by Senior Airman Justin Creech
137th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
7/30/2015 - WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- The
Oklahoma Air National Guard's 137th Air Refueling Wing welcomed the
arrival of the Air Force MC-12W aircraft here, July 10.
The arrival of the MC-12 marks the return of flying operations to WRANGB for the first time since 2007.
The 137 ARW received the MC-12 based on its manpower, facilities,
existing command structure, and strong relationships with local
community leaders. The geographical location of the 137th provides a
highly conducive flying environment and appropriate training facilities.
"The 137th Air Refueling Wing is very excited to return flying
operations back to Will Rogers Air National Guard Base and join Air
Force Special Operations Command," said Air Force Col. Devin R. Wooden,
137 ARW commander. "Our last eight years at Tinker Air Force Base and
our partnership with the 507th Air Refueling Wing is an honored part of
our great history. We proudly flew off of this ramp for 58 years before
we left for Tinker and to be a part of the team to bring flying
operations back is very satisfying. I feel like everyone is back home."
The MC-12 is a medium-to low-altitude, twin-engine turboprop aircraft.
Its primary mission is to provide intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance support directly to ground forces serving overseas.
The partnership between AFSOC and the Air National Guard, and the
ability of the ANG to retain members is another reason WRANGB was chosen
to house the MC-12. Air National Guard members historically leave units
at significantly lower rates than Active Duty units, which will allow
Manned Airborne Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance expertise
to be retained long-term and become more fully developed. The ANG unit
will be able to retain critical expertise by recruiting and retaining
those members who are planning to separate from active duty.
"I am personally very happy to be back at the base at which I began my
military career," said Air Force Lt. Col. Justin Walker, 185th Air
Refueling Squadron commander. "I am also very excited about the addition
of new tactical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance aircrew
members to the squadron.
The basing of the MC-12 is a significant moment for the 137 ARW as they
transition to an Air Force Special Operations Wing. As a part of AFSOC,
the wing will provide highly-trained Air Commandos to execute global
special operations missions.
As part of the first Air National Guard/Air Force Reserve partnership,
the 137 ARW has been functioning as a geographically separated base with
KC-135 Stratotanker flight operations at Tinker Air Force Base and
support operations at WRANGB. This partnership was the result of the
last major Base Relocation and Closure commission that threatened the
137th with permanent closure.
"The squadron, and ultimately the wing are poised for complete mission
success due to the mix of current and new members," said Walker.