CAMPIA TURZII, Romania — Lt. Col. Ryan Hayde took command of the 354th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron from Lt. Col. Steven Behmer at Campia Turzii, Romania, May 15, in the middle of the U.S. Air Force’s inaugural European theater security package.
Col. Clinton Eichelberger, 355th Operations Group commander, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, presided over the change-of-command ceremony with more than 100 U.S. and Romanian Airmen in attendance.
Twelve A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft currently support NATO allies as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, a demonstration of U.S. European Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air Forces Africa’s continued commitment to the collective security of NATO and dedication to the enduring peace and stability in the region.
“(Hayde’s) time and experience is exactly what the 354th EFS needs to continue its legacy as the premier close air support and combat search and rescue A-10 squadron in our U.S. Air Force,” said Eichelberger. “I am confident you will build upon its legacy and you will do great things as Bulldog One.”
Hayde, a senior pilot with more than 1,800 flying hours including 323 hours in combat, highlighted the role the more than 300 Airmen of his new squadron perform on a regular basis as part of the TSP throughout Eastern Europe.
“To the men and women of the 354 EFS, you are a part of an important mission,” said Hayde during his first address to the squadron. “That mission has taken this squadron around Europe. We have trained together with our NATO allies. We have forward deployed to multiple locations and proven we can deploy munitions in close proximity to friendly troops in any weather, day or night.
“The United States is committed to the security and stability of Europe,” he continued. “I look forward to working with you as we continue to show the world America is ready now.”
A change of command is a military tradition that represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a unit from one commanding office to another.