Eglin Air Force Base

Jessica Williams

At approximately 10 a.m. Wednesday, a fire and explosion occurred at McKinley Climatic Lab at Eglin Air Force Base.

Eglin officials say there were no “significant injuries” reported.

The explosion, which occurred in a support building near the lab, resulted in a huge plume of black smoke. Officials initially identified the source of the smoke as methyl chloride.

EOD Warrior Foundation

Military bomb-disposal technicians who’ve been killed in the line of duty will be honored during a ceremony Saturday at Eglin Air Force.

This will be the 48th Annual EOD Memorial Ceremony, which is held every year on the first Saturday in May.

Courtesy of Eglin

The F-35 program based at the 33rd Fighter Wing aboard Eglin Air Force Base is continuing to notch local milestones, with the jet’s ten thousandth sortie at Eglin expected this week.

The benchmarks generally involve the Air Force variant, the F-35A Lightning II.  Late last week, crew members at the 33rd Fighter Wing for the first time loaded munitions on the aircraft. Cpt. Hope Cronin is the Chief Public Affairs Officer for the 33rd Fighter Wing, “They’re dropping munitions, specifically their dropping the GBU-12, which is a laser-guided bomb unit. It’s about 500 pounds.”

U.S. Air Force

On Thursday, crew members at the 33rd Fighter Wing loaded four GBU-12 munitions into an F-35A Lighting II aircraft for the first time, here at Eglin Air Force Base.

The guided munitions were loaded in preparation for pilots to launch them from the F-35A later in the day.
The weapons drop was originally scheduled for late spring of this year, but according to the 33rd Fighter Wing, innovation and persistence from its pilots and maintainers allowed for an earlier launch of the munitions.

A new book looks at how the Ft. Walton Beach community rallied together to help Vietnamese refugees fleeing after the fall of Saigon. The book not only shares a slice of local history, it’s also being used as a teaching tool at UWF.

Eglin Air Force Base

Nearly three months after a Black Hawk helicopter crashed in March in Santa Rosa Sound, the investigation has been completed. The report has concluded that the cause of the accident that killed all 11 crew members was the result of “spatial disorientation.”

Gulf Power

Gulf Power Company is moving ahead with plans to build solar energy farms at three military bases in northwest Florida. The green light was provided this week by the state’s Public Service Commission.

The PSC gave unanimous approval to all three projects, aboard Naval Air Stations Pensacola and Whiting Field, and at Eglin Air Force Base. Natalie Smith at the utility says the approval process was somewhat lengthy.

Louisiana National Guard

The names of four Louisiana National Guardsmen killed last week when their helicopter crashed into Santa Rosa Sound have been released, as work continues at the crash site.

The head of the Louisiana National Guard, Maj. Gen. Glenn Curtis, identifies the soldiers as Chief Warrant Officers George Griffin Jr and George Strother; and Staff Sergeants Lance Bergeron and Thomas Florich.

Bob Barrett

  The Louisiana National Guard says the bodies of two soldiers have been recovered from a helicopter wreck off the Florida Panhandle. The Coast Guard Thursday suspended the search for any survivors among the soldiers and Marines missing in Santa Rosa Sound.

A news release from the Guard said the bodies of two others are believed to still be inside the wreckage, under 25 feet of water. But officials cannot confirm that, until a salvage crew is able to recover the aircraft. The flight recorder also remains on board.

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Christopher Callaway

  Crews searching for a National Guard helicopter that crashed into Santa Rosa Sound took to the air Wednesday afternoon, after heavy fog in the area partially lifted. The search area for boats, on foot and now aircraft, covers more than 50 square miles.

Photo via Flickr//Jason Mitchell

Fourteen Florida counties will share $2.45 million from the state’s Defense Infrastructure and Reinvestment Grant Programs. The funding will provide support for community projects at 19 military installations.

Florida’s military and defense sector is responsible for almost 9.5% of the state’s economy. That translates to 758,000 direct and indirect jobs that represent $73 billion in spending.

Department of Defense

Update: 

Secretary Hagel got a chance to sit in the cockpit of an F-35 jet, and in the Air Force hangar of the 33rd, stood before an aircraft with his name painted on the side as he made brief remarks to about 100 military personnel. He called the F-35 a critical part of the future of the nation’s defense.

"This is as big a project, the F-35, that we have at the Department of Defense; we have a lot riding on this aircraft," said Sec. Hagel, who noted that the U.S. military and its eight partner countries have a lot invested in the $400 billion dollar jet.

Veterans Monument Planned For Fort Walton Beach

Mar 26, 2014
Danielle Freeman

The city of Ft. Walton Beach soon will have a permanent place for residents to show their respect and appreciation for veterans in the community. A Veterans Tribute Tower of Northwest Florida will be constructed at the main entrance of Beal Memorial Cemetery. 

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The Air Force hosted a town hall meeting Wednesday night at the Milton Community Center in Santa Rosa County to discuss proposed plans for military training in the Blackwater River State Forest.

The Air Force is hosting two public town hall meetings this week to discuss proposed plans for military training in the Blackwater River and Tate’s Hell State Forests.  The first town hall to be held Wednesday, Dec. 11 at the Milton Community Center will focus on the Blackwater River State Forest.

“Well, we want to make sure the public has a good understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish,” says Mike Spaits, Environmental Public Affairs Officer for Eglin Air Force Base.