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Airmen at JIATF South celebrate USAF's 63rd Birthday

  • Published
  • By Maj. Eric Dudac
  • 12th Air Force, Detachment 2, AWACS liaison officer
Detachment 2, 12th Air Force and the Joint Interagency Task Force South, Air Force Element, teamed up to celebrate the U.S. Air Force's 63rd birthday on Sept. 18 in Key West, Fla.

The air component at JIATFS goes back to the origins of Task Force 4.0, and Airmen have been part of the Counter Illicit Trafficking fight since the Department of Defense first became involved with the detection and monitoring mission. 

"Celebrating the Air Force Birthday gives us a chance to come together and reflect on the accomplishments and sacrifices of the Airmen who have come before us," said Lt. Col. Edward Boxx, Det. 2 commander, said. "Nowadays, we have advanced systems such as the E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System, but we also have black and white photos and old timers reminding us how it was operating cathode ray radar scopes in Key West back during the 1960s. It is important to know your roots and where you came from."

The Airmen stationed in Key West marked the occasion with a Fun Run through old town Key West highlighted by a run down Duvall Street. The famous thoroughfare is known more for its nightlife, but at 7 a.m. it echoed with the sounds of military Jodie's and cadence calling. Key West locals and early-morning tourists greeted the military formation with cheers of support.  

Colonel Boxx presented a piece of commemorative Air Force artwork representing an E-3 Sentry to the task force to not only celebrate the anniversary of the Air Force as a seperate service, but also to symbolize the long standing relationship between JIATFS and Air Forces Southern.

"Not only was it great to get the Key West Airmen together and remember the Air Force birthday in an area steeped with military history, but it was heartwarming to have our joint brothers and sisters celebrate alongside us," said Col. Nic Myers, JIATFS chief of staff. "We appreciate the E-3 print with the unit patches -- it is symbolic of the outstanding support the AWACS crews provide JIATFS. This will hang outside our new Joint Operations Command Center. The E-3 Sentry is a reminder to our partner nations that we are committed to building regional stability and enduring partnerships."

The event concluded with a cutting of an Air Force cake by the youngest and oldest Airman.