Guam, May 2, 2011—Armed Forces Entertainment HEAVY Medal Tour took to the skies heading up, up and away with the US Air Force in Guam. As morning broke, the team set their compass for north on this small island and started off for Andersen Air Force Base and the 36th Wing,
After an initial briefing and greeting from Col. Tod Fingal, vice commander, Olympians Carmichael, Lalive, Colgan and Richardson toured the 36th Maintenance Squadron and took an in-depth look at the vital role this group plays in ensuring every plane stationed at the base is flight ready.
“It’s just like in ski racing, these pilots rely on the team behind the scenes who are putting in hours and hours of hard work to ensure our best results,” said three-time Olympian Caroline Lalive. “I understand their herculean efforts and it meant a lot to me to see them today.”
Even with the devastating storms that rocked the southeast portion of the country fresh in our minds, the 106th Air Refueling Squadron of the Alabama National Guard’s 117th Air Refueling Wing was ready for duty.
The oldest serving Air Refueling Squadron in the Air Force, the 117th relies on the steadfast KC-135 Stratotanker, which TSGT Harris happily showed off to the group. After testing out the pilot seats, Lalive and Richardson headed to the tail of the aircraft inspecting the boom and its aerial refueling intricacies.
“We all know what it’s like to fill our car with gas,” commented Kaylin Richardson. “But imagine doing it at 300 miles per hour at 20,000 feet transferring thousands of gallons of fuel all in a matter of minutes and close enough to see the writing on the other pilot’s flight suit. You just start to scratch the surface of the skills this group holds. ”
After leaving the flight line, HEAVY Medal III didn’t want to be tardy for its first school visit of the trip. America’s athletes made a special stop at Andersen Middle School dropping into one of its 7th grade physical education classes. With autographs traded, questions flying and medals shared, these children were definitely excited for class today, almost as much as the athletes were thrilled to share the hour with them.
“Even if we only inspired these kids to be more active in their daily lives our visit was so worth it,” said Nelson Carmichael. “Plus, I didn’t even have to go to the principle’s office.”
The group finished off the afternoon at the Base Exchange and with a surprise appointment at the 36th Medical Hospital. Both events provided great medal sharing opportunities where Olympians met family and service members in a relaxed atmosphere.
“We’ve meet so many great people during our three days in Guam,” stated rowing legend Sean Colgan. “But our trip has only just begun and I can’t wait to meet many more of the great men and women serving our country over the coming week across the Pacific region.”
As the team checked out the Vietnam ear B-52 display at the end of the day, just across the flight line fence, an active B-52 bomber revved its engines and headed down runway 6L/24R rocketing into the sky.
We all listened to the sound of freedom as the plane disappeared into the night on another mission and quietly reflected on all those individuals constantly watching over the liberties we cherish in this U.S. Territory and throughout the land.