58th SOW hosts children from local hospital

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mark Guereque, 58th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeymen, adjusts the visor on a helmet for a visitor from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Mark Guereque, 58th Operations Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeymen, adjusts the visor on a helmet for a visitor from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21. More than 15 children and their families visited Kirtland for lunch and to view aircraft static displays.

Tech. Sgt. Megan Freeman, 415th Special Operations Squadron first sergeant, pets a puppy with visitors from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21.

Tech. Sgt. Megan Freeman, 415th Special Operations Squadron first sergeant, pets a puppy with visitors from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21. The visitors were able to tour and board a MC-130J, HH-60 PAVE Hawk, CV-22 Osprey and a UH-1N Huey.

Tech. Sgt. Derek Brock, 58th Special Operations Wing special mission aviator instructor explains his body armor configuration to visitors from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21.

Tech. Sgt. Derek Brock, 58th Special Operations Wing special mission aviator instructor explains his body armor configuration to visitors from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21.

Capt. Chris Mitchell, 58th Training Squadron UH-1N pilot, explains the control panel to visitors from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21. The visitors were able to tour and board a MC-130J, HH-60 PAVE Hawk, CV-22 Osprey and a UH-1N Huey.

Capt. Chris Mitchell, 58th Training Squadron UH-1N pilot, explains the control panel to visitors from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21. The visitors were able to tour and board a MC-130J, HH-60 PAVE Hawk, CV-22 Osprey and a UH-1N Huey.

Staff Sgt. Zach Harmon, 58th Special Operations Wing MC-130J aircraft loadmaster, fits a visitor from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital in a parachute aboard a MC-130J, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21.

Staff Sgt. Zach Harmon, 58th Special Operations Wing MC-130J aircraft loadmaster, fits a visitor from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital in a parachute aboard a MC-130J, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21. The Children's Cancer Fund of New Mexico, partnered with the 58th SOW to host the event for the children and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

Staff Sgt. Zach Harmon, 58th Special Operations Wing MC-130J loadmaster, demonstrates how to change floor panels on the MC-130J to visitors from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21.

Staff Sgt. Zach Harmon, 58th Special Operations Wing MC-130J loadmaster, demonstrates how to change floor panels on the MC-130J to visitors from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children's hospital, at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21. More than 15 children and their families visited Kirtland for lunch and aircraft static display. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. J.D. Strong II)

Visitors from the University of New Mexico children's hospital, eat lunch with Airmen from the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21. The Children's Cancer Fund of New Mexico, partnered with the 58th Special Operations Wing to host the event for the children and their families.

Visitors from the University of New Mexico children's hospital, eat lunch with Airmen from the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., Dec. 21. The Children's Cancer Fund of New Mexico, partnered with the 58th Special Operations Wing to host the event for the children and their families.

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- A cool breeze swept through the air on the flight line, but the cold weather wouldn’t match the warmth of laughter and smiles that filled area. Pairs of feet marched across the chilled pavement at a fast rate, moving to and from different aircraft to see what could be done next. These weren’t maintainers or pilots doing pre- and post-flight checks, but kids experiencing life as a 58th Special Operations Wing Airmen. 

The 58th SOW partnered with the Children’s Cancer Fund of New Mexico, to give children who were diagnosed with cancer an opportunity to leave the hospital and experience life in their wing. Children from the Presbyterian and University of New Mexico children’s hospitals visited the 58th SOW Dec. 21.  

“Hearing some of the stories of what these families go through and having to deal with that at such a young age is eye opening, so we put together a day for them and their families to get out and see something different, something fun for them to do,” said Capt. Michael Tolzein, MC-130J pilot and deputy chief of scheduling in the 415th Special Operations Squadron.  

Each child and their family were personally escorted to the flight line by Tolzein and were greeted by pilots, operators and aircraft upon their arrival.

A MC-130J, HH-60 PAVE Hawk, CV-22 Osprey and a UH-1N Huey were all on display for the visitors to photograph, explore and tour. At each static aircraft, the pilots and operators answered questions about the airframe, assisted the patrons with trying on gear and demonstrated how to properly use the gear. 

After exploring the various aircraft, families then visited the sheet metal shop, where the visitors received a demonstration of it capabilities before being treated to a pizza, wraps, salads and cookies for lunch in a hanger.

Before leaving the event, parents expressed their thanks to the wing for putting on the event and giving their children a needed change in their schedules.

“To spend time with my son and his friends from the cancer center is awesome, they don’t get out and do very much because they are always in the hospital,” said Dolores Willis. “My son wants to join the military, so him experiencing this is awesome.”

The experience not only gave the children a chance to do something new and gain a better understanding of how the wing works, but also gave some of the Airmen extra motivation.

“I love kids and wanted to get more involved in the community,” said Staff Sgt. Zach Harmon, 58th Special Operations Wing MC-130J aircraft loadmaster. “I love the enthusiasm when they come on the plane, answering questions they have and telling them what I do on a day to day basis, makes the job feel a lot more worth it and it gives me more inspiration to keep doing what I am doing.”