Amongst family, friends and wingmen Col. Brett Comer, incoming commander, assumed command of the 944th Operations Group during a change of command ceremony, Aug. 6, 2021, at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz.
During the ceremony Col. Trena Savageau, 944th OG commander, relinquished command of the group to the presiding officer Col. Mark Van Brunt, 944th Fighter Wing commander, who then transferred the responsibility to Comer.
The footprint of the 944th OG is made up of Reserve and active-duty Airmen, civilians and contractors. They are responsible for training F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-35 Lightning II pilots in three squadrons and two geographically separated locations.
“The 944th (Fighter Wing) is a group of elite Citizen Airmen whose mission is to forge combat Airmen and fight with our agile combat support team,” Van Brunt said. “Our operations group fits squarely in the forge part of that mission.”
Van Brunt thanked Savageau for taking on the challenge of maintaining the unit’s reputation of working with their active-duty counterparts to ensure they have the resources and equipment to ensure the pilots they train are ready to meet the requirements of combat air forces.
“Hack you’ve done a tremendous job leading our Operation Group over these last two years,” Van Brunt said. “Even through a pandemic our operations group hasn’t missed a beat.
Savageau’s efforts earned her the Legion of Merit medal. Some of her accomplishments included an increase in F-35 pilot production raising the bar 100 percent for active-duty Air Force, multiple Partner Nations, and the Air Force Reserve Command. She re-authored a 14-year old Association Plan defining pilot responsibility, solidifying manning and resource proportion allocations in both the F-35 and F-16 mission sets at Luke Air Force Base. Furthermore, she epitomized service before self as a traditional reservist by acting as the 944th FW commander and vice commander during their absences. Lastly, she ensured the more than 2,000-member organization ran flawlessly through budget constraints, Coronavirus and other world events.
Van Brunt then shared his expectations for the incoming commander.
“Taj (Comer), welcome,” Van Brunt said. “It’s going be an adventure and it’s going to be exciting. I have full confidence in your ability to lead this operations group and I’m excited about your strategic vision for this group. I’m going to give you some upright boundaries then get out of the way.”
Comer accepted command and gave his first speech as the 944th OG commander.
“The classic association here between the lead wing and the Reserve wing is very impressive and is the benchmark across the Air Force. Every person I’ve met has been so knowledgeable and courteous, and it is a privilege to be joining such a strong team.”
During Savageau’s command she was responsible for facilitating the designation change of the unit’s Detachment 2. Due to their increase in personnel they are now considered a squadron, leading them to choose the 52nd Fighter Squadron. This squadron has been deactivated since June 1951, and Comer performed his first task as the commander by reactivating the unit in a ceremony moving his Det. 2 Airmen under the title of the 52nd Fighter Squadron.