Display

A Salute to Heritage

The 338th Combat Training Squadron’s heritage room boasts an impressive hand crafted bar with sheets of metal resembling airframe rivets, Jan. 20, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  The room is now shared with Royals Air Force crew members since they’ve been training side-by-side with Airmen from Team Offutt. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

The 338th Combat Training Squadron’s heritage room boasts an impressive hand crafted bar with sheets of metal resembling airframe rivets, Jan. 20, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The room is now shared with Royals Air Force crew members since they’ve been training side-by-side with Airmen from Team Offutt. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

The 338th Combat Training Squadron’s heritage room boasts an impressive hand crafted bar with sheets of metal resembling airframe rivets, Jan. 20, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  The room is now shared with Royals Air Force crew members since they’ve been training side-by-side with Airmen from Team Offutt. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

The 338th Combat Training Squadron’s heritage room boasts an impressive hand crafted bar with sheets of metal resembling airframe rivets, Jan. 20, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The room is now shared with Royals Air Force crew members since they’ve been training side-by-side with Airmen from Team Offutt. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

The corner of the bar signed by the U.S. Air Force Maj. Aaron D. Madison the carpenter that created the central piece of the 338th Combat Training Squadron’s heritage room Jan. 20, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  Heritage rooms are a combined self-help effort made by the men and women of that flying squadron.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

The corner of the bar signed by the U.S. Air Force Maj. Aaron D. Madison the carpenter that created the central piece of the 338th Combat Training Squadron’s heritage room Jan. 20, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Heritage rooms are a combined self-help effort made by the men and women of that flying squadron. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

A portion of a RC-135 fuselage made into a picture frame sits atop of a large display case inside of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron’s heritage room on Jan. 14, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  The heritage room is a common meeting place where airman can convene.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

A portion of a RC-135 fuselage made into a picture frame sits atop of a large display case inside of the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron’s heritage room on Jan. 14, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The heritage room is a common meeting place where airman can convene. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

The 45th Reconnaissance Squadron is home to the RC-135S Cobra Ball, which is represented in a lot of the heritage room’s ornamentations, Jan. 14, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.   The 45th proudly has their lineage on display throughout the heritage room.    (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

The 45th Reconnaissance Squadron is home to the RC-135S Cobra Ball, which is represented in a lot of the heritage room’s ornamentations, Jan. 14, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The 45th proudly has their lineage on display throughout the heritage room. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Airmen assigned to the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron play a couple of games of foosball inside their heritage room on Jan. 14, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  The walls geometric paint scheme is based on their unit’s scarves from both the past and present.   (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Airmen assigned to the 45th Reconnaissance Squadron play a couple of games of foosball inside their heritage room on Jan. 14, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The walls geometric paint scheme is based on their unit’s scarves from both the past and present. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Tray Wood talks with U.S. Air Force Capt. Joshua Eldridge, both 45th Reconnaissance Squadron members, talk in their heritage room on Jan. 14, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  Heritage rooms are used in numerous ways to include roll call ceremonies to a break room to have lunch.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Tray Wood talks with U.S. Air Force Capt. Joshua Eldridge, both 45th Reconnaissance Squadron members, talk in their heritage room on Jan. 14, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Heritage rooms are used in numerous ways to include roll call ceremonies to a break room to have lunch. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Carmen Gandarillas, assigned to the 97th Intelligence Squadron, marks down a name of someone who walked into the heritage room with their nametag exposed on Jan. 16, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  Heritage room rules are slowly learned over time as they are not written down to be memorized.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Carmen Gandarillas, assigned to the 97th Intelligence Squadron, marks down a name of someone who walked into the heritage room with their nametag exposed on Jan. 16, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Heritage room rules are slowly learned over time as they are not written down to be memorized. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

A café table with the 97th Intelligence Squadron shield sits inside the heritage room Jan. 16, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  Heritage items adorn the room making for a space uniquely 97th IS.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

A café table with the 97th Intelligence Squadron shield sits inside the heritage room Jan. 16, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Heritage items adorn the room making for a space uniquely 97th IS. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Richard Hamilton, assigned to the 97th Intelligence Squadron, plays games with his colleagues at the end of the duty week inside of the 97th IS heritage room on Jan. 16, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  Airmen convene to the heritage room at the end of the week.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 10 of 21

U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Richard Hamilton, assigned to the 97th Intelligence Squadron, plays games with his colleagues at the end of the duty week inside of the 97th IS heritage room on Jan. 16, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Airmen convene to the heritage room at the end of the week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

A hand-made, wooden dart board adorns the walls of the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron’s heritage room located in the 55th Operations Support Squadron building on Jan. 13, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  The dart board was donated to the heritage room from an Airman’s father.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 11 of 21

A hand-made, wooden dart board adorns the walls of the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron’s heritage room located in the 55th Operations Support Squadron building on Jan. 13, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The dart board was donated to the heritage room from an Airman’s father. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Customized bases highlight each stool throughout the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron’s heritage room located in the 55th Operations Support Squadron on Jan. 13, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  The room is a collaborative effort amongst squadron members either by individual purchase or donations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 12 of 21

Customized bases highlight each stool throughout the 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron’s heritage room located in the 55th Operations Support Squadron on Jan. 13, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The room is a collaborative effort amongst squadron members either by individual purchase or donations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Airmen of the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron greet new members during a weekly roll call ceremony held in their heritage room on Jan. 9, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  Hails and farewells are used to say goodbye to colleagues and make the transition for new members more welcoming.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 13 of 21

Airmen of the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron greet new members during a weekly roll call ceremony held in their heritage room on Jan. 9, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Hails and farewells are used to say goodbye to colleagues and make the transition for new members more welcoming. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lisle Babcock, 38th Reconnaissance Squadron commander, pulls his squadron challenge coin during a roll call meeting held in the 38th RS heritage Room on Jan. 9, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  Challenge coins have been an aviator tradition going back as far as World War I.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 14 of 21

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lisle Babcock, 38th Reconnaissance Squadron commander, pulls his squadron challenge coin during a roll call meeting held in the 38th RS heritage Room on Jan. 9, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Challenge coins have been an aviator tradition going back as far as World War I. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Christian Callomore, 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron, walks through his unit’s heritage room located in the 55th Operations Support Squadron building on Jan. 13, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  Each of the flying squadron have their own heritage room where they can hold formal functions or simply hang out with colleagues.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 15 of 21

U.S. Air Force Maj. Christian Callomore, 1st Airborne Command Control Squadron, walks through his unit’s heritage room located in the 55th Operations Support Squadron building on Jan. 13, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Each of the flying squadron have their own heritage room where they can hold formal functions or simply hang out with colleagues. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

The 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron’s heritage room, also known as Hoover Lounge, hosts numerous squadron events ranging from retirements to naming ceremonies, Jan. 15, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.   The 343rd Ravens convene in the room every Friday at 3:43 p.m. The heritage room is named after 55th Wing Hall of Famer Robb Lee Hoover. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 16 of 21

The 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron’s heritage room, also known as Hoover Lounge, hosts numerous squadron events ranging from retirements to naming ceremonies, Jan. 15, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The 343rd Ravens convene in the room every Friday at 3:43 p.m. The heritage room is named after 55th Wing Hall of Famer Robb Lee Hoover. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lisle Babcock, 38th Reconnaissance Squadron commander, hosts the weekly roll call meeting inside of their unit’s heritage room on Jan. 9, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  Roll calls date back to pre-radio aviation where members of a flying unit could be accounted for post mission.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 17 of 21

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Lisle Babcock, 38th Reconnaissance Squadron commander, hosts the weekly roll call meeting inside of their unit’s heritage room on Jan. 9, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Roll calls date back to pre-radio aviation where members of a flying unit could be accounted for post mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

The 38th Reconnaissance Squadron’s mayors log is used to document the official minutes of the unit’s roll calls. The mayor is an elected position that aids the squadron commander throughout the roll call itinerary.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 18 of 21

The 38th Reconnaissance Squadron’s mayors log is used to document the official minutes of the unit’s roll calls. The mayor is an elected position that aids the squadron commander throughout the roll call itinerary. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Airmen assigned to the 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron assemble in their heritage room on Jan. 15, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  The heritage room, also known as Hoover Lounge, is named after 55th Wing Hall of Famer Robb Lee Hoover.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 19 of 21

Airmen assigned to the 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron assemble in their heritage room on Jan. 15, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The heritage room, also known as Hoover Lounge, is named after 55th Wing Hall of Famer Robb Lee Hoover. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

Airmen assigned to the 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron assemble in their heritage room on Jan. 15, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  The heritage room is named after 55th Wing Hall of Fame member, Robb Lee Hoover.   (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 20 of 21

Airmen assigned to the 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron assemble in their heritage room on Jan. 15, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The heritage room is named after 55th Wing Hall of Fame member, Robb Lee Hoover. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

U.S. Air Force Capt. Adam Weink, 38th Reconnaissance Squadron’s heritage room mayor, rings the bell located above the bar following the weekly roll call on Jan. 9, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.  The bell is rung for a variety of reasons and is fixture in many heritage rooms.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)
PHOTO DETAILS  /   DOWNLOAD HI-RES 21 of 21

U.S. Air Force Capt. Adam Weink, 38th Reconnaissance Squadron’s heritage room mayor, rings the bell located above the bar following the weekly roll call on Jan. 9, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. The bell is rung for a variety of reasons and is fixture in many heritage rooms. (U.S. Air Force photo by Josh Plueger/Released)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- There's a place in each of Offutt's flying squadrons where Airmen convene.  A place that adorns squadron history on its perimeter walls, which helps bond that unit's heritage from its past to its present. Photographed wingmen, forever exempt from time, are always in attendance from display cases. A place where squadron lineage is not chronologically separated from the present, but alive and celebrated through the rituals of roll call. These sacred spaces, the epicenter of the squadron community and esprit de corps, are referred to as heritage rooms.

Since the inception of military aviation, communities of pilots have been forming rituals, which have shaped and strengthened the bonds of squadron members since World War I. Heritage rooms became a communal space to employ their squadron's traditions and culture. A room where every member wore the same scarf and carried the same challenge coin within their uniforms.  An intimate space where Airmen are members of something larger than themselves.  They are a family, a community. 

"The Hoover Lounge is more than just another room in our squadron - it is a place that many Ravens call home," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Alicia Mikulak, 343rd Reconnaissance Squadron. "It builds a sense of community and family, and often brings people back to it long after they have, PCS'ed, or moved to other squadrons on base.

"Very few units in today's military can say that they have a place like the Hoover Lounge where you can walk in and be welcomed solely because of our heritage and tradition," she added. "It is one of the many reasons why the 343rd has been, and will continue to be, one of the best squadrons to be a part of in the United States Air Force."

A common thread exists among many of Offutt's flying squadrons. Heritage rooms really come to life at the end of the work week. Airmen get the signal to convene based on their squadron numbers. The men and women of the 343rd RS get together at 3:43 p.m., for example. Squadron commander's hold roll call with the structured assistance of an elected Airman designated as mayor. New members are introduced to the community as others say farewell.  Many leave their nametags attached to a wall or column, adding one more layer to the living history encapsulated within their heritage room's walls.  Standing room is all that remains as the commander holds court. War stories are read, Airmen remembered.

Even without a squadron commanders present, roll call is upheld by the elected Mayor of the heritage room.

"It [the heritage room] serves as an excellent source to make everyone feel like a family and to bring the new guys in and have them realize that they are now a part of something so much bigger," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Adam Wienk, acting Mayor of the 38th Reconnaissance Squadron's heritage room. "They see that they are now part of a family dating back to 1941."

Airmen are not only geographically separated around the world fulfilling mission requirements, but are also separated thanks to hallways, cubicles and offices, not unlike many civilian work places. Heritage rooms give a welcome respite to the anonymity of this dispersion of squadron personnel.  Face-to-face interaction, if only for an hour a week, adds to the squadron's esprit de corps. 

"Our sister squadrons have similar heritage rooms, while other squadrons may have break rooms, etc.," said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Shayler Pierson who works in the 97th Intelligence Squadron, Offutt's oldest unit. "That said, because over 80 percent of our 400-plus Airmen are first-termers. Our heritage room is integral to educating them on our past, and definitely contributes to our unit's high morale and esprit de corps."

The 338th Combat Training Squadron has been training members of the Royal Air Force since 2011, harkening back to the early years of World War collaborations.  The very collaborations that have spawned many of the rituals and customs employed within heritage rooms.  With the RAF members training side by side with Airmen of team Offutt, it was only a matter of time before the 338th heritage room reflected the British influence.  Pieces of a burnt piano, from a recent piano burning, are adhered to a wooden plaque on the south wall of the heritage room.  The burning of pianos has been a RAF custom usually performed in the Fall since the Battle of Britain in 1940.  An expert pianist and fighter pilot was killed in action during the conflict where in an act of mourning his piano was burned, never to be played by another.

Heritage rooms also reflect the combined efforts and skills of the men and women of each squadron.  These efforts come in the form of highly skilled carpenters to decorative additions purchased or borrowed from duty locations around the world. 

"Our heritage room was fully remodeled by members of the squadron," said Capt. Christopher Pauly, 45th Reconnaissance Squadron. "The bar and the checkered green and white polka dot wall patterns are just two examples of the exemplary work, time, commitment and pride put forth by squadron members to leave a legacy for future Wildcats."

With reconnaissance being the earliest implementation of wartime avionics, it is fitting that Offutt's flying squadrons all have their own unique heritage rooms, rules and customs.  Heritage room customs and rituals connect todays Airmen with ancestral wingman of the past.  In these rooms, rich in history, Airman forge a bond with one another that is unique to the military community, bonds that are remembered most as flyers bid farewell. 

To heritage, we salute.