WESTFIELD Lt. Col. Alex Haldopoulos officially assumed command of the the 131st Fighter Squadron from Lt. Col Harold Anderson during homecoming and deployment ceremonies at Barnes Air National Guard Base on March 3.
A resident of Longmeadow, Haldopoulos takes over command of the fighter unit after four years with the 104th Fighter Wing at Barnes. He transferred to Western Massachusetts from Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod when the Barnes fighter wing converted from A-10 to F-15 Eagle fighters in 2007.
The former Kentucky native told Reminder Publications he joined the Air Force in 1992 after graduating from Boston University and spent a dozen years on active duty, joining the 101st Fighter Squadron at Otis in 2004 as part of the National Guard.
Haldopoulos said, like most of the units at Barnes, his new command is preparing to take on whatever missions are required of them.
"Many members of the 131st Fighter Squadron and the 104th Fighter Wing will be deploying here soon to the Central Command Area of Responsibility, or AOR, in the Middle East, where we will be providing air-to-air support," Haldopoulos said, adding that the members of his command that will be deployed would include "F-15 fighter pilots, maintenance personnel, support staff and intelligence."
He said, as in most units of the 104th, the troops under his command are comprised of full-time, or active duty, as well as part-time personnel. The deployments, he noted, will include members of both the active duty and part-time troops.
"This is a great example of our citizen airmen from our local communities defending our nation both at home and abroad." Haldopoulos said. "The majority of the personnel going on our upcoming deployment have volunteered to deploy and are ready to put their years of training to good use."
He added all of the men and women under his command preparing for deployment are, he believes, "well trained, ready to deploy and will have complete mission success."
He said the upcoming deployment reinforces the F-15 squadron's ongoing stateside air supremacy mission, which Haldopoulos said "is to provide air supremacy and remain combat mission ready to do our mission anytime, anywhere in the world. We have a 24/7, 365 Aerospace Control Alert mission and always stand ready to provide air sovereignty in support of our nation's defense from Canada to Mexico at a moment's notice."