Slocum takes guidon
By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on June 2, 2014 1:46 PM
4th Fighter Wing Commander Col. Mark Slocum speaks moments after a change of command ceremony on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.
The act was simple enough -- an Air Force colonel clutching the symbolic flag extended by a major general.
But when Col. Mark Slocum looked 9th Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. H.D. Polumbo in the eyes this morning -- when he uttered the three words that have rolled off the tongues of each of his predecessors -- his stint in a complex leadership position began.
"I assume command," Slocum said, as he took the 4th Fighter Wing guidon.
And with that, one of the military's most storied unit's had its new leader.
Slocum, who is no stranger to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, began his latest tour at the Goldsboro installation today, moments after Col. Jeannie Leavitt relinquished command of the fighter wing she once trained as a member of.
Leavitt will head to the Pentagon where she has been assigned to serve as a military adviser to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel.
But before she left Seymour Johnson, the colonel was thanked, both by Polumbo and Slocum, for her service -- and for pushing the airmen under her command to excel.
"You're fingerprints are all over this base," Slocum said. "You'll be missed."
Polumbo said he expects the same attention to excellence from Slocum.
"Boy, I made a good choice," the general said. "You should be confident in his leadership style. It's right on."
A command pilot with several thousand hours in the skies -- several hundred of those in combat -- Slocum comes to Goldsboro from RAF Lakenheath, England.
His familiarity with the 4th's mission, and its trademark F-15E Strike Eagle, dates back to his days as an officer assigned to Seymour.
So shortly after he delivered his first salute to the men and women he now leads, Slocum, in a few words, gave them a taste of his expectations.
"To the warriors and future warriors of the 4th Fighter Wing, the history of this wing is humbling -- epic," he said. "I just finished a tour in England where we got to see, firsthand, all the positive long-term benefits that came from the sacrifices of those who came before us -- our predecessors going all the way back to the Eagle Squadrons.
"Our nation counted on air power then, and it counts on air power now. ... My commitment to you is to continue to provide the tools and training necessary to continue our combat support capabilities, to defend our great nation and our partners. ... Every one of us proudly assumes a responsibility to continue this legacy of safe, professional and lethal air power that our nation demands of us. It's an honor for all of us to wear the cloth of our nation."