BANGOR — Past and present members of the 101st Air Refueling Wing of the Maine Air National Guard all agree that the unit is an extended family.
That connection doesn’t end when a member retires. In recent years, an active group of retirees has strengthened the link between past and present even further. The latest example — a permanent memorial displayed prominently on the guard base at Bangor International Airport — was unveiled during a ceremony on Thursday.
“I had this idea a few months ago, but I didn’t even know if it was possible,” said Bob Tracy, a retired Guard member who coordinated the planning and fundraising for the memorial. “It’s just a way to honor those who came before.”
Etched in gray stone are the words, “To all who served and sacrificed for this unit and the United States of America.”
The 101st, known as the Maineiacs, has been in Bangor since 1947 as a strategic area refueling facility for airlift and fighter aircraft. It’s one of the busiest Air National Guard stations in the country, according to Col. Gerry Bolduc, vice commander of the 101st.
“There is a lot of pride in this unit,” he said. “And we operate on the foundation that others have set before us.”
Rick Johnson, president of the wing retirees’ group and a Maineiac for 37 years from 1966 to 2002, said the 101st has seen many changes over the years but remains a vital piece of strategic command.
“There are a lot of people who are passionate about this unit,” he said.