Senior Master Sergeant Wayne Hanna looks at the photos of the missing and dead men, women and children from the terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center Building on September 11, 2001, at the 9/11 Museum on August 20, 2012 in New York City. Hanna is from 76th Air Refueling Squadron at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Andrew Lee)
Staff Sgt. Carey Tignor, a military working dog handler with the 87th Security Forces Squadron from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., holds Szultan for an off-camera photographer during Air Force Week at Pier 86 in New York City Aug. 19. Several MWD demonstrations took place during Air Force Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Amanda Dick/Released)
8/24/2012 - NEW YORK -- The Air Force kicked off one of its biggest outreach programs Aug. 19 in America's largest city with a combination of opening day remarks, flyovers, interactive displays and performances by Air Force bands.
The opening ceremony at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum on Pier 86 marked the start of Air Force Week here, three days of events aimed at showcasing the Air Force, and its men and women, in front an audience of more than eight million New Yorkers.
"Air Force Week shines a big spotlight on our Airmen's essential contributions to America's national security, and America's Airmen in the fight," said Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley during his remarks.
He told the audience that no matter how advanced the Air Force becomes technologically, its success will always depend on its people.
"We give our men and women responsibility beyond their years, and we expect them to perform their missions, and innovate and improvise, to get the job done," Donley said. "We can never take them for granted. Our Airmen make us exceedingly proud ... and we couldn't ask for finer role models for examples of selfless service."
The ceremony included other top Air Force and local civic leaders, as well as a flyover by the Air Force's Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team. An open water rescue demonstration with an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and rescue team from the 106th Rescue Wing, Westhampton Beach, N.Y., followed.
There were also interactive displays featuring the Air Force Recruiting Service exhibit "Command Center Alpha," a 3-D tour that includes computer graphics, videos and a Thunderbird display.
"This week, Airmen inteacted throughout the five boroughs of New York, shared their stories, educated citizens about the many contributions of the Air Force and their impact to national defense," said Gen. Edward A. Rice, commander of the Air Education and Training Command and one of the guest speakers at the ceremony. "These activities allowed America's largest city to engage with the most powerful weapon system in our arsenal: our Airmen."
New York Fire Commissioner Salvatore Cassano, who represented the city during the ceremony, compared today's Air Force and its Airmen to the city of New York.
"The city continues to rise," Cassano said. "It brings us to new, never before seen heights. Our Air Force is the most technologically advanced and most highly trained aerial fighting force the world has ever seen. You literally bring our country to new heights through your dominance in the sky."
During the activities, Donley unveiled the 2012 edition of the "Portraits in Courage" series, which highlights Airmen who have displayed bravery and determination in the face of especially challenging or dangerous circumstances. Five of the 20 Airmen portrayed in the series were honored during the ceremony, to include:
- Capt. Jennifer Curtis, a family nurse practitioner with the 75th Medical Operations Squadron, Hill Air Force Base, Utah, who pulled six injured service members into her medical facility to provide aid after her camp in Afghanistan was attacked;
- Capt. Darrel Deleon, a space and missile commander with the 1st Space Operations Squadron, Schriever Air Force Base, Colo., who saved the lives of injured Soldiers during an attack on his camp in Afghanistan;
- Staff Sgt. Christopher Jarrell, a military working dog handler with the 81st Security Forces Squadron, Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., who provided suppressive fire that enabled the recovery of wounded service members during an attack in Afghanistan;
- Capt. Blake Luttrell, a special tactics officer with the 21st Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, N.C., who recovered a wounded Soldier and provided critical medical care before coordinating a show of force with attack helicopters during an Afghanistan battle; and
- Staff Sgt. Vanessa Salzl Bibb, an aeromedical technician with the 59th Medical Wing, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, who helped provide treatment for 14 wounded service members after an attack on a provincial reconstruction team.
Air Force Week cranked into high gear during its second day as about 50 Airmen from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. toured the 9/11 memorial and the Freedom Tower.
"We here today at the tribute center," said Master Sgt. Charles Kramer, first sergeant of the 732nd Airlift Squadron at JB MDL. "We're here to support Air Force Week New York City and one of our stops is to come down here to the World Trade Center site and take a look at this fabulous facility that these folks (New Yorkers) put together to memorialize everything that's happened during 9/11 and since then."
Kramer was on Reserve status when 9/11 occurred and, although he wasn't actively drilling, he was so moved after the 9-11 events that he wanted to be a part of what was coming and came back into the Reserve to serve out his commitment.
Airmen also visited the VA Medical Center in the Bronx to speak with three patients participating in a research trial on a new product called the ReWalk Argo medical device.
The device is a powered exoskeleton concept and provides user-initiated mobility; it consists of a light wearable brace support suit, which integrates actuation motors at the joints, an array of motion sensors, a computer system based on sophisticated control and safety algorithms and tailored rechargeable batteries.
The night concluded with a screening of the film, Red Tails, aboard the Intrepid.
Gen Edward A. Rice, Air Education and Training Command commander, welcomed the Tuskegee Airmen in attendance of the screening.
"We are here to honor real heroes: Tuskegee Airmen," said Rice, introducing them to the crowd aboard the Intrepid.
"I know you are going to enjoy this movie," said Dr. Roscoe Brown, Tuskegee Airman. "One reason to enjoy it is because I helped to make it." Brown was one of 15 pilots to shoot down a German pilot.