Change of command ceremony held for Virginia 149th Fighter Squadron

Col. David R. Nardi, commander of the 192nd Operations Group, Virginia Air National Guard, passes the colors to Lt. Col. Stephen Bunting signifying the change of command for the 149th Fighter Squadron from Lt. Col. William J. Butz to Bunting in a ceremony held Jan. 13, 2013, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Air National Guard Public Affairs).

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-Eustis, Va. — Lt. Col. Stephen Bunting took command of the Virginia Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Squadron from Lt. Col. William J. Butz in a change of command ceremony held Jan. 13, 2013, at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va.

Butz took command of the 149th Fighter Squadron on Aug. 24, 2010. He was commissioned in 1989 through the Officer Training Program at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas. After Undergraduate Pilot Training, he flew F-16C’s at Kunsan Air Base in South Korea, Shaw AFB in South Carolina, and Cannon AFB in New Mexico. He separated from active duty in 1998 and joined the Virginia Air National Guard. Butz is a command pilot with more than 3,300 fighter flying hours in the F-16C/D and F-22A, including combat missions in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.

Bunting attended Pilot Training at Columbus AFB, Miss. Upon completion of F- 16C replacement and the Medium Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night course at Luke AFB, Ariz., Bunting was assigned to the 68th Fighter Squadron at Moody AFB, Ga. In less than two years, he was upgraded to Forward Air Controller – Airborne.

While in the 68th, Bunting participated in numerous deployments including Operation Southern Watch, flying missions out of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain. In 1999, he was reassigned to the 36th Fighter Squadron at Osan Air Base in South Korea, where he received his Mission Commander upgrade within the year and was awarded Flight Lead of the Year honors.

Bunting left active duty in 2003 and joined the Virginia Air National Guard’s 149th Fighter Squadron as a drill status guardsman. Through 2006, he continued serving as a DSG F-16C instructor and Joint Warfare Analysis Center Research Engineer. In late 2006, Bunting was selected to a fulltime position with the Virginia Air National Guard and for transition to the F-22 Raptor. In 2007, Bunting relocated to York County, Va., where he began his F-22 instructor duties in the 149th Fighter Squadron at Langley AFB. He has led the 149th through multiple training and real world deployments, as well as prompted the continued evolution of the Langley total force integration.

Bunting has accumulated more than 2,300 hours in fighter aircraft. He is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College. His military decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.

The 149th was the first Air National Guard squadron to fly the F-22A. As a commander within a Total Force Integration Wing, Bunting shares the responsibility of ensuring both Air National Guard and active duty Air Force F-22A pilots are able to mobilize and deploy anywhere in the world in order to gain and maintain air superiority.