WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - The 80th Flying Training Wing at Sheppard Air Force Base has a new commander.
Colonel Andrea Themely has taken over for Colonel Gregory Keeton, making her the first woman in that position.
Col. Themely said she is excited for the future of the wing.
Under Col. Keeton's leadership, the wing flew over 160,000 hours, produced 536 pilots and added Romania to the ENJJPT program.
"In this wing, I take no credit for anything that has been accomplished over my tenure," Col. Keeton said. "I had great people who worked with me. The squadron commanders led their airmen.
He also played a key role in supporting state legislation that would limit incentives for wind farm developers who build near an air force base.
Those wind farms can cause problems for training flights.
Col. Keeton also has supported changing incentives and pay structure for pilots to cut down on the number who leave the air force for better-paying jobs with commercial airlines, leaving the air force with a shortage of combat pilots.
"It's exactly the right type of effort our nation and our nations need right now," Major General, Patrick Doherty said. "As all of our nations are facing critical pilot manning issues."
It's an issue Col. Themely also plans to tackle head-on.
"Obviously we want to continue the trajectory of the increased student load the best we can with the resources we are given," Col. Themely said. "And continuing to strengthen our partnerships and produce the best pilots for the NATO alliance."
Col. Keeton is thankful to have served and Col. Themely is eager to get started.
"I don't just like ENJJPT, I love it," Col. Keeton said. "And I thank you all for giving me the opportunity to serve in this capacity."
"My main goal is to just continue the legacy of the last 36 years," Col. Themely said. "We've trained NATO's best fighter pilots here and strengthened partnerships. I'm just happy to continue that legacy."
Col. Keeton will retire from the U.S. Air Force.
However, he is not going to stop flying.
He will now go into the commercial industry and become a pilot with Southwest Airlines.
Col. Keeton and Col. Themely both said in their long Air Force careers, they have never been stationed at a base with as much community support as Sheppard Air Force Base.