Reflections from Rodeo — a lifetime of history in a day

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Scott Sturkol
  • Air Mobility Command Public Affairs
Rarely in the career of an Airman can you learn so much about Air Force history in such a short time. For me, it fell into one day. 

That day, July 22, happened when I went to Air Mobility Rodeo 2009 at McChord. My job was to work my public affairs role in highlighting the competition. By the end of the day, I learned about and witnessed a lifetime of military history. 

Early that day, I went to interview three surviving members of the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo, Japan, in April 1942. The three men, retired Lt. Cols. Richard Cole and Edward Saylor, and retired Maj. Thomas Griffin, all were on hand to tell their stories of tragedy and triumph. 

Through the interview I learned they were thankful they had the opportunity to serve their country and they want people to never forget what they went through during World War II. 

I left that meeting to prepare for my next interview that same day -- a media event that included Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. Arthur Lichte. Although it didn't dawn on me until sometime later, the significance of this interview was historic. 

First, Secretary Donley is the leader of the world's most powerful Air Force. He's a decision-maker who was there to make the word known about the Air Force of today and how it is being shaped for the future. The same holds true for General Lichte. Here's a person who leads the Air Force's busiest mobility air force command -- AMC. 

When the interview was done and I started to head back to my office, I came across Medal of Honor recipient, retired Col. Joe Jackson. After a sharp salute and greeting, I stopped to ask him how he was. He was kind enough to tell me that he was "glad to be around the Airmen of today." To me it was just an honor to be in his presence. Not long after talking to Colonel Jackson, I saw retired Col. Gail Halvorsen - the famed "Candy
Bomber" from the Berlin Airlift of 1948. 

Since then, I've tried to think about what it all meant. How rare it was to have that opportunity to be around all those military heroes? As I continue to serve in the Air Force, days like that make me very proud to be an Airman. To read the complete commentary, visit (via government computers at