OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --
The 1st Weather Group welcomed a new commander during its change of command ceremony July 24, 2018, at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska.
Col. Travis Steen assumed command from outgoing commander Col. Thomas Blazek in a ceremony officiated by 557th Weather Wing Commander Col. Brian Pukall.
Prior to taking command, Steen was the senior meteorological and oceanographic officer for NATO. Other assignments included overseeing weather support for Air Force One as well as commanding the 607th Weather Squadron where he also served as the U.S. Forces Korea senior meteorological and oceanographic officer.
“(Steen) has tremendous experience throughout the weather community,” Pukall said. “He is the right leader for the next phase of the 1st WXG’s development and to help our young wing mature further.”
Steen was previously assigned to Offutt AFB from 1999-2002 and was the officer in charge of radar meteorology applications when the 557th WW was still the Air Force Weather Agency.
“I’d like to thank the men and women of the 1st WXG, military and civilian, because you are the reason we are here today,” Steen said. “Thank you for your selfless duty and sacrifice, day in and day out, as you accomplish the global mission assigned to the group in support of warfighters throughout the world.”
Blazek, who led the 1st WXG for the last two years, will be retiring after 27 years of service.
“It has been an absolute honor to lead the men and women of the 1st WXG,” Blazek said. “The amount of flexibility, adaptability and innovation they have shown has been remarkable. It isn't a can do attitude that exists across this group, but rather a will do attitude. Because at the end of the day, I knew that whatever mountain needed to be moved, would be moved, and success was sure to follow.”
Blazek’s leadership has not gone unnoticed. He was awarded the Legion of Merit during the ceremony.
“Colonel Blazek has been a warrior his whole career,” Pukall said. “He was no different as group commander, always operationally-focused, guiding his squadron commanders to innovate while integrating weather with the needs of the warfighter.”
The 1st WXG is comprised of six operational weather squadrons each assigned to a different geographic combatant command. Their weather forecast products protect more than two million military personnel, their families and almost a trillion dollars in DOD assets around the world.