Annual NASIC dining out highlights center's legacy mission

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Marianne E. Lane
  • National Air and Space Intelligence Center
The National Air and Space Intelligence Center honored two World War II veterans during the center's annual formal dinner at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force Friday, March 27.

More than 350 people attended the traditional dinner, called a dining out, as a way to boost morale and esprit de corps while developing friendships and better working relationships.

"A dining out is an important part of our military heritage that we, as leaders, must pass along to successive generations," said Col. Thomas Dobbs, commander of the center's Geospatial and Signatures Intelligence Group. "In particular, the NASIC dining out is a fantastic celebration of our NASIC history, our professional workforce, and the bright future that lies ahead."

The format for a dining out began with events thrown by General Henry "Hap" Arnold during his time in the United States Army Air Corps. NASIC has celebrated the tradition since 1961. The theme of this year's event was the 70th anniversary of World War II.

"This year, we wanted to focus specifically on Watson's Whizzers in Operation Luftwaffe Secret Technology (LUSTY), where we exploited a Me-262, the world's first jet powered aircraft," said Capt. Elbert Chan, NASIC dining out coordinator. "Germany surrendered before they got a chance to use it in the war, but we used the data to build our own jet aircraft."

In the spirit of the theme, NASIC was joined at the dinner by two veteran Airmen who participated first-hand in the support of the Operation LUSTY - Victor Bilek and Roy Brown.

Bilek commissioned in the Army Air Corps in September 1941.

"He used his engineering degree to test developmental weapon systems for U.S. Army aircraft here at Wright Field," said Robert Young, NASIC historian. "The testing of aircraft and weapons here at Wright Field was critical [to the mission]."

Brown received his wings in October 1943. After the war ended, he became a pilot for Watson's Whizzers.

"Their assignment was to learn to fly the multi-engine jet fighter and ferry them from the heart of Germany to Cherbourg France, where they were to be loaded on a British aircraft carrier," said Young. "From there they came home to be closely studied."

In addition to the two veteran Airmen, NASIC's dining out was also attended by Marcel Lettre, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Lettre served as the guest speaker for the evening after spending the day at the center. During his remarks, he spoke about how grateful he was for NASIC's support to decision-makers in Washington.

"Thank you to this community at NASIC," said Lettre. "Thank you for what you do to support me personally as I serve the Secretary of Defense and the warfighter, and for the contributions you make to the nation's security."