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Air Forces Northern Salutes Veterans for their Service

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Ed Staton
  • AFNORTH Public Affairs
A group of military veterans who answered our nation's call decades ago serving in World War II and the Korean war were honored at the 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) "Salute to Vets 2015" May 29 at the Heritage Club here.  The annual event focused on thanking the group of nine for their dedicated service that helped form the strong foundation that military has today.

"We were very privileged to meet with this group and we said 'thank you' for the significant impact they had on world events that happened 70 and 64 years ago," said Lt. Gen. William Etter, Continental U.S. Aerospace Defense Region -1st AF (AFNORTH) Commander.  "It's because of their service that there is freedom in Europe and the Pacific region."

Along with Tyndall Air Force Base leadership, Panama City Mayor Greg Brudnicki and Parker Mayor Rich Musgrave attended the function. An Air Force honor guard honored the arriving veterans with a saber cordon.  The evening included food, fellowship and great stories exchanged between past and present military members. 

The extensive years of military service completed by the group's members provided participants ample ammunition for many great war stories.  They shared history and personal stories from famous sites and battles such as Iwo Jima and Pork Chop Hill.  The honored group included former fighter pilots, infantrymen, fire fighters, weapon experts to name a few.

"I talked with him about his service to our nation in both the European and Pacific theaters in World War II," said Col. Al Wimmer, 1AF (AFNORTH) Director of Operations, regarding his guest, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Robert Williams.  "We talked about how cool it is to fly airplanes and it was an honor and a pleasure to be with him tonight."

An escort hosted each veteran.  Escorts helped share each individual's military experiences and to shed light on their post-war careers and family life. Brudnicki had the honor of hosting his father, Cpl. (ret.) Adam Brudnicki who served with the Marines during the WWII Pacific campaign.

"He was with a replacement group that went over to Iwo Jima and Guam," Brudnicki said.  "I believe that there were 228 in his group and only 26 came back who weren't shot up or paid the ultimate sacrifice." 

Much like many veterans who returned from combat, Brudniki said his dad hasn't said much about his experiences from that part of his life.

"He's pretty tough and he doesn't talk about it a lot," said Brudniki in the emotion-filled room.  "I am so proud of his legacy and I just hope everyone appreciates the sacrifices they made and the things that they did."

While the night's focus was on saluting the assembled veterans, there was also a sense of gratitude displayed by the guests. Maxie Mann, a member of U.S. Navy Reserve's Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service (WAVES) in WWII, expressed great appreciation.

"I think it's a wonderful event," Mann said who served as a lab and X-ray technician.  "These people have given so much and they really deserve this."