WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Lt. Col. Alan Kendrick, 445th Airlift Wing staff, enjoys the afternoon with resident and Army World War II veteran Charles Couch at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center annual picnic June 2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Charlie Miller)
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Tech. Sgt. Rob Brown, 89th Airlift Squadron loadmaster, enjoys the afternoon with resident and Army veteran David Carr at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center annual picnic June 2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Charlie Miller)
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Chief Master Sgt. Peri Rogowski, 445th Airlift Wing command chief, enjoys the afternoon with veteran Donald Vinton and his Quaker parrot, Cricket, at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center annual picnic June 2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Charlie Miller)
WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – Master Sgt. John Koehl, 445th Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant, serves food to veterans and staff at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center annual picnic June 2. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Charlie Miller)
by Master Sgt. Charlie Miller
445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
7/9/2012 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio -- Approximately two dozen 445th Airlift Wing members, including Col. Stephen Goeman, 445th AW commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Peri Rogowski, 445th AW command chief, served food and visited with 250 veterans and staff members at the Dayton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Dayton, Ohio, June 2, 2012.
Wing members supported the annual picnic for the veterans that is sponsored by the Air Force Association's Wright Memorial Chapter and the Air Force Sergeants Association's Kittyhawk Chapter 751. The two associations led the way providing all the food. The Gem City Band, Dayton, Ohio provided live patriotic music for the veterans. The 445th provided the uniforms.
A 40-foot serving line manned by 445th members, active duty Air Force personnel, Air Force retirees and family members greeted the veterans. Hot-off-the-grill hamburgers and hotdogs along with chips, baked beans, cookies, a large variety of fresh fruits and ice cold beverages were served.
"The Air Force visits us more than any other branch," said Dayton native Arthur Ward, a Marine who served during the Korean War. "They are real super and good guys and today they brought us some wonderful food."
Ward, 81, said that he and his brother tried to enlist during World War II but were underage and "got caught." He enlisted legally in 1948 and was riffed in less than two years.
"The Korean War broke out and I got a letter that said, 'Greetings from the U.S. Government' and before you know it, I was back in uniform in a Marine Reserve unit."
Nurses from the veterans living facilities took food back to those who were unable to leave their rooms.
"The residents get what they want," said Nurse Tabiah Jackson with a huge smile as she piled freshly grilled hotdogs and hamburgers on plates. She and several other nurses were back for more within 20 minutes.
Aside from all the good food, several members of the 445th Airmen's Council brought 180 comfort kits for the residents and then stayed for the cookout serving food and visiting with veterans.
"This is a very rewarding feeling, to be able to give back to the veterans," said Senior Airman Laura Wagner, 445th Operations Support Squadron information specialist and Airman's Council member. "I love to talk to them and thank them for paving the way for me."
Wagner said the comfort kits contained shampoo, conditioner and other toiletries. She also said all items in the 180 kits were donated by Wing members.
"I am so happy that we can be here and support the veterans," said George Simons, AFA Wright Memorial Chapter Vice President of Veterans Affairs. His group and the Sergeants Association have been sponsoring cookouts and Christmas/holiday parties at the VA for more than 15 years and the 445th has helped out for 10.
"This is the least I can do for these men and women who have done so much for us," said Master Sgt. John Koehl, 445th Logistics Readiness Squadron first sergeant. "I'm proud to able to come here and serve food to the veterans."