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Four UAV Squadrons stand up at Holloman

30th October 2009 - 10:00 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Air Force officials here stood up three remotely piloted vehicle squadrons and a maintenance squadron under the 49th Fighter Wing during an assumption-of-command ceremony Oct. 23 at Holloman Air Force Base.

Members of the four squadrons - the 29th Attack Squadron, 6th Reconnaissance Squadron, 16th Training Squadron and 849th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron (Provisional) - were originally assigned to the 432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nev., and have been at Holloman AFB for months as members of detachments, but now will be permanent members.

The 29th ATKS, 6th RS and 16th TRS - all training squadrons - now fall under the 49th Operations Group. The 849th AMXS, whose mission is to uphold the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, falls under the 49th Maintenance Group.

"You are witnessing a unique event today as we stand up a brand new organization in the 49th Maintenance Group -- the 849th," said Col. Michael Stapleton, the 49th OG commander, to the Airmen and audience witnessing the squadrons stand up. "It is a rare opportunity to witness not only a unit's birth, but also a unit's beginning that will play such an important role in our Air Force's future with remotely piloted vehicles."

"Our Air Combat Command and 12th Air Force leadership decided to entrust this vital mission to the 49th Fighter Wing," said Col. Donald Van Patten, the 49th MXG commander. "It is an awesome responsibly that we take very seriously."

Each RPV squadron commander spoke about their newly acquired responsibilities and thanked their families for their support, and the theme remained the same throughout the ceremony -- the significance of the Holloman AFB new RPV mission.

"America's sons and daughters are engaged in combat today and when their boots hit the ground, they ask for one thing -- they ask for mutual support from the sky ... the missions delivered by the men and women that fix and fly the MQ-1 and MQ-9," Colonel Stapleton said. "It is a highly lethal weapon of war but frankly, without these Airmen it's just an airplane."

by Airman 1st Class Sondra Escutia - 49th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

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