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109th AW celebrates 60 years with Hangar Dance

About 800 people gathered in Hangar 8 to celebrate the 109th Airlift Wing's 60th anniversary Oct. 4. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara)

About 800 people gathered in Hangar 8 to celebrate the 109th Airlift Wing's 60th anniversary Oct. 4. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara)

Capt. Ernest Lancto, dressed in an Army Air Corps uniform, poses with the Liberty Belles at the 109th Airlift Wing's 60th Anniversary Hangar Dance on Oct. 4. The Liberty Belles are a USO-style group and performed at the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara)

Capt. Ernest Lancto, dressed in an Army Air Corps uniform, poses with the Liberty Belles at the 109th Airlift Wing's 60th Anniversary Hangar Dance on Oct. 4. The Liberty Belles are a USO-style group and performed at the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara)

Senior Master Sgt. Andy Kennedy and his wife, Denise, were one of many couples who got dressed up to celebrate the wing's 60th anniversary Oct. 4. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara)

Senior Master Sgt. Andy Kennedy and his wife, Denise, were one of many couples who got dressed up to celebrate the wing's 60th anniversary Oct. 4. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara)

Capt. Matt Sala and his wife, Carie, stand in front of an LC-130 during the base's 60th Anniversary Hangar Dance on Oct. 4. Vintage World War II aircraft were also on display right outside the hangar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara)

Capt. Matt Sala and his wife, Carie, stand in front of an LC-130 during the base's 60th Anniversary Hangar Dance on Oct. 4. Vintage World War II aircraft were also on display right outside the hangar. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara)

Guests grab some food during the 109th Airlift Wing's 60th anniversary celebration Oct. 4. About 800 people gathered in Hangar 8 for the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara)

Guests grab some food during the 109th Airlift Wing's 60th anniversary celebration Oct. 4. About 800 people gathered in Hangar 8 for the event. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Willie Gizara)

STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- About 800 Airmen and guests filled Hangar 8 to celebrate the 109th Airlift Wing's 60th Anniversary on Oct. 4.

The night started with a quick video about the wing being the recent recipient of the Spaatz Trophy, an award recognizing the 109th Airlift Wing as the Air National Guard's most outstanding flying unit for 2007.

Also on screen was Lt. Matt Ruper who spoke about his time serving during World War II; he flew the wing's first aircraft, the P-47 Thunderbolt.

Various restaurants provided buffet-style meals, and entertainment included The Swing Docs and the Liberty Belles.

Airmen and guests dressed up in military uniforms, suits and cocktail dresses that represented eras dating back to the late 1940s all the way through 2008.

World War II vintage aircraft (the P-47, B-17, B-24 and B-25) were lined up outside the hangar next to the wing's LC-130 Hercules. Guests were able to go on the flightline to see the planes up close.

"It was a great time," said Master Sgt. Christine Wood. "To see how the hangar was set up really brought to life the wing's heritage."

"The whole set up was great as was the organization that went into the event," said Master Sgt. Joseph Archambeault. "The static displays of the old aircraft were also great to see. My wife and I had a really nice time."

"Best ever," "Best I have ever been too," and "Best military function ever," were just some of the comments Col. Timothy LaBarge said he heard throughout the night.

"I am glad everyone was having a good time and that they were witnessing the results of teamwork in action," said Colonel LaBarge, 109th AW vice commander and chairman of the 60th Anniversary planning committee. "This anniversary celebration was the result of months of planning, fundraising, negotiating and coordinating by a dedicated team of 109th members in conjunction with some of our community and civilian leaders. The exceptional finished product was evidence of what can be accomplished when you pool your talents, resources, energies and ideas and focus it toward an end goal."

"The night was obviously a huge success," said Capt. Matt Sala, who was part of the planning committee. "The company grade officers were proud to help support the event."

Colonel LaBarge agreed that the night was a true success.

"We wanted to celebrate our 60 years of tradition and history, set the tone for our next 60 years and simply thank all of the 109th unit members, past and present, for all that we have collectively achieved. If we did that in some small way than I think we can call the night a success."