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CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sen. Robert C. Byrd was instrumental in stopping federal government plans to transfer Air National Guard cargo planes out of West Virginia.
The Guard showed its appreciation one last time.
A plane from Charleston's 130th Airlift Wing flew the late senator's casket from Maryland's Andrews Air Force Base to Yeager Airport on Thursday evening for an overnight public viewing and Friday memorial service at the state Capitol.
Byrd's close friend, state Adj. Gen. Allen Tackett, was in charge of seeing that the casket and body are returned to Andrews on Friday afternoon. Tackett said his son was one of the C-130 pilots.
"It's kind of an emotional thing for me as close as I've been to Sen. Byrd, to be able to have this much involvement in paying our last respects to the wonderful job he's done for the state of West Virginia, the West Virginia National Guard and the military nationwide,'' said Tackett, who first met Byrd in the 1950s as a teenager.
Byrd, who was the nation's longest-serving U.S. senator at 51 years, died Monday at age 92. He helped secure federal funding in 1995 for new C-130s for the Airlift Wing and thwarted attempts to take them away, first as part of Defense Department cutbacks in 2005 and again in recent months.
"So it's only fitting that one of those aircraft is bringing him home for the last time,'' Tackett said Wednesday.