Total Force Supports Honduras Air Show
By 1Lt Erika Yepsen , JTF-Bravo
/ Published June 24, 2008
SAN PEDRO SULA, Honduras -- An Air Force total force team came together June 21- 22 to support the Honduran air force's annual air show here, which is part of many festivities celebrating the founding of the city.
The U.S. Air Force has supported the annual San Pedro Sula air show for the past few years, but this was the first time fighter aircraft participated in the event, building a lot of excitement for the Honduran public.
"The purpose of the air show is to improve our relationship with the public," explained Honduran air force Colonel Hilmer Hermida, the air show coordinator. "The U.S. Air Force has aircraft we don't have, so by inviting them here, we not only share more with the public, but we also improve the relations between our two countries."
Two F-16 Fighting Falcons from the Air Force Reserve's 301st Fighter Wing in Fort Worth, Texas, and a KC-135 Stratotanker from the Arizona Air National Guard's 161st Air Refueling Wing in Phoenix, Arizona, arrived in San Pedro Sula June 20 to a warm reception from the Honduran air force and media.
As soon as the gates opened June 21, a line of people began to form outside of the KC-135, which was opened for static displays. As the day wore on and the heat built, the line remained as hundreds of people waited their turn to see the inside of the tanker. Though language was a barrier for the majority of the crew members, enthusiasm from both visitors and air crew, and a few Spanish speaking crew members, overcame the challenge.
"I like doing air shows," said Master Sgt. Rene Gonzalez, a boom operator from the 161st ARW. "It feels good, especially being Latin, they ask me what nationality I am, and to tell them what I went through to get here and how I did it."
The heat of the day turned the inside of the KC-135 into a sauna, leaving visitors dripping sweat by the time they exited the aircraft, but Sergeant Gonzalez returned to his post inside the aircraft time and again to explain his job to interested children and adults.
"It was important for us to be able to support this air show," said Tech. Sgt. Dave Johnson, 12th Air Force's liaison for the air show. "The U.S. and Honduran militaries have a long partnership, tracing back nearly 25 years, and it's important that we continue to build our relationship through events like this air show."
"The part I enjoy most about the air show is watching the public enjoying themselves," said Colonel Hermida, a sentiment that was echoed by the U.S. Airmen participating in the show, and judging by the smiles on the visitors' faces, Colonel Hermida and the U.S. Airmen were enjoying themselves immensely.