442 FW scores touchdown at KC Chiefs draft event

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Missy Sterling
  • 442d Fighter Wing Public Affairs

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Maintainers from the 442d Fighter Wing usually find greasy mechanical parts, wrenches and inspection checklists in the A-10 Thunderbolt II hangars on a typical day at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. It’s not uncommon to see three or more jets parked in the giant hangar known as the “5-Bay” waiting to be thoroughly inspected from the nose of the jet to the tail and everything in between.

However, the Military Appreciation Day Event on April 30 transformed their workplace into a red and gold, Kansas City Chiefs themed party for the whole family to enjoy.

The Chiefs and their official sponsors, Papa John’s Pizza and USAA, provided inflatables, free pizza, a virtual quarterback experience, and photo-ops and autographs with players and cheerleaders, among other activities.

Stages were set up on the flightline and in one of the hangars in order for a few lucky service members to announce the Chiefs fourth, fifth and sixth round draft picks live on television.

The Chiefs and Whiteman AFB have had a long standing partnership built on mutual support and respect.

"We've worked with the Chiefs for about 30 years," said Col. Brian Borgen, commander of the 442 FW. "The affiliation between the military and the NFL in general is awesome."

The 442 FW has a modified Chiefs Arrowhead emblem that is worn as a patch by the pilots, and displayed on the A-10’s tail and engine covers. The KC Arrowhead is more than just a design. It’s a sign of community pride. Lamar Hunt, founder of the American Football League and owner of the Chiefs, helped design the 442 FW Arrowhead logo that is worn on Airmen’s uniforms and displayed on the 442 FW’s A-10s.

"We've had a long standing relationship with Whiteman Air Force Base dating back to probably the late 80s early 90s, probably even earlier than that," said Bill Chapin, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Kansas City Chiefs. "To be able to come to Whiteman today and to honor those who serve our country and to give back just a little of fun to those families who serve our country so well is a privilege for us."

It’s not uncommon for the Chiefs to travel to their local communities and even overseas to participate in many campaigns dedicated to honoring the military like Salute to Service and Return the Favor.

This event provided a unique opportunity for members of Team Whiteman to announce the NFL draft picks live with their families and friends in attendance to help celebrate the experience.

Tech. Sgt. Jason Billingsley, services specialist assigned to the 442 FW, was one of the few service members chosen to announce a draft pick.

"It's once in a lifetime," said Billingsley about announcing the 203rd pick, Dadi Nicholas from Virginia Tech. "It was a good pick to have another defensive back. I'm happy with it."

Billingsley's wife and two children were able to make it to the event.

"It's a good event for the family," said Billingsley. "Next year my kids will be able to participate in the event. My kids are a little young right now, but it's a good time for family and friends to get together."

Leadership for Whiteman and the Chiefs agree that this event should become an annual tradition.

"I hope we do it every year," said Borgen. "There were more smiles today and we were lucky with the weather. It was a nice break for our folks and it was good to see their morale so high."

Spending the NFL draft day with Whiteman was an honor for the Chiefs and just one way they’d like to continue to give back to the families who serve our country.

"It certainly would be something that we would want to continue,” said Chapin. “To see the smiles on both Reserve and Active members and their families, it makes it all worth it. It's our honor, truly, to come here and serve them and their families for this time period. I can't think of a better way for us to spend our NFL draft day than on Whiteman."