Precision, pride and teamwork were hallmarks of the night as Airmen from across the Air Force District of Washington (AFDW) commemorated the Air Force’s 69th birthday with a Military Tattoo on the Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling (JBAB) Ceremonial Lawn, Washington, D.C., Sept. 22.
The theme “American Airmen…Bringing Airpower to the Joint Fight” was woven throughout the celebration with elements of the U.S. Air Force Band and the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard. Airmen brought to life the rich heritage, history, and culture of America’s youngest military branch while demonstrating the first Air Force Chief of Staff’s, Gen. Carl “Tooey” Spaatz, sentiment that, “We better be prepared to dominate the skies above the surface of the earth, or be prepared to be buried beneath it.” Members of the Spaatz family as well as some of the famed Tuskegee Airmen were in attendance to watch the Tattoo.
The Military Tattoo is a three hundred year old tradition dating back to the British Army of King William the Third. Today, tattoo ceremonies are held around the world, showcasing the excellence and readiness of military troops exhibiting the precision and teamwork essential for mission success.
Co-hosting this year’s Tattoo were the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James, and the newly appointed 21st Air Force Chief of Staff. Gen. David Goldfein. Honorary attendees were Air Chiefs from our NATO allied countries. Also attending were Government leaders from Capitol Hill, senior military leaders from across the Department of Defense, civic leaders, and community and business leaders from across the country.
“This evening we have all come together to honor Gen. Goldfein for his ceremonial assumption of responsibility as our 21st Air Force Chief of Staff” said Secretary James at the start of the ceremony. She added, “The Air Force mission is vital to our National security and simply put our Airmen demand leadership of the highest caliber. Gen. Goldfein I’m very proud to say that you are the ideal person for this job. You are ready to lead the Air Force into the next generation of air dominance.”
James also thanked the NATO Air Chiefs in attendance by saying, “These leaders work hand in glove with our Airmen to protect our collective security wherever that security may be threatened. Our Allied partners are absolutely critical to our success. Your support is essential and we will always be stronger together.”
After Gen. Goldfein was presented his Chief of Staff flag he commented, “There are moments in a career when this whole idea of service in uniform and the opportunity to serve just washes over you. Tonight is one of those nights.” He added, “I accept the challenge and I’ll share what it means to me. To be a leader of character and a trusted partner for our joint and coalition teammates. I can never lose sight of the greatest treasure in our nation’s arsenal, which are the young men and women who sign up to join big blue and to stand next to their fellow Soldiers, their fellow Marines, and their fellow Sailors. My job as chief is to organize them, to train them, to equip them, to lead them, and to marry them up with the greatest technology on the planet through our domains of air, space, and cyberspace.”
Goldfein acknowledged a former Air Force Chief of Staff in attendance, retired Gen. John Jumper, “I’m reminded tonight of words from the former U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander Gen. Jumper who told me when I was a young squadron commander, ‘It is the highest honor to be chosen to lead in the United States Air force. Your job every day is to be worthy of that honor.’ Gen. Jumper, I accept that honor again and it will be my honor to lead along with Secretary James over the next four years. Fight’s on!”
Air power history was brought to life in the skies over the Tattoo with a series of flyovers including: a formation of F-16s, a B-25, and a B-2 Stealth Bomber. Also flying over the Tattoo was a heritage flight made up of a P-51 Mustang and the Air Force’s newest 5th generation fighter the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Non-commissioned officer in charge of the Air Force’s premier rock band Max Impact Senior Master Sgt. Ryan Carson said during the band’s performance, “Tonight has been an awesome display of the professionalism in the United States Air Force.” He added, “Gen. Goldfein spoke about it taking a team whether at home or on the battlefield. Two words come to mind when I think about our joint forces; service and sacrifice.”
Chief Master Sgt. Robert McConnell from the Air Force Band explained that the Air Force Tattoo combines elements from the USAF Band and Honor Guard, to showcase how Airmen come together from around the globe each and every day to accomplish the mission. “It’s that precision teamwork represented here by members of the 11th Operations Group that allows the Air Force to project Airpower through Air, Space and Cyberspace,” he said.
The newest Air Force member on the field was Airman Basic Dominique Hedges from Indianapolis, Ind. Hedges recently graduated from the Honor Guard’s rigorous technical training program. When asked what he thought about participating in the Tattoo he said, “When we do something like a Tattoo it shows all Airmen at every rank, from Airman Basic all the way up, our appreciation for what they do in service to our country.”
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James Cody said of the evening, “This has been a tremendous celebration of the courage and passion of our Airmen. Tonight was a celebration of our history, and our heritage, but most importantly we celebrated the millions of Airmen who have lifted us to greater heights for 69 years.”
If you weren’t able to attend the Tattoo, or if you want to view it again you can see it in its entirety at: