• This year marks the 54th 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.


  • 2024 Keynote Speaker

  • General Mingus enlisted in the Iowa National Guard on 28 December 1981, in 1985 he was commissioned through ROTC from Winona State University as a 2LT of Field Artillery and was later assessed on to Active Duty in 1987 as an Infantryman. In March 1988, he was posted as a platoon leader in 2nd Battalion, 20th Infantry, 3rd Infantry Division, in Germany. Over the course of four years, he also served as a company executive officer and battalion maintenance officer.

    After the Infantry Officers Advance Course, he posted to the 82nd Airborne Division where he commanded B Company, 2nd Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry, the Division’s Long Range Surveillance Detachment, and was aide-de-camp to the division’s commanding general. General Mingus remained at Fort Bragg, taking command of the XVIII Airborne Corps’ Long Range Surveillance Company. In August 1997, he returned to ROTC to become an assistant professor of military science at the University of Tennessee–Knoxville. In 2000, he was posted to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia, where he served as a liaison officer and operations officer. In January 2003, General Mingus returned to Fort Bragg, becoming chief of the Joint Planning Group, then chief of current operations, with Joint Special Operations Command.



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  • 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
    2024            Tom Hough, Retired Colonel of the US Army and Director of UAF Military and Veteran Services


  • Highlights from the 2024 Military Appreciation Banquet

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  • Thank you to our 2024 sponsors!

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