FORT WORTH – Lead Appropriations Committee Republican Kay Granger (R-TX) conducted a press conference at the Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base (NAS JRB) Fort Worth, joined by base Commander Navy Captain Mark McLean; Major General Tracy Norris, The Adjutant General of Texas and Commander of the Texas National Guard; Maj. Gen. Thomas Suelzer, Deputy Adjutant General – Air; Colonel Keith Williams, Commander of the 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard; and Colonel Allen Duckworth, Commander of the 301st Fighter Wing, Air Force Reserve Command.

The press conference highlighted the significance of three major basing decisions as a result of Congresswoman Granger’s ceaseless efforts. Both the 136th Airlift Wing and the 301st Fighter Wing were selected to receive new airframes to replace their aging fleets. Additionally, the 136th was also selected to receive the Air National Guard’s newest Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. The selection of the NAS JRB Fort Worth to receive these modernized aircraft and this important mission underline the Defense Department’s recognition of the base’s strategic importance and its preeminent role in America’s national defense. The base, which was targeted for closure during the 1990s, was saved through realignment into America’s first-ever joint reserve base, an effort which was led by the Congresswoman, then Fort Worth Mayor.

After the press conference, Congresswoman Granger, Major General Norris, Colonel Duckworth, and Colonel Keith Williams released the following statements:

“The NAS JRB Fort Worth and its important role in our national security dates back to the earliest days of American aviation. Now—decades after I fought to preserve the installation through establishing America’s first-ever joint reserve base—it’s humbling to see how the same runway that trained pilots for combat in World War II now supports the future of American airpower.

“I was proud to recently lead the successful fight to replace the 136th Airlift Wing’s aging C-130H aircraft with new, modernized C-130J models, which fly faster, higher, and farther with more cargo space compared to the older H models.

“Just last Friday, the Air Force also announced its selection of the 136th Airlift Wing to further receive a new Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, which are sometimes called ‘flying hospitals.’ The Squadron will keep the Airmen of 136th Airlift Wing in the fight, with access to advanced, time-sensitive medical care as they conduct important missions at home and abroad.

“I was also grateful for the opportunity to commend the men and women of the 301st Fighter Wing, recently selected to receive 26 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the world’s most advanced fighter jet. The F-35 is the pride of the Fort Worth defense industry, built just across our base’s runway. Having a wing of 26 F-35s, here at the base, is the right decision.

“Today’s celebration came only after many months of intensely competitive basing decisions by the Department of Defense. The eventual selections of the NAS JRB Fort Worth underlines the importance of our city and our base to America’s national security.

“We have secured the future of our great base for years to come, and I will continue to fight to ensure our warfighters always have the best training, equipment, and facilities they deserve while in the fight to protect our freedoms.”

 “We are honored to add yet another capability to our already robust force,” said Maj. Gen. Tracy R. Norris, the Adjutant General of Texas. “Any time we add medical assets, we know we will be better equipped to help Texas and the nation in their most critical times of need. We also know that the medical community in the Dallas-Fort Worth area is second to none and will provide an outstanding source of medical professionals as we staff these new positions in the Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron.  I also want to thank Congresswoman Granger for her steadfast support of the Texas Army and Air National Guard.”

Colonel Allen Duckworth, 301st Fighter Wing Commander, said: “Our wing is honored to host Congresswoman Kay Granger at NAS Fort Worth JRB today.  The amount of support we have received from the local community and its leaders has been humbling, as we just announced our selection as the Air Force Reserve Command’s first F-35 unit-equipped wing. We appreciate Congresswoman Granger’s support regarding our exciting transition to this incredible new weapons system.”

Colonel Keith Williams, Commander of the 136th Airlift Wing, Texas Air National Guard, said “The 136th Airlift Wing has flown and maintained the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft since 1978. We are very excited and grateful to have been awarded the C-130J Super Hercules, the latest C-130 variant produced by Lockheed Martin. We thank Congresswoman Granger for her steadfast support to ensure Texas is positioned to serve our nation’s needs with the latest equipment and the best training. The C-130J Super Hercules flies faster, farther, and carries more cargo than previous models. The 136th Airlift Wing is also very happy to have been awarded an Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. This is a team of medical professionals who offer specialized care for patients in flight. This new mission will enable the 136th to provide a strategic capability for national and worldwide operations.  We are very proud to serve our nation and state by continuing to provide safe, effective, and reliable airlift whenever and wherever needed. The women and men of the 136th Airlift Wing are committed to excellence and providing outstanding service for our nation’s defense at home and abroad.”