Oh What a Night!

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Richard Devereaux
  • 82nd Training Wing commander
As I hope you all know by now, last Saturday night Sheppard celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the United States Air Force in high style. And what a night it was! For those of you that weren't there, let me fill you in.

Hangar 1045 was the venue, with vintage and current aircraft impressively arrayed inside and out. In fact the "decorating team" parked aircraft in the road to welcome our guests as they entered the front door. Inside, the hangar was transformed into a festive display of history and pageantry with a huge 60th Anniversary Banner (the largest in the AF) serving as the backdrop.

Sprinkled among the crowd of 1,000 were about 100 folks dressed in authentic 1940s-era uniforms, adding to the color of the evening. The program included vintage movie clips recording the birth of the Air Force, a performance by a swing-era choreographed dance Team - the Sheppard Ambassadors of Swing - 400 Airmen in training shouting a special jodie and singing the AF song, incredible music from the AF Band of the West in Glen Miller garb, hundreds of balloons dropped from the hangar ceiling, an inspiring speech by US Congressman "Mac" Thornberry, and since it was a ball, there was lots of dancing at the end of the evening.

Not bad for $20 a ticket, huh?

But there's more. Our Sheppard Ball was also the set for a national reality TV show called "Dinner: Impossible," where a Food Network celebrity chef is literally dropped into a high-stress environment and, with only hours notice, is ordered to deliver a gourmet meal. For our Ball, I gave Chef Robert Irvine his marching orders on our training ramp 10 hours before meal time--to prepare a gourmet meal fit for 1,000 of the finest Airmen on the planet and their guests. The rest of the day camera crews chased and recorded "Chef Robert" and his Team Sheppard assistants as he planned, prepared, and served this no-notice gourmet meal.

I'm not allowed to tell you how the meal turned out, so you'll have to ask someone who attended. Or . . . you can tune in to the Sheppard episode of "Dinner: Impossible" on the Food Network scheduled to air in January. We'll be sure to give you advance notice. Here's a link to the web site at http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show_ie/.

Chef Robert was visibly humbled by the event, proclaiming to the attendees that he'd cooked for Presidents and kings, but he'd never had a cooking experience that surpassed the privilege of cooking for our great Airmen. And he said all that before he found out about his T-38 flight the next morning, compliments of the 80 FTW!

A Dinner Impossible like this doesn't happen by accident, but only through months of planning and preparation and execution by a team of pros. I'd like to recognize Maj Shelly Kastler, our AF Ball Team Chief, and her key assistants: Maj Shevonne Scott, Maj Brenda Morgan, Lt Col Cathy Mattie, Maj Brian Murphy, Mr. Frank Schmidt, MSgt Dave Mills, MSgt Jonathan Pityer, TSgt Michelle Frisby, and TSgt Holly Long. Of course there were hundreds more from across the base that made this great night happen--thanks for your part!

I think I can say that for those who attended, and the millions who will watch the "TV version," Sheppard's 60th Anniversary AF Ball was not only a night to remember but a night of renewed pride in our great Air Force and the Airmen who are "Inspired by our Heritage and Reaching for the Future."

It was a happy birthday!