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Family Day draws hundreds of visitors to Kentucky Air Guard

More than 500 family members and retirees attended The 123rd Airlift Wing’s annual Family Day at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on July 13, 2014. This year’s event was the largest ever hosted by the wing and featured such activities as a tug-of-war tournament, petting zoo and pony rides. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Joshua Horton)

More than 500 family members and retirees attended The 123rd Airlift Wing’s annual Family Day at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on July 13, 2014. This year’s event was the largest ever hosted by the wing and featured such activities as a tug-of-war tournament, petting zoo and pony rides. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Joshua Horton)

More than 500 family members and retirees attended The 123rd Airlift Wing’s annual Family Day at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on July 13, 2014. This year’s event was the largest ever hosted by the wing and featured such activities as a tug-of-war tournament, petting zoo and pony rides. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Joshua Horton)

More than 500 family members and retirees attended The 123rd Airlift Wing’s annual Family Day at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on July 13, 2014. This year’s event was the largest ever hosted by the wing and featured such activities as a tug-of-war tournament, petting zoo and pony rides. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Joshua Horton)

More than 500 family members and retirees attended The 123rd Airlift Wing’s annual Family Day at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on July 13, 2014. This year’s event was the largest ever hosted by the wing and featured such activities as a tug-of-war tournament, petting zoo and pony rides. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Joshua Horton)

More than 500 family members and retirees attended The 123rd Airlift Wing’s annual Family Day at the Kentucky Air National Guard Base in Louisville, Ky., on July 13, 2014. This year’s event was the largest ever hosted by the wing and featured such activities as a tug-of-war tournament, petting zoo and pony rides. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Joshua Horton)

KENTUCKY AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Children, spouses, parents and retirees all came together here July 13 for the 123rd Airlift Wing's annual Family Day, which honors their support of nearly 1,200 Kentucky Air National Guardsmen.

The day's events began in the Fuel Cell Hangar, where wing commander Col. Barry Gorter welcomed more than 500 visitors to the base.

"Our families are the ones who make the greatest sacrifice when we deploy or travel for work," Gorter said. "Our families are the ones who provide the stability we need in our homes, families and communities when duty calls us away. Today is a small 'thank you' to each of our families."

At one end of the hangar, family members and their Airmen noshed on hamburgers, hotdogs, chicken, potato salad, and many other picnic-style foods provided by the local Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Kentucky Air Guard Key Volunteer Group. At the other end, an Army-Air Force Exchange Service store offered shoppers a variety of merchandise, while booths from the American Red Cross, the Department of Veterans Affairs and safety vendors provided information on personal and home safety.

Across the base, live music performed by the Allen Lane Band and The BCB and Company could be heard throughout the day as children enjoyed bounce houses, games and face-painting, while adults participated in tug-of-war contests and a corn hole tournament. New events this year included a petting zoo, pony rides and a bicycle rodeo.

"This is a wonderful event with so many great activities," said Senior Master Sgt. Iris Smith, who brought her son and husband to the day's festivities. "It is great to see other members of the unit with their families and to enjoy activities alongside them. It gives us a chance to catch up with those we don't normally get to see during our normal work day, meet their families and reconnect with retirees."

Sherry Board, who attended the event with her two daughters in support of her son, Senior Airman Montaze Wright, said she appreciated the opportunity to learn more about her son's work.

"This has been a great experience for me to be invited inside the base to see what my son does here and meet the people he works with," Board said. "I can see that a lot of attention and detail was put into today's events to make a great Family Day for everyone."

According to Gorter, the day would not have been a success without the help of numerous individuals on base and the support of volunteer organizations that made many contributions, including items for a silent auction and door prizes.

"Not only do we need to thank our family members, but we need to recognize all of the folks who made today's events possible," Gorter said. "All of these volunteers are doing amazing things on our behalf, and we couldn't provide a day like this without their support."