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Eglin units pay respects with mission dedication

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EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — Team Eglin units showed gratitude, respect, and admiration with the dedication of the BLU-111, Joint Direct Attack Munition’s final flight test mission on the Eglin Test and Training Range, Oct. 15.

The Armament Directorate, and the 780th and 40th Test Squadrons honored Richard Walley, division chief and senior materiel leader for Direct Attack Weapons, who passed away last month.

eafb eglin air force base GBU-54 BLU-111 final test flight dedication Richard Walley

A GBU-54 Joint Direct Attack Munition sits on an F-16 Fighting Falcon prior to the BLU-111 final flight test mission on the Eglin Test and Training Range, Oct. 15. Weapons Program office members inscribed personal messages on the bomb to honor Richard Walley, a division chief and senior materiel leader for Direct Attack Weapons, who passed away last month. The Armament Directorate, the 780th and 40th Test Squadrons dedicated the final flight test to Walley to honor his contributions to the weapons enterprise. (Courtesy photo/Armament Directorate)

“This particular JDAM variant was one of his special interest programs. This made it especially fitting this final flight leading to the fielding of the BLU-111 weapon was dedicated to his life and legacy,” said 1st Lt. Jacob Onyechi, 780th Test Squadron, of the flight that took place on Walley’s 64th birthday.

Onyechi, a test engineer who met Walley during previous test missions was impressed by the high regard and esteem expressed for Walley.

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“At one point, he was a fresh ‘LT’ just like me and he went on to do amazing things,” said Onyechi. “It’s surreal to step back and grasp that there were giants like Mr. Walley who impacted so much of the weapons technology we benefit from and depend upon today.”

Walley, a 22-year Air Force veteran, was considered a special figure in weapons acquisition for his contributions to key technological advancements for the warfighter.

As a sign of admiration and respect, heartfelt gestures to honor Walley were scattered throughout the flight test mission.

eafb eglin air force base GBU-54 BLU-111 final test flight dedication Richard Walley

A GBU-54 Joint Direct Attack Munition sits on an F-16 Fighting Falcon prior to the BLU-111 final flight test mission on the Eglin Test and Training Range, Oct. 15. Weapons Program office members inscribed personal messages on the bomb to honor Richard Walley, a division chief and senior materiel leader for Direct Attack Weapons, who passed away last month. The Armament Directorate, the 780th and 40th Test Squadrons dedicated the final flight test to Walley to honor his contributions to the weapons enterprise. (Courtesy photo/Armament Directorate)

Before the mission, the two F-16 test aircraft were designated call-signs WALLEY 01 and WALLEY 02. To further remember their friend, program office members wrote brief and personal inscriptions on each of the weapons to be dropped. Some read ‘IN MEMORY of RICHARD A. WALLEY, LEADER-WARRIOR-MENTOR-ICON.’  In another expression of homage to Walley, the name of his favorite team, ‘Roll Tide’ was announced over the radio each time the weapons reached their targets.

The most notable gesture was the flag flown in the test aircraft which was presented to the family after the mission.

The Alabama native was key in the fielding of the JDAM and the bolt-on guidance kits used to convert unguided bombs into all-weather, high precision-guided munitions. His work helped lead to the fielding capability of the 500, 1,000, 2,000 and 30,000-pound variants.

In addition to his JDAM contributions and involvement in numerous other programs, the 1979 Air Force Academy graduate was an F-22 Program Execution Manager who oversaw the Small Diameter Bomb and the Massive Ordnance Penetrator programs.

Walley empowered those around him to accomplish the mission, according to Stephen Pratt, Armament Directorate.

“Walley was an icon within the Weapons Enterprise and the acquisition community,” he said. “He made a huge impact on everyone’s life, both personally and professionally.  We will miss his larger than life personality, his love of family, his unwavering friendship, and his focus on mission.”

Story by Ilka Cole

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