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Sgt. Darius Kirkwood, 200th Military Police Command
Andrews Air Force Base- 05.17.2009
The population of Andrews Air Force Base briefly swelled to nearly 80,000 today as the gates of its 2009 Joint Service Open House were finally opened to the general public.
The JSOH is an annual air show conducted during Armed Forces Week that projects military capabilities and heritage through static displays and a number of airborne demonstrations. The number of those attending the event today nearly tripled that of its opening day yesterday, which was only open to select groups.
The opening ceremony for the JSOH kicked off the event for the members of the public this morning, and included a striking presentation of discipline and precision by a joint color guard that included warriors from the Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and the Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment – the oldest active duty infantry unit in the Army – which is most commonly referred to as the Old Guard, an allusion to its dual role as the Army's foremost ceremonial unit and defenders of the National Capital Region.
"We are especially honored to have you all, the greater community of the Washington, D.C., area and beyond here as our guests today," said Air Force Col. Steven M. Shepro, commander of the 316th Wing at Andrews.
There were over 200 aircraft and military vehicles on display and over 70 vendors selling their wares and fare at the JSOH this weekend, which also commemorated the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. Furthermore, the JSOH presented an opportunity to celebrate the 50th birthday of the esteemed U.S. Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, who provided the crowd with a mind-boggling demonstration of their freefall parachuting prowess.
Many of the guests at the air show had been there many times before. U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class David Preston was indeed a repeat visitor – and one with an extraordinary connection to the show.
Preston's right arm is decked out with a tattoo of a Douglas SBD Dauntless, a World War II-era naval dive-bomber on which his grandfather was machine gunner during that war.
"It's an honor to talk to these guys about this aircraft," said Preston as he sat in the cockpit of the "slow but deadly" aircraft. Preston got the tattoo to honor his grandfather, who was the last person in Preston's family to enter combat before his deployment to Iraq in 2007.
In addition to the air show, service members representing every branch of the Armed Forces manned booths where they displayed tools of the trade and answered questions about military life. The roster of booth exhibitors read like a who's who of military units with reputations for excellence: special operations units from the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps, the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division, the Army National Guard and the 200th Military Police Command, a Fort Meade, Md., based organization that oversees approximately 97 percent of the Army Reserve's military police forces.
Notwithstanding a bit of gloomy weather early in the day, the 2009 Joint Service Open House was a great success, and a truly joint effort. And as soon as it's over, planning will immediately begin for next year, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Manny Fiterre, cochairman of the 2009 JSOH.