15th Wing welcomes new commander

Men and women of the 15th Wing render a fi rst salute to incoming 15th Wing commander, Col. W. Halsey Burks at the 15th Wing change of command ceremony, June 20. Burks arrives to the 15th Wing from 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Bagram, Afghanistan.

Story and photo by Capt. Nicole White

15th Wing Public Affairs

Members of the 15th Wing offered aloha to a new commander during a change of command ceremony June 20. During the ceremony, Col. Kevin Gordon transferred command to Col. W. Halsey Burks.

Lt. Gen. Kenneth Wils-bach, 11th Air Force commander, presided over the ceremony before a crowd of Airmen, Sailors, Soldiers, civilian and military dignitaries, and community leaders at h istoric Hickam Field Base Operations.

Wilsbach noted the 15th Wing’s Airmen for their contributions and impact to the Pacific Air Forces mission.

“The lineage of the 15th is one that goes back through World War II by taking part in the attack on Dec. 7, 1941 — also to the end of the war where they participated in long-range escort missions. Today, the wing employs the C-17 for worldwide lift and the F-22 for world dominance not only in the Indo-Pacific Region but around the world,” Wilsbach said.

“Today we celebrate the accomplishments of one commander and welcome another that will go on to do great things.”

With the ceremonial passing of the wing’s guidon, responsibility and authority were transferred from one officer to another in front of those present.

As the new commander, Burks expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to lead the wing and spoke directly to the Airmen of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

“To the men and women of the 15th Wing — I cannot put into words what an honor it is to be here today,” he said.

“Thank you for raising your right hand and volunteering to serve in a time of war. Since the 2001 terror attacks a little over five thousand Airmen have joined to serve on active duty, both officer and enlisted side. The road is never easy but you continue to serve. To people all over the world, you represent liberty. Be proud of that. I’m proud of that. I’m excited and deeply honored to serve alongside you.”

Burks entered the Air Force in 1995, earning his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He is a command pilot with more than 3,500 hours including combat time in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn.

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