By Christina Calloway
PNT senior writer
Brig. Gen. Buck Elton is trading New Mexico sunsets for the Sunshine State, but before he ended his leadership of the 27th Special Operations Wing on Tuesday, he was praised for his legacy at Cannon Air Force Base, which included his leadership over the Air Force’s largest military construction program.
The program featured 31 active and new projects valued at $492 million, according to a Cannon official.
“Buck, you have my gratitude for the leading of a remarkable expansion,” said Lt. Gen. Eric Fiel, Air Force Special Operations Command commander, who presided over Tuesday’s change of command ceremony.
Elton, who said he was deeply humbled and honored to serve with the airmen of Cannon the past two years, relinquished his command of the wing to Col. Tony Bauernfeind.
Bauernfeind previously served as the commander of the First Special Operations Group located at Hulburt Field, Fla. Bauernfeind has logged more than 3,400 hours as a command pilot on three types of aircraft during his 22-year Air Force career.
“I am humbled to be standing before you today,” said Bauernfeind to the air commandos of Cannon. “Your accomplishments under General Elton’s command, both in garrison and on the battlefield, are well known and something you should be proud of. You are the professionals that shoulder the burden of making our mission happen. You are the airmen that support our elite joint partners and you are the commandos that deliver incredible combat results across multiple battlefields as you take the fight to the enemy each and every night.”
Bauernfeind also acknowledged community partners, his wife and son for the support that will be given during his command of the wing.
“Your presence and phenomenal support do not go unnoticed,” he said.
Elton also acknowledged the airmen he’s worked with for a few years prior to passing on the reins of the base to Bauernfeind.
“We’ve been fully engaged in a challenging lethal battle with violent extremists who wish to cripple our nation, destroy our way of life…” Elton said. “We have been very effective to taking the fight to where the enemy plots and sleeps and using our specialized air power capabilities with devastating results.”
Elton also expressed his vote of confidence in Bauernfeind as he prepared to take command of the 4,500 air commandos and more than 100 aircraft at Cannon.
“It has been an honor to serve as your commander. You have a talented senior leader, eager and ready to take command,” Elton said. “And much will be expected of you all for a very long time.”
And Bauernfeind expressed that he was ready to accept the challenge of taking command of the base.
“It is my honor to serve with you and my job is straight forward; ensure you have the right training, the right resources and the right support in order to conduct your mission,” said Bauernfeind, whose awards and decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star with two oak leaf clusters, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal with three oak leaf clusters.
Elton will continue his service at Hulburt Field, where he will become the new director of plans, programs, requirements and assessments at headquarters for Air Force Special Operations Command.
Clovis Mayor David Lansford was present at the ceremony among other community leaders. Lansford says he looks forward to working with Bauernfeind and continuing the community’s relationship with the growing base.
“The direction they’ve taken this installment over the past couple of years is phenomenal,” Lansford said. “I stand here amazed at what’s been done.”