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U.S. Air Force photo/Master Sgt. Ben Mota

INDIANAPOLIS -- From the shores of the Gilbert Islands to home in Marion, Indiana, Marine Private Fred Freet’s journey took 76 years. The final stretch was aided by Marines from Grissom Air Reserve Base, Indiana.

A Marine Corps honor guard from Grissom participated in the dignified transfer of Marine Corps Pvt. Fred Freet, 18, of Marion, Indiana, at the Indianapolis International Airport April 16.

Freet was killed in action during World War II, and initially declared by the military as unrecoverable killed in action until Aug. 6, 2018, when the U.S. Navy positively identified his remains.

“From day one we teach Marines to never leave another Marine behind, so to be part of the process of returning him to his family after all these years is a huge honor,” said Capt. Pierce Virag, Detachment One, Communication Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 45, 4th Marine Logistics Group inspector instructor. “We hope that this will help bring closure to his family.

In November 1943, Freet was assigned to Company F, 2nd Battalion, 8th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Force, which landed against stiff Japanese resistance on the small island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll of the Gilbert Islands, in an attempt to secure the island. Over several days of intense fighting, approximately 1,000 Sailors and Marines were killed and more than 2,000 were wounded, but the Japanese were virtually annihilated. Freet died on the first day of the battle, Nov. 20, 1943, during the first waves of the assault.

U.S. Air Force photo / Master Sgt. Ben Mota

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. - Grissom rolled out the early morning red carpet to welcome home a special group of Reserve Citizen Airmen at the end of their long journey back home.

Three KC-135R Stratotankers and 18 Airmen from the 434th Air Refueling wing were greeted by friends, family and fellow Airmen Jan. 8, following a deployment to Southwest Asia.

“It’s always good when we can welcome our family home to Grissom,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th ARW commander. “We are grateful to have them home safely with us and their families.”

Family members were also greeted by a large group of resource providers there to help them reintegrate back into their daily lives.

“Our goal is to provide reintegration tools such as financial readiness and employment support to Airmen following their deployment,” said Stacey Pennington, Airman and Family Readiness community readiness consultant. “We also serve as a one-stop-shop for any concerns Airmen might have following their deployment.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Chris Massey

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. - Two KC-135R Stratotankers from the 434 Air Refueling Wing at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., refueled seven F/A-18 Hornets from the U.S. Navy Blue Angels aerial demonstration team Sept. 26, 2018.

The demonstration team linked up with the Hoosier Wing tankers while traveling from their home base at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla., en route to their next air show at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif.

The mission of the United States Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron is to showcase the pride and professionalism of the United States Navy and Marine Corps by inspiring a culture of excellence and service to country through flight demonstrations and community outreach.

U.S. Air Force graphic

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. - 34 Airmen from the 434th Air Refueling Wing were promoted between January and April. Their names are as follows:

To SENIOR MASTER SERGEANT:

Michael Morris, 434th CS

To MASTER SERGEANT:

David Bryant, 434th Maintenance Squadron

Stephen Heidrich, 434th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron

Timothy Lyvers, 434th Aerial Port Squadron

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Citizen Airmen from the 434th Air Refueling Wing were recognized for their service during a civilian’s call Aug. 6 here.

U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katrina Heikkinen

Grissom civilians pose with Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander, after receiving a certificate of service for completing 10 years of federal service during a civilian’s call at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Ind., Aug. 6, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Katrina Heikkinen)

U.S. Air Force photo / Senior Airman Harrison Withrow

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE, Ind. -- There’s a new top operator in town, and his name is Hollis, Colonel Brian Hollis.

Hollis assumed command of the 434th Operations Group July 15 filling the vacancy of Lt. Col. Todd Moody who retired in June.

“Colonel Hollis has extensive experience in all aspects of the air mobility mission,” said Col. Larry Shaw, 434th Air Refueling Wing commander, who presided over the ceremony.

In his position, Hollis will supervise and direct the refueling squadrons and is responsible for all KC-135R Stratotanker operational matters within the wing.

“I work for you in the ops group,” Hollis said. “I’m your advocate and I work for you.”

U.S. Air Force photo by Douglas Hays

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Lying on the hood of his father’s car at the San Jose airport in California, a young Hiram ‘Paul’ Gates stared up into the sky watching airplanes fly above and he knew he wanted to fly.

Fast forward about 40 years, Col. Hiram ‘Paul’ Gates III retired from the Air Force after 30 years of service July 1, 2018.

Holding the position of vice commander of the 434th ARW since 2015, Gates supported and directed the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command.

“Friends, squadron mates, families members – this is truly humbling,” Gates said. “I am so blessed and privileged to have worked for the people of this wing.”

Gates’ Air Force career began in 1988 when he received a commission after graduating from the Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in international relations.

He then entered pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona, and was assigned to the 905th Air Refueling Squadron, Grand Forks Air Force Base, North Dakota.

U.S. Air Force photo of Col. Anne Noel, 434th Air Refueling Wing vice commander

GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- As a child, surrounded by cornfields in the small town of Wood River, Nebraska 150 miles west of Offutt Air Force Base, Anne attended a one-room “country school” where she and her classmates’ adolescence rang strongly of patriotism.

“My earliest memory is being a young child who had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to serve others and give back to my country for just the mere fact I was fortunate enough to be born in a free country,” she said.

Three decades later, she continues to serve her country, but this time in a new role.

Col. Anne Noel assumed the position of 434th Air Refueling Wing vice commander, succeeding Col. H.P. Gates III, who retired July 14, 2018.