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Commentary Search

June Commander's Corner

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Michael Dunkin
  • 169th Comptroller Flight

If you are like me and you had friends or family attend the South Carolina National Guard Expo (I’m still calling it an Airshow), then you know just how impressed the visitors were with the Swamp Foxes. I have received countless texts and phone calls from people raving about the performances and the displays. The combined arms demonstration remains the best act at any airshow in the world. Kids and adults alike are amazed and inspired by the complexity, closeness, and of course explosions provided by this demonstration. We can all take pride in providing a fantastic experience for so many people. I remember being a part of two airshows while on active-duty and how it took every person in a 4,000 person wing to make things happen. The fact that we can make the same thing happen with only 1,300 people is a credit to the teamwork that is part of the McEntire culture.  I wanted to mention a few of the people who contributed to the Expo. This list is not comprehensive.

It all starts with Maj. Ryan “Bago” Madrid. He practically lived on base for the last couple of months. His leadership throughout was crucial to the overall success. Staff Sgt. Shannon Vincent was right there helping with admin support and tracking the details. Capt. David “Ike” Thompson did a fabulous job getting thousands of kids here and executing the STEM day. Capt. Matt Smith put together the Family Day (let’s not forget all those folks who spent the night tending the grills). Master Sgt. Bronson Priebe and Transient Alert for overcoming the horrible Thursday weather and parking the aircraft while STEM day was happening (as well as getting them out of here). Senior Master Sgt. Steve Rector and all his Civil Engineer support for parking lots, cordon areas, and generally just being the “we can do that” people they are day in and out. Lt. Col. Paul Laymon and his Security Forces troops who kept us safe and the traffic moving. Captains Joshua “Mosey” Rosecrans and Brad “Rudy” Cline never slowed down in getting acts and making the Air Boss piece go smoothly. Capt. Cassandra Richardson and the clinic staff who remained ready and supported all medical situations. Chief Master Sgt. Gary Jackson, Senior Master Sgt. Larry Smith, and the cooks that filled in when we needed another way to feed the guests. Maj. Ralph Cole and Senior Master Sgt. Sarah Edwards led a team to give some of our veterans and other supporters a great experience. Senior Master Sgt. Ed Snyder and his team did an outstanding job before, during, and after the event of sharing the experience with the world through media. Capt. Mike Adams, the Logistics Readiness Squadron, and the Army National Guard kept the buses running and the flow going. All of the maintenance group, they launched aircraft, took down a stage, helped with parking, and did every odd job that fell out of the sky during the week to include policing the ramp and returning rental cars. 1st Lt. Marlene “Teacher” Johnson-Moore and her band of student flighters were responsible for keeping the 300 trash cans emptied and picked up litter throughout the event along with parking and other tasks. The Operations Group met and cared for all the performers while organizing and performing the Combined Arms Demonstration. Behind the scenes you may not have seen these two but Senior Airman Reggie German and Senior Airman Kevin “Roadway” Trapp worked rental cars, golf carts, lodging, and food constantly. A special thanks to those tasked with the mayor cell, you guys worked trash, helped lost children find their parents, supported stage operations, Distinguished Visitor support, guarded the hot ramp, and most importantly monitored the crucial toilet paper situation for three days. Our only regret is we never found Lt. Col. Jim Roth’s hat.

This list tells the story of McEntire. A team from around the base that comes together to make the total greater than the sum of its parts. The value of this airshow was captured by a 94-year old Marine veteran of Iwo Jima who refused a golf cart ride while he used his walker because Marines can walk. He told a young Airman from the 245th that these events are important to remind the public just how powerful its military is.