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In what’s become the most chaotic year in recent American history, the 182nd Airlift Wing took a formidable step towards normality July 2020, paved by months of balancing the so-called “new normal” with military operations. This is the story of four herculean months that won’t soon be forgotten.
Ann J. Ward was just 2.5 years old and Richard L. Ward II only 3 months old when their father perished in an F-84D Thunderstreak crash on Runway 31 of what is now the 182nd Airlift Wing at the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport. Circumstance stole their chance to grow up with their father when his aircraft failed to reach safe flying speed, causing it to collide with terrain during a drill-weekend training flight. Tragedy could have closed the family’s chapter in Peoria that day, and yet 61 years later the Ward siblings found themselves reconnected with both blood and military family members Aug. 27, 2020, at the unit where their father last served.
A photojournalist with the 182nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs won first place in the commentary category of the 2019 National Guard Bureau Media Contest April 1, 2020. Airman 1st Class Wynndermere Shaw’s April 24, 2019 article, “I’m not running for myself,” described her first-hand experience in participating in a Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program awareness run and why the event was important to her as an Airman.
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