AUAB honors Air Force heritage at inaugural Air Force Ball Published Oct. 1, 2016 By Senior Airman Janelle Patiño 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- More than 300 Grand Slam members attended the 69th annual Air Force Ball Sept. 23, here, which featured Maj. Gen. Jay Silveria, Deputy Commander, Combined Air Force Air Component, U.S. Central Command, as a guest speaker. The Air Force Ball is an annual celebration held in honor of the day the Army Air Corps became a separate branch of service in 1947. Since then, it has become an Air Force-wide tradition to commemorate Air Force heritage and history. “Our Airman’s Creed outlines that we are ‘faithful to a proud heritage, a tradition of honor and a legacy of valor’, and it is that heritage that the Airmen at AUAB celebrate,” said Brig. Gen. Darren James, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. The theme of the event was “Vanguard of Freedom Since 1942” in acknowledgement of the unit’s historical origin, which ties back to the 379th Bombardment Group. The 379th BG was the most successful bombardment groups in World War II. The 379th AEW continues to honor that heritage today as the “Grand Slam Wing” at AUAB. The evening marked the first occasion that an Air Force Ball was formally held at AUAB, which hosts the largest expeditionary wing in Air Forces Central Command’s area of responsibility. “We are the greatest Air Force in the world, so where better to celebrate the founding of the Air Force than a combat wing executing four of the five Air Force core missions,” said James. “Just as the 379th BG made history, our Airmen also make history every day. “ The ceremony included a Prisoner of War and Missing in Action tribute from the base’s Honor Guard, a traditional cake-cutting ceremony, and a video tribute highlighting the history of both the Air Force and the 379th AEW. An after-party was later held at Memorial Plaza featuring free food and musical performances by volunteer DJs and the AFCENT band, Raptor.