Letter to Col. Samuelson continued

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Dennis L. Clay photo Garnet Wilson hands water to crew members of the 36th Rescue Squadron in front of one of the squadron’s Hueys during the 2017 Skyfest airshow at Fairchild Air Force Base.

This is the last of a two-part series about the 2017 Skyfest at Fairchild Air Force Base.

Dear Colonel Samuelson,

You should be proud of the airmen of Fairchild and other participants of the 2017 Skyfest airshow, as commander of Fairchild Air Force Base and the 92nd Air Refueling Wing. Garnet and I enjoyed all of the festivities and demonstrations. Comments from the public indicate there was not a discouraging word during the event.

The Freeman Holdings Group is a business owning several fixed-base refueling operators across the United States under the name of Million Air. The Moses Lake affiliate is under the name Million Air Moses Lake with Larry Godden as the general manager.

Larry had arranged for the Freeman Holdings Group to donate water for airmen on the flight line, including the air crews and other performers, during 2017 Skyfest, the Fairchild airshow.

Garnet and I volunteered to drive the flight line in the Million Air golf cart and hand out water. The base would have been required to supply the water and personnel to accomplish this task without the Freeman Holdings Group donation. This was one of the thousands of jobs required to make Skyfest a success.

Garnet and I were up early on Saturday, July 29, the first day of the airshow. We were able to enter the base with the public and park near the Base Operations, where the Million Air golf cart was parked. Capt. Ben Oakland was our contact during the event. He had a place in the operations building to store the cases of water.

A large cooler filled the backseat of the vehicle and it was filled with ice and bottled water. Yes, this was a fun job and Garnet and I made the most of the chance to make an airmen’s day on the hot flight line a better place.

After all, the airmen and flight crews were standing by to show the public their aircraft. It was obvious they enjoyed this chance to inform attendees about their part of the Air Force team.

The public was just as eager to learn about the Air Force jobs and the airmen. Most aircraft had long lines just to enter and see inside. Other displays had the public stopping by to read the information available.

Members of the 36th Rescue Squadron had one of their Hueys on hand, with three of air crew members. This is a special unit for Garnet and me, as I’m their Honorary Commander. We feel it is our job to spoil our airmen through various avenues. When the unit has an event, such as a barbecue or monthly get together, we do our best to attend.

The C-5 was on hand, showing the massive bulk as the largest aircraft in the Air Force. It is essentially a flying tube used to fly cargo around the world. This tube has a flight deck 30 feet above the ground.

The C-17 Globemaster III is also a cargo plane, just smaller than the C-5. This is the Air Force aircraft most seen conducting training at Grant County Airport.

A member of the aircrew was asked if this crew ever flies into Grant County, he responded, “I think we are at Moses Lake every day.”

Garnet and I spent Saturday and Sunday mornings driving the entire flight line, about a mile long, to one end and then back. We handed water to airmen and aircrews.

One airman was walking on the hot concrete. “Want a bottle of water?” I asked.

“Wow,” he said. “I was headed out trying to find some.”

Garnet handed him a bottle and he asked, “Could I get a bottle for my two buddies?”

Garnet handed him six bottles, two for each of them, with a promise to return in an hour. It was hot this day, well above 90 degrees, and, of course, the concrete magnified the heat.

Col. J. Scot Heathman, Fairchild’s Vice Commander, stopped us and thanked us for attending to the airmen.

Garnet and I continued the routine of driving the flight line, handing out water bottles, talking with the airmen, resupplying the cooler and doing it all again. The airmen of Fairchild make us proud, Col. Samuelson, and you should be too.

The Freeman Holdings Group and Million Air allowed us to help in this small way and made these two days special for us.

Hey, it was a tough job, but somebody had to do it.

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