Col. Jim Eifert assumed command of the 125th Fighter Wing Jan. 9.
By Tech. Sgt. William Buchanan, 125 FW
/ Published January 12, 2011
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Jan. 12, 2010) -- Brig. Gen. Bob Branyon relinquished command of the 125th Fighter Wing to Col. James Eifert during a change-of-command ceremony on Jan. 9 in front of servicemembers, family and friends, and distinguished guests.
Branyon was recently promoted and became the chief of staff for the Florida Air National Guard (FLANG), a position that will move him to FLANG headquarters in St. Augustine, Fla.
"I can tell you, I have enjoyed the ride," Branyon said. "On a national scale, you showed people what 'One Team, One Fight' really means."
Branyon surrendered the 125th Fighter Wing (FW) unit flag to the Commander of the Florida Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. Joseph Balskus as part of the traditional passing of the colors. This symbolized Branyon's resignation from his position as the fighter wing commander. Balskus then passed the colors on to Eifert, signifying his acceptance of the new position and assuming command.
"The passing of the organizational flag from Brig. Gen. Robert Branyon to Col. James Eifert is a visible display of the continuity of command for all members of the unit to see," said Lt. Col. Brian Simpler, the master of ceremonies. "History reveals that in the Middle Ages it was not uncommon for soldiers in the field to be unaware whom their commanders were or what they looked like.
"The formal change of command affords the troops the opportunity to witness the proceedings and actually see their commanders."
So with their cell phones and pagers put into silence, the members of the 125FW stood at attention and watched as the one-time vice commander assumed full-time command of the fighter wing. Eifert had been vice commander under Branyon for nearly three years, and was now ready to lead the team into the new year and beyond.
"You men and women of the 125th Fighter Wing are now, more than any time in our history, truly the nation's sword and shield," Eifert said, shortly after assuming command. "We have to prepare like the next war starts tomorrow."
Eifert explained where he intended to lead the wing by reviewing the history of air superiority of the Air National Guard. In 1991, he said, as this nation was preparing for war, the Air National Guard (ANG) made up only 25 percent of the United States Air Force's air superiority. However, since then with budgetary constraints and evolving warfare, the ANG air superiority presence has nearly doubled.
With this in mind, he said, the future will demand the participation of our National Guard and the 125th Fighter Wing. He spoke of the many challenges just around the corner that will test the resources, patience and dedication of the Airmen of the 125FW, such as the four major inspections in the coming months. He also spoke of an even greater challenge.
"The biggest challenge we face as an organization, and even as a nation, the most difficult to prepare for, is the threat of an uncertain and dangerous world," Eifert said. "Our country is counting on us to be ready. We will not let her down."