Monday, May 9, 2011

New commander takes charge of 476th Fighter Group

by Airman 1st Class Jarrod Grammel
23rd Wing Public Affairs

5/9/2011 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Col. Gregory Eckfeld passed the guidon to Col. Christian Funk during a change of command ceremony for the 476th Fighter Group May 7. The passing of the flag symbolizes responsibility being passed from the outgoing commander to the incoming commander.

"Colonel Funk is a warrior," said Colonel Eckfeld. "He has a great resume of combat experience and has worked with special operations. He is a pillar of rock solid integrity."

Before arriving here, Colonel Funk was the deputy commander and director of staff for Joint Special Operations Command, Aviation Tactics Evaluation Group, at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Col. Gary Henderson, 23rd Wing commander, and Colonel Eric Overturf, 442nd Fighter Wing commander, attended the ceremony. Distinguished guests from Moody and the local area also attended.

"The 476th Fighter Group is running smoothly," said Colonel Funk. "I want to carry on the impact Colonel Eckfeld has had."

Colonel Eckfeld has helped the 476th foster a unique relationship with the 23rd WG. The two units share facilities and equipment in what is known as total force integration.

"The 476th FG is the model for total force integration," said Colonel Overturf. "They work seamlessly with their active duty counterparts to complete the Air Force mission.

"The Reserve Airmen bring experience, while active-duty Airmen bring full time force," he added. "They work together to share the mission and increase combat capability. The relationship between the 476th FG, 23rd WG and the community is the best I have ever seen."

The outgoing commander, Colonel Eckfeld, has been with the 476th Fighter Group since its beginning.

"It's a sad day," said Colonel Eckfeld. "Leaving is bittersweet. The 476th has grown from five to 240 Airmen. My focus was building it up, and Colonel Funk will take the 476th FG from initial to operational capacity.

"You cannot do the mission without the people," he added. "It has been an honor to serve with them."

The 476th FG was activated in 2009 and has shown that total force integration can work. With a new commander, the 476th hopes to continue setting the example.

MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Col. Eric Overturf, 442nd Fighter Wing commander, hands the guidon to the new 476th Fighter Group commander, Col. Christian Funk, during a change of command ceremony May. 7. Colonel Funk was previously the Aviation Tactics Evaluation Group deputy commander and director of staff at Fort Bragg, N.C. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Douglas Ellis) Hi-res


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