Area Military News

Last week, the ribbon was cut to mark the opening of a brand new aircraft hanger in Savannah, this one for the Combat Readiness Training Center, a critical facility to aid in the continuation and retention of our Air National Guard CRTC here.  There are only four CRTC’s in the U.S., with two of them located deep within northern states, greatly limiting their use during the winter. There was an earlier federal budgeting attempt to mark Savannah’s operation for closure, but thanks to convincing action from our Georgia Senate and House elected-officials, that risk seems, for now at least, to have been put to rest.

Representative Buddy Carter spoke at the ribbon cutting, indicating among other comments, that although there are four CRTC’s in the nation, “We especially need Savannah’s. It is the most utilized and the most efficient of the combat readiness centers.”  The new hanger will provide enclosed space for the fifth-generation fighters (e.g., F-35’s) from visiting units, so that maintenance can be done here, when needed, during the various training cycles.

Savannah’s CRTC hosts a large number of aircraft and personnel for exercises throughout the year, from a great many of our multi-branch military installations throughout the coastal and southeast area. The key advantage offered here, and at no other CRTC, is the over 200 nautical miles of restricted aircraft training space out over the near-by Atlantic Ocean.  This alone makes Savannah’s facilities unique and why so many fighter units make this their first choice for combat training each year.  Plus, in their off-hours, air unit personnel get to enjoy the great Savannah area.

And continuing with Geogia’s Air National Guard news, Savannah’s 165th Airlift Wing said farewell to the last of its older model C-130H aircraft last week.  An emotional day for unit veterans, as the H-model had been a part of the 165th inventory for so many years.  But in its place will be the newest airlift model, the C-130J, with the first one due to arrive here in the coming months.  No doubt this arrival, initiating an exciting new and important era for the 165th, will be celebrated even more so than the departure of their last H-model. This will be a very important aircraft upgrade for the 165th, vital for its continuing strong support position within the nation’s Guard and active Air Force airlift wings.

Switching now to area Army news, earlier this month, Fort Stewart welcomed its new Garrison Commander, Colonel Marc J. Austin, who replaces outgoing commander, Col. Manny Ramierz.  Colonel Austin had previously served here with the 3rd Division as battalion commander of the 2-69 Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored BCT.  Prior to his arrival at Fort Stewart, he was a student at the Royal College of Defense Studies at Kings College in London.  He holds advanced degrees from Kansas State University, the School of Advanced Warfighting, and from Kings College.  Our area communities welcome Col. Austin back to Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield.

Upcoming, in partnership with the City of Savannah, Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield will host an inaugural Patriot Day 5K memorial run (9/11), beginning at 8 AM on September 9th.  The run will start in Forsyth Park and continue through several Savannah squares.  The evening before, a “Night of Honor” block party will be held at the park, featuring the 3rd Division Band, food trucks, static displays, and vendors.  That’s on September 8th from 6-10 PM. Run registration is at

And, this year, the United States Army will hold its annual Best Squad Competition at Fort Stewart-Hunter Army Airfield, from September 26 – October 4th, which will include a functional fitness competition open to the public at Savannah’s Forsyth Park on September 30th.  At the park, the public may participate in a physical fitness challenge from 9 AM – 11 AM.

The BSC squads will then arrive and compete at Noon. They will have to complete the challenge, after having already completed other physically grueling tasks that morning. The public is invited to stay and cheer them on.

Said 3rd Division Commanding General, Maj. Gen. Christopher Norrie: “The Coastal Georgia community and the 3rd Infantry Division have an incredible relationship, and having this competition and this community event in Forsyth Park is a testament to how much support this community has for its military neighbors. Forsyth Park is a center for so many great events in Savannah, so there is no better place to showcase some of the finest men and women the Army has to offer.”

Regarding the BSC, in order to compete, each squad must have already competed and won unit-level events at Army locations worldwide.  The finalists, 12 squads, consisting of five Soldiers each, have all proven themselves in subordinate competitions and must now represent their command to be named the Army’s Best Squad.


(Fact Sources: CRTC & 165th departure/addition via WTOC-TV news staff; Army events via Public Affairs Office, Fort Stewart, Kevin Larson, Chief, Public Communications).