PEORIA, Ill. --
Holiday cheer filled the 182nd Airlift Wing hangar Dec. 3 during the annual Christmas party. Airmen, families and community members came to share in the festivities, including snacks, crafts, games, music, children’s dog tag printing by the Peoria Vet Center, toys for the children and a visit from Santa Claus.
As the various squadrons took formation and the Air National Guard Band of the Midwest played Christmas songs, Col. William Robertson, commander of the 182nd Airlift Wing, started commanders call by recognizing Airmen, including the award of 14 Community College of the Air Force degrees and four Meritorious Service Medals.
Col. Robertson recognized the outstanding Airmen of the year as well and thanked Kim Crouch, the Airman and Family Readiness Center manager, for organizing the event with the help of the newly enlisted 182nd Airlift Wing Student Flight trainees. He shared pride for the unit, calling them, “the best team in the National Guard of the Air Force.” The commander also brought to attention the unit’s recent accomplishments, including a 91.3 percent mission capable rate, and looked to the future of the base.
“The entire wing shares in that, because we are all intertwined,” said Col. Robertson.
The commander then broke ranks and brought all squadrons closer to the stage to ask that those under his command look after each other during the holiday season, maintaining the family atmosphere found throughout the base.
Col. Robertson took a special moment to thank the W.D. Boyce Council Cub Scouts in attendance that brought with them 2,100 containers of popcorn to hand out to service members at the party.
“Folks, give them a huge round of applause,” the commander said as he recognized the Cub Scouts from five different area WD Boyce Council Packs.
Out of the over 200 packs in the council, five were in attendance including: Pack 86 from Deer Creek-Mackinaw, Pack 45 from Dunlap-Ridgeview, Pack 73 from Washington, Pack 52 from Dunlap and Pack 64 from Metamora. Amber Gruenloh-Luecke, WD Boyce council popcorn chair, was there to help moderate the handout. The scouts sold popcorn to raise funds for trips and uniforms and took donations for military members during the sale. The 25 scouts in attendance handed out popcorn to the Airmen in attendance.
Bennett Mullet, a Pack 52 Weblos 2 cub scout, said he enjoyed seeing the base as well as the opportunity to give back to the Air Guardsmen.
“They serve us all the time so we just want to do a little bit to give back to them,” Mullet said of the popcorn handout.
After giving away the popcorn, the scouts had the chance to join in on the festivities by choosing a gift, visiting with Santa Claus and making some crafts. The party was well attended and filled with the holiday spirit.