The Chairman of the Strategic Airlift Capability Steering Board Brigadier General Mark Camerer hands the flag of the Heavy Airlift Wing to Colonel Trevor Nitz during the wing change of command ceremony on 1 July 2015 at HDF Pápa Air Base, Hungary. Photo: HAW / Ville Tuokko
The ceremony was attended by approximately 300 guests representing the Strategic Airlift Capability personnel and their families, the SAC Steering Board, the governing body of the multinational program, embassies of the 12 SAC nations and organizations affiliated with the program.
The Heavy Airlift Wing, the operational arm of the SAC program, is the first and only operational multinational military airlift unit in the world and its traditions reflect the military cultures of the 12 nations. One universal feature of change of command ceremonies seen also on 1 July was the handover of the unit flag symbolizing the transfer of the authority of the commander.
The audience observed as Brigadier General Mark Camerer, the Chairman of the program governing body SAC Steering Board received the Heavy Airlift Wing flag from the outgoing HAW Commander, Colonel Frank Rombouts of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, and handed it over to Colonel Trevor Nitz of the United States Air Force.
Colonel Nitz has served as the Vice Commander of the Heavy Airlift Wing since the summer of 2013. In his address to the audience of the change of command ceremony he described the developments of SAC and the HAW and thanked SAC personnel for their effort in making the operations of the C-17 cargo jets happen, while working constantly to develop the program.
"Having been a part of the HAW for the past two years I know how busy it is and how hard everyone is working. In addition to executing the nations' missions, almost daily we are involved in the continued building of this young program: continuous process improvement, bringing new IT systems online, preparing to occupy new SAC facilities, improving the C-17's capabilities, building capacity for training and operational missions, all while supporting and enhancing the quality of life for SAC members and their families.
We have a great team to be able to do all of this. They consistently excel at it with outstanding attitudes. It is truly my honor and privilege to lead this outstanding unit. I am excited and eager to be a part of this amazing, one-of-a-kind wing."
The Heavy Airlift Change of Command ceremony was attended by approximately 300 guests representing the Strategic Airlift Capability personnel and their families, the SAC Steering Board, the governing body of the multinational program, embassies of the 12 SAC nations and organizations affiliated with the program. Photo: HAW / Ville Tuokko
During the Change of Command ceremony Colonel Frank Rombouts, who served as the HAW Commander from February 2013 to July 2015 and as the wing Vice Commander from June 2011 to February 2013, thanked the members of the Heavy Airlift Wing for achieving a stable and safe mission performance and also being able to enhance the capabilities of the SAC program on their part.
"Many capable people are working hard every day to produce the missions. In the four years that I was a part of the HAW I came to admire your dedication and perseverance. You all make it look so easy, but I know it is not. The men and women of the HAW – I congratulate you on a job well done."
As Colonel Rombouts noted, since the beginning of flight operations in 2009, the SAC fleet of three C-17 aircraft have flown of over 1,000 missions and 16,000 flight hours while maintaining a perfect safety record. Since 2013 the HAW has also been able to enhance its operations by expanding its training activities to different SAC nations and commencing regular airdrop training flights in its host nation Hungary. As the most recent new mission milestone met Colonel Rombouts mentioned the HAW's first operational medical evacuation mission with a Critical Care Aeromedical Transportation Team (CCATT) that took place in June.
Colonel Rombouts also thanked Colonel Nitz for his work as the HAW Vice Commander and wished him success in his new position.
"Colonel Nitz, I have grown to know and respect you over the last two years as a very dedicated leader who will always look after his people and who will make every effort to help make the missions go. I am sure you will continue to build the unit and will lead it to new and higher levels of professionalism. I am convinced that I am leaving the HAW in very capable hands."
During the 1 July Change of Command ceremony, SAC host nation Hungary presented Colonel Frank Rombouts with recognitions of his achievements as the Commander of the Heavy Airlift Wing. Here the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Hungarian Ministry of Defense Mr. Tamás Vargha presents him with the Honours for the Alliance. Photo: HAW / Ville Tuokko
During the 1 July Change of Command ceremony Colonel Frank Rombouts received recognition from the SAC host nation Hungary. Mr. Tamás Vargha, the Parliamentary State Secretary of the Hungarian Ministry of Defense presented him with the Honours for the Alliance on behalf of Mr. Csaba Hende, the Minister of Defense of Hungary and Major General János Varga, the Director of the Staff of the Hungarian Chief of Defense presented him a memento on behalf of General Tibor Benkő, the Chief of Defense Staff as recognition of his achievements in the support of the SAC program and developing Dutch – Hungarian bilateral relations.
1 July also marked another change in the leadership of the Heavy Airlift Wing as Colonel Bjørn Gohn-Hellum of the Royal Norwegian Air Force was appointed to be the Vice Commander of the Wing. Before joining the HAW, Colonel Gohn-Hellum served as the Commanding Officer of the 333 Squadron, operating the P-3 Orion from Andoya Air Station in Norway. He is the first Norwegian to hold the HAW Vice Commander position.
Colonel Trevor Nitz's Bio
Colonel Bjørn Gohn-Hellum's Bio
About the Strategic Airlift Capability
The Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC), established in 2008, is an independent and multinational program that provides access to military airlift capability to its 12 partner nations by owning and operating three Boeing C-17 Globemaster III long-range cargo jets.
SAC is based at the Hungarian Defence Forces (HDF) Pápa Western Hungary.
The SAC Nations are the NATO members Hungary (program host nation), Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States and NATO Partnership for Peace nations Finland and Sweden. Each participating nation owns a share of the available flight hours of the SAC C-17s to serve the needs of their national defense, NATO, EU or UN commitments and humanitarian relief efforts.
SAC organizations consist of the operational arm, the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW) and the NATO Airlift Management (NAM) Programme Office that is the acquisition and sustainment authority of the SAC C-17 weapon system. It also provides site and administrational support to the HAW.
The Boeing Company is contracted by SAC to provide technical support for the C-17 aircraft.