An honor and a privilege to serve as Team Vance commander

  • Published
  • By Col. Richard A. Klumpp Jr.
  • Commander, 71st Flying Training Wing
To All of Our Airmen at Team Vance,

It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as your commander these last 22 months. I am constantly blown away by the dedication and ability of each and every one of our officer, enlisted, Department of Defense and numbered Air Force civilian and contract Airmen. I am also impressed every day by the quality of leadership displayed by the group and squadron commanders in concert with the chiefs and shirts.

Together, you accomplish an extremely important mission for our nation ... a mission without which our military would not be able to support and defend our constitution either at home or on foreign shores. Training is the foundation of everything we do as a military.

Our forces are the best the world has ever seen, not because we have the best technology, but because we have the best training ... training which enables us to maximize the combat power of that technology and concentrate it at the decisive point.

And the 71st Flying Training Wing is simply the best there is at the two training missions with which our leaders have entrusted us. In the pilot training mission, our instructor pilots have proven their worth time and again. In two of the last three years, our IPs won three of the four 19th Air Force IP of the Year awards, an unprecedented feat given that five bases compete for those four awards.

We graduate the best pilots in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps because we challenge them with the most difficult flying conditions. No other pilot training base has the combination of winds, thunderstorms, snow and ice that we face on a regular basis.

Despite the impacts on training and the timeline, we graduated 27 classes and over 500 pilots in the last 22 months. Our IP force is aided in that challenge by the best air traffic control facility in the entire Air Force, winners of the D. Ray Hardin Award at the Air Force level last year and at the Air Education and Training Command level for the last three years, despite one of the highest deployment tempos in the wing. At home or for our combatant commanders, nobody controls aircraft better than the Ghostriders of the 71st Operations Support Squadron!

The second mission at which we truly excel is in providing trained Air Expeditionary Force warriors for our combatant commanders. In 22 months, we have deployed over 200 members of Team Vance. The lion's share of that commitment has been shouldered by the Airmen of the 71st Security Forces Squadron, but it is a burden that has been shared by all.

We have pilots on 365-day deployments to train the Iraqi Air Force, Defenders running detainee operations, logistics readiness squadron members managing convoy operations, and medics embedded with personal readiness teams (all while maintaining a medical treatment facility rated as best in the Air Force two years running!) We have Airmen working in-lieu-of taskings with the Army and we have our youngest members performing third country national duties.

These accomplishments are yours, not mine. I have had the good fortune to be the face of the wing, to occasionally be your conscience, and to always be your advocate, making sure you have the resources and infrastructure to accomplish the mission you perform so well.

Mary and I have made friendships here that will last the rest of our lives and we are forever in your debt for this amazing experience. We will miss command, but you are in very capable hands with Col. Chris and Kristan Nowland, and I fully expect them to carry you to even higher heights.

Thanks to all of you, the Airmen of Team Vance - wingmen, leaders, warriors, every one - for Leading the Way for our Air Force and our Nation.