Over the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to get the opportunity to spend some time at Army and Air Force bases and with the fine service men and women around the country. It’s such an amazing experience to get a first-hand look at a “day in the life” of the people who protect our country. I wanted to take some time to say thank you to everyone involved in the process and give some recaps on how the visits went.
Fort Jackson Visit (Army)
We were able to participate with newly recruited soldiers at Victory Tower. At Victory Tower, soldiers learn to conquer their fears by climbing up a massive wooden ladder (75 feet) and repelling down the other side. We learned how to commando crawl on a tight rope as well as climb down a cargo net. We spent lunch at the on-base restaurant and hang out with several of our nations heroes. We signed some Panthers gear for them, but mostly just hung out and talked about anything with them. We also we able to make it out to the weapons range and fire tracer rounds through a rocket launcher as well as a grenade launcher. All in all, very cool visit!
Shaw Air Force Base
We were able to meet and greet several of our United States Airmen. We saw all of the various fighter jets as well as many of the bombers in their hangars. We met the Bomb-Squad, or group of guys that load bombs and missiles onto jets and bomber planes. They told us that some of the bombs were weighing in the several hundred to the thousand pound range. Props to those guys that can lift them! We also got to visit the F-15/F-16 fighter jet engine test facility. Here, they fired up an F-15 engine to full afterburner to make sure it was fit to be installed on our Airmen’s planes. Loved getting to see the jets take off from the runway too!
Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base
One the coolest things I have ever done! I was able to fly up in an air-refueling tanker and watch from the Boom-Nest (a glass bottom floor that bubbles down from the refueling plane) as we refueled four F-15 fighter jets… mid flight! The precision they had in lining the planes up and lowering that fuel line was outstanding, it reminded me a lot about how us NFL players rely and count on each other when we play. As each fighter jet filled up, the pilot and co-pilot would wave at us and take off, and being only about 30 feet away we could see them crystal clear. It was truly amazing.
We also got to check out and test fire several weapons at their indoor situational simulator… Of course, I went straight for the .50 caliber “Ma Duece” M2 machine gun! I also got to fire standard issue M4 carbines through the simulators. We had to make tough calls in various situations presented to us within that simulator. We learned that life and death can be only one hesitation away.
We also got to watch, and then meet the members of our U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds! These guys do the plane shows in their jets and fly within feet of each others planes. These guys were some cool cats too! They’re stationed in Las Vegas, and as far as I know, we have an open invite to come visit and fly with them! Definitely going to have to make plans for a Vegas Trip now!
As the day winded down, we did a meet and greet as well as signed Panthers memorabilia for the families and active service men and women of our great U.S. Air Force. Great group of people showed up, and we even helped make a sign with a wife whose husband was currently deployed! It felt great to give back to them, and I felt honored they would invite to spend time with them.
Once again, just want to say a big THANK YOU to all service men and women across our country. As you can see these base visits are an opportunity of a lifetime and I can’t wait for my next opportunity.
Until next time.