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Eglin welcomes new test wing commander

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A command pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours and 180 combat hours, Brig. Gen. Evan Dertien is familiar with Air Force Materiel Command and the test mission. Prior to arriving at Eglin, he served as the vice commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB.

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The 96th Test Wing welcomed its new commander May 31 during a change of command ceremony here.

Brig. Gen. Christopher Azzano passed the guidon to the wing’s new leader Brig. Gen. Evan Dertien. The wing bid farewell to Azzano, who moves to Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, to take command of the Air, Space and Cyberspace Operations Directorate.

A command pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours and 180 combat hours, Dertien is familiar with Air Force Materiel Command and the test mission. Previously, he was the 40th Flight Test Squadron commander in 2008 and an F-16/F-15 test pilot in 2002. Prior to arriving here, he served as the vice commander of the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson AFB.

Maj. Gen. David Harris, Air Force Test Center commander, welcomed Dertein and his family.

“We are very lucky to have him back,” said Harris, the first 96 TW commander here from 2012 to 2015. “He is a tester through and through and knows the mission here at Eglin very well.”
Harris spoke about the privilege of being in command and the tremendous responsibility.

“It demands absolute professional competence, tenacious leadership, selfless sacrifice and a willingness to put the needs of the mission and your people above all else,” said Harris. “We have the right officer for the job. Dertein is just what we need to carry on the critical mission of the 96 TW.”

Harris thanked Azzano for his leadership and presented him with the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services and achievements.

Azzano spoke fondly of the talented, patriotic Airmen assigned to Eglin, the supportive community and the friendships him and his spouse, Jennifer, developed here.

“This is the best wing in the Air Force and the crown jewel of the Emerald Coast. There is comfort for me in handing over the wing to somebody I’ve known for almost as long as Eglin AFB,” said Azzano. “[Eglin is] gaining a great commander today and a great Air Force family. I can tell you from personal experience he is the right officer to lead this wing into the next generation.”

Dertien reflected on Eglin’s rich 86-year history when it began as a small gunnery range to now delivering cutting edge research, training and deploying warriors to fight and developing weapons for the warfighter.

“When you look at the Air Force mission across air, space and cyberspace it depends on the 96 TW and what you accomplish here at Eglin AFB,” said Dertien. The people here, the location, the ranges, and the support of our local community make Eglin a national treasure and I’m humbled to be part of the effort and have the ability to rejoin the team.”

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Article by Kristin Stewart, Team Eglin Public Affairs

PHOTO (ABOVE): Brig. Gen. Evan Dertien speaks to the crowd after taking command of the 96th Test Wing during the wing’s change of command ceremony at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., May 31. The command position is Dertien’s third assignment to Team Eglin. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

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