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America Supports You: Open House Showcases Support for Troops

By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md., May 21, 2005 – Nine-year-old Karinne Clester was inside a vast aircraft hanger here today, sending her best wishes to U.S. servicemembers deployed worldwide in the fight against global terrorism.

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Peggy Welsh looks over a special Marvel Comics book, dedicated to U.S. servicemembers, at the "America Supports You" booth May 21 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore

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Americans "need to support our troops; ... they're fighting for freedom -- for us," Karinne declared, as she typed her message of support onto a laptop at the Defense Department-sponsored "America Supports You" information booth, part of this year's Joint Service Open House activities here.

Karinne's mother, Kelly, remarked that her husband, Dale, is a sergeant in the Maryland National Guard. The "America Supports You" program, she noted, is a wonderful conduit "to let our troops know how much we appreciate them." This year marks the 55th Armed Forces Day, where thousands of citizens across America are visiting military bases as part of an annual salute to U.S. servicemembers.

Held May 21-22, the Andrews AFB Open House is free and open to the public. The event features static displays of aircraft and other U.S. military hardware, as well as flying demonstrations by the Air Force Thunderbirds and other aerial groups. Myriad food and souvenir concessions are dotted across the tarmac, where attendees can buy as much food, drink -- and as many t-shirts -- as they like.

Air Force Maj. Jeremy Sloane, a member of the Thunderbirds' team, was meeting and greeting Open House attendees. Sloane said the Thunderbirds fly F-16 Fighting Falcon jets, an aircraft that's served admirably in combat missions over Afghanistan and Iraq.

Armed Forces Day venues like the Open House, Sloane noted, lets the public "see the pride and professionalism that is in our Air Force, and we like to showcase it with the Thunderbirds."

Dave Evans, the deputy director of community relations and public liaison for DoD public affairs, was one of the people manning the "America Supports You" booth today at Andrews. "America Supports You" is the theme for this year's Joint Service Open House, he noted.

Evans said it's important for servicemembers to realize that their efforts are appreciated and supported by the American public. ASY encourages private citizens, the business community and veterans organizations to get involved and support the U.S. military, he explained.

For example, Marvel Comics is sponsoring ASY by publishing a special edition comic book that's dedicated to the U.S. military, Evans noted. The comic displays the ASY program's logo on its front page, he said, and is available, free, to visitors at the booth.

"We're certainly supporting the troops," Evans observed. But ASY is "also about their families," he declared, noting, "A lot of times you'll get National Guard (members) or Reservists that are deploying to a forward location."

Families of reserve-component members may not have as much experience with deployments as active-duty families, Evans pointed out, so "we're trying to reach out to them, also."

Baltimore resident Peggy Welsh, the daughter of a retired Army master sergeant, stopped by the ASY booth to thumb through one of the special-issue comic books. "It's an absolute must," she emphasized, that Americans support their military.

Servicemembers put their lives on the line to protect all Americans from harm, Welsh said. "It's always good to have support for the troops, in whatever form," she said.

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Related Sites:
Joint Service Open House
America Supports You

Click photo for screen-resolution imageMaj. Jeremy Sloane, a member of the Air Force Thunderbirds, signs his autograph for Open House attendees (From left to right) Brenda, Tyler and Autumn Dankenbring May 21 at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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Click photo for screen-resolution imageA World War II Navy trainer airplane, a T-6 "Texan," skywrites across the clouds above Andrews Air Force Base, Md, May 21. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore  
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