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Air Force Ball
Two service members pose for a photo at the Aviano Air Force Ball Sept. 6, 2013, at Aviano Air Base, Italy. Originally part of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force became a separate branch on Sept. 18, 1947. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Michael Battles)
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Aviano celebrates 66th Air Force Birthday

Posted 9/12/2013   Updated 9/13/2013 Email story   Print story


by Senior Airman Michael Battles
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/12/2013 - AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy  -- More than 300 U.S. and Italian service members, honorary commanders and family members gathered at the base club Sept. 7 for the 2013 Air Force Ball.

This year's theme to commemorate the 66th birthday of the U.S. Air Force was, "Le Stelle di Aviano," or Stars of Aviano. Stars with the name of each Aviano award winner from 2013 covered the walls of the ballroom and stood as the focal point of the decorations throughout the evening.

With almost a year of planning, the Aviano Company Grade Officers' Council along with several other key Aviano organizations came together to plan this year's event.

"This year we really wanted to highlight the award winners on base," said 2nd Lt. Anthony Trucco, event coordinator. "Since these people are the 'stars' of Aviano, we figured this would be a good way to honor them."

Throughout the evening, members of Team Aviano celebrated the night with a round of speeches, toasts from leadership, and tributes to service members both past and present.

Starting off the speeches for the evening, Brig. Gen. Jon Norman, 31st Fighter Wing commander, gave brief remarks to ball attendees before introducing the guest speaker of the evening, Lt. Gen. Tom Jones, U.S. Air Forces in Europe vice commander, who spoke about the important role the U.S. Air Force has played in history.

"After 66 years as an independent service, we have proven one thing over and over again - it is our people, it is you, that makes this Air Force great, not our platforms," Jones said. "You have people right here at Aviano exemplified by those stars on the wall."

One main highlight of the evening included the traditional cutting of the birthday cake, a tradition that symbolizes the wisdom of the older service member being passed down to the new generation of Airmen. The honor shared this year was shared by Lt. Col. John Tillery, 31st Fighter Wing chaplain and Amn. Ryan Conroy, 31st FW photojournalist.

Other notable highlights of the evening included: a social hour, formal dinner and a POW/MIA remembrance.

"Attending the Air Force Ball was a great opportunity to enjoy the traditions of the Air Force and the camaraderie of the great service members stationed here at Aviano," said Staff Sgt. Adam McConnaughy, Area Defense Counsel defense paralegal.

Originally part of the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force became a separate branch on Sept. 18, 1947, which is why Air Force members recognize the month of September as the U.S. Air Force birthday.

"There has not been a single U.S. Army casualty caused by attacks from enemy aircraft since April 15, 1953 - 60 plus years of total air dominance by the United States Air Force against enemy air forces while our nation has been at war," Jones said. "Our Air Force, the Air Force that you are such a vital part of has become the world's most lethal fighting force with unmatched results."

As with most official Air Force events, the ball concluded with the traditional singing of the Air Force song by all personnel who were in attendance. Regardless of rank or background, Aviano Airmen share one commonality - a proud Air Force heritage.

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