U.S. Rep Troy Balderson is a Republican from Zanesville who represents Ohio's 12th District, which includes Richland County.

MANSFIELD -- Troy Balderson figured showing is better than telling when it comes to the 179th Airlift Wing.

That's why the congressman from Zanesville was pleased Wednesday to have U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, join him on a visit to the Ohio Air National Guard unit based at Mansfield Lahm Airport.

"The folks who serve on these committees ... they are the ones sitting there for the final decisions," said Balderson, a Republican in his first term representing Ohio's 12th District.

"I can talk to Mike all day down in D.C., but for him to come to this facility, I appreciate that. He can have a better understanding of the unit, start a relationship with (new wing commander Col. Todd Thomas) and understand how valuable this facility is," Balderson said.

Balderson and Turner sat down with Thomas and his leadership team and then toured one of the C-130 transport aircraft flown by the 179th, a unit comprised of about 1,000 full- and part-time military members.

The airlift wing, which has roots in Mansfield dating back to its days as a fighter wing in 1948, recently received three updated C-130H2, upgrading the fleet of C-130H1 aircraft assigned to the 179th.

Planes flown by the 179th primarily perform the tactical portion of the Air Force's airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for air dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.

The C-130 operates throughout the U.S. Air Force, serving with Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces, Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve Command, fulfilling a wide range of operational missions in both peace and war situations. 

It was the first visit to the 179th for Turner, a Republican from the 10th District in Dayton who has been in Congress since 2003.

Mike Turner

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, talks to the media Wednesday during a visit to the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield.

"We are looking to this facility that has a tremendous amount of needs (for) reinvestment," Turner said. "They do a great contribution to our national security and we are thanking them for the mission they do and ensuring they have the tools they need to keep going.

The 179th will begin renovating one of its hangers in a few months and will begin work on a new fire station in early 2020. But the needs don't stop there.

"We want to look to the funding that is headed this way and make certain we can strengthen their mission and make sure Mansfield continues in a way we can all look to honor those who serve here," Turner said.

"We are in a period of time where there is increased defense funding and we just to need to make sure it comes right here," Turner said.

"As long as we are aware of these issues, we can work with and advocate in a partnership with the base," he said.

Balderson was happy to arrange Turner's visit.

"We wanted him to see where we are here so he can address those needs on the committee," Balderson said. "I wanted to let the congressman know what progress we are making right now and what we need to continue. This is a fabulous facility and I am honored to be able to serve here."

Thomas, who took over as the wing commander in July, said the visit was a great opportunity to showcase the 179th, its airmen and its dual state/federal mission.

Col. Todd Thomas

Col. Todd Thomas, new commander of the 179th Airlift Wing in Mansfield, talks to media during a visit to the base in August by U.S. Rep. Troy Balderson (R-12th) and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-10th). (Richland Source file photo)

"We were able to discuss the priorities I have in terms of our next level of readiness," said Thomas, who came to the 179th three decades ago as an undergraduate/C-130 pilot trainee.

"Anytime we can tell the Mansfield story, we are ready for it," Thomas said.

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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"