Portales youth tour Cannon

USAF: Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Johnathan Estrada, 27th Special Operations Support Squadron air traffic controller, talks to kids from the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home in Portales, about his daily duties in the control tower Feb. 11 at Cannon Air Force Base. The kids from the home were invited by Cannon Air Commandos to enjoy pizza, games, a base tour and bowling at Cannon.

By Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal: 27th SOW Public Affairs

Air Commandos from the 318th Special Operations Squadron at Cannon Air Force Base hosted a base tour for children from the New Mexico Baptist Children’s Home in Portales on Feb. 11. The 318 SOS teamed up with other squadrons within the 27th Special Operations Group to provide more than a dozen excited kids a day of fun at Cannon.

This isn’t the first time members within the 27 SOG have worked with the children’s home. In December 2011, Cannon airmen sponsored children from the home through the Angels in Blue program, where they provided kids with gifts for the holidays. This is where Capt. Clayton Pasco, 318 SOS pilot, first learned of the children’s home and decided he wanted to give back even more.

“I was really excited to take point on this tour,” said Pasco. “It meant a lot to me to do something equally special for these great kids apart from the holiday season.”

The group kicked off with a pizza party at The Drop Zone. The kids were able to eat their choice of pizza while playing billiards and air hockey, all courtesy of Cannon’s Air Commandos.

“This entire event is probably just as fun for all of the volunteers as it is for the kids,” said Capt. Matthew Beaubien, 318 SOS pilot. “Any positive impact that we can have on local youth makes our jobs worth it. We want to see these kids enjoying themselves while learning something new about the mission at Cannon.”

After eating and playing at The Drop Zone, the kids got to check out the radar approach control room and the Air Traffic Control tower. They were shown how Cannon monitors the surrounding airspace and how communications are maintained from the ground to the pilots flying overhead.

After the tower, they boarded a shuttle for a tour of the flightline. They made several stops along the way to view the CV-22 Osprey, AC-130H Spectre gunship, AC-130W Stinger and MQ-9 Reaper.

“You can tell how excited everyone is despite the cold weather,” said Pasco. “The kids are still out here on the flightline listening to our crews explain aircraft components. We can’t thank everyone enough who took time out of their weekend to work with us in making all of this possible.”

The tour made one final stop at Cannon Lanes to see whether anyone could bowl a perfect game.

“This was all about reaching out to our local community and letting them know what we do at Cannon,” said Beaubien. “We want to foster great relationships with our neighbors and show them what the Air Force mission is all about.”