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Define your "Dover Experience"

World War II reenactors pose in front of a Douglas C-47 Skytrain at the D-Day 75th Anniversary Commemoration May 4, 2019, at the Air Mobility Command Museum on Dover Air Force Base, Del. The plane was open for cabin and cockpit tours throughout the day.  (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

World War II reenactors pose in front of a Douglas C-47 Skytrain at the D-Day 75th Anniversary Commemoration May 4, 2019, at the Air Mobility Command Museum on Dover Air Force Base, Del. The plane was open for cabin and cockpit tours throughout the day. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Mauricio Campino)

The Dover Air Force Base Honor Guard presents colors during the opening ceremony for the Gander RV 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race May. 5, 2019, at the Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. The Honor Guard also presented colors during the opening ceremony on May 4, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

The Dover Air Force Base Honor Guard presents colors during the opening ceremony for the Gander RV 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race May. 5, 2019, at the Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. The Honor Guard also presented colors during the opening ceremony on May 4, 2019. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Capt. Michelle Petry, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight commander, helps Reagan Fesel don military gear May 4, 2019, at Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del. The EOD technicians, firefighters, and Security Forces Squadron members set up static displays to provide a hands-on experience to those attending the races.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Capt. Michelle Petry, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Explosive Ordnance Disposal flight commander, helps Reagan Fesel don military gear May 4, 2019, at Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del. The EOD technicians, firefighters, and Security Forces Squadron members set up static displays to provide a hands-on experience to those attending the races. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Joshua Aultice, Spencer Boyd Racing Public Relations Manager, and Staff Sgt. Kyle Leidholm, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-5 Super Galaxy crew chief, fold an American flag after the National Anthem May 3, 2019, at the Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. The flag is folded into the shape of a triangle to represent a tri-cornered hat worn by colonial soldiers. This shape is meant to remind race attendees of the freedoms and privileges earned from the sacrifice of many service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Joshua Aultice, Spencer Boyd Racing Public Relations Manager, and Staff Sgt. Kyle Leidholm, 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-5 Super Galaxy crew chief, fold an American flag after the National Anthem May 3, 2019, at the Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. The flag is folded into the shape of a triangle to represent a tri-cornered hat worn by colonial soldiers. This shape is meant to remind race attendees of the freedoms and privileges earned from the sacrifice of many service members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Honorary pit crew members, NASCAR drivers and pit crew members salute during the singing of the national anthem before the start of the JEGS 200 race May 3, 2019, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. NASCAR teams partner with Dover Air Force Base to offer Dover service members the opportunity to participate as a team member during the race. Each race, roughly 35 service members attend as honorary pit crew members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Honorary pit crew members, NASCAR drivers and pit crew members salute during the singing of the national anthem before the start of the JEGS 200 race May 3, 2019, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. NASCAR teams partner with Dover Air Force Base to offer Dover service members the opportunity to participate as a team member during the race. Each race, roughly 35 service members attend as honorary pit crew members. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Tatum, 436th Airlift Wing religious affairs Airman, watches the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying race May 3, 2019, at Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del. Tatum,a huge fan of NASCAR, was selected to be one of the approximately 35  honorary pit crew members from Dover Air Force Base. The weekend marked Dover International Speedway’s 50th season and the Monster Mile’s 100th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

Staff Sgt. Matthew Tatum, 436th Airlift Wing religious affairs Airman, watches the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series qualifying race May 3, 2019, at Dover International Speedway, Dover, Del. Tatum,a huge fan of NASCAR, was selected to be one of the approximately 35 honorary pit crew members from Dover Air Force Base. The weekend marked Dover International Speedway’s 50th season and the Monster Mile’s 100th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

John Rich, American singer-songwriter of "Big & Rich", performes for servicemembers and their families  May 3, 2019, at The Landings on Dover Air Force Base, Del. The concert was held in conjunction with the Dover AFB's monthly First Friday social and included stock cars from professional NASCAR drivers.

John Rich, American singer-songwriter of "Big & Rich", performes for servicemembers and their families May 3, 2019, at The Landings on Dover Air Force Base, Del. The concert was held in conjunction with the Dover AFB's monthly First Friday social and included stock cars from professional NASCAR drivers.

John Rich, american singer-songwriter of "Big & Rich", shares a high-five with a child from the crowd May 3, 2019, at The Landings on Dover Air Force Base, Del. Rich performed for servicemembers and their families during Dover's monthly First Friday social. The concert was held in conjunction with NASCAR weekend and included stock cars from professional NASCAR drivers.

John Rich, american singer-songwriter of "Big & Rich", shares a high-five with a child from the crowd May 3, 2019, at The Landings on Dover Air Force Base, Del. Rich performed for servicemembers and their families during Dover's monthly First Friday social. The concert was held in conjunction with NASCAR weekend and included stock cars from professional NASCAR drivers.

Dover Air Force Base Honor Guard members and 436th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Joel Safranek prepare for the Dover Days Parade May 4, 2019, at downtown Dover, Del. Dover Days is a tradition that celebrates Dover’s history. This year’s celebration included a parade through downtown Dover as well as the 75th anniversary commemoration of D-Day in World War II at the AMC Museum and three NASCAR races. (courtesy photo)

Dover Air Force Base Honor Guard members and 436th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Joel Safranek prepare for the Dover Days Parade May 4, 2019, at downtown Dover, Del. Dover Days is a tradition that celebrates Dover’s history. This year’s celebration included a parade through downtown Dover as well as the 75th anniversary commemoration of D-Day in World War II at the AMC Museum and three NASCAR races. (courtesy photo)

Col. Dawn Lancaster, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations commander, waves the green flag signaling the start of the Gander RV 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race May 6, 2019, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. after a Sunday rainout. Lancaster was selected as the honorary starter to represent Dover Air Force Base in honor of her 26 years of military service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)
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Col. Dawn Lancaster, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations commander, waves the green flag signaling the start of the Gander RV 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race May 6, 2019, at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Del. after a Sunday rainout. Lancaster was selected as the honorary starter to represent Dover Air Force Base in honor of her 26 years of military service. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Christopher Quail)

DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. --

When Airmen get their assignments to Dover, many may have to Google “Dover” just to find out where it is on the map. In addition to learning where Dover is located, many also learn about the “Dover Experience.” When I first heard the term, I did not really understand it; but now that I have lived it, the “Dover Experience” has become more meaningful to me. I see the “Dover Experience” as a combination of the countless unique opportunities Dover Air Force Base and our Dover community bring to those who live and work here. The various events our Dover Airmen attended this past weekend showcase this.

Before leaving for the weekend, I enjoyed a fantastic First Friday at the Landings with Team Dover Airmen. This was no ordinary First Friday as we had a few extra visitors. NASCAR race cars were on display, and all attendees enjoyed a free event with country singers John Rich and Cowboy Troy. As I watched Master Sgt. Jesus Revilla and Master Sgt. Scott Priputen accompany John Rich on guitar and drums, respectively, in the background, I knew this would be a special experience they would never forget.

Then, on Saturday, I donned my colonial garb, and as Caesar Rodney, I joined my fellow Airmen as they participated in and enjoyed the Dover Days Parade. My wife and I had the opportunity to serve as reviewing officials, and it was a blast! In the reviewing stand, I had the honor of accompanying Delaware Gov. John Carney and Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen. Throughout the day, I was able to see firsthand how the Dover Mayor’s phrase of “Dover is Dover Air Force Base, and Dover Air Force Base is Dover” is absolutely true. As I watched the parade, I could not help but notice the level of involvement from our Dover AFB Airmen and their families. I saw our very own Dover AFB Honor Guard marching. I saw our Airmen and their families in the parade, integrated into the community organizations on display or enjoying the event as spectators in the crowd. What an incredible display of the long-standing partnership we share with our community!

Later in the day, my wife and I had another incredible experience at the Air Mobility Command Museum during a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The museum staff and volunteers had knocked this one out of the park. As a result of their efforts, we had a unique flyover and static display of the C-47 affectionately known as TAB, “That’s All, Brother,” which served as the lead in its D-Day airdrop formation. In addition to seeing this historic aircraft in motion, we were able to interact with dozens of WWII reenactors. Even more special, we had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet George Shenkle and Joseph Morettini: two former paratroopers who had jumped from the AMC Museum’s C-47 (“Turf and Sport Special”) on D-Day. To add to the excitement, AMC Museum and Commemorative Air Force arranged for them to fly as passengers in TAB during the flyover. It was the first time they had been on the aircraft since D-Day - what a memorable experience for all!

Anyone who has spent any time in Dover knows NASCAR is a large part of this town, and that was apparent this past weekend as Dover International Speedway celebrated its 50th season. Not only were Airmen and their families able to meet NASCAR driver Garrett Smithley at First Friday, but they were also fully involved in the weekend’s races as well. Roughly 35 service members were selected as honorary pit crew members for a behind-the-scenes NASCAR experience. Additionally, the Air Force’s unparalleled volunteer spirit was evident in the amount of outstanding Airmen I saw providing help throughout the weekend.

Despite the rain Sunday, we had Airmen of all ranks at the track, to include Col. Dawn Lancaster, Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations commander, and her husband, Earl. This summer, the Lancasters will close out five decades of military service between the two of them; in anticipation of closing this chapter of their lives, Col. Lancaster served as the honorary starter for the weekend’s final race. From the smile and excitement on her face, I can only imagine this was the pinnacle of her “Dover Experience.” Mine is seeing that a community like Dover exists for our Airmen and their families.

For those of you who have not created your own “Dover Experience” yet, I encourage you to seek out upcoming events and talk with your fellow Airmen. Some of the best places to find information on what’s to come include: the Dover AFB App, the FSS website and the Community Notes in The Airlifter newspaper. The state of Delaware and the city of Dover want to support our military and make our time at Dover special. Whether it be enjoying an FSS “New York City on Your Own” trip, volunteering at a beer and wine festival or going on an Amish bike tour, you decide what you want out of your “Dover Experience.”