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JBER welcomes Alaska Air Guard ‘home’
Alaska Air National Guard, 176th Wing HC-130 and C-130 Hercules aircraft fly on their way to Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson from Kulis Air National Guard Base, Saturday, during the Kulis closure and “fly away” ceremony. (Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Joshua Garcia)
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JBER welcomes Alaska Air Guard ‘home’

Posted 2/18/2011   Updated 2/18/2011 Email story   Print story


by Luke Waack

2/18/2011 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson officially welcomed a major component of the Alaska Air Guard into its hangars, Saturday.

The people and aircraft of the Alaska Air National Guard's 176th Wing moved from Kulis Air National Guard base to JBER in a flying formation with hundreds of well-wishers on the ground.

The 176th Wing began it's history as the 8144th Air Base Wing in 1952, at then Elmendorf Field, with a small contingent of T-6G "Texan" trainer aircraft, according to Alaska Air Guard public affairs.

The unit moved to Kulis in 1954.

The 2005 Base Closure and Realignment Commission ordered the closure of Kulis as well as the joining of Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson into JBER.

In a ceremony at Hangar 18, Gov. Sean Parnell described how the 176th Wing move to JBER is the start of another chapter in the state's military history.

"We've heard the closure of Kulis described as both a happy and sad occasion," Parnell said, inside the hangar as he addressed hundreds of community members. "I know what it's like to leave a home and to make a new one. Sometimes it's bittersweet and we don't deny that. As humans we kind of like the familiar, we tend to it, but what we've become familiar with in Alaska is our pride in you."

After the governor's remarks, JBER and 673d Air Base Wing Commander, Air Force Col. Robert D. Evans welcomed the 176th back to ground where the unit's 
history began.

"It is my honor this morning to represent all the men and women serving on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson as we proudly welcome the 176th Wing back home," Evans said.

"The 176th Wing's proud history began at what was then Elmendorf Field as the first elements of the Alaska Air National Guard arrived here almost 60 years ago."

JBER will support 176th Wing missions and its families, Evans said.

"Our joint base combines the former Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson into a single installation, fully dedicated to supporting America's Arctic Warriors. Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, active, Guard, Reserve, civilian and their families and we are proud to welcome the 176th Wing to our team.

We look forward to supporting you and your families, enabling your important missions and most importantly building lasting partnerships that will enhance our collective capabilities. Welcome to JBER."

The wing's five C-130 cargo planes, four HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopters and two HC-130 Hercules aircraft flew in formation over Hangar 18 before landing at their new home airfield.

Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Chuck Foster, 176th Wing commander, said he knew the move would be difficult, but his team executed the maneuver extremely well.

"I am proud of you," Foster said. "You have pulled off something that we knew you would - we knew it would be difficult - but you have done it with such style."

There is room for the unit to grow and prosper at JBER, Foster said.

"We left Kulis this morning ... but if you do not leave that home that you have outgrown you can't grasp the future that is laid out in front of this wing."

The governor also remarked on the professionalism with which the unit transitioned from Kulis to JBER.

"Knowing this base realignment has been coming for some time, you planned for it, you prepared for it, you moved all the pieces along to make it happen so that as Kulis closed doors of opportunity would open here at JBER," Parnell said.

Parnell spoke on behalf of all Alaksans, thanking the military for what it has done for the state and what it will continue to do.

"We know that you're ready to write more history for Alaska and for our nation and I'm reminded of one of those truths Alaskans hold self-evident; we love Alaska's military families," Parnell said, and then he encouraged those on temporary assignments to consider Alaska a permanent home.

"You've made a home here in the Great Land and we are proud to call you our family, so here's my request of you. When you retire from service, we want you to settle here. We're proud of who you are and the character you bring to this place," Parnell said.

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