Moving In

The Missouri Air National Guard’s 131st Fighter Wing held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 4 at Whiteman Air Force Base to recognize the unit’s transition to the 131st Bomb Wing—the name change has yet to formally occur—and mark the grand opening of its new headquarters building at the base. Brig. Gen. Craig McCord, Missouri ANG commander, attended the event as did Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) who chairs the House Armed Services Committee. Under BRAC 2005, the 131st is giving up its F-15 fighters that it operated from Lambert-St. Louis International Airport and forming a partnership with Whiteman’s active duty 509th BW to jointly operate the Air Force’s fleet of B-2A stealth bombers under a classic associate arrangement. “We are proud of our members and proud of our lineage as we transition from an Air National Guard fighter wing to a classic associate bomb wing,” said Col. Robert Leeker, 131st commander. The wing’s transition has been ongoing since the summer of 2007. Already the wing has about 10 pilots fully qualified to fly the B-2As and more than 80 personnel currently working at Whiteman. Capt. Bridget Zorn, wing spokeswoman, told the Daily Report yesterday that the 131st still has some F-15s operating out of Lambert for the interim until the transition is complete. The last of the wing’s fighters is expected to depart for good in the summer of 2009, she said. After that, the wing will still maintain some support functions at Lambert. (Includes Lambert report by 1st Lt. Stephanie Schmitt)