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Co-commander picnic for Team 557 was ‘amazing’

Amelia Strange, daughter of Tech. Sgt. Selina Strange smiles as she sees her face painted as a fox for the first time at the 2021 557th Weather Wing Picnic at the Bellevue Berry Farm in Bellevue, Nebraska on June 4, 2021.

Amelia Strange, daughter of Tech. Sgt. Selina Strange smiles as she sees her face painted as a fox for the first time at the 2021 557th Weather Wing Picnic at the Bellevue Berry Farm in Bellevue, Nebraska on June 4, 2021. The picnic was planned for the 557th WW by the Co-Commanders as an opportunity to meet and show their appreciation for service members and their families. (U.S. Air Force photo by David R. Hopper)

Col. Steven Vilpors, 557th Weather Wing vice commander, closed out the 2021 557th WW Annual Picnic by giving thanks to the Co-Commanders for their support and the planning committee for all the hard work to put the event together on June 4, 2021 at the Bellevue Berry Farm in Bellevue, Nebraska.

Col. Steven Vilpors, 557th Weather Wing vice commander, closed out the 2021 557th WW Annual Picnic by giving thanks to the Co-Commanders for their support and the planning committee for all the hard work to put the event together on June 4, 2021 at the Bellevue Berry Farm in Bellevue, Nebraska. The picnic served a couple of purposes, the first being a morale boost for the COVID-weary Airmen and their families and the second was to give the co-commanders an opportunity to meet and show their appreciation for the members of the 557th Weather Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by David R. Hopper)

Master Sgt. Bryan Johnson, 1st Weather Group, pitches a bag against Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Paul, 557th Weather Wing command chief, during a game of Cornhole at the 2021 557th Weather Wing Picnic at the Bellevue Berry Farm on June 4, 2021 in Bellevue, Nebraska.

Master Sgt. Bryan Johnson, 1st Weather Group, pitches a bag against Chief Master Sgt. Kevin Paul, 557th Weather Wing command chief, during a game of Cornhole at the 2021 557th Weather Wing Picnic at the Bellevue Berry Farm on June 4, 2021 in Bellevue, Nebraska. The picnic served a couple of purposes, with the first being a morale boost for the COVID-weary Airmen and their families and the second was to give the co-commanders an opportunity to meet and show their appreciation for the members of the 557th Weather Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo by David R. Hopper)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

As members of the 557th Weather Wing have started to return to the office after a tough battle with the pandemic, they were treated to a picnic on June 4 at the Bellevue Berry Farm in Bellevue.

The picnic served a couple of purposes, with the first being a morale boost for the COVID-weary Airmen and their families. The second was to give the co-commanders an opportunity to meet and show their appreciation for the members of the 557th Weather Wing.

“I believe this is just the morale-boost that members of the 557th need,” said Barbara Frith, 557th WW Protocol. “I don’t think we could possibly thank our co-commanders enough for making this happen for the wing.”

The event began with opening remarks from the 557th Weather Wing commander and a safety briefing from Tech. Sgt. Rachel Graf, 557th WW chief of safety.

“As everyone begins making their way back to work or planning their summer vacation, safety needs to be part of their planning process,” Graf said. “A perfect example is the heat index during the summer and all the preventable issues that can arise.”

The picnic was filled with many events for all ages. One such event, the ‘Amazing Race’ was not your typical run around the parade grounds. The patrons needed to use clues to make it to the next round, which made it an intriguing race where intellectual skills won the day.

One of the main features of any picnic is the food. The co-commanders went all out to celebrate the Airmen and their families with pulled pork, roasted chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, chips and baked beans. One of the co-commanders, Herman Colvin, even brought in his home-made bar-b-que sauce.

“I was a little worried about what could happen at the picnic with the current extreme temperatures but the co-commanders made sure there were cold refreshments and even a snow cone machine was available to help everyone beat the heat,” Graf added.

Dale Sundermann, 55th Medical Group family advocacy intervention specialist, was the guest speaker for the event.

“I wanted to share three keys we know of for personal and family resilience and enrichment when times are tough,” Sundermann said. “Look for the gold, persist with a purpose, and celebrate the mistakes and struggles that develop our personal resilience and enriches our family’s wellbeing.”

The picnic wasn’t limited to great food and intellectual games. There was also a scavenger hunt for elementary-aged children, finish the lyrics with the help of the awesome DJs, TeeRoy and Chris, and also challenges playing Cornhole. The larger prizes came at the end of the day by way of a raffle.    

The Bellevue Berry Farm was gracious enough to offer hayrides during the picnic. Children, along with a few adults, also lined up to get their face painted by the talented artists who came out to support the Airmen and their families.

“The games, food, music, face painting, motivational speaking and other festivities of the day led to an amazing day with friends and family,” Frith said. “It was great to see that even a pandemic can’t destroy our connection with one another.”