Sunday, December 7, 2008

Guard's A-10s make way for small jets

Battle Creek Enquirer

Trace Christenson, The Enquirer, December 7, 2008

Black fabric was pulled off the new mission of the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.

During a ceremony Saturday inside a base hanger, officials unveiled Battle Creek decals on a newly assigned C-21, a twin jet aircraft used for cargo and passengers. The plane is the military version of the Lear business jet.

It replaces the A-10 Thunderbolt, a fighter jet based in Battle Creek since 1991.

The fighters are moving to Selfridge Air National Guard Base near Detroit, as part of a military reorganization. Seven C-21 airplanes will be based in Battle Creek no later than Oct. 1 and the 11 remaining A-10s still on the base will be moved by June.

The speakers' podium was flanked on one side by an A-10 — bigger, duller, and more ominous than the gleaming chrome and white small passenger jet.

"This marks the end of the A-10 mission here," Col. Rodger Seidel, commander of the 110th Fighter Wing, told military members at the base. "Now it is time to move to the next mission."

He said the A-10s have been sent from Battle Creek to eight different war zones around the world and flown more than 5,000 hours, almost half in combat.

"You should take great pride in all you have accomplished," Maj. Gen. Thomas G. Cutler, adjutant general of the Michigan National Guard, told the group. "Transition in life can be bittersweet and its sad to see the end of a era but that will be offset by the new challenge."

Assigning the planes to Battle Creek is a bridge until the C-27 or Joint Cargo Aircraft, which are expected to be built and placed in the Air Force inventory beginning in 2010, are assigned to Battle Creek, officials said.

Until then, "this aircraft is critical to keep a flying mission here," Cutler said.

U.S. Rep.-elect Mark Schauer, D-Bedford Township, praised the base for their accomplishments and encouraged them on the transition.

Schauer said after the ceremony that he remains confident about the future of the Battle Creek Air Guard Base.

"This is a dangerous world and we need aircraft serving different missions," he said. "This plane will help service the military effort in a different way but an important way."

Click to enlarge

U.S. Rep.-elect Mark Schauer of Battle Creek unveils the Battle Creek logo on a new C-21 aircraft at the Air National Guard base on December 7, 2008. (Photo by Trace Christenson / The Enquirer)

Click to enlarge

Maj. Gen. Thomas Cutler, Michigan National Guard adjutant general, and U.S. Rep.-elect Mark Schauer of Battle Creek look over the C-21 after ceremonies. An A-10 is in the background. (Photo by Trace Christenson / The Enquirer)


No comments:

Post a Comment