JOINT BASE ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. – The District of Columbia Air National Guard celebrated the Air Force’s 75th Anniversary on base at the Joint Base Andrews Air & Space Expo Sept. 17-18.
This year’s expo theme is “Innovate, Accelerate, Thrive ... the Air Force at 75.” The program included aerial demonstrations, aircraft static displays, vendors and meet and greets.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for our men and women in uniform, both full-time and part-time, to have their talents and all their capabilities showcased and connect to the community that supports us. We’re super excited to have everybody young and old come on base and see what it is that we do every day,” said Maj. Gen. Sherrie L. McCandless, commanding general, District of Columbia National Guard. “I’m very excited to be here and making as many connections and talking to as many young people, especially about opportunities in the military. It’s a really important thing right now in our challenging recruiting environment.”
Pilots from the 113th Wing and personnel from recruiting, public affairs and maintenance talked to families and youth groups and shared their experiences as members of the D.C. Air National Guard and the Air Force.
“The air show offers families in the civilian population a glimpse of what we do. There’s a lot of people here. The aircraft displays are amazing and the aerobatics shows are pretty good, too,” said Master Sgt. David Custer, a 23-year service member and lead mechanic for the 113th Wing Maintenance Squadron.
“I love it. I [grew up] in Cheyenne, Wyoming, which is the first place the Thunderbirds ever performed,” said Capt. Reed Barrett, an F-16 pilot for the 113th Wing who has served seven years with the U.S. Air Force. “Growing up, an airshow was a big deal for us. Any chance to see fighter jets or other military aircraft was always a really cool opportunity. So now, I get to switch seats and instead of being the spectator, I’m now that guy — that fighter pilot that I always looked up to. It’s a pretty cool opportunity and I’m pretty happy to be here.”
The JBA Air & Space Expo featured demonstrations of F-16, F-35, B-2 and C-17 aircraft. It was also an opportunity for civilians to see what their National Guard does to keep the nation safe and secure.
“I’ve been around for 32 years in the military, so I’ve done a lot of air shows, but this one is really a special one to me,” said McCandless. “The D.C. National Guard has a phenomenal presence out here from the Army National Guard through the Air National Guard as well. And then, I think coming out of the pandemic, it’s just a great chance for young people to get out again and be together and kind of a reminder of what might be ahead of them in their future if they choose a military career.”