Airman’s Wife Says Mission Cut Would ‘Devastate’ Family

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The 188th Fighter Wing is possibly losing it's A-10 flying mission after recent budget cuts.

Shirley Bearden, the wife of a 188th airman, is unsure what the future holds, after the Pentagon announced the flying mission could change in Fort Smith.

"It would be devastating," Bearden said. "I can't imagine leaving. So for us to leave the area, it would be very difficult because we've been here for our entire lives. This is our life, and I'm just not really sure what our future holds."

The Bearden family has lived in Fort Smith for the last 26 years, when her husband, Master Sgt. James Bearden, was transferred to the 188th.

"My husband's been in since he was 18," Bearden said. "That's his job. That's what he loves to do. He loves being a part of it."

Bearden isn't alone. More than 1,100 people are employed with the 188th Fighter Wing, all who have stories of how they would be effected by a change, Lori Robertson  with the 188th Fighter Wing Fort Chaffee Community Council explained.

"Military history is in our blood, it`s in our culture," Robertson said. "These are people's sons, daughters, wives, husbands and their grandchildren. We have generations of serving families here."

Now members of the community are working together to save the 188th's flying mission. They say they're hoping that the Air Force Chief of Staff, General Mark Welsh's visit this week will make a difference.

"We're not going to give up," Robertson said. "We are committed to keeping this effort going to try to keep some type of active flying mission at the 188th."

"It would be a mistake to change this base's mission," Bearden said. "Or to take a flying mission away from them because they have what it takes."

For more on efforts to Save the Flying Razorbacks, "like" them on Facebook.