Commentary | May 20, 2009

Hunter 1 Departs

By Col Chris Chambliss 432d Wing, 432d Air Expeditionary Wing commander

Over two years ago, when Lt Gen Norman Seip, 12 AF commander, called with an exciting opportunity to stand up a wing from scratch, I knew we were about to begin an important journey with some of the finest Airmen the Air Force has to offer. 

Being designated the first Unmanned Aircraft Systems Wing in the Air Force, there were definitely some associated challenges, but there was no doubt in my mind that those challenges would be met head on by the men and women of the 432d Wing "Hunters."
We've truly been the victims of our own success as we've increased our capability by three fold over the last two years. We, as a whole - active duty, Air National Guard, AF Reserve, AFSOC, our British partners - and every Airman here, will continue that increase in capability as we work toward 50 Combat Air Patrols (CAPs) by 2011. 

In addition to the Predator mission here, we were able to stand up Reaper operations and now are up to 35 CAPs. This is a number that was unthinkable 12 years ago; even just five years ago or even two. Despite the operations tempo and the demands placed on this wing, each and every one of you have devoted yourselves to making the mission happen - keeping watch over US and coalition forces, keeping watch on our enemies, and trying to seek out and destroy those who would kill us, simply for cherishing our liberty and freedom. You stepped up to go above and beyond what has been asked of you and I cannot even begin to thank you enough for your tireless efforts. 

Working with the 98th Range Wing, 57th Wing, and 99th Air Base Wing leadership, Creech AFB has grown tremendously with added facilities in direct support of our mission and personnel to include a new Medical Aid Facility, which opened Feb. 12 and the new Creech Logistics Readiness Support Center building, which opened on April 10. We currently have several new projects underway to include a new fitness center and dining facility. The new Predator/Reaper Weapons Instructor Course will graduate its first class in just a few weeks, an amazing accomplishment, and requiring teamwork across several wings. 

As my honor to serve as your wing commander here comes to an end, it provides a time to reflect on many fond memories and the many people who have helped shaped this mission to what it is today. It's been a long journey since the beginning that took place at the speed of light, but we've definitely made great strides and the end result has been tremendous leaps and bounds in the number of CAPs over the top of our brothers in arms on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Standard for our Air Force, it's time to pass the torch to a new commander. I know all of you will continue to do amazing things. I know you will impress him as you've impressed me every day of the past two years. 

As Linda and I press on to the next chapter in our lives, we wish you all the best. Thank you so much for your service and sacrifice. It has been our honor and pleasure to serve alongside each of you.