“I relinquish command.”
“I assume command.”
the globe, these words are spoken to signify one of the biggest
changes a military unit can experience: new leadership.
U.S. Air Force Col. Craig Baker, outgoing commander of the 180th
Fighter Wing, passes the unit flag to Maj. Gen. Mark Bartman during
Baker's change of command ceremony in Swanton, Ohio on Aug. 7, 2016.
Baker has been appointed to a position in the Pentagon serving as
the Director, Chief of Staff of the Air Force's Strategic Studies
Group. (Ohio Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Nic Kuetemeyer)
A change of command is a formal transfer of authority and
responsibility from one commander to another in the presence of
those both above and below the command – not only the Airmen in the
unit, but the senior leadership of the unit is also present as the
The passing of the flag ceremony shows
that military members are never without leadership. During the
ceremony, the guidon is passed between the unit's first sergeant,
the old and new commanders, and the officiating party, signifying
the transfer of responsibilities and the entrustment of a unit into
the new commander's hands.
“The passing of the flag signifies
that the military members are never without a commander, not even
for a second,” said Christopher Koonce, 20th Fighter Wing historian.
“That is why the guidon or organizational flag is never let go
during that part of the ceremony.”
U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein, passes the
Air Force Reserve Command flag to Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller during
her change of command ceremony at the Museum of Aviation, Warner
Robins, Ga., July 15, 2016. With the flag exchange, Miller became
the first women to lead AFRC. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech Sgt.
Stephen D. Schester)
According to Koonce, the ceremony dates back centuries to the
Roman Empire. Today, the change of command ceremony continues to
provide personnel in a unit the opportunity to recognize and honor
the achievements of the past and the face of the future.
military, our Air Force is built on discipline and traditions,” said
Jackie Wren, 20th Fighter Wing chief of protocol. “Acknowledging the
history and continuing the legacy is a big deal. Change of command
ceremonies are an opportunity for soldiers to stand up tall and show
pride in their unit.”
Maj. Gen. Frederick Martin, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center
commander, passes the 521st Air Mobility Operations Wing flag to
Col. Thomas Cooper during a change-of-command ceremony at Ramstein
Air Base, Germany, June 14, 2016. With the passing of the flag,
Cooper took command of more than 2,000 Airmen throughout Europe and
Africa. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)
Signifying the beginning of a new era and the end of an
old, change of commands are a longstanding part of Air Force
and military tradition. Passing the flag through the
generations has allowed and will continue to allow military
generations to connect with their predecessors and their
successors through a tradition of honor.
By U.S. Air Force Airman 1st Class Destinee Sweeney
Comment on this article