Jacksonville airmen to be honored on 125th Fighter Wing Day

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It lines up with a day on the calendar, but Jan. 25 this year will be unlike any other for local citizen airmen.

The City of Jacksonville is honoring the 125th Fighter Wing on Monday, 1-25, and the airmen of the Florida Air National Guard are beaming with pride and roaring with thunder.

The 125th Fighter Wing is known as the Home of the Thunder and that’s the sound you can expect.

They didn’t really expect to have Jacksonville Mayor Curry proclaim Monday as 125th Fighter Wing Day honoring all the airmen assigned to 25 units and led from Jacksonville.

“And there’s a lot of Thunder Pride so you’re gonna see the hashtag Thunder pride on the 125th, on 1-25, when we get to celebrate that day, a lot of pride. We have over 1,650 airmen that are citizens of this state and are doing amazing things for our country, for Northeast Florida,” said Col. Matthew French, 125th Fighter Wing commander.

In honor of our local airmen, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry is decaling today 125th Fighter Wing Day. Colonel Matthew French joins us to talk about everything from vaccine testing to the space mission.

Curry’s proclamation listed highlights of what the 125th does.

“We are proud to be home to the heroic, world-renowned 125th Fighter Wing that continues to execute extremely diverse mission sets across the state and around the world,” the proclamation concludes.

“We are the Thunder and we bring the thunder. We bring the boom to the entire state of Florida and to the nation as needed,” said Command Chief Master Sergeant Angella Beckom.

Chief Beckom is the top enlisted member of the fighter wing and one of the top ambassadors. She says even former members of the wing are excited to share photos and memories of serving.

“We have a lot of our airmen who are actually updating and uploading pictures that may have been taken back in the 1970s and the 80s and 90s,” Beckom said. “So it’s really cool. And then also our current serving airmen as well they’re excited and they’re, you know, uploading pictures and just that 125th pride and once you have it, it never goes away.”

Not only never going away, Thunder Pride will also expand to flying F-35s, something extremely meaningful to air defense and the Fighter Wing’s influence and future.

“It’s a big deal because it recognizes the excellence that our wing has and the confidence that the U.S. Air Force places in us to fly their premier fighter aircraft,” French said.

What would eventually be known as the 125th Fighter Wing was federally recognized in 1947 stationed at Jacksonville’s Imeson Field. The Fighter Wing is now headquartered near the Jacksonville International Airport.

On Monday morning, Col. French will join The Morning Show at 8:15 a.m.

About the Author:

Kent Justice co-anchors News4Jax's 5 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts weeknights and reports on government and politics. He also hosts "This Week in Jacksonville," Channel 4's hot topics and politics public affairs show each Sunday morning at 9 a.m.