The Air Force bases of Nellis and Creech play a large part in the local economy. Thousands of airmen and their families live and work in the area and spend their paychecks buying food, gasoline and other needed items. Like many civilians, sometimes they find themselves hurting financially. Fortunately there are organizations that have been formed to help those airmen who require assistance, the foremost of which is the Nellis Support Team, or NST.
“We support the mission of the Nellis and Creech Air Force bases,” said David Radcliffe, who leads the NST. “It has its roots some 30 years ago when casino people like Joe Brown, Steve Wynn, Randy Black and other prominent Nevadans got together and formally put the organization together.”
Some of the early issues, which still loom large today, included encroachment in the neighborhoods surrounding Nellis that could force the mission to go elsewhere, and protection of the Nevada Test and Training Range. “That’s the genesis of the team, and eventually we got into financing some of the airmen and some of the base activities,” Radcliffe said.
Members of the team are required to pay annual dues. The amount depends on what level of membership one has signed up for.
“Last year our dues paid for several airmen unfunded priorities. Last year we raised $50,000 for the Nellis auto shop, where some 4,000 individuals have their cars repaired.”
And he added that Frank Maione at Henderson Hyundai, out of his own dime, pays for one of his mechanics to work at the Nellis shop one day a week to repair cars, primarily for enlisted airmen.
Radcliffe said that at one time the NST boasted about 175 members, but the number is much lower today.
“We’re very much trying to build that back up,” he said.
He is a retired police officer and has been a NST member for several years, although he is not a veteran. He said that over time he became close to many retired and active-duty airmen and said he helped produce Air Force balls, air shows, squadron deactivations and similar activities.
“I came to know an awful lot of people,” he explained. “After awhile, I was ‘voluntold’ to became president of NST when the president at the time stepped down.”
A recent NST activity was the adoption of 93 Nellis and Creech families under Operation Warmheart’s Adopt-A-Family program. NST donated $10,000 to purchase Christmas gifts for the families to give to their young children. “The donation had a positive impact on the families, on airmen morale and the overall spreading of the Christmas spirit on the base,” Radcliffe said.
Anyone in good standing can become a member of the NST. The first thing they should do is go to the organization’s website, www.nellissupportteam.com, and complete an application.
“We always vet those applications, and make sure we are presenting the best candidates to the Air Force. We want to get to know them and make sure they are a good fit. It’s our intention to meet the needs of airmen, and I found out that there are many local people who support the needs of airmen, and they don’t have to wait until Christmas. They do it continuously. We only have to present them with the need.”
To help support the need or for more information about the team, Radcliffe can be reached at 702-379-3401.
Chuck N. Baker is an award-winning journalist and a Vietnam War Purple Heart veteran. He can be heard at 8:30 a.m. each Sunday on KKVV-AM hosting “That’s America to Me” and occasionally on KUNV-FM hosting “America’s Veterans, Today and Tomorrow.”