ROME, N.Y. (01/11/2015)(readMedia)-- The first air defense group in New York Air National Guard history was activated Saturday afternoon during a three-part ceremony at the Eastern Air Defense Sector.
The 224th Air Defense Group was activated by Maj. Gen. Verle Johnston, commander, New York Air National Guard. Col. Wade Dewey, the former commander of the Northeast Air Defense Squadron and current EADS vice commander, assumed command of the 224th ADG. The 224th Support Squadron was also activated, and Col. Emil Filkorn, EADS deputy commander, support, became its commander.
The Northeast Air Defense Squadron was re-designated as the 224th Air Defense Squadron (ADS) during the last part of the ceremony. Col. Wendel Smith, EADS deputy commander, operations, assumed command of the 224th ADS.
The 224th ADG and its two subordinate squadrons provide New York Air National Guardsmen for EADS federal mission. A headquarters unit of the Continental U.S. North American Aerospace Defense Command Region (CONR), EADS is responsible for the air defense of more than 1 million square miles east of the Mississippi River.
"With these actions, two key EADS leaders assume the titles, responsibilities and authorities associated with military commanders. While this is an important milestone for these new commanders, it represents a seamless transition for EADS 24/7 mission," said Col. Michael J. Norton, EADS commander.
The 224th designations are in recognition of the 24th Air Division, the first air defense unit assigned to Rome. In 1983, the 24th Air Division was transferred from Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, to the old Griffiss Air Force Base and tasked with the air defense of the northeastern United States. The Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) was established in 1987 at the 24th Air Division. The air division was deactivated three years later, leaving air defense responsibilities to NEADS. NEADS formally became the Eastern Air Defense Sector in 2009, when it assumed the air defense mission for all of the eastern United States.
The Eastern Air Defense Sector is headquartered at Griffiss Business and Technology Park in Rome. Staffed primarily by active-duty New York Air National Guardsmen and a Canadian Forces detachment, the unit supports NORAD's integrated warning and attack assessment missions and the U.S. Northern Command's (USNORTHCOM) homeland defense mission. EADS is responsible for air sovereignty and counter-air operations over the eastern United States and directs a variety of assets to defend 1 million square miles of land and sea.