Mounted airframe cements wing's legacy
By Staff Sgt. Mindy Bloem, 149th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
/ Published March 09, 2016
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO - LACKLAND, Texas -- The idea to transport a retired airframe from Arizona to Texas and transform it into a newly remodeled F-16 static display began 10 years ago.
Maj. Gen. John Nichols, former 149th Fighter Wing commander, now adjutant general of the Texas National Guard, originally requested the airframe be relocated to the 149th FW in a letter dating back to 2006.
Nearly eight years later, in 2014, a newly-appointed history property custodian for the wing, Tech. Sgt. Guillermo De La Cruz, stumbled across the letter and made it his mission to follow up on that request and see it through to completion.
For De La Cruz, safeguarding the wing's legacy is important.
"As a history enthusiast, to be able to preserve the history of our unit in this manner is awesome," he said. "History is what drives our future."
The undertaking required major logistical legwork, as well as cooperation from various shop sections.
"Everyone brought something to the table to make it hap- pen," said Tech. Sgt. Adam Flood, a tactical aircraft mechanic with the 149th Maintenance Squadron. "Everybody's expertise played a role in the finished project. It came in on an 18-wheeler without any wings, and to see where it is now is just a testament to everyone involved."
De La Cruz said he appreciates the efforts of the various sections
"With the support of my supervision, we were able to accomplish this mission," he said. "Without that, it wouldn't have happened."
For Flood, it's a pride thing.
"At first, it was hard to put aside our regular duties to work on this project as an additional duty," he said. "It felt a little much, but now that it's done and up there, it feels good to know we had such a huge part in it. It's in a great location and will be a landmark for people to see the legacy of our unit for its time.
As someone with a soft spot for history, De La Cruz agrees.
"Preserving history is amazing," he said, "otherwise, things get lost in time."
De La Cruz isn't slowing down on his historical custodial duties anytime soon. He's already looking into requesting two more airframes and plans to put a time capsule into the current F-16 static on display during its dedication ceremony.
"It will promote the morale and legacy of our unit," he said referring to his idea to place a time capsule into the mounted airframe. "I wanted an interesting way to meet together and commemorate our history."