ICBM Eagles gather at Vandenberg
By Lt. Col. David Franklin, 532nd Training Group commander
/ Published February 28, 2014
VANDENBERG AFB, Calif. -- Following the Martin Luther King Day holiday weekend, members of the Association of Air Force Missileers made a pilgrimage back to Vandenberg Air Force Base to explore their nuclear roots at the 381st Training Group.
The AAFM delegation started their historic trip by visiting with group and squadron leadership. New organizational missions, integration of Intercontinental ballistic missile maintenance and operations training and several exceptional training innovations were highlighted. AAFM members also toured Air Launch Cruise Missile facilities, Missile Procedures Trainers and other maintenance training facilities to examine the evolution of ICBM training over the last several decades.
The delegation spent considerable time interacting with both students and instructors at two pre-arranged professional development forums. During the inter-generational exchanges, past and present nuclear professionals shared experiences from their time in uniform and discussed differences in the ICBM operational and technical training environments.
Retired Maj. Gen. Robert Parker, former 20th Air Force commander, commented on one theme that has stood the test of time.
"Never let your standards slip, because once you do, it is always hard to get them back," Parker said.
Some members of the delegation expressed satisfaction with the students and their training.
"The Nuclear Enterprise is in great hands," stated retired Col. Charlie Simpson, AAFM executive director.
The day's events culminated with an open meeting of the local AAFM chapter at Vandenberg's Pacific Coast Club. Simpson gave a presentation on the history and goals of AAFM stating that, "AAFM exists to ensure the proud heritage of all missileers, both maintainers and operators, is celebrated and preserved." By the end of the meeting, AAFM was successful in recruiting a number of new members for their missileer professional society.
While at Vandenberg, the delegation touted operations and maintenance training facilities, as well as Air Force Global Strike Command's 576th Flight Test Squadron. At the conclusion of the visit, Simpson stated the objectives of their visit were met with flying colors.
"AAFM has always celebrated those who serve in missiles, from the very start more than 50 years ago, through today, representing some of the best the Air Force has to offer," Simpson said. "The young men and women we met during our two days at Vandenberg, both in the training arena and those in the 576th Flight Test Squadron stand at the top of that list. There is absolutely no doubt that we are doing a superb job in preparing new missileers for their critically important jobs."
The delegation included: Retired Col. Charlie Simpson, AAFM executive director, retired Maj. Gen. Robert Parker, former 20th Air Force commander, retired Col. Patricia Fornes, the first female ICBM operations crewmember and squadron commander, retired Chief Master Sgt. Michael Kenderes, retired Chief Master Sgt. Bob Kelchner and Robert Wycoff, Honorary 532d TRS commander and ICBM Poet Laureate.