Youth Advisory Council Meets at 177th Fighter Wing

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Andrew Merlock, Jr
  • 177th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A local youth advisory council met here on March 7 to discuss current events and issues in the United States with a member of Congress.

The council was comprised of students from various high schools located within New Jersey's Second District and meet with U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo monthly for a four-month period.  Members of the council were nominated by their principal and met with the congressman at various locations throughout his district.    

"It gives me a chance to hear directly from a generation that I don't get to interact with", said U.S. Rep. LoBiondo.  "For them to understand that this is their country and they're giving up Saturday on a regular basis to do things like this, they're a cut above", the congressman concluded.

In addition to meeting with the congressman, the council received a base tour to learn about the 177th Fighter Wing's mission and capabilities.  During the tour, the council received and participated in various demonstrations provided by airmen assigned to different Air Force specialties.

"What you see here are called citizen airmen, people that have primary jobs in the community and serve when called upon", said Col. Bradford Everman, commander of the 177th Operations Group.  "We have a federal mission to go overseas and fight a war and we also have a state mission to protect life and property".  "Our motto is community based, global impact", concluded Everman.

During one of the demonstrations, Capt. Arnold Lucchesi, a pilot with the 119th Fighter Squadron, provided members of the council with an opportunity to operate the flight simulator, a component utilized by fighter pilots for training exercises.

"We train for primarily emergency procedures, from engine malfunctions to electrical malfunctions", explained Lucchesi.  "We can practice things that we cannot practice in an airplane", he continued, "we do this at least once a month and it is a requirement for us."

At the conclusion of the tour, many members of the council, whom intend to serve their country upon completing high school, expressed a new-found interest in the Air National Guard.   

"Today was a different experience for us", said Sam Karabashian, a senior at the Atlantic Christian School. "I have a plan to go into the military and the Air National Guard is an excellent opportunity to get paid for your education as well as serve your country".