Members and guests of the 162nd Air Guardians, an organization consisting of Southern Arizona community and business leaders, participated in a base tour of the 162nd Fighter Wing Jan. 11.
The Air Guardians mission in Southern Arizona is to educate the community about the Air Guard and to support members of the 162nd and their families.
The tour began at the F-16 engine testing facility where Air Guardians experienced the sounds and feelings of a jet engine. Then they sat in the pilot seat for a simulated flight in the simulator. Finally, the Air Guardians set foot on the flight line to engage in a close contact view of several F-16 aircraft take offs and landings.
“This weekend with the Air Guardians was a great opportunity to show our supporters what they are supporting to get them familiar with the missions that we have at the wing and to get them closer to the F-16 training mission,” said Lt. Col. Rosson, the 162nd Fighter Wing Vice Commander and tour guide for the Air Guardians.
President of the Air Guardians, Brian Andrews, said he was thankful for the base tour and explained how the Air Guardians show their support for the unit.
“From the beginning, we have been advocates who support the guard mission and we raise funds through charities to help the Guard members and their families,” said Andrews. “We want to educate our community about the Air Guard and increase our membership to serve those who serve for us.”
The Air Guardians organize fundraisers to assist The Jimmy Jet Foundation, Wright Flight, and The Family Readiness Group along with other charitable organizations to involve the local Tucson community. Through these events, the benefits of the Air Guard and its mission are brought to the attention of potentially new members of the Air Guard and Air Guardians.
“We are making a great effort right now setting up public service announcements to educate the community because we believe that this Air Guard facility is a well-kept secret,” said Andrews. “We know there are people in our community that would be willing to support the mission of the Air Guard if only they knew about our organization.”
Formerly known as the Minuteman Committee, the Air Guardians began their campaign in 1993 as a result of a proposal to remove flight training here at the 162nd. Sheila Widnall, Secretary of the Air Force from 1993 to 1997, visited the unit and recognized the importance of the mission here. Through her influence and support of the mission, the proposal to remove fighter pilot training was eventually revoked and since then, the Air Guardians have continued their work providing support for the 162nd.
“The Air Guard brings the community a sense of security which provides a beneficial mission to Tucson as well as our nation,” said Andrews. “The Air Guardians are willing to serve people that have taken on careers of service and it’s wonderful to see the activities and support our volunteers can provide for them.”