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NEWS | Aug. 25, 2008

Team Randolph's training of Navy navigators comes to an end

By Sean Bowlin Staff writer

When Navy Cmdr. John Radka passes the flag to turn command of the 562nd Flying Training Squadron over to Lt. Col. Peter Deitschel today, he will be the last Naval Flight Officer to command an Air Force squadron at Randolph Air Force Base. 

"It's been great," Commander Radka said of his experience at Team Randolph. "The leadership has been exemplary and I will miss the camaraderie and staff --working with the Air Force has expanded my breadth of training and has enhanced my vision of 'excellence in airpower.' The joint training has met every milestone of 'Training the World's Finest Airmen for Tomorrow and Deploying Combat-Ready Warriors Today.'" 

The 32-year-old joint navigation training venture between Air Force and Navy ended Aug. 22 when the last of three naval flight officers graduated from the Air Education and Training Command's Combat Systems Officer Course. Navy and Air Force instructors in the 562nd and 563rd FTS, have trained fledgling NFOs and CSOs for the last 15 years at RAFB. Lt. Eddie Morelli, one of the last navy instructors in the 562nd FTS, said working with the Air Force was a good learning experience for him. 

"It's nice to see how the Air Force operates -- and you take away with you what works," said the future catapult officer heading to the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. The last Navy instructor leaves the 562nd FTS Sept. 30. 

Commander Radka stated the Air Force-Navy joint venture started in 1976 when NFOs started navigation training at Mather Air Force Base in Sacramento, Calif. 

In 1993, Mather AFB was closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission and the Air Force squadrons were de-commissioned. The 562nd FTS was re-commissioned at Randolph AFB to train Air Force, Navy and international students. 

Commander Radka added in 2002, the chief of staff of the Air Force directed that navigator and electronic warfare training merge into a single "pipeline," training combat systems officers with skill sets in basic, intermediate, advanced, low-level and radar navigation as well as offensive and defensive electronic warfare skills. 

In 2005, BRAC decided to move all combat systems officer training to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. Navy P-3/EP-3 navigation training will continue through a temporary syllabus in place at Fleet Patrol Squadron 30 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. until all the dust settles and finalized curriculum are in place. 

Beginning in mid-2010 the 562nd and 563rd Flying Training Squadrons will begin their move to NAS Pensacola and all training for Air Force CSOs will be co-located with Navy Undergraduate Military Flying Officer training there by the end of 2011.