AETC Fires Three Commanders at Laughlin

Col. Charles Velino, shown here delivering his first speech as 47th Flying Training Wing commander in June 2017, was relieved of his post on Oct. 31. Air Force photo by A1C Benjamin Valmoja.

Three commanders at a main flying training wing were fired this week after investigations into chronic leadership failures, Air Education and Training Command announced.

Col. Charles Velino, commander of the 47th Flying Training Wing at Laughlin AFB, Texas, along with the operations group commander and a flying training squadron commander at the base were relieved by Air Education and Training Commander Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast after a review and recommendation from the commander of 19th Air Force, according to an AETC release.

Col. Lee Gentile, formerly the commander of the 71st Flying Training Wing at Vance AFB, Okla., has assumed command of the wing.

“The prior command team chronically failed to appropriately care for people and the mission,” Kwast said in the release. “They failed to correct an evolving situation that led to an environment where some airmen did not feel safe or respected.”

AETC did not detail the specific actions, but stated that the commanders did not take appropriate steps to respond to, correct, and report incidents of officer misconduct.

The command change comes as the Air Force’s flying training wings face repeated incidents of hypoxia-related events and crashes involving T-6 and T-38 aircraft, including a November crash of a Talon from Laughlin that killed one pilot and injured another.