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Air Force Reserve stands up first F-22 Raptor unit

by Master Sgt. Chance Babin
Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs

10/5/2007 - ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska  -- Air Force Reserve officials activated the first F-22 Raptor unit, the 477th Fighter Group, in a ceremony here Oct. 2, giving the Reserve a valuable part of America's newest and most sophisticated weapons system. 

"This is a most wonderful day for the AFRC because we have officially stood up our first F-22 associate squadron and its group," said Lt. Gen. John A. Bradley, the AFRC commander. "I'm really proud of this day. This will be something that our command will be proud of for 50, 60, 70 years I believe." 

The day also honored the unit's fabled heritage, with the 477th FG and the 302nd Fighter Squadron both having Tuskegee Airmen lineage. Tuskegee Airmen were present to add to the momentous day. 

"It's priceless, there's no other way to put it," General Bradley said. "This is their heritage; we're standing on their shoulders. We're very proud to have their name and heritage in our 477th FG and 302nd FS."

For Col. Eric Overturf, 477th FG commander, having the unit stood up means it's time to get to work.

"Now we can go from the planning phase to the execution phase. The first thing we're going to do is start flying airplanes, start fixing airplanes and make the mission happen," Colonel Overturf said. 

One of the unit's top priorities is to continue attracting highly qualified candidates, unit officials said. 

The 477th FG currently has approximately 35 people assigned. By the end of this fiscal year that number should be 163, with incremental rises the next four years bringing the groups total to 426 by fiscal 2012. Ultimately, the group is scheduled to have 160 air Reserve technicians and 266 traditional reservists.

He is first going to focus his efforts on filling the almost 270 traditional reservists positions, Colonel Overturf said.  

For the Tuskegee Airmen on hand, having this new unit with the Air Force's newest fighter is an honor, they said.

"The highlight of this is the continuation of our legacy we started in the '40s," said retired Tuskegee Airman Lt. Col. Robert Ashby. "To have our unit flying the newest most sophisticated aircraft in the world and adopt the unit here is truly outstanding."

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