JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS –
Various community and business leaders from the Charleston area boarded a Charleston-based C-17 Globemaster aircraft to participate in a Civic Leader tour to Texas March 15-16.
“The purpose of a Civic Leader tour, such as this, is to educate community partners on what goes on ‘behind the gate’ and highlight various missions our Citizen Airmen are tasked to do around the globe,” said 315th Airlift Wing Commander, Col. Gregory Gilmour, who participated in the tour. “Additionally, the goal is to inspire these individuals to become advocates of the Air Force Reserve and help to tell our story.”
After the aircraft touched down in the warm afternoon Texas sun, members arrived at the 433rd Airlift Wing headquarters, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland. There, attendees received mission briefs from the Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Wing and the 733rd Training Squadron, which provides administrative and managerial oversight to operate the only formal C-5 Galaxy cargo aircraft schoolhouse in the U.S. Air Force Reserve.
“Touring the F-16 and C-5 was amazing,” said Ian Harris, director of sales and marketing for Fort Sumter Tours. “Learning the size, speed, and what it takes keep the planes flying is an incredible job the military accomplishes day-in and day-out. I have a newfound respect for all branches of the military and will be supporting them more than ever.”
For some individuals, this was their first time being engaged with the military, which allowed for a deeper understanding and appreciation for the men and women of the Air Force, Guard, and Reserve.
Amy Hutto, director of human resources for the Charleston Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, shared her thoughts about attending the various tours and events. “Never having had experiences of this nature with the military prior to this trip, it was a real eye-opener for me,” said Hutto. “I now understand the important role the Guard and Reserve play and how important it is for employers to have policies in place to support their employees who serve.”
The following day, tour attendees set their alarms early and boarded a bus to attend an Air Force Basic Military Training graduation ceremony - a rite of passage for all enlisted Airmen who wear the uniform.
City of North Charleston Councilman, Kenny Skipper, was quite impressed with what he witnessed as he sat front and center along the parade route with several other civic leaders. “There were 648 young men and women dedicating their lives to the service of our country,” said Skipper. “The fact that almost forty-thousand new airmen matriculate through BMT annually is astounding.”
After attending BMT graduation, attendees traveled to JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, home of the Medical Education and Training Campus, a state-of-the-art Department of Defense healthcare education campus that trains enlisted medical personnel. Here, they received a mission brief about the campus and were able to see the progression of an enlisted military member’s medical career after basic training.
METC is a tri-service campus, meaning that Soldiers, Sailors, and Airmen train side-by-side in a joint learning environment. METC offers 48 medical programs and generates 16,500 graduates each year.
As the tour came to a close and attendees prepared to depart for Charleston later in the afternoon, it was evident that this trip accomplished its intended mission.
“This was a wonderful experience,” said Hutto as she sat strapped into her seat for the ride home. “It gave a me a real sense of appreciation for the full scope of the military and how many people are involved and invested in their success – from full-time enlisted members down to civilians in the surrounding communities, all doing what they can to be supportive.”