Deployers mark 60th Anniversary, successful deployment

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Steven Wilson
  • 36th Operations Group Public Affairs
The two lines of battle square off on the appointed field of honor during a warm, humid and sultry evening here. As the tropical moon peeks through the rolling clouds, which are moving out to sea after the evening thundershower, the standing water evaporates like steam around the opposing forces. 

Separating the gathered warriors is an obstacle course that could have only been designed by a foul, evil denizen with a particularly wicked sense of humor. It divides the combatants, who are by now boasting of their prowess and skill in battle at their enemy facing them. 

Finally, the tension snaps and the first projectile fired in anger is launched toward the opposing formation. The conflict has erupted. 

No, it's not a reenactment of an ancient epic battle. 

Welcome to the fun-filled event held here by deployed aircrews and support personnel Sept. 15. The celebration earmarked the 60th U.S. Air Force Anniversary and a successful AEF deployment. 

"Today, more than ever, we're a culture of Airmen warriors," said Lt. Col. Tom Hesterman, 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron commander. "Our Air Force has been at war now longer than ever before and we're taking the fight right to the enemy's doorstep. What better way to celebrate our 60th anniversary and a successful AEF than a traditional gathering like this?" 

One of the "combatants" chalked the event up to a great time. 

"Super-soakers and water balloons, face paint and all out costumes made the night exciting and unpredictable. What a way to help close out another deployment," said Capt. Millard Matthews, 20th EBS. 

A deployed first sergeant said events like this were steeped in tradition and heritage and therefore, were important. 

"The dining-in event was an opportunity for the deployed Airmen across five squadrons to come together and celebrate the Air Force's 60th birthday," said Master Sgt. Don Jessee, 36th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant. "By making it a combat oriented event we had a lot of fun and allowed folks to unwind some toward the end of a successful deployment." 

"I'm really proud of everyone that made this deployment what it is," said Lt. Colonel Hesterman. "This event was the ideal setting to celebrate our warrior culture and our service' s 60th birthday. I can tell you from my vantage point at the head table, the amount of fire being put down range by each force was pretty intense." 

When asked which side of the hangar got the upper hand, the head Buccaneer had his doubts about who came out on top. 

"Well, I can say that it looked like it was, for the most part, people in flight suits squaring off against people without flight suits," he said, with a good-natured smile. "I can't tell you for sure who was winning ... I'm just glad they weren't shooting at me. The important thing is, we all had a good time and we did it safely." 

The official Air Force anniversary is Sept. 18. The 20th EBS and 522 EFS are in the final stretch of their deployment here. The deploying forces to Guam are part of the world's larges area of responsibility, providing protection for 60% of the world's population in 43 countries.