March 5, 2009 (by SSgt. Trevor Tiernan) - The 8th Fighter Wing Commander literally took Gunsan's Korean National Police Chief for a ride on March 4.
Kim Myung Jung, Gunsan City's Korean National Police Chief, takes a high-speed taxi run in F-16D block 40 #89-2171 from the 35th FS, piloted by Col. J.D. 'Wolf' Harris, 8th FW commander. Mr. Kim visited Kunsan AB as a guest of the Pilot for a Day Program. [USAF photo by SSgt. Jason Colbert]
Colonel J.D. "Wolf" Harris, invited Kim Myung Jung to Kunsan Air Base to familiarize him with the Wolf Pack mission and the F-16 Fighting Falcon. Kunsan's Pilot for a Day program brings local civilians who serve in a position of influence out to the base in order to educate them on the 8th FW's mission and why the Air Force is in Korea. The program began in September 2008 when Gunsan Mayor Dong Shin Moon visited the base.
"The Pilot for a Day program is part of USFK's (United States Force Korea) Good Neighbor Program," said 1st Lt. David Herndon, 8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs. "Through the Good Neighbor Program United States forces all across Korea reach out to local communities, government officials and businesses to educate the Korean people on our mission here and strengthen the partnership between our two countries."
After welcoming Mr. Kim to the base Wednesday morning, Colonel Harris escorted him to the 35th Fighter Squadron building. Lieutenant Col. Steve Kennel briefed Gunsan top police officer on the Pantons' capabilities and mission. A quick tour of the facility followed before heading to life support where Mr. Kim was dressed in a flight suit, fitted with a helmet and issued the rest of his required equipment.
According to Colonel Harris, educating local community members--especially those who interact with a lot of people such as Mr. Kim--only serves to better the 8th FW and Gunsan's relationship.
"It allows Mr. Kim the ability to see what we do here at Kunsan," he said. "So when we ask for things, or tell him there's something that we need, he understands what it is based on our mission, now that he's been a part of it.
"[Through the Good Neighbor Program] we're letting people understand a little bit more about what we do and how the things that they do help us get our mission accomplished."
With both Mr. Kim and Colonel Harris suited up, two more briefings preceded the short drive out to the hardened aircraft shelter that housed tail number 171 (#89-2171
) the two-seat D model F-16 that would be Mr. Kim's ride for the day. Following a quick familiarization with the aircraft and pre-flight checks completed, Colonel Harris assisted Mr. Kim into his seat before boarding the aircraft himself.
The engine fired and the aircraft rolled out carrying Mr. Kim for his all too short 100 knot run down the flightline. Soon Colonel Harris returned with Mr. Kim--a very happy passenger with a greater understanding of the Wolf Pack.
"Today was one of the best days of my life because I got to ride in an F-16," said Mr. Kim. "I saw the 8th Fighter Wing personnel at work. They are working hard here to defend Korea and I appreciate it.
Building friendships with the local community is important wherever Air Force are stationed said Lieutenant Herndon.
"We work with our local counterparts every day here at Kunsan and the Korean National Police regularly assist our 8th Security Forces Squadron defenders," he said. "So the more the Chief of Police knows about our mission here, the better our relationship can be. These programs benefit all of us."
In just a few short hours Gunsan's Police Chief met with many of the 8th FW's Airmen and saw the professionalism and dedication required to carry out the mission. He left the base with a memory few Gunsan residents have experienced and a greater appreciation for the men and women of the Wolf Pack.
"Because of your hard work, Korea is secure," he said.