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F-15 static display marks legacy of 102nd Fighter Wing

OTIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Mass. -- It required countless hours of exhaustive labor and painstaking detail, but two former 102nd crew chiefs, Master Sgt. Pat Ryan and Tech. Sgt. Brian Savage, were finally able to view the finished product of their industrious efforts. On the morning of Oct. 24, a restored F-15 was carefully wheeled down Generals Blvd. and positioned prominently at the 102nd Intelligence Wing's I Gate -- symbolizing the legacy of the 102nd Fighter Wing. 

The luminous, fully refurbished shell of the F-15 is a testament to the hard work of the two longtime Airmen who embody the spirit of the 102nd. The day was gratifying for the pair in many ways, not least of which was a sense of vindication after weathering a fair amount of skepticism regarding the feasibility of their project. Through improvisation, perseverance and about 1,400 man-hours, the sergeants were able to realize their vision of a tangible landmark to the heritage of the fighter mission. 

As the intelligence mission surges forward and the wing's previous duty fades in the rear view mirror, the fighter mission will always be recalled with a sense of pride and accomplishment by members of the 102nd who contributed to the success of the fighter wing for so many years. 

"Pat and I volunteered to pull this plane out that was parked at the far end of the runway. We felt that we needed to leave the unit with a proper display to symbolize the fact that we flew F-15s for 20 years and 87,000 hours," said Sergeant Savage. "We pulled it out of the woods and cleaned out about 400 pounds of bird nest--it was sitting out there for about 14 years--sealed it and painted it." 

"It was a mess when we got it. Mold, panels missing, bird nests -- it really stunk up the hangar," said Sergeant Ryan. "We discussed it previously and just went out and grabbed it one day. We had some down time and felt that it was a good opportunity to start the project." 

The concept demanded creative initiative and improvisation. Akin to a life-size model airplane, the F-15 is simulated to resemble the original F-15s at Otis. The plane is weather-proofed and sealed. "If you flipped it over in the water, it would probably float," said Sergeant Ryan. 

The infrastructure for the static display was designed by Bob Blair, chief engineer for design and construction, and the assembly was supervised by Tech. Sgt. Tom Jones, an Otis Guardsman working as a Title 5 civilian with the 102nd Civil Engineer Squadron. The structure includes 300 cement blocks, 50 tons of crushed seashell and about 20 tons of crushed stone for drain purposes. "We have been working out here for about three weeks," said Jones. 

Mr. Blair was pleased with the result. "We want to make it look as nice as we can. It is our legacy and these guys have done an outstanding job," he said. "It is important to note that this project is a 102nd project, entirely in house. A lot of planning was involved and senior command was very interested in getting this done." 

It was satisfying for everyone involved to complete the display at the I Gate. "When you look back at the 102nd Fighter Wing's record, we were the best in the business," stated Sergeant Ryan.