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123rd celebrates 60th anniversary

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Louisville, Ky. -- The Kentucky Air Guard celebrated its 60th anniversary last month with two ceremonies that paid tribute to the unit's storied past. 

During the first event, held Feb. 3 in the base Maintenance Hangar, 123rd Airlift Wing Commander Col. Mark Kraus reminded hundreds of drilling Airmen about the wing's Latin motto: Fortes Fortuna Juvat. 

Loosely translated, it means, "Fortune Follows the Brave," a fitting credo for Airmen who have deployed for countless operations around the world since 1947, including the Korean War, the Bosnian conflict and Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

Colonel Kraus noted that much of the wing's current success can be attributed to the hard work of thousands of Kentuckians who served the state and nation during the past six decades. 

"Today, as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Kentucky Air National Guard and the 123rd Wing, we honor the vision of those who came before us and recognize the sacrifices that were made through the years to help make us the wing we are today -- and that is the best in the business, period," he said. 

"Even though it has been 60 years, this wing is still climbing toward its peak. 

"Many of you will be here to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Air National Guard in Kentucky. Some of you will be here to celebrate the 80th, and even a few of you, no doubt, will be here to celebrate the 90th. 

"I've got no doubt that on the 70th and 80th and 90th and 100th anniversaries of this wing, we'll be as stong and vital to our national security and as important to the state of Kentucky as we are now. 

"And it will be because of you -- as long as you remember throughout your whole career that fortune follows the brave." 

The second event, held in the Base Annex on Feb. 16, provided an opportunity for Colonel Kraus to read a proclamation from Gov. Ernie Fletcher declaring the occasion as "Kentucky Air National Guard Day." 

Exactly 60 years earlier, the Kentucky Air Guard's original four units received federal recognition -- preceeding the creation of the U.S. Air Force by more than five months. 

Kentucky's original four units were the 123rd Fighter Group, the 165th Fighter Squadron, the 165th Utility Squadron and the 165th Weather Squadron.