In a recent tour of Luke Air Force Base, I had the honor to view the F-16 flight line, stand on the cat walk of the air traffic control tower, walk in a bomb suit used for explosives training, and, most importantly, talk with and witness great men and women who love our country so much that they are willing to sacrifice themselves to keep it safe.
In a tour led by 944th Fighter Wing Commander Colonel Jose “Hoser” Monteagudo, I learned the value of the Air Force Reserves and how important they are to our local community and to our nation. The Air Force Reserves is composed of men and women who work right here in the valley in a variety of jobs, train for military operations at Luke, and often volunteer to deploy overseas. If they deploy overseas, their employers, by law, must hire them back.
Many people know that Luke AFB is in the running to train new F-35 fighter plane pilots. The environmental impact studies should be released for public comment sometime in September.
But most people, including myself, did not know that the 944th Fighter Wing Air Force Reserves has the facilities to house the F-16 mission alongside the F-35 mission. It is believed that the F-16s will still be used for another 10 years, so this could be a huge benefit to our state.
In another wonderful development, local volunteers Jerry Iannacci from Glendale, Al Morton from Sun City, and VFW, American Legion, Blue and Gold Star Mothers, and corporate volunteers are helping veterans with everything from finding a job to providing transportation to the Surprise and Peoria Veteran Affairs Clinics. Operation American Patriot, under the guidance of volunteer CEO Jerry Iannacci, is headquartered at the Banner Olive Branch Senior Center located at 11250 N. 107th Avenue in Sun City. Veterans and their families can call 24/7 at 623-374-2332 or the emergency number 1-877-749-2332. Advocates are in the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Appointments are recommended.
I want to personally thank Colonel Monteagudo, Msgt James McPhetres, the men and women from the 944th Fighter Wing, the businesses that employ our Reserve members, and the volunteers of Operation American Patriot for the dedicated work you do for our community and for our nation.
As we approach the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attack, please join me in asking God to continue to bless and protect our great nation.