Celebrating 71 years of innovation, building America’s Airmen

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VANCE AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- The 71st Flying Training Wing celebrated the Air Force’s 71st birthday at the Air Force Community Ball Sept. 8 with guest of honor Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson.

This unique event, attended by over 500 Air Force and community members, celebrated almost eight decades of Vance Air Force Base’s shared heritage with the local community before ending the evening with comments on the Air Force’s strategic future from Wilson and Col. Corey Simmons, the 71st Flying Training Wing commander.

“Vance AFB has been at the forefront of virtually every engagement on the globe for the last 77 years,” said Simmons as he spoke of Vance’s heritage of training the world’s best Airmen and aviators.

He continued by giving examples of how Vance AFB is tackling innovation head on by using virtual-reality software to help student pilots study and fly simulations.

“We’re scrutinizing our playbook and taking out portions that are no longer relevant in today’s flying environment. We’re listening to our students, and embracing a new generation raised on visual and tactile learning rather than the paper curriculum most of us grew up with,” said Simmons.

Wilson took the podium and pointed to the future, emphasizing Vance’s innovations and partnerships with the community as examples for all.  “Sustained excellence like yours is more than a series of goals ... it’s an attitude ... and your attitude of excellence has contributed to the greatest period of human progress in history.

“As our nation faces great power competition, our challenge, the challenge for Vance and Enid, the challenge for liberty over the next generation, is to not only maintain that attitude of excellence, but aim higher still,” said Wilson.

The evening also included a POW/MIA observance and the traditional cake cutting, then concluded with dancing to music by the St. Louis Big Band.

In 1947 President Truman signed the National Security Act which established the United States Air Force as an entity equal to the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy.

Today’s Airmen are diverse, ready to fly, fight and win against worldwide threats in multiple domains.