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152nd Air Operations Group Welcomes New Commander

Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse --

New York Air National Guard Col. James Muscatello, formerly the 152nd Air Operations Group Deputy Commander, assumed command of the 152nd Air Operations Group (AOG) in a ceremony on Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Saturday, February 8.

Col. Michael Smith, 174th Attack Wing commander was the presiding official for the ceremony.

Muscatello replaced Col. Brian Vankouwenberg, who had commanded the 152nd AOG since 2016. A retirement celebration for Vankouwenberg was held following the assumption of command ceremony.

The formal assumption of command ceremony is a ceremony rooted in history, dating back to the Roman Legions. Military organizations developed flags or colors unique to their unit. Soldiers followed their colors into battle, and always knew whom to look for, for leadership. The public exchange of colors acknowledged the formal change of command. Saturday, the men and women of the 152nd saw their unit guidon, along with command responsibility and authority pass from Vankouwenberg to Muscatello.

Muscatello was commissioned as a second lieutenant in March of 1987 from Officer Training School in San Antonio, Texas. He is a Master navigator with more than 2,000 hours on with the C-130 E, H and L. Prior to his role as 152nd Deputy Commander he served as Lead Navigator at the 109th ALS, Schenectady, NY.

He is a graduate of Air Command and Staff College and Air War College. In addition to his military duties, Muscatello had a successful career in the civilian sector serving in managerial positions including Asset Manager, Energy Scheduling and Accounting Manager and Procurement Manager in the energy and defense industries.


Muscatello is a recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Achievement Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award, Combat Readiness Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Air and Space Campaign Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Award, and Armed Forces Reserve Medal.