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Texas hospitality comes to Dover

  • Published
  • By Dawne Nickerson-Banez
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Every year since 1998, chambers of commerce all over the country have been vying for the coveted Abilene Trophy. The trophy, formally known as the Air Mobility Command Community Support Award, is sponsored by the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.  Abilene, Texas is home to Dyess Air Force Base. 


The award is given annually to the chamber of commerce and community surrounding an AMC base that is judged to have best supported to their neighboring base. This year, the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce and Dover Air Force Base were recognized for the third time. 


Thick binders full of plastic sheet covers, CDs and other documents are submitted detailing events, organizations, activities and programs that the community creates together in order to enhance the public awareness and understanding of their local base. Months of documentation are outlined and detailed describing how each program is unique. These packages are submitted to the Abilene Chamber of Commerce selection committee for judgment. Ultimately, every base in the Air Mobility Command wins because each community is trying hard to win the trophy. Great new programs and partnerships have been developed through the Abilene Award process.


The community of Dover has long been recognized for its tremendous support of Dover AFB and its Airmen. Robust programs such as the Honorary Commander Program, Adopt an Airman, Bluesuiters golf tournaments and Dorm to Gourm are all examples of the integration between the local community and Dover AFB. Partnerships such as City of Dover Police conducting joint training with Dover AFB Security Forces, Kent Economic Partnership sponsoring a community garden, and mobile healthcare screening sponsored by the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition have helped to enhance the lives of Airmen and their families through the program now known as the First State Community Partnership Initiative.   


Conversely, if you were to attend a large event downtown such as NASCAR, Comic-Con, Dover Days, OktDoverFest, History, Heritage and Hops, or the Delaware State Fair, you would see Team Dover’s Airmen volunteering in the community. Airmen on Dover AFB look forward to engaging in eventsdowntown.


President of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce, Judy Diogo commented during the ceremony, “We are thrilled to have been selected for the Abilene Award for 2015.” 


“Here, we are Team Dover. The community and the base are really one entity. We work together, we live together, we shop together, and we worship together,” said Diogo.


"We are so honored to be the home of Dover Air Force Base. We are so proud to be part of Team Dover.”  


Yvonne Batts and Kristina Jones, members of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, were on hand to present the trophy to members of the CDCC and 436th Airlift Wing leadership on July 13, 2016. Military personnel, state leaders, civic leaders, Honorary Commanders and members of Team Dover gathered at the Air Mobility Command Museum to celebrate. 


Batts and Jones, with help from the Dover AFB Honor Guard, presented the trophy to Diogo and Lynne Schaefer, chair of the Military Affairs Committee as well as Col. Michael Grismer, 436th Airlift wing commander, Col. Eric Brandes, acting 512th Airlift Wing commander, Col. Dawn Lancaster, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations commander, and the 436th Airlift Wing Command Chief, Chief Master Sergeant Sarah Sparks.


After approaching the podium, Brandes commented, simply, “Wow!”


He went on to say that in his 34 years in the military Dover has by far been the most supportive community for a base. 


“We do it the best here at Dover,” said Brandes. 


Grismer offered closing remarks and thanked the Abilene Award selection committee for recognizing the efforts of the chamber.


“Much of our success is due to the efforts of the Central Delaware Chamber of Commerce,” said Grismer. “There’s not a better group of advocates out there for any base than the community of Dover.” 


Team Dover also presented the chamber with an “Outstanding Partnership” award in appreciation of their unwavering support.  


The evening closed with congratulations coming all the way from Washington DC. Senator Thomas Carper (D-DE), Senator Chris Coons (D-DE), and Congressman John Carney (D-DE) each recorded a video message congratulating the chamber and thanking them for the prestigious recognition.