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145th Airlift Wing Annual Retiree Breakfast

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Thrams, Executive Officer for the 145th Maintenance Group, North Carolina Air National Guard, gives Sherry Hamrick, a former member of the 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, old photos of herself taken when she served in the NCANG.  Hamrick along with more than 150 other retirees attended the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday 25, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Thrams, Executive Officer for the 145th Maintenance Group, North Carolina Air National Guard, gives Sherry Hamrick, a former member of the 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, old photos of herself taken when she served in the NCANG. Hamrick along with more than 150 other retirees attended the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday 25, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

After serving 24 years in the 145th Security Forces Squadron, retired Master Sgt. Charles A. Bramwell, Sr. stands with son Senior Master Sgt. Charles A. Bramwell, Jr., who retired this year from the 145th Logistics Readiness Squadron, as they reminisce with other retirees at the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte-Douglas Intl. Airport.  Bramwell, Jr. proudly stated, “Dad has been my most constant figure in my life.  In 1997 I received the Air Combat Command Maintenance Professional of the Year award. When I flew home from Lajes Field, Azores, I went straight to Security Forces where Dad was working and with his peers and friends present; I told him that I won the award not because what I had done but because of what he had done in teaching and leading me.  I then gave the Maintenance Man Trophy to him. I have always stated that if I am half as great as my Dad is, then I will be a success.  He has always been my measuring stick and role model.”  When asked what they like to do together now that they are both retired Bramwell simply stated, “We like to eat together!” (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

After serving 24 years in the 145th Security Forces Squadron, retired Master Sgt. Charles A. Bramwell, Sr. stands with son Senior Master Sgt. Charles A. Bramwell, Jr., who retired this year from the 145th Logistics Readiness Squadron, as they reminisce with other retirees at the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte-Douglas Intl. Airport. Bramwell, Jr. proudly stated, “Dad has been my most constant figure in my life. In 1997 I received the Air Combat Command Maintenance Professional of the Year award. When I flew home from Lajes Field, Azores, I went straight to Security Forces where Dad was working and with his peers and friends present; I told him that I won the award not because what I had done but because of what he had done in teaching and leading me. I then gave the Maintenance Man Trophy to him. I have always stated that if I am half as great as my Dad is, then I will be a success. He has always been my measuring stick and role model.” When asked what they like to do together now that they are both retired Bramwell simply stated, “We like to eat together!” (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

Retired Chief Master Sgt. William (Bill) Fish, (seated in back on the right) now 92, a former member of the 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, joins other comrades, all retirees of the North Carolina Air National Guard, at the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte-Douglas Intl. Airport  October 25, 2013.  Fish was one of five Senior Master Sgt.’s inducted into the Rank of Chief Master Sgt. and remained so for 19 years and 9 months before retiring in December 1980 after joining what is now the 145th Airlift Wing in 1948, a year after the Air Force was established.  (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

Retired Chief Master Sgt. William (Bill) Fish, (seated in back on the right) now 92, a former member of the 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, joins other comrades, all retirees of the North Carolina Air National Guard, at the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte-Douglas Intl. Airport October 25, 2013. Fish was one of five Senior Master Sgt.’s inducted into the Rank of Chief Master Sgt. and remained so for 19 years and 9 months before retiring in December 1980 after joining what is now the 145th Airlift Wing in 1948, a year after the Air Force was established. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ritchie L. Stiller, 145th Communication Squadron, along with other chiefs from the North Carolina Air National Guard, serve breakfast to retirees at the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Ritchie L. Stiller, 145th Communication Squadron, along with other chiefs from the North Carolina Air National Guard, serve breakfast to retirees at the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Susan A. Dietz, 145th Medical Group, gives a big hug to retired Lt. Col. Phil Carrigan, former member of the 145th Mission Support Flight, North Carolina Air National Guard, at the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Susan A. Dietz, 145th Medical Group, gives a big hug to retired Lt. Col. Phil Carrigan, former member of the 145th Mission Support Flight, North Carolina Air National Guard, at the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

Sisters Carol Grate and Bettina Grate-Smith joined other members of the 145th Communication Flight, both current and retired, during the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast which was held in a hanger at the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday, Oct.25, 2013. Carol and Bettina retired from the 145th AW in 1993 after serving for 16 years NCANG. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/ Released)

Sisters Carol Grate and Bettina Grate-Smith joined other members of the 145th Communication Flight, both current and retired, during the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast which was held in a hanger at the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday, Oct.25, 2013. Carol and Bettina retired from the 145th AW in 1993 after serving for 16 years NCANG. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/ Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Christopher D. Foster, 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, catches up with retiree Charles Morrison, former member of the 145th Services Flight, North Carolina Air National Guard, at the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Christopher D. Foster, 145th Civil Engineer Squadron, catches up with retiree Charles Morrison, former member of the 145th Services Flight, North Carolina Air National Guard, at the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Thrams, Executive Officer for the 145th Maintenance Group, North Carolina Air National Guard, gives Sherry Hamrick, a former member of the 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, old photos of herself taken when she served in the NCANG.  Hamrick along with more than 150 other retirees attended the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday 25, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. David Thrams, Executive Officer for the 145th Maintenance Group, North Carolina Air National Guard, gives Sherry Hamrick, a former member of the 156th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, old photos of herself taken when she served in the NCANG. Hamrick along with more than 150 other retirees attended the 18th Annual Retiree Breakfast held in a hanger at the North Carolina Air National Guard base, Charlotte Douglas Intl. Airport, Friday 25, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran/Released)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- They can take our croissants but they'll never take our camaraderie...The 145th Airlift Wing hosted the annual Retiree breakfast in spite of the recent and brief government shutdown, allowing North Carolina Air National Guard members and retired armed forces members plus families to enjoy a warm breakfast and fellowship in a C-130 Hercules aircraft hangar at the NCANG base, Charlotte-Douglas Intl. Airport, October 25, 2013.

It all started in 1995 when retired Master Sgt. Jake Taylor, 145th Aerial Port Squadron approached Chief Master Sgt. Terry Henderson, 145th AW Personnel Manager, and asked what could be done to keep the retired armed forces members from the 145th AW updated on base happenings. Like a pebble being cast into water, the idea that spiraled from a brief conversation has now become known as the Annual Retiree Breakfast. Starting September 19, 1995 involving some 150 members at that time, has now grown to averaging over 400 participants.

Retired Tech. Sgt. John Ward, 145th Communications Squadron said, "I like that it (Annual Retiree Breakfast) gives people the chance to reconnect and spend time face to face.

The oldest guest in attendance retired Chief Master Sgt. William (Bill) Fish, now 92, a former member of the 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron said, "I've been here every year since it started." Fish was one of five Senior Master Sgt.'s inducted into the Rank of Chief Master Sgt. and remained so for 19 years and 9 months before retiring in Dec. of 1980 after joining what is now the 145th Airlift Wing in 1948, a year after the Air Force was established. Fish continues to support the 145th AW; every Thursday he stops by the historian's office at the Charlotte NCANG base and helps Lieutenant Col. David Thrams, 145th Maintenance Group Executive Officer by identifying subjects and locations in various historical photographs for base history purposes.

Sisters Carol Grate and Bettina Grate-Smith joined in the festivities of the retiree breakfast as well. Carol and Bettina retired from the 145th AW in 1993 and stated they enjoyed their service in a unique way. Both sisters joined the Air Force the same day, shared their first plane flight out to basic training in San Antonio, Texas, trained as telecommunication operation specialists and returned to Charlotte, NC, serving in the 145th Communications Flight for 16 years. Both sisters agreed that the friendships they gained and the traveling were the highlights of their military careers.

A lot of thought and preparation goes into planning the Annual Retiree Breakfast, from maintaining a contact list of current retirees and sending invitations, to scheduling, preparing meals and establishing a vendor's area for retirees to gather useful information. All the hard-work goes to great use as the successful gathering brings a multitude of people together and morale including a sense of unity, to the base.