It's your turn to relax

  • Published
  • By Col Karl McGregor
  • 452 AMW Commander
Every September, the 452nd Air Mobility Wing squadrons--normally split into two separate unit training assembly weekends--join together for a combined unit training assembly. The purpose of the combined UTA is not to fill every hotel room in Riverside and Moreno Valley and lengthen your morning drive to the base, but to build camaraderie and a whole-team spirit between squadrons and Airmen.

Also joining us for the combined UTA weekend will be Fourth Air Force, the Navy Operational Support Center Moreno Valley and Army reservists. The combined UTA is a great opportunity to meet with counterparts from squadrons you don't normally interact with, and to do business at offices that aren't normally staffed on your UTA.

This weekend will be a busy one. Many activities have been scheduled to take advantage of having so many reservists on base at the same time. The gem of the weekend, of course, is the Military Appreciation Picnic.

Picnics of this magnitude on military bases invariably end up being as much work as they are fun. Servicemembers are expected to help with planning, set-up, cooking and clean-up. They are normally expected to pay for their meal, as well.

Not so at March's annual picnic. In 1970, Mr. G.W. Singletary, a local business leader, organized the first Military Appreciation Picnic as a way for the community to thank military members for their service. The picnic has continued every year since, with the exception of 2001, when the base was at a heightened security level following 9/11. Today, the picnic stays true to Mr. Singletary's original purpose and no help is needed from the military members.

During Saturday's picnic, it is your turn to kick back and relax: the community is here to serve you.

Orchestrating a picnic for a crowd of more than 5,000 is no small task. The Military Appreciation Committee--comprised of representatives from the base, the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce, Moreno Valley Chamber of Commerce and Silver Eagle Club--begins meeting regularly six months prior to the picnic. This year, there will be approximately 280 volunteers helping on the day of the picnic. Be sure to thank them as you enjoy the live music and food and your kids have fun on the rock climbing wall and in the inflatable bounce houses. You might even spot Mr. Singletary himself near the ice cream truck. He coordinated the donation of 5,000 ice cream bars this year.

Unfortunately, I will not be attending the picnic as I will be in Dayton, Ohio, relaxing in my own way by running the half-marathon during the Air Force Marathon weekend. Forty Team March members are accompanying me there: 10 will run the marathon, 20 will run the half marathon and 10 will run the 10K race.

Between the wing's Haiti earthquake relief efforts, hosting the air show in May and completing five major inspections, it has been a hectic year. I commend Team March members on their hard work and superb performance. Enjoy the picnic. You have earned this break!