Cannon Range wows public during community outreach show of force

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Nathan Dampf
  • 131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs
More than 850 community members, veterans and families attended an outreach event at Cannon Range, Missouri's only aerial bombing and gunnery range, held Sept. 12. 

The air show-style event, hosted by the Missouri Air National Guard's 131st Bomb Wing Detachment 1, included weapons demonstrations by B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft and C-130 Hercules transports.

It was intended to give residents of surrounding communities an opportunity to see firsthand the mission that Cannon Range supports, as well as build relationships with and thank the locals who live near the range. Aircraft dropped simulated munitions, performed low-level flybys and showcased tactical maneuvers.

"It's a morale builder and a good outreach program," said Willie Eyerman, an event attendee from Crestwood, Missouri. "You walk away with a sense of pride.  It really brings home everything the military does."

Eyerman said he used to take his son to events like today's, and he invited a good friend who had never seen the capabilities of any of the featured aircraft.

"I enjoyed the A-10 flybys and the Gatling gun," said Eyerman. "Events like this take a lot of hours and commitment. It's a team effort."

Spectators lined up before 7 a.m. to access the bombing range. Many spectators brought cameras, binoculars and lawn chairs to observe the display. 

"At Cannon Range, you're doing yourself a disservice if you don't educate the public and garner support from the local community," said Lt. Col. Michael Sadler, commander of the 131st Bomb Wing, Detachment 1 at Cannon Range. "I hope the attendees walk away with an appreciation of the trainings we do here and understand how important it is."

Civilian participants were able to witness the air and weapons capabilities of the 509th and 131st Bomb Wings, the 442nd Fighter Wing, the 139th Airlift Wing from St. Joseph, Missouri, and the Missouri Army National Guard's 3-135th Aviation Regiment out of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.

Cannon Range is a military training facility managed and operated by personnel from the 131st Bomb Wing's Detachment 1. Nine full-time military professionals from a variety of career fields manage the targets and training missions at the range.

In addition to the range personnel who organized the event, Airmen from the 364th Training Squadron, Detachment 1 at Fort Leonard Wood helped set up the event and coordinate logistics throughout the day.

"Overall, we had a good turnout," said Sadler. "The people who came out learned a lot and were appreciative."