Active Duty Airman Joins 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth

1st Active Duty Airman Arrives in Duluth

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The first active duty airman has arrived on base at the 148th Fighter Wing and the active association is now a reality. 

After moving towards active association for 3 years, it’s a milestone that’s been a long time coming. 

“This is a great day. We hope that this is the start,” said 148th Wing Vice Commander, Col. Jon Safstrom.

It’s a milestone that’s pushing the 148th Fighter Wing to distinguish it’s future.

“Now, we are an active associate unit with 1 person. But, we hope that this is the start to get more folks to come here,” said Col. Safstrom.

Twenty-six year old Minnesota Native, Tanner Lee, is excited to learn from the best. 

“These guys have been here for a long time and they know these jets and they know how to train us. I know I’m going to receive the best training in the F16’s,” said Cpt. Tanner.

For 3 years, Captain Lee will be incorporated into the 148th mission. 

“He will become a wing man and fly with all our experienced instructor pilots and experienced flight leads,” said Chief of Training, Lt. Col. Curt Grayson.

After years of working towards being an active associations, Pat Mullen with the Duluth Military Affair Committee, tells Fox 21 to have a person from the military on a guard base is because of the dedication and performance of the 148th men and women.

The long wait has finally paid off. 

“We’re in the receive mode in National Guard.  We want to help in any way that we can.  But, it’s just not possible to get those folks here at a full scale,” said Col. Safstrom.

So, why such a long delay?

“It’s really a matter of amount of personnel available,” said Col. Safstrom.

The U.S Air Force has had to cut back a bit. 

“They have to focus their efforts on their current weapon system in the F16 community as they have to stay with those air crafts in the air force,” said Col. Safstrom.

The 8 other active association units are seeing a slight increase in personnel. 

“We see that trickle effect happening and that gives us some hope that we will see more people here in the near future,” said Col. Safstrom.

In the meantime, the 148th will teach Captain Lee everything he needs to fly high. 

The 148th hopes to have a total of 4 pilots and 40 maintainers as active airmen.

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