CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. --
Members of Cannon Air Force Base, Clovis and Portales community members, and distinguished guests gathered together to view the 27th Special Operations Wing change of command, July 17, 2019.
Lt. Gen. Jim Slife, the Air Force Special Operations Command commander, presided over the ceremony, as members bid farewell to Col. Stewart Hammons and welcomed Col. Robert Masaitis as the new 27th SOW commander.
“There is no group of Airmen in all of AFSOC that I have more pride for than those standing in front of me today,” said Slife. “The list of accomplishments over the last couple of years that Stew Hammons has been in command is truly breathtaking. Every one of these units has operationally deployed, has a high operations tempo and has frankly carried the fight to our nation’s enemies so that while we’re playing the away game, American citizens can play the home game.”
Slife presented Hammons with the Legion of Merit for the accomplishments during his tenure to include his oversight of both wing and expeditionary requirements to include 168,000 combat hours with 93 aircraft and winning 212 AFSOC-level awards 16 Air Force-level awards and one Department of Defense award.
“Whether you turn a wrench, fly a plane, fix someone’s pay issue, defend this installation or provide quality medical care to our Airmen, you have exceeded my expectations every day that I’ve been in command,” said Hammons. “You’ve kept this wing at the tip of the spear, you’ve internalized our mission of execution of specialized airpower from a premier installation. I take great pride in the fact that we are the most lethal wing in the Air Force and the most innovative and you are what has made this tour the most rewarding assignment of my career.”
During the change of command, the ceremonial handover of the 27th SOW guidon from Hammons to Masaitis took place, honoring a military tradition symbolizing the transfer of authority from one commander to the next.
Masaitis, the former 492nd Special Operations Training Group commander out of Hurlburt Field, Florida, was accompanied along with his wife and two kids. The Masaitis family found themselves back at Cannon AFB, after Masaitis served as an operations officer in the 73rd Special Operations Squadron from 2010 to 2012.
“I cannot be more proud and excited to be standing here in front of you and joining this team,” said Masaitis “As an outsider coming back in, I can feel the pride from this team and I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Hammons and his family will find their new home at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas as he steps into the role of Director, Expeditionary Support, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center, Air Force Materiel Command.