SANTIAGO, Chile --
Airmen from around the U.S. came to Chile to participate in the FIDAE Air Show 2016, from March 29– April 3, 2016. During their stay, they made time to connect one-on-one with members of the community.
With help from the U.S. Embassy in Chile, U.S. Airmen hosted children from the Make-A-Wish and Teletón Foundations.
“By reaching out to the Make-A-Wish and Teletón Foundations, we were able to reach out to the people who normally would not be able to come out here,” Lt. Col. Tex Johnson, U.S. Embassy in Chile, Security Cooperation Office. “By planning the event prior to FIDAE opening to the public we were able to give more individualized attention to these kids.”
The children were all smiles as they talked with Airmen from both the U.S. and Chilean air forces, and walked through and around the aircraft. They also received a tour of one of the FIDAE Trade Show pavilions, where exhibitors gave children small gifts and invited them to look at the items on display.
“Anytime we get a chance to do these kind of events, we should,” said Master Sgt. Ambrose Brewer, F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team lead planner. “It’s important for us to acknowledge these kids and their struggles with every opportunity possible.”
They also had the opportunity to walk inside a C-17 Globemaster III from Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio and a KC-10 Extender from Channel Islands, California.
“I was pleased to see that even the parents were excited about our event,” Johnson added. “It was a great opportunity for them to get their kids out here to see the Airmen and the aircraft without the added stress of the crowds.”
Their tour ended with an up-close introduction to the F-22 Raptor static display.
“I was quite humbled by this experience,” Brewer added. “It’s hard to describe the feeling I got but it was awesome to have the chance to bring a smile to these kids’ faces.”
As part of the air show, Airmen also participated in a variety of activities that include aerial demonstrations, interacting with the local community, and subject expert exchanges with the Chilean air force during the week long air and space trade show.
Exchanges like this are conducted regularly throughout the year and involve U.S. Airmen sharing best practices and procedures to build partnerships and promote interoperability with partner-nation air forces throughout South America, Central America and the Caribbean.
U.S. Southern Command is a joint military command supporting U.S. national security objectives, in cooperation with domestic and international partners, in order to foster security, ensure stability, and promote prosperity throughout Central and South America, the Caribbean and the global community.
Air Forces Southern serves as the air component to U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for providing air and space capabilities in support of U.S. military partnerships across U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility.