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Air Force Association hosts UTANG 70th Anniversary Gala

Tony Horton, P90X creator and fitness and lifestyle expert, addresses a group of more than 450 military and civilian guests at the Utah Air National Guard 70th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 4, 2016. The event, hosted by the Utah Air Force Association, was held at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Annie Edwards)

Tony Horton, P90X creator and fitness and lifestyle expert, addresses a group of more than 450 military and civilian guests at the Utah Air National Guard 70th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 4, 2016. The event, hosted by the Utah Air Force Association, was held at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Annie Edwards)

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Jay Hess, prisoner of war and Hanoi Hilton survivor, addresses a group of more than 450 military and civilian guests at the Utah Air National Guard 70th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 4, 2016. The event, hosted by the Utah Air Force Association, was held at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Annie Edwards)

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Jay Hess, prisoner of war and Hanoi Hilton survivor, addresses a group of more than 450 military and civilian guests at the Utah Air National Guard 70th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 4, 2016. The event, hosted by the Utah Air Force Association, was held at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Annie Edwards)

Brig. Gen. Christine Burckle, Utah Air National Guard Commander, prepares to cut the cake at the Utah Air National Guard 70th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 4, 2016, at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. More than 450 military and civilian guests attended the event hosted by the Utah Air Force Association. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Annie Edwards)

Brig. Gen. Christine Burckle, Utah Air National Guard Commander, prepares to cut the cake at the Utah Air National Guard 70th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 4, 2016, at The Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City. More than 450 military and civilian guests attended the event hosted by the Utah Air Force Association. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Annie Edwards)

SALT LAKE CITY -- More than 450 military and civilian guests attended the Utah Air National Guard 70th Anniversary Gala Nov. 4 at The Grand America Hotel. Hosted by the Utah Air Force Association, the event featured a number of prominent speakers including Utah National Guard Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Jefferson Burton, Utah Governor Gary Herbert, Air Force POW (Ret.) Lt. Col. Jay Hess, and fitness and lifestyle expert Tony Horton.

Keynote speakers Hess and Horton focused their remarks on their own personal stories of tragedy and triumph, as well as the underlying themes of resiliency and patriotism. Governor Herbert presented a proclamation to Brig. Gen. Christine Burckle, Utah Air National Guard Commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Brian Garrett, Joint Force Headquarters Command Chief,  declaring Nov. 18 Utah Air National Guard day in honor of the organization's inception in 1946.

"It was the best Air Force event I've ever attended," said Staff Sgt. Landon Tholen, a client systems technician with the 151st Communications Flight, who escorted special guest Miss Utah, Lauren Wilson, for the evening.

Horton's visit to Roland R. Wright Air National Guard Base also included participation in a civic leader flight and leading an intense exercise session for 60 Airmen and dependents in the days leading up to the Gala.

"This was, hands down, one of the best military trips I've had to date," said Horton, who has visited 51 military installations around the globe. "There's nothing more important than honoring the heroes whose sacrifice and vigilance safeguard our American way of life."

While anniversary events only happen so often, they are important aspects of pride and heritage said Brig. Gen. Burckle.

"In order to continue moving forward in a successful fashion, you have to take the time to honor where you came from and all of the people who've contributed to that legacy to date," she said.