November 5, 2015 (by Col. Richard Goldenberg) - An F-16 fighter that New York Air National Guard pilots flew in combat over Iraq during Operation Desert Storm now welcomes troops, families and visitors at the main entrance of New York National Guard headquarters as part of a historic display.
USAF F-16A block 10 #80-0504 from the 174th FW sits on permanent display outside the NYS Division of Military and Naval Affairs and headquarters of the New York Army and Air National Guard at Latham on November 8th, 2015. [US Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Major Corine Lombardo]
The final journey for the F-16, with more than 20 years of service and as part of the former 174th Fighter Wing in Syracuse, joins an M-1 Abrams main battle tank and an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter, both used by New York Army National Guard Soldiers, as front gate historic displays.
The 174th had flown the F-16 as a fighter wing for 20 years, with service for Operation Desert Storm and Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Iraq
"Now it's going to sit on display where people can see it every day and it serves as a signature symbol of the Air National Guard here at the headquarters" said New York Air National Guard Chief Master Sergeant Mark Shearer.
Shearer is a maintenance supervisor who worked on the F-16s in Syracuse before the unit transitioned to the remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper aircraft now as the 174th Attack Wing.
“I worked on F-16’s at the 174th Fighter Wing for nearly two dozen years, so it’s a little hard to let go of this last aircraft,” Shearer added.
This particular aircraft, #80-0504
, has historical legacy with the New York Air National Guard. It flew numerous combat missions with the 174th Fighter Wing’s 138th Tactical Fighter Squadron during Operation Desert Storm, one of only two Air National Guard units to fly combat missions in the close air support role.
Deployed to Saudi Arabia in 1991 for Operation Desert Shield, Aircraft 80-0504 flew several combat missions from Al Kharj Air Base in Saudi Arabia as part of the 174th Fighter Wing's combat tour for Operation Desert Storm.
Back at Hancock Field, the aircraft served as a ground maintenance training aircraft, where it was utilized for weapons load training until 2010.
“This display not only represents the Air National Guard but serves as a reminder to our Soldiers here who have deployed and relied on the F-16 to keep our ground troops safe,” said Col. Maureen Murphy, Director of New York Air National Guard Staff. Murphy was assigned to the 174th Fighter Wing as an intelligence officer from 1992 to 1997.
The name painted on the side of the aircraft identifies Maj. Gen. Robert Knauff, former commander of both the 174th Fighter Wing and Commander of the New York Air National Guard. Knauff died in a sailplane crash in 2014.
The display of this historic aircraft is part of the regular transfer of retired airframes by the Collections Committee of the National Museum of the United States Air Force at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.