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Celebrating Anchorage's 100th Birthday
by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett - August 18, 2015

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In July 1915, official documents were signed creating Anchorage, which remained very small and without a military presence until June 1940, when Nazi Germany conquered France, which prompted the expedience of several military construction projects around Alaska, including building Fort Richardson.

Fort Richardson included land originally known as Elmendorf Field, which became Elmendorf Air Force Base after World War II when the Air Force became a separate service, then became Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in 2010.

In July 1915, official documents were signed creating Anchorage. One hundred years later, Anchorage has grown and flourished. To celebrate the historic achievement, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce presented the 2015 Tent City Festival from July 25 to 26, 2015. Each era was presented and connected to various companies and organizations, including city's relationship with Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which supported the event with military working dog demonstrations, an explosive ordnance disposal display, a smoke house from the 673rd Civil Engineer Squadron and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett)
In July 1915, official documents were signed creating Anchorage. One hundred years later, Anchorage has grown and flourished. To celebrate the historic achievement, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce presented the 2015 Tent City Festival from July 25 to 26, 2015. Each era was presented and connected to various companies and organizations, including city's relationship with Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, which supported the event with military working dog demonstrations, an explosive ordnance disposal display, a smoke house from the 673rd Civil Engineer Squadron and more. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett)

One significant event was a 9.2-magnitude earthquake which struck Anchorage in 1964, resulting in the deaths of 133 people and $300 million in damages. During this natural disaster, the military provided medical care, food, housing and other supplies to Anchorage and surrounding communities.

One hundred years after its birth, Anchorage has grown and flourished. To celebrate this history and look forward to the future, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, with JBER and multiple organizations throughout the community, hosted the 2015 Tent City Festival.

Each era was represented in various displays and tents, along with bouncy houses and other family-related events.

“The purpose of this Tent City celebration is to highlight Anchorage's 100th anniversary,” said Bruce Bustamante, president of the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce. “It's an extremely important story to tell. We've invited vendors from industries that played a key role in the growth of Anchorage, and certainly the military was one of the biggest components of our history. It's extremely important for us to have base support to come out here and be a part of this. We've worked very closely, even in recent history, with the military. We sure appreciate their cooperation.”

JBER was represented with displays showcasing the Air Force's 673rd Civil Engineer Group explosive ordnance disposal and smoke house with fire prevention, as well as the Army's 549th Military Working Dog Detachment, an Arctic living equipment display and parachuting equipment from the 2nd Battalion, 377th Parachute Field Artillery Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division.

“The messages inside here telling kids what to do when there's a fire, and how to get out, what to do if they can't get out – even if just one kid gets reached, that kid could make a difference,” said John Burpee, 673rd Civil Engineer Squadron fire department inspector, who was running the fire prevention display. “Some were asking about the fire career field, so we explained that. It's pretty cool to walk around here and see the old stuff and new stuff, to know that JBER has been a part of that. I think a lot of people of people were surprised and excited to see us out here; it definitely brought awareness.”

“What they do is amazing,” said Mary Cresap, an Anchorage resident. “They'll do everything they can so we'll be safe.”

A line quickly formed with adults and children wanting to try on the parachuting equipment, to experience what the jumpers wear.

“We're just interacting with the community, showing them what we're a big part of it, and a bit of what we do on a daily basis,” said Sgt. 1st Class Jessie Hobbs, 2-377 battalion air noncommissioned officer. “We're showing them our airborne equipment because we jump a lot here in Alaska. We're showing them our Arctic equipment like our tent, pretty much our day-to-day life in the winter months here. They seem to be enjoying it. A lot of kids are trying on the parachute, going into the tent, looking around. A lot of the outdoor guys who like to hunt want to use that type of equipment for moose hunting. They've taken good interest in it. It's always good to interact and let the community know what we do, to show them we're here for them.”

The military has played a significant role in Anchorage history, celebrated on this birthday, Bustamante said.

“I think our relationship with the military is great, and the best judge of that are the people,” Bustamante said. “I'd rather hear it from the military saying thanks for helping us, thanks for helping our families while we're in Anchorage. We just have a big passion for that. You'll see a lot of military return to Anchorage and make it their home; it's just a tremendous relationship. I don't know that we give the military as much as they give us, we just do the best we can.”

By U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Robert Barnett
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2015

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