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Legacy: 111th ATKW helps celebrate 74th Air Force birthday in Philadelphia

Two men in dress blues cut a cake.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Randolph J. Staudenraus, Director, Strategy, Policy, Plans and International Affairs (J-5), National Guard Bureau, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., assists as youngest member in attendance, Air National Guard 2nd Lt. Brendan Coble, a budget officer with the 111th Attack Wing headquartered at Biddle Air National Guard Base in Horsham, Pennsylvania, in cutting the cake during a 74th Air Force birthday celebration hosted by and held at the Union League of Philadelphia, Sept. 15, 2021. This year, the Air Force celebrates more than seven decades as a military component. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Wilfredo Acosta)

An Air Force Major General in dress blues accepts a miniature bust of Abraham Lincoln from a man in a jacket and tie.

More than a dozen 111th Attack Wing members stationed at Biddle Air National Guard Base in Horsham, Pennsylvania, represented the Pennsylvania Air National Guard during a 74th U.S. Air Force birthday celebration hosted by the Armed Services Council of the Union League of Philadelphia, Sept. 15, 2021. U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Randolph J. Staudenraus (right front), Director, Strategy, Policy, Plans and International Affairs (J-5), National Guard Bureau, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., served as the keynote speaker, and retired Army Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig Jr (front center), Armed Services Council of the Union League of Philadelphia Chairman, presided over the event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Wilfredo Acosta)

An Air Force Major General in dress blues accepts a miniature bust of Abraham Lincoln from a man in a jacket and tie.

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Randolph J. Staudenraus, Director, Strategy, Policy, Plans and International Affairs (J-5), National Guard Bureau, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., receives a bust of president Abraham Lincoln from retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig Jr., Armed Services Council of the Union League of Philadelphia Chairman, as a token of appreciation for being the Key note speaker during a 74th U.S. Air Force birthday celebration at the Union League of Philadelphia, Sept. 15, 2021. Craig, who formerly served as the Adjutant General of Pennsylvania and Commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard presided over the event. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Wilfredo Acosta)

BIDDLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Pa. --

More than a dozen 111th Attack Wing members stationed here represented the Pennsylvania Air National Guard during a 74th U.S. Air Force birthday celebration hosted by the Armed Services Council of the Union League of Philadelphia, Sept. 15, 2021.

Maj. Gen. Randolph J. Staudenraus, Director, Strategy, Policy, Plans and International Affairs (J-5), National Guard Bureau, the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., served as the keynote speaker and Retired Maj. Gen. Wesley E. Craig Jr., Armed Services Council of the Union League of Philadelphia Chairman, presided over the event.

“We are here to celebrate the 74th birthday of the best Air Force in the entire world, and I say that deservingly so,” said Craig, who formerly served as the Adjutant General of Pennsylvania and Commander of the Pennsylvania National Guard, heaped praise upon the Air Force for its recent Herculean efforts in Afghanistan. “Kudos to the Air Force. I ask all Air Force members, please, to stand and stay standing for a round of applause for the great work that you're doing.”

Craig’s opening remarks were followed by the presentation of the colors and a ceremonial cake cutting.

As the youngest member in attendance, 2nd Lt. Brendan Coble, a native of Jersey City, New Jersey, now serving as a budget officer with the 111th ATKW, joined Staudenraus in using an Army saber to cut the birthday cake.

Staudenraus then thanked the crowd before reminding them why they were in attendance.

“It's truly an honor for me to have the opportunity to address you today in recognition of the Air Force 74th birthday,” said Staudenraus. “Just to put in timelines, that's 888 months, 27,029 days of existence for this fine institution.”

During his presentation, Staudenraus put things in perspective by reminding the audience that he wasn’t much older than Coble in age or rank when he was flying his first combat missions overseas.

I was able to do the things I did in the Air Force, the finest Air Force in the World, because the organization relies on the young Airmen to get the job done, said Staudenraus. My three decades of service are really defined by the Air Force core mission: to fly, fight and win--airpower, anytime, anywhere.

For Coble, who recently commissioned after joining the 111th as an enlisted member, the entire event was a reminder of the legacy he and his wingmen and women have inherited.

“It was an honor to celebrate the Air Force birthday in such great company,” said Coble after the event. “This is the perfect opportunity to reflect on our heritage, and commemorate the efforts of the men and women who have served before us in the greatest Air Force in the World.”