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AFOTEC colonel's promotion ceremony takes flight

The Marauder’s Mark balloon piloted by Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander, lifts off with newly promoted Col. Erin Skowran and her sister Maurreen Skowran following her Oct. 3 promotion ceremony at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

The Marauder’s Mark balloon piloted by Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander, lifts off with newly promoted Col. Erin Skowran and her sister Maurreen Skowran following her Oct. 3 promotion ceremony at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

David Skowran, father of Col. Erin Skowran, pins on colonel’s eagles with the help of the colonel’s sister Maurreen Skowran during an Oct. 3 promotion ceremony at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Col. Skowran is the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander’s Action Group Chief. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

David Skowran, father of Col. Erin Skowran, pins on colonel’s eagles with the help of the colonel’s sister Maurreen Skowran during an Oct. 3 promotion ceremony at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Col. Skowran is the Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander’s Action Group Chief. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander, administers the oath of office to Col. Erin Skowran during an Oct. 3 promotion ceremony at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. General Eichhorn, Colonel Skowran, and her sister Maurreen Skowran lifted off in the Marauder’s Mark balloon, piloted by the general, following the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander, administers the oath of office to Col. Erin Skowran during an Oct. 3 promotion ceremony at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. General Eichhorn, Colonel Skowran, and her sister Maurreen Skowran lifted off in the Marauder’s Mark balloon, piloted by the general, following the ceremony. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

(Right) Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander, observes Marauder’s Mark balloon crew members preparing the balloon he pilots for lift off following the Oct. 3 promotion ceremony of Col. Erin Skowran at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

(Right) Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander, observes Marauder’s Mark balloon crew members preparing the balloon he pilots for lift off following the Oct. 3 promotion ceremony of Col. Erin Skowran at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center’s Col. Erin Skowran and her sister Maurreen Skowran get ready for lift off in the Marauder’s Mark balloon piloted by AFOTEC Commander Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn following her Oct. 3 promotion ceremony at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta launch site. (U.S. Air Force photo/Karl Gillium)

Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center’s Col. Erin Skowran and her sister Maurreen Skowran get ready for lift off in the Marauder’s Mark balloon piloted by AFOTEC Commander Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn following her Oct. 3 promotion ceremony at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta launch site. (U.S. Air Force photo/Karl Gillium)

The Marauder’s Mark balloon prepares for liftoff piloted by Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander. The general promoted Col. Erin Skowran at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta launch site Oct. 3 and took the colonel and her sister, Maurreen Skowran, up for a ride among hundreds of other balloonists over the New Mexico skies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

The Marauder’s Mark balloon prepares for liftoff piloted by Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander. The general promoted Col. Erin Skowran at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta launch site Oct. 3 and took the colonel and her sister, Maurreen Skowran, up for a ride among hundreds of other balloonists over the New Mexico skies. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

(Center) Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander, helps recover the Marauder’s Mark balloon that he pilots with the help of Col. Erin Skowran (right) and several other balloon crew members following an Oct. 3 flight. General Eichhorn took Colonel Skowran and her sister Maurreen Skowran up for a balloon ride following the colonel’s promotion ceremony at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

(Center) Maj. Gen. David J. Eichhorn, Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center Commander, helps recover the Marauder’s Mark balloon that he pilots with the help of Col. Erin Skowran (right) and several other balloon crew members following an Oct. 3 flight. General Eichhorn took Colonel Skowran and her sister Maurreen Skowran up for a balloon ride following the colonel’s promotion ceremony at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (U.S. Air Force photo/Capt. Alan Louie)

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.