All posts by Rich McVey

Rest In Peace, Brian Murphy

We lost an iconic AMMO Troop.  MSgt-Retired Brian “Hoss” Murphy passed away this weekend in California.  Funeral details, contact info is below.  Ruben Serna has offered to present any stories or statements about Brian at his funeral in California, so if you knew Brian, please take the time so his family and friends can fully understand the measure of a man he was in the AMMO community–forward directly to Ruben at his email address below.

Please share this unfortunate news with your units.

Chief Heisterkamp

Hoss’s funeral service will be;
Date/Time: Saturday 18 December at 1100.
Location: Nativity of Lady Catholic Church
Address: 221 Daly Ave, San Luis Obispo, Calf 93405

Ammo Coins can be sent to Hoss’s parents house.
Name: Bill and Freda Murphy
1768 Royal Way, San Luis Obispo, Calf 93405

Mr. Murphy has asked me that if there are any stories or statements
about Brian that I would like to say at his funeral. I do have a story
to address and if you or any Ammo Troops out there would like for me to address I will make sure he gets them and I can relay for you at the service memorial.

Just email back to me and I will carry them with me to the funeral

Thank You,

Ruben M. Serna
Command Weapons Safety Manager
DSN 487-9276, Comm (210) 652-9276
Fax DSN 487-6982, Comm (210) 652-6982

Email: [email protected]

Thanks to Bill McCullough for passing this info along.

General Marquez – The Reason AFCOMAC Exists Today

General Marquez

Beyond question, General Marquez understood a peacetime atmosphere is not a good training ground for the rigors of wartime munitions tasking orders. He also understood, before it was too late, before we had lost much of the expertise in producing massive frags gained during the Vietnam War, that we needed an institution that perpetuated the knowledge we had gained and helped preclude some of the disasters we had experienced. AFCOMAC perpetuates that knowledge and provides a scenario where in a peacetime world AMMO troops get a real-world feel for the demands of a wartime environment.

The following Beale AFB News Article came out in 2006 – on the 20th anniversary:

AFCOMAC celebrates 20-year anniversary

Posted 10/6/2006   Updated 10/6/2006  Email story   Print story

by Airman 1st Class George Cloutier 9th RW Public Affairs

10/6/2006 – Beale AFB, Calif. — One of Beale’s least known units in
fighting the Global War on Terror is celebrating its 20th anniversary today.

The 9th munitions squadron, or the Air Force Combat Ammunition Center, has consistently provided the Air Force with the finest training for ammo troops for two decades, teaching Airmen the skills they need to take the fight to the enemy.

AFCOMAC is a mandatory course for those in the munitions career field who are training for their seven and nine-level status.

“When you look back at the history, AFCOMAC was started because of the draw back that happened after the Vietnam War, because there weren’t as many people putting bombs together in a combat setting,” said Maj. Jeffrey Stremmel, AFCOMAC commander. “Lt. Gen. Leo Marquez put together an action team to look at this, and the team came back to him with the idea for AFCOMAC.”

One of the major faults the action team found with the training munitions troops were receiving was the fact that there was little to no realistic training taking place, according to Major Stremmel.

“General Marquez then told his team to build the bombs for real, and they found out they lacked that vital skill,” said Chief Master Sgt. Patrick Adams, AFCOMAC munitions superintendent. “The bottom line is that they were not able to build the bombs as they would need to in a real combat setting.”

After it was realized that ammo troops lacked such critical skills, AFCOMAC was set up to give troops the realistic training they would need to perform in a real wartime scenario.

“This program was originally introduced to the Air Force in 1986, when it was at the Sierra Army Detachment in Herlong, Calif.,” said Senior Master Sgt. David Nixon, AFCOMAC munitions flight chief.

While much has changed in the munitions world over the years, the core facets of the training program have remained intact.

“From the outside, you might not think the program has changed all that much,” Chief Adams said. “If you just measured the number of bombs with the number of days in the exercise, if you look at it in numbers, you might think it hasn’t changed at all.”

Though on the outside the program may seem the same, AFCOMAC has stayed up to date with the latest munitions technology, according to Chief Adams.

“Back when I first came through, we were in the middle of the cold war and were making a lot of dumb bombs,” he said. “Seeing it again I’m just amazed at how this school has managed to help stay in touch with the Air Force munitions mission.”

“One of the ways the school has managed to stay in touch with the Air Force mission is by the emphasis the course now puts on smart munitions,” Major Stremmel said. “As the years have gone by, we’ve developed more varieties of smart weapons.”

When the school made the jump to smart munitions, other facets of the course changed as well.

“One of the major changes we made in the late 90s was doubling the number of students that made precision guided munitions,” the chief said. “We were trying to get 60 to 70 percent of our munitions to precision guided munitions. When we made that change, we doubled the amount of people we were putting through the course. Our classes now have 70 Airmen each.”

Since then, AFCOMAC students have used the knowledge they obtain from the course to rain fire on the enemy, according to the major.

“I know we’ve provided realistic training to the career field supporting combat operations,” Major Stremmel said. “When Al-Zarqawi was taken out in June, it was done with two 500-pound bombs. The professionals who put those bombs together came through this school.”

Students and instructors of the school have also contributed in other ways over the years as the war on terror has raged on.

“When Desert Storm started, the school was closed down, and they sent AFCOMAC down range to build bombs and run operations,” Chief Adams said. “Some guys went to the Pentagon Air Operations Center. Some went to Air Force Central Command Air Operations Center. When Operation Iraqi Freedom kicked off, the whole unit shut down and forward deployed.”

Throughout the Global War on Terror and even before, the AFCOMAC mission has been and will remain a critical asset to the Air Force.

“We’ve made huge contributions throughout the years,” Chief Adams said.

The Air Force can be proud knowing that Beale’s Ammo Warriors are on the job.

General Leo Marquez


Please take the time to let one of AMMO’s heroes know there are hundreds if not thousands of us out here who know of and have benefited from General Marquez’s leadership. As the emails below attest he has had a tremendous impact fostering the professionalism of the AMMO career field. Please send him an email to let him know he has a friend in his corner as he fights his cancer.

Leo Marquez

For those wishing to send a card the General’s address is:

10508 Griffith Park Dr
Albuquerque NM 87123

General Marquez’s email:

Subject: dear friends

I am sorry to inform you that the cancer has  returned in maybe a more malevolent form.  They have been testing for a few weeks trying to isolate the specific form of lymphoma.  I am told there are many varieties.

I am now equipped with a port in my chest through with the chemo will be introduced.  I expect to begin treatment this week,

For now I am doing OK just dealing with the uncertainty  Having a hard time walking but no  serious pain

See you on the other side!

Thanks to Billie Campbell and John Matthews for passing this info along.


See email below. Gen Marquez can use our help by sending him a card or email wishing him the very best recovery and hope for the future. He was the head speaker at our 4th reunion at Langley.

Wish him well.

John A. Matthews Sr., Contractor

I know Lt Gen Marquez… He is “our” maintenance and munitions General… He is a neat man, started AFCOMAC…

Billie Campbell

And this email from Kathleen Sheperd

Subject: Gen Leo Marquez Needs Prayer

Hello Friends,

Please take a few minutes to lift up Lieutenant General Leo Marquez (USAF Ret), a great Air Force warrior, in prayer.  His leadership in the aircraft and munitions maintenance world helped shape the Air Force maintenance professional community to what it is today.  We owe much to his vision.

One of the things I most remember was to initiate the “Maintenance
Professional of the Year” award (now named after him) to recognize the hard work and long hours of the aircraft and munitions maintenance personnel at all grade levels.  Within a few years many other Air Force specialties followed his idea – but General Marquez was the man who started the recognition first with maintenance, then with supply, communications electronics, etc.

General Marquez has a recurrence of cancer – lymphoma and it is serious.  I can’t provide more details than this – his email caught our family off guard.  I think the general would be comforted to know there are so many people out there praying for his recovery.

Thanks so much,

Kathleen Sheperd, Ctr (MacAulay Brown)
Massive Ordnance Penetrator QRC, Logistics Eglin AFB, FL
Tel: 850-883-2147 (DSN-875)


Below are the AMMO Chiefs’ names from the 2009 Chiefs’ Promotion list released today. 

BARCUS, Patrick E               Langley

HRYNIEWIECKI, Kevin      Beale

JACKSON, Kenneth, E         Seymour-Johnson

JONES, Sean, C                       Hill

KOBERSTEIN, Anthony    Andersen

NIKOLAS, Stuart, R.            Hickam

NIXON, David, M.                Ramstein

OUZTS, Timothy M               Scott

SIMS, Nick                                Eglin

WILBER, MICHAEL, A         Elmendorf

WILKERSON, William          Misawa

Eleven new AMMO Chiefs, that in itself is a great statistic. Congratulations to all of you!


You Can Run but You Can’t Hide!

Pentagon Fast Tracks GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator


The Pentagon is accelerating by three years plans for a super bunker buster, the GBU-57A/B or Massive Ordnance Penetrator or MOP, a powerful new bomb aimed squarely at the underground nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea . The gargantuan bomblonger than 11 persons standing shoulder-to-shoulder or more than 20 feet base to nose, weighs 30,000 pounds. Some 18 percent of its total weight is comprised of explosives. Guided by a precision GPS system, the MOP can penetrate an unprecedented 200 feet down before exploding with devastation into an underground bunker, such as those buried in Iran and North Korea currently used to shield rogue nuclear programs. Now Congress has quietly advanced $68 million into the 2009 budget to accelerate the purchase and deployment of ten such super bunker busters making clear they are for possible use against the regimes in Iran or North Korea . Pentagon planners are rushing to beat by months the latest June 2010 deadline for just four such bombs, and have been subsequently directed to increase the number of MOPs to at least ten.

In early July 2009, the Defense Department told a Congressional committee that the MOP was the “weapon of choice” for an urgent operational need enunciated by both the U.S. Pacific Command, tasked with North Korea , and the Central Command, tasked with Iran . In doing so, the Pentagon accelerated the program by three years.

The GBU-57A/B MOP is so immense it can only be carried by either a B-52 or a B2a Stealth bomber. The weapons explosive power is 10 times greater than its predecessor, the BLU-109. Moreover, the GBU-57A/B MOP is one third heavier than the MOAB dubbed the Mother of All Bombs.

Following successful tests in deep New Mexico caverns, and a B-52 test drop, a crash program has been approved to modify a B-2a Stealth bomber to carry a payload of two GBU-57A/B MOP bombs. The speed and urgency comes at a time when Iran , NATO and Israel are approaching a denouement over Tehrans nuclear ambitions, its development of long-range, multi-stage missiles and a new awareness that it is clearly developing a nuclear bomb.

A consortium of defense agencies and air force units, are now working on the project. They include members of the recently-disbanded 417th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base in California who last year safely managed the first test drop from a B-52, dubbed FT-1 MOP for Flight Test1, according to sources at the base. The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and the AFRLs Munitions Directorate and the Air Armament Center , both headquartered at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida , are now rushing to modify the bay of a radar-evading B2a Stealth Bomber to deliver the bomb, according to base sources interviewed. A collage of private sector subcontractors is also working on effort, from Stealth bomber manufacturer Northrup-Grumman to Boeings Phantom Works, maker of the bomb itself and prime contractor for the entire project. The Defense Threat Reduction Agency in Virginia has been coordinating among the various air force groups from the beginning.

The Pentagon has been working on the GBU-57A/B MOP for years since Congress long ago cancelled funding for the highly portable Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, based on the lightweight M-61 nuclear bomb adapted as a bunker buster. Congress feared the consequences of radioactive fallout and worried over the inherent limitations of a nuclear blast radius on deeply buried facilities.

In the meantime, with the nuclear option clearly problematic for bunker busting, a 2003 study by the Defense Science Board Task Force on Future Strategic Strike Forces, submitted in February 2004, recommended a replacement approach. It would be MOP that is, massive conventional explosives sent burrowing deep into an enemy position using GPS guidance and the power of its own ground-crashing weight. The caves at Tora Bora in Afghanistan which protected Osama Bin laden, had been examined by the special defense team. Their report admitted: A deep underground tunnel facility in a rock geology poses a significant challenge for non-nuclear weapons. Such a target is difficult to penetrate   and the likelihood of damaging critical functional components deep within the facility from an energy release is low. Our past test experience has shown that 2,000 lb. penetrators carrying 500 lbs. of high explosive are relatively ineffective against tunnels, even when skipped directly into the tunnel entrance. The new approach would be for a bomber-delivered massive penetrator. A family of massive ordnance payloads (20,000 to 30,000 pounds), both penetrator and blast variants, should be developed to improve conventional attack effectiveness against deep, expansive, underground tunnel facilities.

On November 1, 2004, shortly after Congress approved MOP, the AFRL awarded a $30 million MOP contract to Boeing. The warhead case was to be fabricated from a special high performance steel alloy, thus allowing it to survive a high-speed impact into hardened concrete bunker facilities. The warhead design and internal cavity were also optimized for case survivability. Progress Ellwood National Forge of Irvine, Pennsylvania created the casing according to a design created by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems division in Niceville , Florida ..

By March 2007, a MOP prototype had been exploded deep under the rugged mountains of the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico in the caverns of the little-known Weapons of Mass Destruction National Testbeds.  A slender orange-colored MOP prototype was vertically hung, nose down, just inches from the floor of a narrow cavern and then detonated. Its sheer explosive power was demonstrated. By the end of 2007, a full-size dummy mock-up of the eventual GBU 57 A/B MOP was loaded into the bay of a B2 at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri . A member of the 509th Maintenance Group personally handling the bomb remarked, “I couldn’t help but notice how enormous the bomb was hanging in the weapons bay.

Early in 2008, as concern about the nuclear programs of both Iran and North Korea began intensifying, the defense establishment started focusing more attention on a delivery system. By February, 2008, the Pentagon proposed a contract to integrate the bomb into B2 stealth bombers. In May 2009, the project was fast-tracked via Quick Reaction Capability purchasing rules that allow an accelerated defense contract for urgent needs. In mid-July 2009, Boeings McDonnell Douglas Corporation was awarded a $12,100,000 contract to provide MOPs for B-2 bomb bays. In mid-August, McDonnell Douglass Corp. was awarded a second contract, this one $12,500,000 cost plus fixed fee contract with performance incentives to provide for three MOP separation test vehicles, associated aircraft and handling equipment and technical support for release on a B-52 bomber.

In describing the accelerated program, Lt. Gen. Mark Shackelford, who heads weapons acquisition for the Air Force was quoted as saying, These are purchases beyond just those needed to test the capability,” adding, “In other words, build a small inventory.