Wing honorary CCs tour Tyndall, WEG

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Samuel King Jr
  • 53d Wing Public Affairs
The 53d Wing honorary commanders took a trip to Panama City, Fla., March 26 - not to get a jump on 'spring break' - but to tour and learn more about the 53d Weapons Evaluation Group located here.

"At Eglin (Air Force Base) the honorary commanders only get a part of the 53d Wing picture," said Lt. Col. Hank Jenkins, 28th Test and Evaluation Squadron director of operations, who joined his honorary squadron commander Greg Kisela on the trip. "So visiting the 53d WEG gives them an appreciation for our mission."

Upon arrival, the Eglin honorary commanders were joined by the WEG's own honorary commanders. The WEG participates in the Tyndall honorary commander program.

The tour began with a mission brief by the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron Commander Lt. Col. J.D. Lee. Then it was out to 'death row' to see the group's famed QF-4 drones. The area received the name due to the drones there are awaiting to be shot down during live fire exercises during the WEG's Weapons System Evaluation Program or Combat Archer.

Next, it was out to sea on the Air Force's only naval unit consisting of three 120 ft vessels used for sub-scale drone recovery. The ship took the group out to the gulf and performed a simulated BQM-167 drone pick up.

Back on land, the tour moved through the 82nd's fabrication shop where pods for the drones are created, designed and even built. The group then visited the sub-scale drone maintenance hangar.

"I'm amazed at the career opportunities of the Air Force from the technology to the machine shop," said Lauren DeGeorge, 81st Range Control Squadron honorary commander and former mayor of Panama City. "There are so many things run in-house. It's a real asset that saves us tax dollars."

The last stop on the tour was a tour of 81st RCS facility or Wetstone. The group was shown where and how the drones are flown and then shown where the airspace is monitored to ensure save and secure conditions during exercises over the Gulf of Mexico.

Finally, 53d WEG Commander, Col. David Hlatky closed the trip with an outbrief that explained how all of the tour sights the commanders had seen come together to complete the group's mission of weapons evaluation.

"It really showed what technology has done to improve the war effort," said Jeanne Dailey, 68th Electronic Warfare Squadron honorary commander. "It was neat to see their (53d WEG's) excitement and enthusiasm for what they do."