JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. –
Air Mobility Command civic leaders visited Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey, to meet Airmen and experience the mission set Nov. 5-7.
This tour was the second stop of a three-part series to emerge the civic leaders into a mobility Airman’s world. The group started in March at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas, where they witnessed nearly 800 civilians become Airmen, then arrived at Joint Base MDL this month, to see how Airmen are trained and prepared for deployment. Their last stop is scheduled to bring them overseas next spring where they will undergo a deployed-like experience at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
The 23 civic leaders accompanied Gen. Maryanne Miller, AMC commander, for the Joint Base MDL tour. They were exposed to mission sets from several units to include the 87th Air Base Wing, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center and the 621st Contingency Response Wing. Each civic leader went through the 87th Logistics Readiness Squadron deployment line and were assigned items including helmets, vests, boots and deployment bags. After having a hands-on experience through the line, they wore their gear to training ranges where they were briefed at different firing stations about tactical equipment and observed training in simulated hostile environments.
“This experience helps me have a better understanding of what our Airmen have to go through to deploy, to protect our great country,” said Mark Lillis, executive director of The Leaven school program and civic leader at Travis Air Force Base, California.
The civic leaders interacted with commanders such as Col. Bridget Gigliotti, Joint Base MDL and 87th ABW commander, Brig. Gen. John Klein Jr., EC vice commander, and Col. Douglas Jackson, 621st CRW commander.
“This visit series offers our community partners a precious firsthand account of the efforts and skills each Airman offers in support of our Rapid Global Mobility mission,” said Miller.
The goal of the AMC civic leader tour is to expose influential civilians to military members and the military way. With greater understanding of the mobility air forces’ mission, the group is able to go back to their communities and inform, influence and promote change for the better.
“It’s always because of the Airmen. Our whole mission is to connect the community together with the Airmen,” said Thomas J. Randall, business owner of several companies and prior 621st Contingency Response Wing honorary commander. “One of the problems we have right now is loneliness. Airmen feel lonely. We could get Airmen in our rotary clubs so they can see the goodness of their community and have a sense of belonging.”
The civic leaders sat around a table and brainstormed potential programs to connect Airmen with their communities. They discussed clubs, bringing the Airmen to local high schools to share their story, hosting events at the American Legion for exposure to veterans and bringing in more mental health professionals, to name a few.
“Go get them. Teach Airmen to get out of their comfort zone,” said Miller, speaking to the civic leaders. “There are a lot of challenges ahead, but put your arms around them and break in. We are a better Air Force because of you all. You make our Airmen more resilient. Every connection bares a purpose.”
After the three-part series, these civic leaders will have observed the mobility Airman from the ground up, from trainee to deployment. With that knowledge and hands-on experience, they can better understand an Airman as human first, and service member second.
“We are a voice for the service members, we can communicate what we learn here to people on the outside who can make change,” said Dana Lancellotti, director of business development and tourism, Ocean County, and Joint Base MDL honorary commander. “Every time I do this, I remember why I do it. It’s about getting to know the human behind it all. It’s so much more than just fighting, and every American should be proud of what you [service members] do.”