JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas --
"Go west, young man" American author Horace Greeley said about America's expansion westward. Recently, 22 civic leaders from the local San Antonio area did just that during the 433rd Airlift Wing's Civic Leaders' Tour to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, Nov. 16-17, 2017.
"With San Antonio being Military City U.S.A., this is another opportunity for civic leaders to see what the 433rd Airlift Wing does on a daily basis,” said Col. David Scott, 433rd Airlift Wing vice commander. “This trip shows the civic leaders how we (the 433rd) interact with other organizations in the Air Force,” he said.
The first stop after receiving a briefing about the upcoming flight was an intelligence briefing in the 433rd AW command post. The purpose of the briefing was to give the civic leaders an idea of what a Reserve Citizen Airman would experience prior to a deployment. After the briefing, the group boarded a C-5M Super Galaxy for a flight which included an aerial refueling over a New Mexico desert.
Upon arrival to Davis-Monthan, the group received a warm welcome from 355th Fighter Wing senior leaders, Col. Chad Balettie, 355th FW vice commander and Command Chief Master Sgt. Shanece Johnson.
After lunch and a 355th FW mission brief, the group visited the 943rd Rescue Group. The 943rd RQG is trained and equipped to conduct combat search and rescue missions worldwide. Their mission requires them to travel to dangerous austere locations to recover wounded personnel. The pararescuemen and pilots showed off their life-saving medical equipment, rescue vehicles and HH-60 Blackhawk helicopter.
The Air Force Reserve Pararescuemen received a portion of their training at JBSA-Lackland, attending a two-week Combat Control Orientation Course.
The next stop on the guided tour was the world-famous "air reservoir", officially known as the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group. AMARG is a specialized facility which provides critical aerospace maintenance and regeneration capabilities for joint and allied/coalition warfighters.
The facility occupies 2,600 acres and manages an inventory of more than 4,200 aircraft. The AMARG team also reclaims aircraft parts to support global warfighting operations, saving taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
A social event was hosted by the Tucson Chamber of Commerce at a local dining establishment later that evening. There, business leaders from Tucson and San Antonio discussed how to better assist the military in their communities.
"This trip has been quite an eye opener,” Scott said. “Coming to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson and talking to their civic leaders, we have opened up some communication channels between the two civic leader groups."
The final stop Friday morning was to the Arizona Air National Guard’s 162nd Wing. The wing trains foreign pilots to fly the F-16. The leaders met with F-16 maintainers and toured the engine testing facility, also known as the hush house due to its quiet environment, to witness an engine test.
Civic leader tours like this trip to Davis-Monthan give civilian employers an idea of what their employees might have experienced before entering the civilian work force. "This trip has given me an idea of what our partners (employees) might have lived through," said Patricia Revollo, a district manager with Starbucks and a 433rd Civil Engineering Squadron honorary commander. "Now that I have taken a glimpse into what they have experienced, it helps me (understand)."
The 433rd AW's Honorary Commanders Program partners commanders with San Antonio civic leaders. The program allows community partners gain an awareness of the Air Force Reserve's military mission and affords military members and their units an opportunity to learn more about San Antonio communities.
“Seeing the Active Duty, the Reserve and Air National Guard allowed the civic leaders to embrace the Total Force and to see what the Total Force is all about,” Scott said.