Barksdale Air Force Base employs almost 9,000 people and adds more than $500 million in payroll to the economy.
The base draws talented, dedicated men and women from around the country to live and work on its sprawling 22,000 acres. We asked some of them what makes Barksdale special.
“I love the mission we do here, I love the history and heritage of the base, and I love the people who work here,” said Carla Pampe, who has lived at Barksdale most of her life in a military family, on active duty and now as the civilian Chief of Civic Outreach, Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs.
“I couldn’t ask for a better place to work,” said Pampe. “The sense of community and Air Force family that we share here is the biggest benefit. I love being surrounded by people who understand what it’s like to be in the military and support the military.”
The base was named for Lieutenant Eugene Hoy Barksdale, who died in his 20s during a test flight when his parachute got caught as he dove from the crashing plane. One room in the Global Power Museum has been recreated from the artifacts salvaged by Pampe and the museum’s former curator from Barksdale’s Mississippi home.
More than 6,000 students and their teachers visit Barksdale each year to tour the museum, which is open to the general public. There you can walk among the large collection of historic planes on the museum’s airfield.
Amy Russell, the director of the museum, is a historian who came to Barksdale after Langley Air Force Base.
“I love the history! We are one of the oldest continually active bases with some of the oldest active units in the Air Force. You can’t tell the Air Power Story without us,” said Russell. “I think the comradery we all feel in working toward the same goals is different here than in other workplaces. Our goals help and protect the country in ways you can’t understand unless you are in it. We are working towards something greater than ourselves. That’s pretty exciting!”
Susan Stakes advises around 200 active-duty service members and 500 veterans at Bossier Parish Community College’s Veteran Resource Center. Stakes, whose military family moved 14 times, said the Barksdale-Bossier connection is unusual.
“Barksdale has always had a unique relationship with the community. Not every base has that and I can say that because having traveled all over the globe, I have witnessed how special that relationship really is,” said Stakes. “The community embraces the base and many military family members are involved in key positions within the community so Barksdale always has a voice to help the civilian world understand the military lifestyle. I do not recall ever seeing that anywhere else in my husband’s 28-year career.”
“I would say the difference is the impact of what we do on a national and global scale, our foes are well aware of the destruction we can bring to the fight and our allies respect and depend on us,” said Dave Stuart, a program analyst at Barksdale for almost 20 years.
Stuart said employees and active duty personnel “have a bowling alley and a great fitness center, in addition, there are two chapels for worship. During the year we also celebrate Oktoberfest and the funds raised from this event are given to young Airmen who would not otherwise have the funds to go home for the holidays. We take care of each other.”
Jacob Helton, who manages the Firestone on the base, said his team feels a special obligation to the men and women working and serving on the base.
“Our customers are often using their vehicles to travel long distances to see family on leave, making them even more concerned with reliability, even over cost,” said Helton. “The vast majority of our work is for men and women that serve our country. To us, that is huge. Every time we get to help an airman with their vehicle problems, we get the satisfaction of serving those that serve, and to me, that is the best benefit of all.”
“We get to see the greatest air power the world has ever known, and we get to meet the men and women behind the scenes and be a part of their lives,” said Helton. “The people out here are amazing, and it brings us great joy to work for them every day.”
Global Power Museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. except for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. Take the virtual tour here.
Featured Image: Amy Russell (left), Second Bomb Wing, Director of the Barksdale Global Power Museum; Dave Stuart (middle), Air Force Global Strike Command, Planning and Programming Division; and Carla Pampe (right), Chief, Civic Outreach, Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs