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.


 
 

 

What to know before you go to the open house

More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the “Thunder and Lightning over Arizona” Air Show and Open House April 12 and 13. The event is open to the public and admission is free. It is two days of nonstop entertainment, but a few tips can help make the experience more pleasurable for guests. Traffic...
 
 

D-M Airman defuses situation downrange

One of the biggest defense mechanisms of any expeditionary air base is the ability to launch aircraft to neutralize threats. Several 380th Air Expeditionary Wing agencies are charged with getting air operations back up and running as soon as possible should the flightline or runway be attacked. The 380th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal...
 
 
wall

The writing on the “Walls”

The “Thunder and Lightning Over Arizona” open house will feature many showcases, mostly centered on aerial displays. But one exhibit takes us from the skies to the ground and across thousands of miles to the sands of Iraq, ...
 

 

Will Allen: The Flying Tenor

Combining his vocal talents with his flying, Will Allen as “The Flying Tenor” brings a new type of air show performance that will stir your soul. Will sings the national anthem live from the cockpit of his Pitts bi-plane while flying an aerobatic routine that has been choreographed to harmonize with the cadence and crescendos of the...
 
 
DesertRat

Desert Rats

The “Desert Rats” Warbird Demonstration Team makes a high-speed run past each other in their CJ-6A Chinese basic pilot trainer aircraft. The CJ-6 aircraft, designed in 1958, are still flown today by China’s People’s Lib...
 
 
USAFBlue

USAFA Wings of Blue

Each year, the Wings of Blue Demonstration Team performs at more than 50 special events in front of over 2 million spectators. Demonstration venues include airshows, NFL and College football games, and special events across the...
 




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