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Air Force Col. William W. Uhle Jr., left, is prsented as new commander of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base during ceremony there Thursday morning. At right of photo is Col. Robin Rand, who until Thursday commanded the wing for the past year.
Air Force Col. William W. Uhle Jr., left, is prsented as new commander of the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base during ceremony there Thursday morning. At right of photo is Col. Robin Rand, who until Thursday commanded the wing for the past year. (Courtesy of USAF)

Air Force Lt. Col. William W. Uhle Jr. became the new 8th Fighter Wing commander Thursday following a change-of-command ceremony at Kunsan Air Base, South Korea.

Uhle replaces Col. Robin Rand as head of the wing, known as the “Wolf Pack.” The wing commander’s position is a one-year tour.

Rand, slated for promotion to brigadier general, moves to Luke Air Force Base, Ariz., to become the 56th Fighter Wing commander.

Wolf Pack members refer to their wing commander as “The Wolf,” a tradition that dates to the Vietnam War when Col. Robin Olds, who led the unit at the time, nicknamed it the “Wolf Pack” and became its first Wolf.

Uhle, the 43rd Wolf, takes charge of more than 3,000 airmen at Kunsan. Among the wing’s squadrons are two F-16 units, the 80th Fighter Squadron — nicknamed the “Juvats,” and the 35th Fighter Squadron — the “Pantons.”

He had been vice commander of the 20th Fighter Wing at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.

In brief farewell remarks to some 600 people, Rand praised the Wolf Pack’s airmen and told Uhle to savor his new assignment because the year’s duty would pass quickly.

“You know, there have been better Wolf Pack commanders than me,” Rand said. “There have been smarter Wolf Pack commanders than me. There have even been better looking and skinnier commanders than me. But there has never been one more grateful.”

Lt. Gen. Gary R. Trexler, commander of the 7th Air Force and the top Air Force general in South Korea, praised Rand in his remarks.

“Wolf,” Trexler said, “you superbly maintained your focus on combat readiness, taking care of your airmen, and getting the resources to do those jobs even better.”

Trexler noted that Rand had “championed” steps that increased the wing’s capabilities in using precision-guided munitions, improved its flight training and boosted the quality of life on base — which included construction projects for new dorms, a fitness center and commissary.

“There is simply no doubt in my mind that it takes a special commander to maintain combat readiness while taking great care of his airmen,” Traxler said. “Robin Rand has been such a leader.”

Uhle told the audience he looked forward to leading the Wolf Pack.

Noting that the wing’s mission includes being ready to defend South Korea against attack, Uhle called on airmen to “fully embrace the mission by adopting a habit of excellence, by committing to making the Wolf Pack and Kunsan … better during your tour, and by, at all times, maintaining” Air Force standards.

Uhle is a command pilot with more than 2,450 flight hours, 145 of them in combat, according to the Air Force. He was commissioned in 1981 through the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps. His past assignments include flying and staff jobs in Japan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

He’s served as 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 of F-16Cs, F-15Cs and F-15Es. He was also a NATO staff officer.

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