Airmen Honor America's Veterans During Air Force Week
(April 23, 2009)
Air Force Honor Guard drill team members sign autographs for retired Chief Master Sgt. Grant Williams Sr. during Hampton Roads Air Force Week's Honoring America's Veterans ceremony April 20 in Hampton, Va..Chief Williams is a Tuskegee Airman who served during WWII..
| ||4/20/2009 - HAMPTON, Va. (AFNS) -- Air Force officials honored America's veterans during a Hampton Roads Air Force Week ceremony April 20 at the Boo Williams Sportsplex arena here. |
Officials from Langley Air Force Base, Va., recognized all veterans from all of America's wars and displayed some of the professionalism and precision of today's Airmen with performances by the Air Force Honor Guard drill team and the Air Force Band.
Retired Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Robert D. Gaylor, the guest speaker, shared his thoughts for those who served and for those who continue to serve in the U.S. military.
"The big difference I see in the world today is how we define our heroes," said the fifth chief master sergeant of the Air Force. "Some people think that a hero is some guy
|who can dunk a basketball or throw a fast ball at 93 mph and pitch a no-hitter. Those are highly skilled athletes.|
|"Heroes in my book are those who put on the uniform and respond to the call," he said, "and go do what they're asked to do; not for the glory and the thanks but because they took an oath. Every so often, we need to stop and reflect on what has made (America) so great and salute the veterans. Most veterans appreciate it. They don't need a lot of praise, but they like it." |
Chief Gaylor hits the road frequently, delivering speeches to Air Force bases around the country. He visited Airmen and 35 bases in 2008, and he said he is delighted to meet Airmen serving today.
"The Airmen of today are highly trained, motivated and skilled," he said. "I'm very impressed at what they do."
Before the chief's discussion, the audience of approximately 300 witnessed a simultaneous performance of the Air Force band "Max Impact" and the Air Force Honor Guard drill team.
"The event was very awesome, I'm very honored to be here with such a group," said retired Lt. Col. Francis Horne, an 87 year-old Tuskegee Airman. "I wouldn't have missed it even if they had to bring me out here on a stretcher."
Colonel Horne and three other Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American servicemembers who served with distinction during World War II, and other veterans from past wars were recognized by the crowd with a standing ovation.
"It feels good," said retired Master Sgt. Harry Quinton, also a Tuskegee Airman who served in the 477th Bombardment Group. "I never thought 65 years ago that we would be recognized to such a great extent. It makes us feel good."
After the ceremony, Airmen serving today met, talked to and thanked the Tuskegee Airmen and other veterans.
"Seeing these guys, they trail blazed the way for me. I get a really strong emotional feeling when I see them," said Staff Sgt. Rico Stowers, a 1st Security Forces Squadron Airman from Langley AFB.
Chief Gaylor also mingled with the Tuskegee Airmen, and then took time to personally greet many current servicemembers.
"I've known Chief Gaylor for many years," said Senior Master Sgt. Shelina Frey, the first sergeant for the1st Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Langley AFB. "He is a dramatic speaker with rich history. He delivers his speeches in a way that young people can appreciate."
Chief Gaylor later hugged and congratulated Sergeant Fry for receiving a line number for promotion to chief master sergeant.
Long after the ceremony, Chief Gaylor continued to spread words of motivation to Airmen.
"There's a great drill command: Continue the march. I would say to the Air Force today, 'Continue the march.' Whatever it is you're doing, keep doing it. You're doing it well. You're serving. You're dedicated. You're motivated. Continue the march. Continue serving our great nation."
"Right now the world is in a bit of turmoil," he said. "I think with our diligence we can work it out. We always have."
Article by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Matthew McGovern
Photo by Air Force Senior Airman Vernon Young
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio
Reprinted from Air Force News Service
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