Commander’s Corner: Air Force and New Mexico share heritage

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, New Mexico -- The Air Force has a long, rich history. New Mexico has been a part of that history since the very beginnings of the Air Force when we were just an infant service, and even earlier, to the days of the Army Air Forces and the Manhattan Project.

This year we celebrate 60 years as an independent service, and at the same time we celebrate 60 years of partnership between the Air Force and the people of New Mexico. The Land of Enchantment is an ideal location for a wide range of training, testing, and operational missions. Its blue skies, varied terrain and wide open spaces afford almost unlimited opportunities for Airmen to practice their craft, opportunities that are increasingly scarce in many parts of our nation.

Take Kirtland as an example. At over 50,000 acres, we are the sixth largest base in the Air Force. Our size allows us to safely conduct explosive testing just a few minutes drive from the laboratories that will analyze the data. The Air Force Research Laboratory can locate its office facilities within a few miles of its High Energy Research and Technology Facility and the Starfire Optical Range. Our helicopter crews can take off from our ramp, fly to the auxiliary field in the southwest corner of the base to practice visual patterns, and then transition to the mountains on the eastern half of the base to practice at challenging mountain- top landing zones.

Our F-16s, CV-22s and C-130s, together with aircraft based at Cannon AFB and Holloman AFB, enjoy some of the best low-level training routes and gunnery ranges available anywhere.

The Air Force is fortunate to call New Mexico home, and to have enjoyed these great surroundings for 60 years.

Around the state, there are several key events that will highlight this important milestone.

On Sept. 14, the three existing Air Force bases in New Mexico will gather at the Sandia Resort for the New Mexico Air Force Bases 60th Anniversary Celebration. The day-long celebration includes a golf tournament, exhibits and a by-invitation only ball and concert. You've heard a lot about these events over the last several months with great reason. More than 100 committee members have been working together very hard to make this event a memorable occasion for members of the military community and the general public.

Because this event is one that no one should miss, Sandia Resort is an alternate duty location for members of the Nuclear Weapons Center. The exhibits, both indoor and outdoor, will be open from noon-5 p.m. Read Page 1 and Page 2 for more information about the day's events and a schedule of transportation to the event.

As Americans, we can be proud of our nation's ideals of liberty. As Airmen, we should be mindful of the significant role our service has played in securing that liberty for future generations. Each time we put on our uniform we should think about those that came before us and those that will follow us. We are American Airmen. We are faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor.