Robins rolls out red carpet for Little League World Series Champs

  • Published
  • By Amanda Creel
  • 78th ABW/PA
When it comes to growing up in Middle Georgia everybody has heard of Robins Air Force Base, but for many youngsters in the area the gates seem like an impenetrable fortress.

However, if you are lucky enough to win the Little League World Series, the gates open and the VIP treatment is issued for a day of close encounters.

Mickey Lay, Warner Robins American Little League head coach, said one of the most exciting things about the team's invitation to celebrate their success at the base was, "getting to see what's behind the fence."

He added he felt it was important for the team members to see what the base does each day and what the military does for everyone.

The WRALL team, several with parents who are Team Robins members, was invited to the base Oct. 9 in recognition of their success on the baseball diamond and for their glowing representation of the Middle Georgia area.

Mike Smith, another coach for the team said, 'I think it's a neat experience to see something they don't see everyday and they can't learn in the classroom."

The close encounters ranged from the opportunity to test out some K-9 safety gear and the biting abilities of a military working dog, eat a flight lunch prepared by the base flight kitchen and the chance to sit in the cockpit of an F-15E Strike Eagle.

One of the many sneak peaks afforded to the 12-member team included the opportunity to fly with a crew of "Black Knights" and refuel an E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System aircraft.

Many of the young baseball champs, had never heard about the refueling mission of the KC-135 Stratotanker, and were impressed the tanker could refuel other aircraft while flying.

"I didn't know they had all this," Clint Wynn said.

The boys not only got the opportunity to watch the KC-135 in action, the group also let the team members crawl down into the boom next to the boom operator and take the reins.

Taylor Lay, 12, said his favorite part was, "Laying down and controlling the boom thing."

The boys were also invited into the cockpit where they had the opportunity to interact with the crew members.

"It was fun. You got to see what was going on and you got to see all the controls," said Dalton Carriker, 13.

The KC-135 and its refueling capabilities wasn't the only aircraft the young VIPs were excited about seeing up close.

"I liked watching the F-15 flyover. My favorite part was just the noise. It was so loud," said Micah Wells, 12.

As the F-15 made a low pass the team members lined up armed with cell phone cameras and audio recorders and preserved the moment.

Payton Purvis, 12, recorded the jet's passing and played it back clear as a bell for his teammates and said, "That's how loud that was."

However, it wasn't just the aircraft that helped the Little Leaguers erupt into screams of joy during their visit to the base, a trip to the military working dog kennels was one of the highlights for the young baseball team.

"Its pretty cool seeing all the dogs attack them," said Clint Wynn, 13. Though all the team members were anxious to watch the military members interact with the K-9s some were less convinced to put the protective gear on and let the K-9s use them as a training tool.

Though in the end all 12 held their arms out and let Rudy, one of the military working dogs, take a bite.

"It feels like little needles going in at first," said Hunter Jackson, 13. He added, that the teams' trip to the Military Dog Kennels was one of his favorite experiences throughout the day.

The day ended as the boys piled into a 5th Combat Communications Group Light Medium Tactical Vehicle, also known as a five-ton, which is used to transport troops and equipment, and headed back to the Museum of Aviation. Even the young celebrities' exit from the base gave them a rarely seen glimpse into life as an Airman.