/*********************************************** * Chrome CSS Drop Down Menu- (c) Dynamic Drive DHTML code library (www.dynamicdrive.com) * This notice MUST stay intact for legal use * Visit Dynamic Drive at http://www.dynamicdrive.com/ for full source code ***********************************************/
History
Minnesota National Guard
Air National Guard's 148th Fighter Wing pilots recall eerie days after 9/11

arger view
Lt. Col. Jon Safstrom (right), 148th Fighter Wing Vice Commander, talks about the upcoming 10th anniversary of 9/11, the events of that day and how it has changed the military, Wednesday, Sept 7, 2011, at the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth, Minn Next to Lt. Col. Safstrom is Sr Master Sgt Pete Neumann (left) (MPR Photo/Derek Montgomery)
http://underwritingpublicradioorg/boxes/delivery/avwphp?zoneid=9&n=85bebb6
Sept 11, 10 years later
by Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio
September 9, 2011

Duluth, Minn -- Soon after airplanes-turned-missiles slammed into the World Trade Center towers on Sept 11, 2011, a Minnesota Air National Guard unit launched into action

Some pilots from the 148th Fighter Wing in Duluth took off to protect President George W Bush Others soared high over the Twin Cities, on the alert for more danger For the pilots, the moments after the attacks were tense

Bush was far away from Ground Zero and Washington, in Sarasota, Fla, visiting with schoolchildren After he learned of the attacks, Bush headed back to Air Force One

As its pilot, Mark Tillman, took off from Sarasota, an air traffic controller warned there was an unidentified plane coming towards the big Boeing 747

"Its transponder was off and it wasn't talking to anyone, which is kind of what the airliners that had been hijacked had been doing all morning," Tillman said

Tillman asked for an escort of fighter planes The 148th Fighter Wing scrambled two F-16 fighter jets from Duluth to meet Air Force One, more than 1,500 miles away

The plane flying toward Air Force One that morning was not a threat Its transponder - a device that broadcasts a radio signal so radar can identify the aircraft -- was broken Other military jets made it to Air Force One before the pilots from the 148th


148th Fighter Wing jets over Washington, DC

But as the nation stood on edge immediately following the attacks, all eyes were on the sky

"It became obvious at that point that we had to be ready for anything," recalled 148th Headquarters and Operations Sr Master Sgt Mark Graves "Everybody was suspect You didn't know who the enemy was"

In the hours after the attacks, he helped barricade the front gates of the base, and secure the perimeter

"We went from this quiet little unit in Duluth, Minn, to a fangs-bared wolf," Graves said


Col Penny Dieryck

The unit's F-16 fighter jets, which can fly at 1,500 miles an hour, were quickly loaded with fuel and weapons

For decades, the148th Fighter Wing had been part of the nation's Air Sovereignty Alert system During the Cold War, Duluth pilots were on standby to guard against attacks from the north Its mission shifted in the 90s, largely to providing counter drug surveillance, Unit Commander Colonel Frank Stokes said

"Those airplanes that we flew were armed, but we usually launched on those missions with no intention of shooting someone down," he said

Immediately after the terrorist attacks, shooting someone down was a distinct possibility The unit's initial mission, Stokes said, was to fly combat air patrols over the Twin Cities


Air patrols over the Pentagon

"We gathered the pilots together, and said, 'You need to wrap your head around what you're being asked to do,'" he recalled "'You're going up in an armed airplane that's going to orbit over a major metropolitan area with intentions perhaps of being asked to shoot another airplane down' "

Stokes said many of the 148th's pilots had civilian jobs as airline pilots

"So they had to wrestle with that," he said "If they were called upon, they would potentially be employing weapons against a similar airliner that they flew Monday through Friday"

But after the attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all air traffic So when Lt. Col. Jon Safstrom patrolled above Minneapolis on Sept 12, he was alone in the sky

Safstrom described the experience as a, "Very weird, eerie feeling to be an airline pilot, be in that environment where you're constantly talking to air traffic control [and ordinarily] there's numerous other aircraft, as you can imagine in Minneapolis or Chicago or New York, and all the air traffic that goes in and out of there"

The next day, Saftrsom was told by air traffic control, "You're it! It's just you two," he said "So, wherever you need to go, whatever altitude you need to go, it's you; let us know what you need"

"So, quite a change, in one day," Safstrom said And for the following four days, he recalled pairs of jets from the 148th circling over the Twin Cities

In the decade since the attacks, the unit has also flown patrols over Washington DC, former President Bush's Texas ranch, Camp David, even a space shuttle launch

Members of the 148th all talk now about the immense pride they feel in defending the nation But they're also acutely aware of the price their comrades and the nation have paid since the attacks They speak reverently of the members of the military killed in Iraq and Afghanistan

"I spend a lot of time thanking my fellow veterans, my fellow traditional guard members, for the cost that their families have given," Graves said "Everybody paid a great cost This nation had been hurt"

Article source
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/display/web/2011/09/09/148-fighter-wing-pilots-recall-eerie-days-following-911/



Articles archive

In The News archive

Media Advisory archive

Latest News

Minnesota State Fair Military Appreciation Day to recognize women veterans

Posted: 2018-08-27  12:34 PM
Minnesota National Guard FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 27, 2018

ST. PAUL, Minn.- The Minnesota State Fair's eighth annual Military Appreciation Day will take place Tuesday, August 28, and provide an educational opportunity for all fairgoers to learn about Minnesota's military community. This year's theme is honoring Minnesota's women veterans.

"The Minnesota State Fair is a great opportunity to bring our community together to show appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our state's veterans," said Maj. Gen. Jon Jensen, The Adjutant General of the Minnesota National Guard. "This year, I am proud to stand with women veterans as we highlight their stories and contributions to our armed forces."



Minnesota Guardsmen learn survival skills, train with Norwegian counterparts

Posted: 2018-07-03  01:36 PM
NOREX 45 Over the course of 10 days, 100 Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota National Guard who traveled to Norway June 17-26, 2018, for the 45th Norwegian Reciprocal Troop Exchange learned valuable survival skills and shared their knowledge with members of the Norwegian Home Guard. This year's exchange was the second to take place during the summer months in the history of the longest-running military partnership between two nations.

"It was a great experience for both the Minnesota National Guard and the Norwegian Home Guard," said Capt. 'Kiwi' HorgA�ien, the senior Norwegian instructor. "A cultural exchange, a social exchange and military exchange all packed into one."

The 45th exchange got off to a late start, with flight delays causing the trip to be shortened from its normal length of two weeks. The delay meant that the Minnesota Guardsmen jumped right into training, heading out to the field after just a few hours of sleep.



133rd Airlift Wing Emphasizes Combat Readiness Training

Posted: 2018-06-29  10:48 AM
Alpena ALPENA, Michigan - Approximately 300 U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing participated in a readiness exercise at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center, Alpena, Mich.

The exercise, tagged as Iron Ore, was designed test the Airmen abilities to set up operations at an unfamiliar location and receive in depth training on Ability-To-Survive and Operate (ATSO) principles while supporting airlift and aeromedical flight operations.

To ensure mission success and readiness, Airmen had to complete training at home station prior to leaving for Alpena. Some of this training included weapons qualification, gas mask fit testing, Mission Oriented Protective Posture (MOPP) familiarization, self-aid and buddy care and career field training.



Red Bulls Kickoff Division Warfighter

Posted: 2018-06-13  01:38 PM
DIV WFX CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. - "A Warfighter is an exercise that allows the Division to evaluate their ability to maneuver assets in a battle," said Master Sgt. Greg Weaver, the Operations Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge for the Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. "It is designed to focus on particular areas and specific objectives to be evaluated or tested."

The Division has geared its' planning and training efforts in preparation for Warfighter since July 2017. Coordinating transportation for Soldiers and equipment was often on the mind of Maj. David Johansson, the logistics officer for the 34th ID. With the coordination of Johansson and his team, troops and equipment all converged on Camp Atterbury, enlisting the help of 89 railcars, 280 tractor-trailers, and nearly 50 buses for the movement.

"I like to say my job is to 'quiet the noise'". Johansson continued, "The noise being a real life logistical problem that could impede the exercise."



Article archive
 
top