Out with the old, in with the new

  • Published
  • By Capt. Tony Wickman
  • 71st Flying Training Wing Public Affairs
What can you say about 2007, other than it was another busy year for Team Vance and the 71st Flying Training Wing. The Air Force celebrated its 60th year of independent service to the nation, and Vance recognized its 66th year of turning out the world's best pilots for the U.S. Armed Forces and our allies.

So significant was 2007 that former mayor and current Vance Partner in the Sky Ernie Currier proclaimed it "Year of the Air Force" in Enid for the many contributions made throughout the years by Air Force members to the city and the country.

Passing through the new Vance Hairston Gate and Visitor's Center gives you a sense of the winds of change at this busy base in Northwest Oklahoma. And, as the song goes, "ring out the old and bring in the new."

Out the door this year went both programs and people. The Fixed Wing Qualification Training Program shuttered its doors and moved to Laughlin, and parasailing ended. The base consolidated many of its military personnel functions, and many quality people either retired or moved on in their careers from Vance. Also, Vance took its fair share of cuts in manpower as the Air Force moved to draw down its end strength.

Not all was doom and gloom. There were many "in with the new" items here, too.

New to Vance in 2007 was the standup of the 3rd Fighter Training Squadron and the launch of the Introductions to Fighter Fundamentals program. Monty's also opened its doors to provide enlisted personnel with a safe environment for recreation including pool, video games, and big screen TVs. Also, for the first time in the base's verifiable history, Team Vance raised more than $100,000 for the Combined Federal Campaign. 

A new personnel system, the National Security Personnel System, was implemented here and around the Department of Defense that affects every civilian employee on the base. Construction also changed the shape and face of the base, with a new veterinary clinic, a Military Working Dog facility, traffic pattern and many other facilities.

Not to be forgotten, Vance welcomed a new contractor--Pinnacle Hunt--who took over base housing in October and is working diligently to provide quality living quarters for Vance families. Also, there were many new faces that arrived at the base in key leadership positions: Col. Otha Solomon, 71st Medical Group commander, Col. Jennifer Graham, 71st Mission Support Group commander; Chief Master Sgt. Ruben Gonzalez, 71st FTW Command Chief; and many others.

Looking throughout the archives, it is difficult to identify all the great and wonderful things that happened at Vance in the past year. There were numerous Team Vance members and programs recognized at the command-level for the great work in helping make top-notch pilots for the Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and U.S. allies, while simultaneously deploying Airmen around the world in support of combatant commanders' needs as part of the Expeditionary Air Force.

Through it all, Team Vance stayed busy and shined as a crown jewel in the AETC crown. 

Trying to prognosticate for 2008 is both easy and challenging. It is easy because the fundamental mission of Vance will continue...making pilots and deploying Airmen to do the nation's business. It is challenging because nothing is ever written in stone. Suffice it to say that the wing will continue to march to the head of the class in AETC, all the while focusing on flying and personal safety.

Here's to a 67th year of excellence at Vance and Enid, America.