By Liliana Castillo: Freedom New Mexico
Air Force participants and attendees to the 27th Special Operations Wing open house Saturday felt interaction between the base and surrounding communities was a positive.
Col. Stephen Clark said the base is a large part of Clovis and Portales.
“Our airmen are a part of the community,” said Clark. “They live downtown, go to the churches here, our kids go to the schools. We want to be a part of the community and we want the community to understand that this is their base, their mission as well. It just helps for them to come out here and take a look at what it is we’re doing.”
Master Sgt. B.J. Jobling, a CV-22 Osprey flight engineer with the 20th Special Operation Squadron, said he believed the open house was a great idea.
“I remember coming to things like this as a kid,” Jobling said. “It’s one of the things that got me interested in the Air Force.”
An Osprey was not on display on the flight line but Jobling and his co-workers offered posters of the tilt-rotor aircraft.
“The base is growing and interaction can only be positive,” Jobling said.
Tommy Montoya of Clovis and his grandson, Tyson Light, 10, spent time with the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, whose doors were flung open, allowing attendees to climb into the cockpit and behind two guns.
“I wanted my grandson to get an education on what the U.S. is all about and what defends it,” Montoya said. “Even the cold weather doesn’t bother us.”
Terry Maroste of Lubbock made the trip despite rain and cold weather because he wanted to see what had changed in the 50 years since he was in the Air Force.
“I wanted to see the new equipment they play with and visit with people,” the Vietnam veteran said.
Maroste, a civil air patrol pilot, said some of the programs’ cadets were planning to attend the event and he wanted to be there.
“This is all definitely interesting,” Maroste said.
The event included an MQ-1 Predator, AC-130 H Spectre Gunship, MC-130W Combat Spear, small aircraft and specialized support equipment.
Clark said the inaugural open house could evolve into an air show.
“This is the first time we’re doing this so we thought we’d start out with this and we’ll take a look at an air show maybe a year, year and a half from now,” Clark said.