Gov. Jack Dalrymple, along with Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, North Dakota's adjutant general, today met with former Air Force Secretary F. Whitten Peters to press for a continued manned flying mission at Fargo's 119th Air National Guard Base. Peters is a member of the National Commission on the Structure of the Air Force, a newly-created commission tasked with providing recommendations for the structure of the U.S. Air Force. Dalrymple stressed to Peters the importance of a manned flying mission in Fargo and that the 119th Wing's existing C-21 aircraft should remain until the Air Force assigns the base a new manned flying mission.
"We made it clear to former Secretary Peters that North Dakota should not become the only state without an Air Guard manned flying mission," Dalrymple said. "We stressed the 119th Wing's distinguished record of service with manned flying missions and the benefits to both our state and nation if a manned mission remains in Fargo."
During his discussion with Peters, Dalrymple said the Happy Hooligans have earned 15 Air Force Outstanding Unit Awards and have logged more than 174,000 mishap-free flying hours. The Governor also said the 119th Air Wing plays a critical role in military defense and in providing regional support for emergency response. Additionally, the Air Guard unit can operate a manned flying mission at less cost to the Air Force.
Last month, Dalrymple spoke with Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley; Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the National Guard Bureau; and Lt. Gen. Stanley Clarke, director of the Air National Guard, to press for a future manned flying mission at the Fargo base.
The Air Force has announced plans to discontinue its fleet of C-21 passenger aircraft by the end of next year. The Air Force also is moving forward with plans to discontinue the C-27J Spartan transport plane, which was to be the 119th Wing's next manned flying mission. In addition to operating C-21 aircraft, the Fargo Air Guard is also home to a Predator drone mission. The Air Force also is developing an intelligence mission involving imagery analysis.