173rd Fighter Wing pilot takes the reins of the Operations Group

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

The 173rd Fighter Wing recently promoted an Airman who has risen through the ranks to become the new operations group commander.

Lt. Col. Jason Nalepa donned his dress blues jacket with silver eagles on the epaulets denoting the rank of colonel for the first time during a promotion ceremony presided over by the Brig. Gen. Donna Prigmore, the commander of the Oregon Air National Guard, Nov. 6, 2020.

In his most recent assignment Nalepa oversaw day-to-day operations as the mission support group deputy commander, something Prigmore says adds depth to his command experience.

“He has a very impressive military career so far,” she said. “I speak often of the criticality or the need for potential wing commanders to have mission support group experience under their belt.”

Nalepa steps into the operations group as many changes are approaching, including the recent announcement that the 173rd FW aircraft fleet will convert to the F-15EX in the year 2024.

Nalepa thanked Col. Jeff Edwards, the 173rd Fighter Wing commander, for his confidence in selecting him, saying, “thank you for your trust, your faith and your confidence in my leadership to take the ops group and Kingsley Field into the next generation and the next decade.”

In his remarks he noted that the year 2020 has presented many new challenges to operations at the 173rd Fighter Wing.

“2020 is a weird and difficult time, the most challenging of my life and I’m sure that’s true for most people, but it’s not the end of challenging times,” he said. “For the next decade we are going to have challenging times across the board and this year is just the start of it.”

He went on to say that he has full faith and confidence in the at Kingsley Field culture ability to address these challenges.

“We have challenges that are going to equal successes that we will see in the next five years bringing the F-15EX on line,” he said. “It is amazing that the Air Force gives us this new platform, and says ‘Kingsley you got it—shape the future of America and air dominance not just for the Air Force and the Air National Guard but to transmit our global power to enforce the national defense strategy,’” he paraphrased.

Nalepa’s experience also includes commanding the 114th Fighter Squadron, duties as a U.S. Air Force Weapons School Instructor Pilot at Nellis AFB, Nev., and stints as an instructor pilot at Kingsley Field and Tyndall AFB, Fla.