Major General Lowenberg serves as Grand Marshall for Lilac Festival
By Capt. Sandy Smock, Washington National Guard Public Affairs Office
/ Published May 26, 2009
16 May 2009 -- The city of Spokane's patriotic red, white and blue turns a light shade of purple during the third week of May while the Lilac Festival and all the patriotic events
highlighting Armed Forces Day occur. The Spokane Lilac Festival honors all
military members and has hosted the largest Armed Forces Torchlight Parade
in the nation for over 70 years. The 141st Air Refueling Wing, located at
Fairchild Air Force Base, was especially spotlighted as the Washington Air
National Guard celebrates its 85th Anniversary this year.
The Wing received federal recognition August 6, 1924, as the 116th
Observation Squadron, and has a rich history of flying various types of
aircraft while adapting to new locations and missions. Washington Air
National Guard members from all eras can recount stories from flying
the "Jenny" biplane post World War I, the P-51 Mustang in World War II, the F-86 during the Korean Conflict and presently the KC-135 Stratotanker in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. The wing has also recently made history for being the first Guard KC-135 unit to join with an Air Force active duty wing, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing, to create a Classic Association as part of Total Force Integration.
The week began with an All City Civic Military Luncheon held to recognize
the Armed Forces Persons of the Year. One of the winners was Senior Master
Sgt. Stephan Coulston, a member of the 141st Security Forces Squadron. He was
named Senior Enlisted Reservist of the Year.
A formal Lilac President's Dinner was held on May 15. Major General Timothy
Lowenberg, The Adjutant General (TAG) for the Washington National Guard, was
the guest speaker and spoke of all the challenges and opportunities of the
Air National Guard today.
"Everything that is part of the Air National Guard now has been built upon
and is a result of the last 85 years of aviation. The challenges we face
now are even more complex than those in the past. It is a privilege to
represent the men and women who wear the uniform and are part of America's
next greatest generation," said Lowenberg.
For the parade itself, thousands of local community supporters lined the
streets of downtown Spokane and waved and cheered for military members and
leaders as they rode in cars, military vehicles and floats.
The 141st float depicted a biplane flown out at Felts Field, a supersonic
jet flown out of Spokane International Airport and the KC-135 flown out of
Fairchild, as well as numerous landmarks of Spokane.
"It is important for us to share the Air National Guard story with our
community and this was a great event for just that. I believe we made an
impact on the community's understanding of our history, and what a part of
Spokane we really are," said Col. Gregory Bulkley, 141 Air Refueling Wing
Various military bands marched and performed patriotic tunes. The Air
National Guard Band of the Northwest, which has marched in 42 consecutive Lilac parades, performed once again. Joining them was the special reunion band, which
included retired members who returned to march in this 85th Anniversary
This parade has provided supportive farewells along with enthusiastic
welcome homes to military members throughout the years. It has played a key
role in keeping the military spirit alive for all who have served and are
still serving. It has displayed local community support and encouragement
to family and friends who are left behind during deployments.
This Spokane tradition is one that will continue to be appreciated by all
military members in the local community. It is one that recognizes the
military of the past, present and inspires future military generations.