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Rep. Murphy hopes to save 911th Airlift Wing from closure

| Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, 11:47 p.m.

A local congressman said on Friday that he has made a last-ditch effort to keep the military from shutting down the 911th Airlift Wing in Moon.

“We've done everything we can possibly do, and have conveyed just how valuable the 911th Airlift Wing is to our nation's security,” Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair, said in a news release.

“Now the decision is up to Air Force officials, and I trust they will make the right decision and consider the 911th a model for bases throughout the country as the Pentagon looks for ways to save money,” Murphy said.

Murphy said he made a pitch this week to Air Force Lt. Gen. Michael Moeller, who heads the internal working group responsible for advising the Pentagon about whether to keep the 911th open. The base has survived two attempts by the government to close it.

Lawmakers enacted a defense bill last month that requires the Air Force to keep 32 cargo airplanes that previously were targeted for retirement, according to Murphy.

Moeller's group is responsible for studying the issue and making a recommendation to the military on where the aircraft should go.

Murphy said he provided Moeller with details about the low cost structure and efficiency of the Air Reserve base, which he said is 200 times lower than comparable bases because the Airlift Wing shares expenses for runway maintenance, control tower operations, emergency response and other services with the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

Murphy said the Air Force's working group was originally scheduled to make a decision on the base by Jan. 31, but delayed action so it could review the hundreds of pages of documentation and data he provided.

Murphy said Moeller informed him that the details about the base's costs and operations have been included in the working group's analysis, which has been presented to the Secretary of the Air Force.

A decision on the base's fate could come in the next several weeks, Murphy said.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He canbe reached at 412-320-7987or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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