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Col. Matthew Fritz passes command of 419th to Col. Ronald Sloma

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kayla Barker
  • 419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Col. Matthew Fritz relinquished command of the 419th Fighter Wing to Col. Ronald Sloma in a ceremony hosted by 10th Air Force commander Brig. Gen. Regina Sabric, here, Sept. 9, 2023.

“Our mission is to deploy combat-ready citizen airmen and I’m incredibly proud of the way our members stand ready to answer the Nation’s call,” said Fritz. “I am humbled and honored to be a part of the 419th Fighter Wing! It’s been a true privilege to serve in the world’s greatest fighter wing and I know the wing will be in good hands with Col. Sloma.”

Using a theme of gratitude, Fritz expressed many thanks to all those who helped him lead the wing during his three years as commander of the 419th.

“We’ve had so many challenges over the last three years… and you’ve handled everything in stride and never, ever, failed to get the job done,” said Fritz. In an emotional moment, Fritz acknowledged the loss of four members of the team which ‘gutted him’ and would be one of many difficult hurdles to conducting business as usual. Touching on the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenge to maintain readiness in a telework environment, the civil unrest that resulted in mandatory training, and the civilian and AGR hiring freezes, among other obstacles, Fritz continually recognized the strong support of the staff.

“Without the time, money, or manpower to do your jobs, you guys are still doing it,” said Fritz. “You guys are awesome!”

Fritz read off a string of significant wing accomplishments, including 4 flag-level exercises and Exercise Sentry Savannah, achieved during his tenure such as sending combat-ready citizen airmen across the globe to support military, humanitarian, and training missions worldwide.

During the ceremony, Sabric presented Fritz with the Legion of Merit medal for his outstanding service and presided over the passing of the guidon from the departing commander to Col. Sloma.

Sloma, a fighter pilot with over 3,000 flying hours, was part of the 421st Fighter Squadron at Hill Air Force Base as a first lieutenant from 2001 to 2003. Reflecting upon 9/11 and how many of the leaders in attendance were shaped by that event, Sloma recalled how his time here during those significant years that followed impressed upon him the importance of mission readiness.

“We never thought that we would be attacked on this soil…in that manner,” said Sloma. As his team prepared for a sortie that morning, they were recalled by the Pentagon. “We did not know the enemy; we did not know the mechanisms with which we would be further attacked. What we knew was, we knew ourselves and we knew our training. From that step forward, for the next 20 years, we trained and we prepared to defend this nation against terrorism and any other threat.”

Sloma stated that we never know what the future holds. “Ready now, is not just a buzzword,” said Sloma. “It is an embodiment of your work. Coming from the staff [position]… you are what the total force needs in the next generation of warriors as we move forward.”

“I know the men and women of the 419th are the best in the Air Force and I have the utmost faith in their capabilities and dedication to our success,” said Sloma. “It’s a privilege to have been selected to lead this exceptional Wing into the future.”

The 419th Fighter Wing is Utah’s only Air Force Reserve unit, home to the F-35 and 1,200 Citizen Airmen who train for worldwide deployment. 419th FW members regularly volunteer to deploy in support of worldwide contingency operations and humanitarian efforts. The wing offers a diverse range of combat capability to include F-35 operations and maintenance, as well as full-spectrum mission support such as civil engineering, security forces, medical, aerial port, firefighting, supply, and transportation. Our Reserve Citizen Airmen keep these aircraft mission ready as a leader in air superiority.