Air Chief's Twilight Tattoo complete success

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Katherine Windish
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
The Air Force Chief of Staff's Conference of American Air Chiefs Twilight Tattoo was held this weekend on the U.S. Air Force Ceremonial Lawn on Bolling Air Force Base and featured some of Bolling's finest.

Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, U.S. Air Force chief of staff, hosted the event celebrating "50 Years of Friendship and Cooperation" between nations belonging to the System of Cooperation among American Air Forces June 13.

In 1961, General Thomas D. White, the fourth Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, conceived the idea of a Conference of the Air Chiefs of the Americas (CONJEFAMER) to "promote greater understanding and cooperation among the air forces of the Americas with a view toward hemispheric security." The first CONJEFAMER was designed to bring freedom from risk, danger, doubt, anxiety, or fear, and to create an environment of confidence among the air forces in the Western Hemisphere. For the last 45 years, the air chiefs of twenty-four countries (eighteen members and six observers) have met and focused on similarities rather than differences, to share ideals, experiences, and interests in a cooperative, apolitical atmosphere.

From this first conference, grew the System of Cooperation Among the American Air Forces (SICOFAA), with the annual CONJEFAMER as its centerpiece event. SICOFAA is an organizational alliance of North, Central and South American Air Forces.

This year, the USAF hosted commanders and representatives in the nation's capital and celebrated the nations' alliance with a first-of-its-kind tattoo ceremony on the Ceremonial Lawn for the official delegates arriving from the SICOFAA nations.

"To the chiefs of the American Air Forces, thank you for coming together this week to discuss mutual cooperation and security throughout the Americas. The United States Air Force is honored, truly honored, to be your host this year," said General Schwartz in his opening remarks at the ceremony. "Susie and I are pleased to welcome the ambassadors from each of the CONJEFAMER participating nations and we look forward to this evening's ceremony which will set the tone for what I'm sure will be a rewarding, beneficial, constructive and collegial week. This is the 50th, yes the 50th, time that we have come together as fellow Airman representing the air forces of the Americas. With the dynamism of this half century, the significant amount of uncertainty that emerged has also driven and sustained our mutual desire to address our issues collectively, and mutual respect and friendship. I suspect this will only intensify in the coming years..."

The United States Air Force Honor Guard and Band were the event's performing units. The production at Bolling incorporated the traditional ceremonial tattoo sequence of a formal presentation of command, ceremonial honors, feature segments, pass in review and closing ceremonies. The feature segments included the Drill Team, Air Force Band drum solo, Max Impact and the debut of the new Honor Guard element, Air Strike -- which incorporates the performances of two premier elements from the Air Force Honor Guard and Band.

"Tonight was absolutely spectacular," said Col. Cedric George, 11th Wing commander. "Thousands of hours have gone into preparing for this event. From the moment I saw [the Air Strike element] start to practice two months ago until tonight... to see it come together like this tonight is just fantastic."

A video segment was shown while Senior Master Sgt. Kevin Burns, United States Air Force Band, in a traditional vintage uniform acting the part of General White, SICOFAA founder, narrated the history and accomplishments of SICOFAA. The tattoo was narrated in Spanish and English by Maj. Alex Cortes and Staff Sgt. Jorge Cortijo, United States Air Force Honor Guard, to accommodate the official language of the organization.

Max Impact and the Ceremonial Brass played bi-lingual songs, accompanied by Air Strike's drill maneuvers and a color guard unit displaying flags from each of SICOFAA member nations.

To audience members and commanders, the weeks of training and preparation were evident.

"After all the many rehearsals we did and the dress rehearsal last night, this was a culmination of all that work," said Col. Jeffrey Swegel, 11th Operations Group commander. "They have worked so hard, every single one of them. Everything was done fantastically, I was thrilled and so proud to be the OG commander. I'm privileged to be associated with the great Airmen that pulled this off."

The 11th Wing commander fervently agreed with Colonel Swegel.

"I couldn't be more proud today to see our 11th Wing Airman come together and live out our motto of 'precision, excellence, fired up' in everything we do," said Colonel George. "They have, in fact, showcased excellence in all we do and all the Air Force core values, and done incredibly well in representing the United States and our Air Force. I am confident that every Airman, past and present, will be pleased to see what we see here, as we contribute to 50 years of cooperation and teamwork."

Some Airmen had visiting parents and extended family members travel just to see the performance. Airman 1st Class Jordan Anderson, United States Air Force Honor Guard, welcomed his mother, Sheri, from Pennsylvania to the event to see him in a military ceremony for the first time as he carried the Argentinean flag.

"Wow, as a mom, that was amazing to see," she said after the performance. "These Airmen are so dedicated and so proud. What an honor."

Family and military members alike agreed it was a phenomenal and inspiring event.

Former ceremonial guardsman, Staff Sgt. Michael McGuire, came to the rehearsal with his wife and daughter.

"I've done four tattoos myself, this is the first one I have seen from the outside looking in. I was very proud to see them carry on the tradition," he said. "They did an amazing job, they never disappoint me."

The evening also marked the new United States Air Force Band commander's conducting debut.

"This is a very special group of talented musicians and a very special group of warrior Airmen with very high skill levels," said Lt. Col. A. Philip Waite. "They bring to the fight a level of professionalism that is unmatched. It was great fun to conduct them in this truly magnificent ceremony. I felt proud and humbled to stand on that field with the Ceremonial Brass and Honor Guard and be included."

The wing commander passed on General Schwartz's comments following the performance -- "well done and flawless." The entire Bolling team worked tirelessly and added another memory steeped in proud military tradition to the rich history of the United States Air Force during these incredible performances.

For more pictures and video clips from the event, or to comment on your experiences at the event, visit the Bolling Air Force Base Facebook page.