919th SOW Celebrates 50th Anniversary > Air Force Reserve Command > News Article
DUKE FIELD, Fla. —
The Air Force Reserve’s only special operations wing celebrated its 50th anniversary with events to honor the sacrifice of service members and their families April 1-3.
The 919th Special Operations Wing hosted a social gathering for current and past members, a Wing Family Day, an annual awards banquet and a memorial dedication as part of its tribute to Citizen Air Commandos who have served the country with distinction for over 50 years.
“This is an opportunity for us to honor all those who have ever worn the 919th crest while serving the nation and the families they left behind,” said Col. Jason Grandy, commanding officer. of the 919th SOW. “The 919th has a long and distinguished history dating back to July 1971, when the Air Force Reserve established its presence at Duke Field. We are here because of those heroes who came before us who fought and defended the interests of America with bravery all over the world.”
Wing Family Day activities included a petting zoo, ax throwing, face painting, a resource fair with over 50 vendors representing aid agencies from across the Emerald Coast and much more. As part of the event, the unit also had seven of the aircraft reservists flying in support of Air Force Special Operations Command on display to highlight the diverse nature of the mission sets currently performed by members of the 919th SOW.
“Wing Family Day showcased the capabilities we provide to the fighter while giving our members and families a chance to stay connected with each other and the local community,” Grandy said.
The spotlight continued to shine on America’s Citizen Air Commandos at an awards banquet later that night with guest speaker, Retired Gen. Richard Haddad, a former 919th SOW pilot and squadron commander, who flew combat missions in Afghanistan after the September 11 attacks. .
The formal dinner highlighted service members who have made significant contributions to the wing’s global mission in 2021 amid a global pandemic.
“While we don’t do what we do for the awards or the adulation, our members deserve this recognition,” Grandy said. “We do this work because it’s part of who we are and our uncommon desire to be the best.”
More than 200 members of the 919th SOW, families, alumni and community partners attended the formal dinner. Several members who were part of the Air Force Reserve when it was created at Duke were at the banquet.
“When I came to the 919th in 1971, I made some really great friends and worked with a lot of great people who had enormous talent,” said retired Lt. Gen. James Sherrard III, who served as part of the small group of “pioneers” who attended. the prize-giving.
Sherrard went on to have a remarkably successful career and eventually became Commander of the Air Force Reserve in 1998.
“Our people were quite talented and we were very proud to be part of special ops,” Sherrard said. “Pride in our performance carried the 919th through the unit’s fantastic record while mobilized and deployed for Operation Desert Shield and Storm. It proved that we have fantastic people with great talents and showed what the Reserve can and will do for the country if asked.
In addition to the Gulf War, the 919th SOW has also supported Operations Just Cause, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Inherent Resolve, among others, since its activation. Countless Airmen from the 919th SOW have been recognized for their combat performance after returning home, making it one of the most decorated units in the Air Force Reserve.
The culminating event occurred on April 3 when the unit dedicated a memorial to honor members of the 3205th Drone Group. Members of the group were part of the first unit to conduct training at Duke Field using some of the Air Force’s first drones in 1946.
Local businesses and chambers of commerce throughout the region provided resources to support the milestone of the 919th SOW and its 1,700 Citizen Air Commandos.
“The only reason this weekend happened was because of our community partners,” Grandy said. “We celebrated the 50th anniversary because we have people who care about us, understand that we are part of this community and want to celebrate the 919th. [SOW] just as much as us. I couldn’t be more grateful for the outpouring of support we’ve received from the community. It has been amazing and is a testament to the legacy of service that began with those early pioneers and continues with our Airmen today.