Spirit of Service

Maj. Gen. Wayne Gatlin (Ret.), former 148th Fighter Wing Commander was awarded the Brig. Gen. Ray Miller Spirit of Service Award by Brig. Gen. Mark Ness (Ret.) during a luncheon held at the 148th Fighter Wing.  The luncheon was in honor of the Minnesota Air National Guard's Anniversary.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ralph Kapustka/released)

Maj. Gen. Wayne C. Gatlin (Ret.), former 148th Commander was awarded the Brig. Gen. Ray Miller Spirit of Service Award by Brig. Gen. Mark Ness (Ret.) during a luncheon held a the 148th Fighter Wing, Duluth, Minn. The luncheon was in honor of the Minnesota Air National Guard's 90th Anniversary. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ralph Kapustka)

Former 148th Fighter Wing members along with other special guests pose for a group shot with the P-51 Mustang and the block 10, F-16 during the Minnesota Air National Guard's 90th Anniversary celebration. The P-51 Mustang is the original aircraft flown by the 148th Fighter Wing and was flown from 1948 to 1954.   (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ralph Kapustka/released)

Former 148th Fighter Wing members along with other special guests pose for a group shot with the P-51 Mustang and the block 10, F-16 during the Minnesota Air National Guard's 90th Anniversary celebration. The P-51 Mustang is the original aircraft flown by the 148th Fighter Wing and was flown from 1948 to 1954. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ralph Kapustka/released)

Former 148th Fighter Wing members along with other special guests attended a small luncheon in honor of the Minnesota Air National Guard's 90th Anniversary.  Maj. Gen. Wayne Gatlin (Ret.), former 148th Fighter Wing Commander was awarded the Brig. Gen. Ray Miller Spirit of Service Award during the luncheon.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ralph Kapustka/released)

Maj. Gen. Wayne C. Gatlin (Ret.), former 148th Commander poses inside a P-51 Mustang cockpit during the Minnesota Air National Guard's 90th Anniversary celebration. The P-51 Mustang was the original aircraft flown by the 148th Fighter Wing and was flown from 1948 to 1954. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ralph Kapustka)

Former 148th Fighter Wing members along with other special guests attended a small luncheon in honor of the Minnesota Air National Guard's 90th Anniversary.  Maj. Gen. Wayne Gatlin (Ret.), former 148th Fighter Wing Commander was awarded the Brig. Gen. Ray Miller Spirit of Service Award during the luncheon.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ralph Kapustka/released)

Former 148th Fighter Wing members along with other special guests attend a luncheon in honor of the Minnesota Air National Guard's 90th Anniversary. Maj. Gen. Wayne C. Gatlin (Ret.), former 148th Commander was awarded the Brig. Gen. Ray Miller Spirit of Service Award during the luncheon. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Ralph Kapustka)

Duluth, Minn. -- "I served with the greatest bunch of people," said Major General Wayne C. Gatlin (Ret.) after receiving the inaugural Brigadier General Ray Miller Spirit of Service Award from Brigadier General Mark Ness (Ret.) July 14, 2011. Maj. Gen. Gatlin describes his military career in Duluth as being enjoyable--days starting with breakfast at his own house, followed by flying a P-51 Mustang over Lake Superior, and ending back at home.

Maj. Gen. Gatlin, a Duluth, Minn. Native, served as the operations officer for the 179th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, Group Commander of the 148th Fighter Group, and finally Chief of Staff for the Minnesota Air National Guard. By the end of his flying career, Maj. Gen. Gatlin logged more than 6,700 hours of flying.

The Minnesota Air National Guard Historical Foundation hosted the award ceremony as part of a state-wide celebration of the Minnesota Air National Guard's 90th anniversary. September 26, 1920 was the day three Minnesotans rented a Curtiss Oriole Biplane and started an eight day flight to Washington, D.C. in order to petition to be the first federally recognized National Guard flying squadron. Minnesota was later recognized as having a National Guard flying squadron in 1921 due to the efforts of Ray Miller and his companions.

The Brigadier General Ray Miller Spirit of Service Award was created by the Minnesota Air National Guard Historical Foundation to commemorate Ray Miller's life and work as the "Father of the Minnesota Air National Guard," as well as an individual who had a major impact on Minnesota's economy.

Service members and distinguished guests were shown a presentation honoring Maj. Gen. Gatlin and of the history of the 148th Fighter Wing. Dr. George "Pinky" Nelson, a member of the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, spoke about his experiences and the future of space travel. At the conclusion of the anniversary program, a commemorative flight of a P-51 Mustang took place.