WESTFIELD – The 104th Fighter Wing presented four major awards and performed a significant number of Change of Commands during a ceremony, Saturday, August 13.
Accepting 2015 Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command Region/ 1st Air Force Air Control Alert Unit of the Year was Chief Master Sgt. Robert Roy, ACA Superintendent.
The 104th Fighter Wing was recently named the “Air Control Alert Unit of the Year” by the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region – 1st Air Force (CONR-1AF/AFNORTH). A component of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), the Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR) provides airspace surveillance and control and directs aerospace control activities for the continental United States (CONUS).
“We have our hearts and souls in this fighter wing,” said Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, Director of the Air National Guard, who spoke at the ceremony. “One of the best fighter wings of ninety Air National Guard wings that we have across the country. This is what I use to set my standard. When I stand up and say things in Washington about having my connections to the field I’m referring to Barnes and all you do here. The World is a very dangerous place out there. You hear about it in the news and the 104th Fighter Wing is the pointy end of making a difference across the world. We need you, our country needs you, our nation is thankful for all you do.”
The Legion of Merit was presented to Col. Edward J. Gunning Jr., who allowed for the successful stand up of the Northeast aerospace alert mission.
The 2015 Air Forces North Air Control Alert Maintainer of the Year was presented to Staff Sgt. Trevor Tompkins, a Northampton native. Tompkins was selected as the best maintainer of all Air Force ACA units.
The Massachusetts Air National Guard Non-Commissioned officer of 2016 was presented to Staff Sgt. Coakley. who was deployed to Kandahar Air Field, Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Freedom Sentinel.
Also at the ceremony on Saturday, the 104th Fighter Wing performed a significant number of Assumption and Change of Commands.
Brig. Gen. Sean Collins relinquished command of the 104th Medical Group to Lt. Col. Gary Archambault.
Lt. Col. David Halasikun relinquished command of the 131st Fighter Squadron to Lt. Col. Jeffrey Beckel.
Lt. Col. Jared Conaboy assumed command of Operations Support Flight.
Lt. Col. Steven Reynolds relinquished command of the Security Forces to Maj. Vincent Heitman.
Maj. Dean Lambert assumed command of Force Support Squadron.
Lt. Col. Michael Dibrindisi relinquished command of the maintenance squadron to Maj. Keith Tatlock and accepted Command of the Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Lt. Col. Pete Carr.
Air Force officials announced in June that Barnes Air National Guard Base, is one of the bases being considered for the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter future bed down.
The Air Force released basing criteria for the Operations Bases 5 & 6 of the F-35 that will be used to select Air National Guard Squadrons which if chosen will receive their first aircraft in the summer of 2022. The Air Force plans to identify candidate installations for the Air National Guard locations this summer.