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The 182nd Airlift Wing, based in Peoria, Illinois, is one of four Air National Guard locations selected by the Department of the Air Force to receive eight C-130J Super Hercules to replace their C-130Hs.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Rich Neely, the Adjutant General of Illinois and Commander of the Illinois National Guard said that Governor JB Pritzker worked with Illinois’ Congressional delegation, including now retired Congresswoman Cheri Bustos, to communicate the attributes of the wing and its importance to the community.

“This will ensure Peoria is well positioned for at least another couple decades,” Neely said. “I am most grateful to the Airmen of the 182nd Airlift Wing, whose hard work, dedication and innovation helped pave the way for these modern aircraft. They showed that the ‘Peoria way’ is the way to lead the nation.”

The 182nd Airlift Wing has operated a flying mission in Peoria since its founding in 1947. During its storied 75-year history, the Wing has flown more than a dozen different airplanes in operations ranging from the Berlin Air Drop to the Global War on Terror. The unit has grown to employ 1,200 members with a payroll of over $65 million – and is currently assigned the C-130H “Hercules” aircraft – cargo planes that have become a common and celebrated sight flying throughout the community.

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the 182nd Airlift Wing has deployed more than 5,000 personnel to over 29 countries. The unit played key roles in supporting Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Inherent Resolve, Resolute Support, and Freedom's Sentinel. More recently, the Wing flew multiple sorties in support of Operation Allied Refuge, providing key transport to Afghan refugees during the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021. Domestically, the unit helped administer more than eight million COVID-19 vaccinations at 26 Illinois locations during the global pandemic, ensured cyber security for the 2020 national election and 2022 midterm election, and deployed to the U.S. capitol to support the 2021 presidential inauguration.

Despite its commitments at home and abroad, Peoria Airmen sustained the highest C-130 Hercules mission capable rates in the Air Force, besting the Air National Guard and Air Mobility Command during fiscal years 2020 and 2021. Apart from fiscal year 2022, it has held one or both of these distinctions since 2007.

The Wing is also a 10-time recipient of the Air and Space Outstanding Unit Award for distinguishing itself by exceptionally meritorious service “that clearly sets the unit above and apart from similar units.”

Most recently, the unit received the 2023 Major General Stanley F.H. Newman Outstanding Unit Award in which it was recognized as the number one of 40 Air National Guard units in the United States Air Force Air Mobility Command.

The Department of the Air Force will now conduct an environmental impact analysis at each location, which are expected to be completed in fiscal year 2025 before a final decision is made.

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