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Two units deactivate after 13 years

Capt. Craig Wood, 124th Aerial Port Flight commander, Idaho Air National Guard, encases the unit flag for the final time symbolizing the official deactivation of the unit. Holding the staff is Senior Master Sgt. (Ret.) Russell Heltzel, former first sergeant for the aerial port. From 1996 to 2009, the unit provided cargo and passenger support in Idaho and around the world to Air Mobility Command assets. One member of the Aerial Port Flight remains deployed in support of operations in the area of responsibility. (Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Heather Walsh)(Released)

Capt. Craig Wood, 124th Aerial Port Flight commander, Idaho Air National Guard, encases the unit flag for the final time symbolizing the official deactivation of the unit. Holding the staff is Senior Master Sgt. (Ret.) Russell Heltzel, former first sergeant for the aerial port. From 1996 to 2009, the unit provided cargo and passenger support in Idaho and around the world to Air Mobility Command assets. One member of the Aerial Port Flight remains deployed in support of operations in the area of responsibility. (Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Heather Walsh)(Released)

Lt Col William Michell, the last Commander of the 189th Airlift Squadron, encases the unit's flag for the last time symbolizing the official deactivation of the 189th. Holding the staff is Chief Master Sgt Wayne Slappey. The 189th operated C-130 Hercules transport aircraft from October 1996 until it's final flight and stand down on July 2009. (Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Heather Walsh)(Released)

Lt Col William Michell, the last Commander of the 189th Airlift Squadron, encases the unit's flag for the last time symbolizing the official deactivation of the 189th. Holding the staff is Chief Master Sgt Wayne Slappey. The 189th operated C-130 Hercules transport aircraft from October 1996 until it's final flight and stand down on July 2009. (Air Force photo by Staff Sgt Heather Walsh)(Released)

10/18/2009 - GOWEN FIELD, Boise, Idaho -- Feelings were mixed and attendees looked to the future as the inactivation ceremony of the 189th Airlift Squadron and 124th Aerial Port squadron marked a new beginning for many Oct. 18.

"It wasn't the deployments that I remember but the Christmas parties, off sites, good times and the best part is the people. Here's the good news, the people are still here," Lt. Col. Bill Michell the last 189th Airlift Squadron Commander.

After the orders were posted the unit flags were encased symbolizing the end of the units' 13 year historic mission, but not the end of good friendships and great memories.

"The fall seasons colors change, leaves fall and we see what's happening with these two fine units but we will see what happens as spring emerges. We have set ourselves up for growth," 124th Fighter Wing Commander Col. James Compton.

Both units where tasked many times with requirements far outweighing their resources. Without fail they not only met the demands, but performed exceptionally. At times the operations affected as many as half of the squadrons' personnel. Both unit commanders attest to the willingness and skills of their people that embodied the "First class or not at all" as not just a motto but a way of life.

"It isn't often you see a Chief Master Sergeant rolling down the flight line in an AT forklift but we did what it took to get things done," Capt. Craig Wood the last 124th Aerial Port Flight Commander.

"From moving snow equipment, floods, whatever it was that we asked for the people were always there," Lt. Col. Bill Michell.

The 189th Airlift Squadron was activated in September 1996. During their 13 years of operations the unit supported countless deployments all over the world in support of the U.S. Southern Command, Operation Allied Force, Operation Southern Watch, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. They also responded to winter weather disasters New Mexico and provided humanitarian support for Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The Airlift Squadron's awards include the Governor's Outstanding Unit Citation 1997, 1999, and 2005 as well as the Adjutant General Award 1998.

The 124th Aerial Port Flight was activated in May 1996 and was tasked to provide qualified personnel and serviceable equipment to move, on load and offload aircraft. The 13 years of Aerial Port operations required countless hours at night, on the weekends and holidays that totaled approximately 30,000 passengers, one million short tons of cargo processed and more than 850 aerial deliveries.

The Aerial Port unit participated in numerous deployments in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Also provided support for Presidential and Vice Presidential visits, natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Rita flood relief and employer support for the Guard and Reserve Boss Lifts.

The Aerial Port awards include the Adjutant General's Outstanding Unit Citation for 2004 and 2005.

The deactivation of these two organizations was a bittersweet event but the legacy has prepared the wing to grow into emerging new missions. Col. Compton said we would be unable to accomplish this without the beautiful facilities that have been developed on our campus.