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Luke celebrates AF's 60th with ball
From left, Senior Airman Isaiah Hiapo, Airman 1st Class Walter Woods, and Senior Airman Richard Middlebrook prepare for the Pageant of Flags at the Air Force Ball Sept. 15 at the Glendale Civic Center. Airman Hiapo was dressed in a heritage uniform. Uniforms from as far back as the American Revolution were worn by Airmen during the ball. More than 600 people attended the event commemorating the Air Force's 60th birthday. (Photo by Capt. Miki Gilloon)
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Luke celebrates AF 60th with ball

Posted 9/21/2007   Updated 9/21/2007 Email story   Print story

    


by Capt. Miki Gilloon
56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


9/21/2007 - LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -  -- Sixty years ago, the Air Force became an independent service, and more than 670 Luke members and distinguished guests celebrated and paid tribute to the service's airpower legacy during the Luke Air Force Base 60th Anniversary "Heritage to Horizons" Ball at the Glendale Civic Center Sept. 15.

The Air Force Ball committee led by Master Sgt. Jerry Bushee, the Glendale Civic Center staff, Fighter Country Partnership and various community sponsors worked behind the scenes months in advance to pull the final strings together to ensure that night was just perfect, and according to those who attended, the event exceeded their expectations.

"I thought the Ball really reflected on the theme of 'Heritage to Horizons' -- it was awesome," said Senior Airman Ruel Espinosa, 56th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal team member. Since he joined the Air Force, this was the first time he attended an Air Force anniversary event.

U.S. Navy Airman Charlotte Algarin, Naval Operations Support Phoenix, was equally impressed by the event. "This was the first Air Force Ball I attended, and I didn't realize how much history the Air Force and Luke has."

The 56th Fighter Wing Honor Guard opened up the event by performing a Pageant of Flags ceremony that depicted various flags paralleling the history of the U.S. Other events included a POW/MIA ceremony, cake cutting, viewing of a Heritage to
Horizons video, and remarks by guest speaker Maj. Gen. Philip Breedlove, Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, Joint Staff, Washington D.C. During his speech, General Breedlove focused on the Air Force's history, Luke's past and the Air Force's future.

"Billy Mitchell, Frank Maxwell Andrews, Hap Arnold, James Doolittle, George Kenny -- all these people made great strides for our Air Force because they were so brave," General Breedlove said. "Curtis Lemay instilled discipline in our Air Force that still makes us strong today; our discipline in our technical orders, the way we do maintenance, the way we fly airplanes, and the way we grow, train and equip our Airmen makes us the strongest Air Force in the world."

The general also said that what makes the Air Force strong is the NCO corps. "In my job, I deal with many different nations around the world, and many of them have asked how we have succeeded the way we do. I tell them that the difference between our Air Forces is our group of NCOs -- junior and senior -- who bring professionalism to our business." He mentioned great NCOs such as John Levitow and William Pitsenbarger and the professionalism and heritage that embodied their achievements.

Airman 1st Class Kayla Hickmott, 56th Medical Support Squadron, stated that the speech instilled pride. "I think the general's speech was very inspirational," she said.

With an event the size of the Air Force Ball, what happens behind the scenes is important. The hustle and bustle of cooks in the kitchen, the clanging of pots and pans, and kitchen staff directing servers to their queue was evidence that a large event was taking place, but all this was transparent to the guests in attendance.

The scene in the kitchen was busy; 10 cooks were lined up putting the finishing touches on 700 meals and 700 cheesecakes as if they were in a production line, with the head chef orchestrating their movements. "The armed forces is definitely something that everybody is proud of right now and it's a great honor to be cooking for a big event such as this 60th Anniversary Ball," said Eric Nelson, Head Chef of the RK Group, as he meticulously prepared each dish to perfection before being served.

In addition to the cooks, 38 servers kept the production line going by ensuring the meals went out on time, and the eight bartenders kept guests entertained. The 60th Anniversary Ball was an event for Luke personnel to remember.

"It's great that we were able to celebrate the Air Force's 60th Anniversary," said Chief Master Sgt. Anthony Furtado, 56th Maintenance Operations Squadron superintendent. "This ball is even more special due to the number of young Airmen who were able to attend."

General Breedlove, in his closing statements, charged Airmen to keep their morals high while remembering the sacrifices made by the first pioneers of the Air Force. "I look around tonight and am amazed that I will be handing my Air Force to you -- all of you are dedicated and so much more lethal, and you mean so much more to this Nation now than we ever did," he said. "We cannot afford to let down those who have preceded us."



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