Area High School hockey players get firsthand look at base, B-1

  • Published
  • By Steven J. Merrill
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

Rushmore Hockey Association junior and varsity players learned more about the teamwork behind the mission being accomplished at the world’s largest B-1B combat wing during a tour hosted by the 28th Bomb Wing Feb. 20.

The players – high school students from Rapid City, Box Elder and a handful of surrounding South Dakota schools – had an opportunity to see a B-1 static and interact with aviators from the 34th Bomb Squadron during their visit.

“We had an amazing experience on the base,” said Alex Dietrich Rushmore Hockey Association boys varsity team captain. “We were able to tour and learn about the bombers, meet the pilots, and learn more about their daily jobs.”

Capt. Michael Anderson, 34th BS Thunderbirds B-1 pilot who hosted the visit, remarked that he gets as much out of the opportunity to do tours like the event he led for the players as they do, and it’s a great way to give back to those who support the base.

“It’s really good to be able to connect with the community,” Anderson added. “They do a lot to support us so it’s nice to be able to do this for them.”

Giving back and teamwork are things the players are already demonstrating, according to their parents and coaching staff. The boys typically do a “community” event each season. This year they collected items like coffee, games, snacks, and other items for packages they provided to deployed Airmen.

As for working together, the junior varsity team is rolling into the South Dakota state tournament undefeated and will play for the state title on March 1-3 in Aberdeen, South Dakota. The varsity team is the second seed heading into their state tournament on March 8-10 in Brookings, South Dakota, squaring off against the home team for the title. The varsity team has also solidified their entrance into the High School Hockey Nationals in West Chester, Pennsylvania in March.

“It’s refreshing to see young adults like this not only giving back but working hard together to achieve something big,” said Master Sgt. Leslie Baccus, 28th Force Support Squadron Airman Leadership School commandant whose son is a member of team. “I know the boys were thrilled to be able to come out and see the B-1 and meet the flyers. It was a great way to inspire and educate them. It’s something these young men will remember for the rest of their lives.”