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Former Wild Weasels visit Shaw

U.S. Air Force veterans gather during an F-16 Viper Demonstration Team practice at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 23, 2017. The practice gave the veterans, former Wild Weasels, a close-up look at the F-16CM Fighting Falcon, the aircraft Shaw currently uses to carry out the suppression of enemy air defenses mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force veterans gather during an F-16 Viper Demonstration Team practice at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 23, 2017. The practice gave the veterans, former Wild Weasels, a close-up look at the F-16CM Fighting Falcon, the aircraft Shaw currently uses to carry out the suppression of enemy air defenses mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force veterans read names on the Fallen Airmen Memorial at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 23, 2017. The former Wild Weasels attended a wreath laying ceremony honoring the fallen during their reunion trip, which celebrated the 52nd Wild Weasel anniversary. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force veterans read names on the Fallen Airmen Memorial at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 23, 2017. The former Wild Weasels attended a wreath laying ceremony honoring the fallen during their reunion trip, which celebrated the 52nd Wild Weasel anniversary. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force veterans gather for a group photo at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 23, 2017. Approximately 60 former Wild Weasels attended a reunion at the base to celebrate the 52nd Wild Weasel anniversary, during which they recieved historical briefings, visited static displays and spoke with Airmen about the capabilities of Shaw’s F-16CM Fighting Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

U.S. Air Force veterans gather for a group photo at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., June 23, 2017. Approximately 60 former Wild Weasels attended a reunion at the base to celebrate the 52nd Wild Weasel anniversary, during which they recieved historical briefings, visited static displays and spoke with Airmen about the capabilities of Shaw’s F-16CM Fighting Falcons. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Kathryn R.C. Reaves)

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Approximately 60 veterans visited, June 22 to 25, to celebrate the 52nd Wild Weasel anniversary and reconnect with each other.

The Weasels’ history began in 1965 when they navigated modified F-100F Super Sabres over the skies of North Vietnam, seeking to destroy enemy surface-to-air missiles. This suppression of enemy air defenses mission continues today with the current members of the 20th Fighter Wing.

During their visit, the veterans attended briefings, visited static displays and spoke with Airmen about the capabilities of today’s aircraft. The visit also allowed attendees to learn about how the SEAD mission they once supported has changed.

“The (new) SEAD mission capabilities are incredible,” said retired Maj. Gen. Tom Lynn, former 17th Wild Weasel Squadron pilot. “I was impressed with these men and all they do. It’s all in good hands.”

Team Shaw Airmen also had an opportunity to gain from the visit.

“The new guys got to hear the experiences of the older guys and hear the history of where they came from,” said retired Lt. Col. Ray “Pappy” Parent, former 23rd Tactical Fighter Squadron pilot. “For us (older Weasels), it’s great to connect with today and the future.

Parent also said he was impressed with the professionalism of the younger Airmen and glad to see the esprit de corps has been carried on from the old days.

After learning about the more than 50 year transformation of the SEAD mission from its beginning in the jungles of Vietnam, the original Weasels departed having reconnected with the Wild Weasel mission and wingmen of old.