Replacing the F-16

DES MOINES, Iowa – The day their mission changed forever.

It’s still fresh in the minds of Iowa Air Guard men and women.

When their F-16 fighter jets no longer were to fly out of their Des Moines airbase.

“A lot of emotion it was, to be perfectly honest it was like my world was ending,” said Stacia Taylor, an IT Specialist.

“Initially in a way there was a grieving over losing that mission we had done for so long,” said Colonel Kevin Heer.

Both Stacia Taylor and Colonel Kevin Heer worked directly with the F-16’s.

Change ahead was inevitable.

Now there are two new missions for these military personnel.

Those working on the fighter jets got a chance to go back to school and get necessary training for something different.

For Taylor it felt like the best news she had ever heard.

“A sigh of relief, that’s one of the reasons I went into communications because a lot of what I worked on with the F-16’s it kind of transferred,” said Taylor.

One mission will include remotely piloted aircrafts or RPA’s.

Here’s how it works a pilot can operate the craft anywhere in the world using a controller located in Des Moines.

The other?

The intelligence targeting mission.

This job entails trained military men and women to decide where the target needs to be for the RPA to drop a bomb.

Whether it be planned or at a time they need to think fast.

“I think the most important thing is that these enduring missions they will be around for a long time and that these are missions that will be very valuable to our country and the state in the future,” said Heer.

After a whirlwind of change that had many nervous to overjoyed.

Those like Taylor, have learned to let change just take flight.

“Grab the bulls by the horns and own it,” said Taylor.

Stacia Taylor an IT Specialist says she is hoping to start school in May.

Right now she’s enjoying working on other F-16’s from states across the nation.

 

Recruiting can be hard work, and that job can be even tougher when you’re up against challenges like refocusing your entire mission.

Recruiters had to find those with a new kind of skill set for the job.

So they had to find men and women who wanted to learn or already had the necessary technology training for the remotely piloted aircrafts.

“I’m taking its very exciting and challenging atmosphere and the work never stops. There’s always something to do with this new mission,” said Master Sergnant Paul Huvran.

Huvran says since October 2013 they have had 35 new recruits join the unit.

He says many have also contacted him about working back in Iowa because of the Home Base Iowa plan from Governor Branstad.

The plan is an initiative for veterans to come back to Iowa to work and live.

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