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181st Intelligence Group change of command John Day

U.S. Air Force members, Col. Donald Bonte, Master Sgt. Michael May, Lt. Col. Larry “Kip” Clark and Col. Conrad Barchfeld, performed the change of command ceremony in front of all wing members during the Feb. 2012 Unit Training Assemble at the 181st Intelligence Wing. Lt. Col. Kip Clark took command of the 181st Intelligence Group from Col. Donald Bonte, 181st Intelligence Wing commander. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. John Day/Released)

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - “Sir, I accept command.” With these words, Lt. Col. Larry ‘Kip’ Clark took control of the 181st Intelligence Group’s guidon, receiving it from the hands of Col. Don Bonte Jr., commander of the 181st Intelligence Wing, at a ceremony held in the base hangar during the February UTA. Col. Conrad ‘Rock’ Barchfeld had just ‘relinquished’ command of the Intelligence Group by handing the same guidon to Bonte. This straightforward ceremony of passing the guidon from one officer to another was simple and direct, and it signaled to all the airmen formed up at the base hangar that they’d just witnessed a change of command.

The significance of the 181st Intelligence Group’s change of command was heightened for Col. Barchfeld, who was performing his last UTA before retirement from the military.

Col. Barchfeld’s father, Skip Barchfeld Sr., witnessed the change of command ceremony, which was fitting because he’d also been present when his son joined the 181st Fighter Wing 21 years before, according to Col. Barchfeld’s brother, Skip Barchfeld Jr.

Historians assert the change of command ceremony predates the Norman Conquest of England, and that it was an important ceremony during the Middle Ages because it was not uncommon for soldiers in the field to be unaware of who their commanders were or what they looked like. And while our modern military society no longer grapples with the issue of communicating who our commanders are, the ceremony continues to play an important role by marking the change as ‘official’ in the eyes of airmen.


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This work, 181st Intelligence Group change of command, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.

Date Taken:02.11.2012

Date Posted:03.19.2013 15:03

Location:TERRE HAUTE, IN, USGlobe

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  • The Indiana Air National Guard’s 181st Intelligence Wing, Terre Haute, Ind., recently welcomed home three members from a deployment to Multi-National Base Tarin Kowt, Afghanistan.
  • In late March members of the 181st Intelligence Wing (181 IW) Civil Engineering Squadron, Terre Haute Ind., participated in Exercise Silver Flag at Tyndall Air Force Base, FL. During the week long course, 144 students from 27 different organizations perfected their skills in building and maintaining bare-base operations at forward deployed locations.
  • The 181st Intelligence Wing’s Medical Support Element of the CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) deployed from Terre Haute, Ind., Oct. 6, 2012, to participate in a disaster response exercise hosted by Indiana University Health, Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Ind. The 181st Intelligence Wing’s Medical Support Element, and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Task Force 6, participated in a natural disaster exercise involving a hospital suffering damage by a tornado.
  • On Feb. 21, 2014, the 181st IW was tasked to conduct aerial operations for Operation Blue Sky at the request of Indiana Department of Homeland Security. “The Racers are critical to domestic response and dedicated to supporting the people of Indiana in whatever way we are tasked,” stated Col. Donald Bonte, 181st IW commander. “While we hope disasters don’t happen, we are here and ready whenever the State of Indiana requires our assistance.”

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