515th AMOW welcomes new commander

Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence (left), commander of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, presents Col. Craig Harmon with the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing guidon as he assumes command of 515th AMOW during a change of command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, June 1, 2018. 515th AMOW Command Chief Master Sgt. Todd Donaldson is pictured center. Harmon, formerly vice commander of the 515th AMOW, assumed command from Col. Scott Zippwald, who retired after more than 26 years of service in the U.S. Air Force.

Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence (left), commander of the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center, presents Col. Craig Harmon with the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing guidon as he assumes command of 515th AMOW during a change of command ceremony at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, June 1, 2018. 515th AMOW Command Chief Master Sgt. Todd Donaldson is pictured center. Harmon, formerly vice commander of the 515th AMOW, assumed command from Col. Scott Zippwald, who retired after more than 26 years of service in the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Capt. Jake Bailey)

JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- Col. Craig Harmon assumed command of the 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing during a change of command ceremony here June 1. 

Maj. Gen. Christopher Bence, U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center commander, presided over the ceremony in which Col. Scott Zippwald relinquished command of the 515th AMOW to Harmon.

Harmon, who previously served as the wing's vice commander, now leads the 515th AMOW whose mission is to provide forward-deployed command and control, aerial port, and aircraft maintenance support to DoD organic and contracted commercial aircraft executing airlift and air refueling missions throughout the Pacific theater.

"Col. Harmon is an experienced mobility pilot who knows first-hand the critical importance of Rapid Global Mobility," Bence said. "His experience throughout Air Mobility Command, coupled with his time already spent here as the vice commander is huge, and I have absolutely no doubt he is set up for success."

Before officially assuming command of the 515th AMOW, Harmon was presented the Legion of Merit, the Air Force's sixth-highest decoration, for exceptional meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements as the wing's vice commander.

During the ceremony, Bence commended both Zippwald and Harmon for their teamwork and dedicated leadership to the men and women of the 515th AMOW as they continue to generate crucial, persistent en route operations throughout the Pacific theater.

"The 515th Air Mobility Operations Wing's efforts have certainly ensured our forces' full spectrum readiness and influenced our nation's ability to maintain peace and stability in the Pacific region," Bence said. "Focusing the Indo-Pacific en route structure around a readiness posture which was--and still is--critical in supporting national objectives is a vital component of Rapid Global Mobility, a capability that truly defines airpower."

Over the last year alone, Airmen of the 515th AMOW supported a total of 202 worldwide deployment taskings, including 54 air expeditionary forces and 148 joint inspection teams.

Upon assuming command, Harmon expressed his commitment to the men and women of the 515th AMOW.

"To the men and women of the 515th AMOW, there is not a more strategically important wing in the Department of Defense-you're postured and ready to support every contingency, providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief at a moment's notice across--and through--the vast 105 million square-mile U.S.-Indo-Pacific AOR," Harmon said. "Every day you support the finest and most powerful military force ever known to mankind."

"I know we have the finest, best trained, best equipped, and most motivated Airmen, NCOs, chiefs and officers across the Unites States Air Force; I am excited to be your commander and I am committed to giving you my very best," Harmon added.

Zippwald retires from the Air Force after more than 26 years of service. During his tenure as commander, the 515th AMOW supported more than 67,000 missions, moving 865,000 passengers and 210,000 tons of cargo in support of 41 operations and exercises in 10 countries.

"The U.S. military's ability to project power anywhere and anytime across the globe is unmatched and the key to our preeminence as a nation," Zippwald said. "A critical component of that global reach capability is the Pacific en route system."

Zippwald said the 515th AMOW stands proud and ready to execute when called upon.

"It has been an honor to command this wing and be part of a team with such a superb reputation." Zippwald said.

Zippwald was presented with the Legion of Merit during a separate retirement ceremony following the change of command.

Headquartered at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, the 515th AMOW reports to the U.S. Air Force Expeditionary Center and Air Mobility Command. The wing is comprised of approximately 1,600 U.S. military, civilian, and local national personnel operating from 26 locations across nine time zones. The wing includes two groups, six squadrons, three detachments and six operating locations spanning from Alaska to Diego Garcia to New Zealand.

The 515th AMOW also serves as the forward air mobility liaison to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Pacific Air Forces, U.S. Forces-Korea, U.S. Forces-Japan, and Alaska Command for theater air mobility operations and capabilities.