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183rd Air Operations Group activates - mission well under way

Members of the 183rd Air Operations Group salutes during activation ceremony Jan. 10, 2015 in Springfield, Illinois.  The Illinois Air National Guard unit is responsible for command and control missions in combat theaters around the world.  (U.S.  Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Kerr/Released)

Members of the 183rd Air Operations Group salutes during activation ceremony Jan. 10, 2015 in Springfield, Illinois. The Illinois Air National Guard unit is responsible for command and control missions in combat theaters around the world. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Kerr/Released)

The Adjutant General of Illinois, Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes, Jr., addresses the members of the 183rd Air Operations Group during an activation ceremony Jan. 10, 2016 in Springfield, Illinois. The Illinois Air National Guard unit is responsible for command and control missions in combat theaters around the world.  Hayes stands in front of an F16 engine.  The unit also repairs F16 engines and recently began testing A10 engines.  (U.S.  Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Kerr/Released)

The Adjutant General of Illinois, Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes, Jr., addresses the members of the 183rd Air Operations Group during an activation ceremony Jan. 10, 2016 in Springfield, Illinois. The Illinois Air National Guard unit is responsible for command and control missions in combat theaters around the world. Hayes stands in front of an F-16 engine. The unit also repairs F-16 engines and recently began testing A-10 engines. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Kerr/Released

Col. Rick G. Yoder, commander of the 183rd Air Operations Group in Springfield, Illinois, unfurls a flag to mark the activation of units given new roles in a ceremony here Jan. 10, 2016.  The Illinois Air National Guard unit is responsible for command and control missions in combat theaters around the world.  Yoder is assisted by the group’s First Sergeant, Senior Master Sgt. Brent Simpson (U.S.  Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Kerr/Released)

Col. Rick G. Yoder, commander of the 183rd Air Operations Group in Springfield, Illinois, unfurls a flag to mark the activation of units given new roles in a ceremony here Jan. 10, 2016. The Illinois Air National Guard unit is responsible for command and control missions in combat theaters around the world. Yoder is assisted by the group’s First Sergeant, Senior Master Sgt. Brent Simpson (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Kerr/Released)

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. -- The 183rd Air Operations Group was honored in a ceremony that recognized the group's official activation at the 183rd Fighter Wing, Springfield Capital Airport on Jan. 10.

Maj. Gen. Richard J. Hayes, the Adjutant General of the Illinois National Guard, presided over the ceremony that included nearly 400 military members, as well as members of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee and many former members of the 183rd Fighter Wing.

During the ceremony, Col John E. Patterson, 183rd Fighter Wing commander, thanked many in the audience who were responsible for achieving this milestone. "This unit had a proud history of flying fighter aircraft for over 60 years, and many of you here contributed to that.  And now that fighter heritage lives on in these men and women who are forging ahead with a complex, multi-domain command and control mission."

That mission is the direct responsibility of the Air Operations Group commander, Col. Rick G. Yoder. Yoder unfurled new guidons with each of his commanders, a time-honored military tradition in activating a unit. He's one of a handful of people who have guided the transition from the beginning in 2008.

"The ceremony signifies the official activation, but we've been performing this mission for a very long time," said Yoder.  "A good number of our folks completed certification early on, and we've been supporting command and control operations all over the world ever since," he added.

In 2014, the wing completed construction of two new facilities associated with the mission.  Major communications and security upgrades were also completed.  The state-of-the-art buildings house the group's air operations training facility and a separate planning staff.  The Air National Guard has only one other unit like this one in the nation. 

The ceremony was conducted against the backdrop of the ultramodern Consolidated Repair Facility where military aircraft engines from all over the world are repaired.  That facility was completed in 2011. 

"We're extremely pleased with the missions and facilities at the 183rd," said Hayes.  "I'm even more impressed with how well the men and women in this unit have transitioned to their new roles.  They dedicated themselves to extensive training and it's paid off - they're in demand and highly successful."

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