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Selfridge Moves Into 2nd Century

SELFRIDGE ANGB, Mich. -- Selfridge Moves Into 2nd Century
By Tech. Sgt. Dan Heaton

The next 100 years starts now.

After celebrating the first century of military service at Selfridge Air National Guard Base with a hugely successful Open House and Air Show, the Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and other state and federal personnel at the base have set their sights on launching a new era at the base.

First on the list of priorities for what comes next at Selfridge is the return of more than 300 Citizen-Airmen to the base who have been deployed to the Middle East for much of 2017. Those returns are scheduled for the fall season.

The base marked its centennial this summer, hosting an Open House and Air Show, Aug. 19-20. The open house also included a special family day on Aug. 18, during which many Selfridge-based units held reunions; and it's estimated that the three-day event drew well over 200,000 visitors to the base. Coupled with boaters watching the air show from Lake St. Clair, numerous backyard viewing parties around the base and thousands more who watched the air show on a live streaming internet feed and it is believed that some half a million people or more helped mark the 100th anniversary of the base.

"This was truly a celebration of service at Selfridge," said Brig. Gen. John D. "Odie" Slocum, the base commander. "It was great to see so many of our veterans and community partners here as a part of the event - and we conducted an enlistment ceremony to welcome in our next generation of Airmen. That, coupled with a fantastic flying display, really made this a true celebration of not just where we have been, but where we are going."

In addition to preparing for the homecoming of its deployed members, the 127th Wing is waiting on word from the Pentagon on decisions on future basing assignments for the F-35 Lightning II, the newest fighter aircraft in the Air Force inventory. Selfridge is on the short-list for a possible assignment of the F-35. A decision on the basing for the aircraft is expected late this year.

"I am awestruck at the magnitude of patriotism, pride, and unity displayed at the Selfridge Centennial Airshow," said Col. David Brooks, 127th Wing Vice Commander. "As an American Airmen, I take great pride in having serving my State and Nation here at Selfridge Field for the past 17 years. We here at Selfridge truly follow in the footsteps of America's greatest; and daily, the 127th Wing's exemplary service demonstrates our deservedness to contribute to this great legacy. I especially remember several 127th Airmen who are deployed and were unable to participate directly in our celebration; truly, these are America's heroes. These Men and Women are carrying on in the Selfridge heritage that stands for all the best our nation can offer."

At the air show, a flying demonstration by an F-35 was among the star attractions. The F-35 came near the end of the flying portion of the open house, as the crowd witnessed a chronological display of military aircraft. The day opened with three flying World War I aircraft and then traveled through the different era of flight. Among the highlights was a red-tailed P-51 Mustang, flown in honor of the Tuskegee Airmen who trained at Selfridge during World War II.

On the ground, visitors were able to visit displays of a wide range of military vehicles, as well as a special display from the Michigan State Police, which is also celebrating its centennial this year.

"None of this would been possible without our volunteers," said Lt. Col. Brian Davis, an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot at the base who served as the air show director. "From the Base Community Council, who was in the lead from day one, to all of our partner organizations, our local veterans - it was a true team effort."

Selfridge Air National Guard Base opened on July 1, 1917, created as a training facility for pilots and aerial gunners in World War I. The base became a permanent facility in 1922 and has been used as a military air field continuously since opening. The base has always had at least one squadron of fighter aircraft assigned, as well as a variety of other
aircraft at various times. The base was turned over to the Michigan Air National Guard in 1971 and today is home to units of all five branches of the U.S. Armed Forces, as well as several entities from the Dept. of Homeland Security and other federal organizations.

When initially opened, the base was operated by the U.S. Army's Air Service - 30 years before the Air Force was created as a separate service. The Army has been present at Selfridge essentially ever since. The Army currently flies CH-47 Chinook helicopters at Selfridge and has a large presence of personnel from the Army's TACOM facility, working in research and development and logistics operations.

U.S. Navy operations at Selfridge initially began with a single aircraft assigned in the mid-1920s. The Navy was at Selfridge for about a year in the 1920s and then left the base, not to return until 1969, when several Navy Reserve units were stood up. Today, the base is home to Naval Operational Support Center-Detroit and the Navy-led Joint Reserve Intelligence Center-Detroit.

The Marine Corps also arrived at Selfridge in the late 1960s, with several flying units. Today's Marine presence at the base is centered in two units, the 1st/24th Marines, an infantry unit, and the 471st, an air wing support company.

The Coast Guard has operated Air Station Detroit at the base since 1967. Its rescue helicopters have long been a welcome site to mariners in distress on the Great Lakes.

Other major units include the U.S. Border Patrol's Detroit Sector headquarters and Custom and Border Protection's Great Lakes Air & Marine Wing.