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Byrd says $50 million for 167th base clears committee

June 15, 2007

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd announced Thursday that $50 million in funding for construction projects for the Martinsburg-based Air National Guard unit has been approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The $50 million, which Byrd obtained to accelerate the completion of construction required for the arrival of C-5 aircraft to the base, was included in a bill that funds military construction projects around the world, according to a press release from Byrd's office.

Specifically, the funding for the home of the 167th Airlift Wing will go toward the continued development of the parking apron and runway expansion projects; the construction of a new fuel cell maintenance hangar and shops; the construction of a new squadron operations facility; and the completion of various infrastructure upgrades, according to the release.

Byrd, D-W.Va., is chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

"Today marks a big step forward, not only for West Virginia's National Guard, but also for the Eastern Panhandle," Byrd said. "With this upgrade at the Martinsburg airport, all of the pieces are in place for new jobs and new opportunities."

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The first of a new fleet of C-5 aircraft landed in Martinsburg on Dec. 4, 2006. Once the C-5 unit is fully operational, the 167th Airlift Wing anticipates an additional 200 full-time jobs, and the annual economic impact is expected to increase to at least $50 million per year, according to the release.

"I am elated to receive this news", Col. Roger Nye, the recently named wing commander at the 167th, said in the release.

"A significant amount of construction has been accomplished, but there is more to be done," he said.

"We're already flying C-5 missions into Southwest Asia and are right on track for fully mission capable status by 2009," Col. Eric Vollmecke, outgoing wing commander, said in the release.

After working with Department of Defense officials since 1999, Byrd announced in 2002 that 10 C-5 transport planes would be based at the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing.

Initially, the C-5 airplanes at Martinsburg will result in a $250 million federal investment to upgrade and expand the entire Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport facility. Byrd has worked to obtain more than $193 million for the upgrades.

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