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ASAB Holds Change of Command with 779th EAS Redesignation

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation

The 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron guidon is furled as the 61st EAS guidon is displayed for the first time officially during a redesignation and change of command ceremony on Nov. 2, 2021, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The 779th EAS has been active in the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility since the early 2000s. The 779th was redesignated the 61st EAS, which flies the newer and more capable C-130J Super Hercules. The C-130J flies faster, is able to carry more passengers or cargo, and requires two less aircrew members to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Nicholas Redenious, the commander of the newly activated 61st EAS on Nov. 2, 2021, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The 779th EAS and redesignated as the 61st EAS. The 61st EAS also brings the newer and more capable C-130J Super Hercules. The C-130J flies faster, is able to carry more passengers or cargo, and requires two less aircrew members to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation

U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Barnes, left, the commander of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, presents the 61st Expeditionary Airlift Squadron guidon to U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Nicholas Redenious, the commander of the newly activated 61st EAS on Nov. 2, 2021, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The 779th EAS was deactivated and redesignated as the 61st EAS. The 61st EAS also brings the newer and more capable C-130J Super Hercules. The C-130J flies faster, is able to carry more passengers or cargo, and requires two less aircrew members to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cretz, the outgoing commander of the 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, speaks during a redesignation and change of command ceremony on Nov. 2, 2021, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The 779th EAS was redesignated as the 61st EAS. Members from the former 779th EAS were comprised of USAF Air National Guard and Reserve members and will return to the 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware ANG and the 908th AW, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation

Service members assigned to Ali Al Salem Air Base attend a redesignation and change of command ceremony on Nov. 2, 2021, at ASAB, Kuwait. The 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron was redesignated to the 61st EAS, a newly activated expeditionary unit flying the C-130J Super Hercules. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation

U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Barnes, left, the commander of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, presents Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cretz, the outgoing commander of the 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, with the Meritorious Service Medal during a redesignation and change of command ceremony at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Nov. 2, 2021. The 779th EAS was redesignated as the 61st EAS. The 61st EAS brings the newer C-130J Super Hercules. The C-130J flies faster, is able to carry more passengers or cargo, and requires two less aircrew members to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation

U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Barnes, left, the commander of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, presents Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cretz, the outgoing commander of the 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, with the Meritorious Service Medal during a redesignation and change of command ceremony on Nov. 2, 2021, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The 779th EAS was redesignated as the 61st EAS. The 61st EAS brings the newer C-130J Super Hercules. The C-130J flies faster, is able to carry more passengers or cargo, and requires two less aircrew members to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation

U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Barnes, the commander of the 407th Air Expeditionary Group, speaks during a redesignation and change of command at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait, Nov. 2, 2021. Barnes was the presiding officer over the ceremony, which the 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron was redesignated to the 61st EAS. The 61st EAS also brings the newer and more capable C-130J Super Hercules, which flies faster, is able to carry more passengers or cargo, and requires two less aircrew members to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation

The Ali Al Salem Air Base Honor Guard posts the colors during a redesignation and change of command ceremony on Nov. 2, 2021, at ASAB, Kuwait. The 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron was redesignated as the 61st EAS. The 61st EAS also brings the newer and more capable C-130J Super Hercules. The C-130J flies faster, is able to carry more passengers or cargo, and requires two less aircrew members to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation
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The 61st Expeditionary Airlift Squadron patch, the Desert Hornets, is shown during a redesignation and change of command ceremony on Nov. 2, 2021 at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The 779th EAS was redesignated as the 61st EAS. The 61st EAS also brings the newer and more capable C-130J Super Hercules. The C-130J flies faster, is able to carry more passengers or cargo, and requires two less aircrew members to fly. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

779th Change of Command takes place with 61st EAS redesignation
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A Meritorious Service Medal awarded to U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cretz, the outgoing commander of the 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, is shown during a redesignation and change of command ceremony on Nov. 2, 2021, at Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The 779th EAS was redesignated as the 61st EAS. Members from the former 779th EAS were comprised of USAF Air National Guard and Reserve members and will return to the 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware ANG and the 908th AW, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Michael S. Murphy)

ALI AL SALEM AIR BASE, Kuwait -- The 779th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron was redesignated as the 61st EAS during a change of command ceremony at the Ali Al Salem Base Theater, Nov. 2.

U.S. Air Force Col. Jason Barnes, the 407th Air Expeditionary Group commander presided over the ceremony and delivered the initial remarks. Both Col. Clinton Wilson, the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing commander and Chief Master Sgt. Joshua Buck, 386th AEW command chief were in attendance as well as joint coalition forces to show their support.

“Today’s ceremony is not your average change of command,” Barnes said. “Our ceremony today has a new twist. With this change of command, we also change the squadron charged with those orders and mission.”

Barnes went on to share the rich history of the 779th EAS, where it started as a bombardment squadron in World War II flying B-24 Liberators. These pilots went on to perform airlift operations during the Vietnam and Korean conflicts from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Barnes included how the mission of the 779th EAS has evolved over the years to be led by a variety of USAF Air National Guard and Reserve units.

“Arkansas, Rhode Island, Texas, Illinois, the Carolinas, Colorado and Delaware to name a few,” said Barnes. “Brought together here at Ali Al Salem Air Base, the perfect example of a total force squadron. To the men and women of the 779th, thank you, and congratulations on a successful tour.”

The outgoing commander of the 779th EAS, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cretz spoke about his time in command at ASAB after receiving the Meritorious Service Medal third oak leaf cluster.

“Take care of the people, and they’ll take care of the mission,” Cretz said. “Our folks have taken care of the mission. Our crews found themselves on the front lines as American ambassadors, be it with Air Traffic Controllers, customs officials, members of foreign militaries, or Afghan evacuees fleeing the Taliban. Our men and women represent the best that America has to offer. I had the pleasure to serve in this position. Thank you.”

The redesignation signifies the change of C-130 models from the C-130H Hercules to the upgraded C-130J Super Hercules. The C-130J model is able to transport larger payloads, travel faster, and require a smaller air crew to operate within the U.S. Central Command’s area of responsibility.

Barnes paid his goodbyes to Cretz with a warm thanks for his leadership and ability to be flexible while meeting and exceeding the missions set before him. Barnes then welcomed the incoming commander of the 61st EAS, USAF Lt. Col. Nicholas “Rojo” Redenius.

“Rojo is a Herc pilot through and through,” Barnes said. “Weapons officer, evaluator- commander. Rojo has a coach’s eye and a questioning attitude that knows we can always get better. It is clear that he has the tactical skills and strategic vision to lead this squadron. So, to the men and women of the 61st EAS, the Desert Hornets, welcome to the 407th and 386th family.”

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Nicholas Redenius introduced himself to the men and women of the 61st EAS, the newly designated squadron.

“The 61st lineage dates back to its activation as the 61st Troop Carrier Squadron on Oct. 26, 1942,” Redenius explained. “From that day forward, the 61st has participated in every major U.S. military operation from Normandy beach during D-Day to critical air land and airdrop resupply missions in the Korean and Vietnam wars, and operation Just Cause in Panama. The weight of this historical tradition is now our charge and story to write. The missions we fly will forever be recorded and credited to the Desert Hornets and squadron we have to call home. I thank you for what you’ll soon accomplish and I know that you’re ready to meet any challenge thrown your way.”

The 779th EAS was comprised of aircrew and C-130H models deployed from the 166th Airlift Wing, Delaware Air National Guard and the 908th Airlift Wing, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. The newly rotated C-130J crew members are deployed from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas.

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