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Senior NATO Airman visits Air Force school at Navy base

By Story by Randy Martin | 12th Flying Training Wing | June 28, 2017

NAVAL AIR STATION PENSACOLA, Florida — The head of the United Kingdom’s armed forces and a frontrunner for the biggest job in NATO visited the U.S. Air Force’s 479th Flying Training Group at Naval Air Station Pensacola June 22-23.

Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach was recently identified as a candidate for chairman of the NATO military committee and if selected he will provide military advice to NATO’s secretary-general. His visit to Florida was an opportunity to offer advice to younger American Airmen who practice crew roles for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare like he did in 1977 with the Royal Air Force.

“It was an honor to have Sir Stuart address our graduates, instructors, staff and guests. His rise to the highest military position in the UK armed forces, as an RAF navigator is unique and may be unprecedented,” said Col. John Edwards, 479th Flying Training Group commander.

The 479th trains all Air Force, Air National Guard, and Air Force Reserve combat system officers—navigators, electronic warfare officers, officer sensor operators and weapon system officers. The 479th’s EWO program also offers training for undergraduate and graduate-level curriculum to the U.S. Department of Defense and 23 other countries.

Peach was briefed on the 479th FTG’s mission and he was shown a modified T-1A Jayhawk used for airborne training.

During a graduation ceremony for 22 new CSOs, Peach addressed Class 17-11 and dozens of their friends and family at the National Museum of Naval Aviation before presenting graduates the wings that symbolize their accomplishment.

“One hundred years ago airmen were fighting over the skies of France including British and American airmen, fighting alongside one another, forming the bonds of one of the strongest alliances in the world today,” said Peach during a graduation ceremony to 22 new CSOs with dozens of their friends and family members in attendance at the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

“Among those airmen were the observers and navigators, the predecessors to these graduates before me.”

During the speech ACM Peach spoke of the strong continuing alliance between the U.S. and the UK.

“You graduates will be walking in the footsteps of these aviators that came before you. Leave here, learn your systems, learn your job, be the best that you can in your new squadrons. Because the squadron is the life blood of our air forces. It is the source of all air power,” Peach said.

“It was a tremendous honor to have such a high ranking navigator to preside over our graduation,” said 2nd Lt. David Breeze, one of the graduates. “He is an inspiration and provides us all a role model to emulate for the rest of our careers.”

If he is selected as chairman in September, Peach will likely assume his role next summer.