Memorial Day is known to mark the start of Summer. From cookouts and sparklers to pool openings and parades, this day is a day we use to celebrate the start of warmer weather. But while we take time to enjoy ourselves, we also take a moment to remember why we are able to celebrate and live the lives that we do in our country. We think about what they sacrificed and the choices they made, but few of us really know what goes into their heroism or the roles they play in defending our freedom. However, Sue Filipovich recently was chosen to experience life in the Air Force and was able to get a first-hand experience as well as newfound appreciation for what the brave men and women in our military do for us.
Each year, the 910 Airlift Wing, stationed at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS) in Vienna, conducts a Civic Leader Tour, designed to provide local community leaders, legislators and business owners an in-depth, hands-on experience with Air Force and Air Force Reserve missions, personnel and capabilities. This year they flew to Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA), home of the 433rd Airlift Wing. This experience provides an education into Youngstown’s base but also time to more fully appreciate the past, present and future of our Air Force Reserves.
The experience started with a briefing at the YARS. After meeting the community leaders, business owners, city officials and other dignitaries honored to be a part of this experience, the group boarded a KC-135 Stratotanker, whose next stop was San Antonio. While on board, Sue was able to watch one of the most delicate executions the Air Force conducts: a practice mission re-fueling a B-52 bomber in air. While the video is impressive, Sue said it does not do it justice as does seeing it up close. Following the refueling mission, Sue was invited to sit in the cockpit as the tanker prepared for landing in San Antonio. As she witnessed the communication with traffic control and how the pilot managed the landing preparations, the processes and team work to make the smooth landing happen was not just in the pilot’s hands, but everyone’s involved.
When they landed in San Antonio, the group had a chance to see some of the equipment our military uses to protect and serve. They started with a tour of a C-5M Super Galaxy plane, which is a large military transport aircraft originally designed and built by Lockheed-Martin. The C-5 Galaxy has been operated by USAF since 1969 and holds enough fuel to fuel an average American car 31 trips around the world. The cargo compartment is large enough to hold an eight-lane bowling alley and the exterior paint alone weighs 2600 pounds. We told Sue it sounds like the perfect transportation for this year’s Mystery Bus Ride Event. She’s working on it….
After the plane experience, they headed to Camp Bullis, one of the locations for Air Force Combat Airman Skills Training (CAST) for a first-hand look at what combat is like through a Convoy Operation Training Simulator. With the HUMVEE simulator, it included firing weaponry, navigating terrain and experiencing what troops experience when they are on a mission, but without the consequences they would face. Camp Bullis provided a behind the scenes look at their Combat Airman skills training center as well as the medical center, which trains the Army and Air Force on medical procedures and skills.
The experience continued with an appreciation for the past, with an escorted, private tour of The Alamo, as well as look at the future, as they attended Basic Training graduation at Lackland Airforce Base. At the graduation, Col. Dan Saraschene, from YARS, gave the graduation speech. The reverence and the majesty of the ceremony was moving, especially with one of our own from Youngstown giving the address. It was a great way to end the experience before heading back home.
As the group headed back and landed in Youngstown, new relationships were formed, including a greater sense of appreciation for what YARS and our military do for our wellbeing. With Memorial Day approaching, Sue’s experience is one that will benefit Burgan Real Estate in the long run but will stay with her forever. “The YARS and its members are top class and the appreciation that I have for what they do is unparalleled. From their A-1 organizational structure to the respect they exhibit to each other and the public, they exemplify the integrity and perseverance it takes to carry out missions for our country. This has brought a greater sense of appreciation for our military and I am honored to have been chosen to represent Burgan Real Estate with this once in a lifetime experience,” said Filipovich of the tour.
We hope that this story and her experience will help others find a sense of appreciation that will take time from the pool and hot dogs on Memorial Day to appreciate what we have because of the brave men and women who make it possible. With them, we are all better.