The news today was good, even if not everyone as of yet understands why.
Members of the 115th Fighter Wing said goodbye to the first F-16 ever stationed at Truax Field as the Wisconsin National Guard continues preparing for the next generation of fighters to arrive.
In a post on Facebook, the Guard shared images of the jet, numbered 252, explaining that it first touched down in Madison in April 1993. At that time, Truax Field housed the A-10 Thunderbolt II and was starting its upgrade to the F-16s.
Nearly three decades later, the Guard is upgrading again, this time from fourth-generation aircraft to the fifth-gen F-35 Lighting II. Deputy Adjutant General Gen. David May described the upgrade as “moving from a flip phone to a smartphone” during an August groundbreaking ceremony for the base’s first major F-35 project.
It comes not as news to readers of this blog that I feel a shared responsibility as to the reason for my support of these jets. I expressed it in 2019.
We must take our responsibilities as citizens most seriously. From voting, serving on a jury, or paying taxes it is our duty to step up and serve in a variety of ways. That also applies to where the military trains, such as at Truax. I do not know any person on a first name basis who is actively serving in our military. So the least I can do is support the men and women who have accepted that role. If I am advocating policies, such as no-fly zones in Syria, I then should also accept the placement of training for such missions near to where I reside. I am not one who suggests the F-35 be relegated to places like North or South Dakota.
This matter of the F-35 jets is not about noise, as many will try to argue. A segment of the city and even in Dane County will try to spin their narrative about how their grandchildren will be scared–yes I have heard and read such arguments– but I suspect not since most play very violent video games where a jet taking off is the least dramatic event. To hear some of the dialogue about why people are opposed to the F-35s would lead one to conclude that deafening roars will shake windows from frames, and do everything but rattle the ground so much that caskets will pop out.
Let us be honest and say at the heart of the matter is a deep disdain about the manufacture and use of the jets. Madison is very averse to military policy and what has played out over the past couple years regarding these jets has alerted us, again, to that truth.
Here is the bottom line as to why we all need to care about that ginned-up rhetoric.
It is true that some of Madison loves to get caught up in their own self-generated hysteria. This is what happens all too often and it takes a toll as when truly serious matters arise people are spent and not wishing to expend more energy. The other half is so dismayed from the crying of ‘wolf’ they tune other messages out.
For the record I often hear the F-16s take off and land from Truax. I assumed when moving into an urban environment, with an airport and military facility only a few miles away, that there would be sounds from aircraft. The fact is that the military presence at Truax has proven to be a good neighbor for over 70 years. Currently the 115 Fighter Wing flies F-16 jets, but those are to be replaced with 20 F-35 jets.
The first one will soon call Truax home.
And so it goes.