This past Monday (April 11), my classmates and I, along with Mrs. Temple and SMSgt Rex Temple’s mom Maxine, went on a tour on the MacDill Air Force Base. This awesome field trip was a reward for our hard work? Yes, please! It was quite funny/incredible how Mrs. Temple was able to set up this amazing tour. She actually didn’t know Lt Col Jason Wolf who organized the tour. Even though her husband has been stationed at MacDill since 1996, it was a civilian off base who saw our class on Fox 13 who contacted Lt Col Wolfe and asked for the base to organize this special tour for us. Lt Col Wolf worked with his staff and tasked SSgt Tristan Nicholas and TSgt Stephen Miles with organizing the itinerary of our visit. So thank you Mr. Brown of Brown’s Trophies for asking Lt Col Wolfe for this visit for us.
Because my classmates did an excellent job recapping our experiences at MacDill, I just wanted to share 2 of my personal favorite experiences from that Monday.
I was really excited to meet the EOD unit because of the movie “Hurt Locker.” But of course, the real men of the EOD unit told us the Hollywood movie was just that: a glorified, Hollywood movie. It didn’t break my heart too much because the real men behind this tiny unit were the real heroes who are just as cool and down to earth as you and I. These few men have literally been to hell and back, flying to different countries and working diligently to disassemble bombs and IEDs, all the while coming back in one piece to relive their experiences to us. They gave us a peek at their pretty cute robot that gets sent first to check out the bombs and IEDs. Don’t let the cuteness of this robot fool you. This bad boy has a grip force of 65 lbs per square inch. They also showed us their 40+ lbs bomb disposal suit. Imagine wearing double your winter clothes (we have to double because Florida winter’s are nothing compared to that of the North) outside on the sunniest Florida day. Already sweating? Perfect, now multiply that by 10 and maybe we might be able to understand how extremely hot it can get inside that suit with extreme temperatures up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. The presenter, who was the second in command of the unit, told us he can only go out in the suit for 20 minutes before he has to come out of the danger zone where lots of Gatorade and IVs are waiting for him to relieve his dehydration.
My second favorite experience was the sense of family I got from the base. Being Hispanic, family is super important to me. I’ve already threatened my little brother and sister into living no more than an hour away from me so we can have Sunday dinners together with our families. MacDill Air Force Base is just that: a family. They have built themselves an awesome community where they can flourish with their work life and their own personal life. They have amenities like a school, golf courses, a pool, a grocery store, post office, Burger King, etc, etc, etc. Not only are they a family in that sense, but they’re also a family on a mission. For a flight crew, there can only be 5 members at a time during a mission that can last up to 2 weeks. Being in such tight quarters, you come to regard these people as family and they do.
From our “Windshiled Tour” around the base to our awesome tour guides, they definitely gave me food for thought. They’ve changed my whole perspective about how I see anything military related. They’ve shown me a lifestyle filled with such pride and love for our country that I felt my emotions threatening to burst into tears.
I want to give a special heartfelt thanks to anyone serving in the military. You guys are the true heroes. Thank you for everything that you do.