Meet the 501st's fluffiest pathfinders

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jason W. Cochran
  • 501CSW/PA

The U.S.A.F. is the world's most capable air force, from global strike to renowned air mobility to premiere ISR capabilities and more, it can achieve anything necessary to complete its missions.

One of the most crucial capabilities possessed by the U.S.A.F. is the ability to cooperate with allied militaries, governments and peoples. A particularly unique example of this can be seen at RAF Croughton, a 501st Combat Support Wing installation.

From autumn until spring, beneath the radomes that provide global communication support to the American warfighter, there are roughly 450 sheep owned and cared for by a farmer named Robert Adams.

“I’ve been in the farming industry all my life,” said Adams. “My dad did it and grandfather did it and my great-grandfather did it, even one my sons is following on as well.”

For the last 40 years Adams has used the grassland on base to grow hay in the summer, and raise sheep in the winter.

“Basically we do two things on RAF Croughton,” said Adams. “We are grazing sheep so we’re raising lambs for meat and we keep adult sheep and put some rams with them in the fall so that we can take them away in April time to go to our other farm to have their young. Then next year we bring them back up in autumn.”

This arrangement is highly beneficial for the 501st. The sheep keep the grass at a manageable level which saves money on landscaping costs. It’s also a great deal for Adams and his family.

“One of the reasons we choose to keep our sheep here is it is very well fenced, extremely well protected, I’ve never lost a sheep to rustlers off of Croughton base I can tell you that,” said Adams. “But more seriously, all this land up here is organic. We don’t put any fertilizer, there’s no need for pesticides. If you come up to these fields in the summer, especially June, there are wildflowers everywhere and it’s gorgeous.”

The 501st cherishes the relationships it has built with allied nations and their people.

“As I said, I've been up here for 40 years and haven’t had any major issues that I can remember, though I did once light a bonfire up here which I shouldn’t have done, got into a bit of trouble for that,” Adams joked. “Other than that I’ve had no real trouble and we get on very well. I’m very grateful to the American Air Force for letting me do this.”