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Our 30th year

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In your hands you are holding a piece of Joint Base Lewis-McChord history - the 1,560th issue of The NW Airlifter newspaper.

Our history is your history - the weekly chronicling of military life in the South Sound.  We've stood proudly as a supporter of our nation's Air Force, as well as the key source of news and entertainment for those serving here in the Pacific Northwest.

Our company dates back to 1951, when we first started publishing The Ranger at then Fort Lewis.  The Ranger celebrates it's 60th anniversary in 2011.  Our company was first owned and operated by Merritt Benson, a well-respected professor at the University of Washington in Seattle.  In 1964, Benson asked our father, Tom Swarner, to abandon his post-graduation plans for Madison Avenue, and instead come sell advertising for him in then sleepy Lakewood, Wash.  When Benson passed away in 1971, our father bought the paper from Benson's wife, Issabelle, and as they say, the rest is history.

For 34 years, we have worked every job at Ranger Publishing Co., which is now known as Swarner Communications, Inc. At ages 11 (Ken) and 13 (Ron), we cleaned the newspaper's office on Saturday mornings. Today, we have the honor to be publishers, a job we have shared since our dad retired in 2006.

We are a staff of 15 full-time "family," plus a long list of professional freelance writers, as well as a team of dedicated delivery personnel.

Most of our staff members have served five to 20 years with us. Day in and day out, they're still as passionate about their work as they were on their first day. We have a truly talented staff, and we feel strongly to call them "family."  

And, yes, we are still headquartered in Lakewood.

In addition to The NW Airlifter and The Ranger, we publish the Weekly Volcano, also celebrating a milestone in 2011 - 10 years.  It's a year of round numbers for us, including our operations manager, Bill White, who celebrates his 20th year with our organization.

It has been our sincere pleasure and honor to be your military newspaper.  We dedicate ourselves daily to your support, and look for ways throughout each year to honor you for your service - from Valentines parties for the spouses of deployed military personnel, to this February when we host a massive, free Military Baby Shower for all those expecting or recently given birth. 

So here is to the next 60 years of publishing.  Thank you for being our readers.

Ron and Ken Swarner

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