Utah ANG unveils exhibit honoring Senator Jake Garn

  • Published
  • 151st ARW Public Affairs Office
The Utah Air National Guard unveiled an exhibit to honor Senator Jake Garn's military and political service in a ceremony December 5 at the 151st Air Refueling Wing Headquarters building.

The ceremony recognized Senator Garn's service as both a former member of the Utah ANG, as well as a member of the U.S. Senate. The maple display cabinet, featuring Senator Garn's career memorabilia, was presented in tribute to his accomplishments. The display case will be permanently located in the Heritage Hallway at the 151st ARW.

During the ceremony The Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Brian L. Tarbet, formally thanked Senator Garn for his service.

"We stand on the shoulders of those that came before us," said General Tarbet. "In Utah, the chief among those is General Garn."

Senator Garn is a former active-duty U.S. Navy pilot and a retired brigadier general in the Utah ANG. During his career in the Guard, he flew the KC-97L, C-97J and C-124. Senator Garn was also activated and flew missions in and out of Vietnam before the war was fully underway. In his flying career, Senator Garn has flown more than 13,000 hours. In December of 1992, Senator Garn received the very prestigious aviation award, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy.

Senator Garn's contributions to the Guard have extended far beyond his military service.

As a senator, one of his key contributions to the National Guard was the conversion of the KC-135 A-model to the KC-135 E-model. This conversion positively impacted the tanker community as a whole.

Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate in 1974, Senator Garn worked as an insurance executive and served as mayor of Salt Lake City. As senator, he served three terms in the 70's and 80's. Senator Garn retired on January 3, 1993 from the U.S. Senate, after 18 years of distinguished service, and returned to Utah to spend time with his family and work in his own consulting practice.

Senator Garn states his favorite item in the display was the picture of him in his space suit.

In November of 1984, Senator Garn was invited by NASA to fly as a payload specialist on flight 51-D of the space shuttle Discovery. During the seven-day mission, he performed various medical tests. Space Shuttle Discovery Flight 51-D landed at Cape Canaveral on April 19, 1985 after orbiting the earth 109 times.

The 151st ARW commander, Col. Kelvin Findlay, assigned the task of compiling the artifacts for the exhibit to Tech. Sgt. Rachel Hall, the aviation resource manager. Sergeant Hall said it was difficult selecting items to fill the cabinet because Senator Garn has a hallway full of pictures and certificates, and boxes full of items in the garage.

"I remember one of the last things he brought out was the wings," said Sergeant Hall. "I remember him saying I'm the only person in aviation history who carries these three pilot's wings for the Navy, Air Force and NASA."

During the unveiling, Senator Garn thanked the audience for the honor, but said he didn't feel deserving.

"You shouldn't be honored for doing something you enjoy doing so much," said Senator Garn. "I have enjoyed my military flying career. My 25 years as a military pilot is my greatest accomplishment in life."