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Past, present, future celebrate at inaugural ball
Brig. Gen. Michael Kinglsey, vice commander of Air Force Special Operations Command, right, and Airman Rycardo Folkes, a services specialist of 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron, cut a ceremonial cake at the inaugural Hurlburt Ball at the Emerald Coast Conference Center on Okaloosa Island, Fla., Sept. 14, 2012. Kingsley and Folkes were selected to serve in an Air Force tradition where the most senior- and junior-ranking active-duty Airmen in attendance cut the Air Force's birthday cake. (U.S. Air Force photo / Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Valentine)
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Past, present, future celebrated at inaugural Hurlburt Ball

Posted 9/18/2012   Updated 9/18/2012 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Vanessa Valentine
1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs

9/18/2012 - HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- Hurlburt Field Airmen celebrated the Air Force's 65th anniversary with the first formal military ball in the base's history at the Emerald Coast Convention Center on Okaloosa Island Sept. 14.

Nearly 1,200 Air Commandos and their guests attended the black-tie event, themed "Reflecting on our Past, Sustaining our Future," hosted by Col. Jim Slife, commander of 1st Special Operations Wing.

Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Robert Gaylor, the fifth chief to serve as the Air Force's top enlisted Airman, served as guest speaker for the night's ceremony.

"The ball is important because it recognizes and celebrates Hurlburt Field's unique and significant contributions to the Air Force," said Rhonda Gritsavage, director of 1st SOW protocol. "Our people should know that Hurlburt Field plays an important role in the Air Force mission."

Six months of planning and hard work by many made the ball a huge success, according to Gritsavage.

"Fundraising support came from the base and local community members," Gritsavage said. "Several door prizes, raffle items, and hundreds of gifts including an electronic tablet were given away."

Capt. Eric Cranford, an executive assistant at 1st SOW, and Senior Airman Joe W. McFadden a public affairs specialist of 1st SOW, served as the masters of ceremonies.

"The pages of the Air Force history book are filled with decisions and missions that took place from individuals and aircraft right here," McFadden said during his opening speech.

Historical images displayed across the length of the ballroom showcased Hurlburt Field's many contributions throughout the years.

While reflecting on their past, Hurlburt Airmen also looked to sustaining their future with a traditional cake-cutting shared by the most senior-ranking and junior-ranking active-duty Airmen in attendance at the ball.

Airman Rycardo Folkes, a food services specialist of 1st Special Operations Force Support Squadron, cut the cake alongside Brig. Gen. Michael Kingsley, vice commander of Air Force Special Operations Command.

Folkes, who has only been in the Air Force for eight months, said it was a big honor to be selected.

"I'm also excited to meet Chief Gaylor," Folkes said. "It seems like just yesterday I was going to school in New York, and now here I am."

Gaylor, who still visits more than 40 Air Force installations each year, shared his secrets to success with just four words: aptitude, attitude, motivation and opportunity.

"Look around you-- these Airmen to your left and your right are our future chiefs," Gaylor said to the audience. "You could be the next future chief master sergeant of the Air Force."

At the end of the event, some Airmen said they felt encouraged and looked toward their future in the Air Force while they acknowledged the base's distinctive past.

"From all these successes and challenges of our past, you can see how our story continues, with many more pages recently penned with fresh ink or left remaining blank to be filled by our successors," McFadden said.

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