Feb. 7—Col. Van Thai was recognized as the new commander of the 434th Air Refueling Wing during a special ceremony at Grissom Air Reserve Base on Saturday.
Thai comes to Grissom from Yokota AB, Japan, where he served as the director of operations and exercises for 5th Air Force.
He replaces Col. Summer Fields, who has been serving as commander since June 2023. She will return to her role as the 434th ARW deputy commander.
Maj. Gen. D. Scott Durham, Fourth Air Force commander, officiated the ceremony.
Deeply rooted in military tradition since the Middle Ages, change of command ceremonies afford service members the opportunity to witness the symbolic passing of the torch in the presence of friends, family members and fellow Airmen, according to a recent news release from Grissom officials.
“Build a trusted team of leaders and let them lead,” said Maj. Gen. D. Scott Durham, the Fourth Air Force commander. “I’m trusting you. This will be the greatest educational experience yet on your leadership path. I wish you good luck, and God speed.”
The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command. The unit is manned by nearly 1,900 military, civilian and contractor personnel and equipped with two flying squadrons operating 16 aircraft. The 434th ARW also has a unique role supporting both the Single Integrated Operational Plan and conventional tanker missions.
“We will continue to not only live up to the Grissom legacy of the fuel-nomenal Airmen that came before us, we will not only be standing on the shoulders of giants, but we will build upon that legacy of valor and it’ll be our legacy, so get ready to rock the mish,'” said Thai. “We’ll launch from the crossroads of America to show them what the Hoosier Wing is truly made of … Anytime, anywhere.”