By Lt. Col. Brus Vidal, Air Force District of Washington
/ Published September 27, 2016
Joint Base Andrews, Md. -- The Air Force District of Washington hosted Fox5 DC for a live broadcast of FOX 5 News Morning and Good Day DC live from JB Andrews from 7-11 a.m. on Friday, September 23 in celebration of the Air Force’s 69th Birthday.
Personalities from Fox5 DC joined Airmen and leaders from AFDW, the 113th Wing (Air National Guard), the 459th Air Refueling Wing (Air Force Reserve), the 79th Medical Wing, the 89th Airlift Wing (Air Mobility Command), the 11th Wing and the 844th Communication Group to showcase the Total Force capabilities that Team Andrews provides to the National Capitol Region, the Air Force and the nation.
The event came to fruition after AFDW Commander, Maj. Gen. Darryl W. Burke, invited the Fox5 DC team to come to JB Andrews for a live broadcast to celebrate the AF birthday and highlight the diverse missions located on JB Andrews.
“We are extremely appreciative of the Fox5 DC team coming out to spend the morning with us and communicate the pivotal role that AFDW and our JB Andrews teammates play in the NCR, for our Air Force, and to the tens of thousands of Fox5 DC viewers and the millions who follow them on social media,” Burke said. “It was a tremendous honor to host them and we look forward to doing it again next year when our Air Force turns 70 – they have an open invitation to come back!”
FOX 5 News Morning anchors Allison Seymour, Holly Morris and Bob Barnard spent their morning broadcasting from the plaza outside the William A. Jones III Building while well-known weather personality Tucker Barnes and entertainment reporter Kevin McCarthy spent part of their morning with 459th ARW aircrew and aeromedical evacuation crewmembers in front of and aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker. Later, Barnes stationed himself at the 79th MDW’s Aerospace Physiology Chamber Training facility as he reported on those missions and both Barnes and McCarthy joined the entire Fox5 DC team on the main set outside the Jones Building for the remainder of the broadcast.
Barnes came away impressed.
“This was fantastic! The highlight, for me, was getting on the aircraft in the hangar, it’s just amazing,” he said. “I’m a civilian, I don’t have access to that kind of military equipment, so it’s fascinating to not only to see the piece of machinery but also the people who work behind it.”
Barnes said one thing stood out in his interactions with the Airmen and civilian Airmen of Team Andrews: “Professionalism,” he said, following that with a note for all of Team Andrews: “Thank you for your service to the country and thank you for joining us this morning.”
Good Day DC anchor Holly Morris, who earlier in the month spent time conducting physical fitness training with the 744th Communications Squadron, aired a segment from that session and talked to Airmen and leaders from the 744th and 844th. She said she discovered a newfound respect for Airmen and was grateful to be invited to join AFDW and Team Andrews in celebrating the Air Force’s birthday.
Casey Clark, who offered to share her family’s reunion on live TV, also shared her thoughts on the moment the family reunited with Captain Clark and what it was like to share that moment to Fox5 DC’s large viewing audience.
“Sharing our story with the Fox5 news audience was wonderful because it allowed the DC community to be a part of our joy and excitement, just as they have been a part of our struggles through deployment,” Mrs. Clark said. “From businesses who offer discounts and activities, to civilians who work in Family Readiness and support, to national non-profits such as United Through Reading, to neighbors who mow lawns and drop off meals -- this community has been there for us.
We feel humbled by their support and honored to share our special day with them. We also appreciate Fox5 making the story available online so that friends and family outside of the viewing area may also feel part of our reunion.”
The second highlight was the re-enlistment of MSgt Valerie L. Moore, 779th Medical Group, presided over by Col. Sharron Bannister, 79th MDW Commander. Moore decided to share this honored AF custom with Fox5 DC’s viewers and online followers and expressed her delight in the unique opportunity to have her re-enlistment on live TV in front of tens of thousands of viewers.
“Reenlisting on live television what an unforgettable moment. For several weeks I had thought about where I wanted to reenlist and if I wanted to do anything special to remember the event. Once I saw the notice that Fox5 was looking for someone to reenlist on that specific day, I felt compelled to raise my hand,” said Moore, who called the moment unforgettable. “I am not from a military family but as a child I grew up supporting the military during Operation Desert Storm. Watching military events such as homecomings and support rallies influenced my decision to join the military, even though I did not know it at the time."
“It is important for the Air Force to share the positive and motivating military moments with our communities to help inspire and recruit new talent just as it did for me when I was a child. I am very thankful that I had an opportunity to represent the Air Force and hopefully inspire a new military leader”
Next in the line during the live broadcast was a segment in which the AFDW Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Tommy Mazzone, joined Morris, Barnard and McCarthy to sample an assortment of Meals Ready to Eat (MREs). McCarthy, in particular, was a fan the cuisine.
“I was impressed, it tasted really good,” said McCarthy, who chowed down his serving and went back for seconds and thirds during the live tasting event.
Fox5 DC also interviewed 5-year-old Paige and 11-year-old Madalyn Williams, the children of Mandy and Navy Cdr. Johnathan Williams, Executive Officer, Kennedy Irregular Warfare Center Office of Naval Intelligence. The Williams family lives on JB Andrews and the children were featured in the Fox5 First 5 and Fox5 Young Journalist segments.
Madalyn, who interviewed McCarthy, said she enjoyed her opportunity to quiz a professional television personality, especially one who interviews movie stars and celebrities for a living.
“I always respected the Air Force but now I have an even greater respect for not only the job that they do but the people they are and I just feel very humbled and honored that I got to be here and celebrate such a milestone for the Air Force.
But her favorite part of the entire interaction remained with her time spent conducting physical training with the men and women of the 744th. “It was awesome to be here, but my favorite moment was the PT, of course!”
SSgt Mario Marquez led the physical training session with Morris as the 744th’s guest.
“Being on live television, not only to represent 744 CS, but being a representative of the USAF, was an honor and a privilege,” Marquez said. “Having Holly as a guest during our squadron PT session was a blast, it was very entertaining to have her join us. Not only did she keep up with us, she was our MVP.”
Reporter Bob Barnard featured segments on the Military Working Dog mission of 11th Security Forces Group’s 11th Security Support Squadron and the 79’th MDW Aeromedical Staging Facility -- a 45-bed facility that is the first checkpoint on American soil and serves as the aeromedical evacuation hub for the East Coast, receiving wounded, ill, and injured Airmen, Marines, Sailors, and Soldiers. He also spoke to Airmen and senior leaders from the 11th SFG and 79th MDW and was highly impressed with all the Airmen and civilian Airmen.
“I was impressed … really good people, you forget how many civilians are in our military,” he said. “It’s a joint venture in a sense between the uniformed and the civilian and they all make it happen. They’re real people, they’re good people and they’re our neighbors.”
He was also captivated with the military working dog featured in his segment, 11-year-old Lenox who has spent his entire career here.
“Lenox served his whole life here to protect our President and the people who live here at JB Andrews. I wanted to give him a big hug, but he’s a trained dog and he will bite you, so you keep your distance.”
In addition to featuring these and other aspects of the AFDW and Team Andrews mission, three special segments were highlights for the Fox5 DC team and the people they met: First, a reunion between Capt. Jordan Clark, 89th Aerial Port Squadron, 89th AW, his wife Casey and their two children 4-year-old Deacon and 2-year-old Sutton. Clark returned from a six-month deployment the night before the broadcast and Fox5 DC was there to capture the moment before interviewing the entire family during the live broadcast.
Seymour, who interviewed the family, was touched by the moment.
“It was really emotional, it was special,” Seymour said of the moment. “For me, as a civilian, I just can’t imagine what it’s like knowing that for six months, a year, that you’re going to have to carry the family while that spouse is way, but then when you think of the amazing job that they’re doing I guess it gives you courage and gives you strength and then the reunion is just that much sweeter knowing that they just sacrificed so much.
“So, I’m just honored to have been here today.”