SIOUX CITY | Traffic on Interstate 29 was backed up for miles Saturday as people waited to attend an open house at the 185th Air Refueling Wing. 

Col. Larry Christensen, the wing commander, said the event was to thank the public for its support of the base and the men and women serving there. The Iowa Air National Guard base has hosted open houses in the past, but Christensen said they have been occupied with deployments recently.

"This is our way of telling everybody how much we appreciate how they have taken care of us over the years," he said. "It has just been a wonderful day." 

An estimated 5,000 showed up to the base near the Sioux Gateway Airport to tour the facility and to look at 15 military aircraft that were flown in from across the country. There was also two Army helicopters and other Army vehicles, Mercy Medical Center's air ambulance helicopter and Sioux City Fire Rescue and Police Department vehicles. A 5k walk/run was held Saturday morning with the course taking runners and walkers past airplanes on the runway. 

"It just reflects how well the community supports us, we had such a great turnout even with the threat of the weather coming in we still had a huge amount of support," Christensen said. 

The 185th's main mission is to refuel planes-- while in the air-- for the U.S. Air Force, Navy and NATO with the eight KC-135 Stratotanker refueling tankers that are on the base. The unit has about 950 full and part-time members.

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