SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Amarillo) made his first visit to Sheppard AFB Jan. 27, 2021, home to the only Air Force installation that conducts both technical and pilot training.
The freshman congressman was greeted by installation and 82nd Training Wing Commander Brig. Gen. Kenyon Bell, 80th Flying Training Wing Commander Col. Robert Haas, and other senior leaders.
Because of the installation’s dual missions, Jackson said Sheppard AFB “has proven indispensable” when it comes to providing for the national defense as well as the defense of the 14 NATO partners that participate in the 80th FTW’s Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program. The 82nd TRW is also the go-to source for aircraft maintenance training for more than 38 nation partners, including the $29 billion Royal Saudi air force F-15SA Fleet Modernization Program, the largest foreign military sales case in U.S. history.
The congressman called the two training wings at Sheppard “among the best in the military.”
“I was honored to visit with Brigadier General Bell, Colonel Haas, and members of both wings today, and I look forward to being a part of their continued growth and success,” he said. “I will be a strong advocate for Sheppard Air Force Base on the House Armed Services Committee, ensuring we provide the tools and resources necessary to properly prepare our Airmen for future missions.”
A tour of training facilities and programs provided Jackson an up-close view of what is the dichotomy of Sheppard AFB – training 21st-century Airmen, for the most part, in World War II- and Cold War-era facilities. The congressman was also shown how technology is also playing a prominent role in training, including the F-22 Maintenance Facility, where fifth-generation aircraft maintainers are trained, and the ENJJPT Spark Cell, where student pilots use virtual and mixed realities in their curriculum.
Jackson, a retired Navy rear admiral and physician, was appointed on Jan. 25, 2021, to the House Armed Services Committee, an appointment his predecessor, former Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Clarendon, held during his 26-year tenure in Congress. The HASC is responsible for setting policy for the military as well as defense funding.
“As a retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral with nearly three decades of military service, I am prepared to be an active member of the Committee as we look to improve our readiness, implement modernization efforts for our military, and return America to being the world’s greatest force for good,” he said in a news release.
Jackson was elected to Congress in November, becoming the first person to represent Texas Congressional District 13 since Thornberry was elected in 1994.