GREAT FALLS — As a C-130 took off from the Montana Air National Guard in Great Falls, about two dozen representatives from businesses around Montana were on board.
"My husband's cousin is in the Guard up here and he asked if we wanted to come do this because it was for supporting them,” said Mariel Stone.
Stone, representing Stone's Blackrock Cattle, was one of them. "I wish there was time to just follow them around for a day,” Stone said.
The flight lasted about an hour and included a pass over the Chinese Wall along the Rocky Mountain Front, getting to watch the cargo ramp lowered mid-air, and spending a few minutes in the cockpit.
The event was organized by the Employer Support of the Guard & Reserve (ESGR) organization. The purpose of the flight is to show appreciation to employers who have Guard members working for them.
"We have good people up here,” said Montana Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Buel Dickson. "We like their employers downtown to see the same as what we do up here. That gives a better understanding, if we need to deploy our Airmen somewhere, that the employer understands what we're doing and we're not just taking them away for no reason from their job."
"As an employer, to employ somebody from the Guard you have to be able to work around their schedule and to see how many people do that,” said Stone, "to see that sacrifices that they do make to be able to let the Guardsmen come up here and do their thing or go out on a mission or get deployed, it's pretty neat to see that."
For Guard member Captain Tammy Wager, the flight was extra special. One of her bosses, who came all the way from Minneapolis, was on board.
"It's an amazing opportunity. I have the chance to do it three other times. They're all Sky West employees, my bosses,” Wager said. "Not all bosses really know what a Guardsmen does, or even if there's a Guard other than active duty bases that are out there. Giving them the opportunity to come fly with us and see what we do on a day-to-day basis strengthens our relationship."
Along with building relationships, the Boss Lift is also a recruiting tool for the Guard.
"It's a great recruiting tool because we really want to get our word out there that we are always looking for men and women to join our unit and we would love for these civilian employers to tell their employees that we exist and that we have a lot of benefits that can really help them,” said Technical Sergeant Suzanna Gange, Montana Air National Guard recruiter.
The flight would certainly be a good conversation starter.
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