HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) – The realignment of U.S. military bases is forcing the end of the traditional A-10 attack jet “flyovers” at annual Memorial Day observances and parades throughout Connecticut.

The last of the A-10 “Warthog” jets housed at the Connecticut Air National Guard’s base in Windsor Locks left in April for other facilities, part of the federal base realignment and closure process that started in 2005.

The jets, which are highly maneuverable at low air speeds, were designed for the close air support missions for ground troops.

That made them ideal for Memorial Day tributes, when they roared over observances at low altitudes. They also were fast enough to reach numerous parades and ceremonies each day.

“We’re all standing down in the center of town, ready to make speeches, honor the veterans … and then you see these planes come swooping down,” said Polly Schaefer, who is organizing Monday’s parade and observances in the Rockville section of Vernon with her husband, Carl.

“It’s hard to describe, but you get such a warm feeling,” she said of the flyovers.

The 103rd Fighter Wing, which flew the Warthogs, has a new mission and has been renamed the 103rd Airlift Squadron. The transport aircraft it now flies is not suitable for flyovers, said Lt. Col. John Whitford, a spokesman for the state Guard.

The skies will not be empty overhead this Memorial Day weekend, however, officials said.

Army National Guard aviation units will perform flyovers with double-rotored CH-47 Chinook helicopters, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and one of the state’s last Vietnam-War era UH-1 Huey helicopters.

The helicopters don’t move as swiftly as the jets, however, so it may not be possible to reach every event this year, guard officials said.

“We’re going to try to do as much as we can with what we have,” Whitford said.

Information from: The Hartford Courant, http://www.courant.com

AP-ES-05-24-08 1405EDT

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