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Joint basing at Charleston moves forward with activation of 628th ABW

by Staff Sgt. Daniel Bowles
628th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/11/2010 - CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. (AFNS) -- Eighteenth Air Force officials activated the 628th Air Base Wing during an assumption-of-command ceremony Jan. 8 at Charleston AFB.

The activation of the 628th ABW is the latest step toward the stand up of Joint Base Charleston Jan. 31.

The joint base stand up in late January will begin the next phase in an ongoing process to merge Charleston AFB with Naval Weapons Station Charleston as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Program.

A total of 12 joint bases across the Department of Defense will have been established when the last one stands up.

The activation ceremony for the 628th ABW was accompanied by the inactivation of two groups under the 437th Airlift Wing, the prior host unit, and their immediate activation as the new 628th Mission Support and 628th Medical Groups under the 628 ABW.

The 437th Airlift Wing had served as the base's host unit since 1991.

Aside from the inactivation of the two groups previously under the 437th AW, the 437th Aerial Port Squadron was realigned under the 437th Maintenance Group. Also, many wing staff agencies previously assigned to the 437th AW will now operate under the 628th ABW.

The organizational structure of other the tenant units on Charleston AFB will remain unchanged.

The leaders of the 437th AW will continue their mission to command assigned airlift and supporting units, providing for the airlift of troops and passengers, military equipment, cargo and aeromedical airlift; and to participate in operations involving the airdrop of troops, equipment and supplies when required.

As the general officer officiating the activation ceremony for the 628th ABW, Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, 18th Air Force commander, formally introduced Col. Martha Meeker, the first commander of the 628th ABW, citing the depth of her intellect, warrior spirit and capacity for leadership.

"For the complexities of this great merger that we have, pulling together the best of what the Navy has to offer and the best of what the Air Force has to offer, we in the Air Force chose one of our great leaders, Col. Martha Meeker, to come down to Charleston ... so that this great day today, she could take command of the now-established 628th ABW," he said.

As the 628th ABW commander, Colonel Meeker will direct host unit duties for the tenant units of Charleston AFB, and after Jan. 31, for Naval Weapons Station Charleston tenant units as well, as they are merged into Joint Base Charleston.

With the activation of two groups under the 628th ABW, the air base wing's primary duties will be to provide base support for approximately 80,000 personnel, including active-duty and Reserve military members, civilian government employees and contractors, military family members and retirees.

Services provided by the 628th ABW will include base support provisions, such as housing and facilities maintenance, security, childcare, public works, communications, finance, logistics, medical support, personnel, public affairs, legal, food service, contracts and recreation.

The servicing agencies under the wing will employ approximately 2,100 personnel.

In her first public address as 628th ABW commander, Colonel Meeker spoke about heritage, continued commitment and hard work.

"On this day in 1790, George Washington gave the nation's first State of the Union address. A fledging institution itself, the United States had fought hard for its freedom, and President Washington began his remarks by reaffirming his belief in the common defense that made that freedom happen. For as in his words, preparing for war is the most effectual means to preserving the peace," said Colonel Meeker.

"When we look at his words today, all our Airmen, our Sailors, our Soldiers and Marines, and everyone here who makes up Joint Team Charleston, are taking their place today in our common defense. At the center of that Joint Team Charleston, you'll find now the 628th (ABW)," she said.

General Allardice also remarked on the impact the Charleston military community has had, which dates back to the Revolutionary War, and its current role in supporting military and humanitarian operations anywhere in the world.

Joint Base Charleston, he said, will continue that impact with greater efficiency.

"Nothing happens in the world without Charleston from a military perspective," he said. "This is a national treasure here at Charleston ... I know you are focused on preserving that, on building that and on establishing more and more of this great power projection platform that you represent here at Charleston."

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