News: Air Force reservists give back to the community
Story by Master Sgt. Chris Durney
LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. – On an overcast Sunday morning, about 120 Air Force reservists descended on the Jacksonville Museum of Military History to give back to the community surrounding the Little Rock Air Force Base, and honor their heritage.
Detachment 1 of the 22nd Air Force is a rapidly-growing Air Force Reserve unit based here, with approximately 225 personnel. As part of the unit’s “Wingman Day” activities during the July unit training assembly, they took on an important community relations project, with stunning results.
At the heart of Jacksonville, Ark., the nearest community to the world’s largest C-130 base, is a two-story colonial-style building that houses incredible artifacts of our nation’s rich military history – especially that of the U.S. Air Force and its predecessor, the U.S. Army Air Corps.
The museum relies completely on donations and grants to keep the doors open, and has scant funds to keep the grounds up. Museum coordinator Danna Kay Dugger turned to Col. Archie Frye, Det. 1’s commander, for some help. So, on July 15, Det. 1 Airmen arrived at the location with rakes, tools, pressure washers, paint and enthusiasm to help brighten this jewel of Central Arkansas. After two and a half hours of hard work, the grounds were in military shape.
“I thank you all so much,” said Dugger to the airmen as the work was wrapped up. “This is an incredible outpouring and we love you all.”
In addition to pressure washing the entire front of the building, several areas received new coats of paint, and an aggressive weeding effort was undertaken. One area in particular – underneath of a Vietnam-era F-105 “Thunderchief” – was overgrown with weeds and grass. Strong backs, Air Force muscle and about 80 bags of donated mulch transformed the area into a beautifully-landscaped centerpiece.
“As reservists, we’re all tied closely with our civilian communities, and especially with Jacksonville,” said Col. Frye. “This place showcases our heritage, and this is a great way for us to give back to the people who support us.”
22nd Air Force, Detachment 1, Air Force Reserve Command, began operations with just two personnel in March of 2011, and has grown to more than 200 full and part-time Airmen as of June 2012. Det. 1 is slated to grow to more than 800 by the end of 2014.
The unit is stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Ark., and is currently sharing space with the Air National Guard and the 314th Airlift Wing.
The unit’s mission is to grow as a Formal Training Unit and partner with the Air National Guard and active duty Air Force units to provide basic air crew training to the Unites States’ total force and 42 joint partner nations.