107th Enters into New Era with Redesignation
By Staff Sgt. Ryan Campbell, 107th Attack Wing
/ Published March 21, 2017
NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION, N.Y. -- The 107th Attack Wing, New York Air National Guard, here announced its redesignation as it officially became an attack wing during a ceremony here, March 21, 2017.
Having been an airlift wing since July of 2008, the change in name is the latest step in the transition from flying the C-130 Hercules, to the MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft. The new designation is another milestone of the conversion since the last C-130H was flown by the 107th in September 2014.
“From our beginnings in 1946 as a fighter group, we have changed missions and names many times over the past 70 years,” said Col. Robert G. Kilgore, commander of the 107th ATKW. “All of these names have been significant in representing the contributions we make to our nation’s defense.”
Despite the name just now being changed, many Airmen of the 107th have been actively engaged in the MQ-9 since ending the airlift mission almost three years ago.
There are pilots here who have been flying the MQ-9 for almost three years, said Kilgore. We have embraced the newest cutting-edge technology and we are proud to add this new chapter to the legacy of the 107th, said Kilgore.
With the change in designation being official March 15, another event also took place that day. The 107th Maintenance Group, along with its squadrons, was officially deactivated as of the same day.
“As a former maintenance group commander it is sad to see that element go away,” said Kilgore. “I hope someday we can get aircraft stationed here again and dust those flags off.”
The hope is that the 107th ATKW can someday gain a launch and recovery element where Airmen can train on launching and landing the MQ-9. Until then, the 107th ATKW will continue to fly the aircraft without a wheel ever taking off or touching down at Niagara.
With the loss of a maintenance group, two new squadrons were gained which gives the capabilities of the 107th ATKW an even wider scope. The 274th Air Support Operations Squadron and the 222nd Command and Control Squadron were both gained by the wing last year.
The 274th ASOS provides Airmen with such specialties as joint terminal attack controllers who can direct close air support for U.S. forces and our allies. Meanwhile, the 222nd CACS provides support for space operations under the National Reconnaissance Office.
The MQ-9 mission is the latest in a long history of the wing always being at the forefront of answering our nation’s call. From flying over the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, to Vietnam and the War on Terror, the 107th ATKW has left a proud legacy.
“Our legacy has already been established over the years having gone from fighters to interceptors to air refueling and airlift,” said Kilgore. “We are a group of proud Americans continuing that legacy.”
With the wing being on its 15th redesignation and flying it’s 14th primary mission aircraft, there has never been any hesitation to take on any task.
It hasn’t mattered what the aircraft is said Kilgore. We have always been there to face these challenges and meet the needs of our country, said Kilgore.
Having support from the Niagara Falls community has been vital to keeping the 107th ATKW thriving over the years, especially during tough times. Though it can be safely said that the fears of the past can in fact, stay in the past.
“The community is us, and we are the community,” said Kilgore. “With the investment being made in the 107th alone, not even counting the 914th and their new mission, we are here to stay.”
The local community has a lot be proud of in the diverse group of Airmen that make up the 107th ATKW.
“It takes a special kind of person to stand up and say they are willing to fight,” said Kilgore.
The Airmen of the wing have come along way in the past decade where the 107th ATKW faced many obstacles to its existence. Five years ago the wing had its official manning reduced to zero personnel, which meant it would have shut down unless it was assigned a new mission.
“This event today, in my mind, is all about perseverance and resilience,” said Brig. Gen. Timothy LaBarge, chief of staff of the New York Air National Guard. “Now five years later, here we are redesignating this wing as an attack wing, and again, it is a testament of the perseverance of everyone in this particular wing.”
Though to anyone who may not be familiar with what the 107th ATKW is, it is easily summed up by a commander who’s proudest moment was the opportunity to be trusted with taking command and leading the hundreds of Airmen of the 107th and seeing it through this conversion.
“We are the sword that leads the fight against those that would do us harm,” said Kilgore.