The 80th Flying Training Wing welcomed its new commander, Col. Brad Orgeron, in a ceremony Friday at Shepherd Air Force Base. Col. Orgeron replaces outgoing commander Col. Robert “Jack” Haas as head of the 80th, which conducts the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program.
While the command change itself came in the form of an official order from Washington D.C., the ceremony included a more visual element. To both signify and finalize the change of command, Col. Haas handed the 80th’s flag to Gen. Craig Willis, who then presented it to Col. Orgeron.
Col. Orgeron comes to Shepherd by way of Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Virginia, where he served as director. Now, he is set to take over for Col. Haas, who plans to stay in the area and joked that he would now spend his time calling in noise complaints to the base.
Under Col. Haas’ leadership the past two years, the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training (ENJJPT) program trained and graduated over 300 students of what Gen. Willis called “the finest fighter pilot training program in the world.”
Gen. Willis spoke at length at the event, praising both the incoming and outgoing commanders and stressing the importance of the greater Wichita Falls community to Shepherd leadership.
“Our bases without a strong community are not strong bases. We never lose sight of the fact that without the support of our elected officials and our citizenry, we can’t be successful in our missions,” Gen. Willis said.
Col. Orgeron echoed the sentiment, adding that while he’s new to the community, he believes interaction between the base and the surrounding community to be important.
“Community partnerships are absolutely critical to the success of the military installation and to the wing,” Col. Orgeron said, later adding that, “A lot of that comes with just basic interaction between the [80th Flying Training] Wing and the community, and getting our airmen out and visible and enjoying a lot of the things that there are to do in the local area.”
This article originally appeared on Wichita Falls Times Record News: Sheppard welcomes incoming 80th Flying Training Wing commander