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Fly, Fight, Win: On ice

By Senior Airman Stuart Bright 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

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He can see his own breath as condensation thickens on his visor. He leans forward, ready to pounce. Tension mounts as everyone watches him to see what will happen next. He waits.

Suddenly, a whistle blows, the puck drops and the two centers clash sticks fighting for control at the start of the game.

Airmen of different ranks and career fields across Barksdale Air Force Base skate across the ice to get puck into a goal at the Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport, La.

“You get together with a bunch of folks trying to accomplish one goal of winning hockey games and eventually winning a championship,” said Chief Master Sgt. Michael Lemond, 2nd Mission Support Group superintendent and Bombers defensemen. “The team sport and comradery is just fun.”

During the duty day, the Bombers wear their Airman Battle Uniforms as an Air Force family. On the ice, they don blue or white jerseys together as hockey enthusiasts and teammates.

“We are a pretty tight knit group, so we are not calling each other by our ranks on the ice, we call each other by our names or our call signs,” Master Sgt. Richard Capuano, Air Force Global Strike Command munitions manager and Bombers center.

On the ice, the Airmen have a new mission and a new uniform, but how they achieve victory remains the same, they teach each other so everyone gets better.

“A brand new Airman to the Air Force isn’t going to have the same skills as the most experienced guy,” said Lemond. “So they help the new Airman and bring him or her up and raise them in the Air Force. Same thing on a hockey team. If you have someone who’s skill isn’t so good , the more experienced guys give them tips, while showing them different tactics  and techniques to get better.”

Communication is key to the Air Force accomplishing successful missions as well as winning a hockey game. The Bombers know miscommunication can be the difference between a scoring and being scored on.

“Being able to sit back to watch what’s going on makes it easier to bring up to everyone what we are doing wrong, or what we are doing right,” said Senior Airman Bryan Pyszk, 2nd Operation Support Squadron aircrew flight equipment journeymen and Bombers goaltender. “You can’t bring up only the negatives, you’ve got to tell everyone what they are doing right. It brings up your team or your coworkers morale.”

The goal of every game is to beat your opponent, but the Bombers all have a good time just playing the game they love.

“The thing I bring back from hockey to the Air Force is having fun,” Lemond said. “When you’re done having fun, stop what you’re doing and do something that satisfies you. Hockey is fun for us. We go, have a good time, then we carry on after the game.”

So while deterring our nation’s enemies and scoring a goal are two different objectives, Barksdale Bomber Airmen take their teamwork to the ice to win the day.