Employers get close look at Guard mission

By Mickey Winfield, Freedom New Mexico

With war raging abroad and the occasional state-wide emergency calling New Mexico national guardsmen and reservists into action, the various New Mexico employers providing those soldiers are an increasing silent, but essential partner with federal and state forces.

The men and women in uniform got the chance to show off their skills to more than 60 current and potential New Mexico employers Saturday morning at the Melrose Bombing Range.

Scenarios demonstrated in front of a wide-eyed group included F-16 air support and the “Boss Lift.” The guardsmen and reservists also demonstrated the insertion of a rescue team by UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters under enemy fire.

A parachute drop was planned, but was scrapped due to high winds.

Colonel Richard Clark helped explain the various scenarios to the state-wide guests.

“It’s real important for these guys to see what our guys are doing,’ Clark said, “because that way, when they ask for a day off or they ask for two weeks in the summer (employers) know that they’re actually doing real training,”

Clark and other officers had high praise for the employers present at the demonstrations.

“The employers are our biggest supporters,” Clark said. “These guys are the whole reason that we’re able to do what we do. Because they let their people come and support their country and support their state. Sometimes we have to call out our guys and state duty missions, and I know it’s a big burden on (the employers) but it helps us because we’re helping the community and the country.”

Bob Walton, the vice-president of business development with the Albuquerque economic development group feels like it’s his responsibility to help by allowing paid time off for some of his employees to suit up when needed.

“We certainly have to have a safe and secure country, and with the way the military is structured today, all of the sudden the guard and reserve becomes a very important part (of the military) — it’s just the right thing to do,” Walton said. “If we’re going to be able to conduct business, we’ve got to have a safe country. The least we can do is support these soldiers at this time and they shouldn’t do so with a financial loss.”

Walton also got the full service military treatment, arriving to Cannon in a KC-135 refueling plane.

“They refueled four planes while we were in the air,” Walton said. “I’ll tell you what I’m most impressed with, is the military personnel that we’re meeting. These guys are classic, they’re just first-class.