AIRMAN AMBASSADORS: Annual Raincross forges new ideas

The 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., was the recipient of this year’s Raincross Trophy. The Raincross event is put on by 4th Air Force, March Air Reserve Base, with the trophy dinner hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and held at the Riverside Convention Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Kimble)

The 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., was the recipient of this year’s Raincross Trophy. The Raincross event is put on by 4th Air Force, March Air Reserve Base, with the trophy dinner hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and held at the Riverside Convention Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Bill Kimble)

Command chief master sergeants throughout 4th Air Force had a meeting of the minds during this year’s Raincross. The Raincross event is put on by 4th Air Force, March Air Reserve Base, with the trophy dinner hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and held at the Riverside Convention Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amy Abbott)

Command chief master sergeants throughout 4th Air Force had a meeting of the minds during this year’s Raincross. The Raincross event is put on by 4th Air Force, March Air Reserve Base, with the trophy dinner hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and held at the Riverside Convention Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amy Abbott)

Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan, 4th Air Force commander, enlisted two new Airmen at Adams Go Kart track. The Raincross event is put on by 4th Air Force, March Air Reserve Base, with the trophy dinner hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and held at the Riverside Convention Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amy Abbott)

Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan, 4th Air Force commander, enlisted two new Airmen at Adams Go Kart track. The Raincross event is put on by 4th Air Force, March Air Reserve Base, with the trophy dinner hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and held at the Riverside Convention Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amy Abbott)

The senior leadership and spouses all enjoyed a night of fun and friendly competition Tuesday evening at Adams Go Kart track in Riverside. The Raincross event is put on by 4th Air Force, March Air Reserve Base, with the trophy dinner hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and held at the Riverside Convention Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amy Abbott)

The senior leadership and spouses all enjoyed a night of fun and friendly competition Tuesday evening at Adams Go Kart track in Riverside. The Raincross event is put on by 4th Air Force, March Air Reserve Base, with the trophy dinner hosted by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce and held at the Riverside Convention Center. (U.S. Air Force photo by Amy Abbott)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- "Sometimes the rest of the world doesn't really realize you're at war. I had never talked to another person whose husband has been shot at. The nicest thing is to have that shared experience." 

Joy Thompson was one of many the spouses and senior leaders who showed up to Riverside in full force, over 300 of them, for the annual 4th Air Force sponsored Raincross 2007, "Airman Ambassadors," this week. 

The wife of Lt. Col. Kimberly Thompson, 931st Civil Engineering Squadron commander at McConnell AFB, Kan., Mrs. Thompson's husband has deployed to both Kuwait and Afghanistan. 

"I'm really grateful I had the opportunity to do this," she said. "It's my first time (coming to this event) and it gave me the opportunity to meet wives in similar situations. It also reinforced the need to foster community relations the best you can." 

The three day long conference began Monday morning with Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan, 4th Air Force commander, giving the opening remarks. Covering a variety of imperative subjects, General Duignan's emphasis was on perfection and the need to stay constantly vigilant. 

"Perfection has to be the goal, what you strive for," he said. "You have to demand that your people are doing right every day ... If we're not striving to be perfect, we're never going to get there ...We can't afford to not be ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week." 

The conference covered many issues, such as developing future leaders, stress on
military marriages and keeping family papers ready for the unexpected. The attendees
also participated in breakout sessions, determined by their roles and responsibilities. 

According to the welcome letter by General Duignan, the aim was to give everyone an
opportunity to "meet counterparts, share experiences, collaborate on common issues,
forge new ideas, practices and explore the future challenges of our continual and growing requirements of the Expeditionary Air Forces and the Global War on Terrorism." 

Monday evening, the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce hosted the Raincross
Trophy Dinner. The dinner, a long standing tradition, is a way the community recognizes
March Field and its vital role in the local economy. 

Trophies are given to acknowledge outstanding wings and their achievements. This year's Raincross Trophy recipient was the 349th Air Mobility Wing at Travis AFB, Calif. 

"We have exceptional people," said Maj. Margaret Shaeffer, the 349th Civil Engineering
Squadron commander at Travis, about the troops at the wing and their contribution to receiving the award. 

"Through all the changes we have gone through ... we also have great support from the families for the military members." 

Accepting the Aircrew Excellence Award was the 18th Air Refueling Squadron, 931st Air Refueling Group, McConnell AFB, Kan. The Chief Master Sergeant James K. Clouse trophy for maintenance excellence was awarded to the 940th Air Refueling Wing maintenance personnel from Beale AFB, Calif. 

On day two, humorist, author and motivational speaker Judy Carter served a side order
of comedy with the group's lunch. A highly acclaimed speaker, she energized the crowd with her "customized corporate comedy" and her theme, "Laughing out of Stress." 

"I thought it was great," said Major Shaeffer. "I liked the way she personalized it to the military and I can definitely identify with the part about the (military having its own) language." 

With a second dose of comic relief, Jane Donahue spent the rest of the afternoon entertaining just the spouses. Mrs. Donahue is a soldier's wife; her husband is a member of the Minnesota Army National Guard and serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. She shared her stories about raising children while dealing with her husband's deployments and "how she finds a dose of humor better than Prozac." 

That evening the group went to Adams Go Kart track where they had an opportunity to take off their blues and participate in some friendly competition. General Duignan also enlisted two new Airmen at the track; the Airmen will be joining the 452nd Air Mobility Wing. 

The conference ended Wednesday after a morning of discussing feedback from the various breakout groups. The senior leadership and their spouses returned to their respective bases and homes, armed with new information and knowledge which will, like the welcome letter stated, enable them all to be better prepared to meet the challenges faced both now and in the future.