'Desert Shield' flag brings pride back to Langley

  • Published
  • By Airman Areca T. Wilson
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
A flag, decorated with patches of associated squadrons along with patterns of fighter jets, was designed in 1990 to raise the morale and reflect the unity and love toward the Airmen of the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing, during their support of Operation Desert Shield.

After 23 years, the flag finally made its way home to Langley Air Force Base, Va. during the 1st Fighter Wing Association reunion Aug. 16. The 1st FWA consists of past and present members of the 1st Fighter Group or Wing, charged with the mission of preserving the heritage of the organization.

Previously the flag had been kept by retired U.S. Air Force Col. Bob Corson, former 1st Operations Group commander and veteran of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

"The flag represents the memories of a place and a time," said Corson. "It represents the contribution that my wife and other wives made on behalf of all the families. It was to signify the support of every one of the 1st TFW."

The flag was designed by military spouses Suzi Corson, Connie McBroom, Pattie Sokol, Linda Summers and Fran Cwynar in August 1990 shortly after the wing's deployment to Saudi Arabia. After its creation, the flag traveled to Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, taking with it the pride of the Airmen of the 1st TFW.

Now as it is being presented back to the 1st FW, Corson said he hopes it serves as a symbol of pride for years to come.

"I think Airmen should look at that flag and realize that they are part of a family," said Corson. "I would hope they stand tall with pride in what they do and look at anything from the past and imagine what people were going through at the time."

Before the flag's presentation, Airmen were given a glimpse into the history of their wing when WW II fighter pilots told colorful tales of first experiences, friendship and service before self. One such pilot was Bob Riley, who told a story of surviving his first experience with the P-38.

"I remember when I first flew the P-38, I said, 'I wonder how this baby can do aerobatics,' and I decided to try a loop. Pretty soon I must have been standing on my tail and I decided there was no way in hell I was going to make it," said Riley with a laugh. "I shoved forward and headed down. I have not told that story to many people."

Airmen in attendance, both past and present, listened intently to their predecessors as the pride displayed in the flag made 23 years ago was magnified during the story telling, culminating with the flag's presentation to the wing.

"In honor of the men and women of the 1st Tactical Fighter Wing who served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and in recognition and appreciation of the women who gave their time, talent and love, this flag is presented on the 16th day of August 2013," said Corson as he read the citation. "May those who defend our country always know the same love, pride, support and unity. God bless America and those who keep it free."