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'Flag guy' gives taste of 188th's top-notch community support

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cody Martin
  • 188th Wing Public Affairs
 The Fourth of July holiday is a time to reflect on our independence. While free citizens participate in barbeques, patriotic concerts and fireworks, everyone will likely at some point during the day think about the significance of this special date. The Fourth of July is the nation's birthday. Instrumental in the original thirteen colonies codifying their independence was the early citizen soldier or the colonial militia, which later became the National Guard.

"Every citizen should be a soldier," Thomas Jefferson said. "This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state."

Without the brave soldiers during the American Revolution, the United States would undoubtedly look very different now. The soldiers of the time needed their communities to support them just as the 188th Wing needs them now. The local community has been exemplary in its efforts to showcase their unwavering support.

In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Committee recommended the closure of the then-188th Fighter Wing and the removal of its F-16C Falcons. The outstanding support from the community helped surmount this obstacle, securing the A-10 Thunderbolt II follow-on mission.

The community later exhibited its exceptional support again, lining the streets during a visit from Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff, January 2013.

"I expected to see an outstanding fighter wing that does a great service to our nation and that's exactly what I've seen," Welsh said during a 2013 press conference following his tour. "They have a great installation here. There's a great range complex that they train on. They are immersed in the mission of our Air Force, and I got to see that this morning."

The community's positive outpouring of support never waned. Packed crowds surrounded the flightline at Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Fort Smith, Arkansas for multiple deployments and homecomings from operations all around the world.

One of those strong community supporters is Dave Burns, known commonly as "Dave the Flag Guy." Burns epitomizes the support shown to the 188th by the Arkansas River Valley and surrounding communities. ent

"Mr. Burns is true patriot who takes pride in his country and his community," said Col. Mark W. Anderson, 188th Wing commander. "To taxi by after a challenging training mission or when you're returning from a tough combat deployment and then to see him waving his American flag in such a dignified way, makes you feel truly honored and humbled. It makes you feel proud to have the opportunity to serve such a great nation and it reminds you that you're not doing it alone. There's a lot of support for the military and there's no better military community than right here."

Burns, who shows up to wave his American flag at most wing deployments and events, is one of those integral members of the community showing his support for the 188th and its Airmen.

"Just driving by and seeing the base always filled me with a sense of pride," Burns said. "To think that my own group in my city is taking care of and doing so much for the nation always made me so proud. I'm so proud of the 188th and as each year goes by I get more proud. It keeps building up where I don't think I can get any higher with it and then there's another wedge to climb."

Although Burns has been inspired by the military since he was six years old, it was the Explorers group that he was a part of at the age of 15 that truly helped pave the way for his future involvement with the 188th.

Burns said the group had a positive impact on him for years to come.

"It impressed me because I didn't just see what you guys were doing physically, but they took us into places that a lot of people didn't get to go," Burns said. "I saw how organized everything was, how clean everything was and how professionally you did things. Instead of wondering, I actually saw and it was impressive."

This experience has grown into a true respect for the military. So much so that Burns hands out flags to anyone in uniform he meets, or offers to wave a large flag every time a member of the military takes off from the ramp at Ebbing ANG Base. Burns, though, said he finds it most gratifying to wave the flag for the members from his own town in Fort Smith.

"It was so gratifying to flag my own guys," Burns said. "I'd flag everybody, but to get to flag my unit was a real honor."

Support from members of the local community like Burns is what makes the 188th Wing what it is today. With the 188th's conversion to a new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance/remotely piloted aircraft mission that support becomes even more critical.

"It's because of the sacrifices you've made and the foresight that you guys at the 188th and our military have that we've got all of these wonderful blessings," Burns said. "The passion that I have for you guys out here will never fade."

'Flag guy' gives taste of 188th's top-notch community support

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Cody Martin
  • 188th Wing Public Affairs
 The Fourth of July holiday is a time to reflect on our independence. While free citizens participate in barbeques, patriotic concerts and fireworks, everyone will likely at some point during the day think about the significance of this special date. The Fourth of July is the nation's birthday. Instrumental in the original thirteen colonies codifying their independence was the early citizen soldier or the colonial militia, which later became the National Guard.

"Every citizen should be a soldier," Thomas Jefferson said. "This was the case with the Greeks and Romans, and must be that of every free state."

Without the brave soldiers during the American Revolution, the United States would undoubtedly look very different now. The soldiers of the time needed their communities to support them just as the 188th Wing needs them now. The local community has been exemplary in its efforts to showcase their unwavering support.

In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure Committee recommended the closure of the then-188th Fighter Wing and the removal of its F-16C Falcons. The outstanding support from the community helped surmount this obstacle, securing the A-10 Thunderbolt II follow-on mission.

The community later exhibited its exceptional support again, lining the streets during a visit from Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force Chief of Staff, January 2013.

"I expected to see an outstanding fighter wing that does a great service to our nation and that's exactly what I've seen," Welsh said during a 2013 press conference following his tour. "They have a great installation here. There's a great range complex that they train on. They are immersed in the mission of our Air Force, and I got to see that this morning."

The community's positive outpouring of support never waned. Packed crowds surrounded the flightline at Ebbing Air National Guard Base, Fort Smith, Arkansas for multiple deployments and homecomings from operations all around the world.

One of those strong community supporters is Dave Burns, known commonly as "Dave the Flag Guy." Burns epitomizes the support shown to the 188th by the Arkansas River Valley and surrounding communities. ent

"Mr. Burns is true patriot who takes pride in his country and his community," said Col. Mark W. Anderson, 188th Wing commander. "To taxi by after a challenging training mission or when you're returning from a tough combat deployment and then to see him waving his American flag in such a dignified way, makes you feel truly honored and humbled. It makes you feel proud to have the opportunity to serve such a great nation and it reminds you that you're not doing it alone. There's a lot of support for the military and there's no better military community than right here."

Burns, who shows up to wave his American flag at most wing deployments and events, is one of those integral members of the community showing his support for the 188th and its Airmen.

"Just driving by and seeing the base always filled me with a sense of pride," Burns said. "To think that my own group in my city is taking care of and doing so much for the nation always made me so proud. I'm so proud of the 188th and as each year goes by I get more proud. It keeps building up where I don't think I can get any higher with it and then there's another wedge to climb."

Although Burns has been inspired by the military since he was six years old, it was the Explorers group that he was a part of at the age of 15 that truly helped pave the way for his future involvement with the 188th.

Burns said the group had a positive impact on him for years to come.

"It impressed me because I didn't just see what you guys were doing physically, but they took us into places that a lot of people didn't get to go," Burns said. "I saw how organized everything was, how clean everything was and how professionally you did things. Instead of wondering, I actually saw and it was impressive."

This experience has grown into a true respect for the military. So much so that Burns hands out flags to anyone in uniform he meets, or offers to wave a large flag every time a member of the military takes off from the ramp at Ebbing ANG Base. Burns, though, said he finds it most gratifying to wave the flag for the members from his own town in Fort Smith.

"It was so gratifying to flag my own guys," Burns said. "I'd flag everybody, but to get to flag my unit was a real honor."

Support from members of the local community like Burns is what makes the 188th Wing what it is today. With the 188th's conversion to a new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance/remotely piloted aircraft mission that support becomes even more critical.

"It's because of the sacrifices you've made and the foresight that you guys at the 188th and our military have that we've got all of these wonderful blessings," Burns said. "The passion that I have for you guys out here will never fade."