Members of the West Virginia Congressional Delegation visited the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy - South and 130th Airlift Wing over the last week during separate visits to West Virginia National Guard facilities.
Congresswoman Carol Miller toured the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy – South Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, alongside Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Bill Crane. Miller witnessed a transition period for the cadets of Class 2022-2, who were taking part in their platoon Olympic, where they gain leadership and teamwork skills through drills, sports, and physical aptitude competitions. The congresswoman also provided remarks during their award ceremony and presented each cadet with a Congressional certificate.
“The Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy is a fantastic opportunity for West Virginia teenagers to invest in their futures,” said Congresswoman Miller. “I applaud these young men and women for committing to work hard, study, and serve alongside their fellow cadets. It was great to watch the Platoon Olympics and celebrate this class’s achievements. I salute each cadet for their courage, bravery, and dedication to their futures and to West Virginia.”
The Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy offers a 22-week residential and one-year post-residential follow-up program dedicated to training and mentoring at-risk youth. The Academy’s quasi-military environment provides structure, while teaching cadets the importance of attention to detail, respect, and self-discipline.
“The opportunities that the Mountaineer ChalleNGe Academy provides for young people in West Virginia is invaluable and I was so glad to be able to showcase this incredible program,” stated Crane. “Since its
inception in 1993, more than 5,000 West Virginians have had their lives changed through the Challenge Academy, and that wouldn’t be possible without the support of our state and Congressional Leaders. I am thankful we have such strong advocates, like Congresswoman Miller, at the national level for the Youth ChalleNGe program.”
On Monday, Oct. 24, Senator Shelley Moore Capito toured the 130th Airlift Wing alongside Crane, and Yeager International Airport director, Dominique Ranieri. During her visit the Senator was briefed on the wing’s conversion progress from C-130H model aircraft to C-130J-30 aircraft, which has been ongoing for more than a year.
“On missions both domestic and abroad, we rely greatly on our brave national guard members here in West Virginia. I enjoyed the chance to visit McLaughlin Air National Guard Base again and see their new C-130J Aircraft up close. I have been a steadfast supporter of the Guard during their C-130J Recapitalization and Basing Program, and will continue to advocate for the resources they need to continuing flying missions,” Senator Capito said.
In addition, Sen. Capito toured the Engine Rebuild Repair Facility, where specialized mechanics rebuild C-130H engines for the Department of Defense, which saves approximately $500,000 per engine. Lastly, she toured the new C-130J and received briefings on its operational capability, the aeromedical evacuation mission of the 167thAeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and saw the differences of the new aircraft first hand in the cockpit as aviators explained the upgraded systems and displays.
“I’m incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to demonstrate the Mountaineer pride of the West Virginia Air National Guard to Senator Capito and her staff,” Maj. Gen. Bill Crane, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, said. “Senator Capito is a tremendous supporter of the National Guard through her work in Congress, which has directly helped to ensure the longevity of the 130th Airlift Wing with the C-130J basing in Charleston. I’m grateful for her commitment to the men and women of the WVNG.”
Prior to departing, the Senator took time to speak with Airmen of the wing to thank them for their service to West Virginia and the nation.