Leader Blues

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

TOP STORY>> We're Number 1

IN SHORT: LRAFB is center of C-130 universe as rodeo team is big winner again.

Staff and wire reports

“You hear it all the time, ‘We’re the best C-130 base in the world.’ Here’s the proof,” said Senior Airman John Ritter, a member of the award-winning 314th Airlift Wing Rodeo team.

Ritter and his teammates from Little Rock Air Force Base returned to a hero’s welcome at the base Saturday, after a weeklong national and international competition at McChord Air Force Base, at Washington State.

The 314th Airlift Wing was named Best C-130 Wing and Best Airdrop Wing on Friday following the Air Mobility Command Rodeo 2005 international competition.

“Winning the best airdrop wing is sweet because not only were they competing against C-130s, they also competed against C-17 crews,” said Col. Joseph Reheiser, 314th AW commander. “It says a lot for the venerable C-130.”

The competition focused on improving the skills of air mobility professionals. Little Rock Air Force Base’s team brought home a total of six trophies from the competition, validating the long-standing belief that they are the best of the best.

The competition included airdrop, air refueling, aero medical evacuation, security forces procedures, short-field landings, combat offloads and ground-support activities such as security forces, aerial port operations and maintenance operations.

The 314th AW and 463rd Airlift Group also came home with four more trophies — the 463rd AG was lauded as the Best C-130 Aircrew and the 314th AW earned bragging rights as the Best C-130 Post-flight Team, Best C-130 Maintenance Team and Best C-130 Airdrop Crew.
Beating the C-17s in the airdrop competition wasn’t the only major feat accomplished by the 314th AW.

Fourteen C-130s from seven nations competed for the title Best C-130 Wing, but only the 314th AW had what it takes to emerge the victor, according to Reheiser.

“The C-130 wing award is huge,” said Reheiser. “There were seven or eight international competitors, all of which flew the C-130. So, by far, the C-130 category had the most competitors — more than double in any competition. To be the best of that many competitors says a lot about the 314th Airlift Wing and Little Rock. We have world-class airmen and world-class leadership, top to bottom.”

With 27 U.S. teams and six international competitors — Brazil, France, Germany, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and United Kingdom — competing, the Air Mobility Rodeo is known around the world as the premiere competition for bases, wings, squadrons and crews to find who’s the best of the best.

Friends, family members, co-workers civic leaders, and community partners at an arrival ceremony at the base welcomed the base team Saturday.

“The support from community could not have been better ... we could not have done it with out you,” said Lt. Col. Thom Gilster, 314th AW Rodeo commander.

Air Mobility Command leadership also spoke about the lessons that airmen will take away from the event.

“These experiences will serve you better in your career,” said Gen. John Handy, Air Mobility Com-mand and U.S. Transportation Command commander. “(It’s all about the chance to) compete hard, play hard, and enjoy yourself. We will now be a better Air Force and a better world.”

But competition wasn’t the only thing on the minds of participants. Several traditions were also in force as teams exchanged hatpins, T-shirts, key chains, coins and cultures. Saudi Arabia, France and Germany brought many of their traditions, drinks, food and customs to McChord AFB to share with Ameri-cans. In turn, they were offered barbecue, rock music and cowboy hats.

“It was a good time had by all,” said Capt. Tom Ulmer, 314th AW Rodeo deputy commander. “We worked hard, played hard and came home with some hardware. The months of training we put in were totally worth it. We are the best C-130 and airdrop wing in the world!”

(LRAFB Public Affairs contributed to this report.)