Conrad, Hoeven attend rally for Happy Hooligans
Linda Davidson of Moorhead attended a rally in support of Fargo's 119th Fighter Wing Saturday afternoon for her son. Robert Davidson, 24, has been a member of the Air National Guard since 2002 and is stationed overseas. He received his private pi...
Linda Davidson of Moorhead attended a rally in support of Fargo's 119th Fighter Wing Saturday afternoon for her son.
Robert Davidson, 24, has been a member of the Air National Guard since 2002 and is stationed overseas.
He received his private pilot's license just before leaving, she said.
"His goal is to someday be a flier," Linda Davidson said.
She hopes he can be a pilot at the Fargo Guard base.
"I pray they stay here," she said, referring to the 119th, better known as the Happy Hooligans.
The Fargo rally and similar events in Minot, N.D., on Friday and Grand Forks, N.D., Saturday morning were the latest efforts by North Dakota officials to show support for the state's air bases.
A list of recommended military base closings is expected to be released this week.
Col. Bob Becklund, commander of the 119th Fighter Wing, said there is no doubt the Guard base will be on the Base Realignment and Closure list. The Happy Hooligans fly the oldest F-16s in the country, he said.
"Our only question is, are we going to get another airplane to replace the one they'll take away?" Becklund said.
If not, the Guard unit will take on a nonflying mission.
Becklund said the unit is hoping another base will close or be realigned so the Fargo Air Guard's equipment can be updated.
Gov. John Hoeven said the Happy Hooligans need a strong and relevant mission. Part of that can be accomplished by building relations between the Air Guard and Air Force.
"That can not only strengthen the presence here in Fargo, but help Grand forks," Hoeven said.
While North Dakota will keep an air guard, Hoeven said he is concerned for Air Force bases in Minot and especially Grand Forks, which has easily moved tankers.
Hoeven, a Republican, and North Dakota's all-Democratic congressional delegation has met with defense officials several times in a united effort to keep the bases open. They also initiated an online petition drive.
Hoeven and Sen. Kent Conrad appeared at the three rallies. About 350 people attended the event in Minot, 250 in Grand Forks and 50 in Fargo.
Conrad said he is confident the Hooligans will remain in Fargo. They have the best safety record of any fighter wing in the country and repeatedly have won Air-Force wide competitions.
"This is supposed to be a performance-based round," Conrad said. "There are no better performers than the Happy Hooligans."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sherri Richards at (701) 241-5525