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New commander to lead 115th Fighter Wing into the future

Col. Jeffrey Wiegand, Wing Commander of the 115th Fighter Wing, addresses all in attendance during the change of command ceremony at Truax Field, Madison, Wis., Oct. 14. Col. Wiegand assumed command following Brig. Gen. Joseph Brandemuehl’s retirement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ashley Bell)

Col. Jeffrey Wiegand, Wing Commander of the 115th Fighter Wing, addresses all in attendance during the change of command ceremony at Truax Field, Madison, Wis., Oct. 14. Col. Wiegand assumed command following Brig. Gen. Joseph Brandemuehl’s retirement. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Ashley Bell)

MADISON, Wis. -- For the first time in more than eight years, there is a new commander leading the Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing - which includes more than 1,000 Airmen and a squadron of F-16 Fighting Falcons.
 
Col. Jeffrey Wiegand of Sun Prairie, Wis., assumed command from Brig. Gen. Joseph Brandemuehl of Madison, Wis., by receiving the 115th Fighter Wing unit flag as part of an official change-of-command ceremony Oct. 14 in a packed aircraft hangar.

"To the men and women of the 115th Fighter Wing, I am so thoroughly impressed with your pride, your professionalism and I'm honored, I'm privileged to be your commander ... to lead you," Wiegand said.

Wiegand graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1989. He joined the Air National Guard in 2004 and has more than 3,000 flying hours in the F-16.

"Change - while sometimes not apparent, it's always present," said Brig. Gen. John McCoy, commander of the Wisconsin Air National Guard. "And it's a basic tenet of our military heritage. [Col. Wiegand's] experiences make him the perfect person as we move forward with plans here in Madison with our strategic initiatives."

Brademuehl recently retired Friday (Oct. 12) with more than 33 years of service, culminating as commander of the 115th since March of 2004.

"Nearly 70 percent of you have known no other commander than me at this organization," Brandemuehl acknowledged. "Col. Wiegand is going to set new expectations and he is going to do a phenomenal job as the wing commander here. You're in great hands - I have full confidence in Col. Wiegand
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"Finally, I'd just like to say a simple thank you to all of you," he continued. "Thank you for the support, the dedication, the hard work."

Brandemuehl, who earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Astronautical Engineering and Structural Dynamics, respectively, enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in 1979, joined the Air Guard in 1983 and earned his commission in the Wisconsin Air National Guard in 1985.

"He led the fighter wing on multiple combat deployments and major command inspections. He leaves the service with more than 3,200 flying hours including more than 2,000 in the Fighting Falcon," McCoy said. "He is truly dedicated to excellence and leaves today with a proud, successful legacy."

Brandemuehl helped instill a culture of dedication to excellence at the 115th, a culture likely to endure with the unit and its new commander.

Wiegand addressed the fighter wing members on the future of the 115th.

"We do have a tough road ahead of us with many challenges, specifically the federal budget," Wiegand said. "But I firmly believe these challenges present opportunities for us.

"Our nation, now more than ever, will depend upon the National Guard," Wiegand continued. "We are a strategic reserve but we're being utilized as an operation force. That alone present challenges. We must continue to fight and win today's wars and be prepared for future conflicts."

Wiegand emphasized that the people who make up the 115th Fighter Wing are its greatest resource.

"I am proud to wear this uniform - it's an honor to serve our great country," Wiegand said. "I am proud to be a Guardsman, and it's an honor to command the 115th Fighter Wing."

McCoy expressed confidence in the new commander and reaffirmed his trust in the 115th Fighter Wing.

"Together we make a great team, providing outstanding value for America, our state and this community," McCoy said. "As we look to the future, there will be additional changes, but we know the bedrock of the fighter wing is solid. We will continue to build on the great foundation laid by our predecessors ... and expect to see continued success."
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