Andrews Open House Previews New Flight-Themed Stamps
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE. Md., May 18, 2007 The annual Joint Service Open House here kicked off today in tandem with a preview of two new military-themed, high-soaring postage stamps.
Left to right: Air Force Col. Margaret H. Woodward, commander of the 89th Airlift Wing; David Failor, the U.S. Postal Service’s executive director of stamp services; and Marine Col. Andrew W. O’Donnell Jr., commander of Marine Helicopter Squadron One, participate in a May 18 ceremony that kicked off this year’s Joint Services Open House and previewed new postage stamps commemorating Air Force One and Marine One at Andrews Air Force Base, Md. Photo by Gerry J. Gilmore
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Maj. Gen. Robert L. Smolen, commander of the Air Force District of Washington, hosted the Open House and stamp kick-off ceremony this morning inside Hangar 3, while outside on the tarmac servicemembers hobnobbed with visitors and spoke with pride about their freshly polished aircraft and other military equipment.
This year’s air show, held today through May 20, is truly special, Smolen said, since it’s the 50th such event held at the Suitland, Md., base, while this year also marks the Air Force’s 60th anniversary.
Andrews’ annual open house also showcases soldiers, sailors, Marines as well as Coast Guard members in addition to their equipment, Smolen pointed out, noting the event is called joint for good reason.
“You’re going to see the fine hardware and technology that our sister services have brought, and every bit of that is important to the missions that we have to perform,” Smolen said. “There’s nothing that we do today, worldwide, that we can do individually.
“Each of our services contributes in a very special, integrated way to make it all happen,” the two-star general said. Smolen also saluted America for supporting U.S. troops deployed overseas in the global war against terrorism.
“We’re very proud of the job that everybody is doing, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but throughout the world, representing the freedoms that we all value dearly,” Smolen said.
One of the new U.S Postal Service stamps bears the image of President Bush’s Air Force One jet, while the other displays the commander in chief’s Marine One helicopter. The stamps go one sale June 13.
The Air Force One stamp will be issued for priority mail and will cost $4.60 each. The Marine One stamp will be used for express mail and will cost $16.25 each.
The Air Force One fleet is based at Andrews and consists of two specially equipped Boeing 747-200B series jets. The fleet is operated by the Presidential Airlift Group, part of Air Mobility Command’s 89th Airlift Wing here. The 89th’s commander, Air Force Col. Margaret H. Woodward, was on hand for the air show and stamp kick-off ceremony.
“We really appreciate this opportunity to recognize our banner aircraft in the Air Force fleet,” Woodward said before the stamps were unveiled. “Air Force One is, of course, more than an airplane. It’s a traveling monument to freedom. It is instantly recognizable to millions of people all over the world, serving as a beacon of hope, democracy and so many other things that this great nation stands for.”
The Marine One helicopter transport fleet is based at Quantico Marine Corps Base, Va., and consists of two specially equipped Sikorsky helicopters. The fleet is operated by Marine Helicopter Squadron One, commanded by Col. Andrew W. O’Donnell Jr.
The Marine helicopter squadron has “the important and prestigious responsibility” of transporting the commander in chief, O’Donnell said during the ceremony. “On behalf of all the Marines and sailors serving in HMX-1, I want to thank you, and certainly thank the postal service for recognizing their service.”
David Failor, the postal service’s executive director for stamp services, thanked the Air Force for hosting the stamp preview, noting 185,000 U.S. Postal Service employees are military veterans.
“Their expertise and dedication have helped us deliver record service and performance for our customers,” Failor said. The postal service, he added, coordinates closely with the military to ensure that letters and packages reach servicemembers deployed overseas.
The postal service has issued many military flight-themed stamps over the years, Failor said, including the World War II-era F-6F Hellcat, the P-47 Thunderbolt, and the B-29 Superfortress bomber.
“This morning we will add the beautiful images of Air Force One and Marine One to our stamp gallery,” Failor said.
These two aircraft represent not only the power of the presidency, he said, but they also symbolize “the extraordinary military professionals that stand behind that power and epitomize the meaning of duty, honor and country.”
Later on in the morning, open house visitor Denise Rogers, 15, from Capitol Heights, Md., checked out the inside of a Marine Corps’ CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter, one of myriad types of military equipment arrayed on Andrews’ flight line for public scrutiny.
“It’s a nice helicopter,” Rogers said as she sat in one of the cockpit seats and gazed upward at the Sea Knight’s ceiling-mounted switches and gizmos. “It’s pretty, and it has a lot of buttons.”
Marine Cpl. Brandon Fiaseu, 22, an in-flight mechanic who hails from Albuquerque, N.M., and is assigned to Marine Helicopter Squadron One’s presidential fleet at Quantico, was on hand to explain the workings of the Sea Knight to air show visitors.
Not many Marines get to work with the president, Fiaseu observed, noting it’s also enjoyable to meet the public at venues like Andrews’ open house.
“Being at this air show is a great opportunity to show what we do and what our (Navy) brothers do in the fleet,” Fiaseu said.