Team Grissom hosts Purdue Aviation students

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Harrison Withrow

It takes all of team Grissom to keep the 434th Air Refueling Wing flying, and on Nov. 17, team Grissom came together to show future aviators what they’re all about.

Aviation students from Purdue University visited Grissom for a tour to learn more about the base and how their degrees related to military careers. Members of maintenance, air traffic control, radar approach, flight crew, public affairs, recruiting, and the wing historian all gathered to make the event possible.

The tour began with a visit to Grissom’s air traffic control tower and radar approach facility, where students met and spoke with some familiar voices.

“The most interesting part for me was meeting the people manning the tower” said Richard Maffay, a professional flight student at Purdue University. “When we do cross-country flights, those are the voices we’re talking to on the radio, so it’s really cool to put a face to them.”

Coincidentally, a Purdue aircraft was flying through Grissom’s airspace while the students were in the tower, said Maffay.

“We got to see everything from their end, so when they ask us to do something, we have a better perspective on it,” he said. “The whole experience was very cool.”

The next stop was at a KC-135R Stratotanker static where students met with air crew and maintainers to learn about what goes into flying and maintaining Grissom’s aircraft. For many students, this showed them career opportunities they may not have known existed, said Todd Brewer, Purdue University maintenance shop supervisor.

“It’s great that they can learn about the Reserve because I think a lot of them don’t even realize that this option is out there,” Brewer said. “Grissom is sort of a hidden gem in this area, and I want my students to know that there’s more they can do than just flying airlines.”

Sunday marked the fourth consecutive year Grissom hosted Purdue aviation students, and Brewer intends to keep bringing his students back for as long as possible, he said.

“Every visit has been great, and it’s an amazing educational experience for the students,” said Brewer. “As long as Grissom keeps inviting us back, we’re going to keep coming.”

For team Grissom, the tours are an investment in the future, said Tech. Sgt. Nacoma Leon, 434th ARW line recruiter.

“These base tours are a great way for us to build our relationships with the students and continue our relationships with their instructors,” said Leon. “Recruiting is all about engagement and that’s exactly what we’re doing: engaging with the students and instructors. This is how we build tomorrow’s force,”

The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R unit in the AFRC. Airmen and aircraft from the 434th ARW routinely deploy around the world in support of the Air Force mission and U.S. strategic objectives.

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