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Tour bolsters community relations

Jay Prichard, 30th Space Wing museum curator, briefs tour participants, Sept. 11, 2014, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The tour for members of the community began with a lunch catered by the Pacific Coast Club, followed by a walkthrough of the museum and concluded with a trip to Vandenberg’s largest Space Launch Complex, SLC-6. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shane Phipps/Released)

Jay Prichard, 30th Space Wing museum curator, briefs tour participants, Sept. 11, 2014, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The tour for members of the community began with a lunch catered by the Pacific Coast Club, followed by a walkthrough of the museum and concluded with a trip to Vandenberg’s largest Space Launch Complex, SLC-6. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Shane Phipps/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- With taxpayer money enabling all government operations, an honest and transparent relationship with the local community is an Air Force priority.

One example of how this relationship remains strong is through tours of the installation, like the one recently conducted here on Sept. 11.

"We are fortunate to have great relationships with the local communities," said Larry Hill, 30th SW PA chief of community relations. "However, failure to maintain and care for those relationships would have a negative impact on our ability to operate. Our community relations program must rely on local stakeholders to share our message of launch safety, fiscal responsibility and environmental stewardship with the greater community."

The tour began with a lunch catered by the Pacific Coast Club, followed by a walkthrough of the Vandenberg Space and Missile Heritage Museum and concluded with a trip to Vandenberg's largest Space Launch Complex, SLC-6.

"The tour was very interesting," said Dean Westcott, tour participant. "I've been on many tours and this one did not disappoint. I especially enjoyed the museum because you could get close up and see everything and the curator, Jay Prichard, was knowledgeable and personable. I've learned a lot and I think it was very well planned."

Some participants with a particular affinity for Vandenberg's primary mission of achieving successful, polar-orbital launches, were able to see a longtime wish come to fruition.

"I always follow all the launches from Vandenberg," said Andrew Pence, tour participant. "So it was really fascinating to be able to actually see the inner-workings of the base. I thought lunch was fantastic and I also feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to see the launch complex."

For representatives from the tour company, Good Times Travel, orchestrating the trip was not only deemed a success, but they were able to learn some things along the way as well.

"We really wanted to let them see the Air Force base and some of the launch complexes," said Patricia Gaston, event coordinator. "I think we have certainly accomplished our mission because everyone has seemed to enjoy their time here. Not only have we learned about the base but also this is truly old California, you just don't see open spaces like this very often."

After the trip concluded, members of the tour group remained grateful for a unique experience that will not soon be forgotten.

"I thought the guidance provided was outstanding," said Ken Pence, tour participant. We got to see a lot of places. It has made me feel very proud of all military personnel and I really want them to know I appreciate what they do for our country."