Coinciding with the official recognition of the 2014 Commander In Chief’s (CINC) Installation Excellence Award winners, by the Office of the Department of Defense on Friday, June 6, Altus Air Force Base announced eight quality of living improvement projects at their CINC IEA Party held for Altus Air Force Base personnel at the Wings of Freedom Park on base.
Air Force officials announced in March that AAFB was the winner of the $700,000 award for identifying 96 total innovative cost saving ideas and saving the Air Force $62.3 million.
Col. Bill Spangenthal, 97th Air Mobility Wing commander, addressed base personnel and recalled what he said was “one of the proudest moments” of his life, when the CINC Selection Board was departing AAFB in January.
“Everything that’s happened to me in a short 44 years, listening to four wing commanders dote on everybody that is here, talking about how incredible you are, the things that you are doing… Nothing that I didn’t already know, but to listen to them go on for an hour and a half to two hours, individual names, programs, things that we can take across the Air Force, was phenomenal. I was beaming with pride. I want to thank you all for that,” Col. Spangenthal said.
Col. Spangenthal also recognized the anniversary of D-Day, when the United States invaded Normandy, France, in World War 2. “Some would say it was the greatest generation,” he said. “They spent years fighting over seas, in Europe and the Pacific so we could be here today and enjoy events like this. We cannot afford to forget what happened in the past. We had brave men and women from the 97th who were supporting parts of the allied invasion, supporting bombing missions, supporting with their lives… They are the greatest generation but what I’m looking at is the next greatest generation.”
Col. Spangenthal said that service members in today’s Air Force Today are “more battle-hardened and tested” than ever, having been involved in some form of war in his 22 years in the Air Force. “I want to pause and say, ‘thank you all’ for supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States… active duty, guard, reserve, civilian, airman, all the folks that are here. Thank you for what you’ve done in the past and today so that we can do something like this. I can’t express it enough.”
Col. Spangenthal then proceeded to unveil the selected quality of living improvement projects that include: expansion of the Kid Zone at the FCC building and the Parent’s Workout Center at the base athletic center; renovations to the Base Chapel; adding a dog park, archery range, cross fit equipment and workout space, base-wide wifi, and an 18 hole mini-golf course and a splash pad. Spangenthal said that they started with over 100 projects which were narrowed down in a voting process.
Spangenthal also announced future projects to be funded internally in addition to the CINC award money that include: upgrading treadmills, ellipticals, and steppers; expand library program; expand library computer capabilities; replace library furniture, upgrade paintball field; improve picnic area between FCC and Pool; upgrade soccer fields and softball fields; and upgrade ARC furniture.
“These are all items that we said, ‘Great ideas we completely agree. We’re going to fund those with our own cash,” Spangenthal said.
Spangenthal also thanked the Altus Military Affairs Committee and Altus Chamber of Commerce for organizing, sponsoring, and volunteering at the event.
Altus Military Affairs Committee Chairman, Dr. Joe Leverett, also spoke at the event about what a great year it has been for Altus and AAFB, being nominated for the CINC Award, having their upcoming Air Force Ball and AAFB Air Show, and the announcement of the KC-46A Formal Training Unit mission.
“That’s something the community has worked on for 10 years to get that announcement,” Leverett said of the new mission. “The Military Affairs Committee will continue to work to provide quality of life for our airmen, prevent encroachment, and work with our politicians. It’s been a great year so far. Altus is blessed because we’ve got great airmen that take care of and do a job that nobody else in the world can do.”