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Wing to celebrate its heritage

Dave Webber, 55th Wing Birthday Ball master of ceremonies, speaks next to the events ice sculpture inside the Embassy Suites ballroom in La Vista, Nebraska for the 2015 Birthday Ball, May 16. The Birthday Ball is a formal celebration recognizing the wing’s proud heritage as well as its current mission and role in the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jeff W. Gates/Released)

Dave Webber, 55th Wing Birthday Ball master of ceremonies, addresses attendees during the 2015 55th Wing Birthday Ball. This year’s Heritage Week events include the 55th Wing Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Tales of the 55th, and concludes with the 55th Wing Birthday Ball on May 21. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jeff W. Gates)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Nebraska -- The 55th Wing will pause to reflect on its illustrious 75 year legacy during Heritage Week May 16 - 21, 2016.

The wing traces its lineage to the 55th Pursuit Group constituted Nov. 20, 1940, and activated Jan. 15, 1941, at Hamilton Field, California.

Heritage Week includes the 55th Wing Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Tales of the 55th, and concludes with the 55th Wing Birthday Ball.

“This is an historic time for us as we celebrate 75 years as a wing, 50 years at Offutt and 25 years of being continuously deployed,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Marty Reynolds, 55th Wing commander. “I’m looking forward to learning more about our incredible heritage and I hope everyone else is too.”

This year’s theme for the birthday ball is, “History, Heritage and Honor.” It is the 38th annual event and the wing’s largest annual formal social function of the year.

The ball owes it start to then U.S. Air Force Col. Regis F.A. Urschler, who, in 1979, was the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing commander. Urschler wanted to create an event that would tie the current crop of active duty members to the wing’s history. And thus, the birthday ball was born. The original event was held in the Offutt Officer’s Club, which is now the Patriot Club, with 350 or so in attendance.

The wing’s hall of fame started in 1998 as a heritage project by U.S. Air Force Col. Bob Atkins, who was the 55th Mission Support Group commander at the time. The nomination and selection process has been tweaked over time, but as of 2016 there are 62 members forever enshrined.

The newest annual event on the heritage week’s calendar is the Tales of the 55th. Hosted by the 55th Wing Association, this year’s tales will be the 17th annual event and provides veterans of the Fightin’ Fifty-Fifth to relate their personal experiences to the current crop of wing members. It was started by retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Robb Hoover.

Locations and times for the Tales of the 55th and hall of fame induction ceremony are still in the works, but the birthday ball takes place May 21. It starts with a cocktail hour from 6 - 7 p.m. with dinner starting at 7 p.m. Please see your unit representative for tickets.