Military News

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Nisqually Indian Tribe members visit McChord Field

by Staff Sgt. Katie Jackson
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


8/3/2015 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- In attempt to rekindle a community partnership, Air Force members at McChord Field, Washington, coordinated a tour of the base for the Nisqually Indian Tribe July 30, 2015.

It is legend that the Nisqually people have lived in the Nisqually River valley in west central Washington for thousands of years and their territory initially consisted of more than two million acres. Their reservation now consists of approximately five thousand acres, some of which is under control of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Military Reserve.

The event was hosted by senior noncommissioned officers at McChord Field and consisted mostly of Nisqually Indian Tribe youth. The goal of the tour was to create a partnership between organizations and to eliminate any perceived barriers about each other's culture. Each squadron involved was given the opportunity to show what it does for the Air Force and why they are an integral part of the community.

"It [the McChord and Nisqually tribe relationship] was [almost] non-existent; they had a relationship with the Army, but not McChord Field," said Master Sgt. Robert Peaden, 62nd Aerial Port Squadron first sergeant and one of the founders of the community outreach program.¬¬¬ "The relationship was strong in the 1970's but has eroded over the years. We are here to renew that energy to have more community partners with Team McChord from all walks of life."

The tour of McChord Field has been in works for some time now. This idea [originated] by Chief Master Sgt. Gordon Drake, former 62nd Airlift Wing command chief, and Senior Master Sgt. John Lipsey, 62nd Maintenance Group quality assurance superintendent.

"Master Sgt.'s Beverly Lay and Shenica Speck, both 627th Logistics Readiness Squadron individual protective equipment section chiefs, and I ran with the idea and wanted to start a community outreach team."

The tribe members began their tour with an introduction from the McChord chaplains; the fire station where teenagers watched firefighters hose down part of the flight line and try on some gear; and the 627th LRS's aircraft parts store where they were able to see what goes into the maintenance of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

After lunch at the Olympic Dining Facility, they continued to the 627th Security Forces Squadron for their next stop.
The youth were shown some of the weapons the security forces Airmen are equipped with. They were able to meet some of McChord's Phoenix Ravens, specially trained security forces personnel dedicated to providing security to aircraft transiting high terrorist and criminal threat areas.

They continued to the 62nd APS with a tour of their facilities and an explanation of an airdrop bundle.

From there they were shown a display of a 60K Halverson tunner loader, a vehicle which provides the capability to rapidly load and unload pallets from an aircraft. The tour was not complete until some tribe members were able to honk the vehicle's horn.

Next, tribe members were given a tour of a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft by members of the 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. For some of these teenagers, this would be their first time on an aircraft.

Finally, their tour concluded with a briefing from the 5th Air Support Operations Squadron.

Peaden said, "This group is the beginning phase with the Nisqually community, and I hope to have them, along with other community partners, to work together so we can learn from each other cultures and we, Team McChord, can create legacy of support and mentorship for years to come."

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