USAF Thunderbirds Welcome New Leader

  • Jan 7, 2015 7:40pm GMT

On Wednesday, the U.S. Air Force held a traditional squadron Change of Command Ceremony, but this one welcomed a new Commander for the military demonstration team, the USAF Thunderbirds.

During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Gregory Moseley who guided the team the last two years turned the squadron leadership over to Lt. Col. Chris Hammond who assumed command in the pristine Thunderbird hangar.

Staff Sgt. Kristina Overton shares a story with more on Hammond and the ceremony at Nellis Air Force Base.

With the 2014 season finally coming to a close, the Thunderbirds have begun preparation for their next year of performing demonstrations under new leadership. Lt. Col. Chris Hammond assumed command of the United States Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron from Lt. Col. Gregory Moseley during a change of command ceremony held at the Thunderbird hangar here Jan. 7

“I’m honored and excited about the opportunity to lead and work with extremely dedicated and highly motivated individuals who are enthusiastic about the mission the team has,” said Hammond. “This will be unlike anything I’ve ever done in my career, but I look forward to representing our Air Force and communicating the Air Force message in the hopes of recruiting similarly motivated individuals into our service for our future force.”

Hammond has been flying the F-16 Fighting Falcon for more than 13 years. He knew from a very early age he wanted to take to the skies. His father, having been a pilot himself, flew in Operation Desert Storm and instilled a spark of patriotism that would lead Hammond to earning a commission of his own.

“My father flew C-130’s.” Hammond said. “I’d always thought flying was interesting and something I wanted to pursue, but in something a little bit faster. I’d also had a lot of exposure to the service, the Air Force, and air shows growing up as a military dependent. That’s probably what steered me in that direction.”

Colonel Hammond graduated from Cooper High School in Abilene, TX, and continued on to the Air Force Academy to earn his Aeronautical Engineering degree in 1998. Eleven assignments after commissioning, he was assigned to Nellis AFB as the director of operations for the 16th Weapons Squadron at the USAF Weapons School. So far, for Hammond, the Air Force has been the experience of a lifetime.

“I love it,” the colonel said. “Joining the Air Force has allowed me to do so many different things that I couldn’t have done otherwise. Every day is interesting and every day has a different task at hand. That helps keep things fresh and enjoyable. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Now the commander of the Thunderbirds, he will have the unique dual responsibilities of commanding a force of commissioned officers and enlisted service members assigned to the squadron, while also leading all demonstration flights that are designed to highlight some of the capabilities of the F-16 Fighting Falcon.