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173rd Fighter Wing welcomes new commander

Formation

Members of the 173rd Fighter Wing stand in formation in preparation for a change of command ceremony where the wing will change hands from Col. Jeff Smith to Col. Jeffrey Edwards, June 1, 2019 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The change of command ceremony is rooted in military tradition dating to the 18th century and takes place in front of the entire organization in order to publicly show the transition. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

salute

U.S. Air Force 2nd Lt Joel Sire, the ceremony adjutant, returns a salute to the formations during the 173rd Fighter Wing Change of Command ceremony, at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, June 1, 2019. Colonel Jeffrey Edwards assumed command from Colonel Jeff Smith, who is retiring after 24 years of service.(U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

salute

Airmen of the 173rd Fighter Wing render a salute during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner during a wing change of command ceremony where Col. Jeff Smith relinquished command to Col. Jeffrey Edwards, June 1, 2019 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon. The change of command ceremony is rooted in military tradition dating to the 18th century and takes place in front of the entire organization in order to publicly show the transition. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson)

review of the troops

U.S. Air Force Colonel Jeff Smith, former 173rd Fighter Wing commander, begins the last farewell review of his troops during the 173rd FW Change of Command ceremony, at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, June 1, 2019. Colonel Jeffrey Edwards assumed command from Smith, who is retiring after 24 years of service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

Legion of Merit

U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Donna Prigmore, commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, left, presents Colonel Jeff Smith, former 173rd Fighter Wing commander, the Legion of Merit during the 173rd FW Change of Command ceremony, at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, June 1, 2019. Colonel Jeffrey Edwards assumed command from Smith, who is retiring after 24 years of service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

guidon

U.S. Air Force Colonel Jeffrey Edwards, 173rd Fighter Wing commander, center, receives the 173rd guidon from Brig. Gen. Donna Prigmore, Oregon Air National Guard commander, left, during a change of command ceremony at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, June 1, 2019. Edwards assumed command from Col. Jeffrey Smith, who is retiring after 24 years of service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

Col Jeff Edwards salute

U.S. Air Force Colonel Jeff Edwards, 173rd Fighter Wing commander, salutes Brigadier General Donna Prigmore, commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, after accepting the wing guidon during a change of command ceremony at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, June 1, 2019. Colonel Jeff Edwards took command of the wing as Colonel Jeff Smith retired after 24 years of service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

Col. Jeff edwards

U.S. Air Force Colonel Jeff Edwards, 173rd Fighter Wing commander, is applauded after officially accepting command of the wing during a change of command ceremony at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, June 1, 2019. Edwards took command of the wing as Colonel Jeff Smith retired after 24 years of service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar)

Col. Jeff Edwards

U.S. Air Force Colonel Jeffrey Edwards, 173rd Fighter Wing commander, addresses the wing during a change of command ceremony, at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, June 1, 2019. Edwards assumed command from Colonel Jeffrey Smith, who is retiring after 24 years of service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

crew chief
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U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Daniel Saari, 173rd Fighter Wing dedicated crew chief, unveils the name Colonel Jeffrey Edwards, Commander of the 173rd Fighter Wing, on a F-15 Eagle during the 173rd FW Change of Command ceremony, at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon, June 1, 2019. Edwards assumed command from Colonel Jeffrey Smith, who is retiring after 24 years of service. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

KINGSLEY FIELD, ORE. --

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.