News: Air Force Ball continues heritage
Story by Airman 1st Class Katrina Brisbin
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- More than 500 Team McConnell Members celebrated the service's 64th birthday with an Air Force Ball at the Marriott Hotel in Wichita Oct. 7, 2011. The ball is an annual Air Force-wide tradition that celebrates the heritage and history of the Air Force.
McConnell celebrates semi-annually. The six-hour event, beginning with a social hour and then the formal program. It was a mix tradition and history with dinner and dancing.
The theme for the 2011 ball was, "McConnell Airmen...Refueling the Future." The theme was voted on by the 23 members of the Air Force Ball committee.
"We chose it because we thought it reflected the forward-thinking, proactive mindset we like to see in our airmen," says Lt. Col. Anthony Coleman, head of Air Force Ball committee. "That type of focus is important considering the tough challenges our forces face now and in the near future."
After witty banter and opening remarks from Maj. Darrin Dereus and Staff Sgt. Trevor Winge, members were lead in the traditional toasts to the American flag, the president, the United States Air Force and the guest speaker, Maj. Gen. Darren McDew. The final toast of the evening was to all Prisoner of War and those Missing in Action.
Per military tradition, the most senior ranking individual cuts a decorated cake with the most junior ranking individual in attendance. Maj. Gen. Darren McDew, Air Force District of Washington commander and Airman Cameron Brooks, 22nd Communications Squadron base content manager, cut the cake with a saber presented to them by Senior Airman Martin Newberry, 22nd Force Support Squadron Honor Guard member.
"It was Great getting to participate in a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Airman Brooks, "I'm very Grateful that I was chosen to cut the cake with General McDew and I'll never forget it."
The audience then stood as members from the committee recited the Airman's Creed. The Airman's Creed, introduced in 2007, reflects pride in the role of air, space and cyberspace power and the Air Force's commitment in supporting and defending the nation. The creed is fueled by the Air Force's heritage and the war fighting-focused culture, conviction, character, ethic, mindset, spirit and soul we foster in all airmen.
General McDew began his speech with a rowdy "Happy Birthday airmen!" He went on to congratulate Team McConnell on their Operational Readiness Inspection excellence , saying it was "no small feat."
"McConnell airmen have shown me the past few days that they are in facet ready to refuel the future not just with their airplanes but with their leadership, with their passion and with their enthusiasm."
McConnell is one of only three supertanker KC-135 Stratotanker wings in the Air Force. The wings primary mission is to provide global reach by conducting air refueling and airlift.
"It's not just passing gas from one airplane to another its passing a legacy," said Gen. McDew, "it is passing heritage to one another." Gen. McDew ended his speech by saying a simple but moving "thank you."