By Alisa Boswell
Clovis and Portales are not the only regional communities whose residents are gearing up and getting excited for the Cannon Air Force Base Open House & Air Show coming on Memorial Day weekend.
According to Curry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos, the Clovis chamber is receiving phone calls all the way from Albuquerque, Las Cruces and even Colorado Springs, Colorado, from people interested in attending.
“As it gets closer, it’s getting real exciting,” Kos said. “This is huge for the community to not only have the Thunderbirds one day but two days on a holiday weekend.”
Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Director Karl Terry said the base’s open house and air show is important for area residents because the base has brought so much to the local region as far as economy and culture.
“It’s the first air show they’ve had since setting up Special Ops, and I think it’s going to be a great show,” Terry said. “This is a chance for us to go see what they do for our country and our community. We’re really excited about it.”
Lt. Col. David Fujimoto, the event’s coordinator, said the event has taken five months of non-stop planning and preparation as far as activities and safety and security.
“It’s really been our first opportunity to expose our public at large to what our air commandos really do,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to showcase why we fly low level, why we need the Melrose range, why we have all this construction, why this base continues to grow, why we stand up new units.”
And civilians will certainly be getting the full spectrum, according to Fujimoto, who said base personnel will perform a simulated combat mission during the show on Saturday, which will entail everything special operations personnel do on the ground and in the air during a mission.
“You’ll hear the radio calls, you’ll see the planes in formation; there will be explosions,” Fujimoto said. “You’ll see that it takes the efforts of all the airmen, both the folks that maintain the aircraft and those who operate the aircraft, coming together in time and space in a very complicated manner to execute a mission.”
Jody Bailey, chairman of the Portales Military Affairs Committee, said the open house will be a great opportunity for local community members to see what goes on on the base to make the community and base report even stronger.
“I think it is important to combine the base and community together for events, so people can see what these soldiers do every day to make sure we continue to have our freedoms,” he said.