Grissom fall festival brings families together

  • Published
  • By A1C Harrison Withrow
  • 434 ARW
Grissom kicked off October by inviting Airmen to bring their families for a weekend of fun at the 2019 Fall Festival, Oct. 5-6.

“This weekend was just what we needed,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling commander. “We’ve had a full year with exercises, inspections and the air show and we needed this break to focus on us.”

Saturday began with a speech by Sporty King, and inspirational speaker who explained the importance of taking care of oneself and finding the good in every situation. King is heavily involved in the Yellow Ribbon program, and was invited to Grissom as part of the force-wide “tactical pause” to focus on Airman resiliency.

“The Air Force threw in the tactical pause requirement, and it really went in line with what we already had in mind,” Shaw said. “We’re a family here, and taking care of our family is vital to our success here at Grissom.”

Afterward, multiple hangars were opened up for family activities, including a children’s playground, a car show, resource providers, and a concert by the Flying Toasters.

“We really had a blast, and the kids loved it,” said Steve Catron, who attended with his wife Rachel and their two children. “All of the events were fantastic and we’ve had a great time.”

“We love bringing our kids to the base,” said Rachel. “It’s very family oriented and we always feel very welcome here,”

Additionally, a petting zoo was available, where children could interact with farm animals and ride horses.

To better help family members understand the mission that Grissom performs, a static KC-135R Stratotanker display was parked in the center of the activity area, allowing visitors to take tours of the inside.

“An event of this magnitude doesn’t just happen,” he added. ““Our team did a fantastic job setting up events, displays and activities that fostered camaraderie that included family members. It’s just one example of us doing things the right way.”

After hours, members and their spouses met up at Chocks to try out their special Octoberfest menu and participate in a cornhole tournament.

Festivities resumed on Sunday with a magic show for children, followed by “Tanker Treat”, where kids were encouraged to come in costume and go Trick-or-Treating at several booths set up around the flightline. Activities for the day wrapped up with a family costume contest on the main stage.

“I think the kids got more candy trick-or-treating here than they will on Halloween night,” said Catron. “The kids got to see all the different squadrons and interact with the people we work with, and of course they love getting candy.”

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The Citizen Airmen from the Hoosier Wing routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission.

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