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NEWS | July 23, 2008

Team Langley: Honoring Enlisted Heritage

By Bayside Enlisted Heritage Publicity Committee Bayside Enlisted Heritage Committee

On Sept. 18, 2003, Hurricane Isabel, the deadliest hurricane of 2003, devastated much of the East Coast. Unfortunately, Langley wasn't spared the hurricane's fury or devastating effect. After Hurricane Isabel swept through, the Bayside Enlisted Club was left severely damaged and completely unserviceable.

Fast forward four years to the summer of 2007 and, through the hard work and perseverance of numerous personnel, the Bayside Enlisted Club was skillfully restored and re-opened during a ribbon cutting ceremony officiated by Brig. Gen. Mark Barrett, 1st Fighter Wing commander. The total cost of rebuilding the enlisted club was a staggering $4.9 million.

Today, Langley has a state-of-the-art premier enlisted club. Time and again, total force service members passing through the club's foyer are amazed by the clubs remarkable comeback, its style and design.

In spite of the numerous positives listed above, many would suggest there still remains a critical component of the enlisted club's decor missing. One question heard over and over again: Where are the pictures, decorations and memorabilia that capture and accurately portray Langley's proud enlisted heritage over the years? Still another, perhaps more appropriate follow-up to that question would be, why bother displaying this memorabilia at all?

The answer lies in a letter released, by Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force Rodney J. McKinley on 29 Jan. 2008, entitled "Airman Heritage." In the letter, Chief McKinley states "We should all be very proud of our Air Force heritage." Chief McKinley goes on to say "Through visual depictions of heritage, Airmen are better able to identify with their unit mission and goals and are reminded their sacrifices are not forgotten. Think of the pride an Airman would feel pointing to a photograph hanging on the wall and saying, 'Look! I was there - I took part in that operation!'"

Through nine decades of excellent service, Langley and the 1st Fighter Wing have carved a prominent niche in our Air Force history. Langley is home to two of the oldest fighter squadrons in the history of the United States. The 1st FW was also the first tactical unit to deploy to Saudi Arabia in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and, most recently, the first unit chosen to base the advanced F-22A Raptor fighter jet.

Through the determination of Chief Master Sgt. James MacKinley, 1st FW command chief, and enlisted leadership from the 1st FW and Air Combat Command, the Bayside Enlisted Heritage Committee was established to address the concerns raised by Langley's enlisted. The committee's main focus is to restore the enlisted memorabilia Langley men and women long to see displayed at their enlisted club; as is the case in many other enlisted clubs the world over.

Further, the committee's primary goal is to honor the many contributions and sacrifices Langley Airmen have made over the years by displaying memorabilia and pictures that accurately capture Langley's proud enlisted heritage. In addition, the committee's actions are serving to reaffirm Chief McKinley's message by actively seeking contributions depicting Langley enlisted members throughout the Air Force community.

If you are interested in being a part of this historic project that will impact Langley and our Air Force's Enlisted Corps for years to come, e-mail: You can contribute to this wonderful project by sharing items relating to the Air Force's proud enlisted heritage, or by sharing your great ideas, energy and enthusiasm in support of the committee.