New command, new authority at the 125FW

  • Published
  • By Technical Sgt. William Buchanan
  • 125FW Public Affairs
Simpler accepted the roll from the recently promoted Brig. Gen. Jim Eifert. Eifert was appointed the Assistant Adjutant General-Air for the Florida Air National Guard (FLANG), a position that moved him to FLANG headquarters in St. Augustine, Fla. to serve alongside Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw, the adjutant general.

"To the incoming leadership team...I am so excited to see what you're going to do with this wing, because you guys and gals keep getting better and better and better," Branyon said.

Eifert surrendered the 125th Fighter Wing (FW) unit flag to the Commander of the Florida Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. Bob Branyon, as part of the traditional passing of the colors. This symbolized Eifert's resignation from his position as the fighter wing commander. Branyon then passed the colors on to Simpler, signifying his acceptance of the new position and assuming command.

"The passing of the organizational flag from Brigadier General James Eifert to Col Brian Simpler is a visible display of the continuity of command for all members of the unit to see," said Senior Master Sgt. Angella Beckom, the master of ceremonies. "From ancient times, armies throughout the world conducted ceremonies to commemorate victory over the enemy, to honor comrades in arms, and to celebrate special occasions such as this change of command."

Simpler previously served as the 125FW vice commander for nearly two years under Eifert. Col. Bob Wetzel, a former command pilot with more than 4,100 hours of flight time, was selected as the vice commander. Wetzel previously served as the 125th Operations Group commander where he oversaw all air operations out of the 125FW.

"To the incredible, amazing airmen of the 125th Fighter Wing: Take care of each other, because I know we will be called upon, we will be ready, and we will win," Simpler said.
In a similar tradition, Chief Master Sgt. Mike Seger assumed the role of 125FW command chief during a change-of-authority ceremony held here immediately following the change of command. Chief Master Sgt. Sharon Ervin relinquished the position to Seger after six years of service.

"For anyone who knows how a fighter wing really works, and what makes a fighter wing great, you look to the quality of the chief master sergeants, and let me tell you ours are incredible," Simpler said.

The wing command chief is the senior enlisted advisor to the wing commander for the enlisted force, which comprises nearly 850 Airmen of the 948 total members of the 125FW. As such, the command chief advises the commander and senior staff members regarding enlisted members' health, morale, and welfare. The command chief also serves as the functional manager to seven first sergeants.

"Nobody does this alone; it's teamwork," Ervin said. "And we're all going to have to stick together and do a lot more of the teamwork to get it done.