HURLBURT FIELD, FL (1st Lt. Ben Sowers) – Have you ever wanted to be on TV? Perhaps you aspire to go on camera someday. Maybe you want nothing to do with that kind of attention. Either way, most of us will never be on TV, but three Hurlburt Airmen will be, and on the national scale.
As the 1 SOW Public Affairs officer, I serve as a liaison between the base and the community. It is part of my responsibility to ensure that Hurlburt Field has a strong relationship with its neighbors. Recently, I worked with the Air Force Recruiting Service and their contracted film crew to shoot their latest commercial here.
I watched as Capt. Christopher Nehls, 8th Special Operations Squadron pilot, stood in front of his CV-22 Osprey on the flightline with his helmet under his arm, embodying readiness and determination to be any time, any place. Nearly 30 members of the film crew scrambled to capture the perfect shot of the pilot and his aircraft. Later, Staff Sgt. Blake Owens, 4th Special Operations Squadron AC-130U Gunship aircrew, speaks into a microphone in a hushed room. “When I was a kid, I wanted to protect my brothers and sisters.” You can hear the conviction in the aerial gunner’s voice as he continues, “I am an American Airman.”
Nehls and Owens, as well as Master Sgt. Ivan Ruiz, 23rd Special Tactics Squadron pararescueman, will be featured in a new Air Force recruiting commercial. It is scheduled to air this fall on major TV stations nationwide, ideally in time for the 2014 NFL season, according to Christa D’Andrea, AFRS Public Affairs chief. The commercial’s aim is to showcase several Air Force careers to raise awareness of what the branch has to offer America’s future leaders.
In addition to coordinating their visit, I escorted the AFRS and their film crew while they were here July 9 and 10. I observed our featured Airmen stand in front of the camera, record their sound bites, and show the cameramen how they do their jobs. I stood on the flightline with camera crew as two CV-22s took off in formation about a hundred feet away. I braced myself for the prop wash and watched as the cameramen, uninitiated to the Osprey’s blast, were forced a few steps back. The director said “Wow” as the rest of his crew smiled giddily at one another, then at me.
Seeing their wonderment made me realize that I often take for granted everything that we do here. Our mission here is so unique, so relevant and so vital to today’s fight. In our nation’s prolonged war against international terrorism, the capabilities that Hurlburt Field brings to the fight are in higher demand than ever before. The ability to deploy at a moment’s notice to provide special operations air power sets Hurlburt Field apart. Whether it is delivering precision munitions in support of ground forces or deploying a Special Operations Weather Team, Hurlburt Field plays an integral role on the battlefield.
It is little wonder why Hurlburt Airmen were chosen to play a major role in the Air Force’s newest recruiting commercial. Truthfully, AFRS could have taken any Airman from Hurlburt Field to be on this commercial. You are the most thoroughly trained, highly deployed, and fit-to-fight Airmen in the Air Force. With your mission, you need to be. The Airmen in the commercial are representing the finest the Air Force has; they are representing you. You may not have an audience of millions, but you are representing the Air Force to everyone who you interact with in the community.
Whether you are on TV or at lunch in uniform, you are making a difference. You are out in the neighborhoods, stores and restaurants; and people see you. They are noticing how you conduct yourself and they are creating perceptions from what they see. We need to reflect to them who we are: Air Commandos. By always being professional, we can continue to uphold our sensational relationship with our community. Historically, Hurlburt Field has had very strong ties with our local community, thanks to you. Let us continue to reflect that Hurlburt Field is a base whose mission and Airmen are without equal. So this fall look for your fellow Hurlburt Airmen on TV, but remember you don’t have to be in a commercial to be an Air Commando ambassador.