174th Fighter Wing Gets New Maintenance Group Commander

  • Published
  • By Capt. Anthony Bucci
  • 174th Fighter Wing
On August 11 2012, Hancock Field Air National Guard Base hosted a change-of-command ceremony of the 174th Fighter Wing Maintenance Group continuing the change that has enveloped the unit during its illustrious history, while always maintaining that "Syracuse Standard".

Col. Greg Semmel officiated the formal ceremony of the 174FW Maintenance Group and opened it by praising the current vice commander and outgoing maintenance group Col. John Balbierer. He noted that Col. Balbierer took over as the 174FW Maintenance Group Commander in May 2008 just in time for the unit's last deployment as an F-16 unit.

"Col. Balbierer's command of the maintenance group was immediately felt with the unit's last combat deployment of 16 jets along with the accompanying personnel. Col. Balbierer executed the mission successfully and demonstrated his leadership in accomplishing this task," said Semmel.

Col. Balbierer served as the 174FW Maintenance Group Commander from 2008 to 2012 when he assumed the position as the 174FW Vice Commander. Col. Balbierer earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Columbia College in 1989 and was commissioned through the Academy of Military Science, Knoxville, TN in 1990.

"I want to salute all of you in the maintenance group for helping me get the job done and for putting me in this position as the vice commander, just remember I will always be a maintainer in my heart," said Balbierer.

Col. Semmel was joined by Col. Balbierer the outgoing commander to begin the formal portion of the change-of-command ceremony. Col. Balbierer passed the guidion of command back to Col. Semmel who then gave it to the incoming commander Lt. Col. Michael Smith.

"Change is a constant and today we celebrate change with this ceremony, when I interviewed Lt. Col. Smith he expressed to me that he wanted to lead this organization into the future as we continued to change," said Semmel.

Lt. Col. Smith joined the 174th Fighter Wing in 1998 after serving in the U. S. Air Force for more than eight years with assignments at Sheppard AFB, TX, Luke AFB, AZ and Eielson AFB, AK. He has had many responsibilities while assigned to the 174FW, most recently serving as the 138th Fighter Squadron Commander.

"The 174th Fighter Wing has a distinct history of excellence and I will work with all of you to continue that tradition preserving our future," said Smith.

A change of command is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding or to another.

The passing of colors from an outgoing commander to an incoming one ensures that the unit and its airmen are never without official leadership, a continuation of trust, and also signifies an allegiance of troops to their unit's commander.