BRADLEY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Conn. –
Connecticut Army and Air National Guard recruiters conduct joint base tours every year. The tours give educators and potential national guard recruits the chance to see what goes on behind the scenes in the Connecticut Army and Air National Guard.
“The idea behind this event is to get [potential recruits] onto the base with Army and Air National Guard aviation to explore opportunities and options that the Guard has to offer,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Todd Wilkinson, Recruiting Flight Chief. “We’re focusing on our domestic operations and how we respond to contingency operations.”
In contrast to movies that often depict soldiers in extreme land warfare scenarios, the tours highlight aviation and support functions performed by members of the Army and Air National Guard.
“For the recruiting efforts, it's very helpful because, in my time in recruiting, everyone thinks of the military as the ones kicking in doors,” said U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Quinones, Recruiting and Retention Noncommissioned Officer. “However, that's not always the case...By showcasing the aviation side of both Air and Army Guard, [tour participants] could see that they could be the ones who make sure the helicopters and planes are up to par.”
A tour with students enrolled in the Controversies and Conspiracies Course at Mark T. Sheehan High School gave the students a first-hand glimpse of the day-to-day operations in the Connecticut Guard. The students visited the Connecticut Army National Guard Aviation Support Facility (AASF) as well as the aviation facilities at Bradley Air National Guard Base.
“It’s important to me that these students understand, not only the nation’s history, butwhat happens behind the scenes, where people in uniform go out and protect us,” said Heather Smolley, instructor for the Controversies and Conspiracies Course.
In addition to aviation facilities, base tours may also include other areas, such as the air transportation and security forces facilities at Bradley.
“It’s just an opportunity to highlight the joint readiness that we have with the Army National Guard and the Air National Guard, specifically on the recruiting front,” said Wilkinson. “We like to show that there are options and opportunities that we have, and it’s a joint effort.”