Monday, January 10, 2011

122nd Fighter Wing gets new commander

By Joachim Jacob

Updated January 11, 2011

Colonel David L. Augustine assumed command of the 122nd Fighter Wing (Michigan Air National Guard) at Selfridge ANGB January 8, 2011. Col. Augustine most recently served as the Vice Wing Commander. He's a Command Pilot with over 3500 flying hours in numerous aircraft to include the A-10A/C, F-4D/E, RF-4C, KC-135 A/E/R, T-38 and T-37 aircraft. Col. Augustine is a combat veteran having flown 24 combat sorties during the opening air campaign in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) while serving 6 months at Ahmed al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait (as part of the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing). In addition, he flew multiple combat support sorties in the KC-135 during both the Bosnia and Kosovo campaigns.

Col. Augustine replaced Brigadier General Michael "Pep" Peplinski

The 127th Wing's 107th Fighter Squadron is still in the process to transfer from the F-16 Fighting Falcon ("Viper") to the A-10C.

Wane-TV reported:

Col. David Augustine takes over at 122nd Fighter Wing

Updated: Saturday, 08 Jan 2011, 10:18 PM EST
Published : Saturday, 08 Jan 2011, 10:18 PM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - The 122nd Fighter Wing recognized its new commander in a ceremony Saturday afternoon.

Col. David Augustine is the next commander.

Several distinguished military officials came to Saturday's Change of Command Ceremony in the Wing's aircraft shelter. There was a formal military ceremony, including the exchange of the Wing flag.

Col. Augustine most recently served as the Vice Wing Commander at the 127th Wing, Selfridge Air National Guard Base in Michigan.

"Taking the command of a Wing is like the culmination of a career. The 122nd Fighter Wing is an amazing wing to take command of. There's just great people [here]," Augustine said.

Augustine has more than 3,500 flying hours. He is a combat veteran and has flown in Iraq, Bosnia and Kosovo.


Related video, released by News Channel 15:

Latest official biography:

Colonel David L. Augustine's latest offical biography

Update January 11, 2011:

The News-Sentinel wrote:

Changing of the Guard: 122nd gets new commander

By Lisa Esquivel Long of The News-Sentinel

Last updated: Tue. Jan. 11, 2011 - 10:15 am EDT

One of the biggest challenges facing the new commander and the 122nd Fighter Wing is the Air National Guard unit's conversion to the A-10 aircraft.

Col. David L. Augustine, of Grosse Pointe, Mich., addressed the airmen Saturday at a change of command ceremony at Baer Field. Augustine replaces retiring Col. Jeffrey A. Soldner, who had served as wing commander since 2004. Attendees included Indiana National Guard Adjutant Gen. Martin Umbarger, representatives of U.S. Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-3rd) and relatives of Umbarger, Augustine and Soldner.

With the unit's F-16 jets approaching an earlier than expected demise, and not enough money to sustain them, the unit replaced them with the older, bulkier A-10. The longer lifespan of the A-10 will carry the unit over until about 2020.

Spokeswoman 1st Lt. Rebecca M. Metzger said, "It will cover the gap between when we retired our F-16s and when the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter becomes available to the Air National Guard."

Receipt of the planes reportedly saved 200-300 jobs. The unit has about 1,000 members, with 345 employed full time, Metzger said. The unit has 13 planes at Baer Field, next to Fort Wayne International Airport.

But switching out the airframes over the past 18 months has meant all new training for pilots and mechanics of the unit, which is known as the Blacksnakes. All the unit's pilots are now certified, Umbarger said.

The unit serves not only on home soil, but its members have been deployed as a group or individually since Sept. 11, 2001, to Afghanistan, Iraq, Antarctica, Canada, Cuba, Qatar and United Arab Emirates; many U.S. locations to help other units; and on homeland defense missions and training exercises, Metzger said.

Soldner recently returned from serving as battle director at the Combined Air Operations Center in Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar.

Augustine expressed confidence that the airmen would maintain their outstanding safety record for the unit's pilots and planes and make a timely conversion.

"I need from you … your best attitude," Augustine told the assembled airmen.

"I'm honored to be your new wing commander," he told them.

Umbarger lauded Soldner' service not only to the unit but also for his 39 years with the Guard. "I've never seen him make a decision (on) what's best for Jeff Soldner, but for what's best for the wing."

During his 39 years in the Guard, the last six have flown by, Soldner said. He applauded the unit's ability to adjust to the new airframe, but one that is 20 years old, significantly older than any it has worked with before.

"I wish you godspeed in all your future tasks," he told the airmen before the ceremonial handing back of the flag of the unit to Umbarger, who passed it to Augustine.


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