Creech AFB legacy: Gen Wilbur Creech

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kristal Munguia
  • 432 WG/432 AEW Public Affairs

Three years ago, on 17 July 2019, the 432d Wing/432d Air Expeditionary Wing was granted installation command authority, officially becoming its own installation, separate from Nellis Air Force Base.

The 432d Wing is blazing the trail, standing-up an independent installation, but this type of innovation is rooted in the base’s history. Creech AFB’s namesake, General Wilbur Creech was also a trailblazer.

Creech enlisted in the Air Force when it first became its own military service branch on September 18, 1947. During his time in the Air Force, Creech accomplished many achievements—280 combat missions, 22 decorations for valor, 524 flights in the Thunderbird and Skyblazer demonstration teams, and twice a wing commander in Cold War Europe.

Creech held multiple positions such as flight training commander, aerial demonstration leader, foreign air force advisor, Fighter Weapons School leader, commander’s executive and aide, staff assistant in the Office of Secretary of Defense, deputy commander, and commander of two tactical fighter wings.

However, Creech is most known for his support and implementation of a decentralized management policy. The policy was a major contribution to Tactical Air Command, now inactivated and absorbed into Air Combat Command, during his time as its commander from 1978-1984. As a result, Airmen gained the power to make decisions at the lowest level.

The 432d Wing implements a decentralized management policy, now called Mission Command, to more effectively provide support to Airmen and their families, advance combat and competition operations, develop leaders of character, increase weapon systems stewardship, and optimize realistic training. This allows the wing to effectively run smoother by constantly maintaining mission readiness while also targeting Airmen’s morale.

As a result, the 432d Wing has become a hub of innovation for the Air Force. As the Air Force’s lead Remotely Piloted Aircraft Wing, the Hunters are regularly finding new ways to integrate RPAs in joint operations. RPAs were originally developed for counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, but as operations in the Middle East draw down, the 432d Wing is adapting to prepare for the future fight.

One such adaptation is the employment of automatic take-off and landing capabilities. Through ATLC, RPAs have more flexibility to take-off and land in different locations, making RPA support more agile. It also reduces the forward-deployed footprint for RPAs.

Gen Creech laid the foundation of innovation, and the Hunters continue to carry his torch—bringing the future today. On behalf of this major contribution, the base was renamed Creech AFB in 2005. Creech’s leadership, vision, mentorship and commitment to the Air Force helped shape the Air Force in its 75 years—evident in the 432d Wing.