OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
The presiding officer of the ceremony was U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Bergeson, 7th Air Force commander.
“It is great to be here today with the Mustangs. It is truly an honor to be here today as we transition Mustang One, and Popeye Hansen passes the torch to William Wilbur Betts,” said Bergeson. “On this very day 64 years ago, the Korean Armistice agreement was signed. The United States and the Republic of Korea aligned to ensure the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia ever since.”
The Armistice, which was signed July 27, 1953, is an agreement between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea to end hostilities between the two nations.
“Today the 51st FW continues to stand watch to deter aggression and preserve the Armistice, defend the Republic of Korea and, if necessary, decisively defeat the attack against the alliance,” said Bergeson. “Your readiness and strength is earned every day the old fashioned way with hard work, dedication and outstanding NCO and officer leadership lead from the front by Mustang One, Col. Andrew Hansen, to whom we bid farewell today.”
“Popeye, over the last two years you’ve challenged the men and women of the 51st to strive for excellence and that challenge has been met with remarkable results,” said Bergeson.
Under Hanson’s leadership the 51st FW executed more than 9,000 sorties, 15,000 flying hours, and also created and implemented a joint combined exercise.
“I can’t believe this is happening right now. I’m absolutely overwhelmed and proud to have had the opportunity to lead the 51st FW,” said Hansen. “Collectively guarding 51 million people. I’m amazed by the incredible warriors and thoroughbreds that make up the Mustang.”
“The way we trained and exercised directly prepared us for crisis,” said Hansen. “Most [people] have to fight to train, we train to fight. Driving Pacific Air Forces to do the same from right here at Osan.”
Hansen was awarded the Order of National Security Samil Medal for performing a key role in maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula by enhancing combined RoK and U.S. warfighting capabilities and defense postures.
“[Wilbur] I know that you will take this team to the next level of success. My sincere thanks to all of you for what you do every day,” said Hansen. “You should all be very proud to be Mustangs. Thank you for truly leading the charge.”
Being commander of the 51st FW comes with the responsibility to ensure the wing is “ready to Fight” to protect the freedom of 51 million people on the Korean Peninsula.
“Wilbur is totally prepared to take command of the Mustang today. He is a command pilot with over 2,000 fighter hours serving majority of it in the F-16 and successfully completed multiple challenging commands,” said Bergeson. “Col. Betts is the standard of what it takes to serve with Team Osan. As Mustang One, your primary duty is to make sure your wing is ready to fight tonight. To lead this wing into combat should we go to war, you must make sure this wing is ready every night, and I’m confident you will continue to execute the wing’s mission and build upon its outstanding legacy.”
“We’ve got to continue to modernize, we’ve got to continue to make repairs. We can’t let any portion of our capability drop off for a significant amount of time, and Popeye your leadership and this team made that happen in the last two years,” said Betts.
Betts referenced a quote from basketball coach Robert Knight who said “The only thing more important than the will to win is the will to prepare to win.”
“Your tenure at the 51st FW embodies this mentality, and I am honored to succeed you,” said Betts. “I will pick up where you left off, and I am ready to lead the charge.”