February 7, 2009

New commander for 149th Fighter Squadron

By Lt. Col. Debbie Magaldi
Virginia Air Guard Public Affairs

LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. — With an F-22 Raptor as a backdrop and sunshine streaming in the hangar windows, command of the 149th Fighter Squadron changed hands on Dec. 13 with distinguished active duty and Virginia Guard guests, family members and 192nd Fighter Wing Airmen in attendance.

Lt. Col. David Nardi accepted command of the 149th FS from Lt. Col. Bryan Turner, 192nd Operations Group Commander, after the position was relinquished by Lt. Col. James Cox during a ceremony held in the 71st Aircraft Maintenance Unit Hangar at Langley Air Force Base.

In starting the ceremony, Turner remarked, "When you look around today at the men and women of the 149th Fighter Squadron, you are witnessing today's chapter in America's proud history of honor and sacrifice in which citizen soldiers voluntarily put down the plow and pick up their muskets to defend the Nation. [Here] with me are two men … who embody heart and soul…the spirit, courage and esprit de corps of the Minute Man.

"…I look forward to working with you [Nardi] as you begin to shape what has been until recently a transitional force into what we both see as the future of the 149th FS, being the bedrock of which the three Raptor fighter squadrons here on Langley Air Force Base can depend on. …[Y]ou have demonstrated the commitment and ability to succeed in everything you've touched."

"Your duty to provide combat-ready pilots whenever and wherever called upon means you will have to work…in perfect harmony with the 27th and 94th Fighter Squadron commanders. I can think of no finer colleagues…to work along side and I'm confident that there is no task too big that the three of you cannot conquer with style and grace…or, if need be, with fury and rage while swinging a heavy bat at our nation's enemies."

Nardi, an Air Force Academy graduate, was an active duty F-16 instructor pilot and mission commander before joining the Virginia Air National Guard in 1997 as a drill status guardsman. From 1997 through 2006 he served the 149th as an F-16C instructor pilot and flight commander and participated in numerous deployments around the world, including a combat-mission deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in October 2003.

In late 2005, Nardi was selected for the F-22 transition and began flying the Raptor in April 2006. Prior to taking command of the 149th, he had been the Fighter Squadron's Operations Officer. The colonel has more than 2,800 hours in fighter aircraft. He is a graduate of Air Command and Staff College and has been awarded numerous military awards and decorations.

After accepting the command, Nardi thanked senior leadership for the trust they've placed in him, his parents for all they've given him and his wife and their children, for their steadfast support. And to the Airmen of the 149th Fighter Squadron, he said, "Thank you for this opportunity to serve you and to serve with you in the service of our Commonwealth and our Nation."

"…[A] spirit of volunteerism is at the core of what the Virginia Air Guard is. Lt. Gen. Dennis McCarthy, [former] commander of the Marine Reserves, wrote that active duty members volunteer on the day they enlist, while guardsmen and reservists volunteer every time they show up for duty. Time and again you answer the call, you step forward, you serve. In response to natural disasters or in support of our nation's wars – in even the toughest of times you volunteer to serve our Commonwealth and our Nation…"

"That tradition, a tradition of doing, a tradition of volunteerism, a tradition of shared effort and shared success continues here, today with each of you. I look forward to serving alongside you, privileged to wear the commander's badge as we work together to continue that tradition."

Turner praised Cox, the outgoing commander, calling him a great educator, advisor and friend. He described Cox as one of those rare individuals with the insight and the knowledge base to easily move from doorstep topics to global concerns, and understand how the unit fits in along the way.

Cox has become the A3, Director of Operations, at the Joint Forces Headquarters, Virginia – Air (Virginia Air National Guard headquarters) based at the Richmond International Airport, Sandston.

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