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25th anniversary of 4th ACCS deactivation memorialized with bench dedication

The 4th Airborne Command Control Squadron memorial bench sits on the grounds at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Box Elder, S.D., June 24, 2017. The memorial includes an American flag flying in the background with an image of an EC-135 aircraft flying over Mount Rushmore at the center; an image of two EC-135s conducting in-flight refueling to the right; and the squadron patch on the left. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

The 4th Airborne Command Control Squadron memorial bench sits on the grounds at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Box Elder, S.D., June 24, 2017. The memorial includes an American flag flying in the background with an image of an EC-135 aircraft flying over Mount Rushmore at the center; an image of two EC-135s conducting in-flight refueling to the right; and the squadron patch on the left. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

Honor Guard members from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., present the colors during a memorial dedication and anniversary event at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Box Elder, S.D., June 24, 2017. The mission of the Ellsworth Honor Guard is to act as representatives for Airmen to both the American public and the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

Honor Guard members from Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., present the colors during a memorial dedication and anniversary event at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Box Elder, S.D., June 24, 2017. The mission of the Ellsworth Honor Guard is to act as representatives for Airmen to both the American public and the world. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

Members of the 4th Airborne Command Control Squadron attend a memorial dedication during the 25th anniversary of the deactivation of the 4th ACCS at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Box Elder, S.D., June 24, 2017. A bench displaying images of the EC-135 was dedicated to those who served in the squadron and have passed away. The bench sits on the museum grounds under tail 262, nicknamed “Too Sick to Fly.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

Members of the 4th Airborne Command Control Squadron attend a memorial dedication during the 25th anniversary of the deactivation of the 4th ACCS at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Box Elder, S.D., June 24, 2017. A bench displaying images of the EC-135 was dedicated to those who served in the squadron and have passed away. The bench sits on the museum grounds under tail 262, nicknamed “Too Sick to Fly.” (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

Retired Lt. Col. Richard Hodges, a former 4th Airborne Command Control Squadron commander, speaks at the 25th anniversary of the deactivation of the 4th ACCS at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Box Elder, S.D., June 24, 2017. During its nearly 23-year run, the squadron provided an airborne and auxiliary command post and a communications link for 15th Air Force and Strategic Air Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

Retired Lt. Col. Richard Hodges, a former 4th Airborne Command Control Squadron commander, speaks at the 25th anniversary of the deactivation of the 4th ACCS at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, Box Elder, S.D., June 24, 2017. During its nearly 23-year run, the squadron provided an airborne and auxiliary command post and a communications link for 15th Air Force and Strategic Air Command. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Hailey Staker)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. --

More than 50 members of the 4th Airborne Command Control Squadron held an anniversary reunion and memorial dedication at the South Dakota Air and Space Museum June 24.

A granite bench designed by the reunion coordinator was a key part of the reunion, making the 25th anniversary of the unit’s deactivation.

According to designer Mary Hillman the bench – commemorating members of the 4th ACCS who have passed away – includes an American flag flying in the background with an image of an EC-135 aircraft flying over Mount Rushmore at the center; an image of two EC-135s conducting in-flight refueling to the right; and the squadron patch on the left.

Retired Lt. Col. Richard Hodges, a former 4th ACCS commander, who was the guest speaker at the event, thanked those members of the 4th ACCS who helped make the bench a reality.  

“I want to thank you for giving me the honor of dedicating this memorial of the 4th ACCS bench,” Hodges said. “When we think of the Black Hills, we think of landmarks associated with this area. Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse and Custer State Park are just a few of the attractions.”

Hodges added each of the four presidents on Mount Rushmore played a part in keeping this nation free, as did the 4th ACCS.

“We who served know that freedom isn’t free,” Hodges said. “It is won at a great cost. And even though we will never see our faces on a granite mountain, we now see our legacy memorialized in granite on this bench. We all stood watch with pride, honor, discipline, sacrifice and commitment for 22 and a half years.”

During its nearly 23-year run, the squadron provided an airborne and auxiliary command post and a communications link for 15th Air Force and the former Strategic Air Command.

The bench will remain on the museum’s grounds, under the EC-135, tail 262, an aircraft the squadron used to fly.