29 TSS to celebrate 90th, needs help from past squadron members

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel King Jr.
  • 53d Wing Public Affairs
On Oct. 10, the 29th Test Systems Squadron celebrates its 90th birthday with a squadron open house, a remembrance slideshow and cookout.

The open house and celebration will take place at the unit's current location - the 53d Wing building at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

"This is a significant milestone in the history of our unit and we feel it is important to remember and honor those who served before us," said John Baker, a current 29th TSS member who is helping coordinate the celebration.

The first iteration of the squadron was the 29th Aero Squadron in 1918. The squadron moved around over the years, from Kentucky to Panama, California, Montana and ended at Eglin in 1993. It also flew numerous aircraft beginning with the JN-4 "Jenny" in 1918, then through 10 different Pursuit aircraft, up to Fighter aircraft in the early 1960s.

The squadron now operates to increase warfighter capabilities through ground based training devices such as simulators. The unit won the Vandenberg Award in 2007 for "most valuable contributions to Air Force training." Currently, it has 10 smaller operating locations at Air Force bases throughout the states.

Besides the accomplishments and awards, sometimes the feedback the unit receives from those warfighters is the most rewarding.

"After a pilot (supporting the current conflict) had to engage a target with live fire, he said 'It looked just like it did in the simulator,'" said Phil Kaufman, a 29 TSS member for 15 years. "That's job validation, to train the way we fight."

The squadron's leadership is trying to get the word out that all former squadron members are invited to join in the celebration. They are also asking for help locating historic items, photos and personal stories from past squadrons.

"We want to capture the visual and oral history of our proud unit for this celebration," said Mr. Baker. "We need to hear from any former squadron member, especially those from the 29th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron."

For anyone who would like to help with or come out to the 29th's 90th birthday celebration, please contact John Baker at (850) 882-7521.