LRAFB celebrates 65 years of community partnerships

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st class Mariam Springs
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- Little Rock Air Force Base celebrated the 65th anniversary of the installation’s first open house, Oct. 8, by hosting civic leaders and conducting an aerial review of the greater Little Rock area to thank Arkansans for their unwavering support since the base’s inception.

The aerial review included four C-130J Super Hercules aircraft and one C-130H Hercules flying in formation led by a vintage C-47 Skytrain. Each of the installation’s wings and mission partners, including the 19th Airlift Wing, 314th AW, 189th AW, and the 913th Airlift Group were represented with these aircraft, showcasing a unified front of the nation’s epicenter of tactical airlift, known as “The Home of Herk Nation.”

“While we had to make the difficult decision to cancel the Thunder Over the Rock air show this year due to COVID-19, it was very important that we still found a way to pause and recognize this significant milestone and to show our appreciation for all the community has done for us,” said Col. John Schutte, 19th AW and installation commander.

The strong ties between the base and the community began in 1955, when 6,100 acres were donated to the Air Force to build the installation.

Since Oct. 9, 1955, when the base first opened its gates to the local populous, the synergistic partnership with the community has continued to fuel the base’s ability to execute and accomplish missions at the leading edge of operational excellence.

“The military personnel at Little Rock Air Force Base can execute a mission with a moment’s notice and do it flawlessly, but without our community support that task carries a much larger burden,” said Maj. Michael Stinson, 19th Operations Support Squadron chief of current operations. “The communities that our Airmen live in, and the businesses that their families work in are more connected to the mission than anywhere I’ve ever been stationed. That enables the base population to thrive during mission execution, and trust that their families have a community to support their every need.”

Throughout its history, LRAFB has accomplished a variety of mission-sets and remained a national security asset, in large part, because of unparalleled community support.

“The relationship we have with the Central Arkansas community — that understands our critical importance to national security — is key to our mission success,” Stinson said.

He added that the installation’s legacy carries on today as LRAFB serves as the epicenter of the nation’s tactical airlift capability, training and deploying Herk warriors who enable rapid global mobility.

“Herk Nation is more than just C-130s and the aircrew,” Stinson said. “From maintenance giving us our airborne second home, to the Force Support Squadron making sure our families have events planned that make our children smile, Herk Nation puts the most capable C-130 fleet in the world at the enemy’s doorstep.”

Moreover, 'The Home of Herk Nation' is laid on a foundation of community support, as no other community in Air Mobility Command has been recognized with the Abilene Trophy three times in the last decade, the Altus Trophy and selected as a Great American Defense Community.

“These first 65 years have paved the way for military operations around the world,” Schutte said. “Though our mission has taken many forms, we are committed to meeting our nation’s mobility needs as a team of Ready Warriors.”

Looking toward the future, the goal for LRAFB is to continue to uphold its standards and ties with the community and serve proudly as ‘The Home of Herk Nation,’ Schutte remarked.

“Now more than ever, in the midst of this ongoing pandemic, we recognize how inextricably connected we remain with the local community,” he added. “We are thankful for all that the community has done, and all that they will undoubtedly do, in the coming years to support the men and women of Little Rock AFB.”

[Editor’s Note: Aerial reviews are fully functional training missions, designed to maintain the lethality and readiness of Air Force aircrew and maintainers; they are conducted at no additional cost to taxpayers and are incorporated into existing flying schedules.]