Tigard becomes 15th city to receive aerial distinction

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Oregon Air National Guard Lt. Col. Christopher Barber, and Col. Matthew Schuster describe the instruments inside the F-15 Eagle to Tigard Mayor John L. Cook last week. An emblem bearing the citys name was christened on one of the 142nd Fighter Wings jets May 16.     For one weekend every summer, hot air balloons take to the skies over Tigard. But now, thanks to the Oregon Air National Guard, those balloons will be flying every day.

On May 16, the Oregon Air National Guard named Tigard a “City of Honor,” bestowing an insignia of the city, accompanied by its signature balloons, onto the nose of one of its F-15 Eagle fighter jets.

Tigard Mayor John L. Cook and members of the City Council unveiled the nose art, becoming the 15th city in the Portland area to receive the distinction from the 142nd Fighter Wing.

“We want to make sure we are saying thank you to our communities,” said Master Sgt. Shelly Davison, the Oregon Air National Guard’s public affairs manager. “Our folks have worked out here for years and live in the local communities. This is a way to say thank you for all the support that we get every day.”

First designed in 2007, the logos reflect the various communities where National Guard members live, Davison said.

The wing is comprised of more than 1,000 officers and airmen, Davison said, 15 of whom live in Tigard.

“There are, obviously, a lot of other cities that we would hope to get on this list as well,” Davison said. “This is a program that is just going to grow.”

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Left to right, Oregon Air National Guard Lt. Col. Christopher Barber, Michael Lueck, Tigard Mayor John L. Cook, City Councilor Marland Henderson and Col. Matthew Schuster, during a ceremony at the Portland Air National Guard Base last weekNose art on fighter planes is far from a new phenomenon, Davison said. The tradition goes back decades as a way to boost morale among pilots and the crew.

“It means a lot to the folks that work out here — we live in those communities,” she said. “It shows a pride in their hometown.”

Davison, who graduated from Tigard High School in 1988, said the nose art means something special to her, and everyone else that sees the city’s name flying high above the state.

“It’s pretty cool to see the logo of your hometown on a jet every day,” she said.

On 24-hour alert as part of the North American Air Defense system, the 142nd Fighter Wing is charged with guarding U.S. airspace along Oregon and Washington, and supports Air Force defense missions and state and local contingencies as they arise.

Each of the wing’s fighter jets weighs in at more than 2,000 pounds and is able to fly more than 1,800 miles per hour.

“We’re ready at any time, should we be needed to help on the whole Pacific side (of the country),” Davison said.

In recent years, the wing has provided humanitarian aid in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and flooding in Vernonia in 2007.

The wing played important roles in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, deploying medical personnel and security forces personnel.

Portland, Beaverton, Lake Oswego and Hillsboro already have insignias on the wing’s aircrafts, as well as Albany, West Linn, Salem, Pendleton, Hood River, Gresham, Corvallis, Astoria, and Battle Ground and Vancouver, Wash.

Plans are to add Bend, McMinville, Woodburn, Wilsonville, Newberg and Tillamook over the next year-and-a-half, Davison said.

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