Tag Archives: flag

It’s 1700 somewhere

By Capt. David Liapis
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

Its side effects can range from confusion, induced sprinting for cover, to enhanced feelings of pride. It has the power to stop people in their tracks and causes self-induced paralysis for nearly two minutes at a time.

Reveille and retreat ceremonies occur on most military installations across the U.S. at the beginning and the end of the duty day, typically 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Some include playing the ceremonial music over the installation public address system.

While it’s easy to follow commands given while in the vicinity of the flag pole, what about while across base at the running track or while driving down the road? The general rule is to cease all activities and render honors when the music is played (unless you’re taking an Air Force fitness assessment or it would otherwise cause a safety hazard).

While some reading this might be thinking, “well, duh!” there is a reason for this commentary. It seems that many people have forgotten their customs and courtesies or choose to ignore what to do when the music is played. In spite of some vehicles stopping and people standing still and saluting, some people don’t clue into the fact something is happening that requires their attention. This ignorance, willful or not, bothers me and many other military members.

I spent two years in Turkey, where the only U.S. flags I saw were either the one in front of the wing headquarters building on base, the one at the U.S. embassy, or the ones being burned by protesters. The sweet sound of “The Star-Spangled Banner” rang through the air only once a year at this base. I can tell you this, that once-a-year treat sent chills down my spine and brought tears to my eyes. To quote an old song, “you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.”

Our flag is special and deserves our respect. It flies all over our great land reminding us of the freedoms we love. It’s carried into battle to inspire those willing to fight for it. It drapes over the caskets of our fallen heroes who gave their all for it.

Remember the above reasons next time the music starts and you’re tempted to keep driving, run into the nearest building or duck into your vehicle. Take advantage of that minute or two while standing and showing honor to the flag and think about those who have defended it and those who still defend it. Rather than turning up the radio and pretending to ignore the music so you don’t get two minutes behind schedule, stop and roll down your window and think of how privileged you are to live in this great nation.

So, since I’m already quoting song lyrics, how about “it’s time we stop, hey what’s that sound…” next time you realize “it’s five o’clock somewhere.”

Carrying the flag

By Airman 1st Class Jonathan Bass
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Imagine more than 73,000 people cheering at the top of their lungs, clapping and whistling as five blocks of red, white and blue are stretched across a pristine field by service members dressed in their best.

Then, silence as the Parris Island Marine Band, assigned aboard Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina, plays the Star Spangled Banner.

The haunting melody echoes through the stadium; elation erupts from the stands as the final notes are played and a C-130 Hercules from the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard, soars overhead. Old Glory is folded, and put into storage for another day.

Continue reading Carrying the flag

Importance of ‘Flag Day’

 

 Airmen preform a flag raisingBy Retired Chief Master Sgt. Scott Hubbartt
51st Fighter Wing

Each year, Americans can enjoy four special days set aside specifically to honor our veterans and comrades in arms. Sadly, too many of us often overlook these opportunities to pay our respect and recognize the sacrifice and service of these individuals. These four days are intended to, in some small way, express the sentiments of a grateful nation. So what does it say of us when we forget, overlook, or simply brush aside the opportunity to honor the best among us?

I understand that today our lives are more complicated and busier than ever. We have so much going on in our lives these days; school getting out, visiting relatives, graduations, and any number of other competing priorities. I hope each of us were able to honor all our heroes last November on Veteran’s Day. But what about the other days?

It’s perhaps easy to seek and find forgiveness for not making it out to a veteran’s cemetery last Memorial Day Monday. After all, who of us is not grateful for a day off or for a chance to sleep in, fire up the grill, catch a new summer blockbuster, and recharge our batteries?

Beginning during the Civil War, and originally called Decoration Day, this special day, now called Memorial Day, was set aside to recognize the nation’s war dead by decorating their graves. In nearly every community in America you can find, in small and large cemeteries, the final resting place of our veterans. Additionally there are over 120 national cemeteries as well as at least 80 state and territorial veteran’s cemeteries. Somewhere near each of us rests a veteran hero who answered the call and paid the ultimate price. So, I ask you, how difficult is it really to pack up the kids and drive out to the local cemetery and pay our respect? Perhaps you did just that last Monday, and if you did I thank you. If not, do so soon. Our fallen brethren won’t mind a bit if you visit their marker any day of the year.

And what about Armed Forces Day? Who even knows what that is all about anyway? In 1950, President Harry S. Truman spearheaded efforts to set aside a single holiday when Americans could gather and collectively thank our military personnel for their service to the nation. Okay. I’ll grant that there is a generous outpouring of support and gratitude from most Americans that range from hanging yellow ribbons to bumper stickers and welcome home parades for returning troops. I understand.

Then there is that fourth special day, June 14th, set aside to honor another veteran – a faithful comrade who has accompanied each of us – every service member before us, to battlefields and stations in virtually every corner of the globe. For more than two centuries this veteran has always been there with us – always faithful and this vet is always ready for a parade. Our friend was there out at the cemetery last Monday when we were too busy. Not to fret, he was present and accounted for standing tall on Armed Forces Day as well. In fact our friend is always there, and in fact, often overlooked and taken for granted.

Of course I am speaking of Old Glory, our flag. Always faithful and decked out in full glorious parade dress uniform! Our friend has guided and comforted countless numbers of our comrades in arms through the best and the worst of times. No doubt each of us can recall an example of our friend being present which might evoke strong emotions in each of us – perhaps in a parade, at a funeral for a loved one, on the battlefield, on the tail of a plane, or over an embassy in a foreign land. Our friend is always there and loves to be on parade! So, I ask you, on June 14, on Flag Day, hoist Old Glory up, salute, and give our good friend the respect and recognition he deserves.

Photo: U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Royval, left, Master Sgt. Vince Muskiet and Master Sgt. Jeff Thornsberry raise the U.S. flag Feb. 27, 2012, at the 162nd Fighter Wing at Tucson International Airport, Ariz., while Master Sgt. James Mulcahey salutes. Even if the national anthem isn’t played, Airmen must stop and salute if they see this ceremony occurring on base and drivers must pull over and stop until it’s completed. (U.S. Air Force photo by Maj. Gabe Johnson)

Re-blued

 By Senior Airman Ulla Stromberg
99th Inpatient Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician

Being from Manhattan, Kan., an individual isn’t exposed to too terribly much. Cuisine was only as worldly as the Chinese/American buffet and entertainment rested in a dive bar or bowling alley. The one thing about this community, however, was the people. Being home to the students of Kansas State University and a great many of our soldiers from Fort Riley, the majority of the population’s faces were constantly changing. Human interaction and the life experiences heard from those soldiers and students broadened our worldly horizons.

Senior Airman StrombergAs I grew older, I was more informed and cognizant of the purpose of the military member. I loved hearing their stories and began to notice how those realities behind the tale developed their admirable character. I would watch those uniformed men and women at the local grocery store who always maintained an unwavering sense of purpose and seemed slightly more considerate of their loved ones who were with them. My eyes were opened when I realized this consideration came from the thought that the moment I had observed may have been due to this family seeing each other for one of the first or last times in the midst of a seemingly endless deployment season. I admired their sacrifice, their selflessness. To me, the uniform stood for a great many things. I hadn’t the foggiest idea what in the world occupational badges or rank insignias stood for. I just knew as an outsider looking in that the uniform stood for sacrifice. Sacrifice brought discipline and discipline brought pride and purpose. I enlisted in the United States Air Force at the earliest opportunity.

Because we are human, it is easy to fall into routine, to become complacent. However, one must always remember how they felt upon graduation from basic military training (BMT) when they received their Airman’s Coin. BMT pushes you, it brings you to hell and back but what emerges is a polished and refined individual who now sees the color of the flag in a brighter shade of red, white and blue. My advice is to always remember that moment, that character transition, and to remember that “The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you.” You traded a day of your life to come into work and put on that uniform. Make it count. If you remember these things, with the aid of your wingmen and leadership, ANYTHING is attainable.

Quote by General Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1944, D-Day.

Photo:U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Ulla Stromberg, a 99th Inpatient Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician, takes the blood pressure of Airman 1st Class Matthew Lancaster, a 99th Air Base Wing photographer, April 4, 2011, at Mike O’Callaghan Federal Hospital at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Stromberg was recently named one of the Air Forces’ 12 Outstanding Airmen of the Year. The Outstanding Airman of the Year Ribbon is awarded to 12 enlisted Airmen who display superior leadership, job performance, community involvement and personal achievements throughout the year. Air Force Association officials will honor the 12 recipients September 2011 during the Air and Space Conference and Technology Exposition in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Stephanie Rubi)

Keesler participates in 9/11 Ruck March to Remember

Master Sgt. Daniel Fuentes participated in a portion of the 9/11 Ruck March to Remember, which is composed of Air Force security forces members. The march started July 12 at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas and is being conducted in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. They will finish their march Sept. 11 at Ground Zero in New York City.

By Master Sgt. Daniel Fuentes
Keesler Air Force Base

The reason I did the Security Forces 9/11 Ruck March to Remember is I wanted to honor the memory of the men and women who perished during the terrorist attacks and also honor my fellow fallen “Defenders.”

When I heard of the event I volunteered to be team leader and solicited the rest of my squadron to volunteer and join me. Initially 18 people volunteered but due to work schedules a total of nine of us formed the team. We trained for approximately two months rucking around 15 miles a week in preparation of our portion of the march.

Keesler Ruck March team

Even though the temperatures were hot and muggy when our team marched, I was driven and filled with energy due to the heartwarming support of my fellow Americans who lined the roadways and waved U.S. flags, thanking our team for our military service. The patriotism I observed and felt within was unlike any I had ever experienced before.

My team was blessed to have outstanding financial and vehicle support from home station. We raised funds to help offset the expenses of our march. The Keesler community generously contributed toward our cause.

I feel the keys to our success as a team during our ruck march was pre-planning, practice rucks, media coverage, and mostly the positive attitudes of all team members.

It was a tremendous privilege to be able to participate in this event. Long after I retire from the Air Force, which will be soon, I will always remember the joy I felt when I saw the smiles on my team members’ faces knowing that they were participating in an awesome historic event, and that the nation and people we help to defend really appreciate and support what we do.

Photo: The 9/11 Ruck March team from Keesler Air Force Base completes a 148-mile portion of the march in Gardner, La. (Photo courtesy of Airman 1st Class Anthony Wilson)