Air Force Weather Agency changes command

  • Published
  • By Paige Hughes
  • Air Force Weather Agency Public Affairs
Col. John M. Lanicci assumed command of the Air Force Weather Agency from Col. Charles L. Benson, Jr. in a change-of-command ceremony held here June 2 at the Offutt Club.
Brig. Gen. Thomas E. Stickford, Air Force director of weather, Washington, D.C., presided over the ceremony.

Gen. Stickford praised Lanicci's accomplishments during his military career and expressed his confidence. "Col Lanicci certainly made tremendous contributions to Air Force Weather through his outstanding vision and ability to bring structure to the strategic planning process," said Gen. Stickford.

In his remarks, Col. Lanicci laid the foundation for his tenure as commander. "We will support our operational units around the world and work hard to help them do their jobs even better in the future through smart and efficient planning and execution of major weather technology programs, in both the terrestrial as well as space environments," said Col. Lanicci.

Air Force Weather Agency maximize the nation's aerospace and ground combat effectiveness by providing accurate, relevant and timely air and space weather information to Department of Defense, coalition, and national users. AFWA also provides standardized training and equipment to the weather career field.

He takes command of AFWA with a breadth of knowledge of military weather operations. He spent the past year heading the plans division of the Air Force directorate of weather in Washington, D.C. He ensured Joint, USAF, and MAJCOM documents addressed weather requirements and impacts. His responsibility included the weather requirements for the $7.6 billion National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System.

Col. Lanicci served two previous assignments at Air Force Global Weather Central here, the first as a wing weather officer, from 1980 to 1982, and then as chief of meteorological models in 1991 to 1995.

He received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Course at Manhattan College, Bronx, N.Y. in 1979, graduating Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics. He was a research meteorologist and project manager at the Air Force Geophysics Lab, Hanscom AFB, Mass. He commanded a weather detachment in Alaska and a weather squadron at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. His staff experience includes a tour at the Headquarters USAF Directorate of Command and Control in Washington, D.C., where he was Chief, Data Management and Environment Branch, and responsible for the standup of the directorate in 1997. Col. Lanicci also spent three years as a professor at the Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.

According to Col. Lanicci, the diversity of opportunity in his career has prepared him for command of Air Force Weather Agency. "It's shaped what I am today, and hopefully will allow me to be an effective commander in this new and exciting assignment," said Col. Lanicci.

History behind the ceremony
By Paige Hughes

The Air Force Weather Agency flag, bearing the familiar AFWA shield, passed to the hands of Col. John M. Lanicci in a ceremony here.

The passing of the AFWA flag is symbolic of the unit and stands as a long tradition in military history. The flag is also a symbol of honor, a rallying point and a communication device. The flag has a story all it's own.

The blue on the AFWA flag alludes to the sky, the primary theater of Air Force operations. Yellow refers to the sun and the excellence required of Air Force personnel.

The blue and black backgrounds indicate that the organization functions around-the-clock. The anemometer, a primary weather observation instrument, symbolizes the weather mission of the organization. The fleur-de-lis on a staff represents the lineage of the organization's heritage from the Army Signal Corps in France during World War I.

The history of the ceremony is as unique as the AFWA flag. The long-standing tradition of passing the flag was born out of medieval times.

History reveals that in the Middle Ages, it was not uncommon for soldiers in the field to be unaware of who their commanders were or what they looked like. Those who led knights into battle carried banners or flags, allowing the warriors to observe the progress of battle, whether in advance or retreat. The soldiers would dedicate their loyalty and trust to the flag and its commander.

The Continental Army of the United States conducted the first official ceremonies in America
When a change-of-command took place, the passing of the flag was conducted in front of the unit so all could see their new leader assuming the dutiful position. The transfer of power and the gesture of passing the flag in modern change-of-command ceremonies uphold that tradition.

Ceremonies like the change-of-command contribute to the continuity of military life and reinforce the belief that competence, diligence, valor and devotion to duty are rewarded.
These ceremonies have added color and pageantry to military life, while preserving tradition and stimulating esprit de corps.

From ancient times, armies throughout the world have conducted ceremonies to commemorate victory over the enemy, to honor comrades in arms, and to celebrate special occasions such as the change of command.