by Senior Airman Jarrod R. Chavana
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
9/3/2010 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- The last two operational F-15 Eagles left here Sept. 1 for Portland, Ore. The 71st Fighter Squadron is scheduled to be inactivated Sept. 30.
The 71st FS, also referred to as the Ironmen, generated more than 4,000 sorties and logged more than 5,400 flight hours annually.
"When the last wheels of the venerable (F-15) Eagle leave the tarmac, it takes with it 34 years of airpower and an overwhelming record of 104 enemy fighters destroyed to zero F-15s lost," said Col. Matthew Molloy, the 1st Fighter Wing commander . "Without a doubt, the F-15s of Langley Air Force Base have left little question as to which aircraft is the combat proven, preeminent air superiority fighter."
The F-15s are being sent to active-duty bases within the U.S., overseas and National Guard bases. Like the aircraft, the majority of the pilots and maintenance personnel are being allocated to various bases.
"It's pretty somber for all the personnel in the 71st," said Maj. Greg Voelkel, the 71st FS director of operations. "The 71st has a great history. Everyone is pretty proud to serve and be part of the squadron."
Reassignment teams have come to Langley to place Airmen in locations where their expertise could best be utilized.
"We have a few guys that will stay here and work on the Raptors at Langley, but 90 percent have been reassigned to stateside bases," said Chief Master Sgt. Carlos Taylor, the 71st Aircraft Maintenance Unit superintendent.
Not only are the maintenance Airmen being reassigned, but the majority of the pilots have been given new assignments, Major Voelkel said.
"With the departure of the F-15s, the air superiority torch will be passed to the next generation of Air Force aircraft - the mighty F-22 Raptor," Colonel Molloy said. "It is understood that the F-22 is still unproven in actual combat, but all indicators from our local training sorties to the Air Expeditionary Force deployments point to phenomenal potential.
"The 1st Fighter Wing stands ready to employ this aircraft in the same 'first and finest' standard as the F-15 Eagle," he said.
9/7/2010 11:01:57 AM ET Chuck -- It's inactivate according to every Air Force historian I've ever worked with.
9/7/2010 10:45:05 AM ET I believe the correct verb is DEactivate which is defined as to demobilize or disband. Inactivate is more commonly used in the field of biology.
Chuck, Hanscom AFB MA
9/4/2010 11:06:28 PM ET Since before I can remember, when my father would bring me down for his UTAs (unit training assemblies), I have always seen the F-15's out on the flight line at Langley. While it's sad that the Eagles are leaving the nest, their replacement is up to the challenge to filling their shoes.
Steven Smith, UnionNJ
9/4/2010 3:09:00 PM ET I too worked on the F-15 as an Eagle Keeper at Bitburg's Big 22 Stingers from 1982-1991 then later in the 33rd Fw, 59th Golden Lions and 33OSS. I still think the F-15 is the most beautiful fighter although the P-52 comes close. Long live the history of the greatest fighter of the 20th century. The F-22 has a big hole to fill which I am sure it will do. Those Raptor maintainers who are now and will be making history in the 21st century are starting a new chapter in the world's Greatest Air Force. Keep 'em flying!
Bill Karmik, Libertyville IL
9/3/2010 2:18:25 PM ET I had the awesome privilege and duty of working on the F-15 Eagle as a member of a weapons load team while stationed at Bitburg AB Germany from October 1982-1984. I still have a sense of pride having maintained the world's superiority fighter aircraft. Long live the legacy of the F-15 Eagle as the air superiority torch is passed on the the F-22 Raptor