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Peterson Air Force Base commander found dead in home

Col. Thomas Falzarano, 21st Space Wing commander, poses for a photo Aug. 15, 2019 at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado. Falzarano took command of the wing in May and has focused on sustainability, building relationships and strengthening the culture since his arrival. (U.S. Air Force photo by Heather Heiney)
May 14, 2020

The commanding officer of the 21st Space Wing at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., was found dead inside his on-base home Tuesday.

Col. Thomas Falzarano, the commander for the 21st Space Wing, was found unresponsive inside his home and later pronounced dead, according to a base press release.

The cause of death is under investigation, but initial indications are that it was due to natural causes. According to The Air Force Times, Falzarano was 47 years old. There were no indications that Falzarano was infected with coronavirus.

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss for our Air and Space Force family,” Gen. Jay Raymond, the commander of the U.S. Space Force and Chief of Space Operations. “Tom was an incredible leader, mentor and friend who will be remembered for his warm personality and dedicated service to our nation. Our heartfelt condolences and prayers go out to his family, friends and all members of the 21st Space Wing.”

Falzarano took command of the 21st Space Wing in July 2019. With his death, command of the unit goes to Col. Sam Johnson, the 21st Space Wing vice commander.

“Col. Falzarano was a fearless leader who was motivated by taking care of his family and Airmen,” Johnson said. “He will be sorely missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and we are providing every comfort and assistance that we can to them.”

According to a command biography, Falzarano’s military career included assignments with space, missile, fighter, and mobility units. He served in joint assignments for the staff of the Multi-National Force-Iraq at the U.S. Embassy in the International Zone, Baghdad. He also went on to serve on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon. Prior to leading the 21st Space Wing, he served as executive officer to Raymond, who was then Commander of the Air Force Space Command before the office was moved under the newly formed Space Force. He also served as executive officer to the Joint Force Space Component Command.

The 21st Air Wing is the Air Force’s fifth-largest wing, with approximately 4,300 personnel involved in space-related operations around the world. Operations include maintaining missile warning and defenses. The 21st Space Wing has locations 22 locations across six countries.