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Former Kingsley dependent returns, wearing four stars

Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Education and Training Command, coins Airman 1st Class Zach Hamilton, 173rd Fighter Wing Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, for his outstanding performance at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Ore., Aug. 27. This is Rand's first official visit to the base and serves to familiarize him with the 173 FW mission and people. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Education and Training Command, coins Airman 1st Class Zach Hamilton, 173rd Fighter Wing Aircrew Flight Equipment technician, for his outstanding performance at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Ore., Aug. 27. This is Rand's first official visit to the base and serves to familiarize him with the 173 FW mission and people. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

Master Sgt. Casey Rietdyk, 173rd Fighter Wing F-15 crew chief, signals to Col. Wes French (front seat), 173rd Operations Group commander, and Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Education and Training Command, that he pulled a pin in preparation for their flight at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Ore., Aug. 27. As the sole U.S. Air Force F-15C training base, the 173 FW is aligned under AETC. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

Master Sgt. Casey Rietdyk, 173rd Fighter Wing F-15 crew chief, signals to Col. Wes French (front seat), 173rd Operations Group commander, and Gen. Robin Rand, commander of Air Education and Training Command, that he pulled a pin in preparation for their flight at Kingsley Field, Klamath Falls, Ore., Aug. 27. As the sole U.S. Air Force F-15C training base, the 173 FW is aligned under AETC. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- The commander of the U.S. Air Force Air Education and Training Command made his first official visit to Kingsley Field, a base he is very familiar with, Aug. 27, 2014. 

Gen. Robin Rand remembers the time he spent here long before his acceptance to the Air Force Service Academy in 1979 and long before he earned his place in the cockpit of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

This visit took him back to 1962 when his father Col. Phil Rand commanded the 408th Fighter Group right here at Kingsley Field.

"I played basketball in this gym and this court hasn't changed one bit," he said.
The base theater hasn't changed much either.

"I remember coming in here as a child to watch 25-cent movies," Rand said upon stepping into the foyer.

The base's history has a few twists and turns and in those days it was an active-duty air force base, but was originally constructed as a navy base during WWII to train naval aviators.

Today a training mission is alive and well, and though designated an Air National Guard base, Kingsley Field is responsible for training every single F-15C pilot who enters the cockpit whether they are from the reserve or active components. For this reason, the AETC commander visited the base to see first-hand the work the 173rd Fighter Wing does.

But beyond his familiarity with Kingsley's picturesque setting the changes to the mission over the years are monumental. Since Rand's childhood days here, the mission adopted new aircraft from the F-101 Voodoo, the F-4 Phantom II, the F-16, to the F-15 Eagle.

The mission has also changed several times but when the base joined the reserve component it returned to its roots--training. The 300-days of sun a year and proximity to large flying ranges make it an ideal location for just that.

Kingsley Airmen from maintenance to operations showed the general an organization flying more aircraft and more hours than any other guard unit in the country. With 32 F-15s assigned, flying logs tallying 4,730 flight hours last year alone, and a planned increase in sorties  the base has never been busier.