04/09/08 — Bergeson to lead 4th Fighter Wing

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Bergeson to lead 4th Fighter Wing

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 9, 2008 2:38 PM

As Gen. David Petraeus fielded questions from presidential candidates at a high-profile Senate hearing Tuesday in Washington, one of the men under his command spoke from Baghdad about the assignment that awaits him when he returns from Iraq.

Col. Thomas Bergeson said from Iraq Tuesday that he was "thrilled" to hear that by fall, he would be the new commander of Seymour Johnson Air Force Base's 4th Fighter Wing.

"I have no doubt that it is the best fighter wing in the world," he said.

And he has some perspective.

A command pilot with more than 3,100 flight hours logged, Bergeson was vice commander of Langley Air Force Base's 1st Fighter Wing before beginning his stint with Multi-National Forces Iraq.

And while he calls flying the F-22A Raptor with the 1st "an honor", he has always been intrigued by the F-15E -- and the town that surrounds the base that houses it.

"Goldsboro is legendary for the support the community provides those airmen who are fortunate to live there," Bergeson said. "Even though I have never been there, I feel like when I move to Goldsboro, I'm coming home."

And even though he has never commanded a Strike Eagle, he hopes to feel at home in its cockpit.

"I'm really excited to fly that airplane. It's over there in Afghanistan doing the mission right now," he said. "The capabilities it has are second to none. I can't wait to fly it and see what it can do."

The colonel will have his chance soon enough.

In fact, he expects to report to Seymour Johnson in July to train in the aircraft.

After that, he will officially relocate to the base with his wife, Pamela, and their two children, 14-year-old Kris-tin and 12-year-old Erik.

But he is not here yet.

And he knows that he has plenty to accomplish before early fall.

Bergeson is currently the chief of the aviation division at MNF-I where he articulates air power requirements in theater and works with the Iraqi government to promote civil aviation in the country -- standing up airports, working on national aviation law and establishing security for commercial flights.

It is "very interesting" work, he said.

On top of those responsibilities, he has the opportunity to interact with troops from every branch of the Armed Forces.

And he gets to see the kind of services 4th airmen are providing in theater, particularly members of the Security Forces detail.

"I cannot say enough about the quality of the airmen doing some very non-traditional Air Force type missions," Bergeson said. "We have airmen that are out there every day, going downtown in Baghdad, directly supporting the Army and Iraqis. Those are things we never thought airmen would be doing five years ago."

So when he takes command of the 4th in late-August, he will do so with a deep sense of pride in the work they accomplish while deployed and a perspective, fresh from the Green Zone, on the Air Force's role in operations in Iraq.

"Our airmen, I am just very impressed by the work they do," the colonel said. "They are just doing a fantastic job."