DVIDS – Information – Mission Help Group leaders go to Civil Rights battlefield

Compulsory Training … It doesn’t matter what the topic is, an aviator’s first thought may be “Death by PowerPoint”.

So Colonel Reginald Trujillo, commander of the 403rd Mission Support Group, decided to try a new tactic in training. He gathered his MSG leadership on April 9th ​​and took them on an employee trip, but not a traditional employee trip.

“The first employee equestrian program in US military history took place in July 1906 and has since been used to bring the historical battles to life in the actual locations or battlefields where the actual fighting took place and to give the participants the opportunity to give, to learn and analyze the terrain, decisions and actions of the key leaders involved ”, so“ Staff Ride, Fundamentals, Experiences and Techniques ”on the website of the US Army Center of Military History.

Trujillo wanted to do something unique, so a different type of “battlefield” was chosen. A battlefield that would face our history and help us overcome our racial inequality.

“I have chosen Montgomery, Alabama, as the ‘battlefield’ for our staff,” said the Colonel. “And while Montgomery wasn’t a traditional battlefield in the mid-1950s, it was the battlefield from which the African-American civil rights movement began and where important civil rights activists like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and ED Nixon earned their strips. “

The location was chosen after Trujillo took a Commanding Officer Professional Development course that was a key diversity and inclusion component that included the same tour for the staff ride, and he said the guest speaker, Mr Bryan Stevenson, he was really excited during his speech on racial differences.

Trujillo prepared the trip and selected a mixed group of his MSG employees based on age, origin, race and rank. They all rode the bus to Montgomery together to drive the staff.

By bus … that should stand out, or maybe the Rosa Parks name and her actions in refusing to give up her place on a public bus do. Because Park’s historic act of civil disobedience sparked the successful boycott of the Montgomery Bus, which began the civil rights movement in Montgomery.

Sarah Cinq Mars, MSG 403rd Secretary, said: “We planned the tour with discussions on the bus about diversity and inclusion to really see why this is needed, the importance of operational readiness, the challenges a barrier presents cause and why leadership is important to promote it. “

Cinq Mars stated that the schedule of events was originally intended to include a visit to the Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration; walk to downtown Montgomery, where major civil rights events took place; The National Monument to Peace and Justice; and the church of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., but the weather had other plans.

The first stop was the Legacy Museum, which was in a place where enslaved people were stored before being sold. According to the website at https://museumandmemorial.eji.org, the museum tells the story of the enslavement of African Americans, the development of lynching, legalized segregation, and the racial hierarchy in America.

“As I visited each exhibit, I learned more about the history of black American fighting that I was not taught in school,” said Master Sgt. Margaret Montemarano, 403rd MSG unit chief. “I’ve learned that you have to know and understand history before you can really understand what’s going on today.”

Even if the civil rights movement was not a traditional battle, there was still bloodshed and it was still a battle fought on American soil.

And some of this floor was seen as part of the major exhibits at both the Legacy Museum and Memorial during the tours. In the places where African Americans were lynched were jars with shelves marked with the name of a lynch victim.

Chief Master Sgt. Larry Anderson, 403rd MSG Superintendent, who was from Maryland and his father’s family, who are from Newport News, Virginia, said, “I’ve seen soil from areas I’ve visited and the The fact that I never knew lynching was part of Maryland and Virginia’s history then I realized that it wasn’t just a deep southern stigma that generated a lot of raw emotions and opened my mind. “

The staff ride continued to the National Monument for Peace and Justice, the first monument in the country dedicated to the legacy of enslaved Blacks, people terrorized by lynching, racial segregation and Jim Crow humiliated African Americans and contemporaries incriminated blacks, according to their suspicions of guilt and police violence Website at https://museumandmemorial.eji.org.

For some who walked through the memorial and saw the eight hundred six-foot-high steel monuments, both in the air and on the ground, engraved with the names of each district from 20 states and the names of the lynch victims was another Eye opener.

“If I could use just one word I would say sobering,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Frye, commander of the 41st Airport Squadron. “When I saw these monuments, all I had to do was look up the county I live in and the stain was there. The story of how African American people were treated has been a sobering one and I’ve learned a lot that will help me speak to my African American service members, ”said Frye.

He said he felt that what he had learned would help if he worked with his squadron to have those “awkward conversations” discussed by the group on the bus.

Part of this story wasn’t just learned from Frye. Senior Airman Oliver Polk, vehicle operations technician with the 403rd Logistics Readiness Squadron, said that African American history is much more than what he learned in school and that we are much more diverse in relation to the world today.

For Polk, the LRS is already a very diverse group with open discussions about diversity, race, sexuality and religion.

“It helps us develop character, confidence and morale. I think it should also be an open discussion across the wing,” said Polk. “When it comes to spreading it over the wing, you have to first explain that it is a sensitive topic and make sure that the people involved are open to the conversation and willing to have it. There has to be openness. “

While Anderson said that one thing he learned from the group discussions was that while discriminatory discussions can be viewed as “awkward conversations,” they never get better if we don’t keep them going until they are just conversations.

“We have to listen, and I mean we have to hear it from all sides. Why do people feel the way they do? “, He said. “And I mean, really listen to how people are feeling and listen to understand, not just answer.”

Trujillo said he hoped the staff ride gave his team an understanding and greater appreciation for the African American experience.

“After we have given these guides this experience, they can share it with their pilots. Diversity is about being invited to the party. And if you take a look at our airplanes in the Air Force, we are an amazing and incredibly diverse team. But inclusion isn’t just about being invited to the party, it’s about being asked to dance. We need to better ensure that our airmen are encouraged to get involved to provide that prospect, ”said Trujillo.

“Because in the end it is about willingness to fight, about the fact that brother and sister fight by your side, feel comfortable and build this trust in each other.”

Recording date: April 19, 2021
Release Date: 04/26/2021 9:59 AM
Story ID: 394726
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