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Red Tail Legacy Comes Full Circle

Red Tail Legacy Comes Full Circle

Alabama Air National Guard F-16 Fighting Falcons descend into Campia Turzii, Romania, Oct. 13, 2015, after flying from Montgomery, Alabama. Four F-16 Fighting Falcons and approximately 150 Airmen from the 187th Fighter Wing, Alabama Air National Guard participated in Dacian Viper, a training deployment to Romania designed to increase readiness to conduct combined air operations and to meet future security challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Matthew Bruch/Released)

Airmen assigned to the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing take great pride in the heritage created for them by the Tuskegee Airmen. Today a key piece of the wing s history has once again returned to its flightline. The legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen was born in Montgomery, Alabama, when the Tuskegee Institute s application to conduct civilian pilot training was approved by the Civil Aeronautics Administration in autumn of 1939. About one year later President Franklin D. Roosevelt s administration announced the Army Air Corps would begin training black military pilots, and the place to do it was Tuskegee, Alabama. So began the storied history of the Tuskegee Airmen. Flying their P-51 Mustangs, with tails painted bright red, the Airmen fought valiantly through World War II under the crest of the 332nd Fighter Group.

Red Tail Legacy Comes Full Circle

Now more than 75 years later, a red-tailed fighter jet from Montgomery again flies with the 332nd. The lineage of the Tuskegee Airmen has been passed to Alabama Air National Guard s 187th Fighter Wing. An F-16 Fighting Falcon from the unit is currently flying with the 134th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron, which is one of the squadrons assigned to the 332nd AEW. It is well documented that our WWII bomber pilots would look out their windows and gain confidence from Red Tail fighters flying beside them. It has been stated they took comfort in knowing their chances for survival were higher with a Red Tail escort than from any other outfit in 12th and 15th Air Force, said Col. David C. Lyons, 407th Air Expeditionary Group commander. Now we have one of those Red Tails on our flight line, once again flying with the 332nd and creating the next chapter of Red Tail history.

Red Tail Legacy Comes Full Circle

An F-16 from the Alabama Air National Guard arrives at the 407th Air Expeditionary Group where it is assigned to the 134th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron in support of Operation Inherent Resolve Dec. 10, 2016. The red tail flash of the jet brings the Tuskegee Airmen s legacy back the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, to which the 134th EFS is currently assigned. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson)(Released)

The mission of the unit is to support Operation Inherent Resolve in the fight against ISIS by providing air-to-ground combat airpower at the request of the Combined Joint Task Force commander. The 134th EFS has been heavily involved in the fight, flying more than 500 missions, delivering more than 800 weapons, and making significant contributions to the fight in Mosul, Iraq, and Raqqa, Syria. We are talking about liberating cities, Lyons said. That is something we haven t talked about in this way since World War II.

The Airmen of the 134th EFS flying the missions to liberate cities in Iraq and Syria are deployed from the Vermont Air National Guard. The red tail was provided to the Vermont ANG along with F-16s from the New Jersey and Wisconsin Air National Guards to ensure the squadron had enough capable aircraft to meet the short-notice deployment to support OIR. At least one Airman from the Vermont ANG takes a special amount of pride in seeing the red tail on the flightline with his unit. During a formal dinner hosted by the Vermont ANG, Chief Master Sgt. Brian Senecal, 407th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron, had the opportunity to host Col. Charles McGee. McGee is one of the Tuskegee Airmen and also holds a U.S. Air Force record for flying 409 combat missions in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Honestly it was the highlight of my whole military career to spend time with the guy to meet someone who gave some much, Senecal said. Most Soldiers and Sailors were welcomed back from World War II with open arms and the Tuskegee Airmen had to come back to a still-segregated America. Despite the discrimination the Tuskegee Airmen faced at the time, their trailblazing efforts have left a legacy of which all Airmen can be proud. It is an honor to continue the tradition started by the original Tuskegee Airmen and to be carrying on their good name 75 years later, Senecal said.

Story by Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson [1][2]

407th Air Expeditionary Group[3]

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  1. ^ Master Sgt. Benjamin Wilson (
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  3. ^ 407th Air Expeditionary Group (

Familiar faces match up under a Big Sky

CEDAR CITY, Utah It is another crisp, snow-capped peak day in this wholesome city of 28,000 residents that serves as a tourism gateway to national parks Bryce Canyon, Zion and Grand Canyon; the Utah Shakespeare Festival; and last and least, according to the Big Sky standings, the Southern Utah University men s basketball team. Inside Centrum Arena, two guys one under each basket are struggling with dry ice canisters as lights are dimmed for player introductions. The Centrum holds 5,300 spectators. There might be 1,000 on hand for Southern Utah s game against Northern Arizona on Saturday. And there might not be. Southern Utah is 4-22; Northern Arizona, 7-19.

Perhaps the dimming of the lights, and the dry ice canisters, and the protracted highlight reel on the scoreboard screen is overkill. The Thunderbirds, which is Southern Utah s nickname, are coached by 36-year-old Todd Simon, who was appointed UNLV s interim coach after Dave Rice was heartlessly fired during the middle of last season. The Lumberjacks, which is Northern Arizona s nickname, are coached by 37-year-old Jack Murphy, who was student equipment manager at Durango High School when Al La Rocque was cutting down nets. Murphy also is the son-in-law of former UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood the coaching matchup pitting Murphy against Simon is what brings me (and five other guys from Las Vegas) to the snow-capped peaks.

Al La Rocque drove 170.6 miles in a cold rain in a minivan supplied by Findlay Toyota, so named for Cliff Findlay, a chief benefactor of the UNLV athletic program for whom the prep school juggernaut Findlay Prep also is named. Todd Simon coached at Findlay. It seems everything about the NAU-SUU game has a local angle. There also is a charm to being here. About 20 minutes before tipoff, we are allowed to walk up the ramp despite not having passes. We are granted audiences with both coaches walk right into the locker rooms! who seem happy to see us. Had this been tried in the Big Ten, we surely would have been tackled by security guards with big forearms.

When the game tips, the guys under the baskets are still trying to get the dry ice canisters sorted out. With Southern Utah (which had lost 11 straight) leading 15-4, two things become blatantly obvious: One, we are not witnessing a No. 15 seed, NCAA Tournament bracket-buster in the here and now. Two, Northern Arizona has a desperate need at point guard. There are, however, myriad slam dunks of a spectacular variety the Utah Jazz Dunk Team provides the halftime entertainment.

NAU goes on a run after halftime to get back into the game; SUU counters with one of its own to break it open again. A Utah Jazz Dunk Team basketball bounces into the 3-second lane, prompting an announcement that foreign objects are not allowed on the court. An exception is made for Ivan Madunic, Southern Utah s 6-foot-11-inch center from Croatia he s part of Todd Simon s global recruiting initiative. Southern beats Northern, 84-68.

Afterward, a nice chat is had with Torry and Tammy Martin, whose son, Jordyn, played at Palo Verde High en route to becoming NAU s career leader in games played. Martin scored 20 points to lead the Lumberjacks. Travis Rice, Dave Rice s son, kept NAU s bench warm. Our little group and Todd Simon are last to leave the arena. Simon says it might take a little time to get the T-Birds turned around, but that he loves raising a family in the shadow of the snow-capped peaks. Simon also says coaches at Southern Utah have been known to go their entire careers without having to lock their doors. A cold rain is beginning to fall once again outside the Centrum Arena. But the air smells fresh, and it all seems so pure and simple in the shadow of the snow-capped peaks.

As we head south for the shimmer of bright lights, Jack Murphy and NAU go north toward the tall pines. He thought this was a game the Lumberjacks would win.

He hopes it won t be snowing when they cross the dam at Glen Canyon.

Contact Ron Kantowski at


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Military programs featured in Army Magazine

The University of North Georgia (UNG) military programs are featured in the March issue of Army Magazine, a publication of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA). The article, “Mining a Different Kind of Gold: University of North Georgia Expanding ROTC Studies,”[1] focuses on the university’s Institute for Leadership and Strategic Studies (ILSS) and the role it has played in the expansion of UNG’s military programs to include cyber and security studies and more international programs. The article highlights the success of individual students and recent record-setting accomplishments of the Corps of Cadets as a whole.

“We’re very proud to gain national recognition for our university and Corps of Cadets, which produces motivated graduates who are well prepared to lead with character; who are agile and adaptive; who solve problems with innovative solutions; and who will win in a complex world,” retired Lt. Col. Keith Antonia, associate vice president for Military Programs at UNG, said of the article. “We have a world-class leadership development program, and our cadets are our credentials.”

Antonia and retired Army Col. Billy Wells, UNG’s senior vice president for leadership and global engagement, both are quoted in the article. Wells highlighted the successful results in the year since the ILSS was created.

“After a year of mission-based functional realignment, academic performance, cadet internships, study abroad, and selection for nationally competitive scholarships have all set new records, well above the norm for the university as a whole,” he said. “Additionally, performance of North Georgia cadets at the Cadet Leaders Course always outstanding has set new records with 32 percent of our cadets ranked in the top 15 percent of the nation.”

As noted in the article, UNG has produced 51 general and flag officers, and cadet alumni include college presidents, politicians, writers and CEOs. Seventy-five percent of graduating cadets become commissioned officers, and many cadets are members of the Georgia Army National Guard while they attend the university. Additionally, all UNG cadets receive in-state tuition, regardless of whether they are from Georgia. Rick Maze, editor-in-chief of Army Magazine and director of media operations for AUSA, visited UNG’s Dahlonega Campus in December to meet several UNG administrators, tour the campus and attend a briefing about ILSS . Maze also had the opportunity to meet several UNG cadets.

Army Magazine has a paid circulation of more than 51,000, including thousands of active duty Army personnel, National Guard, Reserves, military families, and retired soldiers and more than 12,000 defense industry executives. Established in 1950 and with headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, AUSA works to support all aspects of national security while advancing the interests of the U.S. Army and the men and women who serve. AUSA is a private, non-profit educational organization that supports the regular Army, National Guard, Reserve, retired soldiers, government civilians, wounded warriors, veterans, concerned citizens and family members. UNG is one of only six federally designated senior military colleges in the country and is designated by the Georgia Legislature as The Military College of Georgia. With more than 18,000 students on five campuses, UNG is one of the largest public universities in Georgia.


  1. ^ “Mining a Different Kind of Gold: University of North Georgia Expanding ROTC Studies,” (