COMBAT READINESS TRAINING CENTER, Miss. --Thousands of people eager to see the Blue Angels in action now have a better idea of the capabilities of the Mississippi National Guard. The Blue Angels flew in the Blues Over Biloxi Air Show July 21 -22, and the Mississippi Air National Guard played a key role in getting the show off the ground.
The U.S. Navy based its operation at the Combat Readiness Training Center - Battlefield Airmen Center in Gulfport. The CRTC-BAC provided full support for seven F/A 18 Hornet aircraft and all the Blue Angels mission support, maintenance, planners and ground support staff. Other base resources such as the plans department, operations, transit, security, and the aerospace ground equipment shop contributed to the success of the event.
“I think it was a wonderful opportunity for Gulfport CRTC to be able to host the Blue Angels here on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi,” said Col. Joe Reid, CRTC-BAC commander. “It shows how well we can work with such a great organization to accomplish a mission for recruitment of future military members. It shows we are able to work as one force with active duty members to accomplish a mission and that our folks are highly trained and well qualified to serve our nation.“
The MSANG also took the sky. Meridian’s 186th Air Refueling Wing showcased its KC-135 Stratotanker before a crowd of an estimated 100,000 people. The crew lowered the aircraft’s boom to give spectators an idea of how refueling is executed during flight.
“With the tanker we show how the state of Mississippi has been able to extend our reach globally,” said Capt. Kyle Chaney, 186th ARW. “Successful air refueling is vital to successful missions.”
Former 186th ARW commander, Brig. Gen. Billy “Mike” Nabors, enjoyed viewing the plane from the Biloxi beachfront. He sat with other guardsmen in a section for them and veterans from the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport. Nabors said it’s important that people see why the wing’s mission is so important to our country.
“Guard members do a lot for the nation, and they do a lot for the Air Force. That’s something that the public doesn’t get to see very often,” Nabors said. “Every maneuver that people see out here, the military members do a lot of it overseas. I think our citizens deserve to see what their tax dollars are going toward. They’ve spent money getting these pilots ready to go to war.”
The air show also offered military families an opportunity to spend time together. Lt. Col. Jeff Kirby is the CRTC-BAC director of airfield operations. He went to the beach on Saturday with his wife, Robin, and children.
“It was nice to bring the family to an event that can help instill patriotic values,” said Kirby. “They got a taste of what I do in support of air training of the armed forces.”
The Blue Angels pilots and support staff showed their appreciation to the MSNG by organizing a special family day at the base the day before the air show. They invited the CRTC-BAC, 186th ARW, and the 1108th Aviation Group and their families to view and take photos with the aircraft.
“We want to thank our military for letting us come to your city and letting us put on this demonstration,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Monica Cooper, who works with Blue Angels in aviation administration. “We want to give back to you because we are out here honoring you for what you do.”
“It means a lot. I know my son is infatuated with the Blue Angels,” said Capt. Richard Bailey, 186th ARW. “Being able to bring him out here and get an up close look is very exciting.”