May is Military Appreciation Month, and there is no better place to celebrate our nation’s active-duty service members and veterans than right here in Oklahoma.
Home to five world-class military installations and over 300,000 of our nation’s veterans, Oklahoma is instrumental in supporting the greatest military in the world. As the only member of our delegation on the Senate Armed Services Committee, it’s my great responsibility to ensure Oklahoma’s military installations have what they need to protect our service members and defend our nation.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve again visited Tinker Air Force Base (AFB), Vance AFB, Altus AFB, and Fort Sill to meet with military leaders and understand how I can best fight for them in Washington, D.C.
Our first stop was Tinker AFB where we met with Col. David Miller and received a brief on military construction and operations updates on the TACAMO/E-6B squadron, E-3, KC-135, and KC-46 aircrafts. Tinker AFB is a vital resource for our pilots and Oklahoma’s economy, employing over 26,000 military and civilian employees and generating over $3.51 billion in annual statewide impact. In fact, Tinker is the largest single-site employer in Oklahoma.
Spending time on Base is essential to understand the unique needs of every installation. Under Commander Col. Jay Johnson, Vance AFB is transforming capable students into world-class pilots for front-line air mobility aircraft, bombers, and fighters. While visiting Vance, the premier venue for undergraduate pilot training, I toured the Air Traffic Control Tower, visited the 33rd Flying Training Squadron, and reviewed Advanced Air Mobility Simulators.
When touring Fort Sill, I had the honor of meeting with Base leadership to receive an operations overview of the Field Artillery School which trains 10,000 students each year. I spoke with Col. John Barefield and Col. Curtis King about fleet expansion, modernization, and training Ukrainian forces in Oklahoma. The future of Fort Sill, from equipment to personnel, is heading in a positive direction.
We concluded our Base tour in Altus, where I met with Vice Commander Col. Patrick Brady-Lee of the 97th Air Mobility Wing for a briefing and tour of Altus AFB. I toured a KC-46 and learned firsthand how Altus AFB became the premier installation for producing the world’s most inspired, proficient, and adaptive mobility warriors to deliver airpower for America.
While each of our military installations, including the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant play different roles in faithfully supporting our Armed Forces, they all produce world-class service members and civilian personnel who are working every day to protect and defend our freedoms. I will never stop fighting for them in Washington. God bless our military this month and every month.