Page 137

U.S. Air Force pilots from the 354th Fighter Squadron walk to their assigned A-10 Thunderbolt at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Nov. 8. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Josh Slavin)

D-M Airmen Love Tucson By David B. Pittman The vast majority of men and women serving their country at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base feel extremely appreciated and very welcome among the residents of Tucson. That view was expressed by both Col. Kevin Blanchard, the installation commander of Davis-Monthan who also commands the 355th Fighter Wing, and Master Chief Sgt. Dawna Cnota, a member of Blanchard’s leadership team at the 355th. “I hear things all the time from our airman about how members of the community frequently thank them for their service to the nation,” Blanchard said. “In fact, several people have told me of occasions where they were in uniform at a restaurant for lunch and when they got up to pay their bill, they were told that some other customer had already picked up the tab.” Blanchard welcomes such acts of kindness from individuals and the support of such groups as DM50 and the Southern Arizona Defense Alliance. “Frankly, it makes it easier for me to lead my airmen because it shows them they live in a town where they see an obvious show of support for them and what they do for the country.” Cnota said the Tucson community has “never disappointed me in how they treat and respect my airmen. I hear stories about it and have been the recipient of it myself. It’s so humbling. I am gratewww.BizTucson.com

ful for the support.” Cnota said D-M airmen are worthy of the respect and appreciation they are receiving from Tucson residents. “My airmen never cease to amaze me at the things they know how to do and with their willingness to drive to mission accomplishment,” she said. “Our mission here is very important and the airmen know where they fit in, even if they aren’t the ones flying the A-10. Whether they’re medical airmen, civil engineer airmen, finance airmen, weather airmen or wrench-turning maintenance airmen, they all understand how critical it is for them to perform their mission in support of our three main fighter wing missions, and those tasks of our mission partners on the installation.” SADA and DM50 support bringing the F-35, which U.S. military leaders consider the fighter jet of the future, to Davis-Monthan. While Blanchard takes no public position on F-35 deployment in Tucson, he welcomes the efforts of SADA and DM50 to protect and defend DavisMonthan Air Force Base. “As far as what weapons systems come and go from D-M, those decisions are well above my pay grade. That’s up to senior leaders of the Air Force and Congress,” he said. “But I welcome the kind of message our business leaders are taking to Washington D.C. because it shows decision makers there that Tucson is friendly to the Air Force – which

could prove important when they start looking at where they are going to close military missions or add them.” Cnota said, “Many military locations don’t have the benefit of a city of a million people right outside the gate. One of our main talking points to new airmen is that no matter what you like to do – indoors or out – you will most likely find it here. Awesome food, historic Indian reservations and missions, casinos, beautiful resorts, hiking, biking, skiing – it’s all here or very close by. And Tucson is a college town and the chance to attend college sports games is awesome. Even my bass-fisherman husband likes it here. Who knew there was such great fishing in the desert?” Blanchard said, “Most of our folks live off base. Between our airmen, their families and our civilian workers, that’s more than 19,000 people. Only 2,500 people live on the base.” Many of D-M’s military personnel give back to the Tucson community through volunteer and charitable projects. “Because Tucson is such a diverse and large community, our people can pick and choose where they want to live and still be within 30 minutes of the base,” Blanchard said. “It gives them the opportunity to select the schools that fit their needs and those of their children. “And of course the airmen, like many other people who live here, love the warm, sunny weather.” Biz Winter 2014

>>>

BizTucson 137

Profile for BizTucson Magazine

Biztucsonwinter2014flip  

The Tucson Region's Business Magazine

Biztucsonwinter2014flip  

The Tucson Region's Business Magazine

Profile for mcserres