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Retirees back to work in the HQ building

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Dana Darko and retired Senior Master Sgt. Mark Giskass view one of the four encased photomontages highlighting the major missions, aircraft and personnel assigned to the 120th Fighter Wing which were recently placed on the wall of the newly remodeled Headquarters Building on July 20, 2011.
 (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.)

Retired Chief Master Sgt. Dana Darko and retired Senior Master Sgt. Mark Giskass view one of the four encased photomontages highlighting the major missions, aircraft and personnel assigned to the 120th Fighter Wing which were recently placed on the wall of the newly remodeled Headquarters Building on July 20, 2011. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.)

Retired Senior Master Sgt. Mark Giskass, retired Col. Fred Fairhurst and retired Chief Master Sgt. Dana Darko hang a lithograph on the wall.
 (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.)

Retired Senior Master Sgt. Mark Giskass, retired Col. Fred Fairhurst and retired Chief Master Sgt. Dana Darko hang a lithograph on the wall. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson.)

Great Falls Mont. -- Membership in the 120th Fighter Wing brings with it a sense of belonging to a family, but that family relationship doesn't necessarily end when an Airman retires from the unit.

A group of Montana Air National Guard retirees continues to meet monthly for breakfast in Great Falls to discuss their former careers, unit activities and current events. Many of these retirees regularly assist with the family day picnic, help assemble deployment packages for the Family Support Program and lend a hand when other retirees are in need of help.

Retired Col. Fred Fairhurst, the former 120th Support Group Commander, recently asked 120th Fighter Wing Commander Col. J. Peter Hronek if there was a project on base that the group of retirees could assist with. Col. Hronek suggested that they could help with placing historical photographs and artwork back onto the walls of the recently remodeled Headquarters Building.

Fairhurst took the idea to the retiree's breakfast and asked retired Senior Master Sgt. Mark Giskaas, who last served as the Production Superintendent in the 120th Maintenance Group, to help enlist volunteers to assist with the project.

"I put out an email and we got a few people to come and help out and hang the pictures. If there's a need, they'll come out to help," said Giskaas.

Fairhurst appreciates being able to review the 120th Fighter Wing history as depicted in four encased photomontages highlighting the major missions, its aircraft and personnel. "I just like seeing the progress that the unit has made through the years in obtaining new missions and doing such a great job fulfilling the requirements of those missions," he said.

Fairhurst says that the retirees may consider taking on an additional project in the future. They've been asked for assistance to build two additional encased photomontages that will highlight the last fighter aircraft that was assigned to the120th Fighter Wing, the F-16C
Falcon, and the current fighter aircraft, the F-15C Eagle.

"I think once you've had a career in the Air National Guard you realize that we're getting a lot to do without much to do it. And so, if the retirees can come up and take a little bit of this excess load off of those who have important jobs to do maybe we can make a contribution toward keeping the place looking good," he said.

Giskaas says that the retirees can also share important information about their retirement benefits during their breakfast meetings. He tries to pass on the information he gains during trips to family program conferences. "It keeps them in touch with the benefits that they need to know about. There's quite a few that do retire that don't even know they have benefits,
other than the check that comes when they hit 60. So it's just keeping them informed," he said.
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