OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea — One of the two U.S. Air Force fighter wings based in South Korea will see leadership pass to a new commander in a formal ceremony at Kunsan Air Base on Thursday morning.

Col. Robin Rand, commander of the 8th Fighter Wing — the “Wolf Pack” — was to relinquish command to Col. William W. Uhle Jr. in a 9 a.m. ceremony at Kunsan’s Hangar 3.

Uhle moves to Kunsan from Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., where he was vice commander of the 20th Fighter Wing.

Rand is slated for promotion to brigadier general. His next assignment is as commander of the 56th Fighter Wing at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. He became commander of the 8th Fighter Wing in May 2003. The wing commander’s position is a one-year tour.

Kunsan is an austere 650-acre base on South Korea’s western coast, 100 miles south of the Demilitarized Zone. The 51st Fighter Wing, the other U.S. fighter wing in South Korea, is at Osan, 48 miles south of the DMZ.

By Wolf Pack tradition, the wing commander is known respectfully as “The Wolf,” a practice that dates to the Vietnam War.

In becoming the wing’s 43rd Wolf, Uhle takes charge of more than 3,000 airmen and a wing that includes two squadrons of F-16 fighter planes, the 80th Fighter Squadron — nicknamed the “Juvats” — and the 35th Fighter Squadron — “the Pantons.”

The Wolf also is the base’s senior-ranking officer.

“It truly is where the buck stops, there is no higher authority at Kunsan Air Base than the person who holds that office,” said 1st Lt. Herb McConnell, a Wolf Pack spokesman.

Lt. Gen. Gary R. Trexler, commander of the 7th Air Force here, was scheduled to preside at the ceremony. Trexler is the top U.S. Air Force commander in South Korea.

Uhle is a command pilot with more than 2,450 flight hours, including 145 combat hours, according to the Air Force. Commissioned in 1981 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, he has held various flying and staff assignments in Japan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

He has served as a NATO staff officer, chief of the Weapons Requirements Division at Air Force headquarters, director of combat operations with the Joint Task Force — Southwest Asia and has commanded an operational test and evaluation squadron composed of F-16C, F-15C and F-15E aircraft.

Rand was commissioned in 1979 from the Air Force Academy. Before his assignment to Kunsan, Rand was U.S. Air Force Weapons School commandant at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev. A command pilot with more than 4,200 flying hours, he also has been assigned to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon and has served as a deputy operations group commander.

Fighter ace Col. Robin Olds became the first Wolf in September 1966 when the wing was based in Thailand and designated the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing. It was redesignated the 8th Fighter Wing in 1992 as part of an Air Force-wide reorganization.

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