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Wolfowitz Thanks Guardsmen for Their Service
American Forces Press Service
July 31, 2002

ANDREWS AIR FORCE BASE, Md., July 31, 2002 -- Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz visited with and thanked the members of the 113th Fighter Squadron here for their service in protecting the nation's capital since Sept. 11.

The squadron is part of the District of Columbia Air National Guard. Minutes after the hijacked jet struck the Pentagon on Sept. 11, the squadron had planes in the air looking for a second jetliner that ultimately crashed in Pennsylvania.

"I've been meaning for some time to come out and see what these guys are doing and express our appreciation," Wolfowitz said. "It's an incredibly important job, and it's incredibly demanding."

From Sept. 11 to Sept 22, 2001, the squadron flew 128 F-16C sorties, logging in almost 400 hours. "That's two months worth of flying in two weeks," said Air Force Lt. Col. Rudy Kenzel, squadron maintenance officer.

Col. Mike Redman, 113th Air National Guard Wing vice commander at Andrews, told Wolfowitz that the spirit and morale of the Guardsmen was high. He said that before the end of Sept. 11, more than 80 percent of the Guardsmen were on duty without having to be called.

Wolfowitz said the squadron's mission has true strategic importance, "because there is no question that Washington, D.C., is the No. 1 target for the terrorists." He toured a squadron hangar, ready rooms and the flight line. He met with pilots, weaponeers and maintenance personnel and thanked them for their service.

"Some of these guys were called "Weekend Warriors" before Sept. 11, and they are doing a fantastic job," he said.


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