Airmen fly over and join FWB, Navarre Friday night football games

  • Published
  • By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Miranda Mahoney
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

Air Commandos — both in the air and on foot—participated in Military Appreciation Night football games at Fort Walton Beach High School and Navarre High School Sept. 15, 2023.

The 1st Special Operations Wing flew an AC-130J Ghostrider gunship and MC-130J Commando II in formation over Fort Walton Beach High School and Navarre High School, respectively. The aircraft, which are seen training in the nearby skies often, helped kick off the games and added an operational element to each school’s appreciation program.

On the ground, Airmen hosted interactive booths with various career fields including special tactics, combat controllers, explosive ordnance disposal, mission sustainment team and security forces. Event participants had the opportunity to try on military gear, view demonstrations, ask questions to subject matter experts, and gain a deeper understanding of the Air Force Special Operations Command mission and Air Force careers.

U.S. Air Force Capt. Elvin Hernandez, 1st Special Operations Civil Engineer Squadron EOD flight commander, shared a highlight from his time on the ground at Fort Walton Beach High School.

“It’s exciting to show the public what Air Force EOD and EOD as a whole is all about. It is good for the community to see what their military members do on a day-to-day basis, supporting national security in peacetime and wartime and how we support the local community when military ordnance is found on and off the installation.”

Base leadership was also in attendance at both schools for pre-game activities such as pep rallies, tailgates and each game’s initial coin toss. U.S. Air Force Col. Allison Black, 1st SOW commander, took to the field, and flipped the initial coin toss at Navarre, while U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Joey Meininger, 1st SOW command chief, did the same at Fort Walton Beach.

"Events like High School Football Military Appreciation Nights give us an opportunity to mix it up with the students and families and allows us to show what AFSOC is all about," said Black. “The tremendous support from our local community allows the men and women of Hurlburt Field to answer the nation’s call Any Time, Any Place.”