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General Looney visits Sheppard one final time

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Jacob Corbin
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs
A black and white "hero shot" showed a young, confident pilot some years ago, ready to take the tiger by the tail and begin a 35-year voyage that would take him to the top seat of the Air Force's first command.

Gen. William R. Looney III, commander of Air Education and Training Command, recognized the pilot immediately - it was him, minus the snowy-white hair and fighter pilot paraphernalia. The general paid what could be his final visit to Sheppard as a member of the active Air Force. He's set to retire in 2008.

The general and AETC Command Chief Chief Master Sgt. Mark Luzader and their spouses visited Sheppard Nov. 29-30.

Several things have changed since the general attended undergraduate pilot training here in 1972 such as the transformation of U.S. and German pilot training into the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program and a leap in the technology used in training. But the biggest change was the relationship between the two wings of Sheppard.

"That is a relationship that has also grown together over the years and is very solid and productive here at Sheppard," he said. "We have truly been impressed with the Team Sheppard spirit, the fact that it is one base with one direction and one vector."

The general said the wings have a great deal of respect for each other and understand the importance of each other's missions to the Air Force,

"(It) truly puts the 'team' in Team Sheppard," he said.

General Looney said he was also impressed with the officer and enlisted leadership of both wings, the Airmen of Team Sheppard and with the relationships that are being formed at the 80th Flying Training Wing and the ENJJPT program.

With more than half of Air Education and Training Command's Airmen in Training graduating from Sheppard or one of its many detachments, General Looney said Sheppard is a key part in graduating the "backbone" of the Air Force. He said its training groups are important in continuing to "blue" Airmen before they arrive at their first assignment.

General Looney said he sees Sheppard continuing on the path it's on, with its two distinct missions only getting better and that they will grow together even further in the future.

"It will continue to be the (technical) training center of excellence," he said. "Sheppard will be a major player in technical training of our Airmen for the Air Force of the future."

Sheppard's future has a few changes in store for it, with the addition of the F-22 Maintenance Training Facility, and the loss of its medical training, which is being moved to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, he said.

In addition, he said it will need to continue to innovate and bring further technology to the classroom.

"The training groups will see a continuing need to develop internal and exportable courses (which leverage) new technologies, and to make advanced training courses available anywhere, anytime using available opportunities such as Web casting," he said.

He said he believes ENJJPT will continue to grow and build the relationships it has been building, but will also hopefully add more countries to those participating now, including Spain in 2009 and Denmark in 2010.

"Joint programs such as ENJJPT allow bonds to be developed between future Air Force leaders from all participating nations," he said. "The development of these leaders and exposure they have to each other early in their flying careers allows common bonds that will be useful to future operations."