COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Airmen, former Airmen and associates gathered in the Defense Supply Center Columbus’ Operations Center auditorium Sept. 18 to celebrate the Air Force’s 71st birthday.
The early morning celebration included the presentation of the colors by the 121st Air Refueling Wing Honor Guard and several Air Force videos demonstrating the service’s training and superior airpower. Air Force Capt. Michael Weber kept the program on track as the master of ceremonies.
DLA Land and Maritime Deputy Director Steven Alsup
was the guest speaker and he reflected on his career-long association with the Air Force, its mission and the Airmen he’s worked with.
“It’s always about the people – it’s the people who ensure we keep America secure – today and tomorrow,” Alsup said.
Additionally, Alsup spoke about the specific culture of the Air Force and focused particularly on its strategic attention to the areas of technology and innovation. He went on to explain how foundational these areas are to the Airmen who serve.
Highlighting the nation’s most recent Medal of Honor recipient, Technical Sergeant John Chapman, Alsup described him as the ultimate Airman.
Quoting the words of the Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein, Alsup said, “Chapman’s inspiring story is one of selfless service, courage, perseverance and honor and he represents all that’s good, all that is right and all that’s best in our American Airmen. He’s a true hero.”
Chapman is the first Airman to receive the Medal of Honor for actions conducted since the Vietnam War. He’s the seventh enlisted recipient of the Medal of Honor since the Air Force’s inception in 1947.
Alsup summed up his remarks by asking for every Airman in attendance, veteran, retired and active duty to stand and have the audience openly and collectively appreciate their service and join in the celebration of the Air Force birthday.
Both Alsup and Air Force Col. Janette Ketchum, DLA Land and Maritime chief of staff, participated in the cake cutting ceremony, which featured the use of a ceremonial sword that was presented to Alsup during one of his assignments. This Air Force ceremony normally features the most junior and senior Airmen, but for local purposes Alsup and Ketchum, who is a career Airman, wielded the blade while re-interpreting the Air Force tradition.
After the cake cutting, Navy Rear Adm. John Palmer, DLA Land and Maritime and Defense Supply Center Columbus commander, provided closing remarks and took the opportunity to draw upon the legacy of prior military heroes and their service to America.
Palmer endorsed Alsup’s remarks and dubbed him the honorary winner of “sword of the year” in recognition of the remarkable sword both he and Ketchum wielded in the cake cutting ceremony.
Transitioning, Palmer highlighted Air Force Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker - an Ohioan whose name is well known locally. Providing some background information on Rickenbacker’s achievements, Palmer said Rickenbacker flew at a time not similar to today’s fighter pilots.
“Columbus, Ohio native Eddie Rickenbacker became the first true Air hero. He was ultimately dubbed the “Ace of Aces” by logging 26 confirmed air-combat victories in nine months. Given his total of 300 combat flying hours….that is a victory for every 11 hours of flying,” Palmer said. Rickenbacker went on to receive the Medal of Honor.
“In WWII Eddie Rickenbacker continued his service as advisor and strategist overseas for our allies in Great Britain and the former Soviet Union. Through two world wars Rickenbacker was all in; he was completely committed. And I say this because in the next fight we will need to be ‘all in’ across all services but especially the Air Force,” Palmer said.
“We’ll require and receive the full force and fury of our Air Force, and we will get it because the spirit of Eddie Rickenbacker lives on in the hearts of each airman. And, as we know from the last line of their song…..‘Nothing will stop the U.S. Air Force’.”