WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ)
Three national anthems were played today at the change of command ceremony for the 80th Operations Group. The Italian, German and American anthems were heard at the start of the full military ceremony that took place at Sheppard Air Force Base. Italian Air Force Colonel Paolo Baldasso turned over command to German Air Force Colonel Bernhard Hey.
With Colonel Baldasso’s three-year assignment as Commander completed - he was praised by colleagues for his leadership, quick decision making and positive attitude. He says the best part of his command were the people.
“Taking care of all the people here at ENJJPT - the students and all the other employees that work for me. I knew if I took care of them they would take care of me."
The new 80th Operations Group Commander, Colonel Hey, began his career in Wichita Falls in 1985 as an undergraduate student in training at ENJJPT. His most recent command assignment was in Germany as the Commander of the 2nd Training Division for the German Air Force Officer School.
He says one of his biggest goals as the new commander, among other things, is to go through his three years without any accidents.
“I want to keep this program running with the challenges that are ahead. The U.S needs to produce more pilots and some of the load will have to be taken by us. I want to train those pilots to the highest standards possible so they can fulfill their mission throughout the world.”
ENJJPT is the world's only internationally manned and managed undergraduate pilot training program. Pilots come from 13 partner nations. Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham says it is the premier training program for fighter pilots in the world.
"ENJJPT provides a training program for NATO / international pilots and the international relationships that develop from the program being at Sheppard Air Force Base are incalculable.”
As Colonel Baldasso returns to Rome, Italy as Chief of Training, Combat Air Force - he will no doubt bring a piece of ENJJPT with him.
“I’m going to miss the whole place. Like I said in my speech - I don't like ENJJPT - I love it.”
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