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NEWS | Oct. 24, 2019

The past meets the present: 1 FW hosts reunion tour

By Airman 1st Class Marcus M. Bullock 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

The Air Force lifestyle is sometimes full of traditions ranging from formal military ceremonies, to carrying small coins stamped with the unit’s insignia. As trivial as some traditions may seem, understanding where a unit has been is key to knowing where they’re going.

For members of the 1st Fighter Wing at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, paying tribute to their past came in the form of a reunion with approximately 50 alumni spanning five decades of lineage.

During the visit, alumni of the U.S. Air Force’s oldest wing, got an up close look at a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor aircraft and F-15 Eagle static display, received a mission brief and met with present 1 FW Airmen.

“It’s amazing to reconnect with folks that I had such a bond with,” said U.S. Air Force retired Maj. Gen. Rich Shook, 94th Fighter Squadron F-15 fighter pilot. “That bond and camaraderie we share is priceless so to see these guys at Langley makes it a great event.”

Shook was thoroughly impressed with the current Airmen of the 1 FW and how much they train to be ready at a moment’s notice. “These young Airmen just blow me away,” Shook said. “They are so smart and capable and I have no doubt they will do whatever our country needs them to do.”

Current 1 FW Airmen briefed Alumni on the F-22 Raptor capabilities, a vastly different aircraft from the U.S. Air Force F-15s, F-4s or F-106s they used to fly. In addition to being briefed during the reunion, attendees were able to impart their own bit of knowledge to current Airmen of the 1 FW.

“It’s awesome to see the heritage and the people who have passed the torch to us while we try to live up to their legacy,” said Capt. John Steele, 94th FS F-22 Raptor pilot. “Seeing and meeting them and hearing all of their stories face-to-face is one of the coolest things to me.”

Steele is already looking forward to returning for a reunion after he has retired from the Air Force.

“As long as the heritage continues, visitation will continue, especially from our generation,” Steele said. “Wherever [the reunion] is in the future, all of us current pilots will seek it out so we can all get together and see each other in the future no matter how busy we get with our lives.”

From current Airmen to members who have long since taken off the uniform, an unconditional respect exists amongst them as a part of the same family during their time in the 1 FW.

“Keep passing along the motivation that you have,” Steele said. “It ignited the dream and the aspiration to carry on the legacy of flying fighters, having fun with the job and protecting this country in one of the coolest ways possible by participating in the one of the best missions anyone has to offer.”

The 1st Fighter Wing Association’s next reunion might have different faces in the crowd, but the same legacy and pride will live on through its members, past and present.