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Officially, Fully C-5 Operational: Veteran Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) joined with airmen,  friends, and state and local officials April 4 to formally dedicate the West Virginia Air National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing as a fully operational C-5 unit, according to a release from the Senator's office. Byrd said at the ceremony in Martinsburg, "It has been a challenging and exciting 10-year journey to reach this day." He harkened back to the unit's early days, flying P-51 Mustangs in 1955 and in the 1970s switching to an airlift role with the C-130 tactical transport and successful efforts along the way to forestall Pentagon plans to shutter the unit entirely. The wing began the switch to the mammoth C-5 strategic airlifter in 1999 as part of "a plan to position the West Virginia Air National Guard for the future," he said. According to a Herald-Mail report, Col. Roger L. Nye, wing commander, said, “Nearly three years and $220 million worth of military construction has transformed the 167th Airlift Wing into the nation’s premier C-5 facility.” The wing actually flew its first C-5 mission in April 2007, when it delivered two Marine Corps helicopters and 60 marines to Africa.