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News > AFDW celebrates Air Force's 63rd birthday
Story at a Glance
 A sold-out crowd attended the 2010 Air Force District Washington Ball, held at the Bolling Club on Bolling Air Force Base, Washignton, D.C., Sept. 18,
 Guest speaker was Col. (ret.) Charles McGee, a 30-year military veteran who flew more than 100 combat missions
 Colonel McGee was a member of the original Tuskegee Airmen.
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Air Force Birthday Ball
Air Force District Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Darrell Jones, right, the most senior in rank at AFDW's Air Force Birthday Ball, and 11th Logistics Readiness Squadron Airman Peter Boosalis, originally of Bloomington Minn., the most junior in rank, share a ceremonial sword and cut the anniversary birthday cake at the 2010 Air Force Ball, held on Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., Sept. 18, 2010. (U.S. Navy photo by Joseph P Cirone/Released)
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AFDW celebrates Air Force's 63rd birthday

Posted 9/24/2010   Updated 9/24/2010 Email story   Print story


by Joe Cirone
JBAB Public Affairs

9/24/2010 - AIR FORCE DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON -- A sold-out crowd attended the 2010 Air Force District Washington Ball, held at the Bolling Club on Bolling Air Force Base, Washignton, D.C., Sept. 18, in celebration of the 63rd birthday of the Air Force.

Following the presentation of colors by the Joint Base Andrews-Naval Air Facility Washington Honor Guard and the playing of "The National Anthem," by an ensemble from The United States Air Force Band, Masters of Ceremonies 1st Lt. Lange Born and Airman 1st Class Diann Neal took turns injecting humor and fun into the evening's social event.

Members of the Air Force, Army and Marine Corps were noticeably present in their formal dress uniforms.

Army Maj. John Stoneburg, said, "The emcees made the ball more fun and interesting. Lots of fun, lots of fun," he emphasized.

Master Sgt. Rena Banes of AFDW and a 15 year veteran of the Air Force originally from Sulphur, Okla., said, "I came to celebrate the Air Force birthday." Sergeant Banes attended the ball with her husband, Tech. Sgt. Rodney Banes. The two met while stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.

Sergeant Banes said she wanted to celebrate the birth of the Air Force and that she was proud to be a member. "I love every minute in the Air Force."

"I love coming to work every day knowing that I am helping to defend the country and support those who are defending the country," she continued. "Just yesterday I met a young girl at my dog's vet who said she was thinking about joining the Air Force. For about 15 minutes, I told her why she should."

Staff Sgt. Amber Lewis, a seven-year member of the 11th Logistics Readiness Squadron and a resident of Waldorf, Md., said, "It is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Bolling is going away, so I wanted to do this [attend] for history purposes. This is my last opportunity to do something strictly Bolling Air Force Base."

It all started across the river

Air Force District Washington Commander Maj. Gen. Darrell Jones noted the birth of the Air Force began across the Potomac River from Bolling Air Force Base. "President Harry S. Truman sat on the runway in an Army Air Corps plane, known as the 'Sacred Cow,' and signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 1947," he said. When the plane was airborne, "that was the first flight of the United States Air Force," the general said.

General Jones introduced retired Col. Charles E. McGee, a 30-year military veteran who flew more than 100 combat missions in three wars and was a member of the famed "Tuskegee Airmen."

Colonel McGee told the crowd that Airmen have been standing in harm's way and have been a part of history all over the world. "It's a history filled with accomplishments based on the use of military airpower," he said. "That military power is used in preserving our liberties and sustaining our freedoms."

The colonel spoke about his service to the country and the challenges that he and his fellow Tuskegee Airmen encountered, but persevered. He gave tribute to the Airmen who served during times of armed conflict and war in the past, and he recognized the contributions of today's Airmen and their place in history.

Concluding his remarks, Colonel McGee reflecting on the obstacles and challenges in his life and those of his fellow Airmen, paraphrased noted educator, Booker T. Washington, "Measure your success not so much by the position you have achieved; but by the obstacles you have overcome trying," he said. A standing ovation followed Colonel McGee's remarks.

Toasts honoring the President, Secretary of the Air Force and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force were followed by a remembrance of POW/MIA personnel; the recital of the Airmen's Creed by select members of the audience, and musical entertainment by The USAF Band.

General Jones, the most senior in rank and 11th LRS Airman Peter Boosalis, originally of Bloomington Minn., the most junior in rank, shared a ceremonial sword to cut the anniversary birthday cake.

A role model

A number of handcrafted mahogany models of the P-51 Mustang plane, the same plane flown by Colonel McGee and the Tuskegee Airmen, were signed by the colonel and given away as prizes.

Chief Master Sgt. Patti Hickman, a veteran of three decades with the Air Force and a resident of District Heights, Md., was the most senior Airman at the bal and won a P-51 model. She immediately and graciously presented the historic model to it Airman Boosalis, the most junior Airman present.

"I think that's what a chief is supposed to do," she said. "We are here to mentor our Airmen and teach them our heritage. It's the right thing to do."

"I'm elated, stunned and appreciative," Airman Boosalis said. Replying to him, Chief Hickman said, "You'll do the same later. You'll pass it down." Airman Boosalis said he would remember the moment for a long time and have fond memories of it and the Air Force each time he looks at the model.

The Air Force Band presented a glimpse of Air Force history through song and music, with members of "The Singing Sergeants" in era-appropriate costumes.

The lead singers of The USAF Band ensemble "Max Impact" ended the show and brought the crowd to its feet for the singing of The Air Force Song.

When asked how she enjoyed the ball, Sergeant Lewis said, "It's been awesome. It's been fun."

"Happy Birthday to the United States Air Force. It's been an awesome 63 years," Sergeant Banes concluded.

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