The Pride of Grove City


On Nov. 16, the city of Grove City was recognized by the 121st Air Refueling Wing based at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base. The event featured the unveiling and dedication of a KC-135 Stratotanker to Grove City. The aircraft was named “The Pride of Grove City.”

From the early days of flight, aviators applied personalized markings to their aircraft. During World War II, the markings flourished, becoming distinctive symbols of unit pride. However, as the 20th century progressed, the practice faded. In 2015, the Air Force resumed the markings as a way to enhance unit pride. Through this legacy, the 121st chose to strengthen bonds with local communities and recognize them for the friendship and support they have shown Rickenbacker since 1942.

“This is an honor that recognizes our community’s history with Rickenbacker dating back to when it was Lockbourne Air Force Base,” said Grove City Mayor Richard “Ike” Stage.

Grove City often hosted local and visiting airmen beginning in June 1942 when the facility opened as the Northeastern Training Center of the Army Air Corps, providing basic pilot training and military support during World War II. The facility, renamed Lockbourne Air Force Base and later Rickenbacker Air Force Base to honor World War I flying ace Eddie Rickenbacker, accommodated Air Force personnel through the Korean Conflict and Vietnam War before transitioning into a civilian commercial transportation hub in 1994.

The Ohio Air National Guard and the Naval Reserve still operate a portion of the airport.

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