By Maj. Deb Magaldi
SANDSTON, Va., - Saturday, Sept. 16, was a very special day for the 192nd Fighter Wing: Family Day 2006. Along with their Air Guard men and women, more than 1,500 family members and retirees turned out for the day-long event that included military displays, activities for all ages, lunch, snacks, and a range of informational and family support materials.
Heading up the event was Angie Wade, the Wing family programs coordinator.
“The day was a huge success,” she said. “It was a day for our Guard members, their families and our retirees to enjoy. No cost or fuss for them – just good food and great fun with family and co-workers.
“We served more than 1,100 lunches; and nearly everyone left with a handful of give-a-ways and informational material,” she added. “The success of this event was due to the incredible talents and efforts of the Family Day Committee and the work of both fulltime and traditional Airmen and our many volunteers, especially the Student Flight, who carried the day off in fine form. I must also thank the commanders for supporting us and this very special event.
“There were so many highlights, it’s hard to pick one that shined above the rest,” Wade added. “I take my hat off to the people who made it possible for the F-22 Raptor to visit Sandston for this event. It was awesome! A line extended out from the aircraft the entire day as our crew chiefs took small groups around the aircraft.”
Young and old took to the rock-climbing wall, the military equipment displays, hay rides, the 1961 Berlin Call-Up displays and stories, and attempts to dunk their ‘favorite’ commander.
“A specialty vehicle display, coordinated by Col. Garrie Denson, 192nd FW, brought in many fascinating and beautiful entries including wing commander Col. Jay Pearsall’s 1929 prize-winning Orchard truck, which he restored,” she added.
Nearly 250 Virginia Air National Guard retirees and their spouses enjoyed displays, mementos and photos from the unit’s 1961 Berlin Call-Up to active duty.
Many of the displays were prepared by Peter Martens of the 192nd FW’s public afairs office.
It was a very special kind of “family” reunion, according to Virginia Air National Guard Retiree Association member Tech. Sgt. (ret.) Tom Carter, who began planning the reunion about two years ago.
“The memories and stories were incredible,” he said. “I wanted to give current members a chance to blend with the retirees and learn from them. They came from all over Virginia and as far away as southern Florida.”
Brig. Gen. William Busby, assistant adjutant general for air, commended Pearsall and all who had a part in the event, saying, “Well done to you and your team for a magnificent family day! ...What a team of warfighters, emergency responders and family we have. It was a superb way to show our Airmen and their families how much they mean to the Virginia Guard family.
“This visibly delivers on one of the adjutant general’s key objectives of ‘Guardsman Care’ by focusing on our families,” Busby said. “I view this as a true national benchmark!”