96th Flying Training Squadron welcomes new commander

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kailee Reynolds
  • 47th Flying Training Wing Public Affairs

96th Flying Training Squadron Airmen bid farewell to Lt. Col. Christine Van Weezendonk and welcomed the new commander, Lt. Col. Andrew Calhoun, during a change of command ceremony here, May 10, 2024. 

Col. Michael McMillan, 340th Flying Training Group director of operations, presided over the ceremony, noting the pivotal role the 96th FTS commanders have and will play in supporting the 47th Flying Training Wing’s mission of producing the largest number of pilots in the Air Force. 

“It’s been 27 years in the Air Force for me, and I can’t think of a better way to end my career than to be a guest speaker at a change of command ceremony for not only our unit, but also for two leaders who I consider best friends,” said McMillan. 

Lt. Col. Andrew Calhoun previously served as the 96th FTS operations officer, managing a multi-million budget for personnel, resource management, training and development. As the commander of the 96th FTS, he now leads the recruitment, training and development of a 75-person Associate Reserve Instructor Pilot Corps and support personnel. 

“Your experience holds the pilot training enterprise together, the 96th FTS represents nearly 196,000 flying hours of military flight time,” said Calhoun.  “Each year, you fly more than 5,400 student training sorties, leading to 25% of all pilots graduating from Laughlin while accounting for only 14% of the manning. You make me proud to be a ‘Boxing Bunny’ and uphold our great legacy.” 

The 96th FTS “Boxing Bunnies'” critical mission has remained the same since its reactivation in 1998: train and develop the finest military pilots. This Air Force Reserve unit supplements the remaining four active flying squadrons by training both American and allied nations’ Undergraduate Pilot Training students in the T-6A Texan II, T-38C Talon and the T-1A Jayhawk. 

“As my parents taught me years ago, there are only two things you can control in your life: your attitude and your effort,” said Calhoun. “I ask for your best attitude and effort as we continue to lead with passion while training our nation’s newest aviators. Each and every one of you has my full confidence and unwavering support, and I’m excited to lead this great group of people into the future.” 

Weezendonk served as commander of the 96th FTS since May 5, 2023. 

“Like the generation of aviators of our roots, the 96th Fighter Squadron, did before us over the skies of North Africa during World War II; thank you for instilling confidence that as we evolve and how we train, fight and win in our Air Force, the ‘bunnies’ will be at the forefront of the fight, ready and willing to do whatever is necessary to answer our nation’s call,” said Weezendonk. “Commanding the 96th FTS has been the honor of a lifetime. Thank you and ‘Punch’em!’”