‘Spirits of the Past’ preside over Kisling NCO graduation
KAPAUN AIR STATION, Germany — More than 80 decades of history came together on one stage Thursday at the Kisling Non-Commissioned Officer Academy.
Thursday morning’s performance of “Spirits of the Past” began the day’s graduation activities and has become a tradition at Kisling graduations since the staff first scripted the play in 1994.
The six actors, each representing a servicemember from World War I to the modern-day war on terror, are Kisling NCO Academy instructors. The audience was this cycle’s graduating class and U.S. Air Forces in Europe top-ranking NCOs.
The class of 192 USAFE technical sergeants graduated Thursday evening following a six-week course on leadership skills, communications, time management, ethics and the military code of conduct.
The academy graduates seven classes a year or about 1,000 students, according to Chief Master Sgt. Cathy Barker, commandant of the Kisling NCO Academy.
In the darkened auditorium, World War I footage and period music began the performance, followed by a brief monologue by the World War I soldier, played by Tech. Sgt. Carl Dudley. Each major conflict since was represented up to the current war on terror, characterized by a modern-day airman, played by Tech. Sgt. Tori Morris.
Instructors chose a role that struck them emotionally, Morris said. The attachment of actor to character was obvious, bringing tears to the eyes of some audience members.
“We came through as students and we saw this,” said Tech. Sgt. Fred Segler, who played an airman during the Vietnam era. “So, when I got on staff, one of the first things I asked was how to get involved with it because it was just so powerful and so cool.”
Segler’s character’s best friend, John, was a Marine who died in Vietnam.
“My dad was in the Marine Corps and I grew up during the Vietnam War, so I remember watching it on TV,” said Segler, who in real life had a best friend named John and a cousin who served in the current Iraq war.
“There’s no other production like it, it’s one of a kind,” said Master Sgt. Suzanne Remedies, who played an airman in Desert Storm. “It’s kind of a culmination of hopefully everything [the students] learned while they were here.”
“Spirits of the Past” is presented to every graduating class at the academy and has also been presented at dining ins, dining outs and award ceremonies.