New leader in charge at Ed­wards AFB

Former test pi­lot as­sumes com­mand of 412th Wing

Antelope Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - By AL­LI­SON GATLIN Val­ley Press Staff Writer

ED­WARDS AFB — A fa­mil­iar face took the helm Wed­nes­day at Ed­wards Air Force Base as a re­cent com­man­dant of the Air Force Test Pi­lot School ac­cepted com­mand of the 412th Test Wing, which over­sees the base known for test­ing the na­tion’s aerial arse­nal.

Col. Matthew Higer takes over from the de­part­ing Brig. Gen. E. John “Dragon” Te­ichert, who had com­manded the test wing since July 2018 and is mov­ing on to a new as­sign­ment as se­nior de­fense of­fi­cial and de­fense at­taché-Iraq at the U.S. Em­bassy in Baghdad.

It was a hand­off be­tween two friends, as Higer and Te­ichert had been Test Pi­lot School class­mates in 2003.

Higer re­turned to lead the school for a year in 2017.

“This wing is in the best of hands,” Te­ichert said. “I look for­ward to see­ing this or­ga­ni­za­tion thrive un­der his lead­er­ship.”

“I am lit­er­ally psyched to fol­low in your foot­steps,” Higer told Te­ichert. “Your ex­cite­ment for change and in­no­va­tion will live on in my com­mand.”

“It is also an honor to be se­lected to com­mand the wing that has the sa­cred Amer­i­can mis­sion of teach­ing test fun­da­men­tals, like world-class risk man­age­ment and adap­tive test so­lu­tions to the next gen­er­a­tion of test pro­fes­sion­als,” Higer said.

Higer is only the sec­ond former Test Pi­lot School com­man­dant to lead the test wing in nearly 20 years. The last com­man­dant to go on to com­mand the 412th Test Wing was Col. Steven Cameron, who as­sumed com­mand in March 2001.

Higer proudly touts his Test Pi­lot School con­nec­tion. Tra­di­tion­ally, the wing com­man­der has his flag­ship plane, which bears his name be­neath the cock­pit. Higer’s flag­ship is the Test Pi­lot School’s VISTA, a highly mod­i­fied F-16 that can mimic the char­ac­ter­is­tics of a num­ber of other air­craft.

“She’s a beau­ti­ful ex­am­ple of in­no­va­tion, as well and has been for more than two decades,” he said. “Be­fore in­no­va­tion was a pop­u­lar term, VISTA was do­ing crazy and ex­cit­ing things and I think it’s still a bea­con of how we can work to­gether in the fu­ture.”

Dur­ing his ten­ure, Te­ichert took to call­ing Ed­wards and the sur­round­ing Aero­space Val­ley “The Cen­ter of the Aero­space Test­ing Uni­verse.”

While some may con­sider that a bold state­ment, he said: “It is bold be­cause our na­tion needs us to mold and shape Amer­ica’s aero­space arse­nal. It is bold be­cause our na­tion’s lead­ers need us here to en­sure a fo­cus re­lent­less on the warfighter and re­lent­less im­pact on our na­tional se­cu­rity.”

Higer plans to con­tinue with the des­ig­na­tion, al­though in true mil­i­tary form, he turned it into an acro­nym: TCOTATU, pro­nounced tee-cot-a-too.

“It is truly an honor to be your com­man­der,” he said. “Our na­tion has never needed us more and I am be­yond-de­scrip­tion ex­cited to be your big­gest fan and sup­porter.”

Both com­man­ders demon­strated that Air Force lead­er­ship is a fam­ily af­fair, thank­ing their wives and chil­dren for their roles in serv­ing the base com­mu­nity, as well.

Maj. Gen. Christo­pher Az­zano, com­man­der of the Air Force Test Cen­ter, led the change of com­mand cer­e­mony for the test wing, which he called “the ste­wards of Amer­ica’s pi­o­neer­ing spirit.”

“To­day we’re cel­e­brat­ing the 412th Test Wing and all that you do to pre­serve Amer­ica’s free­dom and to build its arse­nal, en­abled by tal­ented lead­ers who have met their na­tion’s chal­lenge to com­mand,” Az­zano said.

“Com­mand of an Amer­i­can mil­i­tary unit is one of the great­est priv­i­leges our na­tion can be­stow and a tremen­dous re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Az­zano said. “It de­mands in­tegrity, lead­er­ship, sac­ri­fice, putting the needs of your mis­sion and your peo­ple above your own.

By these stan­dards, Gen. Te­ichert has dis­tin­guished him­self as one of the elite lead­ers in our Air Force.

“His wing owns the skies over the Mo­jave Desert. They ex­e­cute a chal­leng­ing test mis­sion with global im­pact and sup­port this in­stal­la­tion while de­vel­op­ing lead­ers and ste­wards of the pro­fes­sion of ours.”

Az­zano said this makes the third time he has served with Higer, “and I can tell you his true call­ing is to lead com­plex teams of tal­ented, tech­ni­cal peo­ple in per­form­ing the near im­pos­si­ble, which is per­fect for the 412th Test Wing.”


The 412th Test Wing’s new com­man­der, Col. Matthew Higer (cen­ter), as­sumes com­mand of the wing by re­ceiv­ing the unit guidon from Maj. Gen. Christo­pher Az­zano, Air Force Test Cen­ter Com­man­der (left) dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s Change of Com­mand cer­e­mony at Ed­wards Air Force Base. De­part­ing Wing Com­man­der Brig. Gen. E. John Te­ichert is at right.


A large crowd of base per­son­nel and com­mu­nity lead­ers gath­ered Wed­nes­day at Ed­wards Air Force Base as de­part­ing 412th Test Wing Com­man­der Brig. Gen. E. John Te­ichert turned over com­mand to Col. Matthew Higer.

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