SPANGDAHLEM AIR BASE, Germany --
The 52nd Fighter Wing held a change of command ceremony at Hangar 1 here July 15.
Col. Leslie Hauck accepted responsibility of the 52nd FW from Col. David Epperson in front of Airmen, local leaders and family, making him the 30th commander since its activation as the 52nd Tactical Fighter Wing in December 1971.
“Saber Nation, I know we are going to face trials and tribulations, but we will continue to conquer them and be 100% mission-ready, whether that be to execute the dynamic force employment on the fly or lead the Air Force in Agile Combat Employment with multi-functional Airmen advancement,” Hauck said. “We will develop, care and continue to be innovative as Airmen.”
Maj. Gen. Randall Reed, commander of Third Air Force at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, presided over the ceremony.
During his speech, Reed commended Spangdahlem’s Sabers for their leadership as Air Force innovators.
“What you do is truly inspiring, and it’s extremely important in this theater as we think of all of Europe and all of Africa and all of the challenges that are before us,” Reed said. “When it comes to innovative thinking, you are the benchmark that all the rest of my wings measure against. It’s clear that this whole entire wing is flying in formation, and it’s apparent from your … three consecutive trips to the finals of the Air Force’s Spark Tank innovation contest, and it is truly impressive what you’ve done there.
“It’s no surprise to me that this team was the first in-theater to reach Initial Operation Capability for a new paradigm of deterrence that we call Agile Combat Employment,” Reed added. “This new way of operating is still developing, but with the innovation and flexibility in your blood, Saber Nation leads the way in this new way of fighting, and the rest of us are following you.”
The change of command is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit to a commanding officer.
Hauck is a command pilot with more than 2,400 hours in the F-16, including 285 combat hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He has also deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle.
As Saber Lead, Hauck now commands five groups, 23 squadrons and nine geographically separated units spread across five countries, with approximately 5,000 dedicated military and civilian personnel.
The wing maintains and employs F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft in support of NATO and national defense directives. The wing also supports the Supreme Allied Commander by providing credible deterrence, delivering combat capabilities, executing joint reception, staging, onward movement, and integration, facilitating inter-theater airlift, and building partnership capacity.
Before saluting the Airmen of the 52nd FW for one last time as its commander, Epperson praised the Sabers for their hard work throughout his nearly two years at the helm.
“You delivered on each and every priority at an astonishing pace,” Epperson said. “Saber Nation is driven by initiative and innovation by our most junior Airmen and our management and tolerance of risk at our most senior levels so we can fail fast and fail forward to succeed.”