An open letter to the Nomads of the 33 FW Published June 18, 2015 By Col. Todd D. Canterbury 33rd Fighter Wing EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Nomads, as my time here at the 33rd Fighter Wing comes to an end, I’d like to take a moment to thank you and reflect on the accomplishments we’ve achieved in the past two years. These accomplishments were not because of me, but a product of your dedication to the F-35 program through your hard work, innovation and determination to complete the mission.When I assumed command June 14, 2013, I told you that the path you set right now would be walked by future generations of Airmen, Sailors, Marines and international partners around the globe. I told you that it was our time to perfect our craft as professional warriors and instructors so that we may set the foundation for the next 50 years of F-35 operations. Because of you, we’ve done exactly that. We’ve taken the Department of Defense’s home of F-35 training from a fledgling program and transformed it into a fighter wing on the cusp of operational readiness, serving as the primary enabler of fifth-generation air superiority for our combat air forces.We started with nine F-35A’s that were flying approximately four sorties a day. Since then we’ve increased our total aircraft to 43 F-35’s executing up to 19 sorties a day, which in turn generated more than 9,000 sorties to date. We’ve also trained 190 pilots, 1,900 F-35 maintainers, 191 air battle managers and 290 intelligence personnel – Netherlands, Australian, British and Italian pilots and maintainers among those numbers. You made this possible.We’ve furthered the program to the point where the F-35 is nearing its initial operational capability. This seemed like an impossible dream to some just a few short years ago. We’ve qualified our first operational weapons load team and hosted the first F-35 weapons load competition – our first competition since the 2009 draw down of the F-15C Eagle mission. Thanks to your continued dedication, we will soon see weapons capability employed this fall as we continue our steady march to IOC.As I have said before, all of this would not be possible without all of you, the men and women of the 33 FW. I asked for three yards in a cloud of dust daily, and you answered that call with grit and determination. You moved this program forward for our nation, and for that, I thank you.Thank you for all that you do every day for the F-35 program and the Air Force. It has been an honor to serve beside you. I’m proud to call myself a Nomad, and I look forward to seeing the incredible work you’ll do in the future.