Folks attending this year’s Edwards Air Force Base/Civilian-Military Support Group’s annual barbecue at the Hacienda Lane Ranch in Palmdale, Calif., were wowed by the amazing voice of 16-year-old Hudson Blake who kicked off the event with his own rendition of the National Anthem.
The Desert High School student’s strong voice bellowed throughout the local canyon walls and guests stood, hands over hearts, listening to the patriotic words being proudly sung by one so young.
The annual event, which is hosted by local resident Frances Lane, owner of the Hacienda Lane Ranch, was emceed by current Civ-Mil President Allen Hoffman, who welcomed everyone to the event and introduced state, military and local officials attending the yearly military and civilian get together held July 18.
Around this time each year military and civilian leaders along with local involved residents and business folks get together in a show of camaraderie as they all work together to support the many needs of the local Air Force Base and its young Airmen and their families.
“This year’s hot project Civ-Mil took on is renovating an old building that the Air Force gave us and turning it into an Airman Leadership School,” explained John Fergione, retired test pilot and past president of the nonprofit organization that is dedicated to supporting the men and women of Edwards AFB.
Fergione said the group expects to start renovating before the end of the year.
Lane, whose family moved to Palmdale in 1908, said as a child she often came down the canyon with her parents and wondered who lived in the picture-perfect little ranch house nestled deep in the sprawling hills just west of the city.
“I never thought that one day it would be me,” she chuckles.
As it turned out the little ranch house and its 50-acre parcel of land belonged to a local entrepreneur, who years later was ready to downsize and retire. “I bought it from the Eskimo Pie man,” Lane tells those visiting her now bigger than life ranch.
Lane has been opening her ranch to the Civ-Mil annual barbecue for the past 28 years. “Civ-Mil had put on its first two summer barbecues somewhere in town when Bob Spade asked if I would open my gates and host the yearly event here. I could not say no to such a worthy cause,” Lane said.
Col. Kirk Regan, vice commander of the 412th Test Wing also greeted guests at the event and introduced members of the Edwards’ team. He thanked the team at Civ-Mil for all the on-going support they dedicate to the base.
Hoffman gave a shout-out to Lane and thanked her once again for opening her ranch for the yearly barbecue. He said this year instead of presenting little gifts of appreciation to their hostess, Civ-Mil has ordered a surprise that will soon be delivered. He would not spoil the surprise by divulging what it is.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jason Botts, 412th Test Wing chaplain, greeted guests with a prayer for the future. In his prayer he likened Team Edwards and the team at Civ-Mil as faithful friends and said together they can face the greatest challenges.
“No one knows this better than the Airmen of the mighty 412th Test Wing. For 30 years we have drawn strength each day to overcome the nation’s toughest challenges because we know our teammates on the Civ-Mil Support Group have our back,” the chaplain said in his prayer.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by Rat Pack Ricky who delighted guests with lots of old Sinatra songs all through dinner.
The evening culminated with Hoffman calling out winning raffle numbers sending some folks home with cherished door prizes.
The Edwards AFB Civ-Mil Support Group celebrates its 30th year this year. It was established in 1989 and was spearheaded by Aida O’Connor. O’Connor, along with other civic leaders, was invited to visit Patrick Air Force Base, Fla., by Maj. Gen. John Schoeppner, the Air Force Flight Test Center commander at the time. O’Connor was so impressed by the Patrick AFB Civ-Mil group that she was inspired to form a civ-mil group in the Antelope Valley. In late 1989, O’Connor along with a small group of civic leaders officially formalized the group.
The group’s past projects include providing flags, flag poles, picnic tables and benches for the Flag Park; picnic tables for the Air Force Flight Research Laboratory; the Higher Grounds Internet Café; and providing goodie bags for deployed service members, amongst other ongoing projects.