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Disclaimer: The comments in this blog are my personal opinion and may or may not reflect an adopted position of the city of Glendale and its city council.

Recently I attended the Change of Command ceremony at Luke Air Force Base (LAFB). For those of you not familiar with military life, active military personnel are usually rotated out to another base every two or three years. The same holds true for the LAFB Commander.

First, a bit of history. Luke has been in Arizona since 1941.  In 1994 it became the home to the 56th Fighter Wing in 1994. Today Luke trains pilots to fly F-16s and F-35A aircraft. In 2017 Luke had 150,000 flight hours training nearly 200 pilots.

The Change of Command ceremony is a military tradition. Over countless years military organizations created flags unique to individual units. All bear specialized colors and designs. Tradition has it that when soldiers went into combat if their unit’s flag still waved after combat, their unit was victorious and had not been defeated. At Luke’s Change of Command the unit’s flag is passed on to the new Commander as a formal recognition of his authority.

Leading the Ceremony as Major General Patrick J. Doherty, Commander of the 19th Air Force, supervising 17 flight wings and overseeing nearly half of the U.S. Air Force’s flight training program.

In recognition of the change occurring with the 56th Fighter Wing the ceremony was scheduled for 7:56 AM although it started a bit later. I congratulate the military. They know how to do events such as this very well. Major General Patrick Doherty, Commander of the 19th Air Force, delivered the opening remarks. He is responsible for 17 wings and oversees nearly 50% of the Air Force’s annual flight training program. He offered insight into the current state of readiness of our U. S. Air Force. In summary while we remain the most powerful air force in the world, others, such as China, are working diligently to catch up.

The outgoing Commander is Brigadier General Brook Leonard. His remarks focused on the sense of family of which one becomes a part while serving at a base. It was evident that he had connected with the men and women serving and was moving on with a sense of loss. His greatest accomplishment while serving as Commander was a recognition of the off-base relationships that he nurtured and strengthened. We congratulate him on his outstanding service to Luke and believe he will be an asset to those who are fortunate enough to host him in his next assignment.

The incoming Commander is Brigadier General Todd Canterbury. It was evident that he is extremely proud to command the very same base his Father had once commanded. While stationed at Luke he attended local schools and developed long standing relationships within our community. He also received flight training at Luke in 2001. He is sure to become an asset to Luke based upon his unusual familiarity with the organizations and people of our area. We welcome him and wish him well at his new post.

It was impressive to witness this Change of Command ceremony and to recognize that the Air Force’s commitment to LAFB remains strong as evidenced by the caliber of the commanders it assigns to this critical pilot training base. Glendale is proud to be the home of Luke Air Force Base and is committed in its pledge to protect the mission of this base.

© Joyce Clark, 2018         

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