AFOTEC colonel's promotion ceremony takes flight
By Katherine C. Gandara , Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Chief of Public Affairs
/ Published October 07, 2011
Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. -- Booker T. Washington said, "If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else." On Oct. 3, those words became action when the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander lifted off in a balloon with a newly promoted colonel and her sister at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.
Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, AFOTEC Commander, promoted Lt. Col. Erin A. Skowran to colonel on the launch site of the Marauder's Mark balloon, which the general pilots, at Balloon Fiesta Park. After the brief early morning ceremony, General Eichhorn, Colonel Skowran, and her sister Maurreen Skowran lifted off with hundreds of other balloonists into the Albuquerque horizon.
Colonel Skowran, AFOTEC's Commander's Action Group Chief, discussed the idea for the special promotion ceremony with General Eichhorn who had his staff work with the Balloon Fiesta Event Director Don Edwards to make the event possible. The colonel's sister Maurreen and her father David Skowran pinned her new rank onto her uniform. Colonel Skowran asked attendees to keep all deployed Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in their thoughts. This comment was especially important to the colonel because her significant other, Lt. Col. Laszlo Veres, was unable to attend the promotion ceremony due to his deployment to Afghanistan.
Several of the attending AFOTEC members had the chance to act as balloon crew members in the preparation, chase, and recovery of the balloon and its occupants. The balloon was aloft for approximately 30 minutes and landed a few miles south of Balloon Fiesta Park. Following the ceremony and flight, Colonel Skowran held a lunchtime reception at AFOTEC headquarters in appreciation of all the AFOTEC members who support her each day.
Colonel Skowran entered the Air Force in 1983 and served six years as an enlisted computer programming specialist before she was commissioned in 1990 through Officer Training School. She has flown as an instructor navigator in the C-130H and evaluator navigator in the T-43A. Colonel Skowran is a master navigator with more than 2,900 flying hours in the C-130E/H and T-43A.
AFOTEC is headquartered at Kirtland AFB, N.M., and reports directly to the Chief of Staff of the Air Force. It is the Air Force's independent test agency responsible for testing, evaluating and reporting results on new systems being developed for Air Force and multi-service use.
AFOTEC's mission is to test and evaluate new war-fighting capabilities in operationally realistic environments, influencing and informing national resource decisions.