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News > Farewell Flying Badgers -- Wisconsin wing flag moves to Pope AFB
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Farewell Flying Badgers
Col. Merle D. Hart, 440th Airlift Wing commander, stands with Chief Master Sgt. Carmon Francher, wing command chief master sergeant, during the unit's relocation ceremony June 9, 2007, at Gen. Mitchell International Airport Air Reserve Station in Milwaukee. The motto on the wing flag is Nunquam Non Paratus -- "Never unprepared." (U.S. Air Force photo/Joe Oliva)
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Farewell Flying Badgers -- Wisconsin wing flag moves to Pope AFB

Posted 6/11/2007   Updated 6/11/2007 Email story   Print story


by Maj. Ann Peru Knabe
440th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

6/11/2007 - MILWAUKEE  -- In a symbolic ceremony, 440th Airlift Wing Commander Col. Merle D. Hart boarded a C-130 at Gen. Mitchell International Airport Air Reserve Station here with the wing's flag waving in the wind.

The Air Force Reserve Command unit relocated to Pope Air Force Base, N.C., on June 9. The next day the wing's flag was officially raised at its new home.

"The move is finally here," said Staff Sgt. Kathleen Evans, a reservist assigned to the 440th Logistics Readiness Squadron. "The 440th is moving, and there will be no more Flying Badgers (the wing's mascot) in Milwaukee."

Sergeant Evans, along with more than 500 reservists, retirees and civilians, said farewell to wing leadership as the commander boarded the aircraft. Many reservists took comfort knowing the mission would continue at its new home in North Carolina.

"We'll continue to serve, with our heads held high, and the pride that goes along with the wing," Colonel Hart told reservists. "This moment is historic, another chapter in the wing's history."

The 440th AW is unique because it's the first C-130 transport wing to associate active-duty squadrons under a Reserve wing commander's operational direction.

"We're the first Reserve unit to do this," said Col. Timothy Ward, 440th Airlift Wing vice commander, who also serves as the Detachment 2 commander back in Milwaukee. "When the association is complete, the 440th will be the lead flying wing at Pope AFB."

Two 440th AW units were inactivated during the relocation ceremony. Air Force Reserve Command's 2006 Airlift Control Flight of the year, the 440th ALCF, and the 34th Aerial Port Squadron will no longer exist under the new wing structure.

However, the 440th AW will gain two active-duty units - the 2nd Airlift Squadron and 43rd Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. In addition, the wing will gain two more Air Force Reserve units - the 53rd APS, which is currently located at Pope AFB but geographically separated from its current gaining wing at Charleston AFB, S.C., and a new squadron, the 440th AES, which stands up in April 2008.

Colonel Hart said he remains optimistic about the wing's future growth and missions in North Carolina.

"The world needs changes, and that's why the 440th is moving," he said. "The men and women who have filled the ranks of the 440th since its founding in 1943 have served their nation well and earned many deserved honors. The discipline of operations and the innovations of our people have made the wing one of the strongest in the Air Force, and we will carry these values with us to our new home at Pope."

Several hundred Wisconsin reservists expect to continue to serve with the wing at Pope AFB, some moving to the area permanently and others commuting weekends for unit training assemblies.

Many other wing Airmen have accepted offers for positions in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve units closer to Wisconsin.

Wing officials expect they will need to fill about 80 percent of the unit's positions with people new to the 440th AW. In addition, the Flying Badger wing will need to come up with a new mascot to represent its new home in North Carolina. (Air Force Reserve Command News Service)

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