HILL AIR FORCE BASE — One of the world’s most aggressive F-16 fighter wings said goodbye to one leader and welcomed another Thursday morning.
In a change of command ceremony at Hill Air Force Base, Col. Scott Zobrist relinquished command of the 388th Fighter Wing and passed leadership over to Col. Scott Long.
During the ceremony, Zobrist received a Legion of Merit Medal for outstanding performance during his two-year tenure as head of the wing.
During his stint, the 388th stepped up its deployments by flying 4,300 F-16 combat sorties.
During his remarks, Zobrist deflected credit to the airmen working under him.
“We have some extraordinary men and women working in this wing,” he said. “And they deserve all the credit.”
Zobrist also spoke of a November 2010 Air Force inspection in which both the 388th and the 419th fighter wings at Hill received the lowest possible rating of unsatisfactory.
“Unfortunately, that’s something that I’ll always think of during my time here at Hill,” Zobrist said.
But Zobrist was quick to add that, just a few weeks ago, the fighter wings redeemed themselves.
Air Combat Command inspectors returned to Hill from March 16 to March 22, and the wings earned a “satisfactory” rating, the highest rating a wing can earn after it’s re-inspected.
“It’s amazing how (the wing) acted in the face of adversity,” Zobrist said. “The challenge was tough, but we succeeded in a big way.”
Zobrist will become commander of the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano Air Base, Italy.
Long comes to Hill from the Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, where he served as commander of the 455th Expeditionary Operations Group.
He said he’ll have plenty of challenges to face as head of the wing, including a shrinking defense budget, an aging fleet of fighter aircraft, and longer and more frequent deployments.
“We’re going to have to develop some unique solutions to solve some wicked problems,” he said.
The 388th Fighter Wing commander is responsible for maintaining the unit’s combat readiness to deploy, employ and sustain F-16s worldwide.
The wing consists of seven squadrons that maintain and operate 48 primary assigned F-16s, as well as the 388th Range Squadron that is responsible for operations on the Utah Test and Training Range.