***image1***The 86th Airlift Wing celebrated its first year of existence with a combat dining-in Nov. 12.
“This dining-in is the first major function in which members of the 86th Airlift Wing have gathered to share in our common mission and celebrate the incredible synergy we’ve experienced in such a short time,” said Col. Robert Kane, 86th AW commander and the President of the Mess. “I couldn’t be prouder of these guys because they epitomize our motto – ‘We got it!’”
Gen. Robert H. “Doc” Foglesong, U.S. Air Forces in Europe commander, was the honored guest and keynote speaker, with Maj. Gen. Mike Gould, 3rd Air Force commander and Chief Master Sgt. Gary Coleman, USAFE command chief, Chief Master Sgt. Karl Sagstetter, 3rd Air Force command chief and Chief Master Sgt. Renee Starghill, 86th AW command chief in attendance.
General Foglesong spoke to the wing about the importance of their mission and thanked them for their operational execution in Iraq, Eastern Europe and Africa since standing up Jan. 15.
“Earlier this year, you stood up the template wing for future contingency response missions in USAFE,” General Foglesong said to the wing. “Since then, you have been sending out the capability to secure an airfield, conduct operations, and at the same time ensure superior communications throughout the AOR (area of responsibility).
“I’ve been all around the Air Force in the past 32 years, and I’ve got to tell you the 86th Airlift Wing is widely recognized as the U.S. Air Force’s best first response contingency force.”
A dining-in is attended by only active-duty members of a unit, where a dining-out can include civilians, family members and other outside guests.
About 600 Airmen used the opportunity to connect with other wing members from different units and learn more about their specific jobs.
“It was great to share the different missions making up our wing,” said Senior Airman Aaron Gallo, 1st Combat Communications Squadron radar maintenance journeyman. “I’m amazed that everything the Air Force needs in an operationally-responsive contingency wing is right here under one roof – from the flyers, to the wrench turners, to the cops, to our tactical and theater communicators – it’s all here.”
In addition to the dinner, the four groups competed in table decorating, push-ups, blind-folded aircraft tail painting, Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement System shoot-outs and airborne jump contests to determine the 86th AW 2004 Warrior Group. The 86th ACOMG emerged victorious.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Capt. Jennifer Strickland, 1st Air & Space Communications Operations Squadron intelligence flight commander. “Everyone’s been working hard this last year and this was a chance to look back on it and celebrate together.”