MAC Strong at 50

The South Dade community joined with military members from the Homestead Air Reserve Base to  celebrate half a century of working together in support of each other as members of the South Dade Chamber of Commerce’s MAC (Military Affairs Committee).

   In the bleak aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, people watched as many residents and businesses gave up on rebuilding. The destruction of Homestead Air Force Base compounded the economic devastation and permanent closure was openly discussed. Undaunted, the Military Affairs Committee (MAC) within the Chamber of Commerce, stood stalwart to work with whomever was necessary to keep the base open. Re-designation to Homestead Air Reserve Base at least meant the foundation was still in place for the future growth we have seen unfold over the past two decades.

   In celebration of this history and other efforts, Friday, January 5th marked the first “Meet and Greet” of 2018 and recognition of MAC’s 50th year of operation. The cake decorated in red, white, and blue was symbolic and while there were more speakers and presentations than usual, the sense of community and partnership was the warmth against the unseasonable cold outside.

   “This is an incredible milestone for the MAC. It speaks to the future for the community and the continued relationship,” Holly Raschein, Florida State Representative said.

   Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava was also on hand. “What a joyous way to celebrate the New Year to acknowledge our service men and women and the community that cherishes them.”

   The official part of the program opened with Kurt Kadel, MAC Chair, welcoming and thanking everyone. “We’re proud to carry on the tradition,” he said in introducing Colonel David P. Garfield, Commander, 482d Fighter Wing.

   “We’re friends and family and we’re making a difference,” were part of his remarks as he spoke of the dynamic happenings at the base. “Yes, we have our challenges, but we come together as a team. We can make things better for America, for South Florida, for Homestead. I appreciate everything the MAC has done and will do.”

   Admiral Collen P. Green, Commander SOCSOUTH, briefly took the podium. “This is the season of gratitude. SOCSOUTH has been here for only about fourteen years, but in all my years of moving around, I have never been to a community more giving to the military. From all the former commanders and members of SOCSOUTH, thank you for your support.”

   Homestead’s Mayor Jeff Porter asked all the elected officials to join him as he said, “We love the military, but tonight we want to read this Proclamation for the MAC.” The accomplishments listed spoke to the strong influence which Bob Jensen, veteran member of MAC, touched upon during what he said was, “Fifty years of history in five minutes.”

   Peter Caspari, Employer Outreach Director for Florida for the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), was accompanied by some of his staff members who presented the Department of Defense Seven Seals Award. This award is only given to those who provide exceptional support to members of the National Guard and Reserve.

   And speaking of the “team” Colonel Garfield cited, Kadel happily announced the Base Commander has provided a space for MAC to use; a space where they will have room to display selected items. Kadel unveiled a gun barrel from a 20mm cannon of an F-15 mounted on a large wooden piece that had previously been given to MAC by the 125th Fighter Wing Detachment One. The new MAC 50th Anniversary logo will decorate the walls as well.

   In moving around the room, Colonel Scott Guilbeault, SOCSOUTH Chief of Staff, said, “We’ve been here about fifteen years and it’s been great. It’s like family and from the first we’ve been able to trust and rely on the community and MAC for support.”

   For Colonel Alan C. Teaseau, Commander, 482d Mission Support Group, “It’s good to be able to get together to celebrate the New Year. We appreciate the committee that has helped us get through a difficult year with events like the hurricane. We will be working together even more in the future.”

   Debbie Zimmerman of U.S. Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s office, Daniel Leyte-Vidal of U.S. Representative Carlos Cuerbelo’s office, and Palmetto Bay Councilmember Karyn Cunningham were among the well-wishers.

   Although the same individuals aren’t likely to be at the celebration for the 100th anniversary, the work and support will certain continue. To learn more about MAC, go to http://southdadechamber.org/index.php/military-affairs