Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, left, listens to Gen. David L. Goldfein, right, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force speak during a news briefing at the Pentagon in this AP file photo. Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais | AP

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, took the opportunity to advocate for the Maine Air National Guard’s 101st Air Refueling Wing, based in Bangor, when facing top U.S. Air Force officials Thursday.

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Gen. David Goldfein, Air Force Chief of Staff, appeared before Collins’ Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee hearing Thursday.

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“The 101st Air Refueling Wing in Bangor has long been a workhorse unit for the Air Force, typically supporting more than 1,000 transient aircrafts annually and deploying personnel at a very high rate worldwide,” Collins told the two Air Force leaders. “What are we doing to make sure that a workhorse unit like this refueling wing has the resources it needs at a time when it’s still deploying individuals at a great rate?”

Wilson said a recent Air Force study found that in order for the service to implement its part of the National Defense Strategy, “one of the biggest areas of unmet need, particularly by the time we get to the 2025-2030 timeframe, is in tankers.”

[Bangor-based National Guard battalion tapped for deployment]

“I’ll tell you that having been pulled out of a lot of really bad places by some courageous tanker crews, many of which I’m sure are at Bangor, I wouldn’t be sitting here had it not been for the courage of those crews,” said Goldfein.

Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.