Civic leaders tour AF bases

COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Twenty-nine business and civic leaders from the Golden Triangle Area boarded a Altus KC-135R Tuesday morning to tour two Air Force bases as part of a Columbus AFB Civic Leader Tour 2007.
The trip was designed to give local leaders a broader view of the Air Force and where one of the places Columbus Air Force Base's pilots can go after graduating from Specialized Undergraduate Pilot Training.
The group's first Air Force experience happened before they even landed, when the KC-135 crew refueled a B-52.
During the refueling each members of the tour was able to sit beside the boom operator and watch as the $53 million bomber, flown by Col. Daniel Charchian, 2nd Bomb Wing commander, Barksdale AFB, La., was refuled.
"The theme of this year's trip is "Heritage to Horizons" and this refueling fits in perfectly," said Colonel Dave Gerber 14th Flying Training Wing commander. "These two aircraft have a strong link to CAFB, both were stationed here during the Cold War and stood alert at the Strategic Air Command Alert facility."
The group's first stop was at Kirtland AFB, N.M.
While at Kirtland, the group visited the Pararescue school, wing mission brief, had lunch at the officer's club and shown all of the aircraft the 58th Special Operation Wing flies, including the HH-60, MH-53, UH-1, CV-22 and C-130.
Following the aircraft tour, the civic leaders boarded the Altus based KC-135 and departed for Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.
After landing at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., the group checked into their hotel and attend a dinner Colonel Ronald "Kent" Laughbaum, 355th Fighter Wing commander.
Day two of the tour started with breakfast at Davis-Monthan's dining facility, followed by a base driving tour hosted by Colonel Laughbaum.
The driving tour gave trip members a general overview of the base and highlighted many of the tenant units assigned to the base.
Another highlight of the day was the Ready-to-Deploy training. Tour participants were shown how base officials prepare Airmen scheduled to deploy. The training placed emphasize on weapons training and communication techniques used by ground forces when they are taking fire.
Next, the group took a driving took of the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Center. The tour showcased aircraft of the past and present and explained the storage process, which enables the aircraft stored there to be brought back into the active inventory.
The group then toured the professional development center, had lunch at the officer's club, received a wing mission briefing and toured the enlisted dormitories.
The trip concluded with an A-10C capabilities briefing by Colonel Laughbaum, a A-10C weapons loading demonstration and a hands on look at the aircraft.
The group boarded the KC-135 one final time and departed for CAFB.
Once they touched down at CAFB, Colonel Gerber thanked the aircraft crew for their support and thanked the civic leaders for taking time out of their schedules and attend this event.