PEOPLE FIRST April 29, 2016


Editor’s Note: The “People First” section is compiled from information from the Air Force Personnel Center, TRICARE, 56th Force Support Squadron, Airman and Family Readiness Flight, Veterans Affairs, the civilian personnel office and armed forces news services. For the complete story, go to the web address listed at the end of the story.

Eglin pathology lab probes for answers

On any given day, the pathology and histology lab professionals at Eglin Air Force Base handle about 125 patient specimens from livers, prostates to tonsils.

They evaluate, prepare and transform tissue onto microscope slides studied by pathologists. These doctors study tissues to make a diagnosis or determine the stage of a disease. This is where patient tissue and organs from the base’s hospital come to be studied.

“We get everything. Our purpose is to find out what happened,” said Lt. Col. Rolando Ramos, medical director of pathology and laboratory services. “When doctors or surgeons remove tissue or body parts, we determine if the disease is malignant or benign, so clinicians or surgeons can apply proper treatment.”

Before doctors can accomplish their research, histology lab technicians begin the detail-oriented process of sample verification and accessioning.

“It is extremely meticulous work,” Ramos said. “We check and double check names, numbers with corresponding specimens to avoid risks. We kid that to work in this lab you almost have to have obsessive compulsive disorder.”

For example, if two biopsies from the same woman — Part A from the left breast and Part B from the right — are inadvertently switched, doctors may remove the wrong breast, Ramos noted.

The two-day complex process preserves and dehydrates the tissue to prepare it for a complete examination. The tissue is then cut and encased into numbered cassettes. The larger organs are examined by lab pathologists, and smaller samples like pieces of skin are handled by histology technicians.

Female AF officer takes on Marine martial arts course

First Lt. Elizabeth Guidara, 12th Missile Squadron missile combat crew commander at Malmstrom Air Force Base, is training to become the first Air Force female officer to go through the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence.

“Once I finish the course, I will be a certified combative instructor and be able to teach combatives anywhere in the world and at any base,” Guidara said.

While in college, Guidara’s best friend introduced her to a boxing club. “I fell in love with it,” she said.

Guidara has trained in the District of Columbia, South Korea, New Zealand, Thailand, California and now Montana. She has been training for a year and a half.

The Marine Corps training course is 10 hours a day, five days a week, and includes physical training and test-taking. The Marines also have their own belt system, and participants must have a gray belt to enter.

Guidara said her biggest weakness deals with her training and technique.

“It is hard when I am the only female out there sparing with guys, who weigh like 80 pounds more than me,” she said. “It’s hard because I want them to spar with me as their equals, but at the same time I know they are more experienced than me.”

Guidara’s ultimate goals are to achieve a black belt in Brazilian jujitsu and a belt in mixed martial arts.

Guidara is a Korean-American born in Busan, South Korea. She was adopted by an Italian-American family at the age of 7 months.

Homeland defense ‘sacred responsibility’

“Defense of the homeland is a sacred responsibility and the No. 1 mission of the Department of Defense,” Gen. Lori J. Robinson told a Senate panel April 21 during her nomination hearing to become commander of U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command.

Robinson, who now commands Pacific Air Forces and is air component commander for U.S. Pacific Command, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, noting that the U.S. faces a rapidly evolving and growing threat environment in terms of the number of those who wish to harm the nation and the complexity of tools at their disposal.

“Our country faces many challenging threats from within and abroad, ranging from threats such as home-grown violent extremist, cyberattacks (and) trafficking of drugs and other illicit products by transnational criminal organizations — two threats posed by nation states such as Russia, North Korea and Iran,” Robinson said.

“In my experiences as the Pacific Air Forces commander and the air component for (U.S. Pacific Command Commander Navy Adm. Harry) Harris, I’m intimately aware of the tenuous situation on the (Korean) peninsula and throughout the region, and understand the potential threats posed to the security of our homeland,” the general said.

Robinson told the panel that if confirmed she will work to uphold the faith that the American people have placed in NORTHCOM and NORAD and to ensure that the commands remain vigilant and postured to outpace any potential threat.

Pathways to Blue shows the way to ROTC cadets

More than 180 ROTC cadets from 22 colleges and 31 active-duty enlisted Airmen attended the second annual Pathways to Blue initiative April 15-16 hosted by Second Air Force at Keesler Air Force Base.

Cadets and Airmen learned about job opportunities, toured aircraft and sat down with officers for one-on-one mentorship and varying perspectives on commissioned life in the Air Force.

“Cadets can gain a lot from the perspective of mentors actually performing the mission,” said Maj. Gen. Mark Brown, the Second Air Force commander. “What we hope to achieve is to explain what really happens when you choose a specialty and join the Air Force; to show what it’s really like to be a cyber operator or a remotely piloted aircraft pilot. The ‘art of the possible’ inside the Air Force is what we are talking about here.”

Pathways to Blue aims to help build future leaders in the Air Force, as well as highlight different routes to becoming an Air Force officer. The target audience is freshmen and sophomores along with enlisted members who may be undecided about various career fields once they get commissioned.

The event kicked off with an introduction to the mentors then quickly moved to hands-on demonstrations with various career fields ranging from aerospace medicine and cyber operations to battlefield Airmen, space and missiles, aviation, medical, and a mixture of support fields.

“This is my second Pathways to Blue and it’s been very engaging and hands on,” said Kayla Davis, a Tuskegee University Air Force ROTC cadet.