23rd wing at Moody AFB has new commander - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

23rd wing at Moody AFB has new commander

Hundreds welcomed a new commander to the 23rd wing at Moody Air Force Base.

Col. Gary Henderson turned over the command to Col. Billy Thompson who is the former commander of the 563rd Rescue Group at Davis Monthan Air Force base in Arizona. Col Henderson is on his way to Germany.

Col. Gary Henderson hands over command of the 23rd wing and the helicopter he flew to Col. Bill Thompson.

"To send out 1200 airman time and time again constantly for the last year and to save more than 3,000 lives and flying tens of thousands of combat hours and deploy in 56 locations is pretty outstanding," said Col. Henderson.

First Lt. Michael Schmit says Col. Henderson empowers everybody to do their job and do it well.

"Col. Henderson definitely instilled in every airman they had an impact on the mission and were very important to the mission's success," said Schmidt.

Col. Henderson now heads to Germany to serve as the deputy commander of the 3rd Air Force at Ramstein Air Base.

He's looking forward to transferring but says he'll miss the people in Valdosta. He says it's the friendliest place he's ever been. He recalls Moody's assistance in the search for James Eunice, the Valdosta teen who drowned earlier this year.

"I really think it's a defining piece of how moody and the community work together," said Col. Henderson.

What advice do you have to the new commander coming in?

"He's a smart man so he'll be a large step up from me but I told him it goes by very fast, two years seemed like six months, to enjoy it. Do the best for our airmen and make sure they're able to do their mission," said Col. Henderson.

Although Col. Henderson said goodbye, the airman he led say the outgoing commander leaves behind excellence that they're sure the Col. Thompson will build upon.

The 23rd Wing executes worldwide close air support, force protection and combat search and rescue operations.


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