Saturday, October 13, 2012

Retired military stationed at England Air Base visit Alexandria

Written by Cynthia D. Jardon
Alexandria Town Talk
12:05 AM, Oct 13, 2012

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart talks to Alexandria Mayor Jacques M. Roy and others during a visit to England Airpark Friday. Renuart, four other retired lieutenant colonels and the widow of another, visited the former Air Force base where they were stationed during the Gulf War. (Photo by Cynthia Jardon)

The Brass are in town. One four-star general, four lieutenant colonels and the widow of a lieutenant colonel visited England Airpark in Alexandria on Friday during Military Appreciation Weekend.

The group, along with their wives, all were stationed at the former England Air Force Base during the Gulf War and into the transition as the base closed in the early 1990s.

Retired Gen. Gene Renuart said they were a pretty unique group. All the men were attached in some way to fighter squadrons. Renuart was an ops officer and commander of the 76th Fighter Squadron known as the Vanguards.

Retired Lt Col. Larry Reseter was a part of the 75th Fighter Squadron, known as the Sharks. Retired Lt. Col. James Green was attached to the 75th and 76th squadrons, as well as the 74th Fighter Squadron -- the Flying Tigers.

Retired Lt. Col. Richard Mackey was the commander of the 23rd Communications squadron. And retired Lt. Col. John Graziano was the deputy commander for maintenance and kept the aircraft safe and flying.

Lt. Col. Linn Vanderveen, who died after the Gulf War, also was a member of a fighter squadron. His wife, Janice, represented him.

While they toured the former base Friday, Renuart told a group gathered at the static display of fighter jets in Heritage Park that they all were present during the Gulf War and a part of the unique history that belongs to the A-10 aircraft.

The A-10 is the first U.S. Air Force aircraft designed specifically for close air support of ground forces.

In Alexandria, it's known as the Warthog, and it was a tank killer.

"We flew close air missions, search and rescue, hunted for surface-to-air missiles and more," Renuart said. "We had a wide variety of missions to do that other aircraft just can't do."

The group noted that the A-10 was supposed to be retired in 1991, but is still flying today. The Air Force, Renuart said, just modified the A-10 to take it through to 2028.

"There are 24 deployed today in Afghanistan," Renuart said. [Warthog News comment: Great respect to  Gen. Gene Renuart, but in this special case he's is wrong. All of the recently A-10C combat deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom included 18 "Hogs", and never 24]

The A-10 is as much a part of England Air Force Base history as it is a part of the heritage and tradition of the U.S. Air Force itself, Renuart said.

Renuart and the rest of the group said that Alexandria, which they hadn't seen in 20 years, has a special place in their hearts.

"This community did so much for us and for our wives while we were deployed," Renuart said.

Beth Reseter said she had so many stories. The other wives, Judy Graziano, Sherry Green, Kathy Mackey and Janice Vanderveen, agreed.

"There was a point we were having so much fun," she said. "Alexandria was wonderful to us."

The group said they were impressed with what the community has done with the former air base.

"The community was awesome," Renuart said. "So we're indebted to you."

"No sir," said Alexandria Mayor Jacques M. Roy. "We're indebted to you for your service to all of us and our country."


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