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franklin county times

Air Guard awaits word on its role

By By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
Sept. 19, 2001
The 186th Air Refueling Wing of the Mississippi Air National Guard is standing ready for orders and remains at a high level of security termed "Air Force Protection Condition Charlie."
Col. David Weaver, air commander of the unit, said Tuesday the Guard is waiting for word from Washington about what role it will play related to last week's terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Weaver said his Guard unit has not been activated: "There's no way to know how many men will be deployed if the unit is utilized. The unit is trained and ready if called upon."
Weaver said past activations of the unit, including its mission to Bosnia, required 150 guardsmen. Weaver spoke to reporters outside of the Key Field base; a barricade limited access to the base.
After last week's terrorist attacks, the base was placed on its highest level of security known as "Threat Con Delta." That level was downgraded to "Air Force Protection Condition Charlie."
Lt. Col. Randy Pope, public affairs officer with the Mississippi Air National Guard, said missions being flown from Key Field are routine training missions to keep the unit prepared.
The 186th is made up of KC-135 aircraft that refuel other planes, including fighter jets and bombers. A full KC-135 crew usually has a pilot, co-pilot, navigator and boom operator.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at sgillespie@themeridianstar.com.

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