31st Operations Group Change of Command
9 July 2021 Aviano Air Base

The 31st Operations Group Change of Command Ceremony took place Friday 9th July 2021 at Aviano Air Base, where Colonel Leslie F. Hauck III has relinquished Command to Brigadier General Jason E. Bailey, 31st Fighter Wing Commander, and Colonel Kevin M. Crofton has assumed Command of 31st Operations Group.

The Operations Group consist of seven squadrons that continually support operations and exercises across three Combatant Commands. The wide-ranging operational capabilities are brought by Airmen from the 31st Operations Support Squadron, 56th and 57th Rescue Squadrons, 731st Expeditionary Attack Squadron, 510th Fighter Squadron(Buzzards), 555th Fighter Squadron (Triple Nickel) and the 606th Air Control Squadron.

                                                                                                                                                                           Adriano Marzotto (AAFG)  -  Photos by Pietro Borsato (AAFG)

The Aviano AB Aviation Friends Group had the opportunity to be present at the Ceremony, a special thanks to Mrs. Angela Zammattio, 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office.

                                                                                                                                                                        Adriano Marzotto (AAFG) Photos by Pietro Borsato (AAFG)


Brigadier General Jason E. Bailey

The 31st Fighter Wing is the only permanently assigned U.S. Air Force fighter aircraft wing in NATO’s Southern Region.
With 4200 active duty military members, 300 U.S. civilians and 700 Italian civilian employees, the Wing conducts and supports air combat operations and maintains munitions for NATO.

Source: 31st Operations Group, 31st Fighter Wing

Colonel Leslie F. Hauck

Command Pilot with more than 2400 flight hours in the F-16, including 285 combat hours in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
He ha salso deployed in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM and NOBLE EAGLE.

Colonel Kevin M. Crofton

Command Pilot with more than 2900 flight hours in the F-16 and F/A-18, including more than 500 combat hours.

History of the Change of Command Ceremony

The Change of Command Ceremony is rooted in military history, dating back to the 18th century during the reign of King Federick, the Great of Prussia. During this time, organizational flags were developed with color arrangements and symbols unique to the particolar military unit. When a Change of Command took place, the outgoing commander would pass the flag to the incoming commander. This gesture was accomplished in front of the unit so that all could see and witness their new leader assuming command. The person who controlled the flag also controlled the soldiers and their allegiance.
During battle, commanders, with the flag at their side, would choose a place on high ground from which to observe and control the combat situation. The flag served as a visible position for the troops to re-group or rally around during retrteats or victory.
The now symbolic tradition of passing the guidon has survived through military history and remains the key event of this military ceremony.