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Tradition, culture, pride: AETC officials unveil 2023 Air Force Fiesta Medal

  • Published
  • By Joe Gangemi
  • Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas – Air Education and Training Command officials unveiled the 2023 Air Force Fiesta medal that will be distributed by Air Force representatives during Fiesta activities in San Antonio April 20-30.

The tradition of distributing medals was inspired back in 1946 when King Antonio, a member of Fiesta royalty, handed out coins to local children and the tradition eventually grew into children decorating coin purses and tying them around their necks during the parade. Today, the medals are emblems and figures attached to colorful ribbons and are exchanged by Fiesta royalty, individuals and organizations at events during Fiesta.

One side of this year’s Air Force medal is a simplistic design showcasing the Air Force emblem, honoring the service’s heritage, specifically as it relates to the core elements of Air Corps heritage, the "Arnold" wings and star with circle, while modernizing them to reflect our Air and Space Forces of today and tomorrow.

“The 2023 Fiesta medal represents our partnership with Military City USA and our gratitude for the community’s unwavering support,” said Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson, commander of Air Education and Training Command. “The medal celebrates the diverse heritage, cultures and traditions of San Antonio, much like the Air Force. Today’s Airmen – of all cultures and backgrounds – are recruited, trained and educated, then sent out ready to contribute to a worldwide, complex mission wherever and whenever needed.”

Michael Carabajal, Air Force Recruiting Service creative lead and designer, developed the Air Force Fiesta medals for 2022 and 2023. On the second side of the medal, Carabajal designed it with a papel picado banner draped across the Alamo.

“My goal was to create something that reminds me of dining along San Antonio’s River Walk,” he said.  “The papel picado banners that hang from the ceilings are a common sight there. I wanted that to be the look and feel of this year's medal and I centered everything around this concept, from color choice to font selection.”

Robinson emphasized the importance of bringing the community together.

“Joint Base San Antonio would not be the bustling epicenter of training, technology and tradition it is today without the community that has embraced it over the years,” he said. “Gathering as friends in a place of celebration is not only critical to camaraderie, but to maintaining understanding for this long-standing partnership. We will forever be grateful to the city and its citizens for making us feel at home.”

The celebration brings together about 75,000 volunteers and 2.5 million visitors, with an economic impact of about $340 million.

Each year during Fiesta, a military coordinator represents the military members across JBSA at Fiesta events. 

AETC’s members are proud to celebrate their enduring partnerships with Military City, USA, and will highlight a multitude of Air Force missions during Air Force Day at the Alamo from 11 a.m. to noon at Alamo Plaza, April 24.