WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) met this week with Colonel James D. Dignan, 910th Airlift Wing Commander at Youngstown Air Reserve Station (YARS). He also met Master Sargent Bob Barko, Colonel Darryl Markowski, and Chief Master Sargent Robert Potts.

“The Youngstown Air Reserve Station is critical to emergency and humanitarian aid missions nationwide, and supports local jobs in the Mahoning Valley,” said Brown. “This meeting was a valuable opportunity to hear directly from Colonel Dignan about the needs of the 910th and how I can help the men and women at YARS succeed.” 

Brown is a strong supporter of YARS and the Ohio Air National Guard. Earlier this month, Brown applauded inclusion of his amendment to strengthen YARS and its mission capabilities in the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Specifically, the amendment directs the Air Force to report on how it will prioritize upgrades to new C-130J aircrafts for facilities that include special mission units – such as aerial spray, airborne firefighting, and weather reconnaissance. Brown has been urging the Air Force to replace YARS’ 910th Airlift Wing’s current fleet of C-130H aircraft with C-130J aircrafts to ensure that the 910th’s Department of Defense (DOD)-mandated specialized aerial spray mission continues safely and without interruption.

In November 2015, Brown helped secure $9.4 million for YARS to help improve the indoor firing range facility. The range is used to train and test Airmen for qualifications with their service weapons for personal protection and ground base defense. The current range is 30 years old and fails to meet current safety requirements. This funding will correct this serious deficiency and improve the training that occurs at YARS.