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News > Tinker welcomes new 72nd ABW, installation commander
From left, Air Force Sustainment Center Commander Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield, Col. Steven Bleymaier, 72nd ABW Command Chief Master Sgt. Brian Lavoie and Col. Christopher Azzano. Colonel Azzano replaced Colonel Bleymaier as 72nd Air Base Wing commander during a change of command ceremony June 27. During the ceremony, Colonel Bleymaier received a Legion of Merit award, first oak leaf cluster. (Air Force photo by Darren D. Heusel)
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Tinker welcomes new 72nd ABW, installation commander

Posted 7/3/2013   Updated 7/3/2013 Email story   Print story


by Brandice J. O'Brien
Tinker Public Affairs

7/3/2013 - TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla.  -- "Are you ready?"

Standing behind a podium in front of approximately 200 guests, Air Force Sustainment Center Commander Lt. Gen. Bruce Litchfield asked Col. Christopher Azzano the all-important question. The new 72nd Air Base Wing and Tinker installation commander smiled and nodded his answer.

Colonel Azzano succeeded Col. Steven Bleymaier in the change of command ceremony June 27 in the Tinker Club ballroom.

"This has got to be an exciting day for you, Chris, as wing command is the premiere job in our Air Force and when you get selected for it, you are clearly in an elite field," General Litchfield said. "While there's great excitement, I'm sure there's a little bit of trepidation and anxiety. It is a big responsibility and there's going to be thousands of people depending on you for your leadership ...Your job is to make the air base wing even better than it is today."

Colonel Azzano comes to Tinker from the 412th Operations Group at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., where he served as commander. He is a career pilot with more than 2,700 flying hours, primarily in fighter aircraft and has also served in several positions at the Pentagon.

"This is a humbling and exciting day for Jennifer and me," said Colonel Azzano. "We're joining a world-class installation; a base with a rich history of providing airpower to our nation and an organization known for its people -- for their talents and sacrifice, and a legacy of devoted leadership.

"Wildcatters, I share your pride in Tinker Air Force Base, and I look forward to leading you in your supporting role. I'm also very familiar with the impact of fiscal constraints across the Air Force and Tinker is no exception. We must remember that airpower is the great enabler of the free world," he said. "It is the most potent demonstration of our military might so we must prevail ... Wildcatters, you are the right team at the right time."

Colonel Azzano's predecessor, Colonel Bleymaier was honored with a Legion of Merit award, first oak leaf cluster. He thanked the 72nd ABW for their support and wished them well.

"I am surrounded by winners and I am so proud to have been a part of this amazing team," said Colonel Bleymaier. "It is another great day to fly at Tinker Air Force Base thanks to the Wildcatters of the 72nd Air Base Wing who enable Team Tinker's success and who leave no doubt in Team Tinker's mind that they can count on us!

"Wildcatters, I'm so proud of you. You took the vision of why the air base wing exists and why we do what we do; it's not about us, it's about those we serve," he said. "Bottom line, you got on and stayed on the right trajectory toward achieving your full potential ... thank you for your inspiring service. My family and I have loved it here every minute of every day and will miss you all."

General Litchfield praised Colonel Bleymaier for a job well done.

"Steve, you have really done a magnificent job," the general said. "If you were to do a before and after pictures of the base and the environment over the last 18 months, it would look dramatic. It is absolutely unbelievable of what Steve has faced during his tenure -- from the reorganizations that he was part of standing up and then executing and all the mission responsibilities that came with that to the reshaping of the base support as we change dramatically in how we provide services and supporting programs, sequestration and furloughs. In times of change, leadership is paramount to get us through."

Colonel Bleymaier left Tinker to become the deputy commander of Air Force Materiel Command Logistics, or A4, at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

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