It was an evening of celebration. Airmen of all ranks – young and old, along with community leaders – gathered April 26 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the 88th Air Base Wing at the Wright-Patterson Club.
Hosted by Col. Thomas Sherman, 88th Air Base Wing commander, the event included live music by the U.S. Air Force Band of Flight in the main ballroom, karaoke for the singers at heart in Wings lounge, a photo booth in the dining room, and lots of food and fun!
Sherman and Chief Master Sgt. Stephen Arbona, 88th ABW command chief, opened the evening by welcoming the more than 450 people to the event.
“This is a key moment in our history, and it’s not only important that we recognize where we’ve been, but it’s also important to embrace it and celebrate it,” said Arbona. “Tonight we’re here to celebrate our past, our present and our future.”
Following the national anthem and invocation, Sherman introduced former wing commanders and command chiefs who were present. They included:
Retired Brig. Gen. Charles E. Fox Jr. was the commander of the 2750th Air Base Wing from June 1984 to March 1987. During his tenure, there was much growth across the base, including the stand-up of the 2750th Security Police Squadron, as well as the Arnold House Heritage Center dedication ceremony for Gen. Henry Arnold, the dedication of the POW/MIA memorial beside the Arnold House, and the memorialization of the Jarvis gymnasium.
Additionally, the base air terminal was selected as the Air Force Logistics Center Terminal of the Year and the civil engineering squadron Prime BEEF team took first place in the Air Force Prime BEEF competition. Fox’s most memorable moment was during his first speaking engagement to the local community, which was held at the golf course clubhouse. The event ended with sprinklers going off, drenching the entire audience and the band.
Retired Col. Colleen M. Ryan was the 88th ABW commander from June 2006 to July 2008, the first female commander of the 88th ABW. During her tenure, she implemented a number of money-saving cutbacks to ensure the wing was able to continue operations during a mandated cutback that severely reduced funding for civilian personnel.
Ryan also broke ground for the 711th Human Performance Wing in Area B and activated the explosive ordnance disposal unit under the Civil Engineer directorate.
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Roger Sloan was the 2750th senior enlisted advisor from 1987 to 1989. During his tenure, he was part of the groundbreaking ceremony for the Hope Hotel, which would later be home to the Balkan Proximity Peace Talks, more commonly known as the Dayton Peace Talks in 1995; State Route 444A was opened to the public; and construction was completed on the $123.2 million expansion and renovation of the USAF Medical Center on base, establishing it as the second largest hospital in the Air Force.
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Kent Smith was the 88th ABW command chief from June 2006 to 2009, the same time Ryan was the wing commander. Significant events included the 10th anniversary of the Air Force Marathon, the 2008 Air Force CORONA TOP conference, a visit by then President George W. Bush and the opening of the 109,000-square-foot intelligence production complex. Additionally, he introduced “Back to Basics” with the Airmen.
After formal introductions, Fox recalled the phenomenal people who worked in the wing and the huge impact that Wright-Patterson AFB has on the military.
Fox, representing the senior ranking Airman at the event, and Airman Ronald M. Foster, 88th Force Support Squadron, representing the junior ranking Airman at the event, did the honors and cut the cake.
In closing, Sherman thanked everyone for attending.
“Thank you being a part of history and for taking the opportunity, as a family, to acknowledge those who have walked before us. We are here today because of the work they did … As time has gone by, there is one thing that has never changed – that is the people! All of you right now represent those that came before you … while we walk in the footsteps of great heroes, we are writing the pages of history as we speak and making the footsteps that generations who come behind us will walk in. We are the base – the Mighty 88th that carries the responsibility of 115 mission partners on our shoulders and guarantees that the strategic priorities of this United States of America are always on the forefront. So celebrate yourselves.”
Over the past 75 years, the 88th ABW has seen many commanders and command chiefs and has been a part of numerous significant events. However, its motto, “Strength through support,” has been the foundation that has remained constant and has made it what it is today – the host to the largest single site employer in the state of Ohio, with more than 30,000 Airmen – active-duty, Reserve, Guard, government civilian and contractors – who all play a part in making the 88th ABW a war-winning platform.
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