97th FTS welcomes new commander, celebrates 25th anniversary

  • Published
  • By Jet Fabara
  • 340th Flying Training Group Public Affairs

In conjunction with the 75th anniversary of the U.S. Air Force Reserves, the 97th Flying Training Squadron “Devil Cats” decided to host a packed week of events celebrating its 25th anniversary, which included a fini-flight, a heritage flight, unit training assembly, and change of command, Oct. 18-20, 2023, at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas.

The first day of anniversary festivities included a fini-flight for Col. Charles Sallee, 340th Flying Training Group deputy commander.

The second day, the squadron conducted an open house for 97th FTS alumni and family members as well as a tour of the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program, which is the world's only multi-nationally manned and managed flying training program chartered to produce combat pilots for NATO. The day’s events culminated with a two-ship heritage flight over the ENJJPT building consisting of the 97th’s heritage T-6 Texan II and a historic P-51 Mustang, called “The Millie G,” which was named in honor of Maj. Ed Giller of the 343rd Fighter Squadron, 55th Fighter Group.

After the open house, 97th FTS personnel, alumni and family were also treated to a skydive onto the Wichita Falls Country Club by Maj. Paul Yeagley, 97th FTS instructor pilot and training manager, to commemorate past and current squadron members.

“I flew with the Devil Cats on active duty for two years and since I became a member of the unit, it’s really neat to see and meet folks that come back to the unit for functions like this,” Yeagley said. “When you meet alumni, you instantly form a common bond.”

During the anniversary banquet, retired Air Force Lt. Col. Scott Thomas, 97th FTS former commander from 2008-2010, was invited as the guest speaker to discuss the heritage and history of the “Devil Cats.”

“The culture of family and excellence our former [97th FTS] Devil Cats have built, we have them to thank for that,” said Lt. Col. Bradley Brumbaugh, 97th FTS commander. “They didn’t have to stick around this whole week, but most did and we’ve been honored by their presence.”

The following day, Col. Kyle Goldstein, 340th Flying Training Group commander, presided over a change of command ceremony where Lt. Col. Frank W. Waters relinquished command of the 97th FTS to Lt. Col. Bradley Brumbaugh on Oct. 20, 2023.

A command pilot with more than 3,200 flying hours in the F-15C and T-38, Brumbaugh is responsible for the participation and operations of 70 Active Guard Reserve, Traditional Reserve, and Air Reserve Technician Instructor Pilots, as well as support personnel in the ENJJPT program, under the Air Force Reserve Command and Air Education and Training Command Reserve Associate Instructor Pilot Program.

Brumbaugh now becomes the 55th commander of the 97th FTS.