St. Louis Public Radio News
9:31 am
Mon June 15, 2009

Last two F-15's leave Lambert

St. Louis, MO – For the first time in 86 years, there are no fighter planes stationed at Lambert Airport, St. Louis.

The last two remaining Missouri Air National Guard f-15's left for Hawaii yesterday.

The 131st Fighter Wing's 16 fighters have been split between guard units in Hawaii and Montana.

About 600 service members working at Lambert are being redeployed to Whiteman Air Force Base outside of Sedalia, where they will be retrained to fly and maintain B-2 stealth bombers.

Master Sergeant Gerry Jones says the move marks the end of an era for St. Louis.

"You know, I see my boss here and a lot of guys that I've worked with for the last 15 years that are retired, they're somewhat forced to retire, so that we can start this new mission. It is a sad here in this state," said Jones.

The guard unit was formed in 1923 1923 and includes the likes of Charles Lindbergh among its former members.

Of the 30 or so pilots in the unit about 20 will be retiring. Colonel Brian Kamp says losing the F-15 is a tough blow to take.

"Our squadron is the most experienced F-15 squadron in the world," said Kamp.

"Basically we took a pro team here, and we're giving the jets to a high-school level team unfortunately and that's the bittersweet part of it."

About 400 members of the unit will remain in St. Louis serving mission support functions, the rest, close to 600, will be transferred to Whiteman Air Force Base in Sedalia, where they will fly and maintain B-2 bombers.