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New commander takes charge of 52nd FW

U.S. Air Force Chief Toby Roach, 52nd Fighter Wing command chief, (left), holds the guidon while Col. David Epperson, 52nd FW outgoing commander, (center), and Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd FW incoming commander, listened to opening remarks from Maj. Gen. Randall Reed, Third Air Force commander, during the 52nd FW Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Hauck is a command pilot with more than 2,400 hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, including 285 combat hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Chief Toby Roach, 52nd Fighter Wing command chief, (left), holds the guidon while Col. David Epperson, 52nd FW outgoing commander, (center), and Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd FW incoming commander, listened to opening remarks from Maj. Gen. Randall Reed, Third Air Force commander, during the 52nd FW Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Hauck is a command pilot with more than 2,400 hours in the F-16 Fighting Falcon, including 285 combat hours in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. David Epperson, 52nd Fighter Wing outgoing commander, makes his final remarks during the 52nd FW Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 52nd FW’s main priorities are deterrence, agile combat employment, and integrated base defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. David Epperson, 52nd Fighter Wing outgoing commander, makes his final remarks during the 52nd FW Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 52nd FW’s main priorities are deterrence, agile combat employment, and integrated base defense. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. David Epperson, 52nd Fighter Wing outgoing commander, renders his final salute to the 52nd FW during the wing’s change of command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 52nd Fighter Wing maintains and employs F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft and $6 billion of United States Protection Level one assets in support of NATO and national defense directives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. David Epperson, 52nd Fighter Wing outgoing commander, renders his final salute to the 52nd FW during the wing’s change of command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 52nd Fighter Wing maintains and employs F-16 Fighting Falcon fighter aircraft and $6 billion of United States Protection Level one assets in support of NATO and national defense directives. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. David Epperson, 52nd Fighter Wing outgoing commander (center), passes the 52nd FW guidon to U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Randall Reed, Third Air Force commander (left), as he relinquishes command during the 52nd Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 52nd FW commander oversees all five of the wing’s groups, who directly support the mission to provide strategic, theater and contract commercial air mobility capability for Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. David Epperson, 52nd Fighter Wing outgoing commander (center), passes the 52nd FW guidon to U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Randall Reed, Third Air Force commander (left), as he relinquishes command during the 52nd Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 52nd FW commander oversees all five of the wing’s groups, who directly support the mission to provide strategic, theater and contract commercial air mobility capability for Europe, Africa and Southwest Asia. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. William McKibban, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, stands at parade rest in front of a formation for the 52nd FW Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The mission of the 52nd Fighter Wing is to deliver airpower options to deter and combat aggression. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. William McKibban, 52nd Fighter Wing vice commander, stands at parade rest in front of a formation for the 52nd FW Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The mission of the 52nd Fighter Wing is to deliver airpower options to deter and combat aggression. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Randall Reed, Third Air Force commander (left), passes the guidon to Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd Fighter Wing incoming commander July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Hauck comes from Aviano Air Base, Italy, where he served as the commander of the 31st Operations Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Randall Reed, Third Air Force commander (left), passes the guidon to Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd Fighter Wing incoming commander July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Hauck comes from Aviano Air Base, Italy, where he served as the commander of the 31st Operations Group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd Fighter Wing incoming commander, renders his first salute during the 52nd FW Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Hauck will be taking command over the 52nd Fighter Wing, which has a total population of 5,000 Airmen and civilian personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd Fighter Wing incoming commander, renders his first salute during the 52nd FW Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Hauck will be taking command over the 52nd Fighter Wing, which has a total population of 5,000 Airmen and civilian personnel. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd Fighter Wing incoming commander, gives his first remarks during the 52nd FW Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 52nd FW supports the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe with mission-ready personnel and systems providing expeditionary air power for suppression of enemy air defenses, counter air, air interdiction, and close-air support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

U.S. Air Force Col. Leslie Hauck, 52nd Fighter Wing incoming commander, gives his first remarks during the 52nd FW Change of Command ceremony July 15, 2021, on Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. The 52nd FW supports the Supreme Allied Commander, Europe with mission-ready personnel and systems providing expeditionary air power for suppression of enemy air defenses, counter air, air interdiction, and close-air support. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Melody W. Howley)

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.”