The S.C. Air National Guard will honor the memory of its first commander and namesake of McEntire Joint National Guard Base during a special ceremony starting at 4 p.m. Saturday.
October marks the 50th anniversary of the renaming of the then-Congaree Air Base in honor of Brig. Gen. Barnie B. McEntire, who died May 25, 1961, when he piloted his malfunctioning F-104 fighter away from populated areas near Harrisburg, Pa., to crash into the Susquehanna River. Five months later, then-Gov. Ernest F. Hollings presided over the ceremony renaming Congaree Air Base as McEntire Air Base.
At the conclusion of Saturday’s ceremony, an unveiling will reveal McEntire’s name stenciled permanently beneath the canopy of one of the 169th Fighter Wing’s two two-seater F-16s, symbolizing the general’s permanent status as “wingman” to the members of the Air Guard unit.