Holloman gains new GAF Flying Training Center commander

Col. Heinz Joachim Hecht, German air force U.S./Canada commander, looks on as Col. Peter Klement, German air force commander, greets former German Air Force Commander Manfred Molitor after the change of command ceremony.

Col. Heinz Joachim Hecht, German air force U.S./Canada commander, looks on as Col. Peter Klement, German air force commander, greets former German Air Force Commander Manfred Molitor after the change of command ceremony.

Col. Heinz Joachim Hecht, German air force U.S./Canada commander, passes the guidon to Col. Peter Klement as he assumes command of the GAF.

Col. Heinz Joachim Hecht, German air force U.S./Canada commander, passes the guidon to Col. Peter Klement as he assumes command of the GAF.

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- More than 300 German and American Air Force members and local Alamogordo leaders attended the German Air Force Flying Training Center change of command ceremony here at 10 a.m. Thursday in the GAF Hanger to witness Col. Manfred Molitor pass the 'command torch' to Col. Peter Klement. 

In an observance similar to the Air Force's change of command ceremony and featuring German and American flag details and Fort Bliss's 62nd Army Band, Colonel Molitor handed the GAF Flying Training Center's flag to Colonel Klement. 

Colonel Klement and his wife Gabriele hail from Cologne where the colonel previously served as a German Armed Forces personnel branch chief. 

Upon assuming command, Colonel Klement praised Colonel Molitor's dedication as previous GAF FTC CC and said he and his family are excited to be stationed at Holloman. 

Colonel Klement then spoke on current GAF operations and said the GAF, like the American Armed Forces, must be proactive in dealing with technological advances. 

Colonel Molitor also took the dais for a few minutes and thanked the men and women of the 49th Fighter Wing and Alamogordo for their outstanding cooperation and support for the GAF mission. 

"I had the great pleasure of enjoying partnership, friendship and very close ties with the leadership of the 49th Fighter Wing," he said. 

According to Brig. Gen David Goldfein, 49 FW commander, Holloman's bond with Germany reaches into the past. 

"Our ties with the Germans began long before Holloman," he said. "The 49th Fighter Wing was stationed in Spangdahlem, Germany, years ago, so the connection is in our blood." 

General Goldfein also said Colonel Molitor has been an outstanding German Ambassador and one of Holloman's great leaders. 

"We hate to loose 'Moli' and his Waltraud and wish them the best. We look forward to working with Peter and Gabriele." 

Ms. Waltraud Molitor is Colonel Molitor's wife. 

New Mexico Representative Ms. Gloria Vaughn attended the event and said she was grateful to receive an invitation. 

"This type of ceremony says a lot about Holloman and our Armed Forces. I'm proud of our relationship with the German Air Force," she said. "This is a great example of international friendship." 

Colonel Molitor has been the GAF FTC commander since June, 2004 and is leaving Holloman for an assignment in the city of Dresden, in the German province of Saxony. 

Both Colonels Molitor and Klement have previously served as GAF wing commanders.