49th Wing hosts change of command ceremony

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Antonio Salfran
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

 The 49th Wing hosted a change of command ceremony, June 17, 2022, on Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico.

The ceremony, which was officiated by Maj. Gen. Craig D. Wills, 19th Air Force commander, saw Col. Justin B. Spears, previously the commander of the 14th Operations Group at Columbus AFB, Mississippi, take command of the 49th Wing from Col. Ryan P. Keeney.

Wills praised Keeney and the Airmen of the 49th Wing for their ability to persevere under any condition.

“You hosted over 7,000 Afghan refugees on less than a week’s notice and you made it look easy through your hard work, your excellence, your professionalism and your grace,” said Wills. “You accomplished it all during the midst of a global pandemic; your efforts to fight through COVID-19 were mighty indeed and made a significant difference for our Air Force.”

Keeney took time to reflect on his career at the wing and the relentless spirit that Team Holloman Airmen possess.

“You have set the standard as the largest producer of F-16 and MQ-9 aircrew,” said Keeney. “When other units decreased production you creatively found a way to produce a quarter of the Air Force’s fighter pilots and 94% of the MQ-9 pilots and sensor operators. I’ll be watching from afar as Col. Spears now leads the wing in building the backbone of combat airpower.”

Spears thanked his predecessor and voiced his excitement at joining his new team.

“Words can hardly express how humbled I am to join your ranks,” said Spears. “The success of this mission depends solely on the quality of the Airmen assigned to it, and there are none finer than the men and women of the 49th Wing.”