Once again, the El Paso Daedalian Flight attended the graduation of ten new VIPER fighter pilots at Holloman AFB (HAFB), Alamogordo, NM on Saturday, the 3rd of December. Colonel Mario Campos did the honors. Here are your members at the event. Remember:
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Daedalian Flight Captain Lt. Colonel Alan Fisherchats with Mrs. Sarah Rich.
Colonels Miles “Cowboy” Crowellpours some iced tea, Col. Mario Campos is facing the camera, and Col. Bob Pittis standing and holding the blue folder.
L to R Clockwise: Mrs. Starlyn and husband, Lt. Col. Dale “RAM” Weller, Mrs. Lindsiand L/Col John “Atari” Harris,Captain Nicholas and Mrs. Sarah Rich, and our own Lt. Col. Alan Fisher. Your editor took the photo.,
Squadron Commander, Lt. Colonel George Normandin welcomes the graduates and guests
Lt. Colonel (Ret.) Scott A. Fredrick, the ceremony’s Guest Speaker, starts his talk.
OurColonel Mario Campos congratulates Squadron Commander, Lt. Colonel George Normandin who stood in for the Leadership Award’s winner, Captain Dennis “FARM” Cook, who was absent to attend his sister’s wedding.
Left, Colonel Miles “COWBOY’ Crowellcongratulates the Winner of the Red River Rat awardee, Lt. Nathan “BOOM” Nuveman.
“COWBOY” AND “BOOM” pose with the award
8th Fighter Squadron’s new Graduates, Class 22-BBH -L to R: Lt. John ‘STATUS’ Bove; Lt. Trey ‘TABLE’ Alexander; Capt. Kyle ‘TATER’ Cline; Lt. Thomas ‘MORTY’ Toscano; Lt. Spencer ‘NAATY’ Prather; Lt. Nathan ‘BOOM’ Nuveman; Lt. Samuel ‘LENNY’ Valleroy; Lt. Logan ‘FULL’ Frost; and Lt. Ryan ‘FANI’ Walsh
FASF/Daedalians pose with the Squadron CO LC. George Normandin ( at L) and Guest Speaker, at the rear, Ret. LC Scott Fredrick. Daedalian/FASF members L to R are Col. Mario Campos, Col. Miles Crowell, Col. Bob Pitt, and Daedalian Flight 24’s Captin, Col. Alan Fisher. Photos byRic Lambart
It was almost 40 years ago when the Williams AFB, Arizona Daedalian “Willie” Flight #82 began to give an award to each graduating class of new F-16 Fighter Pilots at Luke Air Force Base(LAFB) (near Phoenix) a highly and much cherished “Leadership” trophy.
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Above: F-16 Viper takes off for a mission.
The Training staff would vote for the student who displayed the greatest leadership qualities. When that LAFB F-16 VIPER training program was transferred to Holloman AFB (HAFB) near Alamogordo, NM, the pleasant duty of presenting each class’s Daedalian Leadership Award fell upon the El Paso, Texas Daedalians’ Flight 24.
The below 3:12 minute long video gives a glimpse of the F-16 Viper training program, which began at Luke AFB, AZ, and is now carried on at Holloman.
All members of El Paso Flight 24 are long-time FASF members, which is why the FASF posts each of those HAFB Viper Graduation Ceremonies right here, whenever possible.
This post’s headline above refers to the two amazing coincidences that took place at each of the last two graduations at Holloman: The most recent one was on August 20th, and before that, on May 21st of this year.
A few weeks ago the honored awardee of the Leadership prize was a new female fighter pilot, Captain Nicole L. “Clump” Palyok (Below) – – – Go to the end of the post to read Captain Palyok’s short biography.*
Flight 24 had awarded that same achievement trophy to its very first female fighter pilot over five (5) years ago; Lt. Claire “Harry” Bieber. The now Captain Bieber is only the second part of the event’s coincidences. The most astounding component of the coincidences began with what actually took place last May when the top Leader graduate was Captain Mark “GEF3” Palyok. (Below)
Captain Mark Palyok’s8th Tactical Fighter Squadron Graduation Program Photo
Were they brother and sister? No, rather a husband and wife. And, after their graduation, both will be stationed in Japan – – – and at the same location: Misawa Air Base.
Of course, the odds of this happening are beyond minuscule, but it did take place. And your webmaster was privileged to witness this amazing coincidence unfold.
The other astounding small-world coincidence concerning these two female Fighter Pilots is that your Webmaster sat next to Lt. Colonel Jim Hayward and his wife during the 311th TFS graduation dinner just four weeks ago.
When I mentioned to Colonel Hayward that there was only one other female that had been selected as a graduating squadron’s top leader – – – and that that award had been presented by me five years ago. The Colonel inquired about that female awardee’s name.
He was quite surprised. Not only did he know her, but he said, “She was my ‘wingman’ in Afghanistan!“
The Colonel then went on to assert that she was the finest, a ‘wingman’ who was among the best pilots he’d experienced, one that he knew always “had his back” . . . in short, “She was great!”
So, without further ado, let’s see the characters involved in these two coincidences (follow the link above to see all about Capt. Bieber).
Last May 21st was when Captain Mark Palyok was awarded the Daedalian Leadership Trophy by long-time FASF member and current Daedalian Flight 24 Captain, Colonel Alan Fisher:
Col. Alan Fishercongratulates Capt. Mark Palyok on his achievements
L to R: Col. Bob Pitt, Col. Alan Fisher, Capt. Mark Palyok, Ric Lambart, and Col. Miles “Cowboy” Crowell
That evening, Col. Miles “Cowboy” Crowell,Daedalian, explained the Vietnam Era“River Rat” Award
Colonel Crowellcongratulates Lt. David “Souper” Cooper, recipient of the River Rat Award
And now, let’s pick up the next Palyok event, Here, below, are the photos from that Graduation:
Colonel Fisher presents the Leadership Trophy to Captain Nicole “Clump” Palyok.
Colonel Fisherexplains the significance of the award from the Daedalians to the audience as Capt. Palyok listens.
The evening’s graduates stand on stage at the end of the ceremonies. L to R above are Capt. Timothy Crain, Lt. William Tatum, Capt. Palyok, Capt. Phill Warden, Guest Speaker Major (Ret.) T. O. Hanford, Lt. Isaiah Butcher, Lt. Eliot Shapleigh, Capt. Nicholas Reisch, Lt. Austin Good, Lt. Connor Davis,and Lt. David Louthan.
The Graduates removed their Dress Uniform jackets to reveal their traditional “Party Shirts” in readiness for the celebratory session. L to R above are Lt. William Tatum, Lt. Isaiah Butcher, Capt. Nicholas Reisch, Capt Phill Warden, and our star for the evening, Capt. Nicole Palyok.
Ric Lambart, Col. Alan Fisher, Col. Mario Campos, Nicole Palyok,Colonels Bob Pitt, and “Cowboy”Crowell.
Chatting after the ceremonies are: L to R: Capt. Nicole Palyok, Colonels Bob Pitt and Mario Campos
During the award ceremonies, Col. “Cowboy” Crowellpresented the “River Rat” award to Captain Timothy Crain.
* Nicole grew up in an Air Force family moving around her entire life. Her grandpa flew cargo in Vietnam, her dad flew the F-15C fighter, and her brother is a B-1 pilot stationed at Ellsworth SD right now.
So Nicole has 3 generations of pilots in the family which is “pretty awesome.”
She went to college at the University of Virginia where she got a BS in Biology. Originally she was Pre-Med while doing AFROTC, but after giving flying a try for a few hours in a Cessna she decided to apply for a pilot slot.
Nicole was commissioned and moved to Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, TX for Undergraduate Pilot Training (UPT). She stayed there after UPT as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot (FAIP) and taught students how to fly the T-38 for 3 years in the 87th Flying Training Squadron.
That is where she met her husband, Mark Palyok, who was also a T-38 FAIP at the time. Her husband and Nicole moved to Holloman AFB last summer and both went through F-16 training at the same time, though he was two months ahead of his wife’s class.Mark is already out at Misawa AB, Japan, and she will be joining him there in October. They are “very excited to be flying the Viper and to have the opportunity to travel overseas too.”
Nicoleremarked that it was “funny that we both ended up being selected for the (Leadership) award, It was quite an honor.”
This weekend’s FASF-Daedalian Graduation Event at Holloman Air Force Base, Alamogordo, NM
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L to R: Colonel “Spud” Caldwell, Graduation Speaker, MJ Tucker (who managed the Graduation Arrangements), FASF-Daedalian members, Roger Nicholsand Col. Mario Campos.
Lt. Col. “Burn” Clapper, Commander of 314th Fighter Squadron,Captain “Titto” Hannah, who shepherded the Daedalians, andCol. “Spud” Caldwell.
L to R: FASF-Daedalians, Colonel Mario Campos and Col. Miles “Cowboy” Crowell, currently a civilan contractor at Holloman, discussing their combat experiences.
L to R: Colonel Jeff “Tank” Patton, Lt. Col. “Burn” Clapper, and Roger Nichols . . .
L to R: “Roger That” Nichols,LC Michael D. “Burn” Clapper (CO of the314th Fighter Squadron), and Col. Mario Campos, Daedalian Flight 24 Captain, pose before “Burn’s”F-16 Fighting Falcon Jet.
L to R: Col. Miles “Cowboy” Crowell, USAF Ret., Roger Nichols and Col. Mario Campos, share a laugh.
L – R: Colonels “Cowboy” Crowell, Col. Jeff Patton,his wife, Tracy,Mario Campos and Roger Nichols enjoy Dinner.
314th Fighter Squadron personnel, parents and guests, applaud graduating students of class 18-HBB at HAFB
Colonel Mario Campos (R), Daedalian Flight 24 Captain, congratulates Lt. “Pickles” Mossing on his achievement in winning the coveted Daedalian Class Leadership Award.
L to R: Roger Nichols, Col. Mario Campos,Daedalian Leadership Award Recipient, Lt. Jason “Pickles” Mossing, Ric Lambart,Colonels “Cowboy” Crowell and “Tank” Patton,Commander, 49th Operations Group at Holloman AFB
Colonel Dean “Spud” Caldwell Commencement Speaker, shares what’s ahead for the new Fighter Pilots
L to R: Colonel “Cowboy” Crowell,and the “River Rat” awardee, Lt. Doug “Magnus” Clark, and Colonel Jeff “Tank” Pattonare all smiles. Lt. Clarkalso won the Distinguished Student Award in his class, which was the 314th Fighter Squadron’s Class 18-BBH. The River Rat award is given to the student that the other pilots would most want on flying on their wing in combat. The River Rat designation came from the Vietnam conflict and is named after the Red River Valley (Association) of the Vietnam war, an organization to which many pilots who flew in combat over North Vietnam belong. Both of the above Colonels are active members in the FASF.
L to R: Col. Mario Campos, Captain “Tucky” Durbin,event Master of Ceremonies, his wife, Stephanie,and Roger Nichols.
L to R: (Taken by Stephanie Durbin) – Col. Mario Campos, Capt. “Tucky” Durbin, Ric Lambart, and Roger Nichols. The two-finger salute being given by Mario and Tucky is that of the 314th Fighter Squadron.
All thirteen (13) new F-16 Viper Fighter Pilot Graduates pose before their Commander’s Fighter.