O’Hare Airport wanted the space, BRAC was consolidating military bases, so Scott Air Force Base got the win: The 126th Air Refueling Wing moved here.
The flying gas stations of the wing have been here since 1999. They provide the base with a flying mission, without which it might be much easier to pack up and move the rest of the base’s commands and functions elsewhere.
But beyond that value, the wing provides an important service and at a very high standard. It was recently honored for the eighth time with the U.S. Air Force Outstanding Unit Award covering its operations from December 2014 through December 2016.
During that time, the wing kept the KC-135R Stratotanker mission capability rating at 82 percent — the highest in the Air Force, Guard and Reserve. They flew 2,800 sorties, 3,000 refuelings of 31 million pounds of fuel over 13,600 flying hours.
That is quite an accomplishment for the 1,000 active duty and Air National Guard members of the wing.
The wing will soon mark a bittersweet milestone. The wing’s commander, Col. Peter Nezamis, is leaving.
Nezamis has been at Scott since the wing moved here in 1999, which is very different from the perspective of civilians used to base personnel moving on every few years. He’s getting a new role at the state headquarters.
He is the son of a World War II U.S. Army Air Corps veteran, and two of his sons are in the Air Force. His promotion continues that family tradition of service.
So here’s a note of appreciation for the wing and its commander, hoping one is here for good and the other enjoys happy trails and a full tank.