Air Force 75th Anniversary Dinner
The celebration of the 75th anniversary of United State Air Force as a separate service was celebrated on Sunday, September 18, by PVE Air Force alumni residents and other PVE community members who gathered in Rawlinson Hall for a commemorative dinner. Of the 98 attendees, 12 arrived in mess dress uniforms and others arrived in Class A uniforms and tuxedos.
The event opened with a cocktail hour and true to form, folks started rolling in at about 15 minutes early, eager to begin the evening. When the hour to convene arrived, the guest speaker had not! Maj Gen (Dr.) Geoff Wiedeman and his wife Sandy had been caught in traffic and adverse weather coming from Sacramento. We had begun looking around the room for about ten minutes trying to identify a fill-in! We were relieved when the Wiedemans arrived. Whew!
MC Col Bill Rawlinson promptly convened the mess and opened the program with the playing of the National Anthem. He welcomed all present as fellow Air Force Alumni. In a planned start, he was quickly corrected by CDR Bruce Bartels who stood and accurately pointed out that there were sister-Service officers of the Navy and Army seated in front of him in dress uniforms! Chaplain (Lt Col) Lee Fruechte gave the invocation folding in the poem “High Flight”…an Air Force revered piece. Maj Bob McCoy conducted the POW/MIA table ceremony and recognized our two PVE residents who are ex-POWS…Col Bob Stirm (USAF) and CDR Bill Tschudy (USN). Toasts were led by Col Steve Vancil and Mrs. Vicki Getz. We suddenly realized that we were ahead of schedule and the dinner service would not be immediately forthcoming. MC Rawlinson, adapting to the fluid situation, determined that some schedule shifting would reset the flow. He adjusted the program using the time available to introduce the guest speaker and presented him with a token gift before dinner…somewhat unconventional. Col Ken Mackie introduced Gen Wiedeman as an “Air Force brat” and summarized his impressive experiences, both military and civilian careers, also noting his membership on the NCROC board since 2016.
A superb dinner followed served up by an agile service staff. The staff were recognized as they marched through the room to the music of the “Col Bogey March.” Following dinner and ceremonial cutting of the birthday cake by Dr. Wiedeman (a surgeon) it was time for the guest speaker to take the lectern. He delivered an insightful narrative regarding changing of the doctrine of aeromedical evacuation in the Air Force in the 80s and its significant implications on reducing morbidity and mortality for injured service personnel. He included anecdotes of his personal involvement including the aftermath of the 1983 Marine Barracks bombing in Beirut. The dinner was concluded with the acapella version of the official Air Force Song and the event concluded exactly on schedule.