|By Carmelo Turdo|
Honored Guests included (L-R) The Honorable Bruce Rauner, Governor of Illinois; The Honorable Evelyn Sanguinetti, Lt. Governor of IL; Colonel Laura Lenderman, Commander of the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott AFB; Chief Master Sergeant Wesley Mathias, Command Chief Master Sergeant of the 375th Airlift Wing; and The Honorable Mark Eckert, Mayor of Belleville and President of the Southwestern IL Council of Mayors.
Lt. Colonel Matthew Getty, Commander of the 375th Operations Support Squadron, was the emcee for the ceremony, keeping the program moving forward and well organized. He gave a brief history of Scott AFB, from its start as a pilot training base in World War I to becoming a lighter than air base in the 1920s with the second largest dirigible hangar in the U.S., the principle communications school during World War II, a pioneer in aeromedical airlift, and ultimately host to 375th Air Mobility wing, Air Transport Command, Air Mobility Command, 126th Air Refueling Wing and other command centers that are essential to the operations of U.S. Air Force assets world wide. "624 acres, originally farmed by seven families to feed a region, transformed over 100 years to protect a nation," Colonel Getty said in summary. "And just like those families who until the summer of 1917 that worked tirelessly to cultivate the soil upon which this base was built," he continued, "so too have the generations of proud Americans that followed - continuously sowing the seeds of innovation that have grown into an installation and community without compare."
Colonel Laura Lenderman, 375th Airlift Wing Commander, extended her appreciation to the members of the Scott AFB community and to the honored guests who support the base in Illinois. "This is a momentous year in Scott's history, and we are so grateful to share it with all of you as we begin this year-long celebration of our 100 years of service...Today reminds us that our history of innovation, communication and excellence is alive and well here at Scott, in our community, the great state of Illinois and across our nation. And today is also an opportunity for all us to say thank you." She continued, "We would not have been able to do what we have done for the past 100 years, or for the next 100 years, without all of your support." She then introduced The Honorable Bruce Rauner, Governor of Illinois.
Governor Rauner took the stage, along with Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti and Colonel Lenderman to present the Governor's Proclamation of 2017 as the Year of Scott AFB in the State of Illinois. In his remarks, Governor Rauner voiced his strong support for military service members. "Every service member, every man and woman in uniform, every veteran here today and across the state of Illinois and around the world - Thank you, God bless you, you are our heroes. It's an honor for us to work for you." He continued, "The United States of America is the greatest nation on earth because of your service. We are the world's beacon of freedom, democracy, hope and justice because of your service, your patriotism and your sacrifice. God bless you. We owe you an incredible debt of gratitude." He also expressed his dedication to providing support to veterans when they leave military service, and also for keeping Scott AFB a vitally important part of our national defense.
Following video messages from commanders and senior enlisted leaders from the major commands served by Scott Air Force Base, the Centennial Display was unveiled for all to see on the stage.
Following the formal program, there was more live music and a fireworks display. There will be more events this spring and summer to commemorate the Scott AFB Centennial, including the Centennial Airshow June 10-11. For more history of Scott AFB and future events, check the special Centennial Celebration web page.
The Aero Experience thanks Colonel Lenderman, her staff and all who contributed to make this event a great success.