By Terence Way; Photos by Su Phelps
On the evening of June 14th, 2018, the Southern Nevada Chapter of MOAA (Military Officers Association of America) and the Service Academy Parents Club of Las Vegas hosted a banquet at the Palace Station Casino and Hotel, sending off twenty-eight young and well-deserved appointees to their respective military academies. The dinner’s guest speaker of honor was Lt. Colonel David G. Gibbs (retired) of the US Air Force, himself an academy graduate of 1979. And the introductions were facilitated by Colonel John Menter, retired from the US Army and also the President of the Southern Nevada Chapter of the MOAA. Paul Womack was also on hand to emcee, as he was there with the Service Academy Parents Club of Las Vegas as their current president.
The local Southern Nevada MOAA chapter also was presented a Col Marvin J. Harris Communications (5-star) award by MOAA National for their outstanding website, serving as a model for great communication and presentation.
These non-profit organizations help support the families and cadets as the study in faraway academies, many leaving home for the first time. The MOAA is the largest organization of its kind, helping to protect the rights of military servicemembers and their families, and also lobbies for them in our nation’s capital. They also promote and help future generations of leaders with events like this.
Speaking to a future West Point cadet Christian Mitchell and his father Dewayne Mitchell, also a US Air Force veteran, it was easy to see how special this gathering was for the families, friends, and the future cadets. Dewayne was elated to tears several times this week as his son graduated from his high school earlier in June and now was about to leave for the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, on July the 1st.
Representatives from the offices US Senator Catherine Cortez Masto, of Deena Titus, US Senator Dean Heller, US Congresswoman Jacky Rosen, US Congresswoman Dina Titus, and US Congressman Ruben J. Kihuen, were also present to commemorate and help send off the appointees.
A highlight of the evening was the stirring speech and stories shared by Lt. Colonel David Gibbs, who shared his experience as a raw cadet, to his early days as a B-52 pilot, his leadership in the UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) program at nearby Creech AFB, and finally to his civilian contracting days serving in the Middle East.
Coincidentally, this day was also Flag Day, and the birthday of President Donald J. Trump. All in all, it was a special evening to send off twenty-eight future leaders in training into the five academies of the US Armed Forces for the Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marines.