The Sept. 16 change of command for the German Patriot Office was like homecoming for Lt. Col. Christian Uhlig.

He succeeded Lt. Col. Thomas Doerr as director of the office which acts within the Patriot missile program as a liaison for the German government to the U.S. Army and U.S. industry. It exchanges information between the Lower Tier Project Office and the pertinent German organizations.

"I'm very proud because my entire life in missile defense is connected here in Huntsville," Uhlig said. "I have been here so many times it's really like coming home here in Huntsville."

He first arrived in 1978 for training with the Nike system at the missile school.

Last week's ceremony at the Officers and Civilians Club was also significant because this is the 50th year since the first German Air Force soldiers arrived in 1958 at the school. Col. Michael Kuhn, commander of the German Air Force Command at Fort Bliss, Texas, conducted the change of command.

"Thanks to the Huntsville community for all the support the German soldiers have received in the last 50 years," Kuhn said. "Thank you very much."

Uhlig, 55, arrives from the German Armed Forces Office in Bonn, Germany. He was a member of the German Patriot Office from 1993-96.

"I want to keep up on the missile development and future plans of the United States and give advice to my folks back home, to my government, to work as closely as possible together," Uhlig said.

A native of Moenchengladbach in western Germany, he and his wife Edda have a son and daughter who are both married.

Doerr, who directed the German Patriot Office three years, is leaving Sept. 30 for assignment with the German Air Force Weapon System Command in Cologne, Germany.

Since its inception in 1986, the German Patriot Office has been an integral part of the German Patriot management as well as the international Patriot community.

"Faces changed throughout these years," Doerr said. "And faces will change, like today, but our common task to support the war fighter in the field will be met."