Tuesday, August 29, 2017

TOP STORY >> Airmen inspire fifth graders

Leader staff writer

Bayou Meto Elementary fifth graders on Friday learned more about the C-130 planes they see flying over during recess.

Teacher Angela Sprow invited Little Rock Air Force Base airmen to talk about the planes and their careers: Capt. John Avera, Capt. Eric Duncan and Capt. Austin Briehl, pilots; Staff Sgt. Joshua McDermott, maintainer, and Senior Airman Dillon Reynolds and (Ret.) Tech Sgt. John Birmingham, loadmasters.

“These guys are important to the defense of our country. Little Rock Air Force Base trains them from all over the world,” Sprow said.

“The nickname for the C-130 is the ‘Hercules’, but the military calls it ‘The Four Fans of Freedom’ because the propellers look like fans. Anytime someone sees them, they know freedom is coming,” Avera said.

C-130s air drop loads of food, fuel and water in locations where large planes and trucks cannot get to. They also deliver leaflets, road graders and dump trucks using parachutes and GPS.

The roads in Afghanistan are very bad, Reynolds said.

The C-130s at LRAFB are the most advanced in the world. They require a lot of maintenance to keep the pilots safe in the air. They can’t fly them if something is wrong with them, McDermott said.

The planes look so slow that they seem as though they could drop from the sky, but they are flying over the playground at 150 miles per hour. They normally travel around 250 miles per hour.

Each airman told the class why they enlisted into the Air Force. McDermott said he always liked airplanes and working on machines.

“I grew up in a poor family and could not afford to go school. The Air Force paid for me to go to school to do what I loved to do,” McDermott said.

Avera said, “I was old enough to remember September 11, and I was moved by that moment. I decided I needed to serve my country and give back for the blessing the country has given me. I always liked airplanes.”

Duncan said, “When I made the decision, I asked myself who is going to protect the liberty we all enjoy as a country? If I didn’t do it, who would I ask to do it for me?”

“I liked aviation. The Air Force gave me the opportunity to do that,” he added.

Briehl said, “I wanted to serve and felt thankful to live in this country we live in, and the freedom and liberty we have growing up. I wanted to play college football and the Air Force Academy gave me the option to serve and play football.”

Reynolds joined the Air Force to have his college paid for with a G.I. Bill after time served. Birmingham’s parents were in the military.

The fifth graders learned that in other countries, children do not go school and play. Boys are farming to help support their families. Some countries do not allow girls to go school. The airmen are helping to defend the freedoms Americans have, the airmen said.

Fifth-grade children in some other countries don’t go to school or play. In some countries, boys and girls can’t sit together. In some countries, girls cannot go to school and boys farm.

The airmen said math and science are very important in their jobs. They also need the ability to write paragraphs and read complex text.

“It sounds like everything you learned in the fifth grade, you’re still using,” Sprow said.