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American Forces Press Service

Joint Basing Moves Forward at Charleston

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Bowles
Special to American Forces Press Service

CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C., Jan. 12, 2010 – The latest step toward the scheduled stand-up of Joint Base Charleston took place here Jan. 8, as 18th Air Force officials activated the 628th Air Base Wing.

The joint base stand-up will begin the next phase in an ongoing process to merge Charleston Air Force Base with Naval Weapons Station Charleston as part of the base realignment and closure process.

When the last one stands up, 12 joint bases will have been established across the Defense Department.

The activation ceremony for the 628th Air Base Wing was accompanied by the inactivation of two groups under the 437th Airlift Wing and their immediate activation as the 628th Mission Support Group and 628th Medical Group under the new wing.

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

The 437th Aerial Port Squadron was realigned under the 437th Maintenance Group, and many wing staff agencies previously assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing now will operate under the 628th Air Base Wing. The organizational structure of tenant units on Charleston Air Force Base will remain unchanged. The 437th Airlift Wing and its airlift and support units will continue their mission of airlifting troops, passengers and military equipment; flying aeromedical airlift missions; and airdropping troops, equipment and supplies.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, 18th Air Force commander, formally introduced Air Force Col. Martha Meeker as the first commander of the 628th Air Base Wing, citing the depth of her intellect, her warrior spirit and her 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," he said.

Meeker will direct host-unit duties for Charleston Air Force Base’s tenant units, and after the Jan. 31 merger, for Naval Weapons Station Charleston’s tenant units as well.

The air base wing's primary duties will be to provide base support for about 80,000 personnel, including active-duty and reserve military members, civilian government employees and contractors, military family members and retirees.

"On this day in 1790, George Washington gave the nation's first State of the Union address,” Meeker noted in her remarks at the ceremony. “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.

"When we look at his words today,” she continued, “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.”

Allardice noted the impact the Charleston military community has had dating 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."

(Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Bowles serves in the 628th Air Base Wing public affairs office.)

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