Oklahoma Air National Guard unit begins transition to Special Operations Wing with arrival of first MC-12W
By Senior Airman Justin Creech, 137th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published July 30, 2015
WILL ROGERS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Okla. -- The Oklahoma Air National Guard's 137th Air Refueling Wing welcomed the arrival of the MC-12W at Will Rogers Air National Guard Base, Oklahoma City, 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.