Change of command

MINOT AIR FORCE BASE The 5th Bomb Wing personnel at Minot Air Force Base said goodbye to one commander and his family and welcomed another and his family.

A change of command ceremony was held Monday, when Col. Alex Mezynski, commander of the Minot bomb wing since January 2013, turned over the leadership to Col. Jason Armagost.

Mezynski has been assigned to serve as the chief of staff at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar. Armagost previously was the vice commander of the 36th Wing at Andersen AFB in Guam.

Maj. Gen. Scott Vander Hamm, commander of Eighth Air Force at Barksdale AFB, La., and presiding officer for the ceremony, said the change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition of the Air Force.

Vander Hamm said the 5th Bomb Wing is engaged around the world, including right now at Andersen AFB.

Currently, the 69th Bomb Squadron, a unit of the 5th Bomb Wing, is deployed to Guam.

Personnel from the bomb wing with B-52s also were at Royal Air Force Fairford in England for a two-week deployment to become better acquainted with air bases in the region.

Other bomb wing members and B-52s are operating out of Ellsworth AFB, S.D., while the Minot AFB runway is closed and being reconstructed.

Recognizing Mezynski’s wife, Jennifer, and their children and Armagost’s wife, Diane, and their children, during the ceremony, Vander Hamm said the families and what they do are so important He also said there are sacrifices when children have dads as commanders.

Vander Hamm, who has been commander of Eighth Air Force since October 2013, said he visited with about 24 congressional members while in Washington, D.C., a few days ago. “I saw the entire North Dakota delegation,” he said. He added that the base has “a wonderful relationship with the Minot community.

Vander Hamm told the audience, mainly comprised of 5th Bomb Wing personnel, that he has known both Mezynski and Armagost for some time Armagost for a much longer time. He said both men are concerned about people.

He said Mezynski has shepherded the Minot bomb wing to great heights while he was its commander.

Armagost, according to his biographical information, graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and was commissioned in 1992. He has flown numerous combat missions in the F-16CJ and the B-2A. He commanded the 13th Bomb Squadron at Whiteman AFB, Mo., and was chief of the Joint Staff’s Nuclear Operations Division and as an alternate deputy director for Operations in the National Military Command Center. Before his assignment to the Joint Staff, he was a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation. Armagost is a command pilot with more than 2,600 hours in the B-2A, F-16CJ, F-16CG, B-52H and T-38A.

“Jason has been an exceptional member of the bomber community,” Vander Hamm said.

He assured the men and women of the 5th Bomb Wing that the bomb wing “has been and will be in the most capable hands.”

Armagost said that coming to Minot AFB and the 5th Bomb Wing is truly a unique experience. To Mezynski and his family, Armagost extended a thank you for the legacy that they are leaving behind.