President Visits AASF#1

Story by Roman M. Martyniuk, NJDMAVA/PA.

President arriving at the hangerThe New Jersey National Guard’s Army Aviation Support Facility #1 located at Trenton- Mercer Airport, played host to President George W. Bush Sept. 23.

More than 1,000 members of the New Jersey Army and Air National Guard, along with 1,500 school children, veterans, and area residents filled the 25,000 square foot hangar.

President rallying troopsThe highlight of the visit came for 16 New Jersey Guardsmen when they were invited to sit on the stage with their Commander-in-Chief. At the direction of Brig. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, The Adjutant General of New Jersey, this privilege was afforded to individuals selected by their units as a reward for their dedication and performance since Sept. 11, 2001. The group were Spc. Phillip Faustino, Staff Sgt. Monte C. Wilson, Spc. Vanessa Marano, Spc. Roquel Rodriguez, Col. Wayne L. Thomas, Maj. Pat Kennedy, Master Sgt. Jerold K. Walker, 1st Lt Yvonne L. Mays, 2nd Lt. Luz M. Colon, Staff Sgt. Angela Ward, Sgt. Donald Meddings, Sgt. 1st Class Michael Warner, Sgt. 1st Class Jennifer Long, Staff Sgt. Charles F. Cale, and 1st Lt. Joseph Roughneen.

Preparations for the visit began almost a week earlier when Col. Paul Ciervo, State Aviation Officer and Station Commander for AASF #1 was asked to assist in planning the presidential visit. Facilities and locations were toured to identify the most appropriate location for the public event, decide where to stage the motorcade, and even where to park Air Force One, the Boeing 757 aircraft the President uses.

Troops listen to the presidentOnce the decision to use AASF #1 had been made, a whole army of people became involved. Lt. Col. Jorge Martinez and Chief Warrant Officer 4 Ed Kobiella worked closely with the Secret Service, state and local law enforcement agencies to ensure that the security requirements associated with an official presidential visit were satisfied. Maj. Mark Preston mobilized the New Jersey Department of Military and Veterans Affairs state maintenance force to assist chief armorer Bill Hutchison to make ready for the event.

“ This truly was a team effort,” noted Col. Ciervo. “Our guys demonstrated an impressive, cohesive effort that did the state proud.”

President shakes citzen and soldiers handsThat team was led by Sgt. 1st Class Charlie Bethea, Crew Chief and First Sergeant of the 1st Battalion, 150th Aviation and Master Sgt. Dave Nunlist, Aircraft Maintenance Supervisor for the flight facility.

“ We did everything needed to make our facility an appropriate venue to host President Bush and a most welcome accommodation for all the other dignitaries and guests,” stated Col. Ciervo.