News: 181st Intelligence Group change of command
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.