SCOTT AFB – A celebration of a century of service began Friday at a reception, where Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner declared 2017 to the the “Year of Scott Air Force Base.”
The base, which saw its first flight take place on September 2, 1917, is celebrating its 100th birthday. The reception was an opportunity to reflect upon the base’s history, thank the surrounding community, and look ahead to the next century.
Col. Laura Lenderman, 375th Air Mobility Wing and installation commander, has a special tie to Scott Air Force Base. She grew up at Scott when her father was stationed there.
“When I was growing up I had no idea what my dad did. He just flew off. But growing up, the whole base was the lifestyle. My mom loved to golf and was the club champion for a while. The spouse’s club was a big part of our life. My sister and I are a year apart and we went to Mascoutah Junior High and rode our bikes all over the base. I heard the planes at night and remember thinking that this is a great lifestyle,” Col. Lenderman said. “I live on the same street now that I grew up on. I’ve been here three times and have been on the same street every time.”
When asked what it is like to command the base she grew up on as it celebrates its 100th birthday, Col. Lenderman said it was a huge honor.
“It’s an incredible honor. To be back at Scott is a dream come true, but to be in charge of the men and women of the 375th, I couldn’t ask for a better command, community, culture. Being here now, for this celebration, it’s just icing on the cake,” she said.
Scott AFB was created during World War I. It was only 624 acres, versus the 3,589 acres it currently sits upon today. The field was named after Corporal Frank Scott, the first enlisted service member killed in an aviation crash. Construction was competed in August, 1917, of approximately 60 buildings and a 1,600 foot landing circle.
During the last ten decades, Scott AFB has grown and an entire region has grown around it. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner, who attended the reception with Lt. Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, said it is his goal to see Scott grow even larger and more important than it currently is.
“I want Scott Air Force Base to expand. I want to increase its capability. I want it to continue to be a wonderful base and a beacon of freedom, economic opportunity and enhancement of technology for the future,” Rauner said.
The Governor reported that the base currently has a regional economic impact of $3.5 billion annually.
For Col. Lenderman, she sees Scott AFB as a vital part of the nation’s security and the Air Force’s global mission.
“This base is critical to national security. Being a Department of Defense transportation hub, anything that happens in the world… if you turn on the news, even before the news gets the story, there are typically mobility airmen there and the United States Transportation Command is moving people or resources to the region. Whether its a natural disaster, peacetime operations, or a conflict, we get the call,” said Col. Lenderman.
She wished to express her thanks to the local area for its continued support of Scott AFB.
“We want to thank the community for their support over the past 100 years and for all of the strong community partnerships we have. We couldn’t accomplish the mission without the surrounding communities,” she said.
The reception was only the beginning of the celebration plans in 2017. There will be a variety of other centennial events taking place through the year, with the largest public event being the 2017 Airshow and Open House scheduled for June 10 and 11. The event will feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. For more information, visit www.scott.af.mil.