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Racers Welcome New Commander

Col. Donald J. Bonte, Jr., Commander, 181IW

Col. Donald J. Bonte, Jr., Commander, 181IW

Col. Donald J. Bonte, Jr. and Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger pose for a photo before the Change of Command ceremony starts. Photo by Master Sgt. John Day

Col. Donald J. Bonte, Jr. and Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger pose for a photo before the Change of Command ceremony starts. Photo by Master Sgt. John Day

Base Honor Guard presents the colors while the National Anthem is sung by the Racer Trio. Photo by Master Sgt. John Day

Base Honor Guard presents the colors while the National Anthem is sung by the Racer Trio. Photo by Master Sgt. John Day

Hulman Field, Ind. --
     During a change of command ceremony on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011, the 181st Intelligence Wing welcomed its newest Commander, Col. Donald Bonte.
     The change of command ceremony is a part of military tradition marking a change from one leader to another. Members of the 181st witnessed this time honored tradition as Col. Jeffrey Hauser relinquished command after serving more than seven years as the Wing Commander.
     Col. Bonte began his career with the Indiana Air National Guard as an Airman in 1982, enlisting as an Automatic Flight Controls Systems Specialist.
     "When I came out to the base to make some inquiries about the Air National Guard, I spoke to then Tech. Sgt. Tony Smiley," Col. Bonte said.
     Col. Bonte noted Smiley was passionate about being a member of the Air National Guard and thanked him for convincing "a much younger Airman that this was an organization that I should be a part of."
     In 1989, Col Bonte earned his commission, and during his officer career he has served in a variety of leadership positions throughout the Wing, most recently serving as Vice Commander.
     The ceremony was attended by Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, Indiana's Adjutant General. He thanked outgoing Commander, Col. Jeffrey Hauser, offered his support to Col Bonte, and asked members of the 181st to continue their hard work.
     "Give the same support to Colonel Bonte as you have to Colonel Hauser, and we'll continue to move this great Wing down the road," Maj. Gen. Umbarger said.
     Col. Bonte is excited about his new role as Commander and the future of the 181st, stating "as we continue to grow and adapt to the needs of our state and country, we will continue to seek out new missions in support of our nation's defense and mentor our future leaders."
     Lastly, Bonte credited those behind the scenes and acknowledged their role in his success. 
     "I could not have pursued a career in the Air National Guard without the support of my entire family," Col. Bonte said. "Their love, support, and understanding have afforded me the opportunity to serve in the nation's best Air National Guard."