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Thursday, Jan 17, 2019
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Chip Diehl: Happy 75th, MacDill — we salute you

In honor of MacDill’s wonderful 75th year as an Air Force base, our community is celebrating with the launch of our MyMacDill campaign. Like the recent ALS challenge — without the ice bucket — we are proudly telling our own “MyMacDill” stories — remembering MacDill’s remarkable history; saluting our Greatest Generation who served and died, and cherishing the operational missions and aircraft that have called MacDill home to all those serving today.

As this historic event will culminate with the official 75th anniversary next April, we are launching our celebration today, showing our admiration for this gem of the Tampa Bay area — MacDill AFB.

MacDill is our treasure. Its heritage is renowned — from our B-17s launching for distant theaters in World War II, to B-26 Marauders infamously living “one a day in Tampa Bay,” to B-47s on alert for the Cuban Missile Crisis, to our F-4s and F-16s training crews for Vietnam and Operation Desert Storm. And our “MacDill Means Mobility” KC-135 tankers have flown countless missions over Iraq and Afghanistan.

MacDill is the best, protecting our freedom for decades. MacDill shines with countless stories of courage and honor. Our MacDill KC-135 crew was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism in combat supporting the rescue of a downed F-117 pilot in Bosnia. MacDill was awarded the Abilene Trophy by Air Mobility Command for best community support twice, in 2001 and 2003. And it won the international Air Mobility Rodeo in 2000 and 2005.

MacDill is our home — one of the most important strategic locations in the Southeastern United States. Our tankers can project America’s might to Europe, Africa, Latin and South America. It is home to U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command. Over 140,000 retired veterans have chosen to retire in our Tampa Bay region, while we always welcome over 100,000 snowbirds who migrate home in the fall and winter.

There’s no place like the Tampa Bay area.

MacDill is our future. As one of the largest U.S. installations, MacDill’s capacity and capability to operationally support many more aircraft is unparalleled. We hope to see helicopters moving to the base soon. More KC-135 tankers are scheduled to come to MacDill. And there is room for more.

Home to the Army, Navy, Marines, National Guard, NOAA and our Reserves, no one compares. And the future is boundless — the potential only limited by the strength of our national ambition.

Now is our time to celebrate, to show our respect and pride for our treasure. Let’s pull the chocks, start our engines, push up the throttles and get our MyMacDill campaign airborne.

MyMacDill is our five-month pep rally. Cheer on our MacDill team and high-five those in uniform — our friends, neighbors and heroes.

Go to www.MyMacDill.com. Take the oath. Share your stories, post your videos and show your pride however you like — then challenge others to tell us “What’s your MacDill?” And let’s have fun showcasing our treasure to the world.

Chip Diehl is a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general.

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