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Final tanker to depart Grand Forks AFB - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

MIssion Complete

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Gen. Raymond Johns, Air Mobility Command commander, addresses the Warriors of the North during the mission complete ceremony Dec. 3 Gen. Raymond Johns, Air Mobility Command commander, addresses the Warriors of the North during the mission complete ceremony Dec. 3
Col. Don Shaffer (left), 319th Air Refueling Wing commander, salutes Col. Henry Placer, 319th Operations Group commander, after Colonel Placer declared mission complete. Col. Don Shaffer (left), 319th Air Refueling Wing commander, salutes Col. Henry Placer, 319th Operations Group commander, after Colonel Placer declared mission complete.
GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. -

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. – The 319th Air Refueling Wing Commander, Col. Don Shaffer, along with the Air Mobility Command Commander, Gen. Raymond Johns, declared the 319th Operations Group, the 905th Air Refueling Squadron, the 319th Maintenance Group and the 319th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron mission complete in a formal ceremony Dec. 3 at Hanger 649.

            The ceremony was held to recognize the completion of 50 years of KC-135 Stratotanker flight and maintenance operations on base.

        "Grand Forks Air Force Base has fulfilled its role in national defense through a multitude of operations," said Master Sgt. James Gantar, 319th Mission Support Group and the master of ceremony. "These operations cover the spectrum from supporting nuclear alert missions during the cold war, to combat support and humanitarian missions past and current conflicts including Vietnam, Panama, Bosnia, Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan, and as a community pillar and partner in the devastating flood of 1997."

             The 905th ARS was the first squadron of tankers to arrive here in May of 1960, and in 1993, the base transferred from the Strategic Air Command to AMC. With the transfer, the 906th ARS, 911th ARS and 912th ARS were assigned to Grand Forks AFB, making it the first super tanker wing in the Air Force.

             "Global power is the ability to hold a targeted risk, in any part of the world, to defend our nation and our freedom," said General Johns. "We wouldn't be able to use the word global in front of vigilance, reach and power without the tanker. This year alone, the Stratotanker has off-loaded 127 million pounds of fuel in Afghanistan alone and you helped that."

             After 50 years of service, the 905th ARS will inactivate on Dec. 31. Along with the 905th ARS, the 319th OG, 319th AMXS and 319th MXG will also inactivate on Dec. 31. The 319th Operations Support Squadron, commanded by Lt. Col. Darin Driggers, will realign underneath the 319th ARW commander.

             "I would like to congratulate all the members of the 905th ARS, 319th OG, 319th AMXS and the 319th MXG for a job well done," said Lee Kaldor on behalf of Senator Byron Dorgan, U.S. Senator. "This mission complete ceremony is bittersweet. It is hard to see such great people and a great mission leave North Dakota, but as one mission goes away and another one comes in, I am comforted to know that the Airmen who perform these missions will continue to be the most dedicated, well trained and professional Airmen in the entire world."

             "Today marks the end of another chapter in our rich history," said Shelley Kline on behalf of Senator Kent Conrad, U.S. Senator. "The one common theme, no matter the mission, has been the undying dedication of the military and civilian members who have served honorably at Grand Forks. I am proud of your accomplishments during the times of war and peace. I eagerly look to the future in anticipation of the future successes that I am confident the next chapter will bring to Grand Forks AFB."

             In 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure commission recommended Grand Forks AFB for realignment, allowing the ground work to be set for the new mission of remotely piloted aircrafts.

             General Johns said to look forward to the base's new chapter. The Global Hawk has capabilities that will have the ability to find people who would want to harm us and keep an unblinking eye on them.

           The first Global Hawk is expected to arrive in the summer of 2011.

 

Original Story

GRAND FORKS AIR FORCE BASE, N.D.  – The last tanker assigned to the 319th Air Refueling Wing at Grand Forks Air Force Base will depart the airfield Dec. 4 at approximately 11 a.m. 

            The departure of this final tanker signifies the official end to the 50-year tanker mission at the base.

This particular KC-135 Stratotanker has the tail number of 60-0319 making it the flagship of the wing's fleet of tankers, which numbered in the dozens at the height of its mission as a super tanker wing. 

The base is now set to transition to the Global Hawk mission, a remotely-piloted aircraft designed for surveillance, communication and reconnaissance.

After conducting a fly-by of the base, the tanker will fly over Grand Forks, N.D., and East Grand Forks, Minn., to thank and salute the citizens of the two cities for their support over the past five decades.  The plane will arrive overhead at approximately 11:30 a.m.

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