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MTANG weapons specialists say goodbye to career field

120th Fighter Wing Weapons Element members, retirees, family members and wing leadership gather together for a lunch to celebrate the weapons career field on Sept. 7, 2013 at the 120th Fighter Wing in Great Falls, Mont.  National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Michael Touchette.

120th Fighter Wing Weapons Element members, retirees, family members and wing leadership gather together for a lunch to celebrate the weapons career field on Sept. 7, 2013 at the 120th Fighter Wing in Great Falls, Mont. National Guard photo/Staff Sgt. Michael Touchette.

GREAT FALLS, Mont. -- Past and present members of the 120th Fighter Wing Weapons Element gathered together at lunch during the September unit training assembly to share memories of their careers serving together.

The weapons job specialty is one of three career fields that will be eliminated at the base during the unit's conversion from the F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft to the C-130 Hercules air transport mission. Guardsmen who currently hold these job specialties will now select a new career field available at the wing to retrain into.

"I'll definitely miss all of the people," said Weapons Manager Senior Master Sgt. Greg Grosenick. We're very close and we're a brotherhood down here. Working around weapons and getting a chance to go to a temporary duty location and load live munitions, you know you don't get to do that often, so I will definitely miss that."

The proud group of gunners invited former members of the section, retirees, family members and wing leadership to enjoy a lunch of pulled-pork sandwiches, cole slaw, beans and a personalized cake, all while they reminisced about their days working in a career field they loved.

"This is the end of an era," said 120th Fighter Wing Safety Manager Senior Master Sgt. Ronny Grina. "The gunners have always been very significant to the Montana Air National Guard. I joined in 1987 and had all of these wonderful people to mentor me, awesome supervisors, and really just a tight-knit group that's only gotten better, I think. So with the end of this mission, the F-15s go away and the need for a weapons shop goes away. It's kind of a sad day."

The last member of the section to attend weapons technical training will now train to become an air transportation specialist.

Airman 1st Class Stefan McCrumb says he will miss the camaraderie he's experienced being a member of the gunners.

"Well, I think it's good for everyone to get together one last time at least to celebrate," McCrumb said. Someone told me today that I was the last weapons person-the last gunner-which was kind of cool. I never thought of it that way."

The close group of Guardsmen will now focus on career opportunities with the unit's new C-130 mission, but they will always remember their days spent together working as gunners in the Weapons Element.

"Once a gunner, always a gunner," said Grosenick.
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