185th ARW Bids Farewell to Former Fighter

A once mighty symbol of Sioux City's 185th Air National Guard unit has made its final flight, with a little assist from the Army.

An A-7 Corsair once flown by the unit left this morning for its new home at Camp Dodge near Des Moines.

"They used to call this thing the SLUF. It's a short little ugly fella. And it's quite a bit slower but it had quite a capacity for carrying armament. It was definitely a workhorse in its day," said 185th Air Refueling Wing Command Chief David Miller.

"We had the A-7 itself from about 1976 all the way through the 80's. And it was probably our longest-lasting aircraft. The "K" model behind us is a two-seat model. We had the opportunity to restore it and preserve some of our history with the original paint job that it had in the 1980's. It is destined for Camp Dodge down in Johnston, Iowa, north of Des Moines," Miller said.

But it's not going under it's own power.

"We're going to hook it up with sling legs underneath with the three main hooks of our helicopter. And we're going to have to do a tandem load. We're not full on fuel right now to give us a little more power, and hopefully we can get there in one fuel stop. Then down to Camp Dodge," said Jason Nemeth, Flight Engineer on the Chinook helicopter tasked with carrying the A-7 to Johnston.

"You know, knowing where it's going and the fact that there's going to be a lot of people able to see it. Plus we're going to be able to go down there on occasion. It's definitely time for it to be put somewhere else where a lot of people can enjoy it," Miller said.

"It's a very unique experience. I'm very proud of what I do. There's not very many people in the world who get to have this kind of experience," Nemeth said.

As the Corsair was lifted off the ground in Sioux City for the last time, Miller gave some final reflections.

"It's a chance to preserve some unit history. You know a lot of us...there's still a number of us still on base who had a connection to this thing. And it is nice to see it go down there, where it's going to be preserved for a number of years," Miller said.