Our community plays a Texas-sized role in the story of America’s common defense. Our city’s military’s base, the NAS JRB Fort Worth, plays an indispensable role in that legacy. I was proud to tour the base today, conducting oversight on several of the base’s most important units. The base is home to 11,000 outstanding military reservists, Texas Guardsmen, and civilian employees who work around the clock strengthening our local community and our national defense. I was so pleased to meet with some of them today. Throughout my tour, I was joined by the base’s new Commander, Navy Captain Mark McLean, a native Texan and accomplished naval aviator who returned to his home state this summer to lead our city’s base.
I’ve always believed that our men and women in uniform deserve the most effective, cutting-edge aircraft, and I’ve been proud to help bring the newest models right here to NAS JRB Fort Worth. One of the units I toured, the Texas Air National Guard’s 136th Airlift Wing, is a strong competitor to receive the next batch of Lockheed Martin C-130J aircraft that I funded through my leadership on the House Appropriations Committee. It was an honor to meet with the hardworking men and women of the 136th today and to see firsthand how the new planes would be used to support their emergency response efforts across Texas and protect the American way of life from enemies around the world.
Underlining our city’s role as America’s leading defense hub is the F-35 fighter jet—the pride of Fort Worth—which is manufactured by Lockheed Martin right across the base’s runway before shipping the jets around the world to our military and allies. However, what’s made in Fort Worth may soon stay in Fort Worth. I’m so happy to see that the base is taking the important steps to prepare for the F-35 to replace the aging F-16s used regularly by the Air Force Reserve’s 301st Fighter Wing. For years, I have urged the Air Force to recapitalize its fighter fleet with more F-35s, and today I was proud to speak with the men and women of the 301st, who are actively preparing to receive the world’s most lethal combat aircraft.
Today’s visit gives me greater insight into the needs of our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen, and I will continue to be NAS JRB Fort Worth’s staunchest advocate and keep standing up for it at every level of government and at every opportunity. While Mayor of Fort Worth, I proudly led the crusade to have the base realigned as a Joint Reserve Base, and saw it grow even larger than it was when the hearings to close it were held. Today, it is humbling to see how the base and its military personnel and their families continue to support our nation’s defense and the future of American airpower. It was an honor to spend time on the base and speak with some of the fine men and women serving there, as well as their new Commander Captain McLean, who do us all proud and embody the values and patriotic spirit of our community.