Dressed in green and with green ribbons, hundreds showed up to a rally for the F-35 and the Vermont Air Guard.
"First and foremost we're here to say thank you to the men and women of the National Guard for everything they do for us," said Nicole Citro, with the group Green Ribbons for the F-35.
It's the first big gathering of supporters, who say the effort is to prove their size, compared to those opposing the jets who have staged protests outside the state house in the past.
"We haven't really had an opportunity to all come together because we're not going to go protest were not going to march on a senators office so here's our opportunity to all come together and show our support at the same time," Citro said.
Also in attendance -- Adjutant General-elect Steven Cray. It's his first official public appearance since being voted to the position last week. "We're part of the community -- this is a community event. I think it's very important to tell the community how much we appreciate their support, Gen. Cray said. He added that the F-35s are a crucial addition to the Vermont Guard.
But others, like James Leas, an outspoken critic of bringing the jets to the base and a failed candidate for adjutant general, said the guard should focus on the mission at home. "What we want is for the Air Guard to have the equipment to help Vermont when we have another hurricane Irene or worse, because global warming is intensifying," Leas said.
Leas said the noise of the jets is detrimental to thousands who live near the airstrip and wish the jets are stationed elsewhere.
But Gen. Cray said picking a mission for the guard isn't so simple. "I know from my previous experience working at the Pentagon, there's not a menu of options for us to choose from," he said.
Gen. Cray said though he has seen bases transition to cyber or drone style missions, those always result in a scaled back work force.
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