Civic leaders get Total Force tour
By Mike Molina, ARPC Public Affairs
/ Published October 16, 2009
Denver -- A group of 29 civic leaders from the Denver metro area witnessed the Air Force's Total Force team firsthand when they traveled from Denver to Nellis and Creech Air Force Bases, Nev., Oct. 7 and 8.
The group left Buckley AFB, an active-duty base, supported by the 140th Wing of the Colorado Air National Guard, on a KC-10A Extender, piloted by an aircrew from the 514th Air Mobility Wing, a Reserve unit from McGuire AFB, N.J.
The KC-10s were refueled en route by F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 301st Fighter Wing, a Reserve unit from Fort Worth, Texas.
"I think the tour helped employers and people in business understand how they can support their Guard and Reserve employees, as well as the active duty," said Chip Schweiger of the Denver accounting firm Grant Thornton. "This showed us how we can support those who protect us."
After arriving at Nellis, participants learned about the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and the 926th Group, a Reserve unit whose Airmen are integrated into active-duty units throughout the USAFWC and the 432nd Wing at Creech. The civic leaders also toured Nellis' Threat Training Facility, Photovoltaic Array Solar Farm, and the Thunderbirds' hangar - the Air Force's elite Air Demonstration Squadron.
"This is one of the best experiences I've had in my life. I have a greater appreciation for everyone in the Air Force," said Jennifer Hilts of First Command Financial Planning in Denver. "I realize how much manpower it takes to protect our country. Whatever resources the military deems necessary, I feel they should have."
Participants also got a close-up look at the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft systems at the 78th Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech. Through Total Force Integration, the regular Air Force provides the aircraft and the Reserve provides additional manpower to fly and maintain them. Both aircraft systems are being used in combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
"I'm glad people are interested in what we do," said Airman Jacob Miller, Reaper specialist with the 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "It's good that they have an opportunity to see how what we do can save lives from thousands of miles away."
The event was arranged by officials at the Air Reserve Personnel Center, and was designed to give participants an inside look at the Air Force and Total Force Integration.
"This tour was a great opportunity to share our great Air Force story," said Lt. Col. Tricia York, chief of ARPC public affairs. "I received so many compliments from our guests on the level of professionalism from everyone they encounterd. It made me even prouder of my fellow Airmen."