3rd Herd marks 50th anniversary

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- With a bang of the gavel, 3rd Combat Communications Group Commander Col. James Appleyard closed the 50th anniversary celebration of the 3rd Herd following their Dining Out July 6 at the Tinker Club.
   The Dining Out was the last of three events commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the 3rd Herd last week.
   The celebration kicked off July 5 with some friendly competition between squadrons in the prestigious Third Annual Hooahlympics. From a three-mile rucksack run to a combat obstacle course, all five squadrons tested their mettle for the honor of being named Hooahlympics champions.
   This year, the 34th Combat Communications Squadron, better known as the "Muscle of the Herd," took home the title. Everyone who participated proved their ability to be ready "Anytime, Anywhere!" in the myriad of combat-themed physical challenges.
   The Herd's mascot, Buford the Bull, refusing to be left out of the competition, stampeded out his "new and improved" self, just in time for the anniversary festivities. Now standing an impressive 11 hands tall at the shoulders and weighing in at 3,400 pounds, Buford has taken up prominent residence in front of the Group Headquarters building.
   Truth be told, the new bull was actually available for a sneak peak days earlier when Gen. Ronald Keys, commander of Air Combat Command, paid a visit to the group and was the first to have his photo taken with Buford.
   For those attending the Dining Out, it was a time to reflect on the 3rd Herd's past and the many accomplishments they have achieved.
   During the Dining Out, Col. Appleyard detailed the 3rd Herd's history, lineage and some of the many accolades the unit and its personnel have received over the past 50 years of dedicated service.
   "We celebrate our past to understand what our comrades have done before us and understand what is expected of us, which is excellence." Col Appleyard said.
   Retired Brig. Gen. Buford R. Witt, the father of the modern 3rd Herd, joined the unit as guest speaker for the Dining Out. Gen. Witt recalled some of the many "war stories" from his time as Group commander more than 20 years ago and some lessons from his many years of service.
   "The Airmen of the Herd continue to work tirelessly to maintain their heritage of being ready for any contingency that calls on them," Gen. Witt reflected. "They will never fail to be where they are needed."
   Following the anniversary festivities, it was back to business as usual for 3rd Herd members. The Herd arrived at work before 6 a.m. Tuesday morning to begin a group-wide field training exercise to continue their focus on training for upcoming missions.
   "We have a tradition of excellence to uphold, and an amazing lineage to build upon," Col. Appleyard said.