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Air Force dining facility in Baghdad honors hero

by Staff Sgt. Scott McNabb
447th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

12/26/2006 - SATHER AIR BASE, Iraq (AFPN) -- While many Americans removed bows and pulled back ribbons from neatly wrapped presents, Airmen here unveiled a tribute to a fallen hero, stressed the importance of airpower and cut the ribbon to mark the opening of the first Air Force dining facility in Baghdad.

Lt. Gen. Gary North, U.S. Central Command Air Forces commander, was the guest speaker at the ceremony which gave dual tribute to fallen Sather member Tech. Sgt. Walter M. Moss Jr. and to airpower.

Col. Gregory Marston, 447th Air Expeditionary Wing commander, pointed out that of the other seven or eight dining facilities, known as DFACs, on Victory Base complex, the series of Army bases surrounding Baghdad Airport, only Sather's will honor its service heritage and it's people.

"One of the other DFACS has dozens of collegiate flags, another has a sports theme, another shows state flags. One even has pictures of exotic, tropical destinations," said Colonel Marston. "In my mind, none of them celebrate the service that runs them or tells the story of what our military people do. The answer was simple. This dining facility had to be dedicated to a fallen hero, lest we forget his sacrifice, and its theme had to be about the Air Force and airpower."

Sergeant Moss, an explosive ordnance disposal technician who led his team to complete 119 missions and clear 40 improvised explosive devices, was killed in action in March 2006.

"He epitomized all that is good and right in our U.S. military," Colonel Marston said. "He was a volunteer for one of the most dangerous career fields in the Air Force. He was a true patriot and inspiration to those who knew him."

General North, who gave the "go ahead" order to fund the construction of the DFAC, joined Colonel Marston in unveiling a wall dedicated to Sergeant Moss. Camouflage netting was removed to display a large picture of Sergeant Moss and his biography. At the same time, a tribute of three EOD-controlled detonations could be heard in the distance.

General North said Sergeant Moss abides in the spirit of Airmen and those warriors in all services who raise their hand and serve.

"The spirit of Walter Moss will live on in this facility," he said.

To Colonel Marston, Sergeant Moss' life and career epitomized the second theme of this new facility, airpower.

"Back in the day, airpower was just about airplanes," Colonel Marston said. "Airpower meant air superiority, bombs on target, strategic deterrence, close air support, cargo or passengers delivered anytime, anywhere. But the times have changed. Today combat airpower is also about what the U.S. Air Force adds to our military power across the globe."

Colonel Marston said airpower is about what each Airman does every day. He cited the fact that even though there are fewer than 1,000 Airmen here, the base moves cargo at a rate of bases "10 times our size."

"One of my favorite quotes," said Colonel Marston, "comes from Mark Twain, and it fits Sather Air Base perfectly: 'It's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.' Sather may not have aircraft or helicopters assigned here, but our people enthusiastically do their jobs in an outstanding manner. This little dog gets the job done to support the war effort."

Both speakers made it a point to thank every person who played a part in planning, building and running the new DFAC. To Colonel Marston, the name sums it all up.

"In the end, we didn't call this DFAC - "Oasis," "DeFleury," "International Café" or "DFAC #1,names of other current DFACs in Baghdad. We called it the Tech. Sergeant Walter M. Moss, Jr. Airpower DFAC," he said. "This facility is about this man, our base and the Air Force mission you do here. Our walls here are filled with pictures of our airpower, in the form of Air Force aircraft that have protected the skies and terrified our enemies since World War I. It also shows the faces of the people who make it happen every day."

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