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Ron Sites President/Executive Director Fighter Country Partnership

Ron Sites, President/Executive Director Fighter Country Partnership holding a trophy (a small model of an F-16) at the 2ND Annual Honorary Commanders Golf Tournament awards ceremony.

FCP has many valuable roles and responsibilities with respect to Luke Air Force Base and the community. Every day “we” are humbled with the opportunity to serve those who constantly serve and support our country.

FCP’s “we” is a very large and diverse group of individuals, organizations, municipalities and fellow civic organizations.

One of FCP’s most important responsibilities is to continuously update our supporters with information regarding Luke AFB to preserve our relationships going forward. I call this our Education and Awareness Campaign.

We generate support for Luke AFB through the education and awareness we provide. I can’t explain how it feels to watch eyes literally “widen” as someone’s perception of what Luke AFB is changes in a five- minute conversation.

The civilian population drives by the base every day, sees the F-16s flying high and loves the sound of freedom – and rightfully so. My perspective of Luke AFB has changed significantly since I have been privileged enough to support it.

I see the aircraft and think a little differently. I see a squadron, and what is a squadron? A squadron has 24 aircraft, 30 pilots and 50 mission support personnel. Mission Support is your medical group, security forces, family services, etc. (actual numbers vary, these are approximates)

Why would there be 50 Mission Support personnel assigned to 30 pilots? Because there are 300 maintainers assigned to take care of those 24 planes so the 30 pilots are safe. There are six squadrons at Luke AFB. Do the math.

While Luke AFB is a training base for F-16 fighter pilots, it takes thousands of other airmen with incredibly important responsibilities to accomplish that mission. These airmen aren’t cleaning latrines and mopping floors; they are crew chiefs of an F-16, life support, security forces, family services, etc.

Here is another eye opening example that I have experienced: I met an F-16 crew chief and asked him a few questions. While this airman is ultimately responsible for a $25 million aircraft, his rank/paygrade is an E-5, he is married, his spouse doesn’t work and they have two children.

I won’t share their household income, but I can tell you that there are a lot of things “our community” can do to support these airmen and their families.

There are 3,193 Airmen on Luke AFB of Rank/Paygrade E-5 and below. Once again, do the math. Want to know how you can support? Call FCP at 623-882-2191.

This article is made available with permission of Pueblo Publishers, Inc.

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