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Halter: Sheppard is 'first class'

Maj. Gen. Irving Halter Jr., commander of 19th Air Force, chats with Lt. Col. Rick Blackburn of the 80th Flying Training Wing Nov. 2 atop the new control tower. This was the new 19th AF commander’s first visit to Sheppard. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Litteken)

Maj. Gen. Irving Halter Jr., commander of 19th Air Force, chats with Lt. Col. Rick Blackburn of the 80th Flying Training Wing Nov. 2 atop the new control tower. This was the new 19th AF commander’s first visit to Sheppard. (U.S. Air Force photo/Mike Litteken)

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas -- After a two-day visit, Maj. Gen. Irving Halter Jr., 19th Air Force commander, left here Thursday with two words in mind: first class. 

An October ceremony handed control of 19th AF to the general and this visit to the 80th Flying Training Wing allowed him to get a better idea of the important mission Sheppard has. 

"Sheppard has a reputation of being first class, so it is no surprise to see that the instructors, aircraft, maintainers and the relationship between the 82nd Training Wing and the 80th Flying Training Wing is so impressive," General Halter said. 

During his visit, the general saw first hand what both training wings do, how they work together and how their missions translate into success on the international level. 

"We do nothing by ourselves and everything with coalitions now. American and international students here see different ways of doing things and processes from around the world," General Halter said. "In a world that is getting smaller, we get a deeper understanding of the relationships that will be important in the future." 

His trip included tours of the 82nd TRW and 80th FTW, as well as a flight with a Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program instructor. The immersion allows him to be a spokesman for the value of the program to higher headquarters to support the needs of the wing, the general said. 

The general said he was also impressed by the relationship between the two wings on base. The mutual respect and use of resources to work together showed what a synergistic effort there is, General Halter said. 

"It's great when the technical training Airmen can see sorties happening above them. They can look up and see the mission of the Air Force, it's very motivational," he said.
While things like construction of new buildings and improvements in aircraft, simulator technology and training could benefit the pilot training program, the general said he saw no specific improvements that needed immediate fixing. 

"This is a very healthy organization and it has a very supportive community relationship here. It's first on a lot of people's list for pilot training because of the quality here," he said. 

As the Air Force makes changes to its daily way of life with force shaping, PBD 720 cuts and A-76 studies, the general found that Sheppard continues to excel and is a valuable asset to training students from around the world. 

"I appreciate the important work done here at Sheppard. There are many rumors of downsizing and budgeting that can get people down, but this is still a great, modern Air Force that is investing in its future to do things smarter," General Halter said. "We are not sitting still, but moving forward. Focus on the positive, because there is a lot there."