What's Ahead for 186th?

By: Aisha Greer
By: Aisha Greer

The future of bases all over the country is up in the air. The 186th Air Refueling Wing of the Mississippi National Guard currently has 1,100 employees and a $41.3 million annual payroll. But under BRAC recommendations, it could lose its KC-135 tankers and 175 jobs.

"There are a lot of innings left in this ball game, but the mission support group can support us, regardless of what mission we do have," said 186th commander, Col. Erik Hearon.

Hearon says the only way the numbers and the proposed relocation of the tankers makes sense is for there to be a follow up mission.

"Our leadership says they are going to strive to keep the tankers. If that is unsuccessful, we would look at other missions, which could include another plane or some unmanned aircraft," Hearon said.

The history of the current base, which was established in September 1939 has over time evolved into its current air refueling mission. The concept was pioneered here in 1935 by brothers Al and Fred Key of Meridian.

The Base Realignment and Closure process is far from over and will last well into September.


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