Orgeron takes command of 80th FTW, ENJJPT

  • Published
  • By John Ingle
  • 82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas — Col. Brad E. Orgeron returned to familiar territory June 24, 2022, when he took command of the 80th Flying Training Wing here, home to the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training program.

The colonel, who accepted command during a ceremony, began his Air Force career in Air Education and Training Command as a First Assignment Instructor Pilot at Randolph AFB, Texas, after completing undergraduate student pilot training at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, in 2000. Coincidentally, he was a few classes behind his 80th FTW predecessor, Col. Robert F. Haas Jr., who relinquished command during the event.

Maj. Gen. Craig D. Wills, 19th Air Force commander, officiated the ceremony.

Orgeron acknowledged the accomplishments of Haas during his two-year tenure, adding that he experienced the professionalism of Airmen in the wing in May when he attended pilot instructor training. He said he also understands the role of the program for the Air Force as well as its NATO partners.

“We train fighter pilots,” he said. “We train combat aviators that are going to go out and fight for our alliance. Our alliance has never been more important.”

Orgeron said events in Eastern Europe are examples of the importance of training and operating together, and building those relationships start at ENJJPT from Day 1. 

The colonel said he looks forward to getting to the business of the world’s only multinationally run and managed flying training program and working beside the men and women of ENJJPT.

“My personal perspective on leadership is the servant mentality,” he said. “I work for you to knock down the roadblocks so you can get after the mission.”

Wills said one of the best parts about being in the Air Force is that as one leadership team is transitioning out of an assignment, another team is waiting in the wings to continue carrying the torch of excellence. For ENJJPT, that team is Orgeron and Chief Master Sgt. William G. Ford, the new 80th FTW command chief.

The general said Orgeron learned the true value of training as a FAIP, and followed that experience in the operational world by flying the Air Force’s air superiority fighter, the F-15E Strike Eagle. The totality of his opportunities to this point, he said, has prepared him to take on this unique challenge of training combat pilots for the Alliance.

“During the timeframe that I’ve had the opportunity to be connected to (Orgeron), there’s a constant theme, and that is you send him to do a tough job and soon afterward, your friends call and tell you what a fabulous job he is doing in tough circumstances,” he said.

Wills also thanked Haas for his leadership during some tough times at ENJJPT. The continued threat of COVID-19 upon his arrival two years ago and two significant weather events posed significant challenges to the program. Through it all, military, civilian and contract employees continued to generate training sorties.

Perhaps more impressive, he said, was Haas’s transparency while fostering an environment of respect, togetherness and unity within ENJJPT.

“I’m most proud of your efforts to strengthen this alliance,” the general said. “Your transparent approach, your straight-forward style quickly proved to all that you’re a leader to be trusted. You worked hard to make sure every nation and every partner had an equal voice and an equal vote in our future, and that’s not always easy to do.”

Haas, who was awarded the Legion of Merit during the ceremony, said he was thankful for the opportunity to lead ENJJPT, and thank those who helped him successfully complete his mission including his family, the men and women of the 80th FTW, the 82nd Training Wing, as well as community leaders and partners from outside the fenceline. 

The colonel shared that as he was cleaning out his Aircrew Flight Equipment locker on June 23, he looked out and saw the tell-tale maneuvers of T-6A Texan IIs and T-38C Talons, all piloted by members of ENJJPT. He said it reminded him that time marches on and commanders come and go, but the mission continues.

Haas encouraged his successor to keep moving ENJJPT forward, leading them to continue and improve upon the great things that have been and will be accomplished for NATO. And to the men and women who he has served with over the past two years, he extolled the pride he feels for the work they’ve done.

“Two years ago, from my broom closet on Zoom, I told you to be bold. Go along; don’t wait for me and I’ll catch up,” he said. “You certainly did that. I could not be more proud of your awesomeness.”

Haas officially retired a few hours following the change of command ceremony.