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Manta forward operating location changes command

MANTA Forward Operating Location, ECUADOR -- Lt. Col. Robert Leonard assumed command of the 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron today at 9 a.m. in the base's main hangar. 

Col. Mark Mouw, Commander of the 474th Air Expeditionary Group, relinquished command from Lt. Col. Javier Delucca whose new assignment is the commander of the University of Puerto Rico's Air Force ROTC Detachment 756. 

The ceremony started with the introduction of the official party which included Col. Mark Mouw, Lt. Col. Javier Delucca, departing commander of the 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron, and Lt. Col. Robert Leonard, incoming commander of the 478th Expeditionary Operations Squadron. 

Local singing artist, Liliana Badui, sang the Ecuadorian National Anthem and FOL Firemen, Alberto Zambrano and Christhian Carvajal, sang the American National Anthem. Chaplain Samuel Bridges provided the invocation. 

A special citation to accompany the award of the meritorious service medal, second oak leaf cluster, was awarded to Lt. Col. Javier Delucca. 

"The outstanding leadership skills of Col. Delucca directly resulted in the success of Operations CAPER FOCUS and INCA GOLD," said Capt. Jose Lebron, emcee of the event. "He oversaw 850 counterdrug missions that resulted in the disruption of over five billion dollars of illegal drugs." 

Lt. Col. Leonard was previously the Senior Air Force and Naval Representative, United States Military Group, Caracas, Venezuela, where he was responsible for all DoD and DoS Security Assistance programs. 

The new commander graduated and was commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps at The Citadel in 1988. Since then, he has served as the Chief of Plans at the 16th Special Operations Wing, Chief of Group Stan/Eval of 58th Operations Group, Flight Commander of 550th Special Operations Squadron, and the Chief of Command and Control Air Doctrine at Reaction Force Air Staff, NATO. 
Lt. Col. Leonard is a master navigator with more than 2700 flying hours.

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