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Lt. Col. Aaron Palan takes command of 358th Fighter Squadron

Lt. Col. Aaron Palan Salutes Col. Stephen Nester after accepting command of the 358th Fighter Squadron.

Lt. Col. Aaron Palan, an A-10 pilot, takes command of the 358th Fighter Squadron June 19, 2020, in the 5-bay maintenance hangar at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. Due to COVID-19, this was the first in-person ceremony since March. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Alex T. Chase)

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. --

Lt. Col. Aaron Palan, an A-10 Thunderbolt II attack aircraft pilot, took command of the 358th Fighter Squadron here June 19, 2020, in the 5-bay maintenance hangar.

The ceremony, officiated by Col. Stephen J. Nester, Vice Wing Commander of the 442d Fighter Wing, was the first in-person ceremony hosted within the wing since March. Due to COVID-19, social distancing and extra precautionary steps were taken to ensure the safety of the wing.

Lt. Col. Gregory Stack, the previous 358 FS Commander, relinquishes command after two years. He will be staying with the 442d Fighter Wing as a reservist in the 442d Operations Group.

“Thank you for trusting me,” said Stack to the 358 FS. “Thank you for telling me I’m wrong, thank you for letting me lead, and thank you for letting me have the best experience in my entire career and in my entire life.”

Stack concluded his speech with gifts for his wife and children, along with words of encouragement for Palan.

“Let the senior NCOs guide you,” said Stack. “Listen to their advice and they will take you everywhere you need to go.”

Palan, formerly the Director of Operations for the 25th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base, South Korea, will be taking command of the 165 Airmen in the squadron.

Palan said he believes survivability and lethality are the two most important concepts in accomplishing the mission.

“Survivability is being physically, mentally, and spiritually fit and ready,” said Palan. “Every single one of you has a very important job for our mission and I’m proud of the work you’ve done, and I’m proud of the work you’re going to do.”

Palan concluded his speech by thanking his friends, family, and squadron, reiterating his confidence in his team.

“It’s very important to us to have great support,” said Palan. “From what I’ve heard from [Stack], we have that here and I appreciate that.”