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Hurlburt Field welcomes new commander Col. Dierig, bids farewell to Col. Allison Black

U.S. Air Force Col. Patrick Dierig stepped into his most significant role yet at Hurlburt Field, marking a milestone in his 23-year career. “As I prepare to step aside,” said […]

U.S. Air Force Col. Patrick Dierig, 1st Special Operations Wing commander, gives closing remarks during the 1st SOW change of command ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Florida, Feb. 23, 2024. U.S. Air Force Col. Allison Black, 1st Special Operations Wing outgoing commander, renders a final salute as the 1st SOW commander during the 1st SOW change of command ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Florida, Feb. 23, 2024. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailey Wyman)

U.S. Air Force Col. Patrick Dierig stepped into his most significant role yet at Hurlburt Field, marking a milestone in his 23-year career.

  • Dierig assumed leadership of the 1st Special Operations Wing during an official change of command ceremony at the Freedom Hanger on Hurlburt Field on Feb. 23, 2024.

“As I prepare to step aside,” said Col. Allison Black, 1st SOW outgoing commander, “I do so with a smile and the confidence that our next 1 SOW commander, Col. Dierig, is ready.”

Black, who had led the 1st SOW since July 2022, passed the guidon, symbolizing the transition of command. Presiding over the ceremony was Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, commander of Air Force Special Operations Command.

“We look forward to seeing the 1 SOW thrive under [Dierig’s] command,” said Bauernfeind. “You’ll continue to provide our nation with specialized air power across the spectrum of conflict.”

U.S. Air Force Col. Allison Black, 1st Special Operations Wing outgoing commander, renders a final salute as the 1st SOW commander during the 1st SOW change of command ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Florida, Feb. 23, 2024.Black led the 1st SOW comprising over 4,600 military personnel and 80 aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailey Wyman)

Dierig’s military career began in 2001 after graduating from Xavier University with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, starting as a navigator and electronic warfare officer.

  • Becoming a Master Navigator, Dierig accumulated over 2,600 flight hours in the AC-130U “Spooky” gunship and MC-130H Combat Talon II, participating in combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“I’m proud to call Col. Dierig a teammate and a friend,” said Black. “He’s here today because he has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions, and the compassion to listen to the needs of others.”

Before assuming leadership of the 1st SOW, Dierig served as commander of the 479th Flying Training Group at Naval Air Station Pensacola.

Reflecting on his diverse experiences, Dierig expressed the vast knowledge imparted on him from his mentors, friends, and family that have prepared him well for the challenges ahead in his new role.

  • “There’s an entire line of AFOSC general officers here today,” said Dierig. “If they hadn’t invested in me and mentored me for the last two decades, I would not be here.”
U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, Air Force Special Operations Command commander, left, renders a salute after passing command to Col. Patrick Dierig, 1st Special Operations Wing commander, middle, as Col. Allison Black, 1st SOW outgoing commander, right, stands at the position of attention during the 1st SOW change of command ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Florida, Feb. 23, 2024. As the new commander of the 1st SOW, Dierig will oversee over 4,600 military personnel and 80 aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailey Wyman)

The 1st SOW, with its motto “Any Time, Any Place,” plays a vital role in providing airpower for special operations missions globally. Its operations encompass a wide array of tasks, including air support, precision aerospace firepower, specialized aerospace mobility, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance operations, and agile combat support.

  • As one of five active-duty special operations wings under AFSOC, the 1st SOW comprises four groups and 24 squadrons.

“For the Airmen of the 1 SOW, this day is about you,” said Dierig. “You’re the focus of this mission, and I look forward to getting to know you, your missions, and your challenges.”

In addition to leading the wing, Dierig also oversees numerous tenant units at Hurlburt Field, underlining the breadth of his new responsibilities.

“I look forward to removing the hurdles as we move forward,” said Dierig. “Let’s build on the efforts of what you’ve all been undertaking to make this a world class installation for both the execution of the mission and your quality of life.”

U.S. Air Force Col. Patrick Dierig, 1st Special Operations Wing commander, gives closing remarks during the 1st SOW change of command ceremony at Hurlburt Field, Florida, Feb. 23, 2024. As the new commander of the 1st SOW, Dierig will oversee over 4,600 military personnel and 80 aircraft. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Bailey Wyman)

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