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.


 
 

 
(U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen 1st Class Cheyenne Morigeau)

Davis-Monthan Airman helps Tucsonan

One weather forecaster’s self-aid buddy care training quickly resurfaced when she witnessed a car accident outside the gates of Davis-Monthan. Senior Airman Amanda Boone, 355th Operations Support Squadron weather forecaster, ...
 
 

U.S. Air Force to kick off COOL program

MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) — The Community College of the Air Force officially launched the Air Force Credentialing Opportunities On-Line program March 16. Air Force COOL is a pathway for enlisted Airmen to earn industry recognized professional certifications and licenses to enhance their active-duty work and to prepare them as they transition to...
 
 

Military leads the way in equal opportunity

VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. — What does it take to change a nation? What force has the power to move millions of people in their fundamental views of the world? For Christopher Daniels, a U.S. Air Force colonel, that answer is simple: leadership. In his words, “The true agent of change is true leadership.”...
 

 

Doolittle Tokyo Raiders to receive Congressional Gold Medal

(U.S. Air Force photo) On April 18, 1942, Airmen of the U.S. Army Air Forces, led by Lt. Col. James H. “Jimmy” Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a surprising and daring raid on military targets at Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe. This heroic attack...
 
 

AFAF gives all Airmen a chance to pay it forward

NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — It’s Sept. 12, 2005. Senior Airman Dennis Hutchison is recovering from a hard day’s work on the flightline of Robbins Air Force Base, Georgia, when he receives a call that tragedy had struck. “I got a notification from my family that my father had passed away,” Hutchison said. “I immediately contacted...
 
 

Rocketry Club ready to take flight this weekend

TUCSON, Arizona – On March 28 and 29, hundreds of rockets will soar into the Tucson sky at Desert Heat 2015. Rocket enthusiasts from around the Southwest will gather for this annual two-day rocketry event, where there’s no cost to watch, and kids always fly free. The rockets that will be launched vary in size...
 




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