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363rd TRS teams up with boy scouts to host HHH pit stop
Members of the 363rd Training Squadron from Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, provide refreshments to cyclists at a pit stop near Electra, Texas, during the 31st annual Hotter N' Hell bike race Aug. 25, 2012. The 363rd TRS has run the pit stop for the last three races. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)
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363rd TRS team up with Boy Scouts to run HHH rest stop

Posted 8/30/2012   Updated 8/30/2012 Email story   Print story


by Staff Reports
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

8/30/2012 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- Thousands of cyclists from around the country enjoyed the hospitality of Sheppard Air Force Base during the 31st Annual Hotter 'N Hell Hundred bike ride Aug 25. However, the rest stop on base wasn't the only spot with a military connection.

Members of the 363rd Training Squadron "Sidewinders" sponsored their own rest stop about 10 miles south of Electra, Texas. The stop was the second on the 100 kilometer route and was visited by an estimated 3,000-plus riders during a two-hour window.

Cyclists received fruit, water, sports drinks, bananas and medical care as they did at other stops, but the Sidewinders also provided fresh strawberries, kiwi, pineapple, watermelon and grapes.

"The riders loved the extra variety of fruit," said Edward Wang, 363rd TRS instructor and rest stop coordinator. "We had a lot of riders tell us how much they enjoyed the stop and that it was their favorite pit stop."

The stop was also a hit due to its photo opportunities. Volunteers from the squadron prepared a themed backdrop and donned costumes to pose with riders for a souvenir picture.

This year's theme was the "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas", with the 363rd TRS commander, Maj. Oliver Ulmer, wearing a full "Grinch" costume for several hours in the Texas heat to give the riders something to remember.

"It was a really fun time wearing the "Grinch suit" all morning and getting all the great pictures with the 100 kilometer riders," Ulmer said. "It was hot, no doubt, but isn't that what the day is all about?"

Saturday's event culminated months of preparation by volunteers. Members of the unit had worked since April getting the rest stop ready. No squadron funds were used to support the stop, so fundraisers were held to cover the cost of the extra fruit, costumes and rented equipment.

"It's a testimony to the dedication of our folks that they can set up the stop, serve thousands of cyclists, and pack up the rest stop...all within six hours," Wang said. "And add to it that they can do it on a remote Texas highway with no electricity or running water and leave the area looking as if it were untouched."

The "Sidewinders" were joined in the operation of the rest stop by Boy Scout Troop 13 from Wichita Falls. The Scouts camped out at the rest stop the night prior, earning them credit towards merit badges and rank, as well as reducing set up time for the stop.

The close ties to the community have caught the attention of Ulmer, who took command of the 363rd TRS just a month ago.

"Being new to Sheppard, it really is great to see such a great base and community connection," he said. "One of the things I enjoy most about having the opportunity to serve in the Air Force and travel to so many places is to the opportunity to meet new people and experience new far Wichita Falls is one of the best yet!"

This marks the fifth year the stop has been sponsored by a Sheppard training squadron. The 363rd TRS inherited sponsorship from the deactivated 360th TRS in 2010.

The 363rd TRS is part of the 82nd Training Group and trains more than 3,800 graduates in armament systems, nuclear and conventional munitions annually.

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