Don King, Felix Trinidad and Roy Jones Jr. Visit U.S. Air Force Base

NEAR PENSACOLA, Fla.—Boxing promoter Don King brought five-time world champion Felix “Tito” Trinidad and eight-time champion Roy Jones Jr. to Eglin Air Force Base and nearby Hurlburt Field as part of his “We Care” military morale-boosting tour on Dec. 4 and 5. Both bases are a short drive from Jones’s hometown of Pensacola..

“If you want to thank someone other than God for being free and doing what you want to do, then you have to thank the military,” Jones told hundreds of troops assembled in a hangar at Eglin. “Without you guys being out there doing what you do, we wouldn’t have the freedom, the respect or the ability to give you all the beautiful fight we are about to put on in Madison Square Garden on January 19.

Trinidad echoed Jones’s comments.

“I am so happy to be here in this visit to the military bases of America,” Trinidad said. “For me, it’s a great experience and I’m happy to do it.”

King paid tribute to the soldiers as well.

“You are the greatest fighting men and women in the world and freedom isn’t free,” King said. “You’re willing to put your life on the line and put yourself in harm’s way to protect the cherished democracies, liberties and freedom we enjoy. God bless you!”

Chief Master Sgt. James Wilkerson was impressed by the visit.

“I love my airmen and their morale, welfare and recognition has to always be at the forefront if you want to complete and win the mission,” Wilkerson said. “The up-close and personal interaction with Don and the world champion boxers was incredible. From one-on-one time to autographs to team photos, the atmosphere was first class.”

King, Jones and Trinidad obliged the service men and women at both bases by signing thousands of autographs at both bases. In return, military personnel gave them hands-on looks at their armaments including weapons, tools and aircraft. A highlight at Hurlburt Field was a rare tour of the $190-million C-130U “Spooky” gunship that can destroy targets from thousands of feet with pin-point accuracy via its 105mm computer-guided cannon.

Most soldiers based at Eglin and Hurlburt Field are on constant rotation to places outside the United States including Iraq and Afghanistan. Both bases have been in existence since before World War II.

Eglin is the largest Air Force base in the world at 724 square miles (the state of Deleware can fit inside it) and a whopping 97,963 square miles of water ranges in the Gulf of Mexico. Eglin is home to the 96th Air Base Wing and 45 associate units including the 33rd Fighter Wing whose mission is to “maintain the world’s best rapidly deployable air control and air superiority.”

One of Eglin’s main missions is weapons testing including ground-to-air and air-to-ground missles.

Hurlburt is home of the Air Force Special Operations Command headquarters and the 1st Special Operations Wing. Sensitive missions are routinely flown from this field. Special Operations School is also housed here.

Legendary aviation pioneer Jimmy Doolittle and his Raiders trained at Hurlburt.

While both are Air Force Bases, the Army, Navy and Marines train here as well.

Article posted on 12.12.2007

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