ABW rocks Tinker Club during First Friday
By Darren D. Heusel, Tinker Public Affairs
/ Published February 26, 2016
TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
If you happened to miss First Friday at the Tinker Club Feb. 5, you missed what some are describing as "historic," "epic" and "reminiscent of the good old days" when base clubs were the place to be on Friday nights.
The Tinker Club has been hosting First Friday for some time now. But, what made this night so special was an appearance by America's Wing Band.
This rock/pop/country cover band is the realization of five 552nd Air Control Wing lieutenant colonels and one colonel who have played in bands before and have a passion for music and the effect it has on morale and esprit de corps.
It was the outstanding support from the Airmen of the 552nd ACW, aptly nicknamed "America's Wing," that packed the house and then proceeded to bring it down.
"America's Wing Band absolutely rocked the Tinker Club!" said Col. Michael Green, 72nd Mission Support Group commander. "With outstanding support from the 552nd ACW, First Friday was the kind of event our clubs were built to host ... it was an opportunity for fun and fellowship among Airmen."
According to Lt. Col. Chris Egan, 966th Airborne Air Control Squadron commander, former USAFE Showcase Tour performer, and AWB rhythm guitarist and vocalist, the band has been together since late November. He said the band appreciates the continued support of all Team Tinker members and the amazing hospitality of the Tinker Club.
Other band members include: 552nd ACW Vice Commander Col. Brad "Tonto" Bird on vocals and rhythm guitar; 552nd ACW Inspector General Lt. Col. Spence McKenna on blazing lead guitar; 552nd Maintenance Group Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Dan "Danimal" Johnsen on drums; 963rd AACS Commander Lt. Col. Tony "Pumba" Alvarado on vocals and cowbell; and 963rd AACS interim Deputy Commander Lt. Col. Gary Sandt on bass guitar.
The stage lighting and sound control was provided by Master Sgt. Michael Wade of the 552nd Maintenance Squadron, and sound technician support was provided by 1st Lt. James "Jammy Jam" Fehrenbach and Master Sgt. Geoffrey Archer from the 963rd AACS.
Colonel Green said the crowd for the First Friday event was the largest he's seen since he arrived at Tinker Air Force Base over six months ago.
"Talking to some of the folks who work at the club, they said this is what First Friday used to be like," he said. "It was, without a doubt, a result of the draw of the band and leadership support within the 552nd ACW."
Colonel Green wouldn't go on record as saying the crowd was the largest ever, "but it's safe to say it was the largest in recent memory."
While the band was busy getting its groove on in the main ballroom, an epic battle was taking place in Rosie's Lounge, as eight teams took part in a Crud Tournament organized and led by the Tinker Company Grade Officers Council.
According to 1st Lt. Amber Oweida, 72nd Mission Support Group executive officer and CGOC vice president, the eight teams signed up to play in the Crud Tournament were the most in the past six months.
She said co-workers, friends and family members filled Rosie's Lounge to cheer on their favorite teams.
"It was shoulder-to-shoulder people," Lieutenant Oweida said.
When the dust had settled, the 960th AACS "Vikings" emerged victorious, edging out the 963rd AACS "Blue Knights" for first place.
"The level of camaraderie displayed by Tinker's Airmen and families as the teams advanced was inspiring," Lieutenant Oweida said.
She said the Vikings celebrated their triumph in force, with their commander, Lt. Col. Kristen Thompson, leading her squadron in a resounding "VIKINGS...VALHALLA" victory chant.
Colonel Bird said Team Tinker can expect to see America's Wing Band around base for special events and First Fridays for many years to come.
"Our goal is to make the band an enduring asset for the 552nd ACW and Team Tinker as a whole," he said. "We will replace musicians when they have to PCS so the band will live on."
"Come on out and see us at our next gig and let us know if there are any events we can play to support the base," Colonel Egan added. "We love to rock the house!"
Those interested in learning more about AWB, or to schedule them for an upcoming event can follow them on their Facebook page at "America's Wing Band." Tinker Living.com also has information about future events featuring AWB on Tinker.