grounding permanent and even to terminate the cadet's membership if the cadet spoke to anyone about the colonel's involvement. Several IG complaints were subsequently filed, but none were investigated, and the cadet still remains grounded. Attempts to reach the cadet involved were not successful. Other sources have confirmed that during the 2015 Florida Wing Conference, a well-known, senior cadet (reportedly a Spaatz cadet) alleged he was sexually molested by 1st Lt. Manny Rodriguez during a CAP weekend activity. The cadet was approached by Col. Irizarry, the wing commander, who was shown pictures and text messages – sexual in nature – that were being sent to the cadet from 1st Lt. Rodriguez. Col. Irizarry reportedly thoroughly scolded the cadet for going forward with this and not reporting it earlier. After being pressured by other Florida Wing members, Col. Irizarry finally called the CAP's National Counsel and informed him of only a "boundary concern." He never informed the National Counsel of the sexual assault, the sources say. Col. Irizarry refused to report the allegations to the counsel or to the Florida Deptartment of Children and Families (DCF). Col. Irizarry endangered the safety of hundreds of cadets by allowing an alleged pedophile to stay at an overnight CAP activity. We can only imagine how parents would react if they found out that a wing commander endangered their children by allowing a manipulative pedophile to stay at the activity overnight, essentially allowing them to be “on the menu” for this monster. As a result, anonymous calls came in from other cadets who fell victim to Rodriguez. Rodriguez once shared with a source that he had inter-course with a male cadet during a Florida Wing encampment. Again, Rodriguez remained an active CAP member for several weeks after Col. Irizarry was made aware of the allegations. It wasn’t until Major Croteau reached out the general counsel and informed of him of the molestation. The general counsel confirmed that Col. Irizarry never made any report of physical sexual assault regarding Manny Rodriguez. That same day, Rodriguez was suspended pending an investigation. During a phone call with Major Croteau, Lt. Col. Clark instructed him to not believe any CPPT (Cadet Protection Policy) complaint made by a cadet. Lt. Col. Clark also verbally abused Major Croteau and threatened retaliation within 30 days of the call. Exactly 30 days later, Lt. Col. Clark was transferred to a Florida Wing deputy chief of staff position. Major Croteau’s wife, Lily Croteau, was suspended without cause or investigation for six months. The suspension was not official. Major Croteau was also limited from participating with any local squadrons in retaliation. Major Croteau told us that his membership in the CAP expires next month, and neither he or his wife are renewing. He also said that in the last year he and his wife had spent $12,000 of their own money on CAP business; the year before, he said, it was $15,000. Sources told NOTF that under Col. Irizarry’s "tyranny," there are approximately 20 or more Florida Wing personnel that are grounded from flight status. "With two aircraft crashes in the past two months, the CAP’s commitment to safety protocols really is brought into question," one source said. "It’s disturbing to think that two Florida Wing aircraft have been found to have malfunctions in the last two months that are yet to be addressed. One of them has an ELT that has been expired for several years. Another has logbooks that have been filled out incorrectly, while another one frequently misses maintenance work and inspections. In fact, the aircraft has flown past its every-50 hours inspection with no action so far. How many crashes will it take for National Headquarters to step in? How can we expect our pilots to be safe and prevent accidents when we have a tyrant wing commander who grounds individuals left and right for his own retribution purposes. Col. Irizarry and his staff are endangering the lives of cadets, senior officers and pilots."
American Red Cross
    The American Red Cross chapter based in Myrtle Beach, S.C., is hosting a fun event for kids - The Princess Gala - on the first Saturday in March.
    A $50,000 donation from HOPE (Health Opportunity through Partnership in Education) is helping the American Red Cross.
    And the American Red Cross of Chicago & Northern Illinois has announced the appointment of Fred Costello to its Board of Directors.
'Major incident' declared at U.K. power plant
By Jim Corvey, News of the Force St. Louis 
    British emergency services say they are responding to a "major incident" at a disused power station in southern England.
    Photographs of the Didcot plant, 60 miles west of London, showed that part of a building appears to have collapsed.
    South Central Ambulance says it has sent six ambulances, two air ambulances and a hazardous area response team to the site this afternoon. The service could not confirm any casualties.
    The incident occurred at an old coal- and oil-fueled plant that has been closed since 2013 and is slated for demolition. Didcot also houses an operating gas-powered plant.
TRICARE news    
    Cholesterol plays an important role in the health of your heart. A build-up of cholesterol and other deposits can block arteries and lead to coronary artery disease (CAD) – the most common type of heart disease in the United States. Knowing if you have high cholesterol is important because it is one of a number of factors that determine your risk for CAD. Read the full article here.
The parting shots
    Who would spend millions of dollars putting solar panels in a place that dark 24/7 for half a year? President Obama, of course. The Department of Energy is spending $7 million for solar power - in northern Alaska.
    In defense of the privacy of millions of Americans, Apple CEO Tim Cook has refused to comply with a federal court order requiring Apple to build a "backdoor" program that would hack into the cell phone of the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist.
    From the folks at U.S. Vice President Joe Biden did not say "No ordinary American cares about their constitutional rights." Einstein was right: Gravitational waves really do exist. A starving sea lion found in a restaurant is recovering. Restaurant staff discovered the dehydrated, malnourished pup curled up in a booth. A book featuring amusing ball-related double entendres isn't primarily intended for children, despite its appearance. The book is called, Do You Want to Play With My Balls? A formerly missing man has remembered who he is - 30 years later. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia didn't quite say that factual innocence of the accused was irrelevant in death penalty cases. Recent reports suggest the Super Bowl-winning quarterback, Payton Manning, may not be as squeaky clean as his image has made him out to be - he allegedly covered up a sexual assault. Mark Cuban did not say that fact-checking millennials would vote for Democrats - the statement which incorrectly attributed the quote to Mark Cuban comes from a Facebook page with a stated political agenda. The Russian army is not wearing exosuits: A photograph purportedly showing the soldiers wearing "exosuits" in Syria actually comes from a movie set. Singer Beyonce has not been banned from entering or performing in Canada based on her 2016 Super Bowl halftime performance. Ted Cruz did not say he was skeptical about Justice Scalia's death - while the Supreme Court Justice's death has prompted discussions and conspiracy theories, this story came from a site that specializes in fake news. A "satire" news article has claimed that Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith had purchased the BET channel. Bernie Sanders did not actually dodge the draft - Sanders applied for conscientious objector status during the Vietnam War draft, but was too old to be drafted when his number came up. An image of a tweet ostensibly sent by Ted Cruz threatening to deport Beyonce was shared on social media, but it appears to be fake. A number of social media and blog posts claimed that some California fruits were grown in toxic fracking-related or oil refinery wastewater. A sequel to Eminem's "8 Mile" isn't slated for release this year - or ever. Several fake news sites ran with a fabricated tale of an overweight man purportedly suing because he was booted from a buffet restaurant. A Facebook user claimed that reality star Kim Kardashian wore a coat made out of dog fur to Kanye West's fashion show, but later admitted he had made it up. A viral Facebook post claimed a customer found live maggots inside a jar of Bertolli sauce, but maggots can't survive the canning process. A fake news site's claim that a large quantity of rat meat was sold as chicken wings before Super Bowl 50 was reported as legitimate by other web sites. No, a Republican Alabama lawmaker didn't propose saliva-based "hunger tests" prior to issuing food stamps. While a photograph shows a rhino interacting with a zebra foal, the image doesn't tell the complete (and far less uplifting) story. A fake news article claimed that a man caused a meth lab explosion after lighting his own "gas" on fire. redirects to the web site of Donald Trump, but a purported tweet from Trump taunting Bush didn't come from Trump's official account. A years-old fake quote from Vladimir Putin saying that President Obama was an "idiot" started recirculating on the Internet for some reason this month. A story about a man being arrested for not paying a student loan is circulating on the Internet - but without all of the facts. Marine Corps veteran Christopher Marquez was involved in an altercation at a McDonald's, but police said the teens were likely not Black Lives Matter activists. A fake news story claimed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will only consider approving a Supreme Court Justice who is white, Christian, conservative, and male. A video purportedly shows a "7D hologram" virtual whale splashing through a school gym floor, but it's a promotional video showcasing Magic Leap technology. The family of "Big Ang" (Angela Raiola) of "Mob Wives" as denied reports she died at a Manhattan hospital on Feb. 17. An unsubstantiated theory suggesting a Monsanto pesticide caused an uptick in microcephaly births in Brazil reached a tipping point when it was promoted by Star Trek's George Takei. An article reporting that Donald Trump had badmouthed Jesus and said he could save America without some "silly cross" originated from a satire site. A rare baby dolphin apparently died after being handled by a swarm of tourists in Argentina, although other reports claim they were trying to save it. While there is an unofficial (but real) envelope featuring Bernie Sanders, the U.S. Postal Service hasn't issued a stamp endorsing the Democratic candidate. A Facebook meme falsely claimed that Diego Unchained actor Ato Essandoh was really killed by dogs for authenticity's sake. There is no Article III, Section IV "lame duck" Constitutional clause prohibiting President Obama from appointing a Scalia replacement. No, police didn't find 12 (or 19) bodies in a freezer, with "Black Lives Matter" carved into their skin. Israel didn't ban Heinz ketchup - its Health Ministry just ruled that the company had to rebrand it as "tomato seasoning." Multiple articles claimed that several widely available cheeses were "bulked up" with wood filler, a highly misleading assertion. A woman did not set a world record by having 14 kids from 14 fathers - the story originated from clickbait sites that specialize in fake news and was illustrated with stolen photos. A photo of Earth in a "Cradle of Clouds" did not come from the Hubble Space Telescope - the "photo" was actually artwork that's been around since at least 2013. No, a Harvard study didn't just prove drinking wine before bed "makes you skinny" or that it aids weight loss. Bill Maher maintains a joint smoked on "Real Time" this month was real, but his later claims that he was fined by the FCC were fabricated. An article reported that Ted Cruz would replace the Constitution with the Bible if he gets elected president, but it originated from a satire site. And a fake news site claimed a study indicated four in five black men (80 percent) in Atlanta, Ga., were "homosexuals."
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