NICEVILLE, Fla. (WKRG) — Military personnel from Eglin, Hurlburt and Duke Air Force Bases in Okaloosa County gathered Tuesday to honor the 75th anniversary of the United States Air Force.

The Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce hosted the event at the Mattie Kelley Arts Center at Northwest Florida state college.

“You can only celebrate the 75th anniversary one time, and it gave us the opportunity to share how amazing the business community feels about the Air Force here in Northwest Florida,” said Ted Corcoran Greater FWB Chamber president. “It was a way of learning this is what they do and we are grateful for having them right here as neighbors.”

Panelists include:

  • Capt (Ret) Dale Dye
  • Cindy Cole Chal
  • Colonel Howard Hill
  • Col Larry Ropka
  • Col Bill Keeler
  • Chief Master Sergeant Bill Walter
  • Lt Col Kirby Locklear
  • Lt Col Corby Martin
  • Colonel Allison Black
  • Lieutenant General Marshall “Brad” Webb

The panelists discussed major events in U.S. Military history and how the Air Force played it’s role. Topics of discussion Tuesday included the Doolittle Raid training in Okaloosa Co., the Vietnam War, Operation Eagle Claw (Iran Hostage rescue Mission), Operation Desert Storm, Bin Laden Raid, Operation Enduring Freedom Afghanistan and more.

“The Vietnam piece featured three amazing updates. You had a POW, Howard Hill, who talked about his four-plus years in captivity,” said Corcoran. “Then immediately following that was a gentleman who planned what was called the Son Tay raid, whose goal was to go into Vietnam and try to liberate the POWs. Unfortunately, it did not work, they went into a camp where they had moved the POWs. The third part of Vietnam was that Eglin Air Force Base was the location of over 10,000 Vietnam refugees who were evacuated after the end of the Vietnam War. So we were this area was intimately involved in all aspects of the Vietnam War, which I thought was incredibly fascinating.”