The Army National Guard of Washington now has a base in place at Pangborn Memorial Airport.  

An official ribbon cutting was held last weekend with members of the National Guard and the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority on hand. 

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Facilities Commander Captain Taylor Payne says Pangborn provides the Guard with a prime location to support emergency and wildfire response. 

"It's a centralized asset and a base where DNR is also located, and we can have a staging ground for more of our aircraft to come from the westside to Wenatchee during the height of the fires or if there's an escalation of more acreage," said Payne. 

The Army National Guard has relocated to Pangborn from Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane, and is about 80 percent moved in. 

The unit specifically making the move is Army Aviation Support Facility #2 (AASF-2). 

Payne said a staff of 15 is now working at the Pangborn facility, which is in the Executive Flight building. About 10 more personnel will move into the facility when the air fleet move is complete. 

So far, four UH-72 Lakota helicopters have been moved in from Fairchild Air Force Base. Two more will follow in October as well as three UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters that'll be moved in from Joint Base Lewis-McChord south of Tacoma. 

The Lakota copters will support wildfire response with fire mapping, etc. as they're equipped with camera systems. The Blackhawk copters will perform medevac operations such as mountain rescues when needed.   

The Air National Guard is available when emergencies are heightened as only the governor can call it into service. 

The Pangborn base will also serve as a training operation. About 100 reservists will come to the facility every month and two weeks in the summer for training. 

Payne says the personnel stationed at Pangborn will spend much of their time keeping the helicopters operational for the visiting reservists. 

"It is an army aviation support center, so we are there to support the operability and the maintenance stance of our part time force that does training during the one weekend a month and the two weeks out of the summer," Payne said."  

The local economy is seen as a big winner with the ongoing flow of Army personnel into the area with the potential hotel and restaurant dollars. 

The Army National Guard has a 10-year lease for the Executive Flight building with an option for five more one-year terms. The Guard has a long-term plan to buy land at the airport to build its own facility. 

The Port sent out a thanks on social media to members of the public who joined in on Saturday for the Army National Guard ribbon cutting. 

Idaho Army National Guard Families Share Hugs and Kisses

Idaho Families Cheer on soon to be deploying Idaho Army National Guard Members.

Gallery Credit: Kevin Miller

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