Mile High Militia
Meet the members of the 120th Fighter Squadron, who protect the skies over Colorado.
- By Ed Darack
- AirSpaceMag.com, August 18, 2011
Each Guard Unit hires a mix: experienced talent leaving active duty, and civilian "Guard babies," explains Lieutenant Colonel Scott Van Beek. A "Guard baby" is a civilian that the unit hires and trains for the mission, and Van Beek is proud to be part of that group. He was first sent to flight screening for two months of basic Cessna flying to bring him up to a private pilot's level. Next he went to Officer School for eight weeks, followed by a year of jet pilot training. Then it was water and land survival school, followed by nine months of F-16 fighter training. "I finally returned to Buckley as a guy who is able to fly the F-16. Notice I said able to 'fly' the F-16. The home unit then puts the newly returned pilot in their upgrade program to get him ready for combat. At that point," says Van Beek, "the military had invested over two years and more than $1 million to get me to that most basic level of combat capability. The fact that the Guard will hire you as a civilian, invest in your training, and give you the tools you need to begin a civilian career is one that, unfortunately, most civilians don't know or understand."