WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Our Hometown Pride Tour soars on at Sheppard Air Force Base.
The base is celebrating 75 years of service and through the 82nd Training Wing, it has seen more than 60,000 officers and technical training graduates a year in more than 900 courses.
Brigadier General Patrick Doherty said airman numbers are increasing, class sizes are growing and Sheppard has some new missions that are taking off.
"We're increasing our production of young maintainer and CE warriors to the tune of 20 to 40% in the upcoming years," said Brig. General Doherty.
He said with that increase the base is responsible for a large portion of building the Air Force backup to the fighting strength that senior leaders want to see.
In the Aerospace Repulsion program at Sheppard, where each course is specific to the engine the airmen will be working on, hundreds are preparing for the future.
Sergeant Cesar Delgadillo said at any given day they have roughly about 200 students training.
He said annually they graduate around 1,000 airmen, and they support all Air Force major commands worldwide.
"As a jet engine mechanic, this is where it all begins for us. This is day one of training. As an instructor I love it. Being able to mold the next generation of airmen, and to be a part of that is pretty cool," said Sgt. Delgadillo.
To ensure the future of flight, safety is a must since the pilots' lives are in these airmen's hands.
Sgt. Delgadillo said the base's number one priority is making sure the airmen are performing the task with a technical ordered asked, and making sure they are safe.
Master Sergeant Jeremiah Layton said in the Turbo Prop course students receive 25 college credit hours following completion.
Staff Sergeant Paige Nelson said the airmen at Sheppard keep Wichita Falls going with all the technology students and instructors that also come through the base.
She said many crew chiefs, which are Maintainer Jet Mechanics, come to Sheppard.
Staff Sergeant Travis Wannarka said the people are the strength of the Air Force.
"The impact they have stepping out from technical school here is huge. Their backfilling the older generation, the folks that are getting out or retiring," said Sgt. Wannarka.
So what does the next 75 years hold for team Sheppard?
Brig. General Doherty said he believes good strength building will continue in ways that we might not be able to fathom.
"I know that Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls is going to be a large part of the next 75 years for our Air Force," said Brig. General Doherty.
He adds new missions are also in the works.
"We're excited about standing up the KC-46 field training detachment up at McConnell Air Force Base that's underneath the 82nd training wing," said Brig. General Doherty.
He said they are also a part of producing the maintenance footprint for an F-35, the new fifth-generation fighter, and the sustainment piece that goes along with it.
The 82nd training wing is also growing, Brig. General Doherty said they are increasing pilot production for not only Sheppard but for their Euro-Nato partners.