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NEWS | March 22, 2016

Bunting takes command of 192nd Fighter Wing

By Cotton Puryear | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

The Virginia Air National Guard’s 192nd Fighter Wing welcomed Col. Stephen H. Bunting, former 192nd Maintenance Group commander, as the new wing commander during a joint change of command ceremony March 19, 2016, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia. Bunting assumed command from Col. Robert J. Grey, and Col. Jeffrey L. Ryan, former director of logistics at Headquarters, Virginia Air National Guard, assumed command of the 192nd Maintenance Group.

Grey served as commander of the 192nd from May 2014 to March 2016. Under his command, the unit achieved many successes and completed a series of firsts, said Brig. Gen. Dean A. Tremps, commander of the Virginia Air National Guard. The 192nd Operations Group and Maintenance Group underwent the first-ever combat deployment of the F-22 and first trilateral exercise with the United Kingdom and France. The 192nd Intelligence Squadron earned the Meritorious Unit Award for combat service, a first for the wing.

Overall, the 192nd FW demonstrated outstanding performance and excellence under Grey’s command resulting in the unit receiving the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for the second time in the wing’s history, said Tremps.

“This wing is one of finest in the Air Force, and I am extremely proud of the way each of you have strived for greatness and continued to push yourselves to higher levels,” said Grey. “When I mentor others, I tell them that you’re not truly successful in your job until you find a replacement who can do a better job than you did; in that regard, I have been successful because I couldn’t imagine anyone better than Col. Bunting.”

“To the men and women of the 192nd Fighter Wing: this was not my Wing, this was your Wing. Thank you for letting me lead it for the last two years,” he said.

Bunting graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Mechanics. A command pilot with more than 2,300 flying hours in the F-16C and F-22 fighter aircraft, Bunting served more than nine years on active duty before transitioning to the Virginia Air National Guard in 2003. In 2006, Bunting transitioned to the F-22 Raptor. He was the former commander of the 149th Fighter Squadron, which he successfully led through numerous training and real-world deployments.

“There is no doubt that the 192nd Fighter Wing will continue to be recognized as one of the premier Air Force Wings under the command of Col. Bunting,” said Tremps. “He is well-prepared and equipped to lead the 192nd into one of the most challenging times in our nation’s history.”

As commander of the 192nd Maintenance Group, Bunting helped pave the way for notable total force achievements including the first F-22 combat mission and the first F-22 Small Diameter Bomb combat delivery. Bunting has earned several awards and decorations including the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with one oak leaf cluster, and Air Force Commendation Medal with two oak leaf clusters.

“I didn’t get to this point on my own, it was the great leadership from commanders that got me to where I am today, and I am humbled at the opportunity and their confidence in me to lead this remarkable organization,” said Bunting. “I’m going to do my best for everyone here because you all deserve it.”

Ryan assumed command of the 192nd Maintenance Group from Bunting at the joint change of command ceremony. Ryan was commissioned as a Distinguished Air Force Graduate in 1995 from the Virginia Military Institute. He joined the Virginia Air National Guard in 2002, served as the Mission Support Group commander, and held several positions within aircraft maintenance supporting F-16, A-10, C-130, HH-60, C-141, and F-22 aircraft. He has also earned several awards and decorations including the Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal.

“I have sincerely enjoyed hearing about the incredible accomplishments of the Maintenance Group, over the past two years,” said Ryan. “The men and women of the 192nd Maintenance Group have truly established a reputation and a tradition of excellence, and I look forward to continuing that tradition as commander.”

“It’s good to have Col. Ryan back in the Wing,” said Grey. “As the [former] Maintenance Squadron commander and Mission Support Group commander, he has triumphed at every challenge faced and every task given; I know he will continue to build on the success of the 192nd Maintenance Group.”

The change of command ceremony is a military tradition rooted in history in which uniquely developed flags for each organization are publicly exchanged from the hands of the former commander to the hands of the new commander. This ceremony symbolically marks the change of leadership in military organizations.

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