Aiming High

MOUNT KILIMANJARO, Tanzania -- USAF 7 Summit members pictured with their guides atop Mount Kilimanjaro after their four day climb to the top of Africa’s highest point. (Courtesy photo)

MOUNT KILIMANJARO, Tanzania -- USAF 7 Summit members pictured with their guides atop Mount Kilimanjaro after their four day climb to the top of Africa’s highest point. (Courtesy photo)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- "Aim high" was the Air Force official slogan for more than 16 years. But for a group of local Air Force members, it's more than a thing of the past; it's their mission statement.
The USAF 7 Summit is a group of 12 officers dedicated to the challenge of reaching the highest points on all seven continents. The group recently took their first steps toward that lofty goal by successfully climbing Africa's tallest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro.

"It was an once-in-a-lifetime experience" said Capt. Brooke Rinehart, aide de camp to the 3rd Air Force commander. "It took us four days to climb to the peak and two days to descend. With the glaciers on one side and the plains of the Serengeti on the other, the 360-degree summit view of Mount Kilimanjaro was a spiritual experience. "

In addition to the massive dose of self-gratification associated with climbing the 19,336-foot Tanzanian peak, the group's efforts March 10 significantly helped another group of people. 

"Our efforts raised money for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation," Captain Rinehart said.

The foundation provides full scholarship grants, and educational and family counseling to surviving children of special operations members lost in operational or training missions.

The group's climb raised more than $6,200 for the foundation. 

The group's next target is Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America. They hope to accomplish that feat in late June. 

They are also planning to participate in the Marine Corps Marathon in October as well as the Annapurna Circuit, a 300-kilometer hike around the Annapurna mountain range in the Himalayas in 2011.

Members of the USAF 7 Summit include Maj. Jason Kuhns, 86th Airlift Wing, Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Capt. Brooke Rinehart, 3rd Air Force, Ramstein; Capt. Siobhan Celusta, 86th AW, ; Capt. Aaron Celusta, 52nd Fighter Wing, Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany; Capt. Trevor Gunderson, 86th AW; Capt. Sean McKee, 86th AW Capt. John Foy, 86th AW; Capt. Jennifer Wolf, 86th AW; Capt. Jason Pruitt, 52nd FW; Capt. Jen Kissel, 86th AW; Capt. Lisa Ballas, 86th AW, and 1st Lt. Wes Manus, 3rd Air Force.