By Tammy L. Reed
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Local community members from businesses and organizations surrounding the base reported at base operations with a 6:30 a.m. show time, Friday, September 25, for a special mission.
Their goal – to learn first-hand about the Air Force’s mission and how they, as civic leaders, can work with Team Little Rock to mutually support their communities and the base.
Approximately 25 men and women from towns like Cabot, Sherwood, Jacksonville and Little Rock took part in the annual Team Little Rock Civic Leader Tour which gave the local leaders a chance to fly aboard a 19th Airlift Wing C-130J see another base’s mission up close.
Participants in this year’s tour hopped a C-130J flown by Team Little Rock Commander Col. Charles Brown Jr. to Dyess AFB, Texas, to meet with 7th Bomb Wing and 317th Airlift Group leaders and learn about their base’s mission and how they work with the Abilene, Texas community. Dyess’ story is much the same as LRAFB, as Abilene provided land for the base, like Jacksonville did for LRAFB. Both communities continue their close ties with their respective bases through partnerships and sharing resources.
“My favorite part of the experience was spending time in the cockpit of the C-130. It was such a unique thing to do. I enjoyed the views, learning about the equipment and visiting with the pilots,” said Haley Lagassé, Central Arkansas Library System Head of Public Services and Main Library.
Colonel Brown, Chief Master Sgt. Rhonda Buening, 19th Airlift Wing Command Chief; John Steele, 19th Mission Support Group deputy commander and the civic leaders then joined Dyess leaders for a stop at the B-1 bomber simulator; lunch with Dyess Military Affairs Committee members; and a quick weapons demonstration before touring the base and ending with a walk through of a B-1 bomber in the flesh.
“When I saw the C-130, B-1 simulator and the actual B-1 aircraft and its associated avionics equipment, it reinforced the theory I teach in the classrooms with practical military applications,” said Harding University, Associate Professor Charles Wu who teaches circuits, electronics, digital signal processing and communication theory.
After flying back to Little Rock, Lagassé said she was impressed by the hospitality displayed by all of the Air Force personnel, and it was interesting to hear from Dyess about their frequent deployments.
“It was obvious throughout the day, the sense of comradery that base personnel have with each other, and I learned more about how the Air Force intentionally cultivates that from personnel at Dyess,” she added. “I enjoyed learning about the community partnerships both bases have with other organizations in their respective communities.”