Annual Wyoming National Guard open house draws 4,500

Deidre Forster, State Public Affairs Officer

The annual Wyoming National Guard Open House, held July 26, drew an estimated 4,500 to the 153rd Airlift Wing’s base, in Cheyenne.

The Wyoming Guard hosts the event as an opportunity for members of the community, and the plethora of Cheyenne Frontier Days tourists, to learn more about the missions, capabilities, equipment and people that make up the organization. Visitors arrived by the bus load to partake.

“We continue to see the open house numbers grow,” said Maj. Gen. Luke Reiner, Wyoming’s adjutant general. “Last year’s attendance was around 3,000. We thoroughly enjoy opening our gates to the public and showing off our great people, capabilities and partner agencies.”

Mayer Weiss, 16, travelled to Cheyenne with a group from his synagogue in Denver. He said he and his peers have a lot of respect for the military and wanted to watch the Thunderbirds show and visit the open house.

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“We really wanted to check you guys out because you are really helping us,” he said while visiting a Wyoming Army National Guard High Mobility Artillery Rocket System display and talking with its crewmembers. “This is great.”

The HIMARS was only one of the pieces of equipment the Wyoming National Guard had on the base’s tarmac. C-130s configured to highlight combat airlift, aerial firefighting and aeromedical evacuation missions, sat next to a UH-60 Black Hawk, various military trucks and other displays.

“We came from Elmwood, Nebraska, a very small town,” said Elizabeth Matthews. “We usually come for Cheyenne Frontier Days since my mom lives in Cheyenne, but we’ve never gone to an open house. My stepdad, who is prior active duty Air Force, told us about it. It has been so cool getting to see all the equipment. The best part was getting to talk to the actual crew members that fly. I would definitely come back in the future.”

This year the open house featured the Leap Frogs, the U.S. Navy’s parachute team. Team members jumped from a Wyoming C-130 flying high above the base and landed a few feet in front of the assembled crowd. Their jump was followed by an aerial firefighting demonstration highlighting the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System used to perform that mission.

“We’ve supported the Leap Frogs’ Frontier Days visit for two years but this is the first year they have jumped into our open house,” said Col. Paul Lyman, 153rd Airlift Wing commander. “I think it was a great addition and highlighted our successful partnership.”

Additional exhibits came from the University of Wyoming, the National Science Foundation, F. E. Warren Air Force Base, and others. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, another CFD staple, signed autographs at the open house after cancelling their morning performance due to weather.

“I’ve lived in Cheyenne for four years and never gone to this. It was so cool. Everything from the planes, to all the weather satellites was awesome. What I really appreciate is what the guard does for the community, putting this together for us. Everyone was so nice and it was exciting for my grandson to see the Thunderbirds, even if they didn’t get to fly. I would most definitely recommend this experience to other people,” said Linda Pinder.

 

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