Closing the books on the Patriot: Looking back at 44 years
By Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe, 439th Airlift Wing
/ Published January 02, 2019
WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. -- As we surge further into this 21st century with all its high technology surrounding our society, it’s time for the Patriot to take its last exit off the information superhighway. After 44 years, the award-winning newsletter’s end is marked with this commemorative edition.
Those years include a remarkable chain of events highlighting Westover’s reserve era (at 44 years and counting, the longest of any Air Force command’s tenure here).
Here’s a look back at some of those events:
-- The Patriot got its start shortly after Westover became the nation’s first stand-alone Air Force Reserve base in the spring of 1974, when ownership changed to the reserve from the Strategic Air Command. The first Patriot newsletter, printed in November, is featured on page 4. It took the place of SAC’s weekly Yankee Flyer newspaper. Betty O’Connell became one of the firstfull-time civilian public affairs officers at Westover. A staff of traditional reservists, including Tech. Sgt. Larry Lentz, handled office operations on the unit training assembly weekends. Lentz was the Patriot’s first editor.
-- In the summer of 1981, a massive Air Force Reserve mobility exercise, dubbed Condor Redoubt, was held at the base. Additional photographers and staff writers augmented the Patriot staff to cover the exercise.
-- The first C-5A Galaxy to be assigned to Westover arrived in October 1987, signaling the first major change to Westover’s landscape since SAC departed in 1974. Old SAC hangars were demolished on the ramp to make room for the giant aircraft. A huge new hangar rose next to the DC Hangar. Public affairs was on hand to capture the arrival of what was then the world’s largest aircraft. By 1988, the 439th Military Airlift Wing was flying 16 C-5s.
--The Patriot evolved into a bi-weekly Patriot Express newsletter from February to July 2003, during an Air Force-wide C-5 surge. The Air Force designated Westover as the C-5 maintenance hub for all missions going to and from Europe in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. More than 2,000 C-5 flights took place at Westover throughout those five months.
--Between 2016 and 2018, the PA staff highlighted the C-5 conversion. Budget cuts in 2014 reduced the fleet from 16 to eight aircraft, and maintenance and operations Airmen handled aircraft swapouts to keep the mission airborne, flying legacy A-model loaners while awaiting the eighth C-5M Super Galaxy. The final M-model to be converted from a C-5B arrived at Westover Sept. 20, 2018, with Maj. Gen. Randall Ogden, 4th Air Force commander, at the controls with the crew.
--Throughout its decades of publication, more than 480 editions of the Patriot arrived in mailboxes and offices across the base. The newsletter garnered respect throughout the Air Force for its distinct writing, layout and photography.
The public affairs staff has compiled decades of these newsletters into an electronic archive available through the base web site. Please visit www.westover. afrc.af.mil/News/The- Patriot/
EDITOR”S NOTE: Biscoe began his tenure at the base as the wing historian in September 2001. He joined the PA office in December 2001 as an air reserve technician, and since that time assumed several roles to include staff writer, photographer, and editor of the Patriot, noncommissioned officer in charge, superintendent, and acting chief. Biscoe is headed to his new assignment in January as MAJCOM functional manager, Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.