Military News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

403rd Wing says farewell to 345th Airlift Squadron during informal ceremony

by Maj. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
403rd Wing Public Affairs


4/23/2014 - KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- The 345th Airlift Squadron furled and cased its guidon during a symbolic inactivation ceremony Friday at the Roberts Consolidated Maintenance Facility.

The 345th AS is an active-component associate unit that, jointly with the 815th Airlift Squadron, executes the tactical airlift mission for the 403rd Wing, an Air Force Reserve Command unit.

Both squadrons are being inactivated as a result of broader force structure initiatives announced in 2013. The 815th AS is having an inactivation ceremony in June but since most active-duty members in the 345th will move to other Air Force Bases next month and will not be here, the unit had their symbolic ceremony early, said Col. David J. Condit, 403rd Operations Group commander.

Col. Todd A. White, 19th Operations Group deputy commander at Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark., and presiding officer for the ceremony, and Lt. Col. Michael J. Ramirez, 345th AS commander, spoke at the event, thanking everyone for their contributions to the tactical airlift mission.

"Throughout history, our squadron has provided a lot of combat support for our nation, doing exactly what our country needed for its national defense," said Ramirez. "Whenever our nation needed that excess capability, the 345th was there and stood up to fulfill that need, and we've written another chapter in the unit's history in the past three-and-a-half years that everyone in this room has contributed to."

The 345th AS has a history that spans back to June 1949 participating in the Korean and Vietnam conflicts as well as Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. The unit has been located at several locations to include Stewart Air Force Base, Tenn., Naha and Kadena Air Bases in Okinawa and Yokota AB, Japan. The squadron was inactivated for the second time in 1993, the first in 1953 then reactivated in 1955. In 2010, the unit was reactivated at Keesler as an active associate unit working closely with the 815th AS.

After the remarks, the squadron was symbolically inactivated and White and Ramirez cased the guidon.

It was a bittersweet moment said Capt. Richard Bogusky, 345th AS assistant director of operations.

"I am extremely proud to have been part the 345th and 815th team, and I'm sad to see it broken apart," he said. "We worked extremely hard to integrate our two squadrons. We accomplished great things together, so it's a shame we are closing down. We complimented each other, made each other stronger through shared experiences, training and deployments."

Since 2011, the two squadrons have deployed nine times to Central, Africa and Southern Command areas of responsibility.

"The 345th and 815th are an impressive team," said Col. Frank L. Amodeo, 403rd Wing commander. "In January 2011, the two squadrons deployed to Afghanistan and smashed the world record for airdrop missions in a month--81 missions moving 5.6 million pounds of cargo.

"The loss of the 345th will be hard felt at Keesler and in our community," he added.

In March, the Air Force announced its plans to transfer the C-130Js to Little Rock AFB, Ark., as part of the Fiscal Year 2015 President's Budget Rollout Request. The 10 C-130J aircraft will remain at Keesler AFB until the Air Force announces the transfer date.

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