The West Virginia National Guard hosted lawmakers on a tour of the base of the Air National Guard 130th Airlift Wing located in Charleston and 167th Airlift Wing in Martinsburg during October’s interim committee meetings.
Senator Erik Wells (D- Kanawha) is the military committee chair, and an officer in the U.S Navy who put the tour together.
“There are very few lawmakers who have served in the military in the legislature so it’s important that we let them see firsthand the concerns and issues our guard faces and the many accomplishments that set our guard apart from the rest of the nation,” Wells said.
The 130th Airlift Wing is number one in the nation, Major General Allen Tackett, West Virginia Adjutant General said, when in just 1995 it was 26th. There are a lot of new developments with $700 million of federal money since 1995 for construction, such as two new hangars. The construction is to broaden, expand and update the base.
These developments bring advancement to the state of West Virginia. There is a $13 to $1 dollar return. The federal government funds 96 percent of the salaries of the employees of the guard. This investment spurs economic development in the state.
“I was extremely impressed with the professionalism of the West Virginia Air National Guard. We don’t recognize the impact they have on every West Virginian’s life every day,” Senator Bob Williams (D-Taylor) said.
“I was aware of their readiness to deploy on a national or international mission, often in harm’s way, and when they assist in state emergencies, but their economic impact on the State was amazing.”
“I am proud of the job they do.”
Always there and always ready is their mission but that’s a grand understatement. Some soldiers are full time, some are traditional guardsmen and women serving one weekend a month, lastly some have utilized, with the West Virginia legislature’s help, the Promise Scholarship and a tuition assistance program. Tackett says the legislature’s efforts have helped him attract the best and brightest in West Virginia through tuition assistance and the Promise Scholarship.
Senators and Delegates received a presentation with a flight on a C-130 and a tour of a C-5 aircraft housed in Martinsburg. The Martinsburg base, 167th Airlift Wing began in 1947 and has 11 C-5 planes. The base represents $111 million economic impact for the eastern panhandle. It employs 1189 personnel and an additionally 250 federal jobs at the Martinsburg base.
Those making the trip along with Senator Wells and Senator Williams include: Senator Douglas Facemire (D- Braxton), Senator Dave Sybolt (R- Preston), Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer (D-Monongalia), Delegate William Hartman (D- Randolph), Delegate Richard Laquinta (D- Harrison), Delegate Linda Longstreth (D- Marion), Betty Caplan, and Heather Nelson.
Photos - left to right: Senator Erik Wells (D-Kanawha) flying in an aircraft C-130. Senator Dave Sybolt (R- Preston) sitting in the cockpit of an aircraft C- 130. Photos by Heather Nelson.