A New Perspective

Col. John McKaye, the 16th Intelligence Squadron commander, dresses in a Santa suit during the squadrons holiday party on Nov. 14, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

Col. John McKaye, the 16th Intelligence Squadron commander, dresses in a Santa suit during the squadrons holiday party on Nov. 14, 2015. (Courtesy photo)

FORT GREORGE G. MEADE, MD -- Every year as the leaves start to turn and the air becomes crisp; the anticipation of events to come always sets our blood to boil. It's a wonderful time of year and this year I was lucky enough to spend it with the 16th Intelligence Squadron.

My name is Clayton Winspear. I'm from a small town outside of Buffalo, NY, and a relatively new addition to Fort Meade. Upon progressing through the usual studies one receives at any new installation, I was placed into job with the reserve squadron known as the 16th IS.

As an active duty member it has been quite the opportunity to see how things work in a reserve unit. It has been a pleasant experience and a just reminder that we are all one Air Force fighting the same cause. 

From day one I have received nothing but comradery and a renewed sense of purpose. It has been a pleasure to work beside them.  Shortly upon arriving to the 16th IS, I was invited to attend their holiday party. To be honest I was a bit apprehensive at first, being new and all. However, the sincerity in which they insisted I attend won me over in the end.

As the night of November 14, arrived I made my way to the American Legion Post 40 where the festivities were to commence. Upon entering it was everything I should've known. On my way to the door I was greeted with the savory smell of BBQ and the dulcet tones of our master of ceremonies as she anointed the evening with renditions of the past paired with premonitions to come.

The flow of her words often cut short by a fit of laughter, echoed by those attending. The air was warm in every sense of the word. Between hearty "Hellos" and pats on the back I made my rounds.

After initial pleasantries I did as "I'm sure most others did upon entering" and made a b-line straight to the food.  It was quite a spread. From lamb, that broke apart under a stern stare, to chicken, that melted in your mouth, it left you nothing but wanting more.
The festivities began in full shortly after I ate my fill. Names were drawn from jars, entries made with no knowledge of what was to come. Trivia, ranging from how well you knew your fellow squadron members to how well you knew the Air Force, tested our minds. Col. John McKaye, the 16th Intelligence Squadron commander, awarded the prizes in his Santa suit.

Now that our minds were warmed up, it was time to get our bodies moving. From scavenger hunts to musical chairs and one messy instance of catching chocolate covered marshmallows with their mouths, the contestants truly earned their rewards.
The Holiday party also contained raffles and contests. Ugly sweaters were paraded up and down the dance floor. Each participant given the opportunity to show their wares in hope of gaining the crowds favor.

As the competitions began to run their course it was time dance and song. Lt. Col Todd Borzych, 16th IS deputy commander, and his loving wife treated the crowd to an exquisite display of practice and passion.They cut the floor with a stunning rendition of the tango. With the bar set so high it was only natural that continuing dance offs were off a festive nature. Individuals faced off to battle for the amusement of the crowd, much like the gladiators of old. In the end, only one would walk away the victor!

Upon completion of the dance portion, it was time for song. Volunteers stepped forward to entertain with the most ancient of traditions, karaoke. Between both duets and solos it was a wonderful way to ease into the end of the evening. The general hum of conversation mixed with the music summed up a tone of a wonderful end to a wonderful day.

I must say I was honestly impressed. This gathering was truly the embodiment of what this time of year stands for- not some normal rendition of any particular holiday, but the essence of what it means to have fellowship and fun between friends and coworkers.

In my short time of working with these individuals they have made me truly feel as though I belong. I would strongly encourage any Airman that is new to a squadron to participate in its functions.

It is important to feel connected to your organization. For all those who are nearing the end of their contracts and unsure of what to do for the future, I highly encourage you to think on joining the reserves. If your experience can be even a fraction of what mine has been it will prove to be well worth your while. At the end of the day, it hardly feels like work when you're in a good place with good people and that right there is the summation of my time at the 16th Intelligence Squadron.