OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. â€“ U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Deane R. Konowicz assumed command of the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron (STOS) from U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. J. Grayson Higby during a change of command ceremony in the 557th Weather Wing Auditorium here, June 26.
U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, 20th Air Force and U.S. Strategic Command’s Task Force 214 commander, presided over the ceremony, during which he praised Konowicz and welcomed him to the squadron.
“I was fortunate to work with Deane (Lt. Col. Konowicz) when I commanded the 90th Operations Group and saw firsthand his high-caliber performance,” he said. “Deane, welcome back to 20th Air Force and Task Force 214. I am excited to see your exceptional talents at work for our airmen.”
Weinstein also thanked Higby for his accomplishments as commander of the 625th STOS and highlighted the importance of the squadron’s mission.
“The mission set of the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron includes some of the most critical activities related to our ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) combat capability,” he said. “The airmen of the 625th STOS have performed exceptionally well under the leadership and advocacy of Lt. Col. Higby.”
During his first speech as the 625th commander, Konowicz thanked Weinstein for demonstrating his “trust and confidence” by appointing him to the position.
“I understand command is both a privilege and challenge,” he said. “I am very grateful for the opportunity to lead in your ICBM force.”
Konowicz acknowledged the challenge of following a “great commander like Lt. Col. Grayson Higby” before addressing the members of his “amazing” new squadron.
“Your dedication and competence in delivering combat capability to Task Force 214 and USSTRATCOM is unmatched,” he said. “Together we will build on the foundation of our hard work and the proud legacy of this squadron. We have a vital role in ensuring that the President of the United States has a safe, secure and effective ICBM force.”
Higby said he was honored to lead the men and women of the 625th STOS for the last two years, calling it “the highlight of my career.”
“I believe we have the most professional people in the Air Force,” he said. “They’re absolutely dedicated to the mission, day in and day out.” He added that working with such “smart, dedicated patriots” was “just great.”
The 625th STOS supports USSTRATCOM’s global strike mission by providing accurate ICBM targeting; a viable and proven airborne launch control system capability; and a secure command, control and communications system. Each of the squadron’s three flights â€“ Weapons and Tactics, Airborne Launch Control System and Strategic Automated Command and Control System â€“ plays a critical and unique role in supporting USSTRATCOM’s global strategic missions.