Air Force

April 12, 2013

From the Ground Up: Climbing to the top of the world

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — Six continents. Seven years. More than 100,000 feet climbed and next month, the USAF 7 Summits Challenge team is setting out to climb to the top of the world.

At 29,035 ft., Mount Everest is the highest peak on Earth. If successful, six Airmen will become the first American military team to reach the summit of Mount Everest and the first team of military service members from any nation to reach all seven summits. Airmen who are making the trek to Everest are stationed all across the country, including two right here at Headquarters Air Combat Command.

“For me, it’s not about making history,” said Capt. Kyle “Husky” Martin. “It’s about proudly representing something larger than me.”

Nicknamed Husky for sleeping out in the snow multiple times, Martin first started climbing 10 years ago. He heard about the Air Force 7 Summit challenge when he joined the United States Air Force Academy mountaineering club as a young cadet. Now a T-38 pilot and division chief for the 1st Operations Group, the Manhattan, Kan. native has climbed many mountains, including Ama Dablam, a mountain in the Himalayan range of eastern Nepal relatively close to Mount Everest.

“Ama Dablam is the climb I’m most proud of,” he said excitingly. “It’s rock climbing, ice climbing and really, really exposed to base camp, which is 4,000 ft. below you.”

Led by Maj. Rob Marshall, a 34-year-old Special Operations pilot who has successfully conquered more than 30 peaks, the USAF 7 Summits Challenge team is dedicated to one thing: honoring fallen comrades by carrying the American and USAF flags to the highest point on each continent.

Those fallen comrades include several of Marshall’s friends who were killed when an Air Force MC-130, call sign Wrath 11, crashed in the Albanian mountains in 2005. Two months later, tragedy struck again when two more of Marshall’s friends, Captains Derek Angel and Jeremy Fresques, also died with three other Airmen in a small-plane crash near Diyala, Iraq.

“Remember walking around a track to raise money for your school or charity?” Marshall asked. “Well, I decided to take it vertical.”

For every thousand feet the team climbs, they ask people to donate towards the college education of their fallen comrade’s children.

 

In addition to Captain Martin, the Everest team includes:

- Maj. Rob Marshall, 34, a CV-22 pilot, from Mercer Island, Wash., stationed in Amarillo,Tex.

- Capt. Andrew Ackles, 29, a TH-1N instructor pilot, from Ashland, Ore., stationed at Fort

Rucker, Ala.

- Capt. Marshall Klitzke, 30, a KC-135R pilot from Lemmon, S.D., currently an instructor

pilot at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.

- Capt. Colin Merrin, 28, a GPS satellite operations mission commander from Santee,

Calif., stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

- Staff Sgt. Nick Gibson, 36, a reserve pararescueman and physician-assistant student

from Gulf Breeze, Fla., stationed at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.

 

“This trip is a great way to highlight the resiliency of the Wounded Warrior,” said Senior Master Sgt. Robert Disney, a pararescueman and wounded warrior who is ascending to the Everest Base Camp. “I want Airmen to understand that no matter what their experience or current life position, there is nothing that they cannot overcome.”

Along with Disney, two other wounded warriors will be going to the base camp:

 

- Capt. Augustin “Gus” Viani, 28, a Combat Rescue Officer, stationed at Davis-Monthan

Air Force Base, Ariz.

- Master Sgt. Gino (last name and details withheld for operational security)

 

Though the team is not sponsored by the Air Force, Disney credits his Air Force training for preparing him for this very moment.

“For a PJ, climbing or mountaineering is just another way of getting to work,” he said. “Our Operational Risk Management training prepares us to weigh the risk-to-reward ratios of our choices and to make life-and-death decisions on the fly.”

Those risk-management skills, something Husky hopes Airmen pay attention to on and off duty, has contributed to the team’s unblemished history of safety and success.

With the team being stationed all over the country, training together becomes a challenge. However Husky managed to get creative when it came to preparing himself for the ultimate climb.

“Since I don’t have mountains here in Hampton Roads, I’ll go out to the beaches,” the captain said. “My daughter is my training partner. She’ll add her might 20lbs to the baby backpack and we’ll hike through the deep sand in my Everest boots. We look pretty absurd, but she loves to go outside.”

Disney also credits his wife Tess for helping him prepare for this moment. With her support, he has gotten back into climbing shape in just two months.

With both men days away from leaving, Disney and Husky both hope to surpass their own limitations and encourage other Airmen do the same.

“Oh and come back with all of my toes,” Husky adds. “I definitely want to come back with all of my toes.”

To learn more about this historic adventure, you can check out their website, http://www.usaf7summits.com/. You can also like them onFacebook and follow them on Twitter.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

479 selected for top enlisted rank

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) —  Of the 2,525 senior master sergeants eligible for promotion to chief, 479 were selected for an 18.97 percent selection rate, Air Force Personnel Center officials announced Nov. 20. To see the selection list, go to the Air Force Portal, or myPers. Airmen will be able to access their...
 
 

Turkey Bowl

Senior Airman Philip Taylor, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Desert Lightning Team quarterback, dodges a Black Knights defensive player during the annual Turkey Bowl at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Nov. 14. D-M’s Desert Lightning Team scored two touchdowns in the final 45 seconds leading them to win 18-7. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base Desert Lightning Team members line...
 
 

Resolutions aren’t just for the new year

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — It’s almost that time of year when most of us will commit to reforming a habit, lifestyle or just change our lives for the better. It starts when we take a critical look at ourselves and determine what we can do, or stop doing, to make the improvements we desire. These...
 

 
DoD

AF tests first all-electric vehicle fleet in California

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Air Force officials unveiled the Department of Defense’s first non-tactical vehicle fleet composed entirely of plug-in electric vehicles, Nov. 14, at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California. The rollout of the 42-vehicle fleet marks a milestone in the DOD’s demonstration of emerging technology and the vehicles will serve as a resource to...
 
 
(U.S. Air Force photo/ Senior Airman Jarrod Grammel)

Maintaining fitness standards during the holidays is important

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — During the holidays, going to the gym usually isn’t on the top of most peoples’ priority list. Priority is given to visiting families, planning vacations, and most important, indulging in...
 
 

Exchange keeps the ‘Thanks’ in Thanksgiving

DALLAS – With a quarter of its work force comprised of military family members, the Army & Air Force Exchange Service is a true example of family serving family. As such, the focus on Thanksgiving will be on family. “Exchange Main Stores in the Continental United States will be closed Thanksgiving, but open early Black...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin