2009 'Thunder Over the Valley' Air Show and Open House approaches
By Senior Airman Brenda Haines, 910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 17, 2009
YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, Ohio - -- On a sweltering day in Youngstown, Ohio, a doe-eyed child clings to his mother's leg. The heat from the sun is radiating off of the flightline beneath his feet. She reaches down and cups her hands over his tiny ears while he intently studies the bright summer sky. Even though she is trying to block some of the noise, he can hear intense rumbling that gradually gets louder. The ground below begins to shake and he finally sees what he has been searching the horizon for. A strategic formation of brightly colored planes moves toward him through the clouds. The demonstration they perform will be unimaginable and for this child, unforgettable.
This formation is the result of the teamwork of the premier demonstration squadron known as the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds, along with static displays, ground exhibits and other special air events, will be the highlight of "Thunder Over the Valley," the air show and open house scheduled at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS) August 8 and 9.
This free, public air show, the first of its kind here in 23 years, is being held to repay the community for their continued support of YARS, said Col. Karl McGregor, commander of the 910th Airlift Wing here.
"The Ohio Valley has embraced our citizen warriors from simple gestures like lunch discounts to larger items like the Alberini Memorial Scholarship fund," he said. "After 9/11 we have been necessarily ... busy, but we must make the effort and invest the time to show our community how their tax dollars are spent on their security."
Col. McGregor added that during this struggling economic time, an event of this magnitude is essential to the local community.
"The air show will bring a large venue, free event to the community in a time when we can all use an economic boost," he said. "Positive events like an air show bring fresh energy to our local area."
In addition, Col. McGregor said that the air show will give YARS Reservists the chance to act as public ambassadors.
"Our servicemembers are extremely proud of their military service," said Col. McGregor. "They will be able to pass their 'service before self' culture to the next generation just by their demeanor, attitude and charisma. They are the colonial minutemen of their time, heeding the call to duty, sacrificing time and wealth for the greater good and upholding the values of the greatest experiment in self rule that the world has ever known."
Along with YARS ambassadors will be "America's Ambassadors in Blue," the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds.
"We are proud to represent our fellow Airmen who continually execute the Air Force mission, which is to fly, fight and win ... in air, space and cyberspace," said Lt. Col. Greg Thomas, commander and pilot #1 of the Thunderbirds.
Now a grown man, married and with a child of his own, the doe-eyed child is anxiously waiting to share this compelling experience with his son. He has told him the stories of the day he met "America's Ambassadors in Blue" 23 years ago at YARS. Now, it's his son's turn to have an unimaginable, unforgettable experience at "Thunder Over the Valley" Air Show and Open House.