Air Force civic leaders visit USAFE

Vickie McCall, left, and Dr. Joe Leverett board a C-17 Globemaster III at Joint Base Andrews, Md., April 17, 2016, to start their weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Vickie McCall, left, and Dr. Joe Leverett board a C-17 Globemaster III at Joint Base Andrews, Md., April 17, 2016, to start their weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, front left, and a group of Air Force civic leaders listen to briefing in a hangar on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, front left, and a group of Air Force civic leaders listen to briefing in a hangar on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Jens Fleer, a falconer, shows his gyrfalcon used for flightline bird abatement on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to a group of Air Force civic leaders April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Jens Fleer, a falconer, shows his gyrfalcon used for flightline bird abatement on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to a group of Air Force civic leaders April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Airmen with the 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work on an engine at U.S. Air Forces in Europe's only F110 engine overhaul facility at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Airmen with the 52nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron work on an engine at U.S. Air Forces in Europe's only F110 engine overhaul facility at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A smoke grenade marks the landing zone on the flightline of Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, to start a combat search and rescue demonstration conducted for a group of Air Force civic leaders April 21, 2016. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A smoke grenade marks the landing zone on the flightline of Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, to start a combat search and rescue demonstration conducted for a group of Air Force civic leaders April 21, 2016. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A pararescueman with the 57th Rescue Squadron parachutes onto the flightline at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, during a combat search and rescue demonstration conducted April 21, 2016, for a group of Air Force civic leaders, who are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A pararescueman with the 57th Rescue Squadron parachutes onto the flightline at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, during a combat search and rescue demonstration conducted April 21, 2016, for a group of Air Force civic leaders, who are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Pararescuemen with the 57th Rescue Squadron cut through a car with power tools to rescue a simulated trapped Airman at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, as they conduct a combat search and rescue demonstration April 21, 2016, for a group of Air Force civic leaders, who serve as unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Pararescuemen with the 57th Rescue Squadron cut through a car with power tools to rescue a simulated trapped Airman at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, as they conduct a combat search and rescue demonstration April 21, 2016, for a group of Air Force civic leaders, who serve as unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A pararescueman with the 57th Rescue Squadron is hoisted onto an HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 56th Rescue Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, during a combat search and rescue demonstration April 21, 2016, for a group of Air Force civic leaders, who serve as unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A pararescueman with the 57th Rescue Squadron is hoisted onto an HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 56th Rescue Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, during a combat search and rescue demonstration April 21, 2016, for a group of Air Force civic leaders, who serve as unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A group of Air Force civic leaders visit the prop shop at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A group of Air Force civic leaders visit the prop shop at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A group of pararescuemen with the 57th Rescue Squadron hoist a simulated injured Airman onto an HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 56th Rescue Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, as they conduct a combat search and rescue demonstration April 21, 2016, for a group of Air Force civic leaders, who serve as unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)
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A group of pararescuemen with the 57th Rescue Squadron hoist a simulated injured Airman onto an HH-60 Pave Hawk from the 56th Rescue Squadron at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, as they conduct a combat search and rescue demonstration April 21, 2016, for a group of Air Force civic leaders, who serve as unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A group of Air Force civic leaders watch a virtual control tower trainer demonstration at Royal Air Force Mildenhall England, April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force, April 19, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)
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A group of Air Force civic leaders watch a virtual control tower trainer demonstration at Royal Air Force Mildenhall England, April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force, April 19, 2016. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Master Sgt. Benjamin Joiner, a CV-22 Osprey flight engineer with the 352nd Special Operations Wing on Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, signals to passengers during an orientation flight April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)
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Master Sgt. Benjamin Joiner, a CV-22 Osprey flight engineer with the 352nd Special Operations Wing on Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, signals to passengers during an orientation flight April 19, 2016, during a weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein shakes hands with Airmen at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, April 19, 2016, after an orientation flight on a CV-22 Osprey during weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)
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Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein shakes hands with Airmen at Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, April 19, 2016, after an orientation flight on a CV-22 Osprey during weeklong civic leader trip to several bases in Europe. Air Force civic leaders are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., flies over the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France, April 20, 2016, during a ceremony honoring the 268 Americans who joined the French air force before the U.S. officially entered World War I. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)
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A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress flies over the Lafayette Escadrille Memorial in Marnes-la-Coquette, France, April 20, 2016, during a ceremony honoring the 268 Americans who joined the French air force before the U.S. officially engaged in World War I. In addition to the B-52, four U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptors, four French air force Mirage 2000Ns and a WW I-era Steerman PT-17 biplane performed flyovers during the ceremony commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Layfette Escadrille's formation. Men of the Lafayette Escadrille and Lafayette Flying Crops were critical to the formation of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Joshua DeMotts)

WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- “Pull the pin and throw it!”

Time seemed to stand still as the sudden rush of pressurized smoke escaped the canister.

Ting … pffft … pfffffff…

Those words and the proceeding actions are what injected an exhausted and jet-lagged group of 21 Air Force civic leaders with a dose of adrenaline.

Mission creep had set in on the group as they were five days into a weeklong, eventful, information gathering mission, but the red smoke now billowing out of the smoke grenade on the flightline of Royal Air Force Base Lakenheath, England, was a wake-up call. It was also the signal marking the landing zone for Air Force pararescuemen responding to an exercise where a convoy had come under simulated attack and required the rescue of an injured Airman.

The civic leaders were nearly asleep in their bus when they approached the overturned Security Forces vehicle that appeared to have taken a blast from an improvised explosive device.

The group watched as Airmen with the 48th Security Forces Squadron provided security for pararescuemen assigned to the 57th Rescue Squadron, as they jumped into the landing zone. Highly skilled in personnel recovery, the pararescuemen bounded to the scene and seamlessly transitioned from M-4 carbines to power tools, rescued the trapped Airman and were then hoisted onto a HH-60 Pave Hawk operated by the 56th Rescue Squadron.

The scenario described above was not a real-life event, but training that showcased the combat search and rescue capabilities of Airmen stationed at RAF Lakenheath. Air Force civic leaders, weren’t really on a tactical mission; however, the importance of their visit to several bases in Europe is real.

The Air Force Civic Leader Program is an Air Staff-level program whose membership is comprised of community leaders selected by the Air Force major commands, National Guard Bureau and Headquarters Air Force.

The group consisted of leaders from a wide variety of industries and sectors including banking and economic development, construction, manufacturing, education, healthcare, science and technology.

Members are unpaid advisers, key communicators and advocates for Air Force issues. They provide ideas and feedback to the secretary of the Air Force, Air Force chief of staff, and Air Force senior leaders about public attitudes toward the Air Force.

As liaisons, they serve as an interface between the Air Force and their communities. They explain and interpret Air Force programs, positions and issues to other key local communicators through personal contact and correspondence, and to the general public through various outreach efforts that include speeches, articles, social media, as well as local, regional, state, and national activities.

Air Force civic leaders typically serve for four years in a “current” status, thereafter serve as a civic leader emeritus. The members meet up to three times a year, once in Washington D.C. and one or two times at an Air Force installation.

According to Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, who escorted the group on the trip, exposing civic leaders to Airmen and families who live and work with allies and partners every day in their countries is essential. Civic leader events afford a level of communication that significantly contributes to the public’s understanding of our current state of readiness, as well as operational challenges and issues.

“Bringing civic leaders to Europe to witness firsthand the importance of our mission there is vital,” Goldfein said. “Most importantly, they met Airmen and family members who have been sent forward to build vital relationships with our allies and demonstrate our resolve and commitment to European safety and security.”

On this trip, the civic leaders got an inside look at Ramstein and Spangdahlem Air Bases in Germany, RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall in England, as well as a stop in Paris to attend the 100th anniversary ceremony to celebrate the Lafayette Escadrille.

The National Military Strategy states that the U.S. military’s purpose is to protect the U.S. and its interests, and central to these efforts is strengthening America’s global network of allies and partners. This trip provided the group the opportunity to witness firsthand the efforts the Air Force is making to enhance partner capacity and maintain constant readiness to deter mutual threats.

Members of the group said that because of the trip, they now have a higher degree of understanding of the Air Force’s abilities to protect and defend America’s interests.

“Each of our Airmen in USAFE is building and nurturing relationships every day as they work side by side with our allies and local communities,” said Michael Gin, an Air Force civic leader. “This experience has taught me that each of our Airmen not only is responsible for their daily work duties in the Air Force, they are also unofficial ambassadors for our nation and each one of us who has the privilege of being an American.”