Farewell to the Last F-16 Block 25

SSgt Charles Thurber stands by as the last Block 25 F-16 prepares for it's final departure flight on Sept. 14, 2010 at the 148th Fighter Wing Air National Guard Base in Duluth, Minn.  The 148th FW has transitioned to the Block 50 F-16 and this Block 25 was the last to be replaced.  (U.S. Air Force photo by SMSgt Ralph Kapustka)

SSgt Charles Thurber stands by as the last Block 25 F-16 prepares for it's final departure flight on Sept. 14, 2010 at the 148th Fighter Wing Air National Guard Base in Duluth, Minn. The 148th FW has transitioned to the Block 50 F-16 and this Block 25 was the last to be replaced. (U.S. Air Force photo by SMSgt Ralph Kapustka)

DULUTH, Minn. -- The 148th Fighter Wing said goodbye to an old friend on September 14, 2010 when the last F-16 Block 25, aircraft 236, left the base.

The departure of the Block 25 marks an end to an era. An era that saw the jets deploy to Iraq 3 times, excel in Operational Readiness Inspections, and earn the Bulldogs the Raytheon Trophy.

"Bitter/sweet," is how Col Frank Stokes, 148FW Commander, described the moment as he watched Staff Sgt. Andy Rohweder, 148FW Crew Chief, prepare the "Queen of the Fleet", aircraft 236, for its last take-off out of Duluth.

With the departure of the last Block 25 the 148th becomes a true Block 50 unit. A unit that is now focused only on its new aircraft and the Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) mission that goes along with it.

"We are extremely lucky to be flying the newest and the most capable F-16 in the US Air Force inventory," said Stokes. "The Bulldogs will soon become the best (SEAD) Wing in the Combat Air Forces."