“I want to see another Super Bowl ring,” a captain at the 445th Airlift Wing told receiver Jaivon Heilgh, as Heilgh toured a C-17 Globemaster cargo plane on the base. (While the Los Angeles Rams beat the Bengals 23-20 in February’s Super Bowl, both teams received rings.)
“Me too,” a smiling Heilgh replied.
Col. Patrick Miller, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander at Wright-Patterson, told the visiting players that the base, with some 32,000 military and civilian employees, is Ohio’s largest employer in one site.
But that isn’t the only attribute that makes Wright-Patterson special, Miller said.
“What makes us special is our relationship with our community,” he said. “And know that you are part of that community.”
“The Air Force as a whole is a huge team,” said Tech Sgt. Sarah Jakis, who lunched with the players. “And not just a team, but a family.”
After lunch, the rookies toured a C-17 aircraft, visited the 88th Air Base Wing Honor Guard — the busiest honor guard in the Air Force — operated the base’s Explosive Ordinance Detachment robot and wrapped up the day with an athletic skills camp for some 100 children of military members, including two of Miller’s sons.
“It’s big,” Bengals tight end and former Springboro High School player Justin Rigg said while taking in a C-17. “It’s amazing. I mean, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a plane like this up close. It’s massive, and all the things that go into it are great.”
This kind of USO event is not unusual for NFL rookies, Rigg said. “When they told us we were coming here, I was really excited because I think all of this stuff is really awesome.”
Miller told team members that he’s about to embark on the 14th move of his 24-year Air Force career. Miller, who has been confirmed for promotion to brigadier general, is leaving for Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, where he will become the director of Logistics, Engineering and Force Protection for Pacific Air Forces.
It will be the 8th move for Miller’s 11-year-old son and the 10th for his 14-year-old son, Miller said.
“For you to come out and spend some time with them today, man, this is special,” the colonel told the rookies.
Also on the agenda was a family picnic for clinic participants and families.