Hill’s 388th Fighter Wing welcomes new commander

  • Published
  • By Micah Garbarino
  • 388th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah – The 388th Fighter Wing welcomed a familiar face as the new commander today when Col. Michael L. Gette assumed command of the base’s F-35A Lightning II flying unit during a change of command ceremony here.

Gette has served as the vice commander of the 388th Fighter Wing for two years, and is taking over as Col. Craig Andrle retires from active duty after a distinguished 23-year career.

“In leadership, we talk a lot about empowering our people and taking care of our people,” Gette said. “And we just watched a master class in that over the last two years. Thank you for that.”

A 24-year Air Force veteran, Gette is a command pilot with more than 2,500 flying hours in the F-15 and F-35A, including more than 250 combat hours. He is graduate of the University of Colorado, Air Command and Staff College, and National Defense University. Prior to joining the 388th he served as the chief of NORAD’s Future Operations Division at Peterson AFB, Colo.

“I know Col. Gette is prepared to take over this wing and continue to lead the Airmen who employ America’s most advanced fighter aircraft,” said Maj. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski, 15th Air Force commander, who presided over the ceremony.

Gette takes over one of the busiest and most in-demand fighter wings in the Air Force. The wing's mission is to rapidly employ F-35A combat power worldwide at a moment’s notice.

“What does the next few years hold? I guarantee you we’re going to get the call again to go deter or defeat an adversary,” Gette said. “That aircraft (the F-35A) is the baddest war machine that’s ever been built, and we’ve got 78 of them. You’ve proven time and again you’re the best in the world at employing them and we’ve got to continue to become more lethal, because our adversaries are increasing capabilities faster than any time in history.”  

Gette is responsible for the readiness, training, morale, and welfare of more than 2,000 personnel who maintain and operate F-35A aircraft across 10 squadrons. Additionally, he provides operational oversight and direction for nearly 450 reserve maintainers and operators in the 419th Fighter Wing. He is also responsible for the Utah Test and Training Range, a 3.2 million acre swath of Utah’s west desert that provides vital operational test and evaluation of weapons requiring a large safety footprint.

“You guys inspire me every single day,” Gette said. “You are the best in the world at what you do. It is going to be the honor of my career serving as your commander. We’ve got a good thing going here. I’m ready to continue building that. Let’s get to work.”

Andrle retires after leading the wing since June 2019. He praised the dedication and work of the men and women in the 388th Fighter Wing.  

“This wing is home to some of the finest American patriots I’ve ever met,” Andrle said. “They work quietly to ensure our national defense and have been led by group and squadron command teams that have been exceptional. It has been an honor serving with you.”