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The Tallassee jet

By Michael Butler

An F-16 displays the name of our fair city. The Alabama Air National Guard 187th Fighter Wing's 87-219 aircraft dons the name "City of Tallassee" on its tail.

How did it come about? Lt. Col. Mike McGinn explained.

"Our intention in branding jets with different city names was twofold," he said. "First, we wanted to honor the cities around the state from where our airmen call home. Secondly, we felt this was a good way of engaging the local leadership of these cities to ensure they know how important the 187th is to the state for jobs and being a part of the military's total force."

Scroggins (left) and McGinn

McGinn has a Tallassee tie. He married Brandi Carlisle. Her cousin is Shane Scroggins, a fellow member of the 187th Fighter Wing of the Air Guard.

"Shane introduced me to my beautiful wife," McGinn said. "He probably regrets that now, as I am at every Tallassee family event at Billy and Sara Thompson's house."

McGinn and Scroggins' air unit is at Dannelly Field in Montgomery.

"Last year we were notified that the unit was being mobilized to deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF)," McGinn stated. "We arrived in April 2014 to begin our rotation.

"Being an ANG unit, we are comprised of both full-time members as well as traditional members, formally known as 'weekend warriors.' I say that because over the past few years, the operational tempo has increased dramatically leaving the weekend warrior idea far behind."

After assigning the unit's aircraft to cities, the 187th had a dedication ceremony for mayors of the municipalities represented.

"We have members from all over the state and country who make up the traditional force," McGinn added. "We are very proud of the our unit and the accomplishments dating back to the P-51 Mustang days in WWII."

McGinn and Scroggins have been virtually all over the globe together. For the Afghanistan deployment the two were assigned the "City of Tallassee" jet.

"Shane happened to be crewing the jet while supervising some younger airmen," said McGinn. "Shane always brings a piece of Tallassee with him. This same day, I flew a tin can full of Tallassee soil across the skies and over our brave soldiers on the ground across the country of Afghanistan. Some of that soil will be left at Bagram Airbase, while the rest will return to Shane's hometown, Tallassee."

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