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20th Fighter Wing salutes new commander

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacob Gutierrez
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Team Shaw and members of the Sumter community gathered for a 20th Fighter Wing change of command ceremony, May 16.

Led by Maj. Gen. Michael G. Koscheski, 15th Air Force commander, the ceremony recognized the leadership of Col. Lawrence T. Sullivan, outgoing 20th FW commander, and formally welcomed Col. Kristoffer R. Smith, incoming 20th FW commander.

Sullivan led the wing through multiple agile combat employment exercises, the beginning of the Wing’s shift to Air Combat Command’s new combat air forces generation model as well as oversaw the continued support of missions in multiple areas of responsibility. In addition, Sullivan began the Working with Weasels program, which highlights the heightened readiness capabilities of 20th FW Airmen.

“I am most grateful for your open-mindedness and your ability to take the long view on things,” said Sullivan. “You were ready to not just solve today’s problems, but do the hard work and set the foundation for long-term success.”

Sullivan and Smith emphasized the legacy of the Sumter-Shaw relationship. During the event, Smith reflected on previously serving at Shaw and spoke on the community’s warm welcome and of the impact visiting the namesake of the base Lt. Ervin Shaw’s grave meant to him. Shaw was a WWI pilot who was killed in action in France.

“As I stood in front of Lt. Shaw’s grave, it instilled in me the importance, and the history behind the community and how critical our ties are,” said Smith. “The connection to the community is really enduring and we know the success of this base is tied to this community. Shaw has always been and will continue to be a premier global supplier of combat airpower.”

Smith, a command pilot with more than 1,900 hours in the F-16 Viper, previously served as the 52nd Operations Group commander at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany. Smith will assume responsibility of more than 16,000 Team Shaw members and will oversee approximately 79 F-16 Vipers. Under his leadership, the 20th FW will continue to provide combat F-16 airpower and deliver ready forces anytime, anywhere.

“The reason I wanted to be in the Air Force was the Airmen,” said Smith. “I wanted to be a part of an amazing team that goes out every day to do impossible tasks. I have so much gratitude and cannot wait to serve alongside each of you.”