48th FTS members gather for 20-year reunion
By 1st Lt. Ed Acosta, 48th Flying Training Squadron
/ Published November 04, 2016
In the Air Force, we celebrate heritage not because we have to, but because we want to. It gives us a chance to honor those who paved the way to ensure the success of our Air Force.
Our Air Force is the greatest in the world because we stand on the shoulders of giants.
The history of the 48th dates back to World War I, having been initiated shortly after the United States entered the Great War on April 6, 1917. It was on Aug. 4, 1917, that the 48th Provisional Squadron was first assembled at Kelly Field, Texas. Their primary mission was to build and repair facilities in support of the war. Fast forward to World War II, where Lt. Virgil H. Smith of the 48th Fighter Squadron became the first P-38 Ace of the war when he shot down his fifth enemy aircraft on Dec. 12, 1942.
October truly is a special month for the 48th. It was in October 1996 that the 48th Flying Training Squadron flew its very first student sortie in the mighty T-1A Jayhawk. While the legacy of the 48th FTS is rich in history, the Alley Cats of Columbus recently celebrated their 20th year in support of Air Force Undergraduate Pilot Training.
The squadron recently held its first ever heritage month celebration. Lt. Col. Charles "Spanky" Gilliam, 48th FTS Commander, and his staff invited past and present members of the 48th FTS to Columbus Air Force Base for a weekend heritage celebration.
The weekend's festivities included a family event at the local pumpkin patch in Caledonia, a golf scramble at the Lion Hills Country Club and culminated with a formal dinner at the Columbus AFB Club. The Alley Cats had the chance to hear from several members of the 48th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. Two former 48th Flying Training Squadron Commanders were also in attendance. Finally, the Alley Cats recognized Mrs. Regina Bowen, a civilian employee, who has selflessly served the 48th FTS and their families over the last 15 years.
As we continue to progress as an Air Force, let us take time to remember and honor those that came before us. The members of the 48th FTS live by General Robin Rand, Global Strike Commander’s, words. "History makes you smarter, heritage makes you prouder."