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Black Sheep take on new commander

Col. Jack Forsythe, 49th Operations Group commander, hands the 8th Fighter Squadron guidon to Lt. Col. Christopher Williams, new 8 FS commander, signifying the change of command in a ceremony Jan. 5. (U.S. photo taken by Airman Jamal Sutter)

Col. Jack Forsythe, 49th Operations Group commander, recieves the 8th Fighter Squadron guidon to Lt. Col. Christopher Williams, former 8 FS commander, signifying the relinquishment of command in a ceremony Jan. 5. (U.S. photo taken by Airman Jamal Sutter)

Col. Jack Forsythe, 49th Operations Group commander, looks on as Lt. Col. Todd Flesch's name is revealed on an F-117A as he takes command of the 8th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. photo taken by Airman Jamal Sutter)

Col. Jack Forsythe, 49th Operations Group commander, looks on as Lt. Col. Todd Flesch's name is revealed on an F-117A as he takes command of the 8th Fighter Squadron. (U.S. photo taken by Airman Jamal Sutter)

HOLLOMAN AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- A new squadron commander assumed the helm of the 49th Fighter Wing's 8th Fighter Squadron "Black Sheep" at a ceremony held in an aircraft hangar here Jan. 5.

Lt. Col. Todd Flesch, previously the squadron's director of operations, began his command by lauding the work of his predecessor, Lt. Col. Christopher Williams, and pledged that taking ownership would be a theme of his time as commander.

During the ceremony, Col. Jack Forsythe, 49th Operations Group commander, praised Colonel William's job as commander, saying he pushed the capabilities and combat effectiveness of the F-117A Stealth Fighter, the squadron's aircraft since 1993, further than anyone before him. The colonel also said Colonel Flesch is the right leader for the Black Sheep as they transition to flying the F-22A Raptor.

"You are going to lead during a time of great transition," Colonel Forsythe said. The first F-22 with a Holloman tail flash is scheduled to arrive in the first quarter of fiscal year 2009, according to base officials.

Colonel Flesch said he has been inspired by the pride and ownership shown by the American people for the F-117A. He also said the squadron must become staunch advocates for change.

"We must embrace the future and our future is in the F-22," he said.

Colonel Flesch is the 56th commander of the Black Sheep since its activation on Jan. 16, 1941, at Selfridge Field, Mich. Over the past 66 years, the squadron has participated in World War II, the Korean Conflict and conflict in Southeast Asia.

More recently, its members led the first wave of strikes against Serbia in Operation ALLIED FORCE, deployed to the Middle East in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and dropped the first weapons in Operation IRAQI FREEDOM.