BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. --
NBA Hall of Famer and Louisiana native, Karl Malone, toured Barksdale during a visit to the base Feb. 5-6, 2020.
A two time NBA MVP, 14-time NBA all-star and second ranked all time point scorer, Malone spent time with Airmen, toured facilities and even took a ride in a B-52H Stratofortress.
“To be able to spend time with our men and women in uniform and see how they perform when it’s go time, it’s unreal,” Malone said. “Just to get a chance to say thank you, it’s amazing.”
Growing up in Summerfield, Louisiana, Malone has developed extensive ties with Barksdale throughout the years .
“I used to come out to the base, sit outside the gate, pull over to the side of the road and watch the planes go overhead,” Malone said. “This last year, I even brought my four grandkids to the airshow on base.”
During his visit, Malone spent a lot of his time interacting with Airmen, talking about leadership and even giving a few tips to the base’s intramural basketball team.
“He’s one of the greatest players of all time,'' said Tech. Sgt. Stacey Bell, 2nd Comptroller Squadron financial analysis flight chief. “For him to come out and give us pointers on how to better our game, it’s definitely inspiring.”
Malone also had the opportunity to participate in a B-52 training flight with the 96th Bomb Squadron.
To prepare for the flight, Airmen from the 2nd Operational Support Squadron briefed and qualified Malone to fly, training him on egress and parachute techniques. Malone was also fitted with flight equipment by the 2nd OSS aircrew flight equipment shop.
“I’ve seen them from the ground and have seen them flying over,” Malone said. “But to be inside a B-52 and see it’s capabilities, it’s surreal.”
Throughout the entirety of the visit, Malone continuously expressed his gratitude and thanks to every Airman he encountered.
“People are always coming up to me and saying thank you, but I didn’t do anything,” Malone said. “So to be here and just say thank you, it’s fantastic.”
The readiness and lethality that the 2nd Bomb Wing showcases every day, resonated with the NBA superstar and brought admiration for the Airmen of Barksdale.
“I haven’t wiped the smile off of my face,” Malone said.” After spending these last two days with these Airmen, and I know it’s cliché, but I’m proud to be an American.”