2018 YEAR IN REVIEW

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Wing leadership and Airmen of the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing stand in formation for their historical wing photo, Feb. 5, 2018 at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The unit celebrated its 75th anniversary and the many achievements the wing accomplished throughout its history, Feb. 22, 2018 at Creech.

January 2018

The U.S. Air Force announced that the first AFWERX location would be near the University of Nevada-Las Vegas, AFWERX will serve as a collaborative, creative concept exchange hub existing to attract and maximize ideas from public, academic, small business and industry visionaries.

Jan. 2-12
The Air Combat Command’s Directorate of Operations in conjunction with the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center hosted the 2018 Combat Air Force Weapons and Tactics Conference at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. WEPTAC provides a unique opportunity for combat air force tactical experts to brief and discuss current issues, look at future challenges, and present solutions for tactical topics directly to senior leaders throughout the Air Force, joint services, and coalition partners.

Jan. 6
The Commander of Air Combat Command, Gen. Mike Holmes, and ACC Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Frank Batten, visited the men and women of Creech Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 6, 2018. Holmes and Batten met with Creech leadership to discuss future installation and mission opportunities. They also toured operational squadrons to greet the Airmen of the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing and see them perform their critical mission.

During the visit, Holmes addressed his priorities for the New Year and also explained how instrumental the men and women of the Remotely Piloted Aircraft community are, especially within the ACC fleet.

Vice President Mike Pence shakes hands with Airmen during his visit to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 11, 2018. Nellis is Air Combat Command’s largest base and home to the U.S. Thunderbirds.

Jan. 11
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence made his way to Las Vegas Jan. 11 to attend the grand opening of the first AFWERX facility and visit the men and women of Nellis. Upon arrival, Pence, Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson and Chief of Staff of the Air Force Gen. David Goldfein headed downtown for the opening of the AFWERX-Vegas storefront, which will serve as an innovation hub to connect innovators and accelerate results.

Weapons School deputy commandant, taxis an A-10 Thunderbolt II straight wing jet aircraft onto the flightline of Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 19, 2018. The flight marked Rudolphi’s 3,000th flying hour in which he accomplished nearly 1,000 sorties.

Jan. 19
Lt. Col. Ben Rudolphi, U.S. Air Force Weapons School deputy commandant, flew an A-10 Thunderbolt II straight wing jet aircraft at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev, Jan. 19, 2018. The flight marked Rudolphi’s 3,000th flying hour in which he accomplished nearly 1,000 sorties.

F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jets assigned to the 335th Fighter Squadron, 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C., prepare for takeoff during Red Flag 18-1, Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 30, 2018. Red Flag gives mission commanders the opportunity to lead in a contested, degraded and operationally limited environment with multi-domain assets. The 4th FW was the lead unit for Red Flag 18-1.

Jan. 26-Feb. 16
The Air Force kicked off Red Flag 18-1 – its largest three-week premier air-to-air combat training exercise.

“We’re trying a few new and different things with Red Flag 18-1,” said Col Michael Mathes, 414th Combat Training Squadron commander. “It’s the largest Red Flag ever with the largest number of participants, highlighting the balance of training efficiency with mission effectiveness.”

The Royal Australian Air Force took part in Red Flag 18-1.
 

February 2018

Members of the 66th Rescue Squadron and 823rd Maintenance Squadrons greet their peers as they return from deployment Feb. 8, 2018, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The Airmen spent four months overseas to support Operation Inherent Resolve with personnel recovery missions.

Feb. 8
Members of the 66th Rescue Squadron and 823d Maintenance Squadron returned home from a four-month deployment overseas Feb. 8. The Airmen deployed with Guardian Angel teams from the 306th Rescue Squadron at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Inherent Resolve to conduct combat search and rescue missions.

The group included HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter pilots, special missions aviators, maintainers, pararescuemen, combat rescue officers, and a small support team.

A B1-B bomber assigned to the 7th Bomb Wing, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, takes off from Nellis AFB, Nev., for a Red Flag 18-1 training mission Feb. 15, 2018. The 414th Combat Training Squadron is responsible for executing Red Flag and this exercise is just one of a series of advanced training programs administered at Nellis and on the Nevada Test and Training Range.

 

A pararescueman is hoisted into an HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter, assigned to the 66th Rescue Squadron, during training on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Feb. 22, 2018. The mission of the 66th Rescue Squadron is to provide rapidly deployable, expeditionary, and agile combat search and rescue.

Feb. 22
Members of the 432nd Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., celebrated its 75th anniversary and the many achievements the wing accomplished throughout its history, Feb. 22, 2018 at Creech. The unit was activated as the 432nd Observation Group Feb. 22, 1943 at Alachua Army Air Field, Fla., as the nation prepared for World War II.

The group performed various missions over the years, such as training cadres for new groups and squadrons, tactical aerial reconnaissance in support of combat operations, and now expanding remotely piloted precision attack, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The unit was returned to active status May 1, 2007 as the 432nd WG at Creech, forming the U.S. Air Force’s first Remotely Piloted Aircraft wing.

Feb. 23-March 2
More than 150 wounded warriors from the Air Force, Army, Great Britain and Australia gathered in February to officially open the fifth annual Air Force Trials at Nellis Air Force Base.

The Paralympic-style event features wheelchair basketball, sitting volleyball, archery, shooting, track, field, cycling and swimming competitions, where participants vie for a spot on the Air Force’s Warrior Games team which took place June 2-9, in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The Air Force Trials are part of an adaptive and resiliency sports program designed to promote the mental and physical well-being of the wounded, ill and injured service members who participate.
 

March 2018

The U.S. Air Force Advanced Maintenance and Munitions Operations School celebrated its 15th anniversary with the graduation of Class 18-A. This was also the first class to combine officers and senior noncommissioned officers into one course.

March 2
The 24th Tactical Air Support Squadron activated March 2 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
The 24th TASS is an F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jet squadron whose primary function is training, supporting and performing close air support.

March 3
Rescue Airmen from the 23rd Wing recently participated in a joint rescue operation alongside other Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps assets, approximately 675 nautical miles off the coast of California. The 66th Rescue Squadron, a 23rd Wing geographically separated unit at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., transported a 54-year-old man suffering from a life-threatening illness aboard the MSC Flavia container ship to San Jose Regional Medical Center in San Jose, Calif.

March 9-23
Red Flag 18-2 got underway at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

An MQ-1 Predator taxis on the runway March 9, 2018, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The MQ-1 took flight for the last time at Creech, marking its retirement and the transition to an all MQ-9 Reaper force.

March 9
The Air Force held the MQ-1 Predator’s official retirement ceremony with Airmen from the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing, Remotely Piloted Aircraft enterprise leaders, and MQ-1 alumni March 9, 2018, at Creech Air Force Base, Nev. The MQ-1 ceremony included the final local flight by the Airmen of the 489th Attack Squadron and the last combat line flown by the 15th Expeditionary Attack Squadron in an undisclosed area of responsibility.
 

April 2018

Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, Thunderbird 4/Slot Pilot, prepares to march to his F-16 Fighting Falcon during a modified ground show practice at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Jan. 26, 2018. Del Bagno was killed when his aircraft crashed on the Nevada Test and Training Range during a practice aerial demonstration on April 4, 2018.

April 4
U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron Slot Pilot Thunderbird 4, Maj. Stephen Del Bagno, was killed when his F-16 Fighting Falcon crashed over the Nevada Test and Training Range April 4, 2018, at approximately 10:30 a.m. during a routine aerial demonstration training flight.

“We are mourning the loss of Major Del Bagno,” said Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, 57th Wing Commander. “He was an integral part of our team and our hearts are heavy with his loss. We ask everyone to provide his family and friends the space to heal during this difficult time.”

An investigation is being conducted into the cause of the mishap.

April 9
The 526th Intelligence Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., hosted an Artificial Intelligence and Design Thinking seminar at AFWERX Vegas. Event Guest Speaker Chief Master Sgt. Ian, superintendent of the 9th Intelligence Squadron at Beale AFB, Calif., introduced more than 100 Airmen, contractors and Department of Defense employees to the fundamentals of design thinking, artificial intelligence and cutting-edge computer technology.

Irvin Ridgeway, 99th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Prevention flight assistant chief, and Oakland Raiders alumni announce a fifth round draft pick in the Thunderbird Hangar at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., April 28, 2018. Airmen from multiple Nellis, Creech, and Nevada Test and Training Range organizations were selected to read the rounds four to six picks on national television.

April 28
The Oakland Raiders announced their day three draft selections April 28 from the Thunderbirds Hangar on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The NFL organization choose Nellis as the location to help grow ties and strengthen alliances with a community they will be a part of when the team relocates to Las Vegas.
 

May 2018

Master Sgt. Nefertiti Joseph, 823rd Maintenance Group training superintendent, and 1st Lt. Jamecia Lazard-Jackson, 99th Comptroller Squadron financial analysis flight commander, prepare a piping bag to frost their cupcakes during the Cupcake Wars event May 2, 2018 held at the Crosswinds Dining Facility at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Their team, City Girl Cupcakes, won first place in the event.

May 2
The 99th Force Support Squadron hosted a Cupcake Wars event May 2 at the Crosswinds Dining Facility at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The teams competing were given one hour and 30 minutes to produce three cupcakes: a specialty cupcake, a secret ingredient cupcake and a Marvel-themed cupcake.

Three teams consisting of three participants, judges and spectators gathered at Crosswinds with great enthusiasm, ready to start the event. The competitors quickly began to gather ingredients and prepare their cake batter once the clock started.

Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson presents the Gen. Lew Allen Jr. Award to Lt. Col. Andrew Huntoon, 57th Maintenance Group deputy commander, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., May 2, 2018. Huntoon was one of four recipients for 2017.

May 2
Lt. Col. Andrew Huntoon, 57th Maintenance Group deputy commander, received the Gen. Lew Allen Jr. Trophy from Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Stephen W. Wilson during a ceremony held May 2 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Huntoon is one of four recipients Air Force wide to receive this award this year. He was selected for the honor in recognition of his outstanding leadership and contributions to mission execution while assigned as deputy commander of the 57th MXG.

Airman 1st Class John kneels on a track before a sprint while training for the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., May 22, 2018. John’s accomplishments in the Air Force Wounded Warrior Trials in February earned him a spot on the Air Force’s Wounded Warrior track and field team, with whom he competed in the 100, 200, and 400-meter events.

May 22
Airman 1st Class John, an Airman with the 432nd Aircraft Communications Maintenance Squadron at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., qualified for a spot on the Air Force’s Wounded Warrior track and field team. He competed with the team, in the 100-, 200- and 400-meter events.

May 24
Airmen, family, and local community and military dignitaries welcomed the new commander of the 99th Air Base Wing, Col. Cavan Craddock, during a change of command ceremony May 24 in the Thunderbird hangar at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
 

June 2018

Capt. Jesse Loya, 391st Fighter Squadron pilot, starts up an F-15E Strike Eagle during Green Flag West, June 13, 2018, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The 391st FS participated in Green Flag to further enhance readiness by training on Close Air Support over the National Training Center, Fort Irwin, Calif.

The base hosted Green Flag West, an exercise that provides essential Close Air Support training that combines the capabilities of the Air Force and Army as a multi-domain fighting force. F-15E pilots will learn how to aid Army ground forces by providing CAS to clear the area of “enemy targets,” over Fort Irwin, Calif., as part of Rotation 18-08, National Training Center.

June 8
Brig. Gen. Robert Novotny assumed command of the 57th Wing from Brig. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt during a change of command ceremony, June 8 in the Lightning Aircraft Maintenance Unit hangar at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The 57th WG is the most diverse flying wing in the Air Force. It is comprised of the U.S. Air Force Weapons School, 57th Maintenance Group, 57th Operations Group (Close Air Support Integration Group), 57th Adversary Tactics Group; The Thunderbirds; U.S. Air Force Advanced Maintenance and Munitions Operations School and the 561st Joint Tactics Squadron.

June 21-22
Approximately 75 military members, small businesses, entrepreneurs and academia innovators presented technology designs to address Air Force perimeter security issues, at the inaugural AFWERX Fusion Xperience June 20 and 21 at the Enclave in downtown Las Vegas. The Fusion Xperience included live demos, keynote speakers and subject matter experts providing panel discussions on site security, innovation, culture change and other Air Force related focus areas.

June 28
The 32nd Weapons Squadron activated June 28 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The 32nd WPS will serve as the U.S. Air Force Weapons School’s Cyber Warfare Operations Weapons Instructor Course, whose primary function will be to provide graduate-level training to officers in the planning and execution of offensive and defensive cyber warfare operations.
 

July 2018

Colombian Air Force Kfir fighter jets fly over Arizona July 11, 2018. Six Colombian Air Force’s Kfir fighter jets trained at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., for a week and a half in preparation for Red Flag 18-3 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.

July 16-Aug. 3
Nellis Air Force Base hosted Red Flag 18-3 – and the goal of this iteration of Red Flag is to maintain air, space and cyber security through innovation, integration and interoperability. In addition, the Colombian Air Force will participate in the exercise to enhance training and foster enduring relationships through shared participation in operations.
“For the Colombian Air Force, participating for the second time in Red Flag signifies the opportunity to increase the training of our pilots in a very challenging environment,” said Brig. Gen. Pablo Garcia, Aerial Combat Command 1 commander. “We are ready to learn, apply our knowledge and gain more experience in combat aerial maneuvers with combat squadrons of the U.S. Air Force.”
 

August 2018

Aug. 3
Senior Airman Joseph Fleischli, 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron F-15 Eagle crew chief, was able to explain his innovative idea to improve the delinking feeder component for the GAU-2 weapon system, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to Maj. Gen. Pete Gersten, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander. With the help of AFWERX-Vegas, Fleischli was able to meet the general and present his side stripping feeder delinking mechanism idea. AFWERX provides an entry way through the partnership with entrepreneurs, inventors, academia and creative minds to present brilliant ideas to be recorded, evaluated and passed to the proper channels within the Air Force for consideration.

Senior Airman Elijah, 799th Security Forces Squadron military working dog handler (left), and U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Ward, Public Health Activity—Hood, Mojave Branch veterinary technician (right), treat Ssamuel, 799th SFS MWD (center), for a simulated injury during a training exercise Aug. 8, 2018, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Along with various detection responsibilities, handlers must be able to provide medical aid when their MWD suffers from wounds or injuries.

Aug. 8
Creech and Nellis Air Force Base military working dog teams conducted a joint training exercise Aug. 8, 2018, at Nellis AFB, Nev. This was the first integrated combat readiness training with teams from both bases.

Aug. 16
The Mike O’Callaghan Military Medical Center at Nellis partnered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Tele-Intensive Care Unit staff to work collaboratively with the bedside team to allow continuous monitoring of the ICU patients’ vitals when medical center providers are out of the room assisting other critical patients. The VA Tele-ICU center, located in the Veterans Integrated Services Network 23 in Minneapolis, Minn., is now linked to the medical center ICU where patients’ bedside clinical data will be made available to ICU intensivists, nurses and medical technicians through non-recording cameras, video display, microphones and speakers. Nellis is the first Air Force base to have a Tele-ICU system.

Aug. 17
The U.S. Air Force Warfare Center concluded its first Tech. Sergeant Week/Warrior Stripe Program at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The two-week course brought together 40 Warfare Center NCOs to provide an avenue for them to develop as military and professional leaders.

Students were pulled from the Warfare Center and its supporting units, from crew chiefs and civil engineers to medics and communications.
 

September 2018

Vice President Mike Pence greets Airmen during a morale visit to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., Sept. 7, 2018. Pence took to the stage of the Thunderbirds hangar, home of the U.S. Air Force Aerial Demonstration Squadron, to address Airmen and veterans.

Sept. 7
Vice President Mike Pence made a return visit to Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., for another firsthand look at the world’s premier proving ground for air, space and cyberspace lethality.
 

October 2018

Master Sgt. Andrew Kehl, 99th Civil Engineer Squadron deputy fire chief, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., was recently named the winner of the 2017 Department of Defense Senior Fire Officer Award. Kehl’s accomplishments set him apart from hundreds of other fire officers throughout the military.

Oct. 4
The Nevada Test and Training Range headquarters personnel performed their annual emergency evacuation exercise Oct. 4 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. The training is conducted annually through a briefing or an actual exercise. For this exercise, smoke filled up the building and forced personnel to evacuate. Once evacuated, a designated safety team member simulated having a heart attack.

Oct. 5
An A-10C Thunderbolt ll pilot was awarded the Air Force Exceptional Aviator Award on Oct. 5 in the 6th Combat Training Squadron auditorium at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Capt. Eric W. Calvey, an A-10C Weapons Instructor Course instructor assigned the 6th CTS, received the award for outstanding leadership, airmanship and assuring mission success during Operation Inherent Resolve in Syria.

Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright speaks to members of the 823rd Maintenance Squadron during a base tour Oct. 19, 2018, at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Wright spoke to Airmen about upcoming policy changes.

Oct. 19
Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Kaleth O. Wright visited multiple units around Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., to speak with Airmen Oct. 19. They talked about personal and professional development as well as what to look forward to with upcoming policy changes.

Dozens of Airmen briefed him on what their roles and responsibilities are at Nellis. Among the Airmen he met with were master resiliency trainers as well as 99th Civil Engineer Squadron, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center and Weapons School personnel.

Oct. 29
Airmen from units assigned to the U.S. Air Force Warfare Center gathered at AFWERX-Vegas Oct. 29 to present their innovative ideas for the 2019 Spark Tank Competition.

Maj. Gen. Peter Gersten, USAFWC commander, and Chief Master Sgt. Charles Hoffman, USAFWC command chief, evaluated 11 Spark Tank presentations before selecting two to advance to Air Combat Command.

The two teams selected to advance were from the the 59th Test and Evaluation Squadron and the 99th Medical Group, both stationed at Nellis.
 

November 2018

Airman 1st Class Bonifacio Garcia, 757th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron Strike Aircraft Maintenance Unit F-15E Strike Eagle fighter jet maintainer, inspects an F-15E before flight Nov. 15, 2018 at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. Crew chiefs are required to perform inspections prior to every launch.

Nov. 15
Pilots and maintainers assigned to various flying squadrons throughout Nellis Air Force Base competed Nov. 15 in a Gunsmoke Competition held on the flightline and Nevada Test and Training Range. Gunsmoke, which was once the U.S. Air Force’s premier air-to-ground competition, is now a modified version of the competition which puts the munitions, maintenance and Weapons School squadrons’ skills to the test through multiple events.

The 57th Wing plans on hosting more Gunsmoke Competitions for the flying squadrons to compete in.
 

December 2018

Airman 1st Class Ashley Libby, an aerospace medical technician assigned to the 99th Medical Operations Squadron at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., holds up a section of a half-ton American flag during the 2018 Las Vegas Bowl opening ceremony at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Dec. 15, 2018. More than 200 Airmen volunteered to carry the flag.

Dec. 15
More than 200 Airmen assigned to Nellis and Creech Air Force bases volunteered to carry a half-ton American flag during the 2018 Las Vegas Bowl opening ceremony December 15 at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas.

The ceremony also included performances by the Arizona State University Sun Devils and the Fresno State University Bulldogs marching bands.

The Airmen carried the flag over the field during the national anthem. Once the national anthem finished, F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter jets assigned to the 24th Tactical Air Support Squadron performed a flyover for more than 37,000 people in attendance.

The Bulldogs defeated the Sun Devils 31-20 to take home the trophy in their first meeting since 1941 and first ever in a bowl game.