AAFB celebrates history during second annual ‘Legacy of the Spear’ event

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Miyah Gray
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Leaders from the 97th Air Mobility Wing hosted the second annual “Legacy of the Spear” event at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, April 13-14, 2023.

The event was held to celebrate the 97th Air Mobility Wing’s heritage and discuss the future of the base. Multiple previous commanders and command chiefs as well as 19th Air Force leadership gathered to tour various agencies and provide professional development and engagement opportunities for Airmen across the installation.

"It is an absolute privilege and honor to welcome these distinguished leaders back home to Altus," said Col. Blaine Baker, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander. "Their countless contributions to our world-class Airmen and mission are still evident here to this day, and we wouldn't be the wing we are without the legacy these leaders left during their time at the Mighty 97th."

The first day of the event kicked off with a dinner and social event at Charlie’s Lounge. During the kick-off event, Col. Blaine Baker, 97th AMW commander, recognized Charlie’s Lounge as a historical marker and safe zone, similar to the meaning behind “Big Fence” during World War II. 

“Countless Airmen owe their lives to Big Fence, including Airmen of the 97th Bomb Group,” said Melissa Sims, 97th Air Mobility Wing historian.  “We know this because it is literally written on mission logs. The success of many missions in the Mediterranean theater during World War II are directly attributable to the operation of Big Fence. Today, mobility air crews use a NAVAID that guides them to Altus Air Force Base, but Charlie's is considered by many as the physical location for the NAVAID, where aircrews here know that they are home and safe.”

On day two, distinguished visitors toured the 97th Operations Group, where they learned about the modernization of the base’s flight training mission, including virtual reality simulators, the Comprehensive Readiness for Aircrew Flying Training program and other innovations.

While on tour, unit members from the 97th Mission Support Group briefed and showcased their team’s capabilities, including renovations that have been made across the base.

The group also got the opportunity to experience tactical combat casualty care at the 97th Medical Group and get a closer look at the MDG’s daily operations.

For lunch, the group attended an Airman’s lunch at Hangar 97, which provided current AAFB Airmen the opportunity to receive mentorship and share stories with the homecomers.

Spouses of the former leaders had the opportunity to tour the Child Development Center, the Military and Family Readiness Center and the new spouse co-working space at NBC bank in downtown Altus. The group toured these agencies to gain perspective on the improvements made to programs that support the quality of life of Airmen on the base.

Finally, the event concluded with a wing tailgate in which Airmen from AAFB participated in morale events with the leaders and homecomers.

“The legacy of this base is the comradery we’ve always had here, the traditions that we see and of course our outstanding Airmen,” said retired Gen. Carlton Everhart II. “ Every single day you rock whether you're producing airplanes on the line, holding the line, when you move out; it's amazing what you do and it’s a collaborative team effort from everyone across the base.”