The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 6, 2009

Civic leaders visit Air Force Academy


U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. — Twenty-four civic leaders from Air Education and Training Command bases around the country, including Vance Air Force Base, visited the Air Force Academy Sept. 22-23 to learn more about opportunities available.

The group consists of members from the AETC Commander’s Civic Leader Group, representing the cares and concerns of AETC bases and units from their communities to AETC’s leadership.

Enid banker Bill Shewey was the only local business leader on the trip. Members of the group are nominated by the wing commander at their local base, in this case Vance commander Col. Chris Nowland.

“It is really an honor just to be nominated,” Shewey said. “It was very educational, very informative.”

The group received an in-depth introduction into the life of a cadet. They also learned about the capabilities and opportunities at the academy. The Air Force Academy was named the best baccalaureate college in the West for the third year in a row and received several top 10 rankings in engineering in U.S. News & World Report America’s Best Colleges 2010 rankings. Forbes magazine also ranked the academy as the No. 7 best undergraduate institution in the nation, in the same tier as Ivy League colleges.

“It’s a real honor to meet and host these local community leaders who are willing to take time away from their busy schedule to learn more about our United States Air Force Academy,” said Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, superintendent of the Air Force Academy. “The support and commitment of local leaders like this is the real strength behind our academy, our Air Force and our nation.”

The group visited the academy’s parachuting, glider and powered flight operations at the academy’s airfield, followed by a tour of athletic facilities, visits to the Cadet Chapel and the cadet dormitories, attending a cadet parade and having lunch with cadets.

In addition, the group toured Peterson AFB, home of the 21st Space Wing, Air Force Space Command, U.S. Space Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, and were able to go inside Cheyenne Mountain, the super-secret Cold War home of NORAD that now serves as alternate command center for NORAD and U.S. Northern Command.

“These trips are very educational,” Shewey said. “We get to see a lot of things people in the Air Force don’t get to see.”

Gen. Stephen Lorenz, commander of AETC, led the group. Lorenz is a 1973 graduate of the Air Force Academy, and was commandant of cadets at the academy from 1996 to 1999.