Van Aulen takes command of 290th JCSS at MacDill

Written by  //  July 27, 2012  //  Feature Stories, News

MACDILL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (July 27, 2012) – The 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron (JCSS) welcomed its new commander during a change of command ceremony in Tampa, July 22.

Lt. Col. Daren Van Aulen (right) takes his new unit's guidon from Commander of the Florida Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Joseph Balskus, July 22, 2012, at MacDill Air Force Base. Van Aulen assumed command of the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron from Lt. Col. Loretta Lombard. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

Lt. Col. Daren Van Aulen took command of the Florida Air National Guard unit from Lt. Col. Loretta Lombard, during a ceremony attended by the unit and military leaders including Commander of the Florida Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Joseph Balskus.

“Thank you for a tremendous, tremendous command,” Balskus told the outgoing commander during the event. “Lt. Col. Lombard took the flag from me in 2006 and has not let this organization, this state, or this nation down.”

He also lauded the new commander’s extensive experience and preparedness for command, noting that Van Aulen will complement and build on the successes that Lombard helped orchestrate during her tenure with the 290th.

“I couldn’t be more confident in him,” Balskus said “…Lt. Col. Van Aulen, ‘Welcome’ and I look forward to seeing what you do with this organization.”

Lombard, who is joining the Florida Air National Guard Headquarters as the Military Personnel Management Officer, said she felt privileged to lead the unit for “six years, three months and fourteen days” during a time of monumental change for the 290th JCSS. That period included changes to the unit’s deployment rotation cycle, manning reductions, equipment upgrades, and new retraining requirements.

Lt. Col. Daren Van Aulen (center) salutes Commander of the Florida Air National Guard Brig. Gen. Joseph Balskus, July 22, 2012, at MacDill Air Force Base, after Van Aulen assumed command of the 290th Joint Communications Support Squadron from Lt. Col. Loretta Lombard (right). Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

Lombard was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal and the Florida Distinguished Medal by Balskus for her distinguished command of the 290th JCSS.

“These awards were earned with the accomplishments that you have done these past six years, and I appreciate your efforts and what you’ve done,” Lombard told the 290th Airmen. “…“We’ve got such a unique mission here…that there is no place like the 290th in all the world. I am thankful for having been able to serve here.”

Van Aulen, who recently served as Commander of Headquarters Support Section, 1st Air Force, at Tyndall Air Force Base, thanked the 290th JCSS for allowing him the opportunity to serve as their commander.

“I look forward to working with each and every one of you,” he said. “…I look forward to following, to leading, to learning from, to teaching, to growing with and to supporting each one of you.”

Van Aulen received his commission from the Reserve Officer Training Corps upon graduation from Florida State University in 1992. He has served at the Wing, Major Command, Numbered Air Force, Combatant Command and joint Staff levels in various capacities during his nearly 20 year career.

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