JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
In a unique event combining two squadron activations and two assumptions of command, the 1st Fighter Wing reactivated the 71st Fighter Squadron and established the 71st Fighter Generation Squadron during a ceremony on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, Jan. 6.
Col. Brandon Tellez, 1st Operations Group commander and presiding officer for the 71st FS reactivation ceremony, said although the 71st will now serve as the formal training unit for the F-22, the overarching mission to provide air superiority has not changed.
“You have been activated today to control the skies, and despite the many changes in venue or platform that we have seen throughout the history of the 71st, the mission has remained simply the same: air superiority for America,” he said.
Lt. Col. Andrew Gray, who took command of the 71st FS upon its reactivation, also emphasized the importance of air superiority and the squadron’s role in preparing the next generation of fighters to maintain air dominance.
“My charge as the commander of the fighter training unit is to help develop and prepare Airmen and pilots to go into these combat units around the Air Force and preserve air superiority around the world,” Gray said.
Following the reactivation of the fighter squadron, Col. Neal Van Houten, 1st Maintenance Group commander and presiding officer for the 71st FGS activation, highlighted some of the firsts from the long, distinguished history of the 71st Ironmen, noting that these accomplishments all had one thing in common.
“And most importantly, to the new fighter generation squadron - none of these accolades were accomplished without dedicated, Iron maintainers,” Van Houten added.
Capt. Trent Amerson, who took command of the 71st FGS, also acknowledged the proud heritage of the Ironmen and said although there will be challenges, he’s confident the FGS will continue to contribute to the legacy of the 71st.
“We have a hard road ahead of us, but our mission is critical to train and develop the most elite Raptor pilots, and we must continue to do this in a safe, secure and reliable manner,” Amerson said.
Safe, secure and reliable are words the 71st FGS lives by, as these are the tenants of aircraft maintenance, the FGS commander explained.
Amerson closed with a promise to support his squadron in every way possible and excitement for the future.
“Soon the enterprise will see that the only standard is the Iron standard. I'm honored to serve beside you, and I can't wait for what lies ahead.”