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Myriad events planned for 552nd ACW Diamond Anniversary Salute

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- This year marks the 60th anniversary of Airborne Early Warning and Control for the United States military.

To celebrate this epic milestone and to recognize all of the men and women who have and continue to dedicate their lives to this service, the 552nd Air Control Wing at Tinker Air Force Base will host an event-packed commemoration, May 7-9.

According to the event's project officer, Maj. Sammi Bonney, Standardization and Evaluation division chief for the 552nd Operations Group, guests attending the Diamond Anniversary Salute will have myriad events from which to choose.

The three-day event will kick off with a reception, beginning at 3:52 p.m. at the Tinker Club, with Gen. Lori Robinson, current Pacific Air Forces commander and former 552nd ACW commander, providing welcome remarks.

With the first day serving as a mere appetizer, commemoration goers will have plenty of events to sink their teeth into the second day, beginning with a golf tournament at the Tinker Golf Course.

The golf tournament will begin with a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. and is open to all past and present 552nd ACW members, spouses and Team Tinker members, as space allows.

Three other events will kick off at 8 a.m. on the second day to include a 5K color run, Diamond Anniversary hospitality breakfast and tours of the E-3 "Sentry" Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft and other areas of "America's Wing" every hour, on the hour.

During the breakfast, Col. Jay Bickley, 552nd ACW commander, will discuss modernizing the wing's assets, to include ground radars and the current fleet of E-3s.

Other tours will include flight simulators on and off base, and the 552nd Air Control Group Training Center. A 552nd ACW mission brief will also be given in Fannin Hall, Bldg. 282.

Following the tours, a BBQ buffet lunch service will be held starting at 11 a.m. in Bldg. 230, Docks 2 and 4. During the lunch, there will be music and drill team performances.

At 1 p.m. in Docks 2 and 4, there will be a Hangar Call hosted by Colonel Bickley, who will provide opening and closing remarks. Tales of the 552nd ACW and of the infamous Al Yamamah Ball will also be told during this time by former and current wing members.

Following the Hangar Call, a legends mixer will be held at 3:52 p.m. at the Tinker Club hosted by members of the Airborne Early Warning Association.

On the final day of the Diamond Anniversary Salute, the last of the E-3 replicas will be dedicated in a ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. in "AWACS Park" located across from the Vance Gate on Sooner Road.  This event will be hosted by Del City.

The celebration will culminate with a black-tie gala, beginning at 6 p.m. at the Oklahoma City Petroleum Club in downtown Oklahoma City. Keynote speaker for this event will be Lt. Gen. James Kowalski, current deputy commander for U.S. Strategic Command and former 552nd ACW commander.

Major Bonney said she expects approximately 3,000 active duty and retired military, families and community leaders to attend at least one of the many anniversary events over the course of the three days.

"I believe attendees will have an opportunity to see just what an amazing team they are a part of, and how impressive their colleagues are," she said. "Active duty from all Air Force Specialty Codes, Reservists, coalition partners, veterans, community supporters, contractors, spouses...only together have we been able to deliver sustained global command and control excellence for 60 years."