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NEWS | Aug. 25, 2006

Tattoo to honor vets, POWs

By Vic Johnston 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs

This year's Air Combat Command Tattoo will be held in Memorial Park the evening of Sept. 13 starting at 6:55 p.m. This is the nineteenth year for the Tattoo - a 75-minute sound and light show that recounts the history of the base and the Air Force. 

In attendance will be members of the 1st Fighter Association, many of whom flew and worked on P-38 Lightning fighters during World War II. 

The association had their last reunion in Hampton Roads in 2002 and members enjoyed the Tattoo so much they decided to schedule their reunion to take advantage of the event. 

According to Jim Graham, the past president of the association, it was one of the most memorable and enjoyable reunions since he joined in the 1980's. "We were elegantly hosted by Gen. Hal Hornburg, ACC commander, then Col. Steve Miller, 1st Fighter Wing commander, and (in my case as a former 71st Fighter Squadron pilot) then Lt. Col. Tom Bergeson, 71st FS commander. 

"The Tattoo, of course was the highlight for all. It was truly inspiring and professionally produced and left a lot of spines tingling. The setting, the weather and the participants were tops. That F-15 flyover at dusk let us know that our nation was in the good and capable hands of the 1st (FW) and best! We eagerly look forward to Tattoo 2006." 

F-22 Raptors from the 94th Fighter Squadron will provide the flyover this year.
Additionally, to coincide with the national observance of Prisoners of War and Missing in Action families, ex-POWs in the area will be recognized for their service to country at the Tattoo. 

According to retired Air Force Col. Jay Welsh, Tattoo director, script writer and narrator, it takes a concerted effort on the part of many small groups and units at Langley to make the show a success. 

"Starting months before the actual performance, the Tattoo planning staff begins laying the ground work," Welsh said. The staff delegates areas of responsibility to individual units and people. Units ranging from 1st Services Squadron to 1st Civil Engineer Squadron to aircraft maintainers are involved. 

"The Tattoo will never lose its ability to move all who see it," said Mr. Welsh. "It's not just a collection of military memorabilia, it's something we all can carry home with us after the performance - a message of dedication to country and the understanding of the importance of the job that we do." 

"All of those who contributed to this upcoming Tattoo can be proud," he said, "and I think that pride will be communicated to our audience." 

The base will be open to the public Sept. 13 starting at 5:30 p.m. People interested in attending are encouraged to arrive early to get a good parking spot and view of the show, as seating is open on the lawn of Memorial Park. Lawn chairs and blankets are welcome.