The 917th Fighter Group has served our country for more than 50 years.
These airmen have flown and maintained different aircraft, fought in war zones and faced numerous changes. The biggest ... the unit's forced closure this month. But even though things are shutting down, the 917th leaves behind an impressive legacy.
As the saying goes the only constant in history... is change. And change is something 917th airmen are very used to!
In the last 50 years this reserve unit has changed names, changed aircraft and changed missions"The people that were here were great, they rolled with the changes, they adapted, " says Captain Brian Plauche.
The first airmen flew C-124's. Retired General James Graves spent more than 20 years with the 917th. He witnessed the group's most recent transition from A-37's to A-10's, "it is extremely special it has unique capabilites supporting our ground troops particulary in close contact with the enemy, in my opinion the best aircraft ever designed and built for that mision."The 917th has also seen at least ten name changes in the last half a century. Names like the "917th Air Transport Group", "Tactical Fighter Group" and now "Fighter Group."
Most of these re-designations reflect the unit's constantly changing missions. For instance, within the last two years the 917th moved from a training unit, to combat capable and sent hundreds of airmen to Afghanistan.
With the unit's closure, many airmen are taking on new missions just down the flightline.
"My new job is the operations officer for the 707th MS we work with the active duty, only nuclear certified unit in the AFRC. Its a big job, im looking forward to it and working with active duty is going to be great. Its going to be a big adjustment, ready to make transition and work on the bombers" says Captain Plauche.
So even though the 917ths flag has flown for the last time, many see it as just another change... to conquer.
"This is going to be an opprotunity for all of our guys, this is going to be an opprt to take all the good and bad things weve learned here and take it to other units adn make the next unit better, and we look forward to doing that we're still in the Air Force we'lre still doing our jobs."
Airmen that despite 50 years of changes have never changed their main goal... protect and serve and do it well! A legacy they hope lives on for 50 years, maybe even more.