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Luke Hosts International Festival

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Elias Carrero
  • 56th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

LUKE AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. — The 56th Fighter Wing hosted an International Festival in recognition of the foreign allies and partners who train at Luke Air Force Base, Jan. 26, 2024, at Luke AFB, Arizona.

Allies and partners of Luke Air Force Base, who have a continuous presence here, gathered with the 56th Fighter Wing community to commemorate the base's recent and enduring partnerships. They celebrated by sharing traditional foods, beverages, and music that reflect the rich history and culture of each country.

“One of our key lines of effort at Luke AFB is advancing our partnerships with the local and international communities,” said Brig. Gen. Jason Rueschhoff, 56th Fighter Wing commander. “Events like this festival are essential for building the bonds and sense of unity needed for us to sharpen our competitive edge as one team to win tomorrow’s fight…and it’s also a great chance to break bread with all of our international friends here!”

Luke is currently training pilots from six foreign ally and partner nations including Demark and Netherlands assigned to the 308th Fighter Squadron known as the “Emerald Knights”, Norway and Italy assigned to the 62nd FS known as the “Spikes”, Singapore’s Peace Carvin II Detachment assigned to the 425th FS known as the “Black Widows”, and the newest addition, Belgium, assigned to the 312th FS known as the “Scorpions”. 

“Last time the International Festival was celebrated, was in 2019 before COVID,” said Belgian Air Force Maj. Loïc Van Himst, 312th FS Belgian Detachment director of maintenance and operations. “It’s time to pick-up this annual tradition once again. It serves as a reminder that Luke is the training center of excellence for 5th generation fighters around the globe and how international cooperation is what leads to global peace.”

The hundreds of attendees were able to visit booths hosted by each of the six partner nations and a seventh booth hosted by members of the Royal Canadian Air Force that were visiting during an exercise. In addition to food and lessons on history and culture, the booths provided raffles, games, and activities for children.

“As the new kids on the block, Belgium was happy to take the lead in organizing the International Festival,” said Belgian Air Force 1st Lt. Evelyn Gravez. “We wanted to thank the community of Luke AFB for welcoming us to their base and use the festival as an opportunity to know the Luke AFB family and let them get a taste of our country.”

The International Festival serves as a reflection of the interconnectedness that Luke AFB seeks to maintain through advancing partnerships with members of the local and international community.