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Team McChord celebrates Air Force birthday

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Naomi Shipley
  • 62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Team McChord with the help of the Air Force Association McChord Chapter hosted the 2016 Air Force Ball at the Lemay America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, Sept. 23.

Approximately 500 Airmen of all ranks, Soldiers, civilian employees, family and friends gathered to celebrate the honor and legacy of the Air Force.

“Tonight we celebrate the Air Force’s 69th birthday and the theme of tonight’s event, ‘Extraordinary Airmen through Time,’” said Airman 1st Class Chad Berney, 62nd Airlift Wing Office of the Staff Judge Advocate paralegal and emcee for the AF Ball. “We should also toast to the many men and women that couldn’t be here tonight because they’re away from home, fighting tyranny and defending freedom.”

In the audience was special guest Gen. Paul Selva, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who served as the guest speaker for the night.

“It is an honor to be here tonight,” said Selva. “Ricki and I appreciate the invitation, McChord will always be home to us. Thank you to Col. Kosinski, Col. McLaughlin, Col. Leist, Col. Phillips, Col. Morgan and all of Team McChord leadership, for allowing Ricki and I to join you here tonight.”

Selva referenced the unique partnership of the local community and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., and just how significant it is.

“I also want to welcome our local government and civic leaders – thank you for being here with us,” Selva said. “The communities surrounding McChord have always had a strong connection with the base. Thank you all for what you do to support our service members each and every day. We can’t do the mission of securing this great nation without your commitment to America’s sons and daughters.”

Selva went on to express his awe of the mission of the men and women at McChord.

He also highlighted some of our own ‘Extradraordinary’ Airmen.

“What really amazed me, were the individual stories of some of the Airmen here tonight,” said Selva.

Selva went on to tell of the accomplishments of several Airmen, like Airman 1st Class Keion Miller, 62nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron maintainer. 

Miller, who hails from Chicago, has worked tirelessly to increase his aircraft knowledge while completing leadership courses and advanced job training. He also volunteers to prepare meals for the homeless community in Tacoma, said Selva.

He also mentioned the contributions of Maj. Rob Marshall, 97th Airlift Squadron C-17 pilot, and how he lead the U.S. Air Force 7 Summits Challenge team to reach all seven summits and even cresting Mount. Everest in 2013.

“Having accomplished that is impressive, but what’s inspiring to hear is that you’re not stopping there,” Selva said. “Starting your 50 States Challenge with the goal of bringing more Airmen and veterans into the hiking and mountaineering community is something that we love hearing.

“Those are just a handful of the amazing stories we’ve heard since being here. But we know it’s only a small percentage of the extraordinary things you are doing every day,” said Selva.

“One of my favorite leaders Winston Churchill once said, ‘The conquest of the air and the perfection of the art of flying fulfilled the dream, which for thousands of years had glittered in human imagination. Certainly it was a marvelous and romantic event,’” Selva said. “The legacy of the 62nd Airlift Wing and Team McChord and what you all are able to accomplish every day is a continuation – a perfecting – of that marvelous dream.

“It’s what makes Team McChord so special. You’ve not only perfected the art of flying, but you’ve perfected the art of teamwork”said Selva.

Selva added, the unity between the 62 AW, the 446th Airlift Wing, the 627th Air Base Group and the Western Air Defense Sector is seamless; you can’t tell where active duty ends and Reserve or Guard start.

“You invigorate and strengthen our Air Force – every day,” Selva said. “You carry integrity, honor, courage, compassion, intelligence and tenacity inside you. Tonight, I thank you for being here, thank you for what you do, and tonight – I salute you.”