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Merrell Lane, the chairman of the Niagara Military Affairs Council since 2005, has been awarded the New York State Conspicuous Service Medal for his service to the New York Air National Guard and the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.
Lane received the award from Col. John Higgins, the commander of the 107th Airlift Wing, during a ceremony on March 9.
Higgins also gave Lane a framed photo layout that included photos of the unit's past and present aircraft and of Lane in his interactions with the unit.
"Through his steadfast support of the 107th Airlift Wing, New York Air National Guard, and the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, Mr. Lane has been instrumental in promoting the key contributions and capabilities that the 107th Airlift Wing, and the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station provides to our nation's defense," Lane's citation reads. "His work has resulted in the construction of the Armed Forces Reserve Center on the base, plans to locate and build a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol regional facility, as well as securing funds to build a regional C-130 simulator. He was critical in leading the efforts to remove the 107th from the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission list in 2005, and again played a crucial role in lobbying federal officials to change the direction of the president's 2012 budget, providing the 107th Airlift Wing a new mission in 2013."
In addition to his work with NIMAC, from 2007 to 2011, Lane served on the chief of staff, United States Air Force, Civic Leader Group. In this capacity, he served alongside other local leaders from across the nation, to advise the chief of staff on a multitude of topics related to defense spending, National Guard priorities, and military/civilian issues.
"Merrell Lane is the most singularly responsible individual for keeping Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station open since he became president of NIMAC in 1996. His hard work and devotion to the Air Base has influenced every airman in the 107th Airlift Wing," Higgins said. "All of us at the 107th sincerely thank Mr. Lane for everything he has done. There would not be an air base in Niagara Falls if it were not for his labor."