Purdue's Military Family Research Institute visits Grissom Air Reserve Base

March 21, 2011

A crew member answers questions from staff of Purdue's Military Family Research Institute who were aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker during a refueling flight. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)

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Staff and students working with Purdue's Military Family Research Institute gained valuable insights and took away some exciting memories after visiting Grissom Air Reserve Base on Wednesday to participate in a civic leader flight and base tour.

Located in north central Indiana, Grissom uses its civic leader outreach program to help educate key segments of the public about the base and its worldwide impact. Col. William Cahoon, commander of the 434th Air Refueling Wing at Grissom and a Purdue graduate, invited the MFRI group to attend.

The civic leader flight gave attendees a firsthand look at the wing's aerial refueling mission. The group flew on a KC-135 Stratotanker as it provided in-flight refueling for several aircraft, including an A-10 Thunderbolt (nicknamed the "Warthog") and an RC-135 reconnaissance craft.     

The tour of the base also included a stop at Grissom's Airman and Family Readiness Center. Grissom personnel who oversee the base's departure and reunion programs provided the group with a better understanding of the many issues service members and their families face as they go through a deployment, from notification through reintegration. Helping these families is a core mission of MFRI, so the insights shared at the meeting were very helpful to the group.

A USAF reserve boom operator aboard a KC-135 Stratotanker refueling tanker dispatched from Grissom Air Reserve Base transfers jet fuel to an RC-135. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons)

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"We are extremely grateful for the efforts of Colonel Cahoon and the Grissom leaders to educate us about their work and their efforts to support the families they serve," says Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, director of MFRI. "They were very generous to Purdue yesterday, and we learned a great deal as a result -- as well as having a very unique spring break experience."

For the past several months, MFRI staff and Grissom leaders have been meeting to learn about their respective skills and needs, and how they might collaborate on behalf of the military families they serve.

"Strong relationships between military and civilian communities can go a long way toward helping Indiana to be the best place it can be for its military families," Wadsworth says. "We look forward to continuing our discussions with Grissom in order to further enhance those connections."