COLUMBUS -- The Ohio House on Monday approved a resolution urging Congress and the U.S. Defense Department to keep the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, while awaiting a decision on a future, non-flying mission.
The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Marilyn John, a first-year lawmaker from Shelby, whose 2nd Ohio House District encompasses all of Richland County.
The Air Force has announced plans to dial back the number of older C-130H models in its fleet, eight of which call Mansfield home as part of the Ohio Air National Guard unit.
The resolution calls for support of the flying mission while the local base is under consideration for an Information Warfare Wing, a decision which could be announced later this year.
Mansfield is one of two finalists for the new wing. If Mansfield is selected, the unit will transition to the non-flying IWW by 2022, according to state officials.
“Over the past 73 years, the men and women of the 179th Airlift Wing have honorably served the United States through many missions and countless deployments, home and abroad,” John said.
“They have proven to be a great community partner for Richland and Ashland counties and an economic driver in our region."
John also said the 179th Airlift Wing has been recognized for numerous awards and has participated in humanitarian efforts around the world, including Restore Hope in Somalia; Operation Provide Promise in Bosnia; UN relief efforts and Operations Joint Guard and Forge in support of NATO operating out of Rhein-Main and Ramstein Air Base, Germany; as well as relief to those affected by hurricanes Hugo, Andrew, and Katrina.
“Given the unique history, personnel, facilities, and capacity of the 179th Airlift Wing, I strongly believe it should be kept in Mansfield and continue to support the (C-130) aircraft or the Air National Guard Cyber Wing,” John said. “I sincerely thank my colleagues in the House for passing this important legislation.”
Taking aim at the 179th, and its three-decade old aircraft, is nothing new for the Air Force, including a decision (later reversed) to shutter the unit during a Base Realignment and Closure Commission effort in 2005.
That reversal came after an all-out defense of the base by local and state officials, who successfully lobbied for a new C-27 mission and its smaller aircraft until the Air Force returned the larger aircraft to the 64-acre base on the city's north side in 2012.
The 179th Airlift Wing was organized in Mansfield on June 20, 1948. In 1976, the 179th closed its tactical fighter mission, and the unit converted to the C-130B Hercules aircraft. Since then, the 179th Airlift Wing has been supporting variations of C-130 aircraft for more than 40 years.
The resolution now heads to the Ohio Senate for consideration.