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Williamsport Area School District teacher gets close-up look at Air Force

PHOTO PROVIDED Chuck Crews, right, and Maj. Gen. Ed Thomas, the commander of the entire Air Force Recruiting Service, pose for a photo.

Chuck Crews came away from a recent visit to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas with a good feeling, witnessing raw recruits going through training and learning a bit about military life.

The Williamsport Area High School teacher saw the sort of teamwork that he helped instill in his players during his years as varsity head football coach.

“It was a great experience for us educators to see,” he said.

For the young men and women going through training, they were part of something “bigger than themselves” — a not altogether different experience from playing on an athletic team.

“It’s an elaborate machine where everything has to work,” he said. “With the way our country is going, it was great to see people coming from different places, working together.”

Crews and the other educators who were on the trip in late June didn’t go through any actual training, sleep in barracks, or march with troops down the avenues of vast Lackland Air Force.

It was more of a learning experience than anything else.

“We stayed in a hotel, but essentially from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., we were on Uncle Sam’s time. We had an opportunity to interact with recruits,” he said.

Crews was nominated by Tech Sgt. Leo Knight-Inglesby, a local Air Force recruiter, to take the trip with more than 20 other people around the country as part of the Air Force Distinguished Educators tour.

Some of his football players through the years have ended up joining the Air Force and other branches of the military.

Crews liked meeting and talking with some of the recruits to learn what they would be doing during their Air Force days.

“We got a chance to learn a lot,” he said. “We reflected on the diversity of the Air Force itself.”

Crews and his group also visited nearby Randolph Air Force Base, at least one other military installation in the area, and medical facilities.

They also got to attend graduation day for recruits, a ceremony that struck Crews by its pageantry and the pride it instilled in attendees.

In addition, he got to see some of the sites in nearby San Antonio, such as the famous River Walk.

“I had some pretty good barbeque,” he said with a laugh.

South Texas in early summer, he noted, was a bit challenging for some of the visitors, including Crews.

“One lady from Wisconsin was really hit by the heat,” he said.

Aside from the weather, Crews said the overall experience was definitely a positive one, and plans are being made for the group to get together again, perhaps next year in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the home of the Air Force Academy.

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