By Col. Michael Panarisi, AEDC/PA
/ Published March 17, 2011
ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. --
Another week, another trip, though this one was a "four-bagger!"
Part of my duties is to take a trip to Washington D.C. and show off what we do around here. It still amazes me just how well we keep our little secret, and I've been on a mission to get the word out. The D.C. trip is a big part of that campaign, and we raced around Capitol Hill to get in and see congressmen, senators and anyone else who would hear our story.
It's a fast-paced, planes-trains-and-automobiles thrash from start to finish (in the rain of course!), but in the end it's a fantastic event and a part of the job that I look forward to every year.
What? He looks forward to going to D.C.? Well, hang with me. It's not the trip; it's the mission.
In just a few hours, we took our story to more than a dozen lawmakers, staffers and office members, many of whom had never heard of AEDC.
In fact, one of our stops was to brief a team from the House Armed Services Committee. It's not every day you get a special invitation to brief congressional staffers (and if you do, it's usually NOT a good thing!), so we were elated to add this to the itinerary.
As expected, we heard lots of "I had no idea ..." comments as we walked them through the mission here and the wide range of activities I'm so proud to represent. Apparently, that was a little obvious ... one of the staffers mentioned "I can see you are pretty enthusiastic about your base."
I guess I didn't know I come across that way. But then again, who wouldn't? Even after almost 20 months here (yes, it's been that long already!), I still get pumped up every time I swing through ETF, stroll through the Model Shop or sneak in to see some action at the Arcs. I think I've found my true calling: tour guide!
Give me a tour group and a bus, and I'm like a kid in a candy store. I've taken the governor, the adjutant general, the mayors, and our local representatives' staffs all around our little piece of paradise. I never get tired of telling our story, and you make it easy.
Every time I take a group around I hear something like "You can really see the pride in the mission here." It starts at the gate, where we always get a hearty welcome from the guards, all the way across the base where our guests get to see what you do in real time. I love to see the look on their faces when we open a door, come around a corner, and take them "backstage" for an experience you just can't get anywhere else. Sign me up for another one!
It's an important part of our jobs, and one I encourage you to take on as well. The more people know about the mission here, the better. Living in obscurity is no way to win in budget battles, and this is truly a national treasure that we can't let live in the shadows. Any time you get the opportunity to showcase what we do for the Nation and our Allies, I hope you'll jump at the chance.
The best part of the trip? Invitations!
We ask the members at all of our stops to take a trip and see this place in person. Good news! We've already picked up our first inquiry, so shine up the hard hats; we've got company coming.
This time, they're on our stage, and you are the reason they came. Nothing makes me prouder. See you on the tour!