JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - RANDOLPH, Texas --
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas--Air Force senior leaders and representatives from across Joint Base San Antonio participated in Fiesta 2018, April 18-29, honoring San Antonio’s rich military history, strengthening relationships with community members, and representing the Air Force and its mission to Fiesta’s 2.5 million attendees.
Brig. Gen. Heather Pringle, 502nd Air Base Wing and JBSA commander, stressed the importance of JBSA’s involvement in the historic festivities.
“We look forward to taking part in Fiesta celebrations and sharing in the rich heritage and history of the Alamo region ... and on behalf of all the military serving at Joint Base San Antonio, we are grateful for your incredible support and for strengthening our partnership with Military City USA,” Pringle said.
Fiesta is an annual San Antonio celebration that originated in 1891 as a parade honoring the history of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, which has evolved into 11 days of parades, ceremonies and other festivities.
The Air Force’s involvement in Fiesta dates to 1921, when, according to historical records from Kelly Field, a formation flew each day over the Alamo Plaza – a tradition that is celebrated today by the continued connection between the Air Force and the local community in ‘Military City USA.’
This year, the Air Force played a leading role as Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, commander of Air Education and Training Command, served as the Fiesta military coordinator representing San Antonio’s robust military community and continuing a legacy of military involvement in Fiesta.
“On behalf of those who serve – the 140,000 active duty, government civilians, veterans, and military family members who call San Antonio home – thank you [San Antonio] for your overwhelming abrazo of friendship,” Kwast said. “Famous military leaders – Pershing, MacArthur and Eisenhower – have been associated with Fiesta, and I am proud to join those ranks.”
The Air Force kicked off Fiesta with an April 18 event at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph. AETC hosted Fiesta royalty, military ambassadors and civic leaders in an aircraft hangar where attendees and Air Force leaders watched a performance by the U.S. Air Force Drill Team, listened to music by the U.S. Air Force Band of the West, and took photos with aircraft on display.
Fiesta celebrations continued with the Basic Military Graduation Parade at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, April 20. Kwast served as the presiding officer, and Col. Roy Collins, 37th Training Wing commander, presented medals of appreciation to Fiesta San Antonio Commission president, Bill Mitchell; King Antonio, Richard Sparr; and El Rey Feyo, Ken Flores.
“Here at JBSA we support all of the parades and the events, and we get an opportunity to engage with the community throughout the two weeks of Fiesta,” Collins said. “We get an opportunity to continue to build relationships and strengthen the partnership we have with the city of San Antonio, definitely putting in stone the motto we have of ‘Military City USA.’”
Air Force at the Alamo, held at the historic Alamo Plaza April 23, stood out among the many other events the Air Force participated in during Fiesta. The event featured demonstrations and performances of various Air Force units, including the 321st Training Squadron’s Drum and Bugle Corps; the Air Force Honor Guard Drill Team from Washington, D.C.; military working dogs and handlers from the 802nd and 902nd Security Forces Squadrons; explosive ordnance disposal robots and technicians from the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron; and hand-to-hand combative techniques from the 343rd Training Squadron.
Tech Sgt. Melissa Bennett, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center force support deployment manager, and Tech Sgt. Cristofer Mercado-Wallace, Inter-American Air Forces Academy non-commissioned officer in charge of training and evaluations, served as official Air Force ambassadors for Fiesta 2018 and attended more than 20 events April 18-29, alongside military ambassadors from each of the other service branches.
While Bennett and Mercado-Wallace were honored to be recognized throughout Fiesta by grateful San Antonio residents and visitors, the most important part of Fiesta to them was showing their appreciation for the local community.
“As much as our civilian counterparts care about us, I think it’s important for us to show how we appreciate them as well,” Mercaco-Wallace said. “It’s vital for us to show our support and thank them for us being here in ‘Military City USA’.”