55WA members who wish to attend can contact Max Moore at
MaxMoore55@aol.com for sign up and more details.

Tales of the 55th

              The 55th Wing will celebrate the 72nd birthday of the 55th Wing
 on Saturday, May 4, 2013
at the Embassy Suites Convention Center
 in La Vista.

 The gala event is open to all active duty ranks and civilian members of the wing, retirees, and by invitation to local dignitaries. The Ball is the Wing’s largest annual formal social function. Last year 970 people attended.
  The event will be hosted by Colonel John Rauch, Jr. Commander of the 55th Wing.

The Birthday Ball was originated by then-Colonel (now, BrigGen-Retired) Regis F. A. Urschler, commander of the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing, in January 1979. His idea was to connect the wing’s heritage to the active duty personnel and missions. That tradition continues even today.

The Ball celebrates the 72nd anniversary of the unit from its roots in the activation of the 55th Pursuit Group at Hamilton Field, CA, in January 1941, during World War II; then is heritage through the 55th Reconnaissance Group, which stood up at MacDill Field, FL, in Strategic Air Command in February 1947; the 55th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing from 1950 to 1992, at Barksdale AFB, LA; Ramey AFB, PR; Forbes AFB, KS; and at Offutt AFB, NE, up to the present.

This year’s theme is “Ever Present, Ever Vigilant"

A limited number of rooms are available for booking at the Courtyard by Marriott.  Personnel looking for an extended stay can still contact the Courtyard or Embassy Suites and request extra days, however, we are not guaranteed the blocked rate for the days outside of Friday & Saturday. Our guests can contact the onsite reservation department at (402)-339-4900 and ask for the group name "55th Wing Birthday Ball" or group code "FFW."  The total cost per room is $129,  (single & double rate), $139 (triple rate), and $149 (quad rate).  Rooms must be reserved NLT 2 Apr 2013 or they will be released to the general public.  

Former 55th Wing Commander Major General James J. Jones is this year's guest speaker. (see bio), and Dave Webber, sports personality from WOW-TV in Omaha, will act as the master of ceremonies for the event. He served a tour in the Air Force and was in the SAC Elite Guard at Offutt.

Other items on the program include appropriate military ceremonies; resentation of the 55th SRW Association Award for Excellence; and the traditional cutting of the birthday cake by the senior member in attendance, and the youngest member of the Wing. There will be dancing to the Raptor, a nine-piece versatile ensemble of the Heartland of American Band, after the ceremonies to wind up the evening.

The traditional cutting of the birthday cake is accomplished by the wing commander,
 a representative of the senior generation in attendance, and the youngest member of the wing.
The 2012 cutting of the Birthday Ball cake The first Birthday Ball cake cutting in Jan. 1979
BBall cake
The ceremonial cake, MC Dave Webber (at podium), BGen Don Bacon, Lt.Col. Pete Potter (USAF Ret), and A1C Hinostraza Mariah, 55th Strategic Communications Squadron.
L to R: former 55th SRW commanders: Col Joe Church, then-MGen, George Miller, former CINSAC, Retired General Russell Daugherty, and
the serving 55
th commander then-Col Regis Urschler

The Association contributes $1000 annually to help defray the costs for younger airmen to attend. Max Moore and Bill Ernst represent the Association on the Ball planning committee. On 4 April 2013, 55th Wing Association President, Colonel (Ret) Jim Thomas, presented the Association’s check for its annual $1000 donation  to the 55th Wing Birthday Ball. Accepting on behalf of the Ball committee were Colonel John Rauch, 55th Wing Commander, and Capt Jamie Hernandez, 55th Security Forces Sqd, Birthday Ball committee chairman. The money goes toward a fund to help defray the ticket costs for younger airmen to attend the gala event.

Pictured L to R:  MSgt John Wilson, Ball committee member, Capt Hernandez, committee chairman, 55th Wing Assn President  Thomas, Colonel Rauch, and 55th Wing Command Chief William Thomaston


Join us for an afternoon of camaraderie celebrating tales of 55th veterans
of World War II, Cold War, War on Terror and other special operations.
Friday, May 3rd, 2013
, in the CMSAF James M. McCoy Airmen Leadership School.
 Doors open at 1500 for informal socializing, and viewing of the many unit
heritage and history displays. Then at 1630, veterans of various periods
of the Wing’s history will relate their personal experiences.
The event is co-sponsored by the
55th Wing Association, the Strategic Roost of the Association of Old Crows, and the LeMay Flight, Order of Dadaelians. It is coordinated and emceed by Colonel (Retired) Jim Thomas, president of the 55th Wing Association.
It is well attended by the senior wing staff and active duty troops,
 and has grown in each of the years it has been presented.
This event is a must for out-of-towners who come to attend the Ball.
No reservations needed. Beer, wine, soft drinks, and snacks available.
A $4 donation will be accepted at the door to cover refreshments.



    Master of Ceremonies : Dave Webber - Former Sports Director ,  WOWT Channel 6, Omaha

One of the most familiar faces and voices in the
Omaha community is that of former Sports Director Dave Webber.
In demand as a speaker, emcee, and genial host, he was a popular television figure in the area since 1978.

Dave started his broadcast career as a disc jockey for KLNG Radio,  and has also performed professionally as a folk singer. He joined KFAB Radio  in 1970 then moved to Sioux City in 1973 to cover sports news for KMEG-TV.  He returned to Omaha in 1977 to do the same for KMTV.
        After serving in the
U.S. Air Force (he was a SAC Elite Guard) , Dave attended the University of Nebraska at Omaha. He was born in Evanston, Illinois, is married with three children, David, Marcie, and Joel,  and enjoys singing, acting, and golf. Dave was the Sports Director for WOWT from 1978 till 2009. He thinks sports reporting  is "fun", and that sense of fun comes through when he anchored the sports on the Channel 6 News.


Former 55th Wing Commander
Maj. Gen. James J. Jones is the Director of Operations, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C. The directorate is responsible for policy, guidance and oversight of Air Force air and weather operations, training and sourcing. It is the largest directorate on the Air Staff with more than 1,760 personnel, 18 divisions and three field operating agencies, including the Air Force Operations Group, Air Force Flight Standards Agency, and Air Force Weather Agency. 

General Jones received his commission through Officer Training School in 1983 after graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Louisiana Tech University in 1981. His early assignments include instructor pilot, Chief of Weapons and Tactics, and an academic flight commander at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School. He has held staff positions at the Air Land Sea Application Center and Headquarters U.S. Air Force. He has previously commanded a fighter squadron, two operations groups, an air control wing and the 55th Wing at Offutt AFB, Neb. The general also served as Commander, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia. Prior to his current assignment he was the Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command; Deputy, Combined Force Air Component Commander, U.S. Central Command; and Vice Commander 9th Expeditionary Task Force. 

General Jones is a command pilot with more than 2,700 flying hours.

1981 Bachelor of Science degree, Louisiana Tech University
1989 F-16 Fighter Weapons Instructor Course, Nellis AFB, Nev.
1990 Squadron Officer School, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1994 Master's degree in aeronautical science, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
1995 Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
1995 Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va.
2001 Master of Arts degree in national security and strategic studies, Naval War College, Newport, R.I.

1. May 1983 - May 1984, student, undergrad pilot tng, 47th Flying Training Wing, Laughlin AFB, Texas
2. June 1984 - August 1984, student, fighter lead-in training, 414th TacFigtr Tng Sq, Holloman AFB, N.M.
3. October 1984 - March 1985, student, 311th Tac Fightr Tng Sq, Luke AFB, Ariz.
4. April 1985 - March 1988, Chief of Sched and air-to-ground weapons officer, 496th TFS, Hahn AB
5. March 1988 - June 1991, IP, later, Chief of Weapons and Tactics, 58th TacTng Sq and 314th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, Luke AFB, Ariz.
6. June 1991 - June 1994, instructor pilot, later, academic flight commander, F-16 Division, U.S. Air Force Weapons School, Nellis AFB, Nev.
7. June 1994 - June 1995, student, Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
8. June 1995 - June 1997, joint action officer, Air Land Sea Application Center, Langley AFB, Va.
9. June 1997 - October 1999, ops officer, later, CO, 36th FS, Osan AB, South Korea
10. October 1999 - August 2000, Deputy Division Chief for Munitions Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
11. August 2000 - June 2001, student, Naval War College, Newport, R.I.
12. July 2001 - May 2002, Deputy Commander for Operations, 552nd Operations Group, Tinker AFB, Okla.
13. May 2002 - September 2002, Commander, 93rd Operations Group, Robins AFB, Ga.
14. October 2002 - May 2004, Commander, 116th Operations Group, Robins AFB, Ga.
15. June 2004 - June 2005, Commander, 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, Southwest Asia
16. July 2005 - October 2005, special assistant to the Commander, Warner-Robins Air Logistics Center, Robins AFB, Ga.
17. October 2005 - March 2007, Commander, 116th Air Control Wing, Robins AFB, Ga.
18. March 2007 - April 2009, Commander, 55th Wing, Offutt AFB, Neb.
19. April 2009 - June 2011, Deputy Director, Operations (J3), U.S. Central Command, MacDill AFB, Fla.
20. June 2011 - July 2012, Deputy Commander, U.S. Air Forces Central Command; Deputy, Combined Force Air Component Commander, U.S. Central Command; Vice Commander 9th Air Expeditionary Task Force, Air Combat Command, Southwest Asia
21. July 2012 - Present, Director of Operations, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C.
 Moving to be Asst Deputy  Chief of Staff same office.

1. June 1995 - June 1997, joint A/O, Air Land Sea Application Center, Langley AFB, Va., as a major
2. April 2009 - June 2011, DDO (J3), USCENTCOM, MacDill AFB, Fla., as a brigadier general

Rating: Command pilot
Flight hours: More than 2,700
Aircraft flown: RC-135, E-8C, KC-135R, E-3B/C, TC-18E, F-16A/B/C/D, AT-38A/B, T-38 and T-37

Colonel Joseph A. Moller Trophy, 2009
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Bronze Star Medal
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Air Medal
Aerial Achievement Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster
Combat Readiness Medal with oak leaf cluster
National Defense Service Medal with bronze star
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korea Defense Service Medal

Second Lieutenant May 17, 1983
First Lieutenant May 17, 1985
Captain May 17, 1987
Major Nov. 1, 1994
Lieutenant Colonel Jan. 1, 1998
Colonel Aug. 1, 2002
Brigadier General July 1, 2008
Major General May 1, 2011

(Current as of July 2012)