419th Fighter Wing Gets New Commander

419th Fighter Wing Gets New Commander

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HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AP) -- The new commander of the 419th Fighter Wing says he has two families.

"My family at home is my rock, my foundation, what I live for. And my family at work gives me the caring and courage to pursue excellence," Col. Gary Batinich said as he assumed command of the Hill Air Force Base reserve unit Sunday.

The 26-year-old pilot succeeds Col. Wayne Conroy, whose retirement also was marked at the ceremony.

"Wayne Conroy will always be the first father of the 419th Fighter Wing and Zee (Conroy) its first lady," Batinich said, choking back emotion.

Conroy has commanded the 419th since September 2002 and retired after 37 years in the Air Force, 25 of which as a reserve officer with the 419th. Batinich has served as vice commander under Conroy since March 2003.

Batinich is a full-time pilot with Delta Air Lines.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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