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168th Wing hosts Dining Out, Air Force Tradition, Hap Arnold's "Wing Ding"

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Julie Avey
  • 168th Wing

The 168th Wing Commander held a Dining Out, a ball-like event with dinner, a guest speaker, and dancing, in Fairbanks, Alaska, for the Airmen of the 168th Wing to keep Air Force traditions alive and continue morale-building ceremonies during drill weekend, June 2, 2023.

The Air Force Dining Out event started approximately in the 1930s with Army Air Corp’s General H. “Hap” Arnold’s “Wing Dings.”

A dining out is a traditional military ceremonial dinner for unit members and their guests to foster camaraderie and spirit de corps. The event incorporates all the military traditions associated with the formal mess, including a table setting dedicated to those military members killed, captured, or missing in action.

“The wing Dining Out was extremely enjoyable this year and provided us a chance to socialize, laugh, and reflect on the heritage, our camaraderie, and the importance of these events – especially during these busy and demanding times,” said Lt. Col. Matthew McClurg. “The event was both elegantly executed and offered moments of profound statements as well as hilarious and whippy come-backs! Just how a dining out should be!”

Special guests at the event included The Air National Guard Command Chief Master Sgt. Maurice Williams, Mrs. Gwendolyn Williams, wife of ANG CCM, Mrs. Brittney Smart, a special assistant to the Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor, and our own famous Tommy G. from Fairbanks, who serves as an “honorary commander” to the 168th Maintenance Group.

As the guest speaker, Williams spoke to the 168th Wing about the challenges and the excellent work the Wing accomplishes.
“You are the first line of defending the U.S. Air Space, providing the alert mission on a regular basis in this strategic location,” said Williams.

Williams explained how Multi-capable Airmen may be a newer term, but for Guard Airmen, it is not a new concept.

“ACE provides an innovative approach to operations that enables continued operations under changing conditions. In ACE, our Airmen will be asked beyond what they have been trained to do. We epitomize Multi-capable Airmen. Many of us hold different jobs in our civilian lives and bring unique, innovative skills and ideas to the Guard. We encourage and empower our people to think and act globally.”

Williams went on to talk about the importance of each Airman in the Air National Guard. Williams shared his thoughts on mentoring, “Mentoring–That’s where you Build a relationship not just for the current job but for development for life – help individuals to grow.

He ended by sharing, “Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville once said, “We need to be ready to fight tomorrow, and we need to be ready to fight every single day after that.” As I agree with him, I believe given your strategic location, you need to be ready to fight tonight and every day after that.”

“If we as a nation, a joint force, and the Air National Guard defend our values, we need to understand the national defense strategy and take it from words on paper to execution.”

Lt. Gen. Torrence W. Saxe, The Adjutant General of the Alaska Air and Army National Guard, emphasized the love of family and service. “What we do is for is the love of family and love of state and nation.”

“I was out at Fort Greely, and I heard someone say I have made a lot of accomplishments in my life and in the military, but my greatest accomplishment is what I saw at the altar when I got married,” said Saxe. 
“I wanted to pass this along to every spouse here. You are the greatest force enabler for the United States Air Force.”

Saxe thanked the Airmen of the 168th Wing and honored their duty to the state and nation.

“Nothing moves in this theater without the 168th Wing - The Fifth Generation Fighters defend across the world, but if they do not have gas, they will fly around the flagpole,” said Saxe. “Your mission is absolutely critical, and every single person here in the room, both military members and spouses, you help make that happen.”

“You were part of the rescue triad; I heard that today. You refueled a C-130, and they refueled a helicopter, and they went out and did a rescue,” said Saxe. “The bottom line is I can’t be prouder of this wing, and your impact is well beyond what you do in the interior.”