Airman 1st Class Harlyn Johnson at Cannon Air Force Base sands off the “CC” tail marking from a 523rd Fighter Squadron F-16 jet to prepare it for its new home. Courtesy photo: Airman Erik Cardenas
By Sharna Johnson: CNJ Staff Writer
Approximately 260 Cannon Air Force Base airmen received new assignments last week as the base transitions from a fighter wing to the Air Force Special Operations command.
Most of the airmen being reassigned maintain and support Cannon’s F-16s and will follow the jets as they are redistributed throughout the Air Force in the next year as Cannon transitions to the new mission, said Cannon spokesman Lt. George Tobias.
Airman 1st Class Darius Hayes will be relocating to Hurlburt Field, Fla., he said.
“I got extremely lucky,” he said, explaining he was eligible for the only available slot left for his rank and specialty when he met with assignment team personnel.
The wait for news has been difficult, Hayes said.
“We’ve known about (the assignment team coming). It’s been eating away at us because we were anxious to start picking (our assignments). We had a choice, that’s definitely good.”
An avionics technician, Hayes said he will probably be retrained to service unmanned aerial vehicles and CV-22s.
The 24-year-old Florida native said he looks forward to being closer to home.
“I’m a big-city kind of person. (Clovis) is just a little smaller than I’m used to,” he said.
Airman 1st Class Roy Sproule said he is headed for Luke Air Force Base near Phoenix.
“I like it because one of the reasons I came in (to the Air Force) is to go to school. I’ll definitely have more options,” he said. “This place is nice, but there’s still some good things about larger places.”
The assignment team will reconvene at Cannon in the fall to issue assignments to airmen who are currently deployed, Tobias said.
The first two jets leaving Cannon are destined for an Air National Guard Station in Des Moines, Iowa, according to base officials. Remaining F-16s will trickle out over the summer and into the fall as they return from deployed locations.
The last jet will leave in March 2008.
Air Combat Command determines which bases the F-16s and associated equipment are going, according to Maj. David Nicholson, 27th Maintenance Operations Squadron commander.
Freedom Newspapers writer Janet Taylor-Birkey contributed to this report.