FAIRBANKS, Alaska -- KC-135 Stratotanker from the Alaska Air National Guard’s 168th Wing was unveiled showcasing a new tail flash on the wing’s aircraft, Oct. 15.
The 168th Wing continues to have strong ties to local communities in interior Alaska as the “hometown Air Force.” In collaboration with Tanana Chiefs Conference, the 168th Wing established a commitment to honor interior communities on the wing’s aircraft. The first KC-135 revealed last week honors the village of Minto, one of nine Alaska interior communities that will be represented on 168th Wing Stratotankers.
According to the Tanana Chiefs Conference website, Minto residents are mainly Tanana Athabascans. Minto is in the western-most portion of traditional Tanana Athabascan territory, located on the west bank of the Tolovana River, 130 miles northwest of Fairbanks.
The next aircraft to be unveiled will honor Gwichyaa Zhee, Grayling, Huslia, Tetlin, Telida, and Tanana. Additionally, Fairbanks and North Pole will be displayed on the final two aircraft.
A polar bear stands strong on the wing’s tail flash representing the arctic region and spirit of Alaska. The geometric design of the polar bear highlights the wing’s culture of innovation.
“The support and partnership of our community are what allows us to succeed,” said Col. Richard Adams, 168th Wing commander. “The interior Alaska communities will be proudly displayed on the tail of our KC-135 as we refuel our nation’s military aircraft above the skies of Alaska and around the world. It is an honor to dedicate our first aircraft to the tribe of Minto.”
There are 42 tribes and 37 federally recognized tribes in the Tanana Chiefs Region and six subregions.
“We contacted each of the 42 villages as they are members of the TCC region,” said Tanna Carter, Tanana Chiefs Council member. “All of the villages said they were honored. The Tanana Chiefs Council had to draw names to make it fair and choose who to represent on the aircraft.”