ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md. --
Local Virginia and Maryland residents couldn’t avoid the aerial acrobatics or interactive displays, as an estimated 100,000 people attended the 2009 Joint Service Open House May 15-17.
Marines presented multiple aircraft displays for the public, while aviators and stunt pilots from the Army, Air force and Navy performed maneuvers and demonstrated evasive actions taken in combat.
Attendants were also introduced to Vietnam era aircraft to currently fielded technologies like the MV-22 Osprey, the world’s first production tilt-rotor aircraft.
“It’s really a great opportunity for [everyone],” said Cpl. Matthew Sandford. “The military does a lot and most Americans can’t fathom what it is we do every day. This gives them that chance.”
Sandford, a load master aboard a C-130 Hercules with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252, which is based out of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., explained the intricacies of refueling mid flight to visitors inquiring about the aircraft’s role.
The C-130 was one of nearly a dozen vehicles at the event, which are fielded by the Marine Corps in operations around the world. A vehicle from 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion attracted children and adults alike, while aircraft like the CH-53 Super Stallion evoked a sense of nostalgia with veterans.
“It’s for everyone,” said Sgt. Michael Felton, an airframes mechanic with Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461. “The kids love to look at the planes and helicopters, veterans ask about the current use of the aircraft (they remember) and it just peaks the interest of everyone here.”
Two aircraft from Marine Helicopter Squadron 1, which has served the Office of the President of the United States since 1957, were also on hand.
“These displays raise awareness about the military,” said Capt. Ethan Krumnow, an AH-1 Super Cobra pilot with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269. “There’s an obvious recruitment aspect of these events, but above all else we are here as role models and to reaffirm our commitment to serving and protecting the American people.”
The JSOH officially opened to the public on May 16, commemorating the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion with stunts performed by WWII era fighter planes.
Whether it was the Army’s Golden Nights, the Air Force’s Thunderbirds, Marine Corps static displays or just a weekend away from work, Krumnow said, “The open house gave military members and the people here a chance to interact and strengthen the relationship between the armed forces and the American public.”