For Immediate Release - May 16, 2013

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR MURRAY COMMENDS 104TH FIGHTER WING AT BARNES AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE AS ONE OF THE COUNTRY’S LEADING ALERT SITES

WESTFIELD – Thursday, May 16, 2013 – Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray today visited Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield to congratulate the 104th Fighter Wing for its recognition as one of the best alert sites in the country by the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD).

“Barnes Air National Guard Base and its 104th Fighter Wing is an exemplary tactical unit that protects our Commonwealth and our country each and every day,” said Lieutenant Governor Murray, Chair of the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force. “As we recognize the unit for its accomplishments, we are also assessing opportunities to improve its infrastructure so that the 104th Fighter Wing can continue to excel in supporting this country’s national security.”

Lieutenant Governor Murray works closely with the Task Force and leaders in the Massachusetts military to initiate opportunities that will better enhance and improve the Commonwealth’s military infrastructure. During his visit to Barnes Air National Guard Base, Lieutenant Governor Murray first met with Colonel James J. Keefe, Airmen of this elite unit, and members of the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force to discuss current initiatives and future plans to enhance the relevancy of the two military units located at Barnes Municipal Airport.  Following the meeting, Lieutenant Governor Murray presented Colonel Keefe and the 104th Fighter Wing with a citation for its accomplishments on behalf of Governor Deval Patrick.

Following the return from their first ever Middle East deployment in the F-15, the 104th Fighter Wing was quickly tested in March on its homeland defense posture through a no-notice NORAD Alert Force Evaluation, where the wing was lauded by the inspection team as being one of the best alert sites in the country.

"Without question, the 104th Fighter Wing is one of the top F-15 units in the county, and this inspection re-enforces that standing,” said Colonel Keefe. "The improvements to our base infrastructure along with improvements to the F-15 aircraft will solidify our presence and allow us to continue to protect the Northeast from any airborne threat.”

Barnes Air National Guard Base provides 24-hour protection for the northeastern region of the United States. The 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes has received numerous accolades, including its 8th Air Force Outstanding Unit Award presented in late 2011. Last year, a unit of more than 300 Air National Guard members was deployed to the Central Command Area of Responsibility, becoming the first Air National Guard unit to launch a three month deployment overseas in the F-15 aircraft.  At home, these men and women have served as first responders in the wake of tragedies including the recent Boston Marathon bombings and in the aftermath of the June 1 tornadoes, Hurricane Irene and the October Nor’easter that severely impacted parts of the region and the Commonwealth. 

Last year, the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force partnered with the University of Massachusetts Donahue Institute to release the state’s first comprehensive report on the jobs and economic impact of Massachusetts’ six military bases. The data indicates Massachusetts’ six military installations support more than 46,500 jobs and contributed more than $14.2 billion to the Commonwealth’s economy in 2011. Since these findings were released, the Task Force continues to collaborate with private sector partners and each base to 1) address infrastructure needs, 2) identify areas of mutual interest, 3) build community support, 4) fund energy audits to support cost-savings and greater efficiency and 5) explore options for new workforce development and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education programs.

The Commonwealth’s five other bases include: Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee; Natick Soldier Systems Center; Fort Devens; Hanscom Air Force Base; and the Massachusetts Military Reservation on Cape Cod. 

To learn more about the Task Force, visit: www.mass.gov/governor/military

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