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Ammo Troops fire-up Saint Barbara’s Day Cactus Bash

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Dominic Tyler
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
According to legend, Saint Barbara is the patron saint of artillerymen; protecting her disciples from the perils of lightning and all accidental explosions that can arise while working with munitions and gunpowder.

This year, the 56th Equipment Maintenance Squadron munitions flight commemorated Saint Barbara’s Day during their second annual Cactus Bash at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, Dec. 4, 2022.

“Ammo has a rich and diverse history,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Patricia Mateer, 56th EMS munitions flight plans and training manager. “Heritage events like this allow us to pick the brains of people who had boots on the ground ‘back in the day’ and give the younger generation a chance to share their vision for the future.”

The Cactus Bash was coordinated with nearby bases including Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, and Nellis AFB, Nevada, as well as retired munitions systems specialists and local retired chief’s groups.

“Ammo Troops of the past, present and future gather at Cactus Bash to exchange ideas and learn from one another,” said retired U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. James Caufield. “We’re building the future of Ammo, and we’re giving appreciation to those who paved the way for us. We all stand on the shoulders of our predecessors.”

The family-friendly event featured a cook-out along with various outdoor games like “bomb” toss, cornhole, and axe throwing with various prizes for participants. Coincidentally, this day is observed between two major holidays when some ‘Ammo Troops’ might be away from their families.

“The Cactus Bash provides Airmen with the care and support of their ‘fAMMOly’,” said Mateer. “Ammo has a very strong family mentality and Ammo Troops take care of each other’s families in times of need.”

This new 56th EMS munition squadron tradition, rallies Airmen to build timeless comradery, exchange valuable stories and appreciate their proud Ammo heritage.

“Air superiority is born of fire power,” said Mateer. “That fire power is built by Ammo Troops. It’s a team effort to make sure every fighter pilot and combat-ready Airman completes the mission and returns home safe.”