HAW changes command, celebrates 10 years

  • Published
  • By Capt. Henrik Gebhardt
  • Heavy Airlift Wing

At a ceremony on the Strategic Airlift Capability premises at Pápa Air Base, Col. James S. Sparrow assumed command of the Heavy Airlift Wing. He did so by accepting the Heavy Airlift Wing Flag from the hands of Brig. Gen. Michael Koscheski, Chairman of the Strategic Airlift Capability Steering Board. This ceremony and the following air show marked the end of a two-day event, in which the SAC program celebrated 10 years of operations.

Sparrow is the sixth commander of the HAW, the operational unit of the 12 nation cooperation, the SAC, which in 2019 also celebrates 10 years of successful operations. Before assuming command, Sparrow was appointed as vice commander of the wing since July 2017. 

The change of command ceremony was preceded by a 10th anniversary dinner on June 26, 2019, where personnel, distinguished visitors, alumni, and invited guests celebrated SAC’s 10 years of operations.

Addressing the invited guests and HAW personnel, Sparrow said, "The HAW is the SAC Program's "air force"; its operational arm to meet the airlift requirements of the SAC nations. Beyond that basic reason to exist, I want to remind the HAW members here today how special of an organization we truly are. There is no other multinational unit like ours in existence."

At the same time Sparrow assumed command, Col. Gohn-Hellum from the Royal Norwegian Air Force, relinquished his command, and Col. Peder Söderström from the Swedish Air Force, assumed the position as vice commander of the wing.

Gohn-Hellum addressed the personnel of the HAW with the words, "your teamwork and positive attitude to always learn, and to look for good solutions, have allowed the SAC Program to set a new standard on how nations can work together to share a military capability. I would claim that the SAC Program is the most successful example of smart defense in the world today."

Following the change of command ceremony there was an air show, including a static display of aircraft from different member nations. The aerial display consisted of a SAC C-17 demonstration flight, Hungarian Air Force Gripen fighter, MI-8 helicopter demonstration flights, and a SAC C-17 air drop demonstration with Hungarian paratroopers.