The 121st Air Refueling Wing conducted a ceremony to dedicate one of its KC-135 Stratotankers to honor the legacy of the Women Airforce Service Pilots on Friday at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base.

Lockbourne Air Force Base, renamed Rickenbacker Air Force Base in 1974, was a training location for female pilots from Oct. 17, 1943, to Jan. 13, 1944, at which females became fully qualified test pilots on B-17 Flying Fortresses. The success of the WASP program proved that women could fly any aircraft and the impact of that would resonate for years to come.

The ceremony unveiled special aircraft nose art to pay tribute to our history and the legacy of WASP. Special guests included members of the Scioto Valley 99s international organization of women pilots, Lockbourne Mayor Christie Ward, representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, and representatives from the offices of U.S. Reps. Joyce Beatty and Steve Stivers.

“Paraphrasing President Kennedy, who reminded us that ‘A nation reveals itself not only by the men and women it produces but also by the men and women it honors, the men and women it remembers,’” said Col. Mark Auer, 121st ARW commander. “So it seems fitting and proper that on the 75th Anniversary of the WASPs arrival at our base and to ensure their mascot, Fifinella, is back in the air as nose art on one of our aircraft, flying over the base and nation they so nobly served.”



A 2010 Chaney High School graduate and Youngstown native, Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Chena Cross; and 2014 Warren G. Harding High School graduate and Warren native, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jamal Hameed; are serving aboard USS O’Kane as part of the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise, Rim of the Pacific.

Hameed is an information-systems technician responsible for handling external communications including computer services and email, and Cross is a logistics specialist responsible for budgeting, ordering and issuing supplies to departments throughout the ship.

“This is my second RIMPAC exercise, and I’m looking forward to ensuring the ship is ready for a successful exercise,” said Cross.

“I like seeing all of the different ships operate together. I like doing my job and interacting with the other ships while learning more about my job and continuing to grow,” said Hameed.

Twenty-six nations, 46 surface ships, five submarines and more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific Exercise. This year’s exercise includes forces from Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Republic of the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.

Items of note for the Armed Forces Digest can be sent to The Vindicator, Regional Desk, P.O. Box 780, Youngstown 44501-0780, or e-mailed to

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