Thanks to past as we welcome a new mission

By Freedom New Mexico

For a few moments near dusk on Sunday night, Mother Nature signed off on the old and new missions of Cannon Air Force Base. Just above the eastern horizon, the soft orange glow of a jagged, nearly full rising moon shimmered above a semi-circle of C-130s that surrounded two F-16 jets and the tilt-rotor silhouette of the CV-22 Osprey.

So long, 27th Fighter Wing.

Hello, 27th Special Operations Wing.

The moonrise punctuated the closing moments of Sunday’s Heritage to Horizons Dining Out event in two adjacent base aircraft hangars. Videos, scrapbooks, and equipment and aircraft displays reminded everyone of how Cannon’s men and women have created a strong record of missions accomplished in the past seven decades. Others outlined how Special Operations Command has seen its role and responsibilities evolve.

Sunday’s event set the tone for Monday morning’s official change of command ceremony and left airmen and visitors with another striking image: The colors of the 27th Fighter Wing were carefully removed from their pole and replaced with the new colors of the 27th Special Operations Wing.

That moment closed out a 2 1/2-year transition period from possible closure of Cannon and decades of several air combat missions to our new Special Ops neighbors. Now begins the next stage of change, whose details are just now starting to be publicized. They include word that nearly $10 million will be spent on several Cannon construction projects, that the move to privatize base housing is set to begin early next year.

Other projects are in the works, among them what $5 million in state appropriations for base expansion will be spent on, how to develop an overview plan of housing, transportation, public services and other community needs that come with the growth Cannon AFB is likely to see in the next half-dozen years.

Meanwhile, as these changes take shape, take a moment to thank our 27th FW neighbors and their families for their commitment to the country and to our communities these many years. And welcome our new neighbors and families from 27th SOW.

We look forward to learning about their missions and the men and women who complete them for the Air Force, and sharing many more brilliant eastern New Mexico moonrises with them in Portales and Clovis and at the Melrose Bombing Range.