Military News

Thursday, June 04, 2015

JBER hosts military appreciation week

by Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett
JBER Public Affairs

6/4/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Service members, families and Department of Defense civilian employees are honored for their services and sacrifices at the 2015 Military Appreciation Picnic on JBER Friday.

The annual picnic takes place at both Cottonwood and Paxton Parks from 11 a.m. to 2 pm. They will feature food, static displays, bounce houses, pony rides, games and more, sponsored by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and various JBER private organizations.

"It has been three months of planning, working with more than 12 different units and organizations. 17 committee members have worked countless hours coordinating and organizing different aspects of the picnic," said coordinator Air Force Master Sgt. Jason Thomas, 732nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron production superintendent, and a native of Youngstown, Ohio. "We hope the military members and their families enjoy the day."

There is a petting zoo at Cottonwood Park, as well as a climbing wall, bounce house and football. Paxton Park will include a boxing ring, obstacle course and basketball. Balloon animals and face painting will take place at both parks.

The Arctic Warrior Olympics are also taking place across the installation, including events such as archery, bowling, a canoe race, softball, dodgeball, golf, paintball and more.

Please visit for information on when and where the Olympic events are taking place throughout the day, or select the events calendar on the far right of JBER's homepage, choose June 5 on the calendar, and select the flyer.

Events also include the 2015 U.S. Army Alaska Combatives Tournament, sponsored by the Arctic Warrior Combatives Academy. Intermediate, semi-finals and finals begin at 9 a.m. at Buckner Physical Fitness Center.

"We're doing this to hone warrior skills, exhibit the warrior ethos and further the warrior's mindset across USARAK," said Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Jones, senior instructor and interim chief of training at the combatives academy, as well as the tournament director, and a native of Dewitt, Nebraska.

"People will watch everything starting from standard bouts on up. Soldiers will compete in their weight class with first place, second place or third place medals for individual weight classes; the team will receive a 2015 Combatives Tournament trophy. This will help people see Soldiers demonstrating their techniques in the crucible of combat showing our superiority in hand-to-hand combat."

For more information about the tournament, please contact the Arctic Warrior Combatives Academy 384-0292 or the Buckner Physical Fitness Center at 384-1308.

The activities are a chance for service members to get out and enjoy some time with their families, away from work.

The picnics are part of Military Appreciation Week, during which various establishments throughout the community offer specials, discounts and other events in support of the military.

"This is the state's largest military appreciation event, bringing together local citizens in an effort to support and celebrate our military community and to say 'thank you' for their sacrifice and commitment for freedom," said Anchorage Chamber of Commerce president Bruce Bustamante.

"Events like [this] truly demonstrate what it means to be a community and support each other. It's heart-warming to see Anchorage Chamber members come together to thank those who do so much for our country and our community."

The Chamber's Military Appreciation Week is designed to give local businesses and community leaders an opportunity to show support to service members in the Anchorage area, representatives said.

"It is awesome to be at a base where the community wants to do something for the military," Thomas said. "Before coming to JBER I hadn't been at a base that would do that, so having the community come in and do something for us is an awesome thing."

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