Arizona Air Guard base named after Goldwater

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Tinashe Machona
  • 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Goldwater Air National Guard Base is officially the new name of the installation formerly known as Phoenix Sky Harbor Air National Guard Base. Arizona Governor Doug Ducey enacted the change during a ceremony here, Dec. 9, to honor one of the Arizona Air National Guard's founding members.

In 1946, the late Senator Barry M. Goldwater was one of the original members of the state's first Air Guard squadron which later became today's 161st Air Refueling Wing. After serving in the Army Air Corps during World War II, Goldwater returned to Arizona and became the first federally recognized National Guard pilot in the state. He dedicated 37 years of his life to military service in the Army, Air Force Reserves and Arizona Air National Guard; eventually retiring as a major general.

In 1949, Goldwater's political career began when he was elected to the Phoenix City Council. He later served five terms as a U.S. senator from Arizona.

"Senator Goldwater was an avid military pilot who had the zest for flight that is at the heart and soul of operations. It's magnificent that our base is linked with his rich heritage," said Col. Patrick Donaldson, commander of the wing's operations group. He added that the base's name change is a momentous event for the wing, which invigorates pride, honor and tradition among today's Airmen.

Donaldson emphasized that Goldwater is an inspiration to work hard in order to innovate and tackle challenges while taking care of Airmen.

"He was a great advocate for air power in the Senate Arms Services Committee, who did great things that should energize all of us to affect change," said Donaldson. He noted that Goldwater's name represents leadership and a fundamental appreciation for the American Airman. He said the senator's impact on the state is evidenced by the many establishments named after him, such as the Barry M. Goldwater Range Complex in southern Arizona - invaluable training airspace for military pilots.

Although the base will now bear a new name, its mission will remain the same as it will continue to engage in air refueling operations around the globe flying the KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft.

"It is an honor to have Senator Goldwater's name at the front gate and I am immensely privileged to be part of the unit during this dedication," said Donaldson.
Chief Master Sgt. Martha Garcia, the wing's command chief, said that Goldwater was instrumental in legitimatizing the wing as a federally recognized unit. She added that it is fitting to name the base after him because of his distinguished military and public service records.

"The accolades that the wing has received over the years represents hard work and I am honored to be the first command chief Goldwater Air National Guard Base," said Garcia. She said she has observed excitement among Airmen on base because the name embodies the unit's long tradition of excellence.

Garcia said the men and women of the wing will continue to soar above expectations as they did before the name dedication.

The wing was presented the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award this year. An honor annually given by the secretary of the Air Force to select units that distinguish themselves by exceptional service or outstanding achievement that clearly sets them above and apart from similar units. The wing previously earned the award in 1968, 1972, 1977 and 2012.

"The base name change is a fantastic opportunity to honor the legacy of Barry Goldwater and it highlights his contributions to the founding of our wing," said Col. Troy Daniels, the wing commander. He added that the extraordinary men and women of the wing epitomize high standards of work ethic, which is a testament to the wing's lineage traced from Goldwater.

"We need to reflect on the great things we have accomplished over the years and be proud of Goldwater's legacy. His values must live on and we should carry that into the future," said Daniels.