Military Shows Its Stuff at Joint Service Open House
By Samantha L. Quigley
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, May. 19, 2006 The military showcased its personnel and equipment for its own today as the annual Joint Service Open House kicked off here.
Duluth, Minn., Air National Guardsman Maj. John Klatt poses for photos with Abreanna Ball, 9, at the Joint Service Open House at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., May 19. Abreanna was touring the military displays with students from Benjamin D. Foulois Elementary School near the base. Photo by Samantha L. Quigley
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The festivities, open today for military and civilian defense security badge holders only, began with an appearance by the Army's Golden Knights parachute team and the national anthem sung by alternative/pop rock band the Gin Blossoms.
The Grammy-nominated band known for hits like "Hey Jealousy," was scheduled to perform a free concert for servicemembers and their families on base later in the day.
"It's a huge source of pride to be able to entertain our troops," Robin Wilson, the Gin Blossom's lead singer, said. "We're here to support the troops. We love them, and we want them all to come home as soon as possible."
The show in the air, including Air Force F-117 Night Hawk and F-16 Fighting Falcon flybys, captivated some. Others explored the static ground displays. Each of the five services had pieces of equipment and representatives on hand so visitors could get a closer look and get answers to their questions.
John Olenik, a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam wars drove down from Dover, Del., for the show. The retired Air Force senior master sergeant said he comes to the open house every year to check out the aircraft on the ground and in the air. He says the event is not only fun, but also a good communication tool for the military.
"It actually shows what the taxpayers are paying for," he said. "Part of getting the public support is to show them what we're doing with their tax dollars."
Maj. John Klatt, an F-16 pilot in the Minnesota Air National Guard, agreed with Olenik.
"Generally, it's a wonderful opportunity for the public to come out and learn about the Guard, learn about all the great benefits of the Guard and just see what the military does," he said. "This is an open house, so it's important for people to be able to come out and enjoy the day."
Klatt, who deployed with his unit to Iraq last year, uses his talents as an aerobatic pilot to help promote the Air National Guard. He's also an aerobatic pilot in civilian life, and was set to perform in his propeller-driven Air National Guard Staudacher aircraft all weekend at the show.
Open House visitors like Virginia Army National Guardsman Sgt. David Begley said the event was a good way to experience the military. He was there with the Marine Junior ROTC unit from Hermitage High School in Richmond, Va. His son, cadet Pfc. Drew Begley, is a part of that unit.
"It says volumes about the military for the public," the elder Begley said. "It shows the positive side of the military, and what the military is doing for the country."
The former Marine and now Army National Guardsman called the displays "a great learning experience," even for someone with his multiservice ties.
The open house is slated to continue through Sunday.
Various aircraft will perform fly-bys between appearances by the Navy's Blue Angels flight demonstration team, the Army's Golden Knights parachute team and the Canadian Snowbirds precision aerobatics team.