49th Wing welcomes new commander

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Corinna Sanabia
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs

The 49th Wing hosted a wing commander change of command ceremony here on May 17, 2024.

U.S. Air Force Col. John Ethridge took command of the 49th Wing from U.S. Air Force Col. Justin Spears during a ceremony officiated by U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Clark Quinn, Nineteenth Air Force commander.

“The 49th Wing lives up to its vision of being America’s premier training wing, but it’s more than just a training wing” said Quinn. “The 49th is forging the world’s most inspired, proficient, and adaptive warriors. Our Air Force must possess the capabilities to deter aggression, project power and defend our nation’s interests across the globe, and this wing is at the leading edge of developing these capabilities and Airmen to ensure our nation is ready to fly, fight and win at any time and in any place.”

Spears’ time in command saw the 49th Wing and Team Holloman achieve many firsts, including the first-ever Holloman Community Connections Day and Holloman Ace of Races Marathon. He also led efforts to strengthen ties between the base and the local community, which resulted in Alamogordo, New Mexico being the first unanimously selected winner of the 2023 Altus Trophy by the Altus, Oklahoma Chamber of Commerce.

“If one wants to catch a glimpse of the strength and the beauty of our country, then they need look no further than to the Airmen at Holloman and to the people of Alamogordo,” said Spears. “These Fightin’ 49ers make me proud to be an Airman and the patriots in this city make me proud to be an American.”

Ethridge, previously the deputy commander of the 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, thanked his predecessor and voiced his excitement about joining the 49th Wing.

“As we transition to a great power competition, there has never been a greater need for warrior Airmen prepared to fly and fight in order to deter and defeat any potential adversaries of the United States, our allies and partners,” said Ethridge. “We at the 49th Wing are entrusted to train future warfighters and that gives us the opportunity to shape the future of our Air Force.”

Ethridge takes responsibility of the Air Force’s premier training wing for F-16 Viper pilots and MQ-9 Reaper aircrew, with 546 pilots and sensor operators graduating through the 49th Wing in 2023. His new responsibilities also includes providing mission partner support to the many tenant units that also call Holloman home, including the 704th Test Group and the 635th Materiel Maintenance Group.