Seymour Johnson Air Force Base got a glimpse of its past, then took a look to the future Friday. The base unearthed a time capsule, originally buried in 50 years ago, in honor of the 4th Fighter Wing's 75th anniversary.
The capsule contained items from both the initial burying in 1967 ---- the 4th Fighter Wing's 25th anniversary ---- and its 50th anniversary in 1992, when it was dug up for the first time. Among its contents were letters from previous commanders, patches and coins from various groups around the base and other documents and mementos such as a newspaper and a small model fighter jet.
Fourth Fighter Wing Commander Col. Christopher Sage read aloud a letter left in 1992, in which then-commander Eldon W. Joersz wrote about the state of the Air Force at the time.
"Despite uncertainty and change, the 4th Wing stands poised to go into the 21st century as the forefront of American air power," Sage read. "This time capsule, with its contents from 1992 added to those of 1967, is dedicated to the continued heritage of the men and women of the 4th Wing."
The capsule also contained recordings from both the 1967 and 1992 anniversary ceremonies. Col. Paul Watson, who was commander in 1967, spoke in both, recorded 25 years apart. In the first, he introduced the time capsule as a "record of the 4th Wing," and laid out the instructions for how it was to be used. In the second recording, an older Watson expressed relief that the base was still there.
"Back in 1967, we weren't sure what was going to happen," he said in the recording. "We thought the Soviets might come over and blow this place up."
Thankfully for all involved, that did not happen. The time capsule went back into the ground, waiting 25 years to see the light of day once more.
The process of actually getting the capsule out of the ground was one of the hardest aspects of the whole event, said Cap. Clay Macomber, one of the event's organizers.
"We didn't know exactly where it was, so we were just out there digging with shovels until we hit metal and pulled it out," he said. "We were out there about an hour."
In place of the original capsule, the base prepared a new vessel to fill with both the older items and new contributions from the base, from Wayne County and the City of Goldsboro and from the Military Affairs Committee.
Among the new items were photographs and documents from around Wayne County, 4th Fighter Wing memorabilia and a copy of the Sept. 11, 2017, edition of the Goldsboro News-Argus.
Sage closed the ceremony by emphasizing the bonds between the base and the Goldsboro/Wayne County community.
"As you see today, the relationship Seymour Johnson has with its neighbors and its surrounding community is second to none," he said. "It is a shining example of the profoundly special bond we in the U.S. military have with those who we serve."
The new capsule is slated to be opened on Sept. 25, 2042, on the 100th anniversary of the 4th Fighter Wing.