Reference Library – USA – Virginia
CHARLESTON, W.Va. Security has now been improved at the 130th Airlift Wing of the West Virginia Air National Guard.
It makes it much easier for our men and women and security forces to be able to maintain this base and do their job, said state Adjutant General James Hoyer.
A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Friday for the new entrance at the McLaughlin Air National Guard Base in Charleston. U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) was on hand to celebrate the completion of the $3.75 million project.
It s much more secure. Much more professional. I think it is a nice completion of the base that we have here that we re very proud of, she said. Capito worked to secure funding for the project after the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission highlighted security concerns at the base. In 2005, the BRAC Commission recommended the shutdown of the airlift wing, but local and state leaders made sure that did not happen.
I was glad to be on the Appropriations Committee to that was very critical in getting the federal dollars for this, but it was a whole joint community project, Capito said.
Coonskin Drive, where the base is located, used to serve as the only way into Coonskin Park. Security gates were installed on the road, so the public could longer drive right past the military facilities. A new bridge to the park opened in Oct. 2015.
It s going to be much easier to turn people around and direct them in the right direction. I think the bridge has made a significant impact on the growth of the park on that side, so it s been a win for every body, Hoyer said. The project is part of what Hoyer called Joint Base West Virginia.
With the term Joint Base West Virginia, we ve created a vision that we, the Guard, can be the key catalysts for this state to be a national security and homeland security asset, he said. Members of the Kanawha County Commission were also on hand to applaud the efforts made in the last decade.
On the last day of school at Mount Paran Christian School in Cobb County, Georgia, a group of 2nd-graders couldn t wait to show their admiration for their beloved school security guard, Jonathan Broaxnax.
The students crossed the street to shower Broaxnax with hugs and high-fives, a heartwarming moment caught on the school s security camera.
I’ve got to tell you, it made me feel so good, Broaxnax, 63, told ABC News. Not only because they did that, but because it s what this school is all about. It s a Christian school and they instill that into these kids.
The military veteran, who now works for the Chesley Brown International security company, said the children s kind gesture was particularly special for him in light of the recent attack on a concert in Manchester, England, where many children were in attendance.
They re young but they re seeing it on TV and they wonder Why? and What the heck is going on? and Can that happen to me at my little school?, he explained. They were saying things like, Thank you for protecting us, thank you so much Mr. Jonathan, thank you for keeping us safe. You can t hear the sound on the video, but that was what they were actually saying. Oh man I tell you if the video ran just a little bit longer, you would see me run inside and cry.
Broadnax said out of all the jobs he s had in his life, working with these kids is by far the most fulfilling.
I ve been in the military for 22 years, I ve been to the Gulf War, I got out of the military and started to work in the prison system in Texas, he recalled. I worked there for about five or six years and then I got into security. Out of all of that, this is the most fulfilling job I have ever had. Easily.
This isn t the first time the students and faculty have showered Broadnax with admiration and affection. He said they were pivotal in helping him through the darkest moment of his life: the death of his son two years ago.
I lost a son while I was working here and this place, everybody here was so incredible, he said. “The support they gave me here was awesome. After I got back from the funeral, the kids came up to me again and each one of them had handwritten cards of condolences. I ve got all those cards at home. That was just so incredible. And I couldn t hold it in. I cried right there.
The school s headmaster, Dr. David Tilley, said Broadnax is cherished on their campus.
He is beloved around here, said Tilley. It s amazing how many people come onto our campus for the very first time and see him and walk into my office before they go anywhere else and say, Let me tell you, the guy who welcomed us at the front gates is one of the most gracious, cordial, hospitable men they ve ever come across. He is warm and kind and loving to anyone he comes across. He is a thrill to have on our campus and he s the first face people see.
But the humble Broadnax takes absolutely no credit for his service to the school, saying simply, It s focused on those kids.
It s focused on how they feel, how they feel safe. And how they re being raised, he said. And what it means for them to attend the Mount Paran Christian School.
The Warthog is sitting pretty. Once on the brink of forced retirement, the A-10 attack plane with the ungainly shape and odd nickname has been given new life, spared by Air Force leaders who have reversed the Obama administration’s view of the plane as an unaffordable extra in what had been a time of tight budgets. In the 2018 Pentagon budget plan sent to Congress this week, the Air Force proposed to keep all 283 A-10s flying for the foreseeable future.
Three years ago, the Pentagon proposed scrapping the fleet for what it estimated would be $3.5 billion in savings over five years. Congress said no. The following year, the military tried again but said the retirement would not be final until 2019. Congress again said no. Last year, officials backed away a bit further, indicating retirement was still the best option but that it could be put off until 2022.
Now the retirement push is over, and the Warthog’s future appears secure.
“The world has changed,” said Maj. Gen. James F. Martin Jr., the Air Force budget deputy, in explaining decisions to keep aircraft once deemed expendable. The Air Force has similarly dropped plans to retire the iconic U-2 spy plane amid prospects for bigger budgets under President Donald Trump. It also reflects the relentless pace of operations for combat aircraft and surveillance and reconnaissance planes that feed intelligence data to war commanders. The service had complained for years that its inventory of aircraft was getting dangerously small and old. Gen. Mark Welsh, who retired as the top Air Force officer last year, was fond of describing the service as having 12 fleets of aircraft that qualify for antique license plates in the state of Virginia.
The A-10 is a special case. Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican from Arizona who flew the A-10 in combat and commanded a squadron in Afghanistan, speaks of it with obvious affection.
“The A-10 is this badass airplane with a big gun on it,” she said she told Trump in a recent conversation, explaining why the Warthog is unlike any other attack aircraft. The “big gun” to which she refers is a seven-barrel Gatling gun that is nine feet long and fires 30mm armor-piercing shells at a rate of 3,900 rounds per minute. Also armed with Maverick missiles, the A-10 is effective not only in a conventional battle against tanks and other armored vehicles. It also provides close-air support for Iraqi and other U.S. partner forces taking on Islamic State fighters in the deserts of Iraq and Syria. A number of A-10s fly missions in Syria from Incirlik air base in Turkey.
McSally is among members of Congress for whom elimination of the Warthog carried political risks back home. Sen. John McCain, a fellow Arizona Republican, joined her in strenuously arguing against the plane’s early retirement. Arizona’s Davis-Monthan Air Force Base is home to an A-10 unit; retirement of the aircraft might have made Davis-Monthan more vulnerable to closure. A veteran of combat in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and beyond, the plane entered service in 1976. It is among Cold War-era icons like the venerable B-52 bomber that have exceeded expected lifespans and are likely to remain central to U.S. air campaigns for years to come.
Specially designed for the Cold War mission of attacking armor on the front lines of a potential European war with the Soviet Union, the A-10’s air crews considered it so ugly they called it the Warthog. Its official nickname is Thunderbolt II. The plane has been out of production since 1984 but has received many upgrades over the years, most recently with new electronics.