Minot Air Force Base, ND- When Jim Peters was in High School he could walk into a department store, pickout clothes and charge them to his mothers account. When he turned 18 his father set him up with a car.
Basically, Jim Peters the son of an Army war veteran was 'having it better' then his parents had growing up. If you ask adults between the age of 55-65 how they were raised a surprising number would offer up similar stories. Peters, 'privledged' life in the 1960's and 70's could have easily been the year 2012. The one major difference being that unlike so many who enjoy this type of upbringing today, Peters was expected to dig down and do something with his life in a major way when he turned 18.
Times have changed; expectations have changed. In Peters case he was encouraged and driven by his parents so much that he turned a passion into a profession and became a professional musician at age 14.
Chris Lytle on the other hand was raised by a single mother, the clothes he wore were good till the threads shown through and his first car was communially shared with his family.
Comparing Jim and Chris Lytle's upbringing is like comparing Minot, North Dakota in January to the warm winds of August... the two are opposites.
One thing the two men did share when growing up was an overwhelming philosophy in each respective household, that the 'boys' owned there actions... were responsible for what the future would bring them.
American300 teamed the two up recently for 'Lights Out Laughs On' one of the themed never ending Never Quit Series educational engagements with Air Force Global Strike Command. The program initiated this past December is designed to expose amazing individual's life stories with today's Airmen.
Robi Powers, the founder of the nonprofit and creator of the program explains: We realize that service members like the rest of us can only absorb and learn 'so much' on any given day. Humans are simply not wired to 'learn' every second of everyday of their lives. We attempt to create an exciting learning environment by bringing varied examples of resiliency and allowing our guests to really connect with service members. While our programming is focused on the younger troops, we've found that the stories and experiences shared by our guests are giving the leadership an endless supply of analogy and metephoric ammunition as well... situational stories that can be shared again well after a tour has rolled through an Area of Responsibility.
At first glace the American300 'Never Quit Series' looks and reads like celebrity entertainment. Depending on the month the various 'themed tours' have individuals that within their respective fields are the best of the best. Olympic gold medalists to Astronauts... World Champion Cowboys to the World's Greatest Climbers; American300 brings them out and puts them toe to toe with the troops.
In the case of Jim Peters the musician/comedian, there isn't much more the man can do professionally within his field... he's booked with work and even finds time to run a nonprofit troop support effort. For Chris Lytle, the road to 38 years of age has been filled with a full time fire fighting job, family life and training and competing within the mixed martial arts and UFC gyms and cages. Only since retirement last year has Lytle, had time to donate his energy to civic minded exchanges. American300 programming is one of his new found free time activiites.
The Air Force Global Strike Command 'Lights Out Laughs On Tour' represented the sixth American300 Never Quit Series tour to connect with Airmen at Minot.
Watching Jim and Chris share with Airmen as a crew of nuclear missile transport trailer maintainers ran diagnostics on one of five 42 ton transport trailers in a maintanence hanger was music to Robi Powers ears. "Chris and I came from opposite family situations, but, today we've both achieved amazing successes. If there's one thing that we share in common it's that we had to 'own our actions' growing up. If we wanted to turn one of our passions into reality the load was solely on our back." said Jim Peters to the group of 5th Bomb Wing Maintainers.
With an understanding that not every educational tour is going to resonate with every Airmen, American300 works to vary the volunteers it brings to the commands 5 bases. Powers explains; we know that some of our mentors backgrounds and messages are going to bounce off a percentage of the Airmen we expose them to. Not every Airmen is going to be fired up to meet a decorated UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) champion or comedian for that matter. Our goal is to simply keep putting different individuals with amazing backgrounds in front of the commands Airmen so that over time we create the broadest benefit possible.
In the case of the Lights Out Laughs On Tour the impact was huge. Partly due to the focused effort on the part of Minot Air Force Bases 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing to place the duo in front of defenders who had in majority expressed a desire to meet the UFC Champion and his 'wing man' Comedian. "We're not trying to sell anything... we're giving away advice and experience in the hopes that Airmen will take what we give them and build on it in their own personal ways" explains Powers, "What has made this program so successful over the past year is the commitment on the part of Air Force Global Strike Command to ensure that we keep coming back. No one ever learned mathmatics overnight, it required months and years of exposure to a learning process. Building mental strength is no different... it's a slow process that needs to be nutured daily."
Providing a steady diet of consumable information is exactly what this program is all about. Month by month, guest by guest the American300 programming is providing government service members with a 'road map for resiliency'.
Next up: the man who was told to take his sled and teammates home from the 1988 Winter Olympics: Devon Harris, Captain and 3x Jamaican Bobsled Team member... yes there will be some 'Cool Running' coming up next on the Air Force Global Strike Command American300 Never Quit Series.
Photos of the 'Lights Out Laughs On Tour' can be found on facebook at: 'American300 Warrior Tours'
For more information on Air Force Global Strike Command visit: www.afgsc.af.mil
Jim Peters and Chris Lytle, like all American300 volunteers have agreed to make every effort possible to visit the remaining four bases in the MAJCOM. Look for more infomation on their next AFGSC Base visit in the months to come.
American300 is an all volunteer 501c3 nonprofit with a mission of educating United States Military and Civilian Service Members in matters of mental strength and resiliency. For more on American300 visit: www.American300.org No fedearl endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is ever intended.
American300 Public Affairs: Mike Lane- firstname.lastname@example.org or Robi Powers- email@example.com