Texas Air Guard honored by San Antonio Missions Baseball Club
By Staff Sgt. Phil Fountain , 149th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 26, 2011
SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- The San Antonio Missions, a Double-A affiliate of Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres, honored the Texas Air National Guard, including Lackland Air Force Base's 149th Fighter Wing, during tonight's game against the Arkansas Travelers. Maj. Gen. John Nichols, Texas' Adjutant General, joined San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, to throw out the ceremonial "first-pitch."
Approximately 400 members of the Lackland-based ANG unit, along with their families, attended the evening game with the top-placed team in the league. The Missions wore special military patterned uniforms, and various activities took place between innings.
In a swearing-in ceremony following the first inning, Col. John Kane, wing commander, enlisted a cadre of new Airmen to become members of the F-16 training unit.
Throughout Wolff Stadium, military members were wearing white T-shirts that tied in the Missions logo with the Air National Guard, and the 149th Fighter Wing recruiters set up an inflatable tent where people could get information about the unit and sign-up to explore career opportunities with them.
"We've had a really good partnership with the 149th [Fighter Wing] this year," said Bill Gerlt, assistant general manager of the Missions. "We were glad to host the Wing, and look forward to making it an annual tradition."
In addition to Mayor Castro, other local community leaders came out to the ballpark and learned about the state and federal mission of the Alamo City's 149th Fighter Wing.
A video presentation about the 149th Fighter Wing's mission was shown on the ballpark's large display screen highlighting the organization's state-role with emergency management and disaster relief efforts as well as the unit's federal mission to train combat-ready fighter pilots.
"This unit has a great story to tell," said Mark Frye, chairman of the legislative and public affairs committee of the Military Transformation Task Force (an initiative among the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, and the Greater San Antonio Chamber of Commerce). "I think it's important for the 149th's mission that we, the community, advocate Lackland as a basing location for the next generation fighter."
The 149th Fighter Wing is currently under consideration for potential conversion from F-16 combat fighter training to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The next round of base selections by defense officials is not expected to take place before 2013, and a transition would not likely take place for another five to seven years following that, should the unit become a designated site.
"This has been a great event for the community, and our local leaders, to see what the Air Guard and 149th [Fighter Wing] is all about in a relaxed and fun atmosphere," Colonel Kane said. "There's a bright future for the 149th, and we're appreciative that the Missions asked us to showcase what we do, but more importantly our people, to our friends and neighbors."