News: Total Force celebrates Air Force history
Story by Airman 1st Class Katrina Brisbin
MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- More than 400 McConnell members and distinguished guests celebrated the U.S. Air Force becoming an independent service during the 65th Air Force Gala held at the Robert J. Dole Community Center Ballroom on Sept. 14, 2012.
The night's theme, "Celebrating Our Air Force History," provided airmen and guests a historic opportunity to gather outside of work and learn the roles of the wing's airmen throughout the past 65 years.
"Even though our force is young, we have history and we have a heritage worth celebrating," said Maj. Craig Lauderdale, 22nd Air Refueling Wing Commander's Action Group chief and gala committee chairman. "From the Air Force's inception in 1947, to the Berlin Airlift, to the precision platforms of today, our heritage has been innovation and excellence."
This year's celebration was different than those in the past because airmen E-4 and below were invited to attend free of charge.
The format was a social hour with hors d'oeuvres followed by formal program and a surprise DJ and party portion. Historical artifacts such as uniforms and aircraft parts were placed around the room to incorporate the heritage theme.
Several historical artifacts from the Kansas Aviation Museum and Airman Leadership School such as uniforms, propellers, throttles and the registration of the Spirit of St. Louis were displayed around the room to tie-in the night's theme.
"We really felt it was important to share a traditional Air Force gathering with the younger generation," said Lauderdale.
In the spirit of total force integration, Col. Ricky Rupp, 22nd ARW commander, Col. John Hernandez, 184th Intelligence Wing commander, and Col. Donald Robison, 931st Air Refueling Group maintenance deputy commander, ceremoniously cut the birthday cake with sabers.
"Everyone was able to celebrate and relax at the same time," said Tech. Sgt. Terrance Williams, 22nd Security Forces Squadron gate section NCO-in charge. "The bonding between ranks was fantastic. People were able to loosen up and have a good time alongside base leadership."
For some, the evening was also a chance to relive Air Force history.
"Our Air Force history and heritage is not a bunch of words placed on pages of history books and doctrine pamphlets," said Senior Master Sgt. Donald Breitkreutz Jr., 344th Air Refueling Squadron superintendent. "Our heritage is what our folks who served, are serving and will serve, etch in stone on a daily basis."