SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas --
Ah November, the month where almost everyone is obsessed with either football, pumpkin-flavored everything or not shaving…but here at Sheppard Air Force Base, the Airman and Family Readiness Center and the 363rd Training Squadron took their time and used it for something they believe is the most important part of November.
On Nov. 3, the AFRC teamed up with the 363rd, who opened their hangar bay doors for military family members as part of Month of the Military Family.
“We’re teaming up with 363 and they’re going to showcase what they do out here; we can share this with our military families,” said Amy McGee, AFRC community readiness specialist. “A lot of the military families might not know what goes on in these huge hangars. To come in and actually experience this, its including them into our mission and that’s really helpful for our families.”
McGee said living on the base and seeing planes take off every day is not the same as seeing them up close. She said seeing all the kids and families get up close with the planes and learning about the jobs the Airmen here do was really exciting and fun.
“I just love seeing the kids light up when they see this huge B-52 in front of them,” McGee said. “Their eyes light up when they look inside these jets and they’re able to sit inside simulators. It’s just exciting for them to see like, ‘Hey this is what mom and dad do for a living.’ This is awesome.”
Seeing cool jets and big bombs was not the focal point of this tour though. Although bombs and physic-defying hunks of metal are cool, Operation Family had a more deep-seeded mission.
“We are doing this because November is the military family appreciation month,” said Tech. Sgt. Donald Shoals Jr., F-15 instructor supervisor. “Back in 1993, the president started this by signing a proclamation saying that we want to dedicate this one month to military families, and it’s significant to do things like this because when it comes to the military family, they are a big part of us doing our job. They are very, very important when it comes to our military operation.”
Shoals said the family is what helps the military member stay resilient. Families give them support, handle things at home when they cannot and givr them a reason for deploying. He said this is just a way to help the families out there – husbands, wives and children – know they are important to everyone working in these hangars.
“It lets them understand that who they are is important to the military member,” Shoals said. “It gets the family out here and see what’s going on and see why we’re working on 12-hour shifts because our mission here is very important. But their support is just as important.”
And Operation Family was exactly that. Bringing the family into the world of the military member, because they are as much a part of the mission as those in the uniform.
Thanks to the efforts of the AFRC and 363, the military families that came to operation family were allowed to see what goes on behind the hangar doors and it probably won’t be the last time family get to see into their husband’s, wife's, child’s life here at Sheppard.