Boss Lift participants aboard the US Coast Guard Cutter Swordfish out of Seattle enjoyed a brief tour of the Seattle waterfront in addition to touring the Polar Star icebreaker and the Coast Guard museum.
For many years, the US military services have looked to the National Guard and Reserve forces to augment their organizations whenever and wherever needed.
After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the services found themselves in need of greatly increasing their utilization of these citizen soldiers, sailors and airmen. The result was the call to active duty of thousands of men and women for periods ranging from days to years.
While those called to duty and their families coped with the separations, the fears and the financial situations that resulted, the employers of these thousands of men and women faced wholly different problems. How long would their employees be gone? How would they operate without some key staffers and what sort of support could or should they offer these individuals?
Learning about the 446th Air Wing mission while inside the cavernous C-17 at McChord Air Force Base, members of the Boss Lift listen to a briefing about medevac operations.
As a result of this situation, an organization known as Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve has became more active and prominent. Having been around since the 1970s, this group sought ways to explain to employers their rights and obligations even as they encouraged the businesses to support the troops.
One way to show leaders of both large and small companies what their employees were doing while serving in the Guard or Reserves and on active duty was to invite them to the military facilities to see what their employees did on active duty.
Washington business people learned from reservists and guard members what their employers do while on active duty as they listened to officers of the 446th Air Wing explain the capabilities of the C-17.
A group of 30 Washington State business representatives participated in the latest of these programs from Sept. 13-15, touring McChord Air Force Base, some of the facilities at Fort Lewis and the submarine base at Bangor.
Led by Steilacoom resident Ed Janay, a retired Marine Corps colonel, the group spent a couple nights on McChord, learned how training in Blackhawk helicopters is accomplished, took part in weapons training in a simulator, toured the USS Nebraska, a missile-firing Trident-class submarine, visited the US Coast Guard station in Seattle, learned about the mission of the Western Air Defense System as part of the North American Air Defense Command at McChord and ended up by touring a C-17 and hearing about the flight operations of the 446th Air Wing.
This is a photo of the USS Nebraska in drydock at Bangor. Participants in the recent BossLift toured the missle-carrying submarine. The tight security sub base prohibited cameras so this photo was taken from a website.
With the exception of the submarine crews, virtually every unit visited included both fulltime service members and reservists or members of the guard. In some units the majority of the force was made up of civilian soldiers.
Story and photos by Dave Sclair