The first air refueling unit of the Air National Guard celebrates their 60th year of flight

  • Published
  • By Cadet Cale Fulton
  • Illinois Army National Guard 139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
Over 530 Airmen, family members and VIPs enjoyed a night of festivities, fine dining and history at the 60th anniversary celebration of the Illinois Air National Guard's 126th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) Oct. 2 at Scott Air Force Base.

The wing held the celebration in one of its hangars, which was decorated with unit memorabilia, classic automobiles and a KC-135R Stratotanker. The Stratotanker helps the wing complete its mission by providing aerial refueling support for Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps aircraft.

The wing holds the distinction of being the first air refueling unit in the Air National Guard.

The event showcased the history of the 126th ARW with a video highlighting the many aircraft, missions and servicemembers that have defined the wing through the decades. The 566th Air Force Band also played live music throughout the evening.

VIPs in attendance included Congressman Jerry Costello; Army Maj. Gen. William Enyart, Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard; and Army Maj. Gen. Dennis Celletti, Assistant Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard. Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, Chief of the National Guard Bureau and Air Force Col. Peter Nezamis, commander of the 126th ARW, both gave speeches to commemorate the event.

"It is pretty spiritual to me to see how you have transformed this hanger to recognize the contributions of those who have gone before us and to celebrate the contributions of those who are serving here today," said McKinley. "I cannot think of a finer tribute to the Airmen of the 126th Air Refueling Wing than to celebrate in this way tonight."