The last three F-15 jets left Great Falls on Thursday (October 24) around 10:30 a.m. It was a historical moment in the history of Montana Air National Guard as jets have been assigned there since 1947. I watched the F-15s give us one more show as they flew in formation over their former home. Then they accelerated and, as if to say goodbye, they rattled my windows and dishes in the cabinet one more time – which brought a smile to my face.
The jets then disappeared over the horizon heading for a very warm welcome in California.
Their departure was a decisive win for Fresno, California, (where they were headed) and a devastating loss for Great Falls and the state of Montana.
Looking down the yellow brick road of promises, Montana is promised a few C-130 cargo planes. Maybe in the spring of 2014. Maybe not. It does not matter; you can’t duplicate the sound of freedom with a cargo plane.
Montana did not need to lose its fighter mission.
The only thing that delayed their departure was the government shutdown, but I was hoping that an elected official or someone would step up and fight for them. It did not happen. Frankly, it was an embarrassing time for Montana’s elected officials. They should be ashamed they let the Department of Defense (DoD) get away with it. No matter how much they proclaim they fought to keep the jets, it was not enough. No matter how much they proclaim the cargo planes are great for Montana, they aren’t.
It was on the watch of Senators Baucus and Tester, Representative Daines, and Governor Bullock that Montana lost the jets – a mission that Montana had in one form or another for over 60 years.