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MacDill invites community organizations out for VIP experience

The 6th Air Mobility Wing leadership pauses for a photo with members from various children’s organizations at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., May 11, 2018. MacDill welcomed 12 organizations throughout the Tampa Bay community on base for a special VIP experience during the rehearsal of Tampa Bay AirFest 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Cody “ShIV” Wilton, an A-10C Thunderbolt II demonstration pilot from Mineral Wells, Texas (left) and Maj. Paul “Loco” Lopez, an F-22 Raptor demonstration team pilot from Virginia Beach, Va., (right), meet with members of various children’s organizations at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., May 11, 2018. MacDill welcomed 12 organizations throughout the Tampa Bay community for a special VIP experience during the rehearsal of Tampa Bay AirFest 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue)

The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, take a group photo with members from various children’s organizations at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., May 11, 2018. MacDill welcomed 12 organizations throughout the Tampa Bay community on base for a special VIP experience during the rehearsal of Tampa Bay AirFest 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue)

A family poses under one of the many static displays during the rehearsal of Tampa Bay AirFest 2018 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., May 11, 2018. MacDill welcomed 12 organizations on base for a special VIP experience, to include meeting pilots of various demonstration teams and leadership from the 6th Air Mobility Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ashley Perdue)

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

The 6th Air Mobility Wing welcomed 12 community organizations to the flightline for a VIP experience at the Tampa Bay AirFest 2018 rehearsal at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida, May 11.

The organizations included the Make A Wish Foundation, Boys and Girls Club, Cops N Kids and Wheelchairs 4 Kids among others. In total, the wing hosted 125 guests.

MacDill demonstrated the capabilities of the armed forces through aerial demonstrations and interactive static displays.

“Building a community understanding of what we truly do is vital to our mission success,” said 2nd Lt. Roger Zehr, a community relations liason from the 6th Operation Support Squadron. “The community supports the military more than what people know and I believe this is because they believe in what we do.”

The guests received VIP seating and attended a meet and greet with Col. April Vogel, the commander of the 6th AMW, and other members of wing leadership.

Additionally, pilots with the F-22 Raptor, the A-10 Thunderbolt II and the U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, also made a special appearance to meet with each organization.

“It is humbling to see the efforts put in to make it possible for these kids to see the show,” said Capt. Cody “ShIV” Wilton, an A-10C Thunderbolt II demonstration pilot from Mineral Wells, Texas. “Being able to speak with them after the show was an awesome experience.”

The children received autographs, stickers and photo opportunities with each meet-and-greet.

“Seeing the kids light up when they met with Col. Vogel and the pilots was by far my favorite experience on Friday,” said Zehr. “I had a blast being able to represent the Air Force and help make the kids smile.”