Maxwell schools row in Dragon Boat race|
by Rebecca Burylo
Air University Public Affairs
8/30/2013 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. - -- Festivities abounded Saturday on Montgomery's riverfront as Air Command and Staff College, Air War College and Squadron Officer School tested their sea merit against 65 other teams in the fourth annual Dragon Boat Race and Festival.
Bringing home gold and silver in their division respectively, ACSC's "Earth, Wind and Water" team and AWC were pitted in competition with SOS's team, the "Red Pants," in the initial qualifying race.
The Dragon Boat Race was more than a show of strength. It was an opportunity for family fun, volunteer opportunities and community partnerships, making it a favorite among Maxwell students and faculty as they kick-start the academic year.
Classes of AWC have made a point to participate in the community event every year, said team captain Lt. Col. Samuel Chesnut.
"This particular event is a fun way to interact with the community," Chesnut said. "Who doesn't like to go downtown and have a good time in this kind of festival atmosphere? There's a lot of stuff for the kids to do so we can get the families out and support the town."
This year, 35 AWC, 30 ACSC and 24 SOS students and faculty took part in the event.
For each race, 20 members from each team rowed a 44-foot-long boat for 300 meters as one drummer called cadence and one official steersman directed the craft. More than 50 volunteers from the combined teams lent a hand with event activities.
Event director Andrew Szymanski appreciates the help Maxwell lends each year. He said the event has grown to host more than 10,000 spectators.
"Their help is invaluable. The event is much larger than people realize and there are many positions to fill," Szymanski said. "Maxwell has such a major presence in this city. It has been a fun partnership having them out there representing Maxwell on and off the water. It's a great thing to see."
Volunteers from Maxwell helped event organizers register teams, supply information packets and provide refreshments for the all-day event.
Setting a class goal of 5,000 volunteer hours, helping the Dragon Boat Race is a small way for the ACSC team of Air Force and sister services to show Montgomery their appreciation, said Maj. Joseph Watson, captain and student athletic officer.
"I have been in awe of how much the Montgomery community strives to support military members through discounts, specific events and military appreciation activities," Watson said. "Participating in community events shows that we acknowledge their efforts and we honor their support."
Maxwell teams not only gave their time but each team raised at least $2,500 for non-profits Rebuilding Together Central Alabama and Bridge Builders Alabama by participating in the festival.
Team AWC, comprised of several international officers, also showed their support and presence in the community as they worked and raced alongside teams from Montgomery charities, churches, businesses and civic organizations.
"We're just looking to represent Maxwell," Chesnut said. "This might be the biggest stage we have to put the Air Force out there and say that we are supporting the local community and having a good time doing it."
Each team was allowed two hours of practice on the Alabama River before race day. After the festival's qualifying round, five different divisions raced in the semi-finals and the finals until division winners were determined and the overall championship was awarded.
Winning 4th in their division, the SOS team, named "Red Pants" for their traditional trousers, said building trust with Montgomery was its goal, said Capt. Kristopher Trumble, team captain and cyber officer instructor.
"It is easy for military members to interact mostly with other military in even our personal lives," Trumble said. "We must always strive to be leaders within our communities, to help by any means that we are able by being good neighbors."