131st Bomb Wing concludes annual training with family day

  • Published
  • By Rachel Knight
  • 131st Bomb Wing UPAR
Both past and present Missouri National Guardsmen from the 131st Bomb Wing and their families participated in the wing's family day at Ike Skelton Park on Whiteman Air Force Base.

Col. Michael Francis, 131st Bomb Wing vice commander, said the wing picnic and retiree day capped off the 12 days of active duty training for bomb wing personnel and was an opportunity to come together with friends - past and present.

Over 500 individuals populated the park where food and family fun filled the day including a bouncy castle, horse shoes, washers, a dunk tank, and much more allowed for never-ending activities.

"It was a great time for the wing to revel in a job well done during the past two weeks of annual training that included the reveal of the 131st Bomb Wing patch on the B-2 and Lt. Gen. Wyatt's visit," said Maj. Catherine Germain, wing's executive officer.

The unveiling of the 131st Bomb Wing patch on the "Spirit of Missouri" B-2 Bomber symbolized a milestone in the Total Force Integration of the active duty Air Force with the Missouri Air National Guard at Whiteman Air Force Base.

Lt. Gen. Harry M. "Bud" Wyatt III, Director of the Air National Guard, said that the Total Force Integration between the active duty 509th Bomb Wing and the 131st is going well and an example the Air National Guard needs to look to for classic associations in the Air Force.

"What a great partnership and great capability you bring to the fight," said Wyatt at the unveiling ceremony.

Many attendees of the wing's family day had the opportunity to tour the B-2 Spirit Bomber hangars and simulators.

"A highlight of the day was seeing the B-2 in person," said retired Senior Master Sgt. Ron Hagenow. "I had read all about the aircraft but until you see it in person you don't realize its size or what it can do."

"It was also a great time for wing members and retirees to reconnect," Germain said. "This was the first 131st Bomb Wing Retiree Day since the wing switched missions."

Retirees were able to meet with past coworkers who have gained rank and past colleagues who have retired.

"I got to talk with Col. Greg Champagne (wing commander) and we reminisced," said Hagenow. "I sent him to officers' school and pilot training when I worked in the training office."

The group received a briefing first thing that morning which highlighted the unit's history dating back to the B-26 Invader, one of the Wing's first bombers.   The 131st (then the 110th Observation Squadron) served many roles since it was first organized in Missouri in 1923.  Previous aircraft flown have included observation aircraft, as well as numerous generations of fighters, and the A-20, B-25, and B-26 bombers, as well as the current B-2 Spirit.

"As for the wing now being a bomber unit, I am both sad and happy," said Hagenow. "Sad because of our long fighter heritage but also happy because our unit was chosen to fly the most sophisticated aircraft in the inventory. I think that says something about our people and our ability to get the job done."