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Order of the Musket

Barnes Air National Guard Base, 104 Fighter Wing - Westfield, Mass -- On Saturday night, 6 February 2010, Major General Richard Platt (ret) received the highest honor the enlisted corps of the 104th Fighter Wing can bestow upon an individual, The Order of the Musket. This is only the second time this award has been presented, the first time being to Major General George Keefe (ret) in October 2005.

Over 230 men and women of the 104FW, both present and past members, attended the gala affair, dressed in their finest mess dress attire, semi-formal attire, and business suits and gowns to honor MG Platt. Holding to the highest standards in tradition, pride, and a sense of duty the 104FW is noted for, over 20 other individuals slated to attend the event remained at Barnes ANGB to work late into the evening repairing aircraft to ensure the new ASA mission was 100% ready to go by mid-night. These men and women put personal interests aside to work late that evening and should be congratulated for their dedication to their craft in seeing to the mission first! Thanks to all!!

The event started with our honoree's guests being escorted to their table by Chief Master Sgt. Murphy. The head table, consisting of Maj. Gen. Platt's wife, Lt. Col. Karen Platt, Col. Brooks and his wife Aprile, Lt. Col. Keefe and wife, Yuvone, State Command Chief Master Sgt. Newton, and Command Chief Master Sgt. Reale's wife, Hillary, escorted by Chief Master Sgt. Heller. The Continental Fife & Drum Corp from Colchester CT, playing a revolutionary war tune, accompanied Chief Master Sgt. Reale as he escorted Maj. Gen. Platt to the head table. The Honor Guard posted the colors and Florence Castonguay sang the National Anthem in A cappella (unaccompanied by music). The Honor Guard performed a stirring POW/MIA ceremony under spot light with the POW/MIA flag hanging on the wall behind them. Prior to dinner, we all sang the Air Force song accompanied by the ANG Band of the Northeast! Needless to say several sang out of key! This would ring true as later in the evening we sang a rousing rendition of the Battle Hymn of the Republic and a soulful rendition of Auld Lang Syne...where it is widely reported Lt. Col. Karen Platt shed a few tears.

As our incredible speakers, Chief Master Sgt. Reale, Chief Master Sgt. Heller, and Master Sgt. Lynne Bolduc, orated the nights events, the Honor Guard, in true military form, posture, and all due ceremony, posted all the awards Maj. Gen Platt received to various well timed and historic revolutionary war tunes played by the very talented Continental Fife & Drum Corp of Colchester CT.

Speaking of outstanding orators, suffice it to say that Maj. Gen. Platt still has what it takes to give pertinent, fact-filled, blood warming speeches laced with jokes, attention-grabbing points, and much sincerity. He has always been known for his ability to speak very well and inspire his audience and did not disappoint. He spoke of his utmost respect and trust he had of the enlisted corps, which comprises over 60% of our military forces. He poignantly mentioned that every poll since 1998 has shown the number one organization trusted by the American people, and by a very wide margin, was the US military. He talked about the four "Cs"; competence, consistency, commitment and compassion, which many of you may have heard before and of trusting and listening to your enlisted force, including the youngest Airman in the unit. If you listen to them, you will know where the problems are. He also spoke of family, and of keeping your family a priority in your lives. Lastly, he was deeply honored to be recommended by the enlisted force to receive this prestigious award.

Several toasts were lifted in honor to the President of the US, the Governor of Massachusetts, the 104FW Commander, our honoree and more. In the end, many individuals were recognized and thank for their efforts putting the event together. The Fife & Drum corps departed with one last tune. The line to congratulate Maj. Gen. Platt was lengthy as all stepped up to shake his hand and express their personal thanks for all he has done for our unit.

All-in-all it was a long night that seemed shorter than actuality, in large part due to the camaraderie that is the 104FW.