VALDOSTA -- Educational, political and business leaders from across the nation paid a visit to Moody Air Force Base this week to witness airmen and aircraft in action. The Pentagon selected Moody to host the 60 leaders for the Department of Defense's Joint Civilian Orientation Conference.

The conference is a week-long orientation program for top civilian leaders who have limited knowledge about the military or national defense.

Moody was selected to represent the Air Force for the conference in which leaders attend an installation of each branch of service to observe military exercises and training.

"There's only one Air Force base chosen, and the fact that it was Moody really puts a feather in our cap," said Col. Joe Callahan, vice wing commander of the 347th Rescue Wing. "We do incorporate three different major commands on the base itself so we can provide the distinguished civilian visitors a one-stop look at Air Force missions."

After a briefing at the Pentagon, civilians toured Moody to view static displays, witness flight demonstrations and speak with airmen.

Callahan said civilians met with undergraduate pilots of the 479th Flying Training Squadron, airmen who were recently deployed in the theater and airmen of the 820th Security Forces Group.

"That was the most important part of the whole day. It gives them a look at the Air Force to see the technology and machines, but it's really the airmen who make those machines work," Callahan said. "There was one on one conversations between the JCOC participants and the airmen."

Callahan added that the conference gives the military to educate some of the top leaders in the nation.

"These our are nation's future leaders, they're leaders in education and politics and they are the ones who are going to be molding the development of the United States' future," Callahan said. "It's important they have an understanding of military services because they do have a direct impact on us."

Some of this year's participants included Alan Todd, chairman and chief executive officer of KnowledgePlanet; Vance Van Petten, executive director of the Producers Guild of America; John O'Conner, chief executive officer of J.H. Whiteney Investment Management, LLC; Judy Genshaft, president of the University of South Florida; and Arizona Rep. Jennifer Burns.

Participants also included publishers, producers and representatives from seven news organizations that included: ABC's Good Morning America, The Virginian-Pilot, Univision Networks, Miami Herald Publishing, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, The Tampa Tribune and Fox 5 Atlanta.

Prior to Tuesday's base tour, the civilians attended a dinner with local representatives at the Valdosta Country Club.

"It was strongly supported by our own local community," Callahan said. "They took notice of the fact that Moody does indeed have a strong support group over here."

Parker Greene, executive director of the Moody Support Committee, said more than 100 people were present at the dinner on Monday night.

"There were outstanding personalities from coast to coast, they were here from most every state and they really had a great time," Greene said. "They were extremely pleased with everything they'd seen and everything they'd heard."

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