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"Spirit of the Kanawha Valley" unveiled at 130th Airlift Wing

June 9, 2017 (by Capt. Holli Nelson) - The 130th Airlift Wing paid tribute today to the supportive community in the Kanawha Valley of West Virginia by unveiling the newly christened "Spirit of the Kanawha Valley" C-130H at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base.

Col. Johnny Ryan, 130th AW commander, addresses the crowd during the “Spirit of the Kanawha Valley” aircraft naming ceremony held June 9, 2017 at McLaughlin ANGB, Charleston. #95-6710 is the first of four aircraft to be named that will honor significant historical figures of the West Virginia ANG and West Virginia communities. [ANG photo by TSgt. De-Juan Haley]

Col. Johnny Ryan, commander of the 130th AW, oversaw the plane naming ceremony held on the flight line overlooking the fleet of C-130s. Maj. Gen. James A. Hoyer, the Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard; Kent Carper, Kanawha County Commissioner president; Chief Master Sgt. of the West Virginia National Guard, James Dixon; and 130th Airlift Wing Command Chief Master Sgt., Kevin Cecil, were among the official party for the ceremony.

Tail number 6710, an aircraft that has been in service for more than 22 years, was dubbed the "Spirit of the Kanawha Valley" as a reminder of the important link between the Air National Guard and the communities in which they serve.

Hoyer underscored the significance of that link in his speech to the crowd, noting that it served as the foundation of the state militia, which later became the National Guard, and is integral part of our unique mission serving our communities and state.

Ryan emphasized the important role that the citizens surrounding the 130th Airlift Wing play in his remarks.

"The people of the Kanawha Valley represent the spirit of tenacity, hard work, and resiliency. This small acknowledgement will be a daily reminder to our crews of the importance of the work they do and the unwavering support they receive while doing it," Ryan said. "The ‘Spirit of the Kanawha Valley' is meant to remind our unit members and the people of the community that we are all connected. We have a proud heritage of service that predates even the Air Force here at McLaughlin Air National Guard Base, and this community has helped us to keep it alive. They have shown continuous support throughout our storied 70-year history and continue to back the men and women of this outstanding organization as we take on missions throughout the world."

The plane naming ceremony came to be because of a recommendation from the 130th Airlift Wing's Chiefs Council, who sought a way to build morale through heritage and tradition.

Chief Master Sgt. Larry Daugherty, 130th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Superintendent, explained, "We chose a name in an effort to tie our unit to the communities in which we live, in which we work, and in which we raise our families. We feel that it represents the way we work as a team and it's an opportunity to give back to the community who supported us and also, it's our way of showing we appreciated the support that the Kanawha Valley gives us, which allows us to do our jobs."

The "Spirit of the Kanawha Valley" is the first of four C-130Hs to be named from the 130th AW's inventory of aircraft. Other names will include the "Spirit of Charleston," "The General Mac," in honor of founder of the West Virginia Air National Guard, Gen. James Kemp McLaughlin, and "The Spirit of West Virginia."

Unveilings and dedications of those aircraft will be held at a later date.

Not since the late 1980s have aircraft from the 130th AW displayed names of cities or been dedicated to specific regions of the state.

Courtesy of 130th Airlift Wing Air National Guard

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TSgt. Bryan Swift and TSgt. Juston Ocheltree, maintainers with the 130th AW, apply the "Spirit of the Kanawha Valley" decal to C-130H #95-6710 on April 25, 2017, at McLaughlin ANGB, Charleston. Decals and stickers are reapplied to an aircraft after it has been refurbished and painted. The unit dedicated this aircraft to the community surrounding Charleston in honor of their continued support to the 130th AW. [ANG photo by TSgt. De-Juan Haley]