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Mahoning Valley welcomes 22nd Air Force commander

Air Force Reserve 22nd Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris (second from left); Col. James Dignan, 910th Airlift Wing commander (left) and Ms. Abigail Beniston, City of Youngstown Code Enforcement & Blight Remediation Superintendent (center) listen as Master Sgt. Brian Phillips (right), a structural craftsman assigned to the 910th Civil Engineer Squadron, explains a recent joint blight remediation project during a community welcome luncheon held at Squaw Creek Country Club here, Dec. 4, 2015. Harris was welcomed to the Mahoning Valley by a group of approximately 50 civic leaders as part of her visit to nearby Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS), Ohio where she had the opportunity to get an up close look at the 910th’s mission capabilities and the roles that more than 1800 personnel assigned to YARS have in national defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.)

Air Force Reserve 22nd Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris (second from left); Col. James Dignan, 910th Airlift Wing commander (left) and Ms. Abigail Beniston, City of Youngstown Code Enforcement & Blight Remediation Superintendent (center) listen as Master Sgt. Brian Phillips (right), a structural craftsman assigned to the 910th Civil Engineer Squadron, explains a recent joint blight remediation project during a community welcome luncheon held at Squaw Creek Country Club here, Dec. 4, 2015. Harris was welcomed to the Mahoning Valley by a group of approximately 50 civic leaders as part of her visit to nearby Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS), Ohio where she had the opportunity to get an up close look at the 910th’s mission capabilities and the roles that more than 1800 personnel assigned to YARS have in national defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.)

Air Force Reserve 22nd Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris (right) and Col. James Dignan, 910th Airlift Wing commander, stand with members of the Ohio State House of Representatives Mahoning Valley delegation during a Community Welcome Luncheon held at Squaw Creek Country Club here, Dec. 4, 2015. The state legislators, including 63rd District Representative Sean O’ Brien (left), 32nd District Senator Capri Cafaro (front), 59th District Representative John Boccieri (rear) and 64th District Representative Michael O’Brien (center) presented Harris with an state of Ohio pennant and an accompanying certificate as part of the festivities welcoming the general to the Mahoning Valley during her visit to nearby Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS), Ohio. Harris visited YARS to get an up close look at the 910th’s mission capabilities including the Department of Defense’s only large-area, fixed wing aerial spray mission and the roles more than 1800 personnel assigned to YARS have in national defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.)

Air Force Reserve 22nd Air Force commander Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris (right) and Col. James Dignan, 910th Airlift Wing commander, stand with members of the Ohio State House of Representatives Mahoning Valley delegation during a Community Welcome Luncheon held at Squaw Creek Country Club here, Dec. 4, 2015. The state legislators, including 63rd District Representative Sean O’ Brien (left), 32nd District Senator Capri Cafaro (front), 59th District Representative John Boccieri (rear) and 64th District Representative Michael O’Brien (center) presented Harris with an state of Ohio pennant and an accompanying certificate as part of the festivities welcoming the general to the Mahoning Valley during her visit to nearby Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS), Ohio. Harris visited YARS to get an up close look at the 910th’s mission capabilities including the Department of Defense’s only large-area, fixed wing aerial spray mission and the roles more than 1800 personnel assigned to YARS have in national defense. (U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Bob Barko Jr.)

YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, OHIO --

Mahoning Valley civic leaders rolled out the red carpet for 22nd Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Stayce Harris at a community welcome luncheon held at Squaw Creek Country Club here, Dec. 4, 2015.

Harris briefly visited nearby Youngstown Air Reserve Station, affectionately known as YARS to those assigned there and the local community, in August 2015 to observe the 910th Airlift Wing’s inaugural multi-unit C-130 Round-Up. At that time, she planned to come back to the installation for the wing’s December Unit Training Assembly. On this return trip she was able to stay longer, and this time the local community was ready to welcome the 22nd Air Force commander in style.

Approximately 50 civic leaders including local business magnates, leaders of the Valley’s two state colleges and a group of local and state legislators gathered for the event, hosted by Ron Klingle and presented by Avalon Golf and Country Club in cooperation with the Youngstown Air Reserve Base Community Council.

Ohio State District 63 Representative Sean O’Brien spoke on behalf of the Mahoning Valley delegation as they presented the general with a state of Ohio pennant that had been flown over the statehouse in Columbus.

“We wanted to take this opportunity to welcome you to the Mahoning Valley and thank you for the great work the 910th Airlift Wing, 22nd Air Force and the Air Force Reserve do here for us,” O’Brien said. “They are so important to our community in Northeast Ohio, to many people and places around the country and to our National Defense.”

Harris noted she routinely visits the nine Air Force Reserve wings under her command, which include 15,000 Reservists and 105 aircraft. During this particular visit, she shared a message with local civic leaders and the community at large through a valley media outlet about the 910th Airlift Wing’s future.

“The station’s future is intact and number one,” Harris said. “It’s because of the community support. It’s due to people being vocal and saying what they contribute and also because of the very unique spray mission that is here. That exists solely in the Reserve, supporting FEMA and just doing great work across our nation.”

The 22nd Air Force commander was referring to the 910th Airlift Wing’s role as home to the Department of Defense’s only large-area, fixed wing aerial spray capability. She also said she has flown the C-130, the tactical cargo transport aircraft assigned to YARS. She calls it a workhorse aircraft for the Air Force, since it can carry troops and cargo and be quickly converted to carry out many different missions including the 910th’s aerial spray mission.

Harris also said she was impressed by the relationship shared between the 910th and its neighbors “outside the fence.”

“The Youngstown Air Reserve Station is so phenomenal,” said Harris. “You’re looking at the private-public partnership. You’re looking at the community supporting our Reservists when they deploy and assisting their families every single day. We’re so pleased to be a part of this community and look forward to it for many years to come.”