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Marine takes helm of Air Force wing

Marine Col. Arthur Tomassetti will be in command of the 33rd Fighter Wing while the Air Force commander is attends professional military education courses. Colonel Tomassetti serves as the vice commander of the wing of more than 100 Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Marine Col. Arthur Tomassetti will be in command of the 33rd Fighter Wing while the Air Force commander is attends professional military education courses. Colonel Tomassetti serves as the vice commander of the wing of more than 100 Sailors, Airmen, Marines and civilians. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. -- Duty of commanding the 33rd Fighter Wing falls to Marine Col. Arthur Tomassetti, while the Air Force commander attends a professional military education course.

"I am humbled to have been entrusted with commanding the 33rd FW in the commander's absence, humbled not because he trusted me to run the organization, but humbled because he trusted me to take care of our Marines, Sailors, Airman and civilians," Colonel Tomassetti said. "I am sure I will have to learn some unique Air Force procedures and processes, but command and leadership do not follow Service lines; across the board, it comes down to the basic principal of taking care of your people and enabling them to be successful at the mission."

Colonel Tomassetti serves as the vice commander of the wing, which follows a unique joint structure with Airmen, Sailors and Marines who will train DoD military members and international partners on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

"The 33rd Wing is a joint organization, so it should be no surprise that the vice commander takes the helm, regardless of service affiliation," said Col. David Hlatky, 33rd FW commander. "Colonel Tomassetti is a superior officer, and I have complete faith in his leadership. Exceptional leadership is a joint quality recognized throughout this wing from all services."

Colonel Tomassetti will lead more than 100 personnel from three services in day-to-day operations as the unit continues to grow.

"Our focus over the next few weeks will be getting ready for training," said the 23-year veteran. "We will continue to grow in numbers of people, and we are making sure everyone who checks into the command understands the joint nature of the organization and appreciates the opportunity they have to interact with brothers and sisters in different uniforms and the civilians we have supporting the wing."

Colonel Tomassetti served as a member of the Joint Strike Fighter Test Force and became the lead government pilot for the X-35 test team. He was the only U.S. Government pilot to fly all three variants of the X-35 aircraft and flew the first short take-off, level supersonic dash and vertical landing accomplished on a single flight.

"It is particularly satisfying for me since I was privileged to have commanded a Navy squadron, a Marine aviation detachment and now, at least for a few weeks, an Air Force fighter wing," the colonel said. "I guess I need to figure out a way to spend some time with the Army and the Coast Guard next."

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