42nd ABW to celebrate 70th anniversary

by Carl Bergquist
Air University Public Affairs

10/29/2010 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- A two-day celebration of the 42nd Air Base Wing's 70th anniversary will kick off Nov. 5 with several events to mark the wing's years of service.

The 42nd ABW commander said the 42nd has a deep heritage, first as an Army bomb group during World War II, then as an Air Force wing.

Col. Brian Killough said one purpose of the celebration is to honor that heritage. He said that in 1941, the wing began flying sub-hunting missions off the coasts of Oregon and Washington in B-26s. During WWII, it moved to the Pacific Theater flying B-25 bombing missions. In the 1950s, the 42nd moved to Limestone/Loring Air Force Base, Maine, and flew B-36s and KC-97s before becoming a B-52 and KC-135 wing in 1956. For the next 38 years, the wing continued its tradition of service by flying missions during the Vietnam War and Desert Storm. In 1994, the 42nd Bomb Wing was renamed the 42nd Air Base Wing and moved to Maxwell Air Force Base.

"We treasure our proud heritage, the tradition of honor and the legacy of valor," he said. "We are here at Maxwell-Gunter as an air base wing, but our combat heritage continues. The latest example of that is the service exhibited by 42nd Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler Staff Sgt. Brent Olson and his military working dog, Blek, who just returned from Afghanistan."

The colonel said the 42nd ABW's primary mission may have changed over the years, but the No. 1 priority remains providing combat Airmen to combatant commanders.
"It's just a different delivery method," he said. "Meanwhile, here at our home-station, our mission is to enable all Maxwell-Gunter mission partners to accomplish their missions."

Colonel Killough said the 42nd ABW is about service to the nation, support to Airmen and their families and enabling the entire Maxwell-Gunter community to be great members of the River Region community.

"We provide the work environment and the opportunity to succeed," he said.
Colonel Killough said the wing does not plan to celebrate every anniversary, but did feel the 70th anniversary was worthy of recognition. He said this was "a significant opportunity" to recognize the heritage of the wing's great Airmen and their contributions to the history of the Air Force.

Capt. Cristy Long, 42nd Medical Group medical logistics flight commander, is helping spearhead the anniversary celebration. She said the wing has three events planned. Starting at 6:30 a.m. Nov. 5, there will be a 5K run beginning at the Maxwell Fitness Center. Also on Nov. 5, at 5 p.m., the wing will honor the past with a Retreat ceremony at the 42nd ABW Headquarters flagpole. The final event starts at 6 p.m. on Nov. 6 and is a dining out at the Maxwell Officers' Club.

"Thanks to Colonel Killough, who wants a spirited competition, there will be some surprises in the 5K run. They will be pleasant surprises," she said. "The run will be unit competition, but runners can also compete as teams of four members each with at least one female member per team."

Captain Long said the anniversary celebration has been in the planning phase for some time, initiated by the previous commander, Col. Kris Beasley. She said all former 42nd ABW commanders have been invited to the event.

"One former commander, retired Col. Bill Cole, who served the wing from 1996 to 1998, answered the invitation by saying it had been a long time since he had seen an e-mail from protocol, and it reminded him of 'the good ole' days' at Maxwell-Gunter," the captain said. "He said he really appreciated the invite, but had just returned from a high school reunion, was out of leave time and regrettably wouldn't be able to attend."

Captain Long said they are hoping for about 125 people for the dining out, and the guest speaker, retired Col. Gary Schneider, commanded the 42nd from 1991 to 1993 at Loring AFB, Maine.

"We wanted to get a guest speaker who led the wing during Desert Storm and Desert Shield, which was shortly before the wing moved to Maxwell-Gunter. Colonel Schneider was also involved in the wing coming here," she said.

The captain said being a part of planning the 70th anniversary celebration has been an education for her, and she hopes it will also be an education for other Airmen at Maxwell-Gunter.

"We are hoping this will give the younger Airmen a chance to understand the history and heritage of the 42nd Air Base Wing," Captain Long said. "I know I certainly would not know nearly as much about this wing had I not been involved in the celebration planning."

To sign up as a four-member team for the 5K run, contact Capt. Kimberlie Thompson at 953-5121. For general information about the anniversary celebration, contact Captain Long at 953-5901.