SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. --
Children of various ages stepped out of the 77th Fighter Squadron and onto a sunny flightline accompanied by Air Force fighter pilots.
With wide smiles, the local youngsters bounced excitedly as they learned about the F-16CM Fighting Falcon, an image which can be found across the patriotic community of Sumter.
The 77th FS Gamblers hosted a career day for two youth groups at Shaw AFB and a range day at Poinsett Electronic Combat Range, near Wedgefield, South Carolina, Sept. 22 for the families of 20th Fighter Wing members.
“It’s absolutely important our younger generation know the opportunities available to them, through not only the Air Force but the military itself, and [for us] to give them exposure on what it is we do in the military,” said Capt. Scott Neidrick, 77th FS pilot and coordinator.
Neidrick also said it is important the children receive an opportunity to see various facets within the military, such as medical, maintenance, and pilot careers.
After spending time on the flightline, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle operators transported range-day attendees to Poinsett to experience the combat capabilities of the fighting falcon.
“I think it’s very important for families to know what their spouse or family member in the military is doing to help contribute to the greater good,” Neidrick said. “I hope today was an opportunity for them all to see how their family member significantly impacts our mission and enables our pilots to get in the air and go ahead and do the job that our nation has called us to do.”
As Gambler Falcons soared through the air, their pilots deployed munitions. Audience members had the opportunity to listen as a narrator explained the tactical communication between the pilots during their training, which was being broadcasted over loudspeakers.
“When the aircraft came overhead, we first started out with a high-angle rocket pass, where they shot 2.75-inch diameter rockets at the conventional circle,” Neidrick said. “They then moved to low-angle rocket passes, where they did about six more rocket passes, and we got to watch the aircraft actually employ rockets.”
There was also a combat search and rescue event, where a survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist simulated being a downed pilot and marked his position via flares.
By viewing a mission demonstration, some of the Airmen in attendance were able to leave with a better understanding of their role in the 20th FW mechanism.
“It’s very awesome to be able to see what the pilots get to do,” said Airman 1st Class Whitney Smith, range-day attendee. “As a public health technician, I am in the deployment section. They come see us, [and] we make sure they get all of their medical requirements finished before they leave. It’s cool to see that we take part in having them come down here and we get to see their mission after we accomplish our mission.”
The 77th FS range day aimed to educate members of the Shaw community by providing an opportunity for individuals to come together and learn about the mission. By maintaining community and family support, the 20th FW can continue to prepare rapid, ready Airmen to provide combat-ready F-16 airpower.