An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

380AEW Article

New Valkyrie takes command of 62nd EATKS

  • Published
  • By TSgt Jeffrey Grossi
  • 380 AEW
Maj. Nathan “PHOD” Erickson relinquished command of the 62nd Expeditionary Attack Squadron to Maj. Andrew “House” Leader July 6, 2022, at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates. The 62nd EATKS, which operates under the callsign Valkyrie, has a mission to employ, launch and recover MQ-9 Reapers for persistent attack and reconnaissance within the Southwest Asia area of responsibility.
Although the 62nd EATKS is stationed at ADAB, it is a provisional unit attached to the 432nd Air Expeditionary Operations Group stationed at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada. At ADAB, it is the United States’ largest MQ-9 forward operating location.
Brig. Gen. David Lopez, the commander of the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, presided over the ceremony and referred to the 62nd EATKS as a bastion for the MQ-9 enterprise. With an important counterterrorism mission focus, the Reaper mission has drawn numerous high visibility base visits from U.S. senators and Department of Defense officials.
During Erickson’s tenure as commander, the EATKS launched more than 1400 sorties, which provided more than 26,000 hours of armed overwatch within the AOR. Erickson also oversaw the modernization of the MQ-9 fleet, which is now better positioned to mitigate weather for launch and recovery operations.
“One of the things that jumped out at me was – it wasn’t very long after PHOD got here in the beginning of January that this base was under attack,” said Lopez. “We had ballistic missiles in bound, we had one-way drones coming our way, and [Erickson] was newly in the seat as a squadron commander, responsible for landing three MQ-9s during those base attacks.”
Because of Erickson’s accomplishments at ADAB, he was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.
Before the official passing of the guidon, Lopez also welcomed Leader to ADAB and introduced him to his new squadron.
“Not everyone in our Air Force gets an opportunity to command and even fewer get the command in a deployed environment,” said Lopez. “The Air Force places certain officers in these positions because they have the right mix of expertise, experience, leadership acumen and personality. Maj. Leader is an accomplished officer and [remotely piloted aircraft] pilot with broad experience across our Air Force, and has a history of demonstrated excellence.”
Leader has a background as an aerospace engineer and worked on the Rocket Sled Design at Holloman AFB, N.M. Most recently, Leader served as the 436th Training Squadron director of operations at Dyess AFB, Texas.