07/15/05 — County, base share a dance

View Archive

County, base share a dance

By Turner Walston
Published in News on July 15, 2005 1:48 PM

Several hundred Wayne County residents and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base personnel and their families celebrated Military Appreciation Day at the Center Street Jam on Thursday evening.

Col. Mike Holmes, commander of the 4th Fighter Wing, called Goldsboro "the most military-friendly community in the most military-friendly state in our country."

"Goldsboro was a Top-10 city in 1993," said Col. Paul Sykes, commander of the 916th Air Refueling Wing, referring to a Money magazine survey that rated the city as one of the best places in the country in which to live. "But we all know that Goldsboro has been a Top-10 city for about 200 years."

Goldsboro Mayor Al King was frank about his disappointment with the turnout at Saturday's military appreciation event at Herman Park. But the big crowd Thursday, he said, underscored the community's true feelings about the base and the military.

"Outstanding," King said. "They came out in big, big numbers."

"Thanks for listening to me. Thanks for coming out and showing your support," King told the crowd.

Wayne residents understand and appreciate what military personnel do while in uniform, King said. But many don't know about the quiet volunteer work that airmen perform every day in the community.

"What is not known by the masses is what the military people do when they take off their uniforms; the support that they give us," the mayor said.

King pointed to the Jackie Robinson youth baseball league as an example of how the military's volunteer work has a positive influence on the community.

"They've taken that to heights I never dreamed of," he said.

The storm clouds that provided cool temperatures and breezes early in the evening later gave way to rain, but enthusiasm wasn't dampened.

Capt. Allen Herritage of the 4th Fighter Wing public affairs office said the event was a resounding success. "It's a huge turnout," Herritage said. "It's awesome to see."

Herritage echoed the commanders' comments about the community's demonstration of its feelings for the base and its personnel.

"You don't have to wait until a Military Appreciation Day to see this kind of support," he said.