Grissom Air Reserve Base welcomes a new wing commander

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Alexis Morris

Col. Van “Diggity” Thai was recognized as the new commander of the 434th Air Refueling Wing during a change of ceremony at Grissom Air Reserve Base, Feb. 3, 2024.

Thai, a 1998 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, joins the Hoosier Wing from Yokota Air Base, Japan, where he has served as the director of operations and exercises for Fifth Air Force since 2022.

“Col. Thai, I leave you with these words of wisdom, build a trusted team of leaders and let them lead,” said Maj. Gen. D. Scott Durham, commander of Fourth Air Force, while presiding over the ceremony.

“I’m trusting you. This will be the greatest educational experience yet on your leadership path. I wish you good luck and Godspeed.”

A KC-135R Stratotanker pilot with over 2,400 flight hours, Thai shared his enthusiasm for the wing’s future during the ceremony.

“We, you and I, continue to not only live up to the Grissom legacy, but the ‘fuel-nomenal’ Airmen that came before us,” said Thai after accepting the guidon from Durham.

“We will not only be standing on the shoulders of giants, but we will build upon that legacy of valor and it will be our legacy. So get ready to rock the mish’.”

Throughout his remarks, Thai further emphasized the importance of readiness for the Hoosier Wing.

“We‘ll launch from the crossroads of America to show them what the Hoosier Wing is truly made of… anytime, anywhere,”

Col. Summer Fields, outgoing 434th Air Refueling Wing commander, will remain in the seat administratively through mid-February before returning to her previous position as the wing’s deputy.

“‘Diggity’, welcome to the team. You’re getting the chance to meet and lead some incredible people,” said Fields. “Grissom has a long and proud history of excellence and I know you’re going to continue that legacy.”

The wing, which employs roughly 1,900 military, civilian and contractor personnel, is the largest Air Force Reserve Command KC-135R Stratotanker unit.