Weekly Column

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Each year on Veterans Day, we honor the men and women who have served our country in the military. This day puts our political differences into perspective, because although the issues of the day can sometimes seem all-consuming, few among us know what it means to make the kind of sacrifices our veterans have.

We celebrate Veterans Day on November 11th each year because November 11, 1918, was the last day of World War I. The following year, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11 Armistice Day, and the United States has set aside the eleventh day of the eleventh month to honor our veterans ever since.

Veterans Day is an important reminder of all that our nation’s veterans and active-duty service members have done for us, but these brave men and women put their country’s needs before their own every day, not just once a year. 

In that spirit, I’d like to tell you this week about one of the military units that calls Nebraska home.

The 155th Air Refueling Wing is based in Lincoln, but their mission takes them all around the world. Their primary job is exactly what their name suggests: They support our military by refueling aircraft mid-flight, allowing pilots to remain in the air longer and helping them to be more effective in their missions.

While air refueling missions are their primary responsibility, the 155th plays an important role in other areas as well. This past year, they have helped make sure medical aircraft are able to safely transport COVID-19 patients, they’ve been recognized by the FBI for their exceptional research into the best ways to neutralize IEDs, and they have organized hospital flyovers to say thank you to Nebraska’s medical personnel.

As the second oldest Air National Guard unit in the country, the 155th has a long history, and they have deep roots in Nebraska. Its predecessor unit, the 401st Fighter Squadron, was based in England during World War II, and they were reassigned to Lincoln just a year after the war ended.

In the nearly 75 years since then, the 155th has earned its nickname of the “Hustlin’ Huskers.” In addition to supporting Air Force operations on four continents, they have also deployed to assist with disaster recovery efforts all across our state, including during Operation Bush Hog, when an early snowstorm left nearly a million Nebraskans without power in 1997.

The 155th has recently made history in other ways as well. Lt. Col. Katy Millwood was named the first female commander of the 155th Operations Group on October 17, a position she assumed from Col. John Williams.

At the change of command ceremony, overall wing commander Col. Robert Hargens spoke about how qualified Lt. Col. Millwood is for this role and commended her for two decades of dedicated service to the Air Force and the Air National Guard. “She consistently leads by example and epitomizes the Air Force core values in all she does,” Col. Hargens said.

That is all we can ask of our service members and our veterans.

Our veterans and active-duty heroes like Katy and the rest of the 155th deserve our thanks every day. I encourage you to thank a veteran for their service to our nation every chance you get.

Thank you for participating in the democratic process. I look forward to visiting with you again next week.