June 6, 2008 (by A1C Jamal Sutter) - More than 400 Members of Team Holloman from in and around the Tularosa Basin gathered to witness the future of the 49th FW as the first two Holloman-tailed F-22A Raptors were officially welcomed during an F-22A Arrival and Total Force Integration Announcement Ceremony at Hangar 500 on June 6.
Maj. Paul 'Max' Moga from Langley AFB, taxies a Langley based F-22A Raptor after an aerial demonstration just outside of Holloman AFB, the evening of June 6th, 2008. The demo provided both the citizens of Alamogordo and members of Team Holloman a chance to view the capabilities of the Raptor up close. [USAF photo by A1C. Rachel A. Kocin]
In addition to local attendees, the ceremony greeted some very distinguished guests, including the men and women from Congress, Chief of Air Force Reserve, Lt. Gen. John Bradley and the Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. T. Michael Moseley, who also spoke at the event.
"Today we open another chapter in our long-term plan for providing Air Force capabilities to the nation for meeting 21st Century security threats," General Moseley said. "As you know, this past year we retired the last of our 59 F-117 Nighthawks that have served our nation so well over the years."
The general said it's time for a new generation of fighters to take the place of the Nighthawks.
"We're replacing them with vastly more capable Raptors," he said.
The chief of staff also announced the plan to transfer the flag of the Air Force Reserve's 301st Fighter Squadron here from Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., to form a classic associate unit with the 7th and 8th Fighter Squadrons here.
"Like the 7th and 8th Fighter Squadrons, the 301st Fighter Squadron has an impressive combat heritage dating back to activation and combat service in World War II," General Moseley added.
General Bradley also spoke at the ceremony.
"The significance of the F-22 coming to Holloman is that we need to have our air superiority fighters ready to deploy anywhere in the world at a moment's notice," said General Bradley. "We have an F-22 fighter base in the Eastern part of the United States at Langley Air Force Base, Va., and now on the west coast so we can deploy across the Pacific if needed."
The Air Force Reserve chief also talked about the importance of the Raptor as it relates to helping our sister services, further increasing our chances of winning today's war.
"It will provide air supremacy and air dominance for our Soldiers and Marines fighting on the ground," he said. "We will prevent them from being attacked from the air."
Closer to home though, there were also some who showed excitement about having the Raptor operate out of Holloman.
"To me it's very rewarding because I've been able to be a part of it," said Col. Jack Forsythe, 49th Operations Group commander. "To get them stood up took a lot of work by the operations group, the maintenance group and all the other groups on base."
The operations group commander also stated why he believes the 49th Fighter Wing will continue to play an important role in the combat capabilities of the U.S.
"We got the best fighter in the world right here and come Nov. 1, 2009, we'll be combat ready," Colonel Forsythe said. "That's a significant combat power advantage for our nation."