Boy Scouts Restore “Hustler” at Barksdale Air Force Base

This story was written by Mrs. Betty Stephens of the 917th Wing Public Affairs office. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mrs. Betty Stephens)

During Unit Training Assembly for the 917th Wing, Jan. 10, Airmen were rushing from place to place to engage in their required training, but this weekend they were joined by a group of Boy Scouts of America, ages 11 through 18. The Scouts, who were here to work on a community service project, were briefed by pilots, life support personnel, recruiters and engine craftsmen alike.

It started around 10 p.m. Friday evening when 11 scouts arrived with four leaders. Joe Bodden, Boy Scout leader for Troop 531 in Angleton, Texas, had made arrangements, and they spent the night at the base gymnasium. They started their morning early with breakfast at the Red River Dining Facility.

“The scouts had to give way to the uniformed Airmen at the dining facility who had to get in and get out in a hurry, which was an experience for the Boy Scouts,” said Mr. Bodden.

It was cool and cloudy when they reached the 917th Wing. The first stop was with an A-10 pilot in the hangar, who told them all about the aircraft as they looked at it up close. Then off to see a B-52 pilot who showed them the aircraft and told them all about it.

Following the static, they rushed to the life support shop where technicians let them handle much of the equipment and explained how a pilot can survive in emergency situations.

A Reserve recruiter then spent a brief time with the Scouts, reminding them that their character makes a big difference as to where they can go and what they can do as they prepare for future careers. Master Sgt. Jeffrey Barnhill, a Reserve Recruiter said, “Boy Scouts is a great program that helps to build character, and it helps you to develop physically, mentally and emotionally. No drugs and high grades in school are important.”

A couple of the Scouts have already made up their minds; it is the Air Force for them.

Just before lunch, Tech. Sgt. Kerry Rains, 917th Maintenance Squadron engine shop, showed them how a TF-34 engine is restored from start to finish. “This is the best briefing I ever got on the repair of an aircraft engine. I wish I could have gotten this briefing when I was young,” said George Cassidy, Boy Scout leader.

After their lunch at the dining facility, the Scouts were ready for the real reason they came to Barksdale — to do community service. Their project was at the 8th Air Force Museum, which entailed starting the preparation of restoring the B-58 “Hustler” “Texas Hustler” Rocket Sled, an aircraft formerly used to test ejection seats. This aircraft is on loan from the U.S. Air Force Museum System.

The Scouts were working on tightening up the poles that support the ropes around the “Hustler” and removing the old paint from the aircraft itself. The “Hustler” has heavy coats of red, white and blue paint, and the Scouts made a good start on removing it, some down to the bare metal.

The partnership between the museum and the Scouts is beneficial for both. Airman 1st Class Christopher Sucro of the 8th Air Force Museum said, “The museum is glad to have the Boy Scouts come and work on the project.” And the Scouts, working on what turned out to be a beautiful, sunny afternoon, said they were glad they could help do the job.

Since it is a time-consuming effort, this troop will only begin the work, and next Scouts will come in February to give of their time to help on the project and visit the base.

This story was written by Mrs. Betty Stephens of the 917th Wing Public Affairs office. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mrs. Betty Stephens)

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