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Sidewinders visit D-M Airmen

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz. -- As part of the their Winter Caravan 2007 Tour, the unofficial Triple-A National Champion Tucson Sidewinders baseball club visited the base Feb. 7 to show their support for D-M
Airmen and to thank them for their service. 

Sidewinders General Manager Rick Parr said it was an eye-opening experience for the team. 

"Most of the time, the world revolves around the players. When they come out here, they realize how large the world really is," Mr. Parr said. "Here, you train for life and death missions. The technology is amazing and it is a whole different level of seriousness. It is good for the players to experience this. It is good for them to meet other experts. Our players may be experts in the field of baseball, but these guys are experts in their field in
the U.S. Air Force." 

Jay Zucker, Sidewinders owner and honorary 563rd Maintenance Squadron commander, said he was proud to bring his team out to help support the base. 

Col. Scott Hines, 355th Wing inspector general, greeted Mr. and Mrs. Zucker and the Sidewinders baseball club. "Jay Zucker makes all of us so welcome out there," Colonel Hines said. "We want to do the same for them here." 

The 358th Fighter Squadron and358th Maintenance Squadron hosted the Sidewinders for a static display of an A-10 aircraft and the 30mm gun. Capt. Rodger Nelson,
358th Fighter Squadron pilot, showed various Sidewinder players and managers
the A-10 cockpit and explained the capabilities of the 30mm gun. 

Third baseman Brian Barden said, "It is amazing to me how little room there is in an A-10 cockpit. I couldn't imagine being in there for that many hours during a mission." 

Pitcher Jeff Bajenaru said, "We are very glad that they let us come on base. It is a real perk for us. To get the see the A-10 up close makes us appreciate everything they do for us even more." 

Bill Plummer, newly appointed Sidewinders manager and Tucson native, said, "It is also amazing what these pilots and aircraft can do. It is always fun to show our support and is the least we can do. They come out and support us on the field." 

Pitcher Mike Schultz agreed, and he said visiting the base was only one small way to show support  "for people who are defending our freedom and way of life so we don't have to worry about anything but our families. They are willing to sacrifice everything and
that should not be taken for granted or overlooked." 

After completing the autograph session, the team boarded a bus to meet children waiting at the Haeffner Fitness Center here. The Sidewinders were greeted with loud
cheers and applause as they entered the building. 

Dressed in a miniature Tucson Sidewinders uniform, Matthew Hahn, four-year-old son of Staff Sgt. Christine Hahn of the 355th Medical Squadron, was speechless at getting
to meet some of the players. But his mouth, wide open in surprise, showed how thrilled he was to receive a set of baseball cards from the Sidewinders. Then, to his delight, the players autographed the cards and a baseball Matthew brought. 

Landon Vincent, Sidewinders director of media relations, said, "(This) is one of our favorite stops every year. These are the best behaved kids I've ever met in my life. Every one of them in the entire autograph line said, 'thank you.'"