At Your Service
For and about Hawaii's military

By Gregg K. Kakesako

Sunday, April 22, 2001


Thunderbirds to
bring precision flying
to Oahu on Oct. 27

By Gregg K. Kakesako

THE AIR FORCE THUNDERBIRDS, flying F-16 Fighting Falcons, are scheduled for 14 performances in seven Pacific locations this fall, including Hickam Air Force Base on Oct. 27.

Besides Hickam, other parts of the fall tour include Misawa Air Base in Japan, Osan Air Base in South Korea and Andersen Air Force Base on Guam.

The team is made up of eight pilots (six demonstration pilots), four support officers, four civilians and more than 120 enlisted people in 25 career fields

Now in their 48th year, the Thunderbirds will give more than 60 shows at 29 bases in the United States during the 2001 season.

Between March and November, the Thunderbirds average nearly 70 demonstrations that keep the team on the road for more than 200 days.

Featured in the demonstration is a mix of solo routines highlighting the maximum capabilities of the F-16, and formation flying including the four-aircraft diamond formation showing the pilots' precision flying abilities.

Pilots perform approximately 30 maneuvers during a demonstration. The entire show, including ground and air, runs about an hour and 15 minutes.

Gen. Michael E. Ryan, Air Force chief of staff, pinned
a Distinguished Service Medal on Gen. Patrick K.
Gamble, Pacific Air Forces commander, just before
Gamble's retirement from the Air Force this month,.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Michael E. Ryan presented the Distinguished Service Medal to Gen. Patrick K. Gamble, Pacific Air Forces commander, just prior to Gamble's retirement from the Air Force after 33 years of service this month. Gamble retired to become president and chief executive officer of the Alaska Railroad Corp. in Anchorage.

Lt. Gen. William J. Begert, currently Air Force assistant vice chief of staff, has been nominated for his fourth star as commander of the Pacific Air Forces and air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command. His appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Pearl Harbor: Cmdr. Willian Traub replaced Cmdr. Dennis Murphy as the commanding officer of the nuclear submarine USS Tucson.

Makalapa: Rear Adm. (Select) Robert F. Willard is being assigned as deputy and chief of staff of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Willard is now serving as commander, Carrier Group Five. Rear Adm. Steven A. Kunkle, currently deputy chief at the Pacific Fleet, will become commander of Carrier Group Five.


Soldiers at Schofield Barracks participated last week in
a demonstration of support services the Army provides
for troops in the field. Tanya Ingram, above right, was
fitted with a splint used for fractured-leg injuries by
Maria Lim, left, and Jennifer Campbell during recent
training at Schofield Barracks.

Jeff Brownlee, left, and Dexter Foster of the 8th
Forward Surgical Team worked on another "patient."
About 18 stations were set up involving
various services.


VA offers
drug benefits

Question: I have a medical condition that requires constant medication. Every time I turn around, the prescription cost goes up. I recently heard about the VA's pharmacy benefit for veterans and would like to know more about it.

Answer: The first requirement for utilizing the VA's pharmacy is to enroll in the system and determine eligibility. The important thing to remember is that the VA only fills prescriptions written by a VA health care provider, unless you are a veteran with a fee basis card. In those special cases, the VA will fill prescriptions written by community doctors.

Once enrolled, schedule an appointment at the Ambulatory Care Center. Your cost share for the initial appointment is $50. Because medicines can interact with one another, be sure to let the doctor or pharmacist know if you are taking medicines filled at a non-VA pharmacy. Prescriptions written by the VA health care provider can be filled at the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Ambulatory Care Center pharmacy. You may be required to make a co-payment of $2 for each 30-day or smaller supply, for nonservice-connected conditions.

While the initial prescription is usually filled in person, refills can be mailed to you through the VA's automated telephone refill ordering system. That number is 433-0050. Be sure to allow at least two weeks when ordering refills.

It is important to make another appointment with your VA health-care provider before the prescription refills run out. Some medications must be reordered every six months, while others must be reordered once a year -- even if there are refills remaining.

Service-connected veterans rated 50 percent or more, veterans in receipt of VA pension benefits, and veterans whose annual incomes do not exceed the established threshold set by law are not required to make this co-payment.

Veterans with a VA service-connected disability are not required to pay for medications relating to that disability.

If you have any questions about benefits as a veteran, call Fred W. Ballard, assistant public affairs officer, at 433-0049, or the Star-Bulletin at 529-4747.


Military agencies halt
use of Social Security
numbers on checks

Star-Bulletin staff

The Army and Air Force Exchange Service plans to abandon its long-standing practice of requiring Social Security numbers on personal checks.

"The real push behind this (change) is that people just don't like to give out their Social Security numbers," says Army Maj. Mitchell Edgar, Army and Air Force Exchange Service-Europe spokesman.

Similar concerns led the Defense Commissary Agency to amend its policy next month.

Like the exchange service, the commissary will have cashiers type into their computerized registers a customer's Social Security number. That number, obtained from a person's ID card, will be checked by an internal data base, as is currently the practice.

The Social Security number would remain in the Defense Commissary Agency's secure database until the personal check clears.

Also, beginning this summer, the military exchange system will install a magnetic ink character recognition reader system that will scan checks, recording such basic information as routing, check and account numbers. That data, along with the Social Security number will fulfill the exchange service's needs, while providing customers added privacy and security.



Western Pacific

USS Chicago (SSN 721)
USS Louisville (SSN 724)
USS Kamehameha (SSN 642)
USS Columbia (SSN 771)
USS Santa Fe (SSN 763)
USS Los Angeles (SSN 688)
USS Chosin (CG 65)
USS Frederick (LST 1184)

Hawaii area

USS Buffalo (SSN 715)
USS Russell (DDG 59)

Eastern Pacific / West Coast U.S.

USS Houston (SSN 718)
USS Salvor (ARS 52)


Sinai: 1st Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment

Alaska, Kosrae, East Micronesia, Bangladesh, Pohnpei: 84th Engineers

East Timor: 25th Division, 9th Regional Support Command (U.S. Army Reserve)

Korea, Canada, Guam, Honduras, Japan, Mongolia, Palau, Bangladesh, Singapore, Kenya: Tripler Army Medical Center

Bosnia, Kosovo: 25th Division, 9th Regional Support Command

Laos: 706th Explosives Ordnance Detachment


England: 203rd Air Refueling Squadron. Air National Guard

Persian Gulf, Italy, Turkey: 292nd Combat Communications Squadron. Air National Guard

Persian Gulf, Germany, Italy: 201st Combat Communications Group. Air National Guard

The Philippines: 204th Airlift Squadron. Air National Guard

Honduras: Company C, 29th Support Battalion and Company D, 1-2-7th Aviation. Army National Guard


Western coast, Central America: Cutter CGC Rush

Guam: HH-65 helicopter


Okinawa: 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment; C Battery, 1st Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment

Thailand: Combat Service Support Detachment 79


April 22

Marine Forces Pacific Band Concert. Hale Koa Hotel. 4 p.m.

April 25

Marine Forces Pacific Band. ANZAC Day -- National Memorial ceremony. National Cemetery of the Pacific. 11 a.m.

April 25-27:

27th Infantry Regiment Wolfhounds 100th Anniversary. A battalion run, induction ceremony and displays for everyone, and a luncheon and luau for former and present Wolfhounds. For more information, call 655-2631.

April 28

Marine Corps Base Hawaii's Single Marine and Sailor Program Scrimmage Sweep Flag Football Tournament, Pop Warner field. Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Registration is $12 per team. The top two performing teams will win awards. Call Dawn Williams at 254-7593.

Harlem Ambassadors basketball team. Bloch Arena., Pearl Harbor. Free, active-duty military and kids 5 and younger; $4, adults; $3, kids 6-12. 7 p.m.

Wreaths were placed at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific during the 1999 ANZAC Day Commemoration. The ANZAC Day event will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m.

Gregg K. Kakesako covers Hawaii's military
for the Star-Bulletin. Email him at

E-mail to City Desk

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