Bellaire grad now in charge of military ‘boneyard’

By: 
Linda Gallagher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

U.S. Air Force Colonel Jennifer Barnard, a Bellaire High School graduate, is shown with her Harley Davidson at the U.S. Air Force Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center, known locally as the "Boneyard" on Davis–Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, where Barnard is now commander of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group.

 

BELLAIRE – In 1994, Bellaire High School graduate Jennifer Barnard entered the U.S. Air Force as a second lieutenant under the ROTC scholarship program after graduation from Michigan Tech University with a degree in metallurgical engineering.

Twenty-five years later, Barnard is still in the Air Force, but now she is a full-fledged colonel – and in charge of the largest military aircraft reclamation area in the world.

"They call it the ‘Boneyard,’ she said with a laugh. “I'm actually now the commander of the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG), a United States Air Force aircraft and missile storage and maintenance facility located on Davis–Monthan Air Force Base here in Tucson, Arizona."

Under Col. Barnard's command are more than 700 military and citizen contractor "boneyard wranglers," who reclaim and refurbish military aircraft parts as well as entire aircraft, from the more than 3,300 relics baking in the Mojave Desert sun of the 2,600-acre facility officially known as the Military Aircraft Storage and Disposition Center.

A sort of retirement home, the center holds aircraft of all types from all five branches of the military, NASA and the U.S. Forest Service dating back to World War II, when the area was first established. A nearby public museum holds many of the area's earlier aircraft restored to full service capabilities.

Reclaimed parts are very much in demand and are shipped to U.S. military bases throughout the world.

Entire aircraft deemed suitable for complete refurbishment, including fighter jets, transport planes, and helicopters used in more recent years, are placed back into active military service to be used in weapons testing and training, while others are being sold and shipped to U.S. allies overseas.

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