Stage production brings AF history to life

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Hailey Haux
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
It's the dawn of a new century and a historic figure takes the stage as a spotlight illuminates his face.

A man dressed in World War I aviator attire somberly talks about the Great War and some of the major events that went on. After he's finished speaking he bows his head and the spotlight goes out.

Another man takes the stage; this time dressed in a World War II uniform and, like the first, speaks about many devastating events from that time. The light fades a second time.

The "Spirits of the Past" is a production that is put on by Kisling NCO Academy instructors on Kapaun Air Station, and performed for the students before they graduate.

"Spirits of the Past began in 1992," said Master Sgt. Bryan Daniel, NCO Academy knowledge operations division superintendant. "It is a historical stage, sound and video presentation, which pays tribute to our enlisted corps' heritage, Air Force history and all those in the military."

The production has actors from many different eras; World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

"My dad was in the Air Force during Vietnam and this is my way of paying homage to him," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Howland, U.S. Air Forces in Europe NCO Academy instructor and Vietnam War actor. "I put my emotions into the performance and I feel like I am talking for him."

The production was developed to help NCOs fulfill their responsibilities in the areas of history and the enlisted contribution, and is performed for every graduating class, Daniel said.

"It gives everyone a sense of pride after watching or participating in the production," said Howland. "It's a huge boost in morale and I see students leave here with their heads held higher, proud to be a part of the U.S. Air Force."

Every era's personality has a story to tell and they all tell it in their own way relating personal stories to their on-stage performance.

"We are on stage for about five minutes each telling our story," said Howland. "It would be hard to memorize all that dialogue unless you relate it to something personal. My dad was in Vietnam and that's a major part of my story. I switch things around a little, but it helps me get all the emotion out in the open."

Research plays an important part in the production, Howland said.

"In my portion of the performance I reference a Marine who died in Vietnam," said Howland. "That story is true and I did my research and found out how and where he died so I could use that in my story."

This unique production has successfully grabbed the attention of all graduates since 1992 and displays more than 90 years of enlisted heritage, Daniel said.

As the lights dim, the production comes to a close; the spirits of the past take the stage one more time to salute the audience.

"You are the next generation," said Tech. Sgt. Jason Fulmer, World War I presenter. "You are the expeditionary Airmen. So we, the spirits of the past, proudly salute you, spirit of the Air Force."