Saturday, May 7, 2022 was a day of pride, joy and celebration for the Pambianchi family of Spring Hill. Johann Pambianchi, a 2003 graduate of F. W. Springstead High School, was honored with a “pinning on” ceremony recognizing his promotion from Major to Lieutenant Colonel. In this ceremony a major’s gold oak leaf clusters are exchanged for silver ones.
The thirty-six-year-old Pambianchi graduated from the Air Force Academy in 2007 and has spent fifteen years in the military. After obtaining the rank of major in 2017, Pambianchi “cross-commissioned” into the newly-formed United States Space Force in 2020.
Throughout his military career, Pambianchi has accumulated an impressive record. After graduating from the Academy with a Bachelors of Science in Space Operations, he was assigned to the Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) mission in Great Falls, Montana as a nuclear missile operator. The young officer then went on to obtain two Master’s degrees−one in Aeronautical Science, specializing in Space studies at Embry-Riddle University and the other in Military Operational Arts and Science from the US Air Force’s Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base (AFB), Alabama.
Pambianchi has been posted all around the United States−from Cape Canaveral Florida where he was a space lift operator launching heavy rockets to Vandenberg AFB in California where he was an Operations Officer.
During most of this time, his wife Jenny Alexandra (“Alex”) followed him and was by his side. They are parents of two children, six-year-old AnnaMaria and three-year-old Johannes. Despite his busy career, he found time to coach his son’s soccer team. Like many other parents with a demanding career, Pambianchi admits that maintaining a work/life balance can be a challenge, especially when one has to relocate so often.
He states, “It’s easy to stay focused and positive when you know your purpose and when your purpose is to serve God and this great nation.” Pambianchi has also been a mentor to other military men and women as an instructor. After graduating from the Schriever Space Scholars Program, he was the program’s Deputy Director. This is a very selective school in which only the top 20% of any department are chosen to attend. People from all branches of the United States military, as well as civilians and international students attend this school.
“It’s been extremely rewarding to contribute to the service and to give back to a program that I was a graduate of,” he remarks. “One of the most gratifying aspects is seeing my teammates in the military achieve their career and life goals,” Pambianchi continues.
A fellow instructor at Maxwell AFB described him as “An outstanding officer; phenomenal instructor. All his students loved him. He’s an advocate and role model for space professionals.”
Captain Athina Teicher, one of these teammates, presided at Saturday’s ceremony, which was held at Silverthorn Country Club. She is currently teaching at Baylor University in Waco, Texas and flew in especially for the occasion. Colonel Michael C. Todd, one of Pambianchi’s former commanding officers, also flew in for the ceremony and administered the Oath of Office to Pambianchi.
Perhaps one of the best testimonies to the character and conduct of a person is the esteem in which his co-workers and teammates hold him.
Col. Todd read congratulatory messages from some of these people.
One stated, “He isn’t pretentious. He’s all about getting the mission done.”
Another read, “A humble officer with a confident presence. Makes everyone want to do their best. It’s an honor to have served with him.”
A classmate at the school at Maxwell AFB stated, “He volunteered to be our flight leader and spent the whole year looking out for everyone. A kind, humble, caring and smart person.”
Among the people Lt. Colonel Pambianchi thanked at the ceremony were his parents, Tula and Frederick; his wife, Alex; his maternal aunt, Cristina Violett; and his wife’s parents, David and Nubia Ferro. He expressed his appreciation for their guidance, support and encouragement.
Pambianchi comes from a military family. His older brother served four years in the Marines and his younger brother is currently in the Marines serving in Okinawa, Japan. His father and grandfather both served in the military.
His mother noted that from an early age her son was interested in rockets and planes and even used to build them with his Legos. This summer, Lt. Colonel Pambianchi and his family will move to the Washington D.C. area where he’ll be stationed at the Pentagon. There he’ll be the Strategy Division Chief for the Headquarters of the U.S. Space Force. Formed in 2019, the Space Force is “responsible for organizing, training and equipping Guardians to conduct global space operations that enhance the way our joint and coalition forces fight.”
Although many people might think of the Space Force as a “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” futuristic endeavor, this new military branch has many duties that affect us right now. Communication and weather satellites, GPS systems and global financial networks are all critical to the United States and the world at large. The Space Force is made up of officers, such as Pambianchi; enlisted personnel; and civilians who perform a myriad of duties.
The motto of the United States Space Force is “Semper Supra,” which means “Always Above.” Lt. Colonel Johann Pambianchi exemplifies this motto in all aspects of his life.