173rd Fighter Wing welcomes new commander

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

A change of command ceremony marked a major transition for the 173rd Fighter Wing when Col. Jeff Smith relinquished command to Col. Jeffrey Edwards who stepped into the top post on June 1, 2019.

Edwards was selected for the position after serving as the vice-commander for more than two years.

“These two officers have quite a bit in common,” said commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, Brig. Gen. Donna M. Prigmore, the reviewing officer for the ceremony. “These are two of our very finest Airmen; men who lead by example and are the reason so many of the American people still have faith and confidence in us today.”

In her remarks she noted one top priority for Edwards is to develop future leaders within the wing both at the officer level and enlisted level.

“You have many talents to lead this very fine organization, your positive attitude, your compassionate nature, your selflessness, your humility and your intellect are the perfect ingredients to bring this organization forward into the future,” she said addressing him directly during her remarks.

The heart of the change of command ceremony is the passing of the guidon, a flag representing the wing, which is passed from the outgoing commander to the new. This formal protocol shifts the authority and responsibility of the command in a single moment and finds its roots in military history.

After accepting the guidon Edwards addressed his assembled Airmen saying, “You can rest assured that when America calls on Kingsley Field, America is calling on their absolute best.”

Once complete, the wing completed another tradition common to Air Force fighter wings—revealing the name of the new commander on the flagship aircraft of the fleet. Edwards, the newly minted commander, looked on as a crew chief peeled back a covering revealing a fresh stencil reading Col Jeff Edwards beneath the cockpit.

Edwards is a command pilot who has logged more than 3,000 flight hours and has commanded several Kingsley organizations including the maintenance squadron, fighter squadron, and fighter group. His steps into the position at a unique time in the history of the base. Currently the base is gearing up for the largest number of construction projects happening in a given summer as well.

Edwards and Smith share similar career paths dating to the U.S. Air Force Academy where they graduated in the same class, tracked to the F-15C, and chose to transition to the Air National Guard at Kingsley Field within a year of each other.

The ceremony, often the most consequential for the wing, brings to a close the 24-year-career of Smith who would formally retire later the same day.