Aircraft at Tyndall Air Force Base symbolically honors Otis

This F-15C in front of the Killey Center for Homeland Operations, 
Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.,  symbolically represents the 102nd organization when it was a fighter wing at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. (Air Force photo by Casey Connell)

This F-15C in front of the Killey Center for Homeland Operations, Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., symbolically represents the 102nd organization when it was a fighter wing at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York City. (Air Force photo by Casey Connell)

OTIS AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- Military aircraft that responded to the attacks over our homeland during the tragic events of September 11, 2001, are being honored at the The Killey Center for Homeland Operations at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida. The facility is headquarters for 1st Air Force (Air Forces Northern) and the Continental U. S. NORAD Region, one of the three regions that make up the North American Aerospace Defense Command. 1st AF (AFNORTH) is the air component of the United States Northern Command, with an area of responsibility that includes the continental United States, Alaska, Canada and Mexico.

An F-15C was repainted to depict one of the F-15A aircraft from the 102nd Fighter Wing that scrambled from Otis Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts on that terrible day over 16 years ago. Additionally, an F-16 was repainted to represent one of the fighters from the District of Columbia Air National Guard’s 113th Wing that launched from Andrews Air Force Base and flew over Washington D.C. and the Pentagon.

“The F-15 and F-16 represent the U.S. Air Force’s first response to the 9/11 attack,” said Casey Connell, Historian for the Killey Center for Homeland Operations. "The 1st Air Force's mission has always been the defense of the North American continent, but with the attacks of 9/11 Operation Noble Eagle became the primary mission. And it's a mission that 1st Air Force executes 24 hours a day seven days a week."

Operation Noble Eagle is managed by NORAD and is a combined military air defense mission carried out by the United States and Canada to prevent another similar attack in North America.

The Colors, Markings and Insignia package approved by CONR-1st AF (AFNORTH) commander at the time Lt. Gen. Stanley E. Clark, III, which authorized the static display’s commemorative restoration reads, “Since the terrorist attack against the United States on 11 September 2001, the F-15 has been a major component of the combat forces committed to the Global War on Terrorism flying thousands of sorties in support of operations NOBLE EAGLE (Homeland Defense), ENDURING FREEDOM in Afghanistan and IRAQI FREEDOM. It is under the Operation NOBLE EAGLE mission that the partnership between the F-15 and the First Air Force are intertwined. On the morning of the attacks, the F-15’s assigned to the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 102nd Fighter Wing responded from their alert status at Otis ANGB, MA to intercept any potential hostile aircraft over New York City.”

The CMI package continues, “In recognition of the 102nd Fighter Wing’s commitment to the safeguarding of American skies, the First Air Force wishes to paint our static display aircraft, serial number 80-0016 in the markings of F-15A serial number 77-0102. Aircraft 77-0102 was one of the two alert aircraft that flew over World Trade Center on that morning.”

The 102nd Fighter Wing has since transformed to the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, but our legacy as a flying unit remains. The 102nd Fighter Wing will be remembered by our military and Nation for its immediate response to defend the country against previously unimaginable threats.