Col. Tom Bladen takes command of the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes Air National Guard Base Westfield
WESTFIELD – Col. Tom Bladen assumed command of the 104th Fighter Wing on Monday with a commitment to get to know the 1,000 wing members and their families better.
“My job is to protect them and their families,” Bladen said after the brief ceremony. “I can only do this if I know them.”
Bladen has served as the 104th Fighter Wing as a vice commander since July 2019, and previously served as the operations group commander and inspector general. He entered the Air Force after graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the US Air Force Academy in 1997, then earned his pilot wings at Columbus AFB in 1999. His career in aviation includes over 2,500 flight hours with combat experience over Iraq. .
After accepting command from Col. Peter T. Green III, Bladen thanked the Mayor of Westfield, Donald F. Humason Jr, and State Senator John Velis, D-Westfield, for their contribution to establishing a strong relationship between the Air National Guard and the city.
“I couldn’t ask for two better partners in the community,” said Bladen. “I am grateful for this benchmark military / civilian relationship.”
Green, a Springfield native who will be promoted to brigadier general on Tuesday, will continue his 38 years of service in the Massachusetts Air National Guard as he moves from wing commander of the 104th Fighter Wing to adjutant general Air Assistant for the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
The transfer of his command to Bladen in order to accept his promotion to the rank of One-Star General turned out to be a bittersweet moment for Green, a career military aviator since joining the Air Force. during teenagehood.
“My fellow barnstormers have shown me what it means to be a family with incredible results. Joining this unit is the best decision of my entire life, ”Green said, his voice breaking with emotion. “I have been and will always be proud to have served with you. Go barnstormers.
Base chaplain Travorus Weaver said during his summons at the start of the ceremony that Green, 56, “is a father to many of us.” It’s going to be hard to let him go.
Green had been the wing commander since August 2018 and previously served as the vice-commander, maintenance group commander and security forces commander, officials said. In this role of Wing Commander, he provided mission readiness to effectively support alert home defense, domestic operations, emergency support to state partner agencies, and expeditionary deployment missions.
During his tenure, he provided essential support to more than 1,000 Airmen and their families.
Green was raised in western Massachusetts and enlisted with the 104th Fighter Wing in 1982 as a security police aviator after graduating from the Roger L. Heating and Air Conditioning program. Putnam Vocational High School in Springfield in 1981.
The ceremony was held for a limited family using social distancing and masks and maintaining best practices due to COVID-19 and was broadcast live on Facebook The ceremony was held for a limited family using distance social and masks and maintaining best practices due to COVID-19 and streamed live on Facebook.