159th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office
NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana Air National Guardsmen and loved ones celebrated Family Day, an event dedicated to connecting families by providing food, festivities and fun at the Naval Air Station, Joint Reserve Base, New Orleans, May 20.
The festivities included live music by the band the Louisiana Brew, a variety of delicious foods and a slew of activities for the kids. There was also an F-15 static display that allowed families to pose for pictures and get up close and personal with the aircraft.
A few other displays were the New Orleans SWAT team, U.S. Marshalls and the 159th Security Forces Squadron with several specialty items and props.
“Most people think the Air Force is just about airplanes and don’t associate it with other career fields,” said Tech. Sgt. Paul White, 159th SFS craftsman in charge of the weapons display table.
Staff Sgt. Gary Lipkos, a heavy equipment operator with the 159th Civil Engineering Squadron said that this year’s family day was more entertaining than those held in previous years. “There are more things for the kids to do like the pony rides, several bounce houses and a dunking booth. I really am enjoying it!”
Maj. Ignacio Assaf, 159th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, was a volunteer working the dunking booth and was dunked several times to the amusement of the gleeful crowd.
Other events for the kids included a rock wall, face painting, a photo booth and the Saints Training Experience which consisted of a bounce house, football throw and obstacle course that tested the endurance of the children.
Among the activities, there were several vendors that provided information on various services, such as REMAX Realty Company, Humana healthcare, USAA Financial and Military and Family Life Consultants. The MFLAC’s said they provide free confidential counseling to the service member and their families.
P.A.W.S., the Plaquemine Animal Welfare Society, was a huge hit with the kids and with potential “fur-baby” adopters. They brought several loveable puppies and also educated on the importance of spaying, neutering and heartworm prevention. Two of their wonderful animals found loving, military homes during the event.
Women Veterans of Louisiana were on site to answer any questions and raise awareness about the organization which strives to promote a meaningful connection between women and military service. Tanya Whitney, retired U.S. Army, explained that this organization is not like a Veterans of Foreign Wars. “We are more of a ministry. We want people to know that there are women vets too.” The organization encompasses all branches of service and some of their members served in World War II.
Just in case all of the food, activities and vendors weren’t enough, there were several raffle baskets donated by various organizations, such as an animal rescue themed basket valued at over $250, a “spirits” basket, a camping and fishing basket, a one week condo vacation stay to Florida!
Over 500 family members came out to enjoy the day with their Airmen. “Family day is a great event for all of our families to see what we do and enjoy each other’s company,” said Chief Master Sgt. Brian Cooper, 159th Maintenance Operations Flight.
“Recruiting Airmen and retaining their families in a high operations tempo while asking so much of our families can be tasking. Anytime we can thank our families and show them our appreciation for the support of their Airman’s service … we want to do that,” said Col. Roy V. Qualls, 159th Fighter Wing commander.