Original Wild Weasels visit Shaw

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jonathan Bass
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
The 20th Fighter Wing hosted a conference dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Wild Weasels, here, June 5 and 6.

The Wild Weasels were founded in 1965 during the Vietnam War as a means for Air Force pilots to destroy the surface to air capabilities of the Viet Cong.

When asked about what it means to be a Wild Weasel, retired Lt. Col. Stanley Goldstein said, "We went in and people knew we were there to help them. Many missions didn't go if we weren't there; we made a contribution that was well received and needed."

The Wild Weasel's primary mission is described as, "First in, last out," meaning a Weasel pilot would act as a decoy to attract the enemy's attention while another pilot would destroy the target, thus allowing the remainder of the strike force to proceed through the war zone unabated.

Today, the 20th FW continues that mission around the globe, only instead of the F-105 Thunderchiefs, F-111 Aardvarks, and F-4 Phantoms that the original Weasels flew, 20th FW pilots fly the F-16CM Fighting Falcon.

"Today was one of the best days I can remember for a number of reasons," said retired Col. David Brog, former Wild Weasel pilot. "We old guys flew the Weasels many years ago and were involved in the Weasel development over the years after we flew. We are proud and happy and pleased to see this generation take over the mission, the legacy, and the spirit of the Wild Weasel mission."

The conference gave the former Weasel pilots the opportunity to interact with 20th FW Airmen in their work centers and learn how the mission is accomplished in the 21st century.

"Every time I see one of these young lads walking around with a Weasel patch on it warms my heart," said Goldstein. "It means they've picked up the mantle and are carrying on the mission."

Throughout the tour, the Weasels received a demonstration of F-16 combat capabilities in the Warfighting Center's cockpit demonstrator. They also learned about the modern munitions the Air Force employs at 20th Maintenance Group weapons standardization and evaluation, along with a real-world F-16 air show courtesy of the 20th FW's Viper Demo Team.

"Getting to see the F-16 fly gave me the itch to get back in the saddle," said Brog.

Brog said he couldn't think of a better way to spend time on a military installation than to watch his successors fly the mission he flew 48 years ago.

"I'm proud of what's taking place," said retired Lt. Col. Edward Ballanco, former Wild Weasel pilot. "I'm proud of the wing, I'm proud of the professionalism, I'm proud that they've taken on the Weasel mission in a way that most of us took on when we were doing it."

The tour culminated with the unveiling of the 20th FW flagship F-16's new tail flash, which was painted to commemorate the Wild Weasel 50th Anniversary.