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Vance, Enid celebrate Air Force's 60th
A Team Vance member models a flight suit that belonged to Maj. Gen. Donald Marks when he commanded Strategic Air Command’s 42nd Air Division during the parade of uniform during the Air Force 60th birthday celebration Saturday night at Cherokee Strip Conference Center. More than 390 attendees were treated to rousing tributes to the Air Force and Oklahoma, dining and dancing and a guest speech by Maj. Gen Irv Halter, 19th Air Force commander. (Air Force photo by Capt. Tony Wickman)
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Vance, Enid celebrate Air Force's 60th

Posted 9/25/2007   Updated 9/26/2007 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Tony Wickman
Public Affairs

9/25/2007 - VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- More than 390 people from Vance and the City of Enid turned out Saturday to the Cherokee Strip Conference Center to celebrate the Air Force turning 60 years old.

Top officials from the base, the State of Oklahoma and the City of Enid attended the gala in downtown Enid to commemorate 60 years of an independent Air Force, 66 years of history at Vance and 100 years of heritage of the State of Oklahoma.

The event featured video presentations; verbal histories of some of the Air Force's heroes and pioneers; a historical look at uniforms worn by Airmen in the past 60 years; musical entertainment by Starlifter, a combo from the Air Force Band of the Midwest at Scott Air Force Base, Ill.; a guest speech by Maj. Gen. Irv Halter, 19th Air Force commander; and concluded with dancing.

The theme for the ball was "Heritage to Horizons...commemorating 60 years of Air and Space Power," and it was the final event in a year-long celebration of the service. The first of 30 events held throughout the year by the base was the retirement ceremony of the T-37 in October 2006.

For Col. Richard Klumpp, Jr., 71st Flying Training Wing commander, the ball was a resounding success and a great celebration. In his remarks to the attendees, Colonel Klumpp said the Air Force would be up to the challenge of doing its mission now and in the future. 

"As we evolve and change to meet the challenges of the future, we'll continue to fulfill our obligation to protect America, deter aggression, assure our allies, and defeat our enemies," he said. "Although providing a secure future for our nation in a dynamic and constantly evolving environment will challenge us to build on our heritage, we are confident the men and women of America's Air Force are more than up to this important task." 

Colonel Klumpp also thanked the ball organizers, sponsors and attendees for coming out to mark the occasion, and asked all to remember those in currently in uniform and their families. 

"As we commemorate our 60th birthday, let us not only reflect on the foresight, courage and sacrifices of our past leaders and heroes, but let us also remember the courage and sacrifices of today's Airmen and their families fighting for freedom at home and overseas," the colonel said.

For Jim Malachowski, 71st FTW historian and the person who led the year-long commemoration, the ball was a great finale to the year.

"There was a lot of action behind the scenes and the team invested an incredible amount of time and energy into this ball to make it a success," he said. "It wouldn't have been possible without all the people who worked tirelessly right up until the event to have everything ready for the guests. Everyone really cared about making this a world class event , and in the end I think everyone walked away with a memory they will not soon forget."

That is definitely applicable to Airman 1st Class Sean Noble, 71st Mission Support Squadron personnelist, who attended his first Air Force ball and was part of the festivities. Per tradition as the youngest Airman at the ball, Airman Noble was asked to cut the birthday cake using a saber with General Halter, who was the senior ranking Air Force officer in attendance.

"It is something I will remember for the rest of my life," said the Temecula, Calif., native who has served seven months in the Air Force. "I got to cut the cake with General Halter and it was an honor to represent all Airmen as the link to the Air Force's horizon. It felt good and I enjoyed the whole event."

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