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Fairchild kicks off 75th anniversary

FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. (AFNS) -- Fairchild Air Force Base kicked off its 75th anniversary with a celebration event here with Spokane area elected officials, civic leaders, honorary commanders and others March 1, 2017.

Col. Ryan Samuelson, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing commander and David Condon, the Spokane mayor, both gave remarks about the unequaled partnership and support the base and surrounding community has with each other.

“The U.S. military and Spokane community have a long-standing positive relationship that began before Fairchild Air Force Base even existed,” Samuelson said. “In fact, we might not even be here today if not for the proactive and forward-looking actions of a few Eastern Washington citizens more than 75 years ago.”

The relationship between Fairchild AFB and the community has benefited both, providing opportunities for recognition and support throughout 75 years of history.

“The Spokane and Fairchild partnership touches communities throughout the entire Pacific Northwest,” Condon said. “Over the past 75 years the relationship between Fairchild and the City of Spokane has brought many victories and accolades.”

On March 1, 1942, Fairchild AFB opened as the Spokane Air Depot. It was built in Spokane because the location provided better weather and increased security compared to the western part of the state. Originally, the base served as an aircraft repair center, but continued to grow taking on different airframes and different missions.

This event was a kick-off for a year full of 75th anniversary festivities. Skyfest and the Air Force Ball will also highlight the 75th anniversary, as well as Fairchild’s legacy of strong community ties and mission effectiveness.

During the ceremony, Condon was presented with a tile from the old headquarters building, known as the white house. It was presented as a symbol of the strong ties and support received from Condon and the community as a whole.

“The people of Spokane continue to honor the military with the annual Spokane Lilac Festival Armed Forces Torchlight Parade; this year will be the 68th annual parade,” Condon said. “The city of Spokane is proud to support Fairchild Air Force Base and we look forward to your future endeavors.”

The event included displays from different eras of the base’s history that walked guests through the various missions and aircraft the base has had in over seven decades of service.

“Not every community embraced the creation of a military installation in their backyard, some simply tolerated it,” Samuelson said. “However, Spokane wasn’t just ‘OK’ with the idea, they did all they could to ensure the Inland Northwest would be the long-term home of an installation dedicated to defending this great nation.”