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April 9, 2009

Continued mission theme of AFA meeting

By Brian Livingston

One of the main reasons for supporters of the Air Force Association to come together this week at Northwood County Club was to honor airmen of the 186th Air Refueling Wing.

But the underlying concern of continued air missions for Key Field and the G. V. Montgomery National Guard Center was quite evident as well. Each speaker, from 186th ARW Commander Col. Franklin Chalk to U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper, who was the guest speaker, expounded on how the facility and the Mississippi Air National Guard needs to keep flying missions in Meridian especially with the KC-135 tankers due to move out in the next two years.

"The most important issue right now is to find a bridge mission for Meridian," said Harper, to a round of applause from the crowd. "It makes no sense to abandon this facility with the track record it has established over the years."

But the politics had to wait until the five airmen plus a Civil Air Patrol cadet were recognized for outstanding service in the past year. Those winners were: Airman 1st Class Steven N. Robinson, Outstanding Airman of the Year, Staff Sgt. Jeremy S. Stokes, Outstanding Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, Mstr. Sgt. John J. Maloney, Outstanding Senior Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year, Sr. Mstr. Sgt. Rodger S. Goodwin, First Sergeant of the Year, and Mstr. Sgt. David E. Miller, the recipient of the Charles L. Sullivan Leadership Award Nominee. Also honored was Cadet 2nd Lt. Lindsey Summerlin of the Civil Air Patrol for her accomplishments in 2008.

The AFA's chief role is to educate the public about the missions of the U.S. Air Force and to advocate for a strong national defense. Locally the chapter promotes interest in the missions of the 186th ARW and associated units of the Air National Guard based at Key Field.

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