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  • This year marks the 53rd anniversary of the Military Appreciation Banquet, an event that started out as small dinner-in-the-home parties hosted by Jim and Rosemary Messer* for their friends in the military. It quickly grew and prospered into the banquet style event it is today, hosting over 600 people annually. The evening honors military personnel from Interior Alaska in recognition of their excellence, leadership, and commitment in service to our armed forces. The banquet is a great way for our community to show our gratitude and support for our friends in uniform.

    The banquet program includes recognition of military members who have exhibited distinguished service to our country and volunteer of the year recipients from each of out local installations including Eielson AFB, Ft Wainwright, Clear Space Force Station, and Ft. Greely. A member of the community, identified by military leadership for their promotion of military/community relations over the years will be awarded with the Jim Messer Award.

    This event would not be possible without the generous support of the business community. If you are interested in sponsoring this event, please call us at (907) 452-1105.

    *Jim Messer was the Chairman of the Military Affairs Committee for the Fairbanks Chamber for many years and, for decades, he was on the front lines of our community’s efforts to offer the military an environment of friendliness, first-class housing, and a quality of life second to none.


  • 2023 Keynote Speaker

  • General Wilsbach is the Commander, Pacific Air Forces; Air Component Commander, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command; and Executive Director, Pacific Air Combat Operations Staff, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. PACAF is responsible for Air Force activities spread over half the globe in a command that supports more than 46,000 Airmen serving principally in Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, Alaska and Guam.

    Gen. Wilsbach was commissioned in 1985 as a distinguished graduate of the University of Florida’s ROTC program and earned his pilot wings in 1986 as a distinguished graduate from Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas. He has commanded a fighter squadron, operations group, two wings, two Numbered Air Forces and held various staff assignments including Director of Operations, Combined Air Operations Center and Director of Operations, U.S. Central Command. Prior to his current assignment, Gen. Wilsbach was the Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces Korea; Commander, Air Component Command, United Nations Command; Commander, Air Component Command, Combined Forces Command; and Commander, Seventh Air Force, Pacific Air Forces, Osan Air Base, South Korea.

    Gen. Wilsbach is a command pilot with more than 5,000 hours in multiple aircraft, primarily in the F-15C, F-16C, MC-12, and F-22A, and has flown 71 combat missions in operations Northern Watch, Southern Watch and Enduring Freedom.



  • Past Messer Award Winners


    1994            Jim Messer, Chairman Emeritus, GFCC Military Affairs Committee
    1995            Frank Chapados, Member, Civilian Advisory Board, Alaskan Command
    1996            Dr. William Wood, Past President, University of Alaska and Past Mayor, City of Fairbanks
    1997            Senator Gary Wilken, Chairman, Joint Military Affairs Committee, Alaska Legislature
    1998            Chick Wallace, Alaska Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army
    1999            Richard Wien, Chairman, Interior Civilian-Military Airspace Committee
    2000            Steve Lundgren, Past President, Alaska Air Force Association
    2001            Karen Washburn, Chairperson, GFCC Military Affairs Committee
    2002            Rhonda Boyles, Mayor, Fairbanks North Star Borough
    2003            Ted Stevens, Alaska Senior Senator and Pro Temp President of the Senate
    2004            Bill Brophy, Co-Chair, GFCC Military Affairs Committee
    2005            Billy Blanchard, Co-Chair, GFCC Military Affairs Committee and Past President, Polar Bear Chapter, AUSA
    2006            Jim Dodson, Chairman of the “Save Eielson” Committee for BRAC Testimony
    2007            Steve Thompson, Mayor of the City of Fairbanks
    2008            Butch Stein, Chairman, GFCC Military Affairs Committee
    2009            Senator Lisa Murkowski, Senior Senator from Alaska
    2010            Althea St. Martin, Executive Assistant to Senator Lisa Murkowski
    2011            Lisa Herbert, Executive Director, Greater Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce
    2012            Kevin Robinson, Manager, Lithia Chevrolet
    2013            Doug Isaacson, Former Mayor of North Pole  
    2014            Luke Hopkins, Mayor, Fairbanks North Star Borough
    2015            Harry Cook, State Wide President, Air Force Association
    2016            Mike Ferguson, Ret Col and Military Appreciation Banquet Honorary Chair
    2017            Jim Dodson, Fairbanks Economic Development Corp
    2018            Tim Jones, Alaska Civilian Aide to the secretary of the Army and chair of the GFCC Military Affairs
    2019            Karl Kassel, Former Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor
    2022            Nathan Bergerbest, Former Deputy Chief of Staff for Senator Lisa Murkowski
    2023            Mayor Bryce Ward, Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor


  • Thank you to our 2023 sponsors!

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