MONTEREY, Calif. -- Airmen celebrated the 72nd birthday of the United States Air Force with the ever-traditional ball at Naval Support Activity Monterey's Herrmann Hall, Sept. 20.

The event, hosted by the 517th Training Group based at nearby Presidio of Monterey, was a night of reflection on the legacy of the Air Force and its potential roles moving forward.

Guest Speaker Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, senior enlisted adviser at Air Force Space Command, spoke about his early days as a Defense Language Institute student and the mission of the Air Force.

Towberman, who made the journey from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado, said when the Air Corps left the Army in 1947, they wanted the word airman to become synonymous with "great technician."

"We left the United States Army primarily because on the enlisted side of the house, we needed technicians to maintain, launch and operate aircraft," he said. "If we were infantrymen first, we didn't feel we could have that quality of technicians that we needed."

Following the theme of past and future, a cake cutting ceremony featured the traditional pairing of the oldest and youngest airmen present at the ball. Arnold Holmes, a retired Master Sergeant born in 1939, represented the force's legacy.
While 17-year-old Airmen Zaccheus McFarland represented a new generation of service members.

"Since I got here everybody has asked me how old I am," said Peck, a Korean student at DLI, who was born in Nov. 2001. "I'm probably one of the first Airman in the US military born after 9/11."

"It made me feel young again!" Holmes said of cutting the cake with the Airman 63 years his junior.

Established Sept. 18, 1947, the Air Force is the youngest of the military services. Yet, it is the only branch of the military that can boast a birthday celebration featuring a room of veterans and active duty service members who collectively witnessed its entire history. With the presence of a member of U.S. Space Command and a room full of young airman like Peck, It provides a glimpse of the future of the Air Force.