It's O' dark thirty.  Excitement is in the air.  Anticpation is on the ground.  One by one they arrive at the main gate until a crowd has formed.

The 446th Airlift Wing hosted a two day civic leader tour June 23-24.  The tour began at McChord Field. From there the group flew on a C-17 Globemaster III to March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif., where they spent the night.  The following day, they traveled to Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif., then returned to McChord Field.

The purpose of the Civic Leader Tour program is to educate the public on the mission of the Air Force Reserve.  Each year units throughout the country host two to three half day tours, and one two day tour.


One of the best Air Force competitions in the world gets underway next month at McChord.  See the story HERE.
Having been in the mattress manufacturing business since 1987, Ray Burgess exactly what it takes to deliver a good night’s sleep.

And he takes great pride in providing that service for military members at installations all across the country.

Burgess and his company, Mattress Makers, were introduced to doing business with the federal government about six years ago when Fort Lewis officials needed a quick turnaround on a large order of mattresses for the barracks.

“It was about getting (the mattresses) to them before a bunch of troops got home,” said Burgess, 59.

Burgess and his Tacoma based team delivered on the order, taking the first step in a relationship with the government that has been a great thing for both parties.

“It’s been a real good fit for my company,” said Burgess, who estimates about half of the 10,000 to 15,000 mattresses Mattress Makers manufactured last year went to the U. S. military.

The one order with Fort Lewis opened the door for Mattress Makers manufacturing mattresses for troops at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., Fort Lee, N.J., Hickam Air Force Base, Hi., Joint Base Lewis-McChord and West Point Military Academy.

“We try to make them the best mattress we can,” Burgess said. “It’s about that because they do a good job for us. We need to be responsible for keeping their standard of living at a high level. When they’re in the states at their home base, they should have the best (mattress) we can give them. That’s very important to me.”

Burgess said he’s lucky to have a crew of about 14 workers who understand the value of where the mattresses are going.

“They’re a good bunch,” he said. “Without them, I couldn’t do it.”

Mattress Makers (www.mattress-makers.com) specializes in custom-made mattresses and operates a manufacturing warehouse in the Tacoma Tideflats and a retail store in Parkland, located at 11122 Pacific Ave S.
— Tyler Hemstreet

The Air Mobility Command Rodeo will bring a host of visitors to McChord Field in July who are unfamiliar with the local area.

Many will want to venture outside the gate to check out all the entertainment venues the South Sound has to offer.

And Airmen Against Drunk Driving will be ready to offer its assistance when called upon.

The program recently received a huge boost, as Lakewood Ford offered to donate the use of a second van for AADD to use throughout Rodeo.

"I'm a veteran, and we have a lot of veterans who work here," said Henry Krebs, general manager at Lakewood Ford. "If I can do something for the base that's going to help them out without breaking the bank, then I'm more than happy to help."

AADD volunteers man a phone line (253-722-AADD) that Airmen can call for a ride home (within a 30-mile radius of McChord Field) when they've had too much to drink.

The program is completely confidential.

Lakewood Ford donated another van last July for the program to use, and the Pierce Military Business Alliance, McChord Officers' Spouses Club and local Air Force Association chapter teamed up to pay for the insurance for a year.

AADD officials adorned the vehicle with the program's logo and parked on base in several locations to spread the word about the program. Program volunteers have also spoken at briefings all over the base.

The extra publicity is working, according to Master Sgt. Phillip Ryan, AADD president.

The program has received a 45 percent increase in calls since it started a more active outreach to the base population, Ryan said.

Officials also changed some of the program's staffing methods so it could operate more efficiently and yet still be there for Airmen who need a ride.

"Volunteers being on call 24/7 was just not sustainable, and it wasn't needed," Ryan said. "Now we operate on four shifts during peak times."

Starting July 1, AADD will add another incentive for Airmen to call for a ride before making a bad decision. AADD will staff additional volunteers to come and not only pick up Airmen, but also have an AADD volunteer drive their car home.

"Sometimes they don't call for a ride because they don't want to leave their car overnight," Ryan said. "This change will help solve that problem."

Ryan has already added extra volunteers in anticipation of the extra surge in usage.

"The end result is a good thing," he said. "Airmen getting home safely."