58th SOW leadership visit sacred Native American land, foster continued understanding

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kiana Pearson
  • Kirtland Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Col. Michael Curry, 58th Special Operations Wing commander, alongside Chief Master Sgt. Tom Pilla, 58th SOW command chief, were welcomed for a tour of Valles Caldera National Preserve in Jemez Springs, New Mexico, Sept. 14, 2020. They visited the caldera as an outreach effort to sustain flight training while protecting tribal communities.
“It’s a sincere privilege and honor to welcome Col. Curry here to have an opportunity to showcase one of the premier public lands in New Mexico,” said Jorge-Silva Bañuelos, Valles Caldera National Preserve superintendent. “There is important airspace that passes a corner of the preserve.”
Valles Caldera is an 88,900-acre preserve located in the north-central region of New Mexico.
“It was a pleasure to visit the caldera to learn about the rich historical, cultural and ecological significance of the area,” said Curry. “It provides excellent flying training opportunities to prepare our Airmen for missions around the world.”
The Air Force has a priority to continue promoting long-standing relationships with neighboring tribal communities. The interactions with these communities encourage opportunities to learn from each other.
According to Bañuelos, Valles Caldera is a sacred place for many tribes. There are more than 35 tribes with significant traditional associations with the caldera.

Curry looks forward to the continued collaboration with Bañuelos and the preserve, emphasizing the important responsibility to be good partners and stewards of the resources at Valles Caldera.