The United States Air Force has bravely fought to protect freedom, liberty and peace on every continent. As co-chair of the Senate Air Force Caucus and the son of a retired Air Force Master Sergeant, I have personally witnessed the service and sacrifice of those individuals, past and present, comprising this distinguished branch of our Armed Forces. That’s why I’m proud to recognize the 75th anniversary of the Air Force and provide ongoing support to the needs of our Airmen.
Our Airmen deliver the best airpower the world has ever known, defending our nation and interests in all corners of the globe, and I’ve joined with state leaders and the congressional delegation to preserve our history and advance Arkansas’s role in ensuring our exceptional air superiority continues.
We can be proud of the accomplishments of the men and women who served at Eaker Air Force Base in Blytheville supporting U.S. military efforts from World War II through Desert Storm, and we’re working to commemorate their contributions by designating it as the National Cold War Center.
A few weeks ago, I met a new resident of Arkansas who moved to the state because her husband is a C-130 pilot stationed at Little Rock Air Force Base. The community at LRAFB is made up of people from around the country dedicated to serving their country because every C-130J Super Hercules pilot and crewmember receives their training here.
Since 1971, central Arkansas has been “The Home of Herk Nation.” Thanks to local, state and federal efforts to strengthen and advance that mission, it will remain so for years to come.
We have an obligation to ensure our facilities meet the needs of the families and men and women called to serve. As lead Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, I’ve worked to secure funding for improving base dormitories so Airmen have a safe, reliable and affordable place to call home.
Last year, we joined Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force JoAnne Bass to discuss updates to improve the quality of life for those in uniform. That visit underscored the necessity of additional support in the area of childcare.
Investing in accommodations and childcare for military families is part of our commitment to servicemembers. I’m proud to champion a new child development center at LRAFB to meet these families’ needs.
Additionally, Arkansas is poised to expand its role in our national defense with the selection of Fort Smith’s Ebbing Air National Guard Base as the Air Force’s preferred location for F-35 fighter planes and a Republic of Singapore F-16 squadron as part of the Foreign Military Sales program.
This will tremendously benefit the local and state economy and it’s good for the entire country. The Fort Smith community has welcomed the leaders of Singapore to share the opportunities available for its military members and the congressional delegation has met with the Singapore Ambassador to reaffirm our commitment to working together.
The connection between the Air Force and The Natural State is sturdy and deep. As we celebrate the service’s 75th anniversary and recognize the Airmen and their families who support its mission, we pay tribute to their dedication to continuing a proud legacy of honor and valor.