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97 AMW “Grows” Ties with Local Farmers

A woman takes a picture of a cow

Sage Thrift, a 97th Air Mobility Wing spouse, takes a photo of a show-cow during Farm City Week Oct. 2, 2018, in Altus, Okla. Members of the 97th Air Mobility Wing took a tour of local agricultural centers to learn more about the impact of the farming community. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jeremy Wentworth)

A person with a handful of cotton seeds

An Airman holds cotton seeds after they were processed during Farm City Week Oct. 2, 2018, in Altus, Okla. Cotton is one of the main exports of Altus, and Airmen and the families of the 97th Air Mobility Wing were shown how it is grown and processed. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jeremy Wentworth)

A man talking to people in front of a tractor

Brandon Bush, a farmer in Southwest Oklahoma, teaches members of the 97th Air Mobility Wing about tools for farming, during Farm City Week Oct. 2, 2018, in Altus, Okla. Farm City Week is an opportunity for community around Altus Air Force Base to show Airmen what farm life is like, while Airmen get to show them what life is like on base. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Jeremy Wentworth)

ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --

In the City of Altus, there is a close relationship between the community and the 97th Air Mobility Wing.

While the wing has an extensive history of training pilots, loadmasters and boom operators, the City of Altus has a long history of agriculture.

Every year, the city and base come together to show each other how they accomplish their own specific missions.

“It means a lot to show Airmen what we do here,” said Rodger Kerr, the president of the Altus Chamber of Commerce. “They protect our country so we can feed the country; it’s interesting how it works together.”

Farm City Week starts with a tour for the 97 AMW Airmen and their families of the property and processes of local agricultural businesses.

“It’s nice to show the tools of the trade,” said Brandon Bush, a local farmer. “Some people never see this stuff, so showing Airmen how it’s done is the least we can do.”

The Airmen and family members visited three separate locations and observed the basics of cotton production.

“It’s a pretty neat little process,” said Bush. “I like seeing some of the faces when they hear how much our tools cost.”

Bush said that some of the tools were worth more than $400,000 dollars.

In addition to a cotton farm, Airmen were also educated about show-cattle and taught how the animals were judged in competition.

“These aren’t the type of cattle you see on the side of the road when you drive by,” said Bush. “These are high-end cows here; it’s not something every farm has.”

The cattle are bred to compete in Future Farmers of America shows and can take home large cash prizes if they are bred correctly.

At the end of the tour, the Airmen and family members were welcomed into the Altus Expo Center by Committee of 100 members and Oklahoma Senator Mike Schultz, who is also a farmer in Southwest Oklahoma, as well as a politician.

 “I always thank our service members,” said Schultz. “We’re proud to host you and proud to show you what we do.”

After being given the experience of what the farmers do, the Airmen get to return the favor.

Members of the local community get to take a flight in one of the 97th AMW’s aircraft. The role reversal provides the guests the opportunity to experience the wing’s vital training mission firsthand.

“I hope you enjoy your flight,” said Col. Eric Carney, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander, to members of the community. “I want you to get to see what we do every day and why we’re here.”

“It was fascinating to see how close the two planes got to each other,” said Victoria Cleveland, a passenger on the flight. “It was really amazing.”

While the 97th AMW accomplishes its mission, it keeps ties to the local community strong. With a significant presence of civilian workers in the 97th AMW, learning more about the local area is not only a unique experience for Airmen, but also gives them a chance to see where some of their coworkers came from.