Opinion

Support the F-35 mission for the Treasure Valley

An F-35 arrives at Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah in 2015.
An F-35 arrives at Hill Air Force Base in northern Utah in 2015. AP

Nampa is a community that supports our country and our military like few others. From our treasured Warhawk Air Museum to the planes on display in Lakeview Park to our annual God and Country Festival, Nampa knows the importance of honoring those who have sacrificed so much for our country.

Now we have an opportunity to reciprocate in a small way. The Idaho Air National Guard and its 124th Fighter Wing at Gowen Field have been selected as one of five finalists to base the F-35 aircraft, the planned replacement for the long-beloved A-10 “Warthogs.” The support our community displays can help influence those responsible for making the basing decision.

This is the latest chapter in Gowen Field’s storied history. Following World War II, its missions and support have vital implications on our nation’s security, through nine different flight missions to today, where Gowen Field stands on the precipice of one of the most elite fighter missions in the country.

Gowen Field is on the F-35 list for many reasons. Our ideal terrain, high-quality air space and world-class facilities all check necessary boxes. But what truly propels Gowen into strong consideration is the unmatched skill, training and capability of the airmen and women of the 124th Fighter Wing.

They are our neighbors, our friends, our family — and they have chosen to pursue their careers, raise their families and serve their country from the place we all call home. There are more than 1,300 full- and part-time Air National Guardsmen at Gowen Field, with nearly 20 percent of those men and women calling Canyon County home.

These men and women make a mark on our communities few can match. Each of their jobs at the Guard creates another job in our community. More than 1,400 indirect and induced jobs are created as a result of full- and part-time Guard employees. In sum, these 2,800 jobs represent over $155 million in annual economic output.

More importantly, when disasters like fires, floods or other emergencies strike our state, these individuals are called upon by the governor to serve. When our nation’s security is in question, these same men and women are called upon by the president to leave their families, careers and community to serve our country.

These are individuals who have proved, time and again, that they will fight for us so we don’t have to. Now is our chance to fight for them. I encourage you to visit GowenStrong.com, click “Show Your Support” and sign up to be a supporter. Talk to your family, friends and neighbors about the importance of Gowen Field and voice your support on social media, through letters to the editor, opinions and to our congresional delegation.

Over the next several months, we have an opportunity to secure a mission that will impact our community for decades to come. It’s time to stand GowenStrong!

Bob Henry is the mayor of Nampa. He wrote this for the Idaho Press-Tribune in Nampa.

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