Military News

Monday, July 27, 2015

23d Wing welcomes new commander

by Airman 1st Class Ceaira Tinsley
23d Wing Public Affairs

7/24/2015 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- With eight simple words, U.S. Air Force Col. Thomas Kunkel assumed command of the 23d Wing from Col. Chad Franks during a change of command ceremony here, July 23.

Maj. Gen. H.D. Polumbo Jr., Ninth Air Force commander, officiated the ceremony for the legendary Flying Tigers.

Polumbo applauded Franks on his leadership and commended Moody's military and civilians for their successes over the past two years.

"Simply stated, Moody has it all and the Flying Tigers in particular have been on point in major U.S. combat operations the last two years due to the superb leadership of Col. Franks," said Polumbo. "Leading a wing is a team effort and somehow Kim and Chad made it look easy."

Kunkel will command the more than 6,000 Airmen who make up the wing's six groups and one detachment.

"With the departure of one command team, it's time to welcome a new one," said Polumbo. "Col. Kunkel brings a leadership style that enhances and promotes a commitment to service and he has an impressive record of success. He is uniquely suited to (command) this wing with his background leading Airmen.

"Without question, the 23d Wing is a formidable combat unit providing worldwide close air support, force protection and personnel recovery operations ... wherever and whenever called upon," Polumbo added.

Although they traveled more than 700 miles from Virginia, Kunkel and his family are no strangers to Moody as Kunkel was Moody's 41st Rescue Squadron commander from 2009 to 2011.

Addressing Moody Airmen for the first time, Kunkel challenged the wing to keep up their hard work and dedication to the mission.

"My guidance to you today is simple," said Kunkel, a command pilot with 2,700 flying hours. "Continue that pursuit of excellence as you execute our mission and take care of one another and your families. You have my trust and it is my sincere hope that I will earn yours along the way."

Before Franks officially relinquished command, he addressed the audience with some final words.

"I'm extremely proud of the work that you have done," said Franks. "I know you will continue to dominate the Air Force. I know you will continue to kill the bad guys and save the good guys. And I know you will continue to do the ordinary things better than anyone else."

After serving as Moody's commander for approximately two years, Franks will move to Washington, D.C., to become senior executive officer to Air Force vice chief of staff.

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