A-10 fighter jets leave Barksdale Air Force Base - KNOE 8 News; KNOE-TV; KNOE.com |

A-10 fighter jets leave Barksdale Air Force Base

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BARKSDALE AFB, LA (KSLA/KNOE) - The first wave of A-10 fighter jets have departed Barksdale Air Force Base for the last time.

The 917th Fighter Group at Barksdale began transferring its A-10 Thunderbolt II jets to other units on Monday morning, the result of an Air Force recommendation to transfer all of the aircraft from Barksdale by the end of fiscal year 2013 (September).

The first three of 24 total A-10s left at 9:30 a.m., one headed for the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. The other two will go to the 355th Fighter Wing, also located at Davis-Monthan.

Major Maury Kent is a fighter pilot at Barksdale.

"I'll keep it together... I'm a fighter pilot... Ha.", Major Kent said.

Not only are these the final days to see these monster fighter planes in the skies over bossier city, "it's my last flight at Barksdale.", adds Major Kent.

So, for his curtain call, one more time behind the controls... One more training mission here... And one more warm embrace by his son... And his wife Cheryl.

After the flight, reaction... "how does it feel? awesome... It was a great sortie."

He's seen many of them, flying air cover for ground forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it all started 12 short years ago... Right here. How time flies.

"It's all happening quickly... But we're doing the best we can."

Major Kent actually expected to retire with the 47th here at Barksdale, but the Air Force had different plans. It's time to think about the future, but before that, time for a customary celebration.

For a pilot's last flight. Congratulations for a job well done... And the beginning of the end here... Not only for him... But the unit he proudly served.

"it's a good squadron... It's good that it's moving to Davis-Monthan... I hope to fly with them again."

Major Kent and his family will not transfer with the 47th in Arizona. He is off to a new job in Florida where he should be able to get some flight time there. As for his colleagues, they will take turns flying all of the rest of the A-10's to their new home in Arizona.

A total of 24 aircraft will transfer to AMARG. Five are headed to the 442nd Fighter Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, and 17 will transfer to the 355th at Davis-Monthan.

The 917th and the 47th fighter Squadron at Barksdale will be deactivated. A deactivation date has not been set, but it is expected to occur sometime during the last three months of this year, according to the unit.

"The 917th Fighter Group proudly served our nation at Barksdale and deployed locations for over 50 years. It has been an honor to be a part of Team Barksdale and the local community," said Col. John Breazeale, commander of the 917th.

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