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Wed, Dec 08, 2004

Air Force Det 1, 58th OG, Reborn At New River

Marines Osprey Training Squadron 'Aims High' With Air Force Beneath Its Wings

In a re-activation ceremony held inside the joint Marine Tiltrotor Test and Evaluation Squadron-22 and Marine Medium Tiltrotor Training Squadron-204 hangar Dec. 2, Air Force Detachment 1, 58th Operations Group, was reborn.

Air Force Col. Paul R. Harmon, commanding officer of the 58th Operations Group, unfurled the detachment's colors, signifying the re-establishment of Det 1 at New River.

"This is my first time activating a detachment on a Marine Corps installation," added Harmon, from Queens, NY "It's a great opportunity for the Air Force to see how the Marines do things."

The detachment was re-activated in support of the VMMT-204 mission to train pilots, both Marines and Airmen, who are participating in the Osprey program. Six Airmen, including the new commanding officer of Det 1, Lt. Col. Darrin M. Valha, four pilots and one administrative specialist, make up the permanent personnel.

Its initial activation occurred in the late 1990's with the arrival of the Osprey. The detachment was subsequently de-activated after the re-evaluation of the V-22 program.

"We're going to be part of the instructor force, training Air Force and Marine Corps pilots to fly the V-22 Osprey," said Valha, who calls Olympia, Wash., home. "It will be interesting for Marine pilots to have an Air Force instructor and vice versa."

Detachment 1 is part of the 58th Operations Group based at Kirtland Air Force Base, NM. New River can expect to see more Air Force personnel receiving assignments here during the next year, with one or two trickling in each month. September 2006 is the approximate timeframe for the Air Force to be completely integrated into the Osprey program, explained Harmon.

"The key point that's going to make this a successful program is introducing the Air Force culture to the Marine Corps culture and broadening our understanding," he concluded.

(ANN salutes Sgt. Christine Odom, USAF)

FMI: www.af.mil

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