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Behind the scenes at Air Expo

A new parking plan unveiled

Lt. Col. Louann de Leon, garrison command, and Col. Paul Greenlee, 62nd AW, head up the 2016 JBLM Airshow & Warrior Expo team. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Hard work on the ground ensures success in the air.

The 2016 JBLM Airshow & Warrior Expo is set to takeoff Aug. 27-28, and it promises to be a great show.

"After a four-year hiatus, we're pleased to bring this event back to the South Sound," stated Col. Daniel Morgan, garrison commander, Joint Base Lewis-McChord, in a press release.

Over the past nine months, an approximate 100-person JBLM and civilian team has orchestrated a show featuring several improvements.

"This has been a big endeavor," commented the show's director, Col. Paul Greenlee, 62nd Airlift Wing.

"The teamwork has been fantastic."

During the two-day show, JBLM soldiers and airmen will be on-hand with aircraft and vehicles from the base to showcase the equipment they use.

There will also be flight demonstrations from aircraft as varied as the B-17 Flying Fortress and the F/A-18 Hornet to airdrop demonstrations and aircraft solo flights.

The stars of the show, however, will be the Golden Knights Parachute Team and Air Force Thunderbirds to watch.

"This show is long overdue," commented Song Johnson, the show's public affairs officer. Greenlee and Lt. Col. Louann de Leon, the show's deputy director who is attached to the garrison commander's office, have planned for up to 300,000 visitors.

"We have a team of professionals who know their business to make this the best show ever," commented de Leon.

The team is comprised of Army, Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Washington National Guard, Army Reserve, Coast Guard, Sea Cadets, Civil Air Patrol and state and local personnel.

"The City of Lakewood, the Pierce County Sheriff Department, Pierce Transit, the Washington State Patrol, the Madigan Army Medical Center and local hospital have all worked hard."

But there have been obstacles.

"The biggest challenge we've faced is the management of security and traffic," continued de Leon.

"We may have 150,000 people per day come on a base designed to keep people out."

To make entering and departing McChord Field easier, there will be carnival rides and food vendors available.

"We've added this feature to the show in order to help ease the outflow of traffic," explained Greenlee.

"While some people may decide to leave right away, others will have the option of enjoying something to eat or a carnival ride before leaving."

Another new feature is where visitors should park.  

"This is important," stressed Johnson, "and all of this information is listed on our website,

Visitors can park at the Lakewood Transit or the Tacoma Dome Transit stations and ride Pierce Transit to the Airshow.

Non-Department of Defense (DoD) ID Cardholders should enter JBLM via I-5 exit 125 and proceed to the McChord Field Gate.

And last, DoD ID cardholders should enter JBLM via I-5 exits 119 through 123 or through the Lewis Main East Gate and park at either the Madigan Army Medical Center or the Logistics Center and then ride the free bus shuttles to the airfield.

"This is our opportunity to give back to the public," concluded Greenlee, "and it lets the public understand what we do."

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