red hawk

The U.S. Air Force’s newest aircraft honors the Tuskegee Airmen. On Monday, speaking at the 2019 Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Acting Secretary of the Air Force Matthew Donovan announced the service’s new training jet, the T-X, officially has been named the T-7A Red Hawk. The Boeing aircraft is named for the first African American squadron in the U.S. Army Air Corps. “The name Red Hawk honors the legacy of Tuskegee Airmen and pays homage to their signature red-tailed aircraft from World War II,” Donovan said. “The name is also a tribute to the Curtiss P-40 Warhawk, an American fighter aircraft that first flew in 1938 and was flown by the 99th Fighter Squadron, the U.S. Army Air Force’s first African American fighter squadron.” During the announcement, Donovan was joined onstage by Col. Charles McGee, one of the original Tuskegee fliers. A veteran of World War II, Korea and Vietnam, McGee flew more than 400 combat missions, according to a statement from the Air Force. We salute both the Air Force and Col. McGee.

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Congratulations to Jewish Family Services (JFS) as it celebrates 170 years of service to the central Virginia community. Originally started in 1849 as the Ladies Hebrew Benevolent Association — a group of women who focused on helping the local Jewish community — the organization has evolved into a modern organization that serves the broader greater Richmond area. According to JFS CEO Wendy Kreuter, “As the needs of the Richmond community have grown, we’ve expanded our mission, organization, and capabilities to be able to reach the greater population — all faiths, ethnicities, and incomes.” That mission has included providing care to injured Civil War soldiers, those suffering from tuberculosis outbreaks and flu epidemics and assisting struggling families during the Great Depression. In the 1930s and 1940s, JFS welcomed Jewish immigrants fleeing European persecution. The organization’s mission continues today, as they provide area residents with adoption and in-home care and care management services for seniors and the disabled. We wish this wonderful group many more years of success. Happy birthday.

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Speaking of celebrating, did you hear Blacksburg was just named the best college town in Virginia? Reviews.org is an online team of enthusiasts who research and evaluate consumer services and tech products and recommend the best ones for readers. Using data from the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the group analyzed college towns with fewer than 250,000 residents in each state. The researchers say they “looked at overall population, student population, rental costs, college education rates, transportation access, unemployment rates and bar availability.” They further narrowed the study down by considering the cost of living, unemployment rates for 20- to 24-year-olds and ease of access to the city. That sounds like Blacksburg to us. This might be a factor for high school students still weighing the big decision of which college to attend.

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We are happy to report that American bomb-sniffing dogs now have an advocate in the U.S. Senate. Following the grim Inspector General report that at least 10 explosive detection canines (EDCs) who were sent to Jordan died due to lack of adequate health care, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., wrote a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressing his concern about the untenable situation. “The Department spends millions of taxpayer dollars in order to train the canines, provide appropriate veterinary care, and embed mentors in partner nations, among other expenses associated with the program. Yet once the dogs are deployed, many face mistreatment, malnutrition and unsafe facilities. I ask that you provide my office with a plan for how you will improve this program to protect taxpayer resources and ensure the safety and health of these highly trained bomb-detection dogs.”

The State Department’s anti-terrorism assistance program provides EDCs to foreign countries to support local law enforcement. The department’s canine training center, the Canine Validation Center (CVC) is located in Winchester. The center is supposed to be responsible for training the dogs’ foreign handlers and conducting assessments to determine a country’s ability to care for the canines. It’s unsettling to learn the IG found several deficiencies within the program. These magnificent animals are trained to do dangerous, deadly work — often in demanding and harsh conditions. They deserve the best treatment available. We send our thanks to Warner — the proud owner of a Welsh terrier named Finn — for his advocacy.

— Robin Beres

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