McChord takes hosting visitors
By Tyler Hemstreet , Staff writer
/ Published July 20, 2007
MCCHORD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- Open arms, wide eyes, smiling faces and an entire base population charged with enthusiasm and anticipation greeted each international team upon touching down here for Air Mobility Command's 2007 Rodeo.
After several long days of flying, the international teams received an even more personalized welcome by a special group of squadrons, who took in the visitors and catered to their individual needs.
When a squadron is given an opportunity to host and international team, the duty can have several requirements. On the top of the list is hospitality, said Rodeo director Lt. Col. Bryan Huntsman, 62nd Airlift Wing.
"We like to have those international relations built at a personal level," ColonelHuntsman said.
Playing the role of advisor, facilitator and friend is something that the 62nd Maintenance Operation Squadron has taken to heart while hosting the Rodeo team from Germany, said Master Sgt. Tom McNamara, 62nd MOS.
"It's just a matter of being available and helpful," he said. "It's about having someone with a cell phone handy, so [our guests] can get answers to questions right away."
While helping the German team solve any of their aircraft's maintenance problems is an important part of being a host, the real bonding comes at the more basic levels, Sergeant McNamara said.
The squadron offered any advice it could to help them get out and enjoy the local area. Those plans included helping one of their team members accomplish one of his main goals while visiting Washington -- going for a swim in the Pacific Ocean.
"He said he didn't care how cold it was," Sergeant McNamara said. "They want to work hard and play hard while seeing the area and having fun with everyone else."
Playing the role of host to the Brazilian team took on a very interactive role for the 4th Airlift Squadron, said Capt. James Dolson, 4th AS.
The 4th AS set up a long list of events to welcome the team. The list included a trip to Mount Rainier, a visit to Safeco Field to watch the Mariners play and a friendly soccer game at Rainier Field.
"We're so happy to be doing this," Captain Dolson said. "They're so appreciative of everything and it's just been great meeting everyone."
The 4th AS' goal is to see the Brazilian team win the international portion of the competition for the first time, he said.
But even if the team doesn't finish first, the 4th AS will have a collection of mementos to remember its time as a host. After a recent social at the squadron's headquarters, the teams exchanged patches and pins while posing for picture after picture.
"I look like a member of the Brazilian Air Force with all the patches I have now," Captain Dolson said.
Not even language barriers are holding back foreign teams from bonding with their McChord hosts.
Communicating with the South Korean team through a translator was an exercise in patience for the 62nd Logistics Readiness Squadron hosts, said 1st Lt. Christopher Dupuis.
Despite the language barrier with the South Korean team, Lieutenant Dupuis said one message came across loud and clear,
"They're very upbeat and glad to be here," he said. And while Lieutenant Dupuis is confident the camaraderie between the squadrons will improve as the week goes on, there are already plans in the works to make the South Korean team feel more welcome with a get-together at Hide Away Pub and Deli.
"We want to welcome them American-style by shooting some pool while enjoying a plate of hot wings," he said.
And nothing says "welcome to the United States" quite like leisure sports and and fine cuisine, said Lieutenant Dupuis.