News>Team BLAZE celebrates 65th Air Force birthday
Retired Gen. Paul Hester and Airman 1st Class Jason Laufer, 14th Civil Engineering Squadron keep with tradition by cutting the Air Force Birthday Ball birthday cake. Traditionally, the birthday cake is cut by the oldest and youngest service members in attendance. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Charles Dickens)
George Irby Jr. accepts a donation for the Happy Christmas Fund from retired Gen. Paul Hester and assists Col. Jim Sears, 14th Flying Training Wing Commander in presenting Hester with a Certificate of Appreciation. The Happy Christmas Fund is an organization that donates clothes and other essentials to children in need. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Charles Dickens)
Airman 1st Class Denisse Ceci, 14th Comptroller Squadron performs the POW/MIA Missing Man ceremony during the 2012 Air Force Birthday Ball. The Missing Man ceremony honors those who have been taken prisoner or have gone missing during wartimes. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Charles Dickens)
The audience of the 2012 Air Force Birthday Ball raises their glasses during the toasts led by the Columbus Air Force Base Group Commanders and the guest speaker. The toasts honor Air Force senior leadership, the president and the men and women fighting for their country. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Airman 1st Class Charles Dickens)
The musical group “Ops Notes” sings the National Anthem at the annual Air Force Birthday Ball at the Trotter Convention Center in Columbus, Miss. The 2012 Air Force Birthday Ball marks the 65th birthday of the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force Photo/Sonic Johnson)
by Airman 1st Class Charles Dickens
14th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
9/20/2012 - COLUMBUS AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- Columbus Air Force Base celebrated the 65th birthday of the Air Force Sept. 14 at the Trotter Convention Center in Downtown Columbus.
Retired Gen. Paul Hester, prior Pacific Air Forces Commander and Air Component Commander for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, was the guest speaker at the Air Force Birthday Ball.
"This is the party you should be proud of...this is the party you should have a ticket to every year," said Hester.
Hester shared stories of experiences he had throughout his 38 years in the Air Force with the audience.
"When I was a young captain I had a chance to leave the service; in fact I wanted to do so," said Hester. "I had already made my applications to go to law school; I was going to be the next big hotshot lawyer in America. But then, when the moment of execution came, I started thinking of the people I had met and worked for, and what happens to me every morning when I get up to go to work; it puts a smile on my face."
"All of a sudden, I rethought my decision," said Hester. "It was the experience of shared sacrifice, work, love of nation and love of what they were doing in the individuals I worked with every day that I did not want to walk away from."
The retired general also shared a story of one such individual he met while in Kadena, Japan.
The Airman was a crew chief at Kadena Air Base who, instead of welcoming (at the time, Colonel) Hester with forms to fill out before his flight, welcomed him by saying "Colonel, welcome to my jet." Hester said he felt the Airman was committed and professional so he climbed into the aircraft without doing any pre-flight inspections, trusting the Airman with his life. "When I came back you should've seen the smile on his face," said Hester.
These were just a couple of the treasured memories that Hester shared with the audience about his past Air Force experiences.
"It was a special privilege to have served 38 years in our Air Force; a privilege to meet those people that I talked about tonight," said Hester.
Hester said that the record of the past 65 years of United States air power was made up of birthdays of the "big A" Airmen who made him proud to have served in the Air Force, just some of which he had the privilege to meet. "Stack all of those millions of Airmen's memories on top of each other and you have the history of the United States Air Force. Happy Birthday Air Force."