21st Space wing commander dies unexpectedly

Col. Thomas G. Falzarano (Air Force photograph)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Col. Thomas G. Falzarano, commander of the U.S. Space Force’s 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., was pronounced dead at his on-base home May 12, 2020.

Falzarano was found unresponsive at the scene. The cause of death is under investigation, but initial indications are that it was due to natural causes. There are currently no indications of a positive COVID-19.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss for our Air and Space Force family,” said Gen. Jay Raymond, Chief of Space Operations. “Tom was an incredible leader, mentor and friend who will be remembered for his warm personality and dedicated service to our nation. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to his family, friends and all members of the 21st Space Wing.”

The wing’s vice commander, Col. Sam Johnson, said Falzarano will be sorely missed.

Col. Thomas Falzarano, 21st Space Wing commander, gets a look at one of the control rooms in Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo., Sept. 6, 2019. During his visit, Flazarano was able to see the different areas of the Mountain that are integral to making sure the mission is accomplished each day. (Air Force photograph by Airman Alexis Christian)

“Colonel Falzarano was a fearless leader who was motivated by taking care of his family and Airmen,” said Johnson. “He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and we are providing every comfort and assistance that we can to them.”

Falzarano took command of the Space Force’s 21st Space Wing in July 2019. With his passing, Johnson is now commander of the 21st Space Wing.

Falzarano was a 1994 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. His career includes assignments in space, missile, fighter, and mobility units.  He served in joint assignments on the staff of the Multi-National Force-Iraq at the U.S. Embassy in the International Zone, Baghdad, as well as on the Joint Staff in the Pentagon. Prior to arriving at Peterson, his current position Falzarano was the executive officer to the commander, Air Force Space Command and the Joint Force Space Component Command.    

As the leader of the Air Force’s fifth largest wing, he commanded a work force of approximately 4,300 space professionals worldwide. Spanning the globe, this team provides missile warning and defense, space situational awareness, and space control for combat forces and the national command authorities of the United States and Canada. He was the installation commander for Colorado’s Peterson AFB and Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, as well as providing base support for Clear AFS, Alaska; Cavalier AFS, N.D., Cape Cod AFS, Mass.; and Thule Air Base, Greenland.

Col. Thomas Falzarano, 21st Space Wing commander, prepares to take off the fire gear used during the training exercise he took part in sept. 6, 2019 at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colo. Falzarano had the chance to participate in the training exercise to see how the Airman there train for their particular mission. (Air Force photograph by Airman Alexis Christian)

Col. Thomas Falzarano, 21st Space Wing commander, and 21st SW Command Chief, Chief Master Sgt. Jacob Simmons, spoke to the Airmen of Thule Air Base, Greenland during an all call July 19, 2019. At the end of the all call, the 21st SW leadership opened the floor up for questions from the Airmen. (Air Force photograph by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow)


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