ACC commander to be featured speaker for 552nd Air Control Wing heritage event Published Oct. 25, 2012 By Darren D. Heusel Tinker Public Affairs TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Hostage, is set to speak at the 552nd's Heritage Celebration dinner Oct. 27. General Hostage, the former 552nd Air Control wing commander who served from 2002 to 2004, says he is looking forward to returning to Oklahoma to share in the wing's heritage celebration. Since its inception more than 50 years ago, the men and women of the 552nd ACW participated in every major operation the United States has conducted, from Vietnam to the current overseas contingency operations, allowing the unit to earn the nickname "America's Wing." General Hostage's most memorable moments from that long history were sending 19 jets and all their crews off to war at the onset of Operation Iraqi Freedom, then seeing them all come home many months later in "a spectacular mass arrival." The general says it's important to understand the wing's heritage and history to help determine how to best move forward and meet future challenges. "As professional Airmen, we should study our past challenges and the examples of leaders who helped overcome those challenges through innovation and courage to help chart our own course," he said. "From the Air Force Sustainment Center and its critical maintenance and supply-chain management to the associate units such as the 3rd Combat Communications Group and the 552nd Air Control Wing who manage the battle space and command, control and communications elements, everyone on Team Tinker helps ensure combat capability for the Air Force and our joint forces." Today, the Airmen and families who serve at Tinker "provide critical support to our warfighters every day," General Hostage said. The dinner, which includes a 6 p.m. social and after-dinner dancing starting at 9 p.m., concludes a three-day celebration at Tinker. Tours of the E-3 "Sentry" Airborne Warning and Control System, or AWACS, Block 40/45 upgrades for members of the 552nd ACW, the 513th Air Control Group and their spouses kicks off the celebration Oct. 25. The Block 40/45 modification was a $2.9 billion initiative to upgrade the computer system, ground systems and infrastructure on the AWACS. On Oct. 26, members of the Airborne Early Warning Association will be hosting their semi-annual luncheon at the Tinker Club, followed by a discussion panel at the Base Theater and an "old meets new" icebreaker at the club. On the morning of Oct. 27, wing leaders will participate in an AWACS park dedication on Sooner Road south of S.E. 29th Street across the street from the Vance Gate. The base also will host a 5K run/walk in Del City, followed by dinner that evening. The idea to host a wing heritage celebration stemmed from discussions held last year to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the E-3. Belinda Journey, 552nd ACW protocol chief, says the purpose of the events is to educate as well as celebrate. "A lot of people in the wing don't understand what goes on in the next squadron over," she said. "If nothing else, we want our wing members and community leaders to gain a better understanding of our overall mission and the men and women who perform that mission day in and day out."