Bonded by Service: Airpower and agriculture come together during Farm City Week

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Cameron Silver, 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Less than three percent of the United States’ population are either in the military or work in agriculture. However, both groups serve their nation by providing key elements to society: safety and sustenance. Airmen of the 97th Air Mobility Wing and members of the Altus agriculture industry took time to learn more about what each group does on a day to day basis during Altus’ annual Farm City Week, Nov. 3-4.

The first day, Airmen boarded buses and traveled to the dam at Lake Altus-Lugert. There they were told the history of the dam that was built in 1947 and learned about how it provides the water to irrigate cotton farms in the area.

After the dam tour, members drove to Martha Valley Farms, where the Muller family operates a 100-acre farm whose main crop is cotton. Matt Muller, head of farming operations, explained the ins and outs of cotton farming to the visiting Airmen as well as the processes for growing other crops like sesame, canola and mung beans. The shared sense of duty between his family and the Airmen was not lost on him.

“They have a great sense of dedication and do a great task of keeping our country safe,” said Muller. “We also have a great job as far as national defense by keeping our nation fed and clothed.”

The final stop of the day was at Humphrey’s Co-Op, a cotton gin that has been in operation since the late 1920s. Airmen got to witness the culmination of all of the work they had seen earlier in the day as they held freshly processed cotton in their hands.

The second day, 10 members of the agriculture industry were brought onto Altus Air Force Base for a tour. About 80 local high school students, many of which were involved in Future Farmers of America, attended as well.

The visiting groups were first introduced to the wing mission of training exceptional Mobility Airmen through a briefing and a few words from base leadership. Next they got to see a demonstration from the 97th Security Forces Squadron military working dogs team. After that, they got an inside look at the 97th Maintenance Group’s uniquely all-civilian unit, received a tour of the aircraft control tower, and walked around the inside of a C-17 Globemaster III. 

This exchange provided an opportunity for two of Altus’ biggest industries to connect and better understand one another as well as underscore a strong partnership between the community and the base.

“We’re all interconnected here,” said Col. Blaine Baker, 97th AMW Commander. “The environment and the community we have here is definitely tied to the base in many, many ways. It’s tied economically, but it’s also tied in the support and the interaction between our Airmen and our community.”