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195 ACTIVATED IN CALL-UP OF FALLS AIR UNIT

About 195 members of the Air National Guard at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base have been called to active duty as part of a post-attack military mobilization authorized by President Bush.

The Defense Department confirmed the 107th Air Refueling Wing, a unit based at the facility, is one of 12 units across the country being called to active duty. It was not known when the Falls unit would leave for active duty.

The unit will provide air refueling services, but all other details about its role remain secret for security reasons.

Local Air National Guard officials still were awaiting official word of a call-up today but indicated they were ready to help with any response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Maj. Linda D. Blaszak, a spokeswoman for the 107th, said the unit still has not been notified of activation. "Ever since the president said we were at war, we've been getting ready, just like everyone else across the country."

The base's other unit, the 914th Tactical Airlift Wing, has had no indication of a call to active duty.

Immediately after the attacks, the base was placed on DefCon (Defense Condition) Delta, the highest of four alert levels and the highest level since the Persian Gulf War 10 years ago. The alert has since been lowered to a third-level threat.

The new call-up affects more than 5,100 Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members across the country and brings to 10,303 the number called to active duty.

The 107th unit also has sent dozens of volunteers to help with ground duty in the recovery operations around the collapsed World Trade Center towers in Manhattan.

Over the past decade, the unit has been deployed in Bosnia and Kosovo, helped enforce the "no-fly zones" over Iraq and delivered relief to storm victims in Central and South America and the Caribbean.

In Washington, the Defense Department praised the men and women who have put aside their personal lives to help with the nation's response to terrorism.

Pam Kowalik of the News Niagara Bureau contributed to this report.

e-mail: pfairbanks@buffnews.com

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