A Community Committed to Airmen: 97 AMW and the Committee of 100

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jeremy Wentworth
  • 97 AMW/PA

The Altus Committee of 100 held a quarterly dinner for Airmen who are new to Altus AFB or have recently returned from deployment, Oct. 15, in Altus, Okla.

The Committee of 100 is comprised of local businesses. The group’s main purpose is to strengthen the relationship between Altus and the 97th Air Mobility Wing.

In addition to the Airmen stationed in Altus, every Airman who has trained on a KC-135 Stratotanker or a C-17 Globemaster III has attended the dinner.

“We love seeing new people come around here and being able to show you what we do here in Altus,” said Eva Letha Lucas, the Chairman of the Committee of 100. “It’s the smallest thing we can do for you.”

The dinner was held at the Jackson County Expo Center in Altus. It started with food cooked and catered on behalf of the group.

After all of the guests received their food, the Committee of 100 made opening remarks.

“Thank you for coming to this event,” Lucas began. “Some of you have been here a long time, and some of you are new. We welcome you all the same.”

The microphone was then handed to U.S. Air Force Col. Paul Skipworth, vice commander of the 97th AMW, so he could give his remarks.

Skipworth then introduced group and squadron commanders, who used that time to introduce the new Airmen of their units.

While every squadron had some people, the largest group introduced was a reminder to the community of the mission of the 97th AMW - the students of the 97th Training Squadron.

“I want every student here to stand up,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col Christopher Haines, deputy commander of the 97th Operations Group.

The students were the largest group of new Airmen, outnumbering the other groups by four or five times.

“These Airmen are what we’re here for,” said Haines. “This is what we do. We train these students and make them the best they can be. These people are going to be coming back too. That’s the best part about this. The Airmen come back and remember this place.”

Once the dinner concluded, Airmen and their families were welcomed to enjoy the venue. This included a mechanical bull, horse and wagon rides and a bounce house for kids.

For U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jerome Pereira, the NCO in charge of munitions inspections for the 35th Maintenance Squadron at Misawa Air Base, Japan, it was a unique experience.

“I’m in Altus to visit my girlfriend who’s stationed here,” said Pereira. “This is the most I’ve ever seen people come to a base event off-base. At other bigger bases I’ve been stationed at, you don’t really see this kind of turnout. It really shows the type of relationship the community has with the base.”

While this dinner seems unique to others, it is a long-held tradition in Altus. While here, this may be the first time Airmen are away from home and may prove to be a difficult transition. The Committee of 100 tries to make sure Altus can serve as their home away from home for as long as they serve at the 97th AMW. These dinners are part of the effort in welcoming them to the community.

The longstanding history of the strong partnership with the base has resulted in the creation of the “Altus Trophy.” This award is given to recognize an Air Education and Training Command wing that has similar outstanding community support: recognizing the reputation of the Altus community nationwide since 2010.