Air Mobility Rodeo 2011 kicked off here July 24.
Airmen from around the world, including seven international teams, are participating in the biennial competition that focuses on mission readiness, featuring airdrops, aerial refueling and other events that showcase the skills of mobility crews.
This year’s event promises to be the largest rodeo ever, said Col. R. Wyn Elder, the commander of the 62nd Air Mobility Wing, the host unit for the event.
In addition, teams from 20 nations have traveled here to observe the various challenges with the hopes of competing in the future.
During the opening ceremonies, the commander of Air Mobility Command, Gen. Raymond E. Johns Jr., inspected the units standing in formation participating in Rodeo 2011.
With him was Brig. Gen. Rick Martin, the Rodeo 2011 commander, who welcomed the teams.
“There is no greater assembly of mobility professionals,” Martin said. “Let’s celebrate camaraderie … and let’s do it all safely.”
Riders on horseback presented the flags of each international team. As representatives of the host nation, parachutists from the 627th Special Tactics Squadron jumped from the back of a C-17 Globemaster III, displaying the American and POW/MIA flags.
This year marks the first time the event is being held since the advent of joint basing, as noted by the 62nd AMW commander, Col. R. Wyn Elder.
Elder thanked the garrison commander, Army Col. Thomas H. Brittain, for his support in putting on Rodeo 2011.
Brittain has overseen Joint Base Lewis-McChord since the two installations merged, and Elder called him, “Without question, the finest Airman in the United States Army.”
“We want you all to focus on the competition at hand,” Elder said to the crowd. “We’re excited to open the doors to Joint Base Lewis-McChord to you and I look forward to the best rodeo competition ever.
“Let camaraderie define victory,” the colonel added.
That spirit of competition has been a tradition of rodeos in the past.
For Adjutant Joris Retty, a C-130 Hercules loadmaster from the Belgium air force, this year marks his third rodeo. He was previously here in 2005 and 2009.
When one of his teammates fell ill, he said he jumped at the chance to come back and help coach the rest of his team.
“Nothing motivates me more than the spirit of competition,” Retty said. “It’s great to meet people from other nations and socialize. I actually went to loadmaster school at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas, so it’s nice to be back in America. I can’t wait to get started.”
The competition culminates at the end of the week with the crowning of the rodeo champion. The 62nd AMW from McChord won the last rodeo in 2009.