Barksdale Air Force Base, LA — After 50 years, the 917th Fighter Group was inactivated during a ceremony at Barksdale Air Force Base Sept. 26.
The ceremony marked the end of an era at Barksdale, as Airmen and community members gathered in the 917th FG Hangar watch the guidon furled and cased.
"What a glorious day to honor 50 years of the 917th's service to our nation," said Col. John Breazeale, 917th FG commander. "We wrap up 50 years of 917th service to our nation by honoring the thousands of 917th Airmen for their service, and the proud heritage and legacy they built. Today is about you and your contribution to our nation."
The inactivation is due to the termination of the Continuing Resolution provision and the enacting of the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, a plan which defines the budget and expenditures of the U.S. Department of Defense.
"We honor the legacy of the 917th Air Transportation Group, 917th Special Operations Group, 917th Tactical Fighter Group, 917th Tactical Fighter Wing and finally the 917th Fighter Group," said Breazeale. "We honor the 917th FG Airmen who deployed for Operations DENY FLIGHT, DECISIVE EDGE, IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM, and their role in saving or protecting soldiers, sailors, Marines and Special Operations."
Some of the 917th milestones include:
- The 917th FG was originally formed as the 917th Troop Carrier Group on Jan. 17, 1963, at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and was assigned to the 435th Troop Carrier Wing. Its mission was to administer and support its assigned 78th Troop Carrier Squadron, which was equipped with C-124s.
- When the A-37B Dragonfly was eventually phased out, the group converted to the A-10 Thunderbolt II airframe. The 917 TFG assumed replacement-training responsibilities on October 1, 1983. This ultimately led to the creation of the 46th Tactical Fighter Training Squadron, in addition to the 926th Tactical Fighter Group in New Orleans, La.
- Oct. 1, 1993, the 917th became the first unit in Air Force Reserve history to acquire a strategic mission: B-52H Stratofortress aircraft were added to the wing make-up, and the 93rd Bomb Squadron was activated with 10 B-52s. Now a composite wing, the 917th dropped "Fighter" from its name and became the 917th Wing.
- In 2006 under Base Realignment and Closure the 917th Wing gained eight A-10 aircraft and a number of full-time and part-time positions from the closure of NAS JRB New Orleans, La., bringing the total A-10s assigned to 26.
- Jan. 1, 2011, the 917th Wing was deactivated and the 917th Operations Group was re-designated as the 917th Fighter Group. The Group realigned under the 442nd Fighter Wing, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
The 917th FG included the 917th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 917th Maintenance Squadron, 917th Operations Support Flight and the 917th Maintenance Operations Flight.
"We honor the tremendous style with which the 917 FG Airmen handled the challenge of the past two and a half years," said Breazeale. "We honor their inspiring resilience through a combat conversion and ultimately unit inactivation. We honor their unmatched professionalism in the face of adversity, and we confidently anticipate the impact each of them will have on their new units."
The final three A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft from the 917th Fighter Group, 47th Fighter Squadron departed Barksdale June 24 for their new home to Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.
"I salute and say thank you to the Airmen of the 917th FG, past and present, for their impact on our great nation," said Breazeale. "This unit will be inactivated today, but the triumphs of the 917th will be remembered forever."