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173rd Fighter Wing Commander retires

Col. Jeremy “Weed” Baenen, the 173rd Fighter Wing Commander for scant hours before retiring, showcases the forethought that carried him to the helm of the Wing immediately following his “fini flight”, Nov. 21, 2014. The “fini flight” is a tradition among pilots and aircrew where upon disembarking they get hosed down with water. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

Col. Jeremy “Weed” Baenen, the 173rd Fighter Wing Commander for scant hours before retiring, showcases the forethought that carried him to the helm of the Wing immediately following his “fini flight”, Nov. 21, 2014. The “fini flight” is a tradition among pilots and aircrew where upon disembarking they get hosed down with water. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

Col. Jeremy “Weed” Baenen welcomes a cold blast of water upon stepping to the tarmac following his last flight in the F-15 Eagle shortly before his retirement ceremony, Nov. 21, 2014. The dousing is part of the traditional fini flight for pilots upon their last flight in an aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

Col. Jeremy “Weed” Baenen welcomes a cold blast of water upon stepping to the tarmac following his last flight in the F-15 Eagle shortly before his retirement ceremony, Nov. 21, 2014. The dousing is part of the traditional fini flight for pilots upon their last flight in an aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

Col. Jeremy “Weed” Baenen accepts a flag in honor of his 26 years of service to the United States Air Force and the Oregon Air National Guard during his retirement ceremony, Nov. 21, 2014 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. The day marked his last as the 173rd Fighter Wing Commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

Col. Jeremy “Weed” Baenen accepts a flag in honor of his 26 years of service to the United States Air Force and the Oregon Air National Guard during his retirement ceremony, Nov. 21, 2014 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. The day marked his last as the 173rd Fighter Wing Commander. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

Col. Jeremy O. Baenen wears his signature ear-to-ear grin during one of many laughs during his retirement ceremony, Nov. 21, 2014 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. He related in his remarks that maintaining a sense of humor is an integral part of his leadership style. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

Col. Jeremy O. Baenen wears his signature ear-to-ear grin during one of many laughs during his retirement ceremony, Nov. 21, 2014 at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Ore. He related in his remarks that maintaining a sense of humor is an integral part of his leadership style. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jefferson Thompson/Released)

KINGSLEY FIELD, Ore. -- 173rd Fighter Wing Commander Col. Jeremy Baenen retired Nov. 21 during a ceremony at Kingsley Field in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

Baenen assumed command Jan. 13, 2013 and guided the wing through a time of tremendous change including the addition of active-duty Airmen to the mission with the Total Force Integration. Under his leadership, Kingsley welcomed 14 more aircraft to the ramp for an historic total authorized 32 airframes.

He implemented an expanded mission while sequestration slashed budgets across the Department of Defense and the Air National Guard. 

"I want to thank you all for allowing me to work for you," said Baenen. "I'm walking out really satisfied with things."

He leaves the 173rd Fighter Wing poised to fly and train more new pilots than ever before but it was not without numerous hurdles.

"We've had tremendous challenges here in the last few years and you've heard about some of it from sequestration to layoffs to the TFI...new sims and a UEI inspection which you got a 'highly effective' on, and really that's a credit to the entire wing," he said summing up the last two years.

His service spans 26 years including his time at the Air Force Academy.

Baenen notes that over those years he made a point to ask retiring Airmen what the most important things were they would like to pass along to the remaining troops. In his final remarks Baenen passed along what he called the distillation of more than 400 years of military experience.

His points: don't let anyone limit your humor or your happiness, balance family and work, there is no defense for a well-executed barrel roll, and finally--do what you know is right.

His last gesture as commander was to salute the assembled audience with the words, "I'd like to just leave you with a salute to our troops.  God bless you all and good luck in the future."